There was a time only a few years ago when, if you lived in the DC/MD/VA area, planning your geo-conference schedule for the year went something like this: Register for the ESRI FedUC and then start booking plane tickets for everything else. That is no longer the case with more events occurring in the area. Here’s a round-up of a few events that are on my 2012 schedule so far:
ESRI Federal GIS Conference (formerly known as the Federal User Conference): 22 - 24 February. This is probably one of the longest-running and largest events in the area. This year features another DevGeo session, focusing on developing applications with the various ESRI tools. Last year was the first time it was done at a FedUC and the room was packed all day. This conference is obviously an ESRI show but the last few years have included unofficial, after-hours gatherings of people working with a wide range of geospatial tools. Even if you are not an ESRI user, there may be something going on in the vicinity that would be worthwhile.
TUGIS 2012: 19 - 20 March. I hesitated to list this because the last thing you want to do is suggest to someone from Baltimore that they are in the DC area. So let me clarify: This is NOT technically a DC-area event but it draws a lot of attendees from the DC area. It’s also probably the longest running GIS-related event in the region, celebrating its 25th year this year. The organizers at Towson do a good job of mixing up the program so it’s not as overtly “Federal” as events farther down I-95 can be.
FOSS4G North America: 10 - 12 April. This event was the topic of my previous post. Clearly, it’s intended to be a North American event and I would expect it to move around year-to-year so I’ll just be happy for the good fortune that OSGEO decided to inaugurate it in my back yard. It makes perfect sense as there is growing interest in, and adoption of, open-source geospatial tools in the Federal Government.
There are also a couple of interesting recurring events that have taken root in the area:
Geo DC Meetups - This is an independent group that meets the first Wednesday of every month and covers a wide range of topics. Given that I live out in the provinces, I don’t get into the city as much as I would like for these but the group has been gaining momentum. It seems to be doing a good job of building a community of geo-minded people in the area.
ESRI Dev Meetups: These meetups are ostensibly focused on application development with ESRI tools but, in practice, the content of the talks cover a wide variety of issues and tools. There have been talks regarding integration of ESRI tools with other geospatial platforms, best practices, case studies, etc. The nice part about these events is that ESRI doesn’t want their staff doing the talking. They just book the venue and put out the refreshments. These meetups occur as part of ESRI’s Northeast regional effort to establish these events so they don’t occur as frequently as the Geo DC events.
This level of activity in the region is good to see as the potential for a vibrant community has always been there. There are lots of people involved in making this happen but the people at Development Seed, GeoIQ and ESRI have been particularly proactive in energizing their respective constituencies and the results seem to be beneficial for all.