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I for one welcome our ESRI overloards: Wrap Up from the 2016 ESRI User Conference

What a full week! Here is my wrap-up from a great 2016 ESRI User Conference.

I haven't been here in many years, and I am glad I came. I learned much, and have some new ideas for workshops and classes, and how IGIS can be more of service to ANR, and I got started on ArcGIS Pro - ESRI's eventual replacement for ArcGIS Desktop. Pro has a completely new user interface that is very clear; you can visualize, edit, and perform analysis in both 2D and 3D; it is super fast via multithreading & 64-bit processing (finally), and it has new icons and a bunch of new processing tools. A bunch of very cool stuff comes with 1.3 soon. 

Day 1: Monday was spent in big-picture, inspirational talks from camera beautiful GIS people. 15,000 in the audience, 10 massive screens. I loved it, I felt like I was at a really intense but sedate rock concert. Note to ESRI: could you put the chairs any closer together? The highlight was speaker keynote Andrea Wulf, talking about her obsession with Alexander Von Humboldt.  Note to self: get the book. In addition to the big picture stuff, Day 1 is ESRI's chance to highlight this year's software improvements as we continue the voyage away from the desktop workflow: Pro, integrated 3D, green design, Apps, seamless integration with the web. 

Day 2: Tuesday focused on workshops. I picked four workshops from the Spatial Statistics Team at ESRI. These were led by Lauren Bennett and her crew (Flora Vale, Jenora D'Acosta). Uniformly fantastic. I had downloaded Pro the night before, and with some trepidation got started and followed along. I am happy to report that it seems very intuitive. I have read elsewhere about worries that there is loss of cartographic control, and I will look into that. I learned about the Spatial Stats toolbox in Pro, and some very new capacity in optimization of pattern analysis (you know how difficult it is to pick that distance kernel), and in the new space-time cube capabilities. The space-time capabilities make very complex analyses doable, and are very exciting, but still a bit constraining if you don't know how to update the code. Oh yeah, and space-time uses netCDF format. 

Day 3: For Wednesday's workshops I chose workshops that would help me update class labs: Python + Raster analysis; Site suitability in Pro; Cost Connectivity in Pro; and some crazy cool prediction tool called Empirical Baysien Kriging, which I will be checking out.  I guess EBK has been around for awhile, but now implemented in ESRI software. The new suite of tools in site suitability + connectivity are going to be key. Kevin M. Johnston and Elizabeth Graham led the Site Suitability and Connectivity, and Eric Krause led the Kriging workshop. 

Day 4: All day was spent in Pix4D immersion with the excellent Pix4D support/training team. Pix4D is the gold standard for drone imagery workflow; it also serves as the backend engine for ESRI's Drone2Map application, which I have not tried. Most of the morning was spent in basics: workflow basics, application domains, super wow factor examples like 0.5cm resolution imagery processing. We also looked at workflow and best practices, accuracy, and some example projects. The room was full of 50+ people, many with specific questions about a range of projects. Got to hang out a bit with Greg Crustinger, who is now at Parrot. Even more excited now about our new Sequoia cameras. 


  • Little Italy has some great restaurants. 
  • We need to move to Pro soon. Probably not in time for Fall's class, but soon. GIF and IGIS workshops are going to have to get updated. 
  • I need to get more in touch with imagery analysis in Pro. Especially with the segmentation and classification part. 
  • I want to recreate the workflow for site suitability + locate regions + cost connectivity soon. 
  • The ability to perfom complex analyses in a GUI is increasingly easy, but is that a good thing? We have to be increasingly vigilant about training the fundamentals as well. 
  • One frustration about these workshops that I bet my workshop participants share - the data all is perfect, and ready to go. We need to keep talking about where to get data, and how to wrangle it into shape. 
  • Could drones mean the resurrection of photogrammetry? At least in the classroom?


  • Hyper granularity: how do we processes these increasingly fine resolution datasets? 
  • Global to local focus in modeling: GWR, optimized Getis-Ord, empirical baysien kriging all try to deal with and model local variability across a complex study area;
  • Incorporation of permutations and distribution functions in modeling has been made way easier;
  • Big Data, multidimensional data, temporal data: ESRI is really trying to be a better informatics platform for research;
  • ESRI seems to be increasingly relying on external and open standards for new data formats/products; this is a great trend;
  • Decision-making: all these analyses need to support decision-making; communication remains critical, tools for web-based interaction continue to expand.

Searching for patterns in high res imagery: template matching

From two friends in the space of a week! While I was away, this tool made the rounds: This is the alpha version of Terrapattern, a visual search tool for satellite imagery. The project provides journalists, citizen scientists, and other researchers with the ability to quickly scan large geographical regions for specific visual features.  

It is a great deal like some of the template matching routines in Definiens Ecognition among other proprietary software tools.  

Here is an article about it: 

They say:

Terrapattern is a visual search engine that, from the first moment you use it, you wonder: Why didn’t Google come up with this 10 years ago? Click on a feature on the map — a baseball diamond, a marina, a roundabout — and it immediately highlights everything its algorithm thinks looks like it. It’s remarkably fast, simple to use and potentially very powerful. 

Go ahead and give it a try first to see how natural it is to search for something. How does that work? And how did a handful of digital artists and developers create it — and for under $35,000?

The secret, as with so many other interesting visual computing projects these days, is a convolutional neural network. It’s essentially an AI-like program that extracts every little detail from an image and looks for patterns at various levels of organization — similar to how our own visual system works, though the brain is infinitely more subtle and flexible.


Google vs Apple Maps: an in-depth comparision

Did you know that Apple maps labels more cities than Google maps but Google labels more roads then Apple? Fun facts galor! Find out more differences between these too maps then you ever knew you wanted to know in this great article here, and keep your eye out for part too soon to come! Happy comparing!


National Park Maps All in One Place

Kudos to Matt Holly, a member of the National Park Service’s (NPS) National Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate.  Matt has been uploading all of the NPS maps into a single portal available online.  At the moment these maps are available in GIF, JPEG, and PDF...but maybe shapefiles will follow??  You can search the maps alphabetically by park, or by state.  Access the website here.  


New fire alert web mapping application

Want to keep tabs on fire incidient near you, your friends or family? Want to create an alert for your vacation cabin?Maybe just curious about digging deep into incident reports? The US Forest Serivce has released a beta web mapping application to do all that and more. Check it out!


Mapping the Housing Divide

The Washington Post, using data from Black Knight Financial Services, recently published an amazing series of maps showing disparities in the United States' housing recoveries.  They argue that these disparities have exacerbated inequality and have particularly worked against Americans of moderate means and minority neighborhoods.  Check the full article out here and explore the maps.  


Wrap up on the Hopland Bioblitz 2016

This text excerpted from the Hopland Newsletter:

Over 70 scientists and naturalists descended upon HREC from  April 8-10th in our first Hopland Bioblitz. During the weekend over 400 species from the recently discovered blind silverfish to the characterful kangaroo rat were observed and recorded on the HREC iNaturalist page

You can still get involved with our bioblitz efforts by logging onto our iNatualist page and seeing if you can help to identify any unknown species. Enjoy more of our discoveries by taking a look through our photography competition entries.

This bioblitz was supported by a grant from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and was organized by Kip Will, Maggi Kelly, George Roderick, Rosemary Gillespie. IGIS's Shane Feirer helped set up the IT infrastructure for the day.


Another rad lidar music video


Wall-E was right

Landsats - active and decommissioned

Used in my MDP lecture today, and so posting so I can find it easily later!

Great web app for viewing current satellite orbits.

More detailed info here:


Hopland Bioblitz is on!

Our big Hopland scientific bioblitz is this weekend (9-10 April, with some events on the 8th) and I look forward to seeing many of you there. If you can't make it to HREC, there are many ways you can remotely help us and check out what is happening all weekend long.

HELP US OUT. Many people will be using iNaturalist to make and share observations. Helping out the effort is easy. Look for observations at the iNaturalist site by searching for "Hopland" in the "Projects" pulldown menu and choose "Hopland Research Extension Center". Once there, you can browse the plants and animals needing identification and needing confirmation. Every identification counts toward our goal of massively increasing the knowledge of the HREC's flora and fauna.

VOTE ON IMAGES. We are hosting an image contest for the plants and animals of HREC. Great prizes will be given  for images that get the most votes(REI gift cards and a GoPro grand prize!). Please visit the site and vote for your favorites frequently during the weekend and share them and then sit back and what the slide show.  

CHECK US OUT. Our new app will graphically show you our progress for the bioblitz observations. Results will be updated every 15 minutes. See how your favorite groups are doing in the challenge to document as many species as possible.

Look for #HoplandBioblitz on Twitter and Instagram

Follow along on Facebook