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Summer 2008
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Inaugural Remote Sensing Summit
Strategies for better integration of imagery and GIS

Held on August 3, 2008, in conjunction with the Esri International User Conference in San Diego, California, the inaugural Esri Remote Sensing and GIS Summit addressed the convergence of GIS and remote sensing.

joint luncheon
Attendees of the Survey & Engineering GIS Summit and Esri Remote Sensing and GIS Summit participated in a joint luncheon.

The explosive growth in the availability and affordability of remotely sensed imagery has made it a much more widely used data source in recent years. Nearly 200 members of national mapping agencies, state and local governments, university faculties, and defense contractors attended the one-day event that featured leaders in the remote sensing industry who gave presentations and participated in a panel discussion.

Esri chief scientist Dr. David Maguire began the summit with a presentation outlining the use of imagery in GIS and its evolution over the past two decades.

Enterprise GIS solutions require integrated management of both raster and vector data. ArcGIS technology provides a standards-based, service-oriented architecture for managing and analyzing both types of data. Maguire stressed that Esri has adopted a circular approach to processing imagery, rather than the traditional linear one. This circular approach is made possible by the Image extension to ArcGIS Server as well as key support from Esri partners. Its four main components—collect, manage, produce, exploit—comprise a framework that is multiformat, multiworkflow, multiuser, and multipurpose for the most effective utilization of this data source to generate information.

The summit's keynote speaker, Dr. Bradley Doorn, emphasized the need for using imagery to supply the information needed to make decisions. "When an economist needs the information from the image for a bar graph to show a three-point change, that's what we do. We don't make him look at a pretty picture. We bring the data to him."

Doorn is the director of the International Production Assessment Division and remote-sensing program manager for the Office of Global Analysis (OGA) in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) as well as president-elect of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). FAS uses information derived from remote-sensing systems along with its worldwide agricultural reporting system to assess the global marketplace and provide food and technical assistance to foreign countries.

Before the lunch break, Esri staff members Peter Becker, Lindsay McGreevy, and Dan Zimble demonstrated how ArcGIS integrates imagery with domain-specific tools and requirements.

At a joint luncheon with attendees of the Esri Survey & Engineering GIS Summit, members of both groups listened to David Zilkoski, director of the National Geodetic Survey of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), speak on the relationship between survey and GIS data. He emphasized the need to focus on goals, not processes, to achieve the larger outcomes that are important to society.

The day concluded with two presentations. Dr. Devendra Pandey from the Forest Survey of India spoke on the role of remote sensing and GIS in managing India's forests and mitigating encroachment conflicts. The second speaker was Berik Davies, global GIS and spatial coordinator for Shell International Exploration and Production, B.V., who oversees thousands of Shell's users around the world. He stressed the need to understand users' requirements and develop strategies for effectively managing large volumes of data.

The day concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Imaging Notes publisher/managing editor Myrna Yoo about the trends and challenges facing the remote-sensing industry. The panel included Mark Brender, GeoEye vice president of marketing and communications; John Buttery, agriculture sales manager for DigitalGlobe; Richard Cooke, founder and CEO of ITT VIS; Matt Falter of BAE Systems; Alex Miller, president of Esri Canada and Purview distributor; Michael Walden, product manager for Overwatch; and Mark Baker of Esri Professional Services.

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