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.
The week of June 6, 2011 seemed to be something of a whirlwind week for the Metro DC geo community. On June 7th, two meetups took place at about the same time, each with relevance to spatial technologies:
Esri continued their excellent “Dev Meetup” series with an event in DC. I had the honor of giving the leadoff talk, “5 Myths About GIS in 2011,” which I will post in the near future. There were also five great lightning talks highlighting a range of projects and issues. It also gave me a chance to finally meet a lot of people, including many that I’ve known through Twitter. I like these meetups because they are fairly no-holds-barred. I was given two guidelines for my talk: 1) Don’t make it a sales pitch and 2) Try not to trash Esri too badly. I was happy to see that most of the speakers used that latitude well, talking about larger concepts and integration of various technologies and not just “here’s my ArcGIS Server site.”
At about the same time, the DC Tech Meetup was happening. There, Andrew Turner of GeoIQ talked about “Big Data and the 4th Dimension,” about what they are doing to analyze large data sets spatially and temporally. I was unable to attend this event as I was speaking at the other one but it seemed well-received. I find the increased exposure of the DC-area geo community exciting after so many years.
Of course, the week was capped by WhereCampDC, which spanned Friday night (with Ignite Spatial) and Saturday (with the unconference itself). I was unable to attend Ignite as I had previous personal commitments although people were still buzzing the next day about Sophia Parafina‘s “WMS is Dead” talk. My understanding is that Slideshare will never be able to capture the true essence of the talk. 🙂
WhereCampDC was my first experience with the unconference format and I may never view a traditional conference the same way again. I won’t go into detail about how it works; I’ll just say go to one if you get the chance. The event itself was eye-opening for me in a lot of ways. I work primarily in the US Federal government sector, and WhereCampDC gave me a chance to learn about some of the humbling work being done by people in the development, humanitarian and environment sectors. I was left with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the work they are doing.