ESRI, the leading GIS software provider in the world, provides users with desktop software, online platforms, customizable applications and more. Last week ESRI put on the 39th Annual User Conference (UC) at the San Diego Convention Center from July 8-12. The UC brought together GIS users from across the globe to learn more about how to apply GIS in their industry. This year the UC was ripe with opportunities to learn how GIS is being used to help solve conservation challenges.

This year’s conference theme, GIS – The Intelligent Nervous System, explored the interconnection of people and technology to transform how they see, think, and act. Over 19,000 professionals across industries attended the UC, giving them an opportunity to connect with and learn from other GIS users. Friends GIS Specialist, Emily Garding, went to the Esri UC where she attended presentations, technical workshops, and meetings.

The UC offered technical training sessions, user presentations, and opportunities to network with other GIS users over 4 and 1/2 days. The Conference Center also housed an EXPO hall filled with exhibits featuring innovative GIS solutions, an ESRI bookstore, DEMO labs and theaters, and areas for special interest groups such as the Society for Conservation GIS (SCGIS) to gather.

The EXPO at the ESRI UC offers lots of opportunities to learn about the latest innovations in geospatial technology.

Conservation was a consistent theme throughout the conference. In fact, Dr. Healy Hamilton of NatureServe, a global conservation organization, presented the new Map of Biodiversity Importance at the Plenary session. This map is a first iteration of high resolution maps that identify the areas most critical for conserving at-risk species in the contiguous United States. This map can be used as a tool to help guide effective conservation decision-making in the future.

Keynote speakers included big names in conservation such as Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. E.O. Wilson, who participated in a round-table discussion about conservation challenges facing us today. Jane Goodall left us with a message of hope- saying that together, and through the use of GIS, we can create a better future.

Every single one of us makes an impact on the world every day. It’s in our choices – what we buy, what we eat, what we do. This community using GIS is making a difference every day” – Jane Goodall, Ph.D.

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