It is always great to go to the ESRI International User Conference and connect with our users and friends in the beautiful city of San Diego. As the largest GIS vendor ESRI puts on a great show and the event is full of information from ESRI and its users. There are always exciting announcements and the vision of where ESRI is taking their technology is shared with the masses.
When I go to any user conference I find that the most interesting and surprising talks are, without a doubt, those from users. Looking back to our own user conference, the talks that really got me excited were those where something simple was done that could be used across many different types of industries. One such example of this is the presentation by Brendan Cunningham from Kilkenny County Council. In his talk Brendan showed how Kilkenny has built a location-based notification system that can send information of interest to residents who register. Some examples are water outages, road closures, and flood warnings!
The beauty of what Brendan and Kilkenny have done is the sheer simplicity of the solution; they have cleverly leveraged the platform technologies of our society. Firstly, almost everyone has a cell phone and therefore is able to receive SMS messages. This system is all about exploiting the ease with which information can be “pushed” to users. Coupling the ability to send SMS messages with a web registration service for residents and common place “point on area” overlay algorithms, and there you have it – a solution that can be used to notify users of events that they are interested in!
What also excites me are the many opportunities for enhancing the system. Where each cell number is currently associated with a fixed location, one can easily imagine a system where the current location is used in addition to, or instead, for notification services. The genius and the beautiful thing about the Kilkenny solution is that they saw the big picture of how a few key pieces of technology can be brought together to provide a new service that in the past would have been very difficult or very expensive.
(Take a few minutes to watch Brendan’s presentation below)
Are you going to the ESRI UC? If so, let me know! Both Dale and I will be there this year alongside many other Safers. I know I speak for all of us when I say we look forward to seeing you in San Diego and hearing about anything new and simple that you have done.