2019 Esri User Conference Recap

Every July, thousands of GIS professionals flock to the San Diego Convention Center in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego to spend a week geeking out with fellow map nerds while learning about what’s new with Esri’s GIS software. This year, our team made this annual pilgrimage to the Esri International User Conference to join more than 17,000 GIS professionals from around the globe.

The event includes pre-conference workshops the weekend before. On Saturday, July 6, Andrew Smart (geographIT) and Kevin Thomas (Philadelphia Police Department) were invited to present at the National Security and Public Safety Summit. Andrew and Kevin spoke to a packed crowd of more than 700 public safety professionals about Operation Pinpoint, a data-driven ArcGIS solution to combat crime in Philadelphia. Police department analysts can access data quickly from 20+ systems all in one platform to analyze data and answer questions. Andrew said that it was a bit intimidating to speak in front of such a large crowd, but it was worth it to share about this important project!

The user conference began on July 8 with attendees gathering in Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center to learn about what’s coming this year from Esri. Speakers at the opening day plenary session included Esri founder and owner Jack Dangermond, Esri staff, Esri business partners, and guests from the user community.

The afternoon featured a conversation between Jack Dangermond, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Dr. E.O. Wilson about the importance of global biodiversity conservation through community engagement, scientific research, and geospatial solutions as well as many other great features on the social impact of GIS in the world.” I recommend watching their full conversation here.

One of my favorite afternoon presentations was focused on the social impact of GIS. It was inspiring to see how young students in Lurgan—a town of 25,000 south of Belfast—are using Survey123 for ArcGIS to discover that their backgrounds aren’t that different after all. This is how social change begins! Click here to watch the full presentation.

On the technical side, we learned that the next generation of Web AppBuilder, called Experience Builder, will soon be available in beta form. Improvements in the new Experience Builder will include integrated 2D/3D content, mobile first design, app management capabilities, and JavaScript 4.x.

The latest news for ArcGIS Enterprise 10.7.1 is that it will dramatically reduce memory requirements while offering more services. Improvements to ArcGIS Pro 2.4 include better utility management, faster startup, enhanced editing tools, and an improved catalog preview. This releases also includes new functionality

, like spell check and parcel fabric, a comprehensive framework for managing, editing, and sharing parcel data in ArcGIS Enterprise. A good summary of new features is offered in this video.

ArcGIS Online has also seen a number of new features and improvements, such as Tracker for ArcGIS Online, a mobile solution that enables field personnel to securely record and share their locations with others in their organization. Other improvements have addressed user types, search functions, large organization administration, configurable basemaps (vector feature tiles), smart mapping styles, 3D GIS, and new StoryMaps.

For me, the Interactive Map Gallery of printed and digital maps created by conference attendees was one of the highlights of my strolls around the convention center. You can view the online gallery and learn more about the competition winners here.

After a whirlwind 4 days of presenting, exhibiting, networking, learning, and drinking countless cups of coffee, our bodies were tired, but our minds were energized and ready to implement new ideas. We’re already looking forward to next year’s conference!

Be sure to watch our journey in San Diego in our recap video!

Stacey Smith, GISP, is a project manager for geographIT, a division of EBA Engineering, Inc. She can be reached at 717.399.7007,, or on LinkedIn.


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Stacey Smith