GeoAlberta – Location Based Services, 3D GIS (again), and more.

I spent most of last week with Jeff Warwick at the 10th Annual GeoAlberta Conference in Calgary BC. Despite having been relegated to an area of Calgary that was nearly impossible to navigate on foot, I left the conference inspired to make the world a better place through the power of social-spatial engagement. For me, a conference is always about meeting new people and re-acquainting with old friends. If you didn’t get a chance to attend (or you did, and owe your boss a synopsis of the highlights), read on!

Peter Batty (Ubisense)
Twitter: @pmbatty
Peter kicked off the conference with an awesome keynote speech about trends in the Geospatial Industry. Peter opened my eyes to the plethora of web-based mash-up and cartographic tools available for simple visualization and data display. Despite the fact that he had the same Google ‘One Day’ video in his presentation as I did, I still really enjoyed his insight. I think that the Ubisense-CloverPoint connection will, at some point, produce something amazing. He also tapes his presentations (brilliant!). So, lucky for you, you can view his presentation here

Chris Moore (Edmonton)
Twitter: @_Chris_Moore
Chris Moore, a member of the Panel of Speakers,  delivered the Wednesday morning keynote address. The things he has done as CTO for the City of Edmonton are truly forward-thinking. This is a man who takes OpenGov to heart. Don’t miss a chance to hear him speak, especially if you are in the public sector. His view on IT costs as infrastructure investments to be celebrated – as opposed to capital expenses to be avoided- brought a smile to my face as I envisioned the ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of a successful future IT project.
View his presentation (bonus point for using Prezi) here

Dale Lutz (SAFE/FME)
Twitter: @DaleatSafe
Dale’s witty presentation on the evolution of Geospatial from Pixels to Point Clouds summarized the history of the industry in 7 days, and left us with some thought-provoking ideas for the future of spatial decision-making. It could have used a few more Star Trek references though. Did you know FME supports 278 different formats? What is your prediction for the next release? View his presentation here

Jonathon McIntyre (i-OPEN)
Twitter: @JohnnieGIS
Jonathon McIntyre is a familiar face for us West Coast folks, but it was great  to have the opportunity to have a few beers with him and chat in an informal setting. His 30,000 foot presentation on managing GIS development projects was funny, quirky and loaded with helpful tips and useful resources. View his presentation here

Mike Schlosser
Twitter: @engis
Mike’s presentation about 3D GIS literally made we want to march up to my room and download Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler. His catch phrase, “explore what could be in the context of what is,” really struck a chord with me and directly relates to the work that I do. His case studies were nothing short of stunning. Indeed, he made a 3DGIS believer out of me.
View his presentation here

Ed Parsons (Google)
Twitter: @edparsons
For those of you who don’t know – Ed Parsons is Google’s Geospatial Technologist. Seeing Ed live is the dream of many a geo-geek. I had the opportunity to interact with him through the panel presentation. Just being that close to spatial greatness is inspirational. He provided insight on Location based technologies as well as a few hints as to what Google is focusing efforts on. I agree wholeheartedly Ed– If it’s not ‘open’ it doesn’t exist.
Watch the panel presentation here. And thanks again to Peter Batty for the footage!

Once I write something logical to go with my Prezi I will post that here as well for all the eager eyes out there.


Siggraph 2011 – AKA how to host a stand-out conference

Despite the fact that I was probably the only person at Siggraph 2011 using a PC (awkward…) I had an inspiration and eye-opening time. Needless to say as far as the technology goes, I was a bit out of my league. Despite this, I have learned a few things about how to organize an awesome conference from today, and I will share that knowledge with you:

Venue: It doesn’t hurt that I flew into Vancouver with the North Shore Mountains as a backdrop to start my day, or that it was a sunny, warm West Coast day in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Vancouver convention center is unreal. I am biased because I am a bit of a hippie, and the green roof, and Green Standards are impressive, but the all the cedar and the GIANT globe in the foyer of the new conference center set the scene for a unbelievable day.

People: Size Matters. Yup, 25, 000 people all under one roof (covered in grass!) made Siggraph 2011 the biggest conference Vancouver has ever seen. This many nerds under one roof had #siggraph trending on twitter today. I guess that is what happens when a lot of geeks get social. With this many people you just can’t help have a successful conference. Now how to get that many people to attend a conference? Good question. I would start by having passes be really affordable, and the rest is magic.

Food: Don’t bother with it. It usually isn’t very good, and so many people have such finicky dietary restrictions and preferences (yes I’m talking about myself) that they tend to not eat much of it anyway. Give people a chance to get out on their own schedules, and enjoy the sunshine.

Presentations: WOW. The presentations BLEW my mind. If you loved Avatar as much as I did you would have been floored to watch the re-creation of scenes at the Autodesk booth. Watching the process or animation from real actors was awesome. Seeing how realistically a computer can capture and render facial expressions was stunning. And it doesn’t hurt that Avatar is one of my all-time favourite movies.

Vendors: Get the biggest names in Animation, Graphic Arts, 3D media, and Entertainment from across the world, and you are bound to have a mind blowing conference. Walking into the conference was like looking at the Las Vegas Strip for the first time. All the people and flashing lights…

For me some of the highlights were:

–          3d Printers – If you haven’t seen one of these in action yet check it out:

–          QR dinosaurs – Have you ever wanted to hold a dinosaur in your hand? Wave 3D made it possible for me. Check out the cool things this Korean Based Company is doing:

–          PhotoModeler by Eos Systems – This software is amazing. I saw it in action build a 3d model of the façade of a building in about 5 seconds. For those who know how much time it takes us to build a 3D building and texture it, you understand my rapture with this product. This is worth having a look at though:

–          Meeting up with Dan Campbell – Dan is a Graphics Planner at city of Vancouver, and is a good friend of the staff at CloverPoint. This conference came HIGHLY recommended by him, and we value his opinion. It was great to sit down with Dan, have a one-on-one chat about the conference highlights, hear what the city is up to and show him CloverPoint’s latest creations. Dan was instrumental in creating the Vancouver 3D digital city:

PS: I rocked the New CloverPoint T-Shirt at SIGGRAPH 2011 pretty hard today. If you haven’t got yours yet, let us know…there may be a few left.

GeoAlberta – Connecting People Without Monitors


My Coach (and Boss) Karl Swannie and I just got back from 3 days in the technology hotspot of Edmonton, AB where we partook in the 2011 GeoAlberta Conference – The Premier GIS and Geomatics Conference in Western Canada. The theme of the conference this year was “GIS Evolution: From Drafting to Dreaming” and for anyone familiar with CloverPoint’s history this title screamed for our attendance. We were blown away by the huge, captivated audience, but baffled by the lack of 3D integration. So, despite the fact that we had to fly on game nights (for all those Canuck Fans) the conference was a huge success. Some highlights for us were:

 Our Map Submission

CloverPoint, outside of the box thinkers that we are, submitted a ‘map’ to be included in the talent showcase. As we are generally not a team of people who live inside the confines of 2D space, we pressed the envelope and ended up submitting a projection of ‘Insight UBC – our 3D Campus Simulation Information System’. Not only did we end up winning first place in the ‘Drafting to Dreaming’ Category, but we also got to present Laura Colquhoun – one of our GIS Technicians –  with a winners plaque and a 5” Sony Reader for all her efforts. To get an idea of how awesome the submission was view the presentation here.

For a virtual tour or demo of the 3D fly-through we had projected at the conference just ask!

 Our Booth

As part of our 3D map submission we were given a table next to John Horrigan – purveyor of antique and unusual maps – to set up our projector and demonstration (to view his blog click here). The effect was like travelling through a time warp where ancient maps of African tribes were juxtaposed with a virtual campus simulation including explosions and fly-throughs of underground pipes. We continued to blow the minds of the delegates that passed through our zone as we demonstrated the power of the Samsung Galaxy Tab to show the relative positions of pipes in the walls. We had a ton of people filing through our booth, asking great questions, and having great discussion. If you are one of those people, thank you! You made that conference awesome for us.

 Our Presentation

It is such a rush standing in front of 30 peers, and telling them about your vision for the future of GIS. The talented Len Rodrigues and I walked the room through the evolution of visualization from balsa models, to power point campus plans and from 3D models to 4 dimensions, and x-ray vision! The audience was captivated after seeing glimpses of the future where hardware is an accessory, and social networking is a primary source for data. At the end of our 45 minutes, a line-up of interested minds formed to question the potentials of our geospatial future. As great as this experience was, nothing beat reading the reviews of the presentation where every comment mentioned the energy or enthusiasm exuded during the presentation. Obviously – what we do rocks and everyone should be excited about it!

The People

A conference is only as good as its attendees, and, as I said before, the people we met, presentations we saw and the connections we made left a lasting impression on us. A special thanks to Michael Schlosser of Autodesk for a pointing me out as the only 3D user in the room during his presentation, Jennifer Rolph for organizing the speakers, and Bart Hulshof, and Dennis Chao for organizing the booths, dealing with our special requests, and letting us set up our projection. Thanks to everyone else who played a role. Well done, and we at CloverPoint hope to see you all again next year.

To view CloverPoint’s product line, and see some of the demo’s I am referring to please visit