Esri User Conference – Day 3

Again, I have many roles in ExCiteS, so today was the day where I investigated potential opportunities for tech and collaboration for the current project I’m working on, Challenging RISK, where we seek to understand how we may positively impact earthquake and fire preparedness through multidisciplinary approaches. Ours, in particular, is to use digital technologies and mapping to engage with local communities through citizen science approaches of participatory action research and participatory design; in the world of disaster management, our work is largely non-existent, so we usually get peculiar looks from professionals in the field. The citizens are the people you protect, not the people you involve in process… (something we are actively challenging).

In the morning, I attended a talk by Katherine Elsom and her colleague from DMCii on how their company have used satellite imagery to understand disasters and help assess areas for vulnerability and after effects of events. In a model, they showed the four phases of emergency management: Mitigation (preventing future emergencies or minimizing their effects), Preparedness (preparing to handle an emergency), Response (responding safely to an emergency), and Recovery (Recovering from an emergency); an important aspect of their talk was that they encourage people to focus on preparedness, as this is where individuals may be able to make a difference, but (as many in the room were familiar with) awareness doesn’t always equate to preparedness.

I followed up afterwards with my own talk on Risk and Vulnerability Analysis Using GIS to discuss our work so far on the Challenging RISK project. Namely, from our work stream, how we’ve identified a disconnect between the citizens and official agencies, and how we hope to use tools designed with the citizens to create communication between them through the use of our open source platform, GeoKey, and Esri Technologies. The main aspect that differentiates GeoKey from other platforms, as there are many out there, is that it can store and TRANSLATE data between formats (requires a module to be developed to do so, but I’ve personally done it recently and it’s easy enough); so, you could store your data in your own MySQL Data Server, provide a GeoKey Data Connector module the necessary credentials, and then GeoKey could access your data and translate it into KML, so it could then be consumed by ArcGIS Online – the possibilities for this are quite exciting!

Anyway, the talk went perfectly fine, though the majority of people in the room were from official agencies, so I’m unsure if they thought it was insightful or if they were dismissive of it. Nevertheless, I think we’ve got a great message which we’ll continue to refine over the course of the study; should you wish to see the presentation that was given, you can find it here.

Afterwards, I was honoured to have a meeting with Dawn Wright, Chief Science Officer of Esri, and Josephy Kerski to update them on ExCiteS work as well as talk about my own research. I cannot thank Esri enough for being so supportive of our work and together, we’re continuing to make great things to positively impact communities around the world.

The day of events concluded with the Special Awards Ceremony, where the other young scholars and I picked up our awards, had a nice reception, and the opportunity to have our picture taken with Jack Dangermond, founder of Esri. His words were inspirational and it was great to meet others doing such wonderful work and advancing GIS in a myriad of ways.

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