Rosita Mahony | GIS & Research Co-ordinator | SPACEial North West, Donegal County Council|

My experiences of attending and presenting at Esri User Conference 2016

It is 2.30pm on Tuesday the 28th of June 2016.  Two thoughts were at the forefront of my mind: firstly what an amazing opportunity awaited to present at Esri International User conference in San Diego and secondly that I needed a map to locate Room 24A in the San Diego Convention Centre where my presentation is taking place!

Following Bern Szukalski’s invite to join him on stage at Esri’s European Conference in Salzburg last October, Ireland’s Call to return its Global Diaspora Home was then selected by an expert industry committee and ultimately chosen to feature at Esri UC. As Esri Ireland informed, I was the first representative from the Local Authority sector in Ireland to speak in the international conference’s 37 year history … the significance of this was dawning on me while the anticipation was mounting.

At Tuesday afternoon’s session ‘Leveraging GIS to empower people’, I delivered my presentation, on behalf of Donegal County Council, on how Ireland’s Call Story Map is using GIS to digitally connect with the Global Irish who have emigrated and furthermore how Donegal is Answering Ireland’s Call is showcasing all that the county offers for the returning Diaspora.

Later that day and in conjunction with the Irish Outreach in San Diego and the Irish Consulate in San Francisco, members of the global Irish community based in Southern California, learned how the work of Donegal County Council’s Diaspora project is utilising GIS to reach out to our nation’s Diaspora.

Back at the conference early on Wednesday morning, I was delighted to meet Jim Baumann, who selected Ireland’s Call to be featured in an edition of ArcNews.  And later that day, it certainly was lights, camera, GIS action at the E380 interview with Citabria Stevens.

A visit to the booths and stalls in the EXPO area is highly recommended. In fact a day could be spent there alone learning from all the vendors and experts in the GIS community, while also availing of the many training sessions and technical workshops running concurrently.  The opportunity existed to talk about GIS Day with Joseph Kerski, Story Maps with Rupert Essinger (with an impromptu demonstration in the Exhibition Hall) and to recall Esri EUC with Bern Szukalski.

On day four I chose to delve further into advanced spatial analysis techniques, to learn how ArcGIS is achieving efficiencies in Local Government and to visit the Esri Drone Zone and to apply Drone2Map for future work. At Friday morning’s Insights for ArcGIS, I was reminded that ‘data is important… however not as important as the answers it provides or the stories that it tells’.

Having had the fantastic privilege to attend and present at Esri UC 2016, I expect it will take some time to equate to the professional experience attained. I now look forward to applying all of the learning, insights and knowledge from the conference to my future work in GIS.

And finally, one key piece of advice to maximise the Esri UC experience is to wear flat shoes!