Awards put spotlight on industry leaders
Major awards for exemplary service and achievement in GIS were presented during the Plenary Session on the first day of the 2008 Esri International User Conference, held in August in San Diego, California. Esri president Jack Dangemond introduced the awards by saying that the recipients were modelsboth in their work and behaviorthat were worthy of emulation.
The Enterprise Application Award was presented to the State of Qatar for implementing the world's first comprehensive nationwide GIS. A high-speed fiber-optic network ties more than 44 government agencies together, simplifying data transfer and supplying access to dozens of GIS applications that benefit the government, businesses, and citizens. "The implementation of an enterprise-wide GIS in Qatar has resulted in cost savings because of greater efficiency, better decision making, improved communication, better geographic information record keeping, and the opportunity to manage its data geographically," said Myles Flynn, Esri's regional manager for the Middle East. Mohamed Abd Elwahab Hamoud, the head of planning and projects for the Centre for GIS, accepted the award.
The President's Award was given to the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for another enterprise system. The city's central office for GIS enables GIS use on the city's 16,000 desktops. At any time, approximately 25 percent of city staff members are using GIS (though they may not know it). The enterprise system has helped managers see workflows and business processes more clearly and improve them if needed. It has also helped the city find multiple uses for the same data. Jim Querry, director of enterprise GIS for Philadelphia, accepted the award.
Two Making a Difference awards, presented for contributions to society, were given this year. RÓsario C. Grustide Pérez and RamÓn A. Pérez, who are both architects and planners, were honored with the award for their research on urban poverty in the barrios of Caracas, Venezuela. They are also the authors of Analyzing Urban Poverty Using GIS, an Esri Press book describing their work.
The second Making a Difference Award honoree was the U.S. Department of the Interior for its commitment to breaking down information barriers. In accepting the award, Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne made several announcements.
By the end of the year, the U.S. Geological Survey will make its 35-year Landsat archive available online at no cost to the public. Earlier this year, Kempthorne created the National Geospatial Advisory Committee, which will ensure that "As we move into the geospatial future at warp speed, the committee will ensure that the federal government does not place speed bumps in our path." He also revealed the newly created position of geospatial information officer who will ensure communication and coordination of GIS efforts in all nine Department of the Interior bureaus.