The 2018 Esri User Conference (UC) gets underway in San Diego next week, and Esri has released its annual UC Q&A.
The Q&A sets the scene for the UC, provides information about Esri’s strategy and answers common questions about Esri’s products & services.
The new Q&A is interactive and searchable, but to save you a little time, here are some highlights I’ve picked out that I think might be of interest for folk in the Petroleum and other Natural Resources sectors.
The theme of this year’s UC is “GIS – Inspiring What’s Next”, with Esri highlighting some of the more advanced components and configuration patterns of its platform (Real-time GIS, Artificial Intelligence and Distributed GIS) as key components to the “what’s next”. In terms of AI, Esri say they are focusing on “assisted intelligence” – which I take to mean machine learning.
In pushing toward this high-tech future, Esri recognises that traditional technical barriers are on the wane, with “more data available as services; software easier to use, install, and maintain; hardware increasingly powerful and flexible; and a growing number of people with strong technical knowledge pushing the capabilities of the platform.”
In addition, Esri report an “explosion in drone use”.
This year, Esri was named number 15 on the Forbes list of America’s Best Midsize Employers, and continues to focus on being responsive to the changing world of technology and its own innovation – last year investing over 31% of its revenue in research and development.
Some of the emerging tech and application trends influencing Esri include:
- The app revolution – Last year, Esri users built more than a half million custom apps using Web AppBuilder and the AppStudio.
- Automation – The ArcGIS API for Python provides automation of analytical and administrative tasks in Web GIS. In addition, Esri has implemented automated ArcGIS install and management with a variety of deployment automation tools including Chef, a new PowerShell deployment option, and cloud automation tools.
- Containerization and microservices – Esri continues to look at rearchitecting its platform into smaller components for increased reliability, performance, ease of installation and ongoing maintenance. As such Esri is actively working on new deployment options for ArcGIS Enterprise based on containers and an orchestration fabric “such as Kubernetes”. Once mature, Esri expect this to become the standard for “cloud deployments, large deployments, and for deployments with high uptime and high availability requirements.” Look out for further news on this throughout 2019.
- Big data geoprocessing analytics – Esri notes there is growing interest in the data science community to directly use large GIS-based datasets within “various analytic frameworks”. To support big data workflows behind the scenes, the GeoAnalytics and raster analytics capabilities of ArcGIS Enterprise have been engineered to run using a distributed architecture, enabling “faster compute time no matter if data is tabular, vector, or raster” – with ArcGIS Pro and Jupyter Notebooks providing the front end.
- Internet of Things (IoT) and real-time data – In 2019 Esri expects to release an “analytics for IoT offering” that will provide the capabilities of Real-Time & Big Data GIS as a service on ArcGIS Online (using GeoEvent Server, GeoAnalytics Server, and the spatiotemporal big data store) – which sounds really exciting.
- Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) – Esri says that the “emergence of AR, VR, and MR has been a huge boost to the 3D GIS industry by driving demand for GIS data in new 3D experiences”. Esri has several strategies for supplying content and technology for users, including the development of new Runtime SDKs capable of supporting AR and VR so developers can build their own apps.
Summing up its attitude to innovation, Esri quotes Charles Darwin – “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Esri Product Updates
Unsurprisingly the Q&A provides a lot of updates on ArcGIS Pro which, as Esri announced before last year’s UC, will eventually replace ArcMap. The recent ArcGIS Pro 2.2 release contains most of the commonly used capabilities of ArcMap (including the ability to batch run geoprocessing tools). In terms of migration from ArcMap, Esri notes that around 60% of its users have migrated from ArcMap, while nearly 75% have activated ArcGIS Pro with a view to future migration. Interestingly, over 12% of ArcGIS Pro users have deployed it in a virtualized cloud environment.
Esri call ArcGIS Pro the “connected Web GIS Desktop”, and in recognition of this is planning to enhance ArcGIS Pro so it can publish map, feature, and image services directly to ArcGIS Server (rather than only to ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise, as at present) – targeting delivery in releases planned for the first half of 2019. Part of Esri’s continuing drive for full ArcMap equivalency.
Esri is still rather tight-lipped on its retirement schedule for ArcMap. Currently ArcMap will be supported until end Dec 2023 but, assuming Esri releases ArcMap 10.7 in 2019, I fully expect this to be pushed-back further, beyond 2024.
Earlier this year Esri announced a new strategic alliance with Autodesk, and it hasn’t hung around: support for AutoCAD 2018-2019 files has been added to ArcGIS Pro 2.2 and ArcMap 10.6.1, while ArcGIS Pro 2.2 also includes support for Revit 2012-2018 (.RVT) files and provides the ability to define the projection of CAD data and reposition it, if necessary, in 3D.
At 10.6.1, Esri is introducing a new capability called ArcGIS Enterprise Sites, which enables users to create a tailored webpage experience to share data. Esri says that “sites” are easy to design via a drag and drop webpage builder. “Sites” is to be made available to all ArcGIS Enterprise customers and Esri claims it will dramatically simplify access to ArcGIS across organizations. I’m really looking forward to seeing this demo’d during the UC.
In January 2018, Esri announced that ArcGIS Enterprise Standard and Advanced customers are eligible to add Viewers (Level 1 Named Users) at no additional cost. This allows you to migrate from a traditional ArcGIS Server architecture to ArcGIS Enterprise without additional costs incurred by the named user model.
ArcGIS Monitor is a new product that allows you to monitor your entire ArcGIS Enterprise system, acting as an early warning system should resources start to exceed capacity.
Esri will soon be releasing a new mobile app for iOS and Android devices for location tracking. This will deliver an opt-in, schedule-based capability for sharing device location. I guess the scheduling allows you, for example, to avoid being tracked when you are not at work. Esri says the mobile app is optimized for low battery use, collects data in the background and supports offline map use. Sounds like another great addition to the Esri mobile app stable.
And finally, some brief product updates that also caught my eye:
- Since the last UC, Insights for ArcGIS has had 3 major releases (2.1, 2.2, and 2.3). This summer, version 3.0 will be released, introducing a whole host of new capabilities.
- Later this year Esri will be releasing ArcGIS Indoors, “a complete mapping system for indoor and built environments”.
- For those of you who like to use globe-viewers, ArcGIS Earth will be available on mobile devices “in the future”.
- Esri has released a new interactive coordinate tool delivered as a widget for ArcGIS Web AppBuilder and an add-in for ArcGIS Pro.
- In terms of content, the Living Atlas now includes an “Oceans Chapter” that features ocean and coastal observation data, as well as a new set of live feeds including frequently updated data from NOAA, NASA, and the US Geological Society.
Time to Evolve into a Spatial Data Scientist?
In the Q&A Esri notes that Data science – known for its ability to create new insight by integrating and analysing many types of data – is closely related to GIS. As such, Esri believes that many “GIS practitioners will seek to grow professionally as Spatial Data Scientists – extending the disciplines of data science, statistics, and machine learning, with advanced GIS modelling and interpretation.”
See you there!
If you’re coming to the UC, do visit Exprodat and other Esri partners at the Natural Resources Social on Tuesday 10th July, starting at 6pm on the Coronado Terrace of the Marriott Marquis, San Diego.
Posted by Chris Jepps, COO, Exprodat