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
Blog: http://geothought.blogspot.com
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
Blog: http://www.chrisj-moore.com/
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
Blog: http://blog.safe.com/
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
Blog: http://geoexpressions.blogspot.ca/
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
Blog: www.edparsons.com
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZboxMsSz5Aw

–          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: http://cgwave.dothome.co.kr/renew/

–          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: http://www.photomodeler.com/

–          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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R9IOyXyfi0

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.