The BIG List of GIS, Mapping, and Geo Tech Events to Consider in 2012

Here we are well into 2012 and that means another year of conferences, events, MeetUps, Devmeets, hackathons and more. With budgets tight, a rough economy, and conferences coming and going by the wayside, there’s a number of choices to be made. 

Which event will you hit? Where to allocate your budget? Where will you get the most bang for your travel $$? Depending on your needs, your business, your skills, your job title, there’s many options. Over the years I’ve attended pretty much every event listed below at some time – and many others! The following is my BIG List of GIS, GeoGeek, And Geo Developer conferences, events, and meets to consider in 2012. Did I miss something? If so please do tell me about it. You can reach me @gletham on Twitter, via email, on G+ or on LinkedIn.

2012 GIS and Geospatial Events To Consider

WhereCamp + Ignite Tampa 2012
The first such cozy event in Tampa, FL, this event gets mention because it’s the first Ignite and un-conference of the year. Enjoy 2 days with a WhereCamp + Ignite and more
See more in this blog post

ILMF – International LiDAR Mapping Forum
IF LiDAR is of interest to your business or if it could be useful to you then this is a must attend… you never know, the weather in Denver in January could even be awesome!
Jan 23-25, 2012, Denver CO

Esri Federal User Conference 2012
THE event for Federal contractors, consultants and others that are interested in doing business with the Feds. Biggest event of it’s kind of the year
Feb 22-24, 2012
Washington D.C.

ASPRS 2012 Conference
Interested in imagery, remote sensing, laser scanning and related technologies? If so then ASPRS is for you
March 19-23, 2012
Sacramento, CA

Esri Dev Summit 2012
Tag-teamed with the annual business partner summit, Dev Summit is THE place for Esri developers and Geeks… hands-down the best networking, training, and professional development the hard-core Esri partner and developer can find.
March 26-29, 2012
Palm Springs, CA

Where Conference 2012
Where (was Where2.0) is an amazing event in the heart of Silicon Valley where those interested in social location meetup. Look for a blend of mobile, social media, and geo technology. A favorite event of yours truly and I was there for event #1
April 2-4, 2012
San Francisco, CA

The Bentley User Conference
The annual Bentley BE event is for Bentley users, partners and customers. Tons of hands on training and presentations to select from.
May 15 to 17, 2012
Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

Hexagon 2012 International Conference
Now in it’s second year since Hexagon began snapping up companies, look for Leica, ERDAS, and users of the entire Hexagon portfolio to convene at this HUGE event.
June 4-7, 2012 Las Vegas, Nevada

Google Code Jam 2012
A geeky coder event for the Google fans
Paris, France
Registration opens March 13, 2012

Google I/O 2012
Register early for this one of you’ll be left out. A must for anyone developing or using Google APIs
June 27-29, 2012
Moscone Center West, San Francisco
I/O on G+

Chairs are optional at the Google-plex!

July 16-20, 2012
Portland, Oregon

2012 International Esri UC
The largest user conference for GIS professionals in North America… plan to meetup with 14,000+ of your closest Geo friends and colleagues!
July 23-27, 2012 San Diego, CA

FOSS4G 2012
Sept 10-15, 2012
Beijing, China

GIS Pro 2012
Sept 30-Oct 4, 2012
Portland, OR

GIS in the Rockies 2012

No date set yet, but likely First week-ish in Sept or late August
Location: N. Colorado
In my opinion this event is BEST when held in Loveland, CO!

GeoInt 2012 Symposium

October 8-11, 2012
Orlando, FL

Android Open Conference
October 15-17, 2012
San Francisco, CA
Event FB page

Autodesk University (and AU Virtual event)

November 27-29, 2012.
Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, NV

Other events of interest:

Keep an eye open for Esri sponsored Dev Summit taking palce at various locations around the USA. These are cozy, local events where you can meet professionals for your area, make a short presentation, and drink some fine beer with some good food!

Ignite Spatial

These community un-conferences are loads of fun and are starting to appear in areas where GeoGeeks tend to congregate, often in conjunction with an event (like URISA, GIS in the Rockies etc…) These are small events with a lightning talk format, loads of fun, and great social networking. Twitter GeoGeeks are often the best source of information about these events and watch the hashtag #ignitespatial


again, typically an un-conference organized by some really geeky developer types, plan on getting your hands dirty with some code and prepare for a week end of geek talk, coding, beer, and not much sleep! Again these often take place in Geo hotbeds like NOCO / Denver, Portland, and D.C

April 11-13, 2012, Sacramento CA
A large event of California-based Geo professionals

Location Intelligence Conference
May 22-23, 2012 – Organized by the company that brings you DirectionsMag
Washington D.C

Typically in the fall, MAX is an awesome developer event if you’ve never been. The speakers are always outstanding and there’s loads of interesting material for you to absorb, particularly if the mobile space is of interest to you. MAX 2012 is scheduled to run Oct 20-24 in L.A

Apple Worldwide developer conference WWDC

Date yet to be set, typically in San Francisco, CA
A must for those who aspire to be iOS rock stars

O’reilly Events

O’reilly Media hosts a number of fine developer events including the Android Open, Web2.0 Expo and Web2.0 Summit, OScon and RailsConf

If mobile is your thing then consider the CTIA (Spring) event which takes place in New Orleans this May 8010. The event has lost some steam over the years but still a worthwhile stop, particularly this year if you need a reason to hit The Big Easy!

For a truly MASSIVE mobile tech experience then you need to hit Mobile World Congress (MWC) once again in Barcelona, Spain. This year it runs Feb 27 – March 1, 2012 –

Finally, if you have a week or 2 to burn, money is no object and you don’t care about sleeping then you have to hit SXSW some time! This event is pretty amazing and offers a fair bit of technology, particularly social media and social location.  An awesome blend of Music, Film and Technology, and hosted in the awesome city of Austin, Texas (my photos from SXSW 2011 here) – celeb sightings are guaranteed! See


Most important, just get out there! If you can’t travel to far off places then look for local meetups, tweetups, DevMeets, Camps, or other geeky events. Keep an eye open for local meets and anything that’s called a camp, devmeet, wherecamp, hackathon, or similar. No events nearby well why not plan one? Organize a local Ignite or Ignite Spatial, plan a hackathon or TweetUp. For myself, this past year I attended local events like WordCamp, Social Media Camp, MISABC, PechaKucha, OpenGov west, YYJ GeoGeeks meetup, and a local hackathon… be sure to scour your local social scene for such events. Finally, contemplate giving back by presenting… it really isn’t that bad and you’ll likely feel awesome afterwards.

One particularly interesting event I hit which proved to be a real gem was OpenGov west, a cool community meet at our University that touched on Open Government – it was truly awesome! Consider similar events as they are perfect venues to introduce people to Geo technologies and solutions!

You never know who you might bump into at a tech event!

Did we miss something? If you could only go to one event this yer which one would it be??

More MUST attend events Suggested by readers…

StateoftheMap (SoTM)
The annual OpenStreetMap event
This event typically changes location, last year being held in Denver CO to coincide wit FOSS4G

URISA  Caribbean Conference
Another cool event that rotates location – the venue hops around the Caribbean
This year the event will roll Nov 12-16 in Montego Bay, Jamaica Mon

GOSCON is a niche event typically in DC that focuses on Government and Open Source

Editor (18230 Posts)

Glenn is a geographer and a GIS professional with over 20 years experience in the industry. He's the co-founder of GISuser and several other technology web publications.

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