Take Home Messages from Esri User Conference 2020

Once again, our community joined the Esri User Conference 2020, the world’s largest virtual GIS event with more than 80,000 online attendees. As we did in previous years, we hosted a “virtual” booth in the conference’s Sustainable World Expo section, along with many other organizations that use geospatial data and analysis toward achieving SDGs.

This year, we presented a number of online GIS applications that CGIAR has developed in recent years, including:

Food Security Risk Monitor, built on the ArcGIS Online platform by IFPRI’s Food Security Portal project

Kai, Chandra, and Jawoo greeted visitors to our virtual booth and networked with them. Being everything virtual, we missed the real-world opportunity to interact with fellow geospatial scientists in San Diego, but this virtual (and free) event also brought many first-timers from around the world.

Here are brief take-home messages from Jawoo:

  • If you’re an Esri user but still using ArcMap, you’re missing a lot of new and exciting features. Please move on to ArcGIS Pro already! Once you’re on it, you will find many new tools that will make your spatial analysis work easier. For example, Jack’s plenary keynote featured a new tool under the Spatial Analyst extension called “Suitability Modeler.” He introduced this as one of the most exciting new feature in the upcoming release, and I agree. I think this tool can help streamline our common targeting and suitability analyses. There are also many new geospatial data science-relevant tools and examples presented in the technical workshop and keynote presentations. Of course, nothing here can’t be done using R/Python for advanced users, but for quick prototyping analysis and educational purpose, this tool looked very appealing.
  • There are many followers/fans of CGIAR’s open geospatial data! Other than being cited in the journal articles we don’t always get to know who’s using our data how, but I’ve been always pleasantly surprised to meet people who recognized us in previous conferences and appreciate our work. This year was no exception! During the plenary, Fulya Aydin-Kandemir, a graduate student at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey, received the Esri Young Scholar Award for her study on the Water Scarcity in Africa (see Fulya’s award-winning report here). We learned she used the Global Aridity and PET Database to analyze the applicability of seawater solar desalination. She kindly stopped by our virtual booth and left a heartwarming message (below). Isn’t it great? 😀 Kudos to Antonio, Robert, and really everyone!
“Seawater Solar Desalination Suitability Map” by Fulya Aydin-Kandemir

Happy for being here CGIAR! I am so excited, because I utilized your data in my project that is the winner of Young Scholar Award 2020. Thanks for sharing data and information for researchers!

Fulya Aydin-Kandemir (Ege University)

July 16, 2020