GIS Users Prepare for Unlimited Possibilities at Esri's Annual International User Conference

"The UC is the one mandatory event that I need to go to every year," says J. B. Akin, GIS technology manager, SandRidge Energy. "If I don't come here, then I end up not knowing how to plan for the year. And when I come here, I see the new tools and what people are developing, and it helps me decide what we need to do and how to spend our resources."

This coming summer, July 11–15, 2011, thousands of professionals from across the globe will travel to the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California, for the highly anticipated annual Esri International User Conference (Esri UC).

photo of Jack Dangermond at UC 2010

Esri president Jack Dangermond presenting at the 2010 Esri International User Conference Plenary Session.

"This event is about connecting with our users and making ourselves available to help them," says Jack Dangermond, Esri president. "At the same time, we want them to realize the incredible community they're part of and collaborate with one another on the work they do."

A Valuable Experience

"The User Conference, like always, is great for reconnecting with people," remarks Ron Schell, EAM manager, Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha. "I get to meet the Esri people I work with, and my program managers and I can get in touch with a lot people, like the technical support staff I frequently talk to."

While Esri UC has long been renowned for the practical solutions, technical tips, and comprehensive training available to attendees, new innovations introduced at last year's event proved to be just as popular.

"The GeoLounge was a fantastic upgrade this year," said Brian Quinn, GIS analyst, County of Marin, in reference to the new networking area that provided a relaxed setting, comfortable seating, and computer access.

Equally successful was the first-ever GIS Open Managers' Summit, a unique "nonconference" event where GIS managers and technology evangelists dictated the agenda and drove discussions. "The GIS Open Managers' Summit was the single most engaging experience I've had at an Esri User Conference to date," said Seth Johnstone, information manager, Wachs Water Services.

When asked why they make the annual trip to San Diego, attendees also refer to the numerous focused sessions from their peers; the availability of Esri staff, partners, and exhibitors; and the inspiring Plenary Session.

"What's always inspirational to me is just seeing all the people who are wandering around with the same look in their eyes, that they're going to go back and fix it, and do it right," says Ken Bates, GIS extension specialist, Kentucky State University. "You meet people who have the same interests, the same problems, and you can share all that and go back home with renewed interest in what you're doing."

What to Expect

The week begins with Monday's Plenary Session, where Dangermond shares his vision regarding the role of GIS in today's world and recognizes unique projects making a difference in a variety of industries around the planet. Esri product engineers and other staff then showcase enhancements to various tools and functions in the latest GIS technology and demonstrate how these changes can help attendees in their work back home. The session ends with awards for outstanding work and provocative discussions from distinguished keynote speakers.

The rest of the week is packed with technical sessions, user presentations, industry/product workshops, and Regional User Group/Special Interest Group meetings, as well as the impressive Exhibit Pavilion. Attendees can also explore the Map Gallery, which showcases hundreds of maps from GIS users around the world.

A variety of industry socials and activities are also interspersed during the week where attendees can network with each other and Esri staff in less formal settings. The big party takes place on Thursday night, and it's a great way to wind down the conference experience as Esri staff and attendees alike dine, dance, and play games.

Finally, Dangermond and Esri directors host an interactive closing session on Friday morning that serves as an open forum to get answers and provide feedback about the future of Esri and GIS.

Get Involved

Even though Esri UC only occurs during one week in the summer, the conference fosters an active social network year-round. Get involved in the ongoing discussions and sharing on

This conference is for all Esri GIS users. Complimentary registration is a benefit that comes with some software products. Get the latest 2011 Esri UC news at and subscribe to the UC Insider. We are working on more new ideas for 2011. Submit your new ideas on our Facebook page at We look forward to meeting you in San Diego.

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