2018 Esri UC: GIS — Inspiring What’s Next

Jack Dangermond believes Inspiring What’s Next is not only about software development, but about applying GIS for the future advancement of our world.

2018 Esri User Conference (2018 UC), the largest GIS event which attracted more than 18,000 industry experts and users from all over the world, was successfully concluded on 13 July in San Diego. The theme of this year’s conference was “Inspiring What’s Next”. It was kicked off by Founder and President of Esri, Jack Dangermond, who pointed out that GIS continues to evolve and showed how GIS is inspiring us to explore What’s Next in his keynote speech at the Plenary Session.

Living Atlas — New Map Data for Users

The ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World is always evolving. In the presentation, the World Imagery Way-back application was used to create layers of imagery that showed a progression of a map. Further, a map using the Sentinel-2 Imagery, OpenStreetMap and Chart Territory was displayed to the audience, who could see history, forecasting, real-time data for land, ocean, and even the human footprint of the globe in 3D image.

The Living Atlas of the World is a collection of thousands of maps, intelligent map layers, imagery, tools, and apps built by ArcGIS users worldwide.

Restoring New York City’s Water Supply System

with GIS and BIM

New York City’s water supply system, which brings water from two reservoirs in the eastern Catskill Mountains 120 miles away, has been over 120 years old. Cracks and weathering in the segment known as the Lower Catskill Aqueduct has been targeted for repair over a 10-year span.

The project is born digital with the creation of a digital twin. Mott MacDonald, a consultancy firm, has surveyed the aqueduct’s subsurface and surface using LiDAR scanning to capture the details of the aqueduct. Existing conditions were loaded into ArcGIS Online along with original contracting documents from 1911. New tools in ArcGIS Online allowed Mott MacDonald to slice the GIS model and reveal the BIM model of the underground asset, which generated known details for engineering evaluation.

ArcGIS Pro — AI & Machine Learning

Machine Learning (ML) refers to a set of data-driven algorithms and techniques that automate the prediction, classification, and clustering of data. Machine learning can play a critical role in spatial problem solving in a wide range of application areas, from spatial pattern detection, image classification to multivariate prediction.

At the Plenary Session, it was shown that we could adopt spatial analysis and random forest algorithm with AI & Machine Learning to make prediction of outcomes easier in ArcGIS Pro. Applications included using the forest-based prediction tool to measure childhood asthma so that we could use the data to predict the asthma hospitalization rate in block groups.

Demonstration of the power of AI and Machine Learning in ArcGIS Pro

Pool Detection and Classification

Using Deep Learning

With the technology of image recognition, an integration of ArcGIS software with the latest innovations in deep learning was performed to detect the location of swimming pools using aerial and satellite imagery. The software went a step further to identify pools in a state of neglect, which would empower healthcare practitioners to help prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases.

Image recognition and deep learning technologies integrated with ArcGIS could enable better prediction of outcomes with greater speed and accuracy.

ArcGIS Urban

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) has partnered with Esri to develop a solution product that focuses on the workflow of urban development and planning called ArcGIS Urban.

On the common online platform, ArcGIS Urban allows urban planners to visually apply complex zoning, change of zoning, and present how the city would look like if the maximum zoning restrictions have been reached.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) and Esri are leading a new revolution in urban planning with the transformative solution—ArcGIS Urban.



The platform displays a mix of land use across the city, including residential, commercial, retail, industrial, and other development types. The solution also provides quick 3D visual for zoning changes for an easier understanding of the growth capacity. It also provides planners with multiple tools to measure the impacts of development.

ArcGIS Indoors

ArcGIS Indoors has been released in the 2018 UC and will be available for widespread use by the end of this year. The platform enables interactive indoor mapping of corporate facilities, retail and commercial locations, airports, hospitals, event venues, universities, and more. By applying the latest indoor mapping technology, ArcGIS Indoors makes location intelligence available for employees, customers, travelers, and visitors by allowing them to see and share where assets, rooms, departure gates, and offices are located. The information, combined with navigation, scheduling, and analytic capabilities, will make buildings operate at a higher level of efficiency and safety.

ArcGIS Indoors uses data streams, real-time processing, and location intelligence tools to help businesses and other organizations understand how to better coordinate space and other resources with their facilities and campuses. Insights from sensor networks deliver real-time information to managers and executives through interactive dashboards, while visitors and employees can find useful information about the buildings they occupied in 3D display.

Looking Forward

The new initiatives and innovations in GIS are taking us to a new landscape for solving problems and understanding the world. GIS professionals now have more opportunities to contribute to the organizations and society and make a difference in the world.

To re-experience the 2018 UC, please view the compilation of videos here.