Once again its time to start gearing up for another ESRI user conference (UC)… the largest geospatial gathering of the year. Unlike recent years, this year’s UC takes place in August rather than piggy-backed over the July 4 long week-end – this change is due to venue availability at the San Diego Convention Center.
Users from all disciplines will convene to take part in a number of events coinciding with the UC. These include the 4th annual Education user conference (August 7-10), the Survey and GIS summit (August 7-10) and the Telecommunications and LBS Summit (August 8). The ESRI User Conference spans the entire week from August 9-13.
The conference takes place at convention center adjacent to the Marriott Hotel and Marina. If you haven’t already booked a room at the Marriott then chances are you’ll be out of luck (you’ll also pay a premium rate at this late date!). A tip though, if you check with the facility a week or so prior to the event there’s often a number of rooms that suddenly become available – likely due to cancellations by people that have booked at multiple facilities or have changed travel plans. Staying “on-site” is a real treat and makes the long week allot more enjoyable. If the price is too painful or doesn’t fall within your budget, consider doubling up with a fellow GISuser.. posting a message in our discussion board or on a popular discussion list will likely help you find a room-mate. Otherwise, if you’re searching for accommodation, pretty much anywhere in the Gaslamp district is within easy reach of the Convention Center and will be suitable. (Convention Center Image Source: www.sdccc.org)
Never been to San Diego before? Here are some helpful things for you to remember:
- The airport is about 5 minutes from the Gaslamp district and convention facilities. Cab fare will be under $10 or you can always take an airport shuttle (Blue Cloud shuttle I believe) for about $5.
- Getting around is easy and the trolley can quickly get you to Qualcomm Stadium, Pacific Beach, or other popular destinations
- Pack light. If you’re a shorts and sandals person that will be fine at the conference and you’ll blend in nicely with thousands of other fellow geographers! The weather is always 72 degrees and sunny in San Diego so you may not even need a coat or sweater.. And don’t even think about bringing an umbrella, it never rains in SD!
- If you like The Padres you can catch games Friday Aug 6 – Sun Aug 8 VS the Pirates.
- Are you an NFL fan? The Chargers play the Colts (my team!) Saturday August 14 if you can hang around for an extra week-end.
- Need a wireless web connection? The convention center always has Wi-Fi access and the Marriott (and most other major hotels) provide pretty reliable service to all rooms. There’s also a Kinkos with excellent hours about 6 blocks from the Marriott (next to Horton Plaza)
- If you need a fast lunch or want a fun gathering place for a couple of cold ones after a long day, check out Dick’s last resort… the abuse is worth it!
Things you must see and do at the User Conference
- Keynote presentation: On Monday the tone for the week is set by Jack Dangermond’s presentation of the year in review and the road ahead. The day is packed with product announcements, user demonstrations, customer spotlights, award presentations, and special guest speakers. Expect about 10,000 people in the room and don’t worry about sitting up front, every seat has a view thanks to large screen video projectors. My favorite part of the day is the customer spotlights, map and webmap examples, and the low-down on product announcements from Dangermond’s executive staff and project leads. Monday August 9, 8:30 AM
- After a lengthy keynote session Monday evening is reserved for the Map Gallery and opening evening reception. If you’ve ever wondered where all the great maps that get published in the very cool ESRI Mapbook come from its right here! In addition to the map gallery, you can also check out the multi-media demonstrations and software application fair as well. This is a cool chance to meet the developers of some very cool applications and customized ESRI products. Monday August 9, 5:30 – 9:00 PM
- Canada Night… I’m not sure when it takes place this year but rest assured, Alex Miller and crew will once again host a reception and presentation devoted to the Canadian users
- Wednesday night vendor parties. A number of the big names are hosting this Mexican themed event. Meet and greet reps from the conference Gold and Platinum sponsors. Note, Wednesday is also family night on the exhibition hall floor so if you plan on bringing the family this is the night to let them meet the exhibitors and fill their goodie bags with some nifty stuff!
- Thursday will feature special achievement awards and of course, the Thursday evening party in Embarcadero Park – this year’s theme “Carnival” – the best part of the night… the food, the ESRI house band, and the fireworks. Chances are you’ll also see Jack and Laura on the dance floor!
This list is by no means comprehensive, however, it gives you a small taste of what to expect. I suggest you browse the long list of papers and sessions and be sure to try and plan your schedule before you get there. With more than 1,000 papers being presented, no doubt you’ll likely want to be in 3 places at one time so developing an agenda is important – See http://www.esri.com/events/uc/sessions/index.html & http://gis.esri.com/uc2004/papers/
Note: users are encouraged to register for the event by July 9, 2004. Hotel accomodation can be reserved at a special conference rate before July 2.
- User Conference brochure [PDF]
We’d love to hook-up with you at the show. If you’d like to meet with a rep from GISuser.com or The American Surveyor Magazine, look for our booth on the exhibition floor at the Survey Summit & User Conference.