Esri User Conference 2019
OMT Graduate Travel Grant Report – Muyang Shi
A 9-day trip from Oxford to San Diego
Thanks to the support of the Old Members Trust Travel Grant I was able to attend the 2019 Esri User Conference (UC) where over 17,000 GIS (Geographical Information System) enthusiasts around the world convened to share their latest work. This year’s was to “See What Others Can’t”.
During the 9-day trip my role kept changing but for at least half of the time I was a Student Assistant alongside 58 peers. We all came from a diverse background – some had just finished their first year in university while others well into their PhDs, some travelled from major cities in East Asia while others rural towns of the States – but we were all passionate about different aspects of GIS. Through routine tasks such as registration and workshop monitoring we ensured the smooth operation of the conference and our bond grew stronger day by day. Until today notes, news and opportunities related to GIS are still shared in the group chat.
Working as a Student Assistant earned me not only comfortable accommodation and tasty meals but free access to all technical workshops. As a junior scholar who had just completed an MPhil and was starting a DPhil project, my work benefitted hugely from exposure to the latest research and development in GIS industry. One valuable technique I learnt from the technical work on Spatial Statistics was the Space-time Cube. Introducing time as the y-axis of a cubic graph (in addition to the x- and y-axis of space), this technique visualizes changes in counts in an area throughout a period of time, intuitively highlighting peaks and trough in temporal-spatial data. While in the technical workshop the Space-time Cube was created with crime data from contemporary Boston, its ability to pick out abrupt changes in both time and space is well-suited to answer research questions of many archaeological projects.
The afternoons that I did not attend conference sessions I spent at the UC Expo where hundreds of organizations from around the world gathered in the San Diego Convention Centre to showcase their latest GIS-based technologies, practices and solutions. There my role was the coordinator of Mapping Contested History in Public Space project (ihjr.org) and was I glad to have brought the project with me. Engineers at the Story Map station answered some of the most burning technical questions;tutors of WebApp Builder demonstrated how it could create an online application to complement the existing project interface; and meeting with senior product manager Ms. Brenda Wolfe brought my attention to the huge potential of working with ArcGIS Hub.
Again I grateful to Univ’s Old Members for the funding that facilitated my participation in this productive and inspiring conference in San Diego, California.
Published: 24 September 2019
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