Creating the world you want to see

From advanced symbology and automatic resizing, to the Digital Atlas and the road ahead for 3D — Ta, Mary, Simon, and special guest Ellen Carter, discuss the greatest hits from this year’s Esri UC. Get ready to immerse yourself in the latest features in ArcGIS Pro, best practices for app integrations, and how industry leaders leverage GIS to solve real-world challenges.


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Ta Taneka profile image
Tariro Taneka
Program Manager, User Journeys
Esri Australia, Brisbane
Ta is the designer of the trailblazing ArcMap to ArcGIS Pro Migration and Web GIS enablement programs leading a new breed of GIS adoption specialists.   
Mary Murphy - GIS Directions 2
Mary Murphy
Esri Australia, Perth
Experienced GIS and remote sensing specialist
Ellen Carter, Solution Engineer, Esri Australia
Ellen Carter
Solution Engineer
Esri Australia, Adelaide
Experienced Senior Solutions Engineer for both ArcGIS Enterprise and ArcGIS Online systems.
Simon Jackson
Simon Jackson
Spatial Technology Strategist
Esri Australia, Melbourne
Leading spatial technology strategist

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  • Click to view the episode transcript

    Ellen: It's amazing to see how far we've come from that imagery perspective. We no longer have to rely on these different point solutions. We have that full end to end imagery product now, we don't have to leave our own ecosystem.  

    Disclaimer: This podcast is brought to you by the team at Esri Australia. To get your hands on more short, sharp and immediately usable resources, head to the Esri Australia website and search for ‘Goldmine’. 

    Ta: Welcome to GIS Directions. I'm Ta Taneka.

    Simon: I'm Simon Jackson.  

    Mary: And I'm Mary Murphy. And for this episode, we're talking all things Esri UC. And we're joined today by one of our solution engineering colleagues, a senior consultant, Ellen Carter, who was lucky enough to travel to San Diego to attend the UC in person. 

    Welcome to the podcast, Ellen.

    Ellen: Thank you so much. It's great to be here. Over the jet lag now, so we can really get into it.

    Simon: We're all very jealous, Ellen. No need to rub it in.

    Ta: It's great to have you join us, Ellen. We're all looking forward to grilling you on the next hot tech trends coming out of Esri.

    Mary: Yeah, we've got a lot to cover today, so let's get on with it. Simon, where should we start?

    Simon: Well, I think I might actually just handball it to Ellen. So seeing as you were there on the ground, what was your kind of your general take? Let's start with the plenary. What was it kind of your feel from the plenary and the sessions that you watched there?  

    Ellen: Oh, look, it's so exciting to be there. There were over 19,000 people in attendance this year. It was a record attendance and just being in a room with so many geospatial professionals, it's hard not to be really excited and, and having that knowledge that you don't have to explain what you do to anyone in that room.

    So I just want to touch on the theme and the vision for this year's conference, which was "Creating the world that you want to see". And I think this is something really quite special for us as geospatial professionals, because we are positioned so perfectly to really identify, to quantify and address the factors that impact things like sustainability, equality, safety, prosperity, all of these different things.  

    And GIS is one of those really critical tools to an organisation's ability to be able to make effective and informed data driven decisions.  

    I've come from a, like a GIS administrator background, and that was in local government as well, so my whole role was really to enable an organisation to help make the community a better place. And so, to have this as the overarching theme, I felt very seen, I felt very empowered and just so proud of the work that we do across the whole geospatial industry.  

    It's not just local government, it's our federal government, it's our defence, it’s, it's everything.

    Simon: In the plenary, I saw Jack call out Digital Atlas Australia, which was a real nice surprise.

    Ellen: Yeah, there were some loud cheers from the Aussies when that was mentioned that’s for sure.

    Simon: For those that might not know, this is some great work that Geoscience Australia are doing by collating various national data sets and making them available via web services for all of the users that are out there to add in and integrate into your own GIS. And that could be anything from, an ArcGIS Pro project through to a scene in Online or even a kind of a web map in Enterprise. Great to see Jack calling that out.

    Ta: That's awesome. With that said, let's get going. So first up, which presentations were you really looking forward to watching and what's your first pick Ellen? I should warn you; we're all limited to three. So please guys, don't get carried away!

    Ellen: It's hard not to get carried away. But I think for me, probably the one thing I was most looking forward to was really around field mobility and field operations. And again, like part of this is, is that local government background coming through and really enabling those boots on ground people to get out there and to manage the data that they're responsible for. 

    But I think, the fact that Field Maps just gets better and better, is so super exciting and if anyone's sort of not using field maps yet, definitely get stuck into it because it is such a powerful tool to enable that field data capture. And one of the really cool things that you've got now, is the ability to be able to view this as a split screen, so you can have, on your iPad, you can have field maps on one side and then on the other side of your screen you can have, it might be a quick start guide or it could just be even an image to give you a little bit of context.  

    And so, my mind went to my fieldwork is doing condition assessment and just having a quick reference guide for what we're looking for, for a condition one, a condition two, three, four, five assets, to make sure that everyone is sort of gauging and assessing their assets based on the same kind of benchmark.  I think it's such a simple thing, but it is...  

    Mary: So practical.  

    Ellen: Yeah. Practical and powerful. And I do just want to take this opportunity to mention that Field Maps is available on Windows 11 now. So, for those organisations that have got their Windows tablets or devices, you can jump into Field Maps again. 

    Mary: Did you come across anything else, Ellen, that really stood out for you?  

    Ellen: There's definitely some really exciting stuff that we're seeing in Survey123 in terms of being able to connect to some deep learning packages, and these can be even through Living Atlas as well. So it's not hard to get started using those things and, the example we saw in the plenary and if you haven't seen it yet definitely watch those recordings and have a look for yourself but the ability to be able to take a photo of something and use object recognition to capture the elements in that photograph.  

    So, you know, the example that they're using in that session is taking a picture of their workstation and it's picked out the fact that there's a monitor, there's a keyboard, and there's a mouse in that image, just makes that rapid data collection really rapid. 

    And then QuickCapture is getting more smart. It's getting quicker. Instead of just having the ability to capture one feature through our big button, we can start to add additional value to those features. So maybe it's a park bench, I've clicked my park bench button, and then I can quickly, rapidly press its material type and its colour, for example. So we're adding additional value to those features in a very rapid way. It really enables those field workers to get out there and capture data even quicker. 

    Mary: So you sound like you had a lot of fun, Ellen.  

    Ellen: Absolutely. 

    Mary: But I'd like to hear as well from the others to see what else they got up to. So Ta, what did you actually get to check out?  

    Ta: Oh my gosh. I don’t even know why you're asking. No surprises here. I was excited to hear about what's new in ArcGIS Pro. Ready Steady Pro? So I did say before that we'd be limited to three updates, so I'll pick three. 

    I'll start with the new spatial analysis tools. So the geomorphon landforms tool. Formerly in solution engineering, my background was really in public safety and disaster management, so the great example they gave was really around fire responses. They looked at ridges, spurs and valleys, the landscape and how the geomorphic landforms tool uses DEMs to automatically derive some features.  

    So we're able to see, using that tool I guess, how forest fire behaviour is influenced by the topography of the land and then how to respond to those areas.  

    Data management capabilities. I know a lot of us have been asking about catalog and catalog features, how catalog is being incorporated into Pro. So there are catalog data sets. This is a new item type, which changes how you explore and catalog your data. Then, you know, as you're panning and zooming, your catalog will automatically filter your layer to show what's visible in that layer. So it makes it really easy to organise and to find the data that you need to work with.  

    Regarding cartography features, advanced symbology. So feature drawing order, some changes to the donut and pie chart dynamic updates, so, you know, the charts filtered data dynamically as you pan and zoom on the map. 

    Ability to suppress effects. Control your point editing, so say you have a road feature, and you need to show road closures in an area. You can actually suppress the effect of the road and then add a road closure symbology to that specific area, which is great. 

    Automatic resizing on the fly for layout. So you change it from say A4 to A5, it updates.   

    Mary: That one got a clap.  

    Simon: Yeah. That was a massive one. I kind of love and hate that one because I kind of feel like - love it. And then I think about all the times in the past you sort of built these really nice templates and it's suddenly the project managers like, we need it in A3, and you're like, Ughhh! 

    Mary: Oh no.  

    Ellen: That has happened to me countless times. 

    Ta: I knew you weren't going to let me speed past that one! 

    Ellen: No, no, no. I mean, it was hard for me just to sit and listen to a lot of those updates because they were all so exciting to me, right? But there was just something about that, dynamically resizing layouts... 

    It was almost like a standing ovation.  

    Mary: For layout resizing, because we've all just absolutely had that moment where we've gone, oh, really! 

    Ellen: Nudging something over like pixel by pixel, just to you know…  I don't need to explain that frustration to you guys. 

    Mary: Noo, we all felt that. Sorry, Ta, we interrupted.  

    Ta: No, no, actually that was, that was the last thing, uh, last thing actually, the disperse markers tool. So you have new dispersal patterns so you can disperse your markers either by column or by row so that all of those symbols for those markers are neatly aligned in an area and that they're not overlapping. 

    So you can see at a specific feature, say you go to a national park, you'll be able to see that, you know, we have a barbecue stand, we have a public bathroom, you know, we have a changing area for parents, whatever's needed. But yeah, definitely a highlight for me, layouts resizing on the fly. I am super excited to get back into Pro just so that I can create some maps. Mary, you're up next.  

    Mary: I'm going to take a slightly different tact, I'm just going to mention, because we don't have time to go into all the amazing work, the special achievement in GIS awards, the SAG award winners. 

    We had lots of local and regional people bring home some awards, which was great. We had DCS Spatial Services, from the New South Wales Department of Customer Service. We had National Emergency Management Agency and Department of Home Affairs. We had Petronas, we had Majes Bandaraya Sya'alam, we had the National Parks Board in Singapore, PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency, Land Transport Authority in Singapore, the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing in Indonesia, and Telkomsel in Indonesia. 

    So we had lots of winners doing lots of amazing and innovative things. So definitely go have a look at the SAG Award winners page and see why they rightfully got those awards.  

    My favorite session so far was Lauren Bennett, Flora Vale and Alberto Nieto. They did the applying spatial data science, a complete workflow. It was, I don't want to ruin it, definitely watch it, but it's something that's very close to my heart I suppose, and that's using the data to make a difference. And through analytics and through really smart maps, simple maps, but very effective mapping techniques that make you go, whoa, when you see that data, it is mind blowing. And I love that Lauren continues to talk about the workflows, the tools, helping people, how to actually put those workflows together in a logical form. 

    “Because we have those buttons, we have them there ready to push, but putting those questions on paper that we want to answer, there's not a button for that,” Lauren said, and I rightfully agree. So we need to start thinking about how to create our questions and then put the technology to use to answer our questions. Absolutely fantastic session, definitely worth a look.  

    And I suppose the 3D side of things is definitely taking off. I suppose 3D is now where some other things were a few years ago around drone imagery and so on. It's moving beyond just pretty pictures. We've now got 3D in a place where the knowledge base is much wider, the applications for 3D are now better known and understood and the technology is at a place where it can start to leverage it. 

    So looking at something like the “ArcGIS; an Overview and the Road Ahead for 3D”, that session with Gert van Maren and Andreas Lippold was fantastic.  

    I'm more interested in seeing what Simon says than what I have to say. So Simon, what are your top picks and key takeaways? 

    Simon: I guess on the subject of 3D there, I know Justin Maddox from Victorian Government was out there talking about some of the good stuff he's done with the ArcGIS JavaScript SDK. I've yet to see that recording yet, but I'm looking forward to that one.  

    So there was a session called “ArcGIS Enterprise on Kubernetes. Is it for me?” And I found this a really good one. It kind of explained that the different architecture pattern that Kubernetes is compared to the more traditional Windows and Linux pattern. It kind of goes through the benefits that Kubernetes can bring around auto scaling and some lower effort for upgrades and also easier integration for those of you that are doing DevOps and infrastructure as code kind of workflows. 

    Also they kind of touch on the built-in disaster recovery, which is a real strong plus point. I guess more importantly, the session kind of dives more detail into the kind of the considerations on, is Kubernetes the right fit for your organisation? So, so those that are interested in Kubernetes, I well recommend that particular session to watch. 

    Mary: Yeah, excellent.  

    Simon: One of the sessions I've started watching, but I haven't finished yet, is around workflow manager. I saw that's now in ArcGIS Online. I feel like that brings a lot of capability to a lot more people. And I don't know if you saw any sessions on this, but I feel like it's an often-overlooked tool, right? Like it’s all about kind of orchestrating your repeatable GIS operations, streamlining your data submission and quality assurance workflows. Ta or Mary, did you kind of see anything around workflow manager and how it might be useful? 

    Mary: I did. I saw that session and they did a really good demo of it and walked it through in the plenary and it was excellent. It made me go, okay, it's been a while since I've looked at workflow manager since the classic one, probably. 

    And the other one, now that you've mentioned it is Business Analyst was another one that came up. It was the Electrify America crew, and they were looking at the largest open ultra-fast charging system in the US, see I do take notes. I'm such a nerd. And they talked about using business analyst and a few other bits around site selection and so on. I was like, that's just such a practical use of it for the case that they were looking at. So that's definitely made me want to revisit some of the tech that I've just not looked at for a while. 

    Simon: I also spotted that imagery capabilities kind of across the board seem to be far beyond what it used to be like, you know, five or so years ago. In the plenary, that ArcGIS reality, I found that really impressive. At the top end of the scale, I saw that ArcGIS Reality Studio being that advanced photogrammetry standalone product that lets you capture those larger collections of aerial photography and kind of generate those true orthos and 3D meshes and point clouds and seemed to be the emphasis was on largely being able to do entire cities, states and even countries, I'm not quite sure. But then also the reality for ArcGIS Pro, I don't know if any of you kind of took more about that.  

    Ellen: You know, since I entered the spatial industry professionally in 2010, it's amazing to see how far we've come from that imagery perspective, we no longer have to rely on these different point solutions. We have that full end to end imagery product now, we don't have to leave our own ecosystem.  

    And because imagery does tend to form those key foundational data sets for a lot of what we do, it's just such an exciting time to be part of the industry, I think, because five years ago, we were just kind of starting to really look at imagery as, as a potential core piece of our product offering and look at where we are now. Imagine where we're going to be in the future. So exciting.  

    Mary: Five years ago I was writing horrific Python scripts to do very basic things in ArcMap. And now it's like push of a button in ArcGIS Pro and I'm like, oh, where were you?  

    Ellen: Yeah. Yeah. And the fact that, you know, we can leverage machine learning, deep learning AI to help us work smarter, not harder. It takes away the real need for manually processing so much.  

    Mary: Makes it accessible, Ellen.  

    Ellen: It does. It does.  

    Well, now we can leverage this technology to help take the pressure off so we can be more innovative and we can start to tackle the bigger projects. I think that's something to really be excited about. 

    Simon: Am I right in thinking, Mary, that you and Ellen have already done a webinar around this year's UC. Is that right?  

    Mary: We have and that webinar went into detail about a lot of things, including the roadmap of items, looking at some of the products, and the updates to those products that Ellen is particularly interested in, and we'll provide a link to where you can view that webinar on our website. So, 

    Ta: Alrighty, Mary, training is your forte. Which courses would you recommend if our listeners want to take their skills a little further based on all the products and tips and tricks that we've highlighted today? 

    Mary: So I suppose ArcGIS Pro is still front and centre. There was a lot of presentations on that. So if you haven't already jumped in and started to work with Pro, we have a couple of courses on that. “The ArcGIS Pro Essential Workflows” course, just always a staple to have in your back pocket.  

    But if you did want to expand out into more bespoke parts of the tech as well, we also have a StoryMaps course. We have a dashboards course. Experience Builder didn't get a shout out but it was used quite a lot, there's also a course on that. There's a spatial analysis course. There's an imagery workflow course. There’s lots of work there for you.  

    Simon: So I feel like we could, I think we probably will, continue this conversation. I feel like I could grill you a lot more on a lot of the secret goss that you might've got from the floor, Ellen and any other sessions you've been watching. But I guess for today, that that's as much as we can do for this Esri UC wrap up. 

    Of course, a lot of this content at the conference is already available on the Esri website, so we do encourage you to check that out for yourselves.  

    Ta: Absolutely, and just a bonus tip, definitely check out the instant apps. There was a really great encore session on instant apps and a new highlighted feature called “Briefings for Story Maps”. All the resources we mentioned today can be found on our website that's, and please remember to rate the show wherever you get your poddies and connect with us all on LinkedIn or Twitter or the Gram, if you're brave. 

    Mary: Ellen, thank you for joining us today, thank you so much for dishing the dirt on what happened at the UC.   

    Ellen: Oh, you're so welcome. I love talking about all of this stuff, so it's been really great to be here with you all today.  

    Simon: Yeah. Thanks, Ellen. And thanks everyone for joining us.  

    Mary: Until next time.  

    Ta: Happy mapping 

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and guests, and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Esri Australia. 

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