Conference Season!

Most years, I usually watch the conference season from afar.

But this year I get to join in the fun. Below are the two I shall be attending. How about you?

CalGIS/LocationCon 2017

  • May 22 – 24, 2017
  • Oakland, California

This year’s theme is “Building Bridges” and is co-hosted by CalGIS (URISA) and LocationTech. This year’s conference will host a diverse schedule and attendees. The CalGIS community tend to represent GIS best practices in government, non-profit, education and consulting in California. The LocationTech community represents folk who develop advanced location aware technologies via collaboration with commercially-friendly open source software.

This conference will meld the “old” with the “new”. I’m excited about learning more. The three-days are packed with lots of talks, sessions, and trainings.

ESRI’s UC in San Diego

  • July 10 – 14, 2017
  • San Diego, California

ESRI’s User Conference (UC) is probably the largest gathering of GIS professionals anywhere in the United States. The last one I went to was over 10 years ago.

This year’s UC boasts over 300 hours of moderated sessions and over 450 hours of training.

Yikes!

I won’t be able to attend all five days of the conference, but I do intend to be there for the bulk of the week and learn as much as I can from my peers and industry professionals.

I’ll report back on each. Until then, enjoy all the opportunities to travel.

What’s that thing in the sky?

Is it a bird? A plane? A rocket?

No – it’s a drone.

From Wikipedia

Welcome to the world of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV for short) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS – preferred by government).

A little scary, isn’t it? I mean look at that thing – it’s got a camera and can literally go anywhere.

Well, technically, not anywhere. The U.S. FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has applied several restrictions for hobby users and will consider commercial use of a drone on a case-by-case basis. There’s a lot of unknowns about regulation of drones at the moment, but one thing is for sure – people are using them.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending CalGIS 2015 in Sacramento, California. I went to one of the all-day preliminary sessions specifically on UAVs and UASs. Many UAV vendors were anxious to show off their wares and tell us all about what cool things their drones could do for both large and small business.

I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker.

Honestly, I want one. I’ve wanted one for a while now, ever since I saw this video:

I’m not a marine biologist, but like many of us, I am enamored with marine creatures and the footage above inspired me. Wouldn’t it be great if I could use a drone to inspect vegetation condition on a project or monitor potential wildlife habitat without disturbing the critters?

So, I’ve been on the look out for drones. I’ve been following their development and the FAA rulings, and when I saw there was a whole day of presentations just on drones at this year’s CalGIS, I knew I had to go.

I’m glad I did, because I found out three important things:

  1. There are here, folks. Commercially available drones can be bought and used today. Check out companies like 3DR.
  2. No one likes a drone invading their privacy.
  3. And safety cannot be overstated. Rest assured, you do not want to be the one to take down a small-engine plane when your drone gets sucked into their engine or propeller.

While I’m not quite ready to go out and buy one (yet), I will be approaching companies like GeoWing Mapping and Airphrame on how best I could start using UAV technology to provide my customers the most detailed and up-to-date map products available today.