Each year, thousands of attendees from across government agencies attend the Esri Federal GIS Conference in Washington, D.C. It’s a chance to explore how all levels of government use geospatial technology. This year, several staff members from the Center for GIS at Towson University attended. Here are a few of our highlights from the event.
  • This year’s plenary was especially inspiring in thinking about the role GIS can play as an integrator of information across subject areas, regions, and governments in the face of challenges like climate change, food and water insecurity, and disaster recovery. Leveraging GIS and emerging technology can help foster collaboration and make GIS accessible by more people, with the ultimate potential to generate new kinds of knowledge and enact better informed policy. Video clips from the plenary can be found here.
  • The collaboration between NatureServe, Esri and The Nature Conservancy to map biodiversity irreplaceability for the U.S. at a local scale is of particular interest. This effort is currently underway and represents a game changer for both broad and local decision-making around land use planning and protection of vulnerable species.
  • We gained a better understanding of ArcGIS Indoors, an indoor mapping system. Indoors combines building information and navigation functionality to provide users with a complete interior map of any set of buildings. This presents opportunities for campus navigation, space allocation planning, asset management, and security.
  • We were introduced to some of the new features in ArcGIS Pro 2.3, such as the ability to start working in ArcGIS Pro without creating a project, run spell-check in map layouts, use a new flicker display mode to compare layers, access the beautiful new Equal Earth projection, and write temporary geoprocessing tool outputs to memory. The list of new functionalities is quite long, but we’re most excited to try out the new Deep Learning toolset, the LocateXT extension for mining locations from text-based files, and scatterplot and bubble charts for visualizing relationships between multiple variables.
  • We learned about customizing vector basemaps and creating vector tile basemaps. These custom basemaps can be created and edited in ArcGIS Pro, published as vector tile packages through ArcGIS Online, and used in any map or app. There are also customized scale options users can build into their basemaps—scale-based symbology and sizing, alternating symbols, and display filters.
  • We were impressed by the live demo of ArcGIS Notebooks. The Jupyter notebook platform allows users to write Python to perform analysis tasks, create new map layers, and generate interactive maps and charts in one place. Esri plans to launch the capability to host and share notebooks via ArcGIS Enterprise infrastructure in March.

About the Authors

Alex Mikulski

Alex Mikulski

GIS specialist

Alex Mikulski is a GIS specialist at the Center for GIS. She performs research and spatial data analysis and processing as well as map development. Additionally, she develops training materials and facilitates teaching ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Online for Maryland state employees through the Statewide GIS Training Program.

Christina Nemphos

Christina Nemphos

GIS specialist

Christina Nemphos joined the Center for GIS team in 2008. As a GIS Specialist, she works to manage, map, and analyze spatial data from a variety of fields. Christina is currently pursuing an M.S. in Social Science, applying her interest in GIS to anthropology and environmental issues.