Dyan

Dyan

I often describe myself as a “self-proclaimed leadership junky.” What I mean by this is I’ve experienced the gamut of leadership programs from Leadership Washington to Leadership Maryland to Leadership Howard County to leadership programs specifically for Economic Developers.   Each of these leadership experiences has left me with a different gift and given me insights and tools I continue to utilize in my professional and personal life.

 

So, when our President Dr. Maravene Loeschke approached me earlier this year with an idea for developing a professional leadership program for women I didn’t have to think twice—I was in! But, before we took any formal steps, my campus colleagues and I knew we needed to ensure that a program like this was needed in our community. Thus we held a series of focus groups last spring aimed at determining a few things:

  1. Is there a need?
  2. If so, how should the program be focused?
  3. What should the key outcomes be?

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I know I speak for all of my colleagues when I say that we were blown away by the response and feedback from the women and men that participated in the focus groups. The resounding message was ABSOLUTELY, a program geared specifically for women in the workplace was needed. Once we knew the need was there, our team got together this summer sifting through the feedback, learning from other experts, and getting our creative juices flowing, in order to build a unique program specifically tailored for ‘mid-level and more’ professional women. Not only will the program showcase experienced leaders, recognized experts, and leadership educators, it is designed so that after each session the participants can immediately bring something applicable back to their workplace. The program is exceptional and will be a very special experience for those who have the opportunity to participate. Here’s just a sampling of the topics we will be covering:

  • Communication: gender intelligence, projecting authority, and commanding respect
  • Navigating organizational culture and politics
  • Having the hard conversations and conflict resolution
  • Negotiating for yourself and your organization
  • Effective networking, expanding your reach, and building your
    executive presence
  • Creating your personal and professional road-map

Towson University’s Professional Leadership Program for Women is semester based and our first class will launch January 13th! The kick-off session will feature Confidence Code author and BBC lead anchor Katty Kay. Applications are now open and I encourage you to consider applying yourself or nominating a friend or colleague.


Ellen

Ellen

In what could easily be considered the most viral trend of the summer, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has garnered a lot of attention. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis but commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a degenerative neurological disease in which the body’s motor neurons—those that go from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body and allow for movement—are destroyed.

 

The ALS Association was founded in 1985 with the mission to “lead the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy, while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.” Expenses for the ALS Association for fiscal year 2014 included research, patient and community services, public and professional education, fundraising and administration, totaling just over $26 million. The ALS Association’s total support and revenue for FYE 2014 was just over $29 million.

 

Enter the Ice Bucket Challenge. What began as an effort by a few families to raise awareness for this debilitating and lethal disease has exploded into a social media phenomenon, the scope and impact of which are unprecedented. The premise is simple: a participant that has been “challenged” by a friend has twenty four hours to donate $100 to the ALS Association or dump a bucket of ice water on her/his head, video the event, and share it on social media (Facebook, Vine, Instagram, etc.) while challenging three acquaintances to participate. The challenge has been modified somewhat and a wide range of celebrities—including Oprah, Lindsay Lohan, the members of Aerosmith, and Kermit the Frog—have accepted the challenge.

 

 

Towson Football Head Coach Rob Ambrose and Towson Athletics staff members Dustin Semonavick and Roy Brown take the Ice Bucket Challenge

 

However, not everyone has embraced this phenomenon. Critics argue that donations to the ALS Association, while a noble cause, could crowd out research or funding to other diseases that kill more people annually. Furthermore, some question whether much information about the disease is actually being disseminated, or whether participants are simply accepting the challenge in order to post a video on Facebook. Others note that using water for the challenge during intense droughts in the western United States is an unwise allocation of scarce resources. However, the ALS Association encourages “thoughtful” water usage in these areas, either by repurposing the water afterwards or making a donation instead.

 

Donations from the challenge, both from those that chose not to partake and from those that accepted and donated, have totaled $113.6 million as of September 16, 2014. This is a huge sum of money, especially considering that the typical budget for the ALS Association is about $25 million annually. In an interview about the challenge on the PBS News Hour, ALS Association president Barbara Newhouse stated that the funds raised through the Ice Bucket Challenge would be used for research, advocacy, and care and treatment of those currently fighting the disease.

 

For economists, the ice bucket challenge phenomenon helps to illustrate a whole array of economic examples such as: externalities (water usage), crowding out (donations declining for other causes), and how to encourage altruistic behavior. This challenge has certainly been a defining moment for a disease that had not been in the spotlight for quite some time. The Ice Bucket Challenge’s far-reaching impacts are unprecedented, and only time will tell how the increased publicity for the ALS Foundation will affect the organization. Though there are differing views on the merits and shortcomings of the challenge, one thing is clear: ice is back with this brand new invention.

 


Aaron

Aaron

Towson University’s Center for Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to developing quality courses that meet the current and future demands of our workforce. We have adopted a blended style of curriculum development that pairs our renowned faculty with leaders from industry to develop state-of –the-art professional programs. In 2012 we launched our flagship continuing education program, the Project Management Professional (PMP)® preparation course, which boasts our highest enrollment numbers over the last two fiscal years. We have continued to improve the course to fully align with the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013. In February 2014, we also delivered the first in-class session of this program, delivered by the developers of the online version of the course.

The success of our PMP® has been recognized by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and we have recently been awarded the prestigious designation as a Registered Educational Provider (R.E.P.).

PMI_REP_Certificate

So what is a PMI R.E.P.?
As stated on PMI’s website, “PMI R.E.P.s are organizations that we have approved to offer training in project management and issue professional development units (PDUs) to meet the continuing education requirements needed by PMI credential holders.[1] Towson University’s Center for Professional Studies took on the arduous challenge of carefully refining all the course content and materials so that it met all of PMI’s strict standards for R.E.P. status. In September 2014 our online and in-class Project Management Professional (PMP)® preparation courses were granted this respected status.

infographic_pmp

How does an R.E.P. impact a PMP program?
Prior to becoming a R.E.P. our program was primarily geared towards learners preparing to take the PMP® exam. However, we can now offer our program to current PMP® credential holders so that they may earn professional development units (PDUs) to keep and maintain their certification. All PMP® credential holders must earn 60 PDUs every three years in order to renew their certificate for another three year term. PMP® credential holders may now take our program and earn 23 PDUs towards the 60 needed for their certificate renewal.

We also have the opportunity to segment our online program into project management topics areas, and turn each topic area into a small course and offer PDUs for each segment. For example, we can take the Project Risk Management section of our program and segment it into its own course, offering credential holders 5 PDUs for this small course. This opens up a new professional market and gives us the opportunity to further expand upon the reach and credibility of our PMP® program.

REP_Handout

[1] http://www.pmi.org/Professional-Development/REP-What-is-a-Registered-Education-Provider.aspx


Dawn

Dawn

If your organization has ever embarked on an IT project, you may have heard a lot of buzzwords when it came down to the documentation needed. System Requirements (one of my favorite), Communication Plan, Work Breakdown Structure, Test Plan, are just a few of the types of documents that may have been thrown around as potential documentation needed for the project in order to help secure its success. But what are the documents and do you need all of them for every project?

The table below provides a very high level explanation on some common IT project documents. It is ultimately up to the project manager and stakeholders as to which documents are truly necessary. Having all the documents does not guarantee a successful project; however, having the truly important and useful documents can specific to the project help with its success, no matter if it is large or small.

Document Name What is it? When do you need it?
Concept Proposal Explains the “need” for the project and to gain a project sponsor. This document is used when it is necessary to explain “Why” strategic goals are not being met or where mission performance needs to be improved.
Project Charter Explains the scope, objectives and roles and authority with regard to the project. This is created by a project sponsor. This document is usually needed if a project has an in depth approval process.
Project Scope Statement Explains the intended results of the project and outlines the specific team being pulled together for the project. This document is always needed because it lays out the foundation of the project.
Project Management Plan Documents the planning assumptions and decisions, facilitate communication among stakeholders, document approved scope, cost, and schedule baselines. Most projects should have a project plan; however, depending on the project it can be very detailed or it can be very simple or any degree between. Project Managers want to create this document as there “blueprint” for the project.
Work Breakdown Structure Decomposes a project into individual activities. All projects should have a WBS that outlines each activity, resource assigned and time frame to complete.
Risk Management Plan Foresees risks, estimate impacts and define responses to issues. This document is recommended for most high dollar, detailed projects in order to help mitigate issues before they arise. This document can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Change Management Plan Documents the formal process for any changes to a project’s scope that may or may not impact the schedule. This is recommended for all projects to ensure that all stakeholders understand the process if a change is necessary in order for the project to be successful. This also helps to alleviate scope creep. This document can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Communications Management Plan Outlines types of communication (email, cell phone etc.) and who needs to be contacted and when he/she should be contacted. Most projects should include this information; however, this does not need to be very complex and can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Human Resources (Staffing) Management Plan Outlines the roles and can include specific personnel needed to successfully complete the project. Most projects should include this information; however, this does not need to be very complex and can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Quality Assurance (QA) Plan Outlines how the final product has been vetted and tested before delivery to ensure it meets the project requirements and/or customer’s expectation. Recommended for most projects; however the detail can be adjusted to match the project. This can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Cost Management Plan Provides detailed cost information in managing the budget and costs of a project. Most projects should include this information; however, this does not need to be very complex and can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Procurement Management Plan Shows how items necessary for the project (hardware/software etc.) will be purchased, by whom and when. This plan can also outline the procurement process. This document is only needed for more complex projects where multiple items are purchased and there is a need to track those purchase. This does not need to be very complex and can be included in the Project Management Plan.
Business Process Document Details the business process flow associated with the project. This document can be the basis for a scope of work, included as requirements, and can even be the basis for training materials. It is up to the Project Manager and stakeholders to determine if it is needed.
System Requirements Document (SRD) Lists in detail all the requirements needed for the developers to deliver a system that meets the customer’s needs. This document is always needed for IT projects. (See: Are Requirements Necessary When Purchasing IT Products?, What Does Your System Require? and Knowledge Center
Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) Conveys how a requirement is being tested. This ensures that all requirements have properly been tested. This document is needed whenever a System Requirements Document and a Test Plan are developed.
Test Master Plan (TMP) Details how procedure used to test the final product and record results. (See Going from Requirements to Test Plan) This is always needed in order to test the final product.

Sharyn

Sharyn

It’s a huge undertaking to develop a website. And, it’s not something you should venture into lightly. Before you get started and throughout the development stages, it’s important to consider these things…

Set Goals

Do you want to gain more visitors, create more interaction with your visitors, have higher search engine ranking, utilize a blog, integrate more videos and images? Whatever your goals may be, document them in writing before you get started and reflect back to them throughout the development.

Prioritize Usability

No one will visit or stay on your website if it does not work. It’s important to think through your website’s navigation in advance. You can come up with a solid plan around your navigation by considering your audience, developing personas, performing a card sort, and defining the information architecture. Also, consider the integration of a search tool to benefit your users. Have you ever considered how visually impaired website users will encounter your website? This is a good time to reflect on ways you can provide a positive experience with your website. Lastly, be sure that all images and links are working and that page load time is quick.

Consistent Design

It can’t be stressed enough… use a consistent design throughout your website. Visitors should feel like they are having the same experience from page to page. To aid in this, re-use elements from page to page. Also, consider using colors that associate with your brand, but also create strong contrast to help with readability. Use legible fonts, but try to stick to a limited number of fonts to help with the consistency theme you are trying to achieve. You can use varying sizes and weights of fonts to assist with creating visual hierarchy. Finally, in your design, try to use beautiful imagery that does not look too much like stock photography.

Craft Content

Like they say…content is king. Develop clear messaging on each page that is developed for your audience. Select strong keywords throughout your site and always use page titles and headings. Thoughtful effort at this stage will help engage your audience as well as help with your search engine optimization. Make contact information readily available in locations like the footer or a contact page and try to integrate call to action elements on each page. Lastly, establish a plan for maintaining content. You may want to consider a implementing a blog to assist with this, but whatever you decide, a plan will assist in meeting goals related to your content development plan.


FrankBlog

Frank

Dedication: Akin to my own journey, the following 9 stalwart founding education entrepreneurs evinced a self-disruption by leaving the formal education platform to tackle education’s toughest problems with scalable solutions. Effuse thanks — and keep doin’ it.

 

Henry Blue of Alchemy Learning, Jess Gartner of Allovue, Alex Grodd of BetterLesson, Jen Medbery of Kickboard, Scott Messinger of Common Curriculum, Tom Murdock of Moodlerooms, Katie Palenscar of Unbound Concepts, Steve Silvius of Three Ring and Nicole Tucker-Smithof LessonCast Learning.

While all great entrepreneurs share similar traits, the education entrepreneur is a special breed. This post imparts an overview of what it takes to be a successful, backable education entrepreneur.

 

Fire-in-the-Belly with a Social Bent
There is nothing more inspiring, more genuine than an entrepreneur who exudes and incites passion. Founders or early CEOs who have deeply seated passion for the problem(s) they are solving have the desire to change the world – and can bootstrap and find a way to hit milestones. They are positively infectious. They attract talent. They never give in. The are also great listeners — to the market, to their peers and advisers, as this metacognitive state must be combined with a monomaniacal pursuit of the next milestone. The most authentic education entrepreneurs have walked in the shoes of their end users. The have felt the problem and are intent on solving it.

 

Image Credit: Personal blog of Shamash

Image Credit: Personal blog of Shamash

 

Marketing & Distribution Experience
The education industry is vast, hyper-fragmented, and has taken many prisoners. The early leader or an all-in co-founder of an education company must know the customers, the channels, the players, the policy trends that are in existence and developing around them. Knowing whether a K-12 practitioner will use a novel web service for math instruction, or whether the college professor will adopt a new digital textbook is best left to the experienced entrepreneur – or, if outside capital is required, with a syndicate that has deep, deep coffers and very patient ‘limited partners’.

 

Image Credit: The Washington Post

Image Credit: The Washington Post

An Emphasis on Unit Economics
Inspired by the late Professor Drucker on this front, an entrepreneur would ideally have experienced secondary if not primary P&L experience. He or she should have the ability to test unit or small scale economics before attempting a large scale ramp up. Having a firm understanding of what it takes to get to positive cash flow by product line, by customer, by temporal milestone is critical to discerning capital needs for scale. The build it with ‘active user’ eyeballs strategy need not apply.

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Knowing & Sharing the Right Stuff
No entrepreneur is great in all facets of company building. The metacognitive, genuine souls who do their homework, freely admit their weaknesses and highlight their strengths are the best leaders, the best team builders. While start up cowboys and rock star CEOs are fun, it is the managers who can decentralize decision-making, who can humbly admit and quickly move on from failure that will consistently, indelibly win.

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The education entrepreneur is a key element in the fiber of the world’s regenerative economy. As Carl Schramm, economist, entrepreneur, and former President and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation stated, “every entrepreneur is a social entrepreneur.” The great education entrepreneur, whether in a for-profit or nonprofit context, is acutely focused on execution, on serving the end user, on iteratively moving the needle in the various sectors of a global multi-trillion dollar industry.


Chad

Chad

College students can no longer sit idly by and expect a cushy job waiting at the end of their bachelor’s degree rainbow—everyday they must take their destiny into their own hands. In an effort to expand post-graduation opportunities and assist in this proactive mentality, college campuses across the nation are becoming a frontier for entrepreneurship and innovation—Towson University is among those institutions.

 

As students return to campus, the staff at The Student Launch Pad are preparing for takeoff. Starting this fall, we will be launching exciting new workshops and programs designed to spread the spirit of entrepreneurship from Stephen’s Hall to West Village (by way of the new Osler Bridge, of course). A variety of opportunities will bring engaging and interactive entrepreneurial learning to campus. Through student-centered and inclusive programs, we hope to encourage and empower students to connect their knowledge, skills, and passions to meet the needs of our university, community, and world.

 

icon2Entrepreneur U
We want students to critically evaluate every single avenue and option that could possibly lead them to success in their future—for some that success could come from pursuing a career in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur U is our ‘101’ course focused on skimming the surface of the entrepreneur process. Curriculum for this workshop is based on The Lean Start Up Model and will walk students through the process of creating a business model canvas for a company they are interested in starting or something that is currently in existence. The goal being that after two, two hour sessions, students will have a firm grasp on mapping their idea in and pursuing further ideation.

 

icon1_orangeSkill Builders
Our next series program, Skill Builders, is meant for the student entrepreneur with a basic understanding of entrepreneurship. These sessions are focused on specific topics—for the fall, we will be offering 3 sessions: Find your customer, Develop your product, and Pitch It! Sessions are just an hour long and are scheduled to fit in like a class period. To facilitate these sessions, we’ve enlisted the expert assistance of field tested entrepreneurs who are connected to the well-established TU Incubator.

 

Business Counseling & Mentoring
Lastly, for those students that are past the scope of our current programs, we will be attempting to connect with them through business counseling and mentoring, administered initially by Launch Pad staff and Frank Bonsal, Towson’s first Director of Entrepreneurship! These meetings will be held in our brand new office space, located on the 4th floor of Cook Library.

 

Come visit us in Cook Library on the 4th floor!

Come visit us in Cook Library on the 4th floor!

 

With the addition of Student Launch Pad, the entrepreneur experience at Towson is growing and thriving. Want to learn more about the Launch Pad? Find us online at TULaunchPad.com and on twitter @TU_Launch_Pad!


Daraius

Daraius

Later this month, a fifth casino will open its doors in Maryland, and in about two years, a sixth casino will open its doors. My question is this: Is there a sufficient consumer base to support this growth, or are the new casinos cannibalizing revenues in Maryland and the surrounding states in the region (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, and Virginia)?

 

About thirty years ago, two states—New Jersey and Nevada—had casinos. For New Jersey, Atlantic City was the gambling destination for the East Coast; Las Vegas was the gambling destination for everywhere else. Additionally, Indian casinos came into prominence in the 1980s due to a Supreme Court ruling. However, in the last decade, the nation and the Maryland region have experienced an explosion of casinos and other gambling venues. The adult population or, more specifically, those who identify as wanting to gamble is not keeping up with the growth in the number of casinos opening in the region. Between 2000 and 2012, the adult population in the region (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland) grew by 9 percent. However, the number of casinos grew by 183 percent during that same period.

 

Declining Gambling Revenues
As a result of this explosive growth, the media are full of reports on the share of gambling revenues declining across the region. This decline has resulted in several casino closures in Atlantic City. The gambling revenue is down in Delaware as well. In fact, there is a proposal to provide a subsidy to the casinos there. Gambling revenue is also down in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Hollywood Casino Perryville saw a drop in its revenues once Maryland Live! Casino opened in Arundel Mills. I suspect that, when the Horseshoe Baltimore casino opens at the end of this month, Maryland Live! Casino will see a similar drop in revenue. Furthermore, when the MGM National Harbor casino opens in two years, another drop in Maryland Live! Casino’s revenue is likely to occur.

 

Image credit: South Bmore

Image credit: South Bmore

What is the underlying trend fueling this growth in casinos?
First, many states introduced lotteries as a means to raise additional revenues earmarked for specific programs such as education. Many states saw the success of other state’s gambling ventures and began to introduce gambling in their own jurisdictions, partly to keep their residents’ gambling spending in the state and partly to attract out-of-state gambling expenditures. The tax rate on gambling revenues is usually very high, but casinos are willing to pay due to the profitability of gambling ventures. For Maryland, it is a means for generating additional revenue as well as an economic development opportunity.

 

The economic development aspect of introducing casinos is somewhat tricky, and timing is everything. Being the first state outside New Jersey to allow gambling allows that state to generate enormous tax revenues and economic opportunity, as many out-of-state visitors are attracted to the new casinos. However, being the last state to allow gambling means that the number of new gamblers visiting from out of state is very limited.

 

Furthermore, the shifting in-state spending from local restaurants to local casinos does little in the way of increasing local economic activity. However, if local casinos can capture out-of state spending, then there will be an increase in local economic activity. In the Mid-Atlantic region—New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland—all but two, Virginia and District of Columbia, have legalized gambling. For Maryland and West Virginia, this disparity has proven to be a great geographic advantage, as Virginians and Washingtonians who wish to gamble can go to either West Virginia or Maryland to spend their money. However, within Maryland, the share of clients to each casino will likely drop as the number of casinos increases.


Ellen

Ellen

The usually quiet Monday after the long Fourth of July weekend—a day for downtown Baltimore to recuperate from the crowds, festivities, and celebratory revelry of democracy. Unless, of course, Queen Bey is taking over M&T Bank Stadium.

 

As part of the combined “On the Run” tour featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the power couple performed at the M&T Bank Stadium to a sold-out crowd of excited fans. The downtown venue was just one of sixteen stops for this summer’s tour, which attracted concert-goers from near and far.
 

ontherun

Image credit: CBS Baltimore

 

Here at RESI, we analyze the economic impacts of various programs and events, and last month’s Beyoncé/Jay-Z concert had a definite impact on Baltimore’s economy. With ticket prices ranging from $40.50 to $251 for general admission seats and premium seats going for roughly $500 per ticket, ticket sales alone for the sold-out stadium of 70,000 represented a huge economic impact. Combine these data with concert-goers grabbing dinner downtown before the concert, paying for parking, and buying souvenirs—that’s a lot of money changing hands in just one evening. And keep thinking about it—someone had to sell those Beyoncé t-shirts and oversized programs. The electricity bill for the stadium included the power needed to show the Beyoncé/Jay-Z video interludes, and this required electricians and tech people at the stadium to ensure that everything transitioned smoothly. Outside the concert, servers who received extra tips from the increased crowds have extra cash to spend. If anyone drove on a toll road to get to the concert or travelled from far away and spent the night at a local hotel, there’s more money circulating in the local economy.

 

In fact, the economic impact of large headline concerts such as “On the Run” has been the topic of numerous academic studies. In their 1997 paper, Gazel and Schwer estimate the economic impact of a 1995 Grateful Dead concert on Las Vegas. While not a perfect point of comparison to Baltimore’s Beyoncé/Jay Z concert, the framework outlined in this paper as applied to the July show suggests that, at a conservative estimate, the estimated economic impact was over $11 million, with more generous estimates of the economic impact from the single concert being closer to $18 million.
 

beyonce2

Image credit: Baltimore Sun

 

Another way to analyze the concert’s impact is to bring the analysis closer to home. Let’s consider the M&T Bank Stadium’s main occupant, the Baltimore Ravens. Ticket prices are comparable, and much like the Beyoncé/Jay Z concert, Ravens games draw huge crowds of dedicated fans to the stadium, attract visitors to Baltimore’s downtown area, and are featured in both local and wider media. I would argue that the concert, a one-night engagement, as opposed to the Ravens’ full-length season of home games, is more comparable to a playoff game held at the stadium. Luckily, for our purposes, estimates of the economic impact of Ravens playoff games already exist. Estimates from 2013 indicate that a single Ravens playoff game would have a total estimated impact of $20 million. That’s quite a lot of money, especially for a two-hour football game or show.

 

Clearly, the Beyoncé/Jay Z show had more of an impact than entertaining its 70,000 attendants. Given the far-reaching economic effects for Baltimore, it is safe to say that, in the words of the Queen herself, “Who runs the world [or at least local economies during her tours]?” Beyoncé.


Michael

Michael

Esri holds many national and local user conferences throughout the year. Their leading conference happens right about this time each year in San Diego California, with this year’s 34th User Conference landing on July 14-18. Formally known as the International User’s Conference (now just User Conference or UC), it is the premier world GIS event, with participants from 130 countries among the 16 thousand people in attendance. To put that in perspective, by most accounts there are 196 countries in the world. This year the Esri UC drew participants from about two thirds of countries in the world. With the first day dedicated to the plenary session and keynote address, the next four days are packed with 1,397 moderated paper sessions, industry focused sessions and technical workshops organized into 71 different topic areas. All in all it is a bit overwhelming with so much relevant information to choose from and try to adsorb in such a short period of time.

 

MB1In order to energize you for the week of information overload, the first day is all about the big picture, success stories and what coming in future releases of ArcGIS software. This is all done wrapped in a wall of screens with beautifully orchestrated music and graphics to produce a completely immersive experience.

 

Esri Founder and President Jack Dangermond opened the conference with the theme “GIS – Creating the Future”. He shared his perspective that the practice of GIS is at an evolutionary threshold. He sees GIS maturing beyond spatial analysis and moving into full-fledged geo-design, encouraging us to see ourselves as geo-designers to provide the world with fully rounded solutions and alternatives to the many problems we face. He also indicted that he feels that something is a-foot and left us to see if we agree with the rest of the day’s program.

 

As is Jack’s UC tradition, he shared the best of our work, with submissions from around the world organized by category and displayed, with trends discussed. MD iMap was recognized for the new GIS Data Portal in this part of the plenary and later in the day more fully in a dedicated section on Open Data and the World Bank. CGIS worked as part of the GIS Data Portal implementation team and among other items created the data graphics making the site more attractive and easy to navigate.

mb2

First Day Highlights

There was too much on this first day to provide any level of detail on all the incredible presentations in this blog post, instead here are the highlights and links back to the video taken of the presentations in case any of them catch your imagination.

  • The City of Minneapolis and their use of GIS to recover from the devastating blow of the economic down turn of the past few years.  Their team dropped from 8 to 3 GIS professionals. Their success came from completely reinventing their workflow, empowering their cliental to be self-sufficient in working with GIS data and embracing cloud based GIS solutions.
  • The port of Rotterdam’s use of GIS to transform from being the world’s largest port to being the best port in the world. With a ship coming or going every 6 minutes and a 4 hour sail time from the entrance point of the port to the farthest berth, optimizing and managing real time data in their GIS was key to their success in reengineering  port operations.
  • Starbucks IT’s use of GIS to support operations and new store location analysis. Looking to expand in areas with emerging smartphone use (demographics highly correlated to visits to Starbucks) and looking for optimal locations for their Starbucks Evening store rollout (wine, beer, desserts, a spread of cocktail party finger-foods, and more).
  • Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority demonstrated its use of 3D GIS as a crucial planning tool for one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Impact analysis, alternative plans and meeting design metrics in an expedited manner were all successful outcomes of applying geo-design concepts and practices.
  • U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Spritzer shared her views on the value of open data in a keynote speech titled America’s Data Agency – Expanding Economic Opportunity with Open Data.
  • Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, NOAA Administrator, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, US Department of Commerce (and former shuttle astronaut) shared how she is striving to bring earth science to life for global and national environmental challenges and decisions we all face.
  • Will.i.am (via Skype from Australia) talking to Jack Dangermond after an Esri staffer showed off a prototype of the smart watch he is developing, which includes an a really innovative voice activated Esri mapping application that is a peek into the future (or the past, as I think Dick Tracy had this watch)! Will.i.am explained that this project is part of his efforts in a larger program to empower youth in disadvantaged areas similar to where he grew up.
  • Jane Goodall (video message) provided a follow up to her 2005 Esri UC Keynote address on the threats that chimpanzees face. She talked about how GIS-supported land use management plans for villages around critical habitat areas are making a real difference in conservation efforts to save space for chimpanzees.
  • Sonora Elementary students from Springdale, Arkansas will surely impress you with the way that GIS can be connected with education. Their teacher Charlie Fitzpatrick introduces two of his students and they steal the show talking about their projects.
  • World Health Organization and the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation representatives (Dr. Bruce Aylward and Dr. Vincent Seaman) delivered a joint keynote presentation on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. This in-depth presentation stepped though the intensive efforts to reach the last pockets of polio in the most difficult locations to reach on earth, and how GIS is vital tool to for fill this mission.

 

What was evident from the prominence and diversity of these presentations was there is indeed something “a-foot”. From my perspective it was that Esri did not so much promote what their products could do, instead they let the stories of their products speak for themselves. These were indeed very powerful stories that spoke to the transformative power of GIS in action. There was another thread woven throughout the week’s paper and industry focused sessions that reinforced this notion of real change in the air both with the science and practice of GIS.  It was apparent that the transformative steps Esri has taken with its platform over the past several years and its efforts to make GIS more accessible are all coming together in a unified fashion across all fronts within the organization. Esri seems to be laser focused on its client’s success in a way that I have not seen before, providing complete solution sets for complex problems and implementations.

 

Special Achievements in GIS

In the middle of the conference each year Esri recognizes exceptional work in GIS by presenting “Special Achievements in GIS” or SAG Awards. This year the State of Maryland was recognized for OSPREY–Innovative use of GIS for Emergency Management that makes a difference. Barney Krucoff accepted the award on behalf of the Maryland Department of Information Technology (DoIT) and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). CGIS is a proud partner in developing the OSPREY suite of tools in support of emergency management and the citizens of Maryland.

Michael Bentivegna (CGIS), Barney Krucoff (DoIT), Mickey Brierley (FEMA – formerly MEMA)

Michael Bentivegna (CGIS), Barney Krucoff (DoIT), Mickey Brierley (FEMA – formerly MEMA)