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Top 25 Stops to Make at the Esri UC

What to do? Where to go? You will be faced with many choices everywhere you turn at the Esri User Conference.
What to do? Where to go? You will be faced with many choices everywhere you turn at the Esri User Conference.

Choices. You will be faced with hundreds of them when you walk through the doors of the San Diego Convention Center next week to attend the 35th annual Esri User Conference (Esri UC). Chances are you will definitely want to attend tech sessions and demo theater presentations that relate to your work, tour the Map Gallery at least once, and hear the Keynote Address by former Maryland governor and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley.

But where else can you spend 120 hours at the conference, minus the time you need to sleep, sightsee, embrace the restaurant scene, and otherwise soak up San Diego?

Whether this is your first or thirty-fifth conference, deciding where to allocate your time at an enormous conference like the Esri UC is always difficult. To help you navigate through the plethora of things to do, we’ve created the Top 25 Things to Experience When You Visit Esri UC Story Map Tour. It’s a list of 25 stops we recommend you make during conference week, which starts Saturday, July 18, with events such as the Esri Business Summit, and wraps up Friday, July 24, with the Closing Session. All the events in the Story Map Tour, which also are included in the story that follows, will take place at the San Diego Convention Center unless otherwise noted.

This list is by no means all-inclusive, so please consult the agenda to tailor the list to your interests.

Have a wonderful week.

1. Socialize, Young Professionals

Mingle with other young GIS professionals at the Esri Young Professionals Network (YPN) Welcome Social.Chat with others from around the world who, like you, have recently entered the field, and find out what types of sessions and events the Esri UC has in store for you. 5:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sunday in Room 2

Esri president Jack Dangermond lauds the work you do with GIS.
Esri president Jack Dangermond lauds the work you do with GIS.

2. Join Jack

Start your day at the Plenary Session with Esri president Jack Dangermond, O’Malley, and other special guests. The music pulsates and the excitement is palpable as Jack spotlights examples of amazing work people do with GIS. The technical demonstrations, including those for ArcGIS 10.3.1, will dazzle, too. 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday in Halls F, G, and H

3. Score a “10”

Thank the coach later. If you are giving a paper session or technical workshop at the Esri UC, stop by the Speaker Resource Center for feedback and coaching on your presentation. Experienced Esri instructors who teach ArcGIS will be on hand to review your PowerPoint presentation, slide by slide, and give you tips and tricks on how to knock your talk out of the park. 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday (check in only); 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday; 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; and 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Thursday, in Room 33 B/C (upper level bayside)

Nibble on snacks and see the maps during Monday's Map Gallery Opening and Evening Reception.
Nibble on snacks and see the maps during Monday's Map Gallery Opening and Evening Reception.

4. Test Your Geographic IQ

Prime the spatial part of your brain and enter the Where in the World? competition. Correctly name the location of 12 DigitalGlobe satellite images and be eligible to win a prize. Entries must be submitted by 1:00 p.m. (PDT) Thursday. Ballroom 20 foyer

5. Marvel over Maps

Graze on delicious hors d’oeuvres while you make the rounds to see the fantastic maps and special exhibits at the Map Gallery Opening and Evening Reception. 3:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday in Sails Pavilion

6. Hear GIS Stories

Listen to firsthand accounts from the GIS front lines as recounted by your peers during five-minute Lightning Talks. 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday in Ballroom 20 D

Try out different design ideas at the UX & UI Hub.
Try out different design ideas at the UX & UI Hub.

7. Soak Up Knowledge

See what you can do with the ArcGIS platform today and in the future at the Esri Showcase and GIS Solutions EXPO. Get your questions answered about anything ArcGIS, including ArcGIS 10.3.1, ArcGIS Pro, and Esri CityEngine 2015. Visit with Esri partners and see how you can use ArcGIS with a myriad of other technologies such as UAVs and virtual reality headsets. Esri technical support and customer service staff will be on hand to help with any current issues you face. 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Halls A, B, C, and D

Get your geogeek on with these GIS-themed t-shirts, sold at the Esri Store.
Get your geogeek on with these GIS-themed t-shirts, sold at the Esri Store.

8. Get Real with GIS

Watch Esri staff act out what happens when a real-life situation calls for GIS at the Industry Island Envisioning Center. See scenarios played out from the world of the retail, telecommunications, gas, water, electric, and petroleum industries. 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Industry Showcase area of the Esri Showcase

9. Walk Away Inspired

Take an eye-popping tour of Maps We Love—the ones that tell stories and use data wisely—at the Mapping and Visualization Island. You will leave with great ideas on how to build your next mapping app. 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Esri Showcase

10. Put People First

Learn how to take a ‘people first’ approach to app design. Receive peer reviews of your web and native apps and attend hands-on workshops and lightning talks at the UX & UI Hub. 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Esri Showcase

Relieve some stress by taking yoga.
Relieve some stress by taking yoga.

11. Take Training, For Free!

Do you have 45 minutes to spare? The Hands-On Learning Lab offers self-paced ArcGIS lessons that pair an educational video with a hands-on software exercise. Esri instructors will be happy to answer questions. 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Esri Showcase

12. Be a Yogi

Strike a pose such as the bridge, hare, tree, bow, cat, and upward- and downward-facing dog during yoga at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on the grassy area near the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and the Embarcadero.

Emerge victorious. Join your peers for the Esri 5K Fun Run/Walk.
Emerge victorious. Join your peers for the Esri 5K Fun Run/Walk.

13. Go on the Run

On your marks, get set, and go on the Esri 5K Fun Run/Walk. Build camaraderie with other conference-goers and burn calories ahead of Thursday night’s Party by the Bay. 6:30 a.m. Wednesday on the boardwalk west of the entrance to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront

14. Celebrate the Winners

Show your esprit de corps and cheer the honorees at the Special Achievement in GIS Awards ceremony hosted by Esri president Jack Dangermond. 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Ballroom 20 B/C/D

15. Talk Dev

Socialize and strategize at the Esri GeoDev Meetup. Share ideas with other geodevs who design and build innovative geospatial apps for the desktop, the web, and mobile devices. Esri will raffle off some cool prizes. 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, Coronado Room

The Party by the Bay on Thursday night will be held in the new Waterfront Park in San Diego.
The Party by the Bay on Thursday night will be held in the new Waterfront Park in San Diego.

16. Party by the Bay

Walk or take a shuttle to the new San Diego Waterfront Park for Esri’s Party by the Bay. You will enjoy delicious food, great musical performances, and fun, interactive games. The party will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday at 1600 Pacific Highway. Shuttles will run between the San Diego Convention Center and the park from 5:15 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

17. Rest, Text, Chat

It’s dark inside but that’s what draws you into the GeoLounge. Sink your weary self into a bean bag chair and take a catnap, send a work-related text to the boss, or—better yet—strike up a conversation with another geolounger. Open daily during conference hours in Ballroom 20 A.

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Esri User Conference inside the GeoLounge.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the Esri User Conference inside the GeoLounge.

18. Learn Geography the Fun Way

Bring your children ages 5-14 to the GIS Kids Fair to solve geography quizzes and other spatial brain teasers. They will work with maps of the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica. 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday; 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday; and 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Thursday in the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, Salon D.

19. Shop til You Stop

Wear your love of GIS on your sleeve, coffee mug, or stress ball. Mapman and Mapgirl t-shirts and other geo-themed gear will be sold at the Esri Store, along with must-have books like Getting to Know ArcGIS, Fourth EditionGetting to Know Web GIS; and Ocean Solutions; Earth Solutions. Noon to 6:00 p.m. Sunday; 8:00 to 6:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Thursday in Grand Lobby D; and 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Friday in Ballroom 20 Lobby D

Listen closely because Esri experts like Andy Gup will try and tell you a lot about ArcGIS in mere minutes.
Listen closely because Esri experts like Andy Gup will try and tell you a lot about ArcGIS in mere minutes.

20. Let’s Get Critical

Does your map seem cluttered, or do the symbols look a little quirky? The truth can hurt but no pain, no gain. Visit the Map Critique Station, where Esri cartographers will offer ideas on how to make your map easy to read and magnetic. Open Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and Thursday morning in the Technical Support Island of the Esri Showcase.

21. Get Your Speed Geek On

Put the pedal to the metal and go Speed Geeking. Zip from station to station and hear Esri experts talk at lightning speed about Esri desktop, web, and mobile technologies and app design. 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Exhibit Hall B

Go mobile. Grab a bite to eat at the food trucks outside the San Diego Convention Center.
Go mobile. Grab a bite to eat at the food trucks outside the San Diego Convention Center.

22. Feed Your Appetite

Want a fast meal? Save the delectable Greek, Indian, and Brazilian dishes you want to savor for your treks to the Gaslamp District. When you are short on time, grab a scrumptious lunch at one of the gourmet food trucksparked between the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and the San Diego Convention Center.

23. Get Inspired

See ingenuity in action at the User Software Applications Fair. Esri selected some of your innovative web, mobile, and desktop GIS apps and multimedia maps to display. 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Hall A

Take a break. Rent a bike.
Take a break. Rent a bike.

24. Ask Jack

Stick around. If you stay for the Closing Session, you can ask Jack Dangermond and his senior staff a question. You also will get the messages of the week wrapped up and delivered by Jack. 10:30 a.m. to noon Friday in Ballroom 20 B/C/D

25. Ride into the Sunset

Unwind after a long day of presentations and tech sessions with a bike ride on the Embarcadero or other routes on 1,340 miles of bikeways in the San Diego area. View the map. Rent a bike from The Bike Revolution, 522 Sixth Avenue. The shop is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.

About

Carla Wheeler is a technology writer and editor at Esri and a former journalist. She currently edits ArcWatch and works with Esri Story Maps apps. Follow @gisjourno.