ESRI User Conference 2015

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to goto the ESRI User Conference in San Diego. It was quite an impressive conference with approximately 15,000 people in attendance. 

This is the second time that I have been able to goto San Diego, before was when my wife had a conference of her own there. I won't get into all the geeky details of the ESRI conference, but I think there are two things that were cool from the conference that the general public can enjoy. Most of ESRI's tools are geared towards enterprise solutions so they are paid accounts, but there are a couple of free things out there for people to try. 

ArcGIS Online.

The first one is ArcGIS online. This is basically an online mapping interface for people to create maps. Most of us are experienced with using Google Maps, perhaps even some of us out there have done some line or polygon drawing in Google. Over the past couple of years I think Google has basically ruined their mapping interface and while it is still good for routing, creating custom maps is a nightmare. 

ESRI thankfully has a pretty easy and robust solution. Over at you can setup a free account that gives you 2GB of storage space to upload files, data, images or whatever for map creation. They have really done a nice job and their embed and creation tools are really robust. Plus they have a fantastic community of "base maps" from, the USGS, etc. that people can use. It really blows Google Maps out of the water so if you do any sort of tracking with GPS for hiking, biking or whatever, I would highly recommend people check it out. 

Story Maps

The second tool thatI saw was Story Maps. This is essentially an interface for loading your maps and photos into a cool interactive web program. Have you seen those cook New York Times or National Geographic articles that use mapping and images? This does that. You'll need an account, which I noted above, but from there they have templates you can use for telling a story. Simply upload your geotagged photos from your phone, or if you have a map already made use that. There are some wonderful examples on their website in their featured content section. Here is a great example they created:


Finally we did have a bit of fun while in San Diego. The food there is always wonderful and we had an opportunity to visit the zoo one day.