Emergency Response Symposium Contributes to Increased User Attendance
Aurora, Colo., March 31, 2008—The Geospatial Information & Technology Association’s (GITA’s) move to refocus its direction and rename its flagship conference paid off at the Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference, held at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle, Wash., March 9-12, 2008. The total of 1,531 participants included a significant increase in attendees from user organizations.
In 2007, the association changed this event’s name from GITA’s Annual Conference to the Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference and refocused the association on solutions to increasingly escalating infrastructure problems. GITA leaders also decided to create a new “event within an event” called the Geospatial Dimensions of Emergency Response Symposium, which was also held March 9-12, and included two additional half-day seminars and 12 more sessions. The Symposium was created to bridge the gap between the emergency response and geospatial communities. It was a success on all accounts, with hundreds of people attending, many of whom had never before attended a GITA conference.
The conference’s Opening Session featured a keynote address by former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, which set an exciting tone for the rest of the conference.
"The buzz and passion were back at this year’s GITA conference! People continually mentioned Tom Murphy’s energetic speech at the opening session, including his quick wit regarding how China is paying for its investment in infrastructure. I heard a ton of great feedback about his take on geospatial applications to infrastructure and his excitement about the vital role of geospatial practitioners toward infrastructure. It was absolutely electrifying," said 2008 Conference Chair Mike Cerkas of GeoAnalytics, Inc.
Rick Button, United States Coast Guard, Office of Search and Rescue, said the emergency response event was excellent and very timely. “It brought together emergency responders and helped them understand not only the capabilities of geospatial technology but also the issues they need to start thinking about and planning for," said Button.
Prior to the official kickoff of the conference, 13 Knowledge Immersion seminars offered participants a chance to get in-depth education on a wide range of topics. The conference’s educational program included 111 paper presentations, and a total of 84 vendors showcased the latest in geospatial products and services on the exhibit floor. “Late afternoon of the opening day was the busiest day we have ever had at GITA. We have really enjoyed the great crowd so far and have done a lot of demos, which have stimulated much interest,” said Jeffrey Young, TerraGo Technologies.
Sharon Shin, Federal Geographic Data Committee, was also pleased, saying, “It was a great conference for us. I had a lot of traffic, and I was very surprised at how many people were there. I really didn’t expect such a big show. I gave out all of our giveaways—46 dozen—and came back with very few handouts.”
Attendees seemed to be pleased with the wide variety of subjects covered by the sessions.
“My review of the GITA conference—overall absolutely fabulous. The presenters have been top-notch and the venue has been excellent,” said Dave Harrington, IDModeling. “I’ve really enjoyed all the networking activities and look forward to getting more involved with the organization.”
Connie Mastin, Denver Water, came to conference to get an overview of enterprise GIS. “It has really opened my eyes to looking at the bigger picture,” she said.
Two panel discussions addressed topics of growing interest to the geospatial industry: geospatial Web applications and geospatial solutions to infrastructure.
Following the conclusion of GITA’s Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference, two companies—Oracle Corporation and Ubisense Consulting—conducted their own respective user conferences at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel on Thursday, March 13. Both reported strong attendance.
The planning committee for GITA’s 2009 Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference is already hard at work developing the educational program and other aspects of the event, set for April 19-22, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. The Call for Presentations is currently open. To submit an abstract, please visit: gita.org/gis.
The mission of the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) is to provide excellence in education, information exchange, and applied research on the use and benefits of geospatial information and technology in worldwide infrastructure. Visit GITA on the Web at www.gita.org.