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September 28th, 2011
Mapping Pioneer Down Under for Ozri 2011

Ozri 2011, hosted by Australia’s leading GIS and location intelligence specialists, Esri Australia, will showcase the latest developments in the spatial industry and highlight extraordinary applications of the technology – something Mr Spangrud has more experience with than most.

Over nearly two decades working for the world’s preeminent GIS specialists Esri, Mr Spangrud has seen the company’s internationally lauded technology, ArcGIS,  strengthen response efforts during the world’s largest natural disasters, underpin the energy and resource grids of whole nations, and form a critical part of defence systems considered vital to global security.

No wonder he finds it difficult to single out the one that’s had the most impact.

“Having been involved with so many spatial projects over my years at Esri, it’s hard to say which is the most important in any category, but a few do stand out,” Mr Spangrud said.

“I’ve seen GIS techniques uncover lost cities using remote sensing and archaeology maps, which I suppose doesn’t happen every day.

“Less spectacular, but no less important, I’ve also been involved with GIS in the management of food production – mapping plant conditions, monitoring pests, and recording yield, centimetre by centimetre.

“The most rewarding are by far those that make a real difference in people’s lives, or have a lasting positive impact for communities, such as reforestation projects, urban planning, and social services.”

Mr Spangrud will draw on his 17 years’ experience with the iconic ArcGIS software to provide Ozri attendees with a special insider’s view of the future direction of the technology that has changed the way the world looks at spatial information.

The history of ArcGIS is one of decades of research and development by Esri to produce technology that automates traditionally manual mapping tasks.

A large part of the technology’s success can be credited to Esri founder and owner Jack Dangermond’s preparedness to invest 30% of the company’s annual profits back into nurturing the product’s capabilities.

Essentially, ArcGIS enables users to input different sets of spatial data, which it represents visually using an intuitive mapping interface, revealing relationships often missed when using databases or tables.

The latest version is the world’s most powerful spatial analysis tool, used by international organisations such as the U.S. Government, IBM and Starbucks, to local organisations such as the Australian Government, Energex, Hanson and even not-for-profit environmental groups such as the Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program.

Despite his vast experience, the Senior Product Manager for ArcGIS is still amazed by new and innovative applications for spatial technology.

“I still have many ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ moments where I see GIS used in non-traditional ways, or pushed the beyond what I had envisioned possible,” Mr Spangrud said.

“Things like the analysis of a region’s demographic qualities to identify social conflict hotspots, using 3D vision to check data quality, and adapting mundane urban planning models into critical emergency response systems which literally save lives.  

“In all these cases it wasn’t radical new technology, but innovative thinking and new ways of making spatial connections that created new opportunities.”

Although GIS technology impacts nearly all areas of modern life, Mr Spangrud is quick to acknowledge that most people aren’t aware of the term.

“People don’t necessarily understand what GIS means but that’s fine,” Mr Spangrud said.   

“Most people have actually seen or worked with GIS information, although they probably just call it mapping.

“An understanding that geographical information is important has certainly developed in the community, to the extent that people now expect a geographic context with just about any information they look at.

“As this evolves, I believe there will be a huge increase in spatial data, with users taking advantage of the common language spatial information provides.

“The role of the GIS professional will then become even more important, as they will be the curators of geographic information and provide invaluable guidance on its use and validity.”
 
Ozri 2011 will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Victoria, from 12 – 14 October 2011.

For further information visit www.esriaustralia.com.au/ozri