ESRI needs no introduction and are one of the pioneers in GIS technologies. DesignSense is a technology startup in Cloud,Collaboration space and we got enrolled with ESRI Startup program. The program has helped us a lot, in leveraging their GIS technologies for the things we want to do in our product. As being part of the startup program, DesignSense was invited to their Regional User Conference. It was a great experience for us, and and the insights we got were very useful.
Even before the event, we started integrating some of the ESRI technologies in our product Ayoga. We were in constant touch with their Startup Program Manager and their technical team on how to integrate their stuff. We being cloud based, and so was ArcGIS Online, integration was super quick. The level of documentation and support made available to us made it all possible and we could integrate our IoT and Visualization stuff double quick with ESRI Maps.
We were being considered for showcasing our product to their user base and the level of professionalism shown by the ESRI team is way above the norm. The Marketing Head and Technical head, spent quiet sometime with us before the event to see how valuable our solution will be. The questions that came up made me realise that is going to be for a top notch audience and we were geared up for it after showing the demonstration to ESRI Team.
On the day 3rd August was the Developer summit. There were some 300+ participants, all from developer community using the ArcGIS solutions. From the looks of it they were all looking for what is new in ArcGIS Online. That is me and my colleague Ms.Sonia Kaushal all eyes and ears for the event.
The day started with registration and a compelling graphic of Applying Geography Everywhere hilighting what the event is going to be about.
The inaugural address was by Mr.Harpreet Singh, Head, Marketing and Partner Ecosystem. One of the profound statement made by him was “Location Platform”. It struck a chord with me immediately. We generally get questions like what to do and when to do. But where to do is another key question and Location Platform plays a key role. It set the tone for the two day session on how location data is going to play an important role in everything we do
GIS will evolve as a system of engagement, as mobile devices, IoT devices and GIS work together providing powerful tools for people to stay connected and make right decisions.
This was followed by technical session on ArcGIS Online. I had a de javu moment looking at the presentation. As pure desktop product companies move to cloud, the challenges are quiet a few. Having experienced that myself, it was quiet interesting to see how ESRI is moving things to ArcGIS Online.
As we got our slot to present our product to ESRI Users on 4th August, we had to make sure things work flawlessly. Having started the integration just two weeks before the conference and the vagaries associated with software we were working pretty late in our hotel. That is two my colleagues Sonia and Anu working furiously in their computers, making sure the visualization works fine. And it is 12:30 in the midnight. Thank you guys for the hard work.
August 4th was the User Conference with key note address by Mr. Dean Angelides. He was very passionate about GIS and the relevance of it in everything we do. He gave great insights on how different pieces of technology can come together to make world a better place. Be it handling natural disaster or recovery operations. He also threw a few challenges to us, the audience on five ideas. One thing that struck me the most is Democratize technology and Mapping with your workforce. It is such a powerful initiative empowering the global workforce to adapt technology and technology companies to make those tools affordable. ESRI is doing its bit by giving support to startups like ours and we hope to do the same to our customers.
What followed as key note by Dr.Krishnamurthy of NRSC. He spoke not only like a true scientist but also like an entrepreneur. “Take Technology to every one and show value. Without value Technology is of no use”. Very succinctly put but of great value to practice.
This was followed by two great story telling sessions. One by a 13 year old Mahika who used ESRI Maps to tell the story of India starting some 2000 years ago till today. Superb effort by her to showcase the history of India as well as how easy it is for some one to use ESRI technologies.
The second story was by a physician,Dr.Venkata, who used GIS data to provide right services to prevent underweight children from fatality. That is the power of the using GIS data along with other data to make the right decision. One of the audience was very right in congratulating their effort, saying we techies have to learn a thing or two from them on how to make “Little Useful Data” out of “Big Data”.
A series of ESRI Product demonstrations ensued. Some of their capabilities to build 3D models from GIS data were quiet interesting for companies like us to look at. And their City Engine looked promising too.
Post lunch we gathered again for another ESRI demonstration session. Next to come up was demonstrations by startups. Two of the startups show cased their solutions. The first one was using Drones to generate survey data. This Bangalore based startup has really pulled off how you can use drones and high resolution imagery to build terrain maps and with ESRI platform leverage GIS Data. Very interesting presentation. This was followed by another presentation on how Geospatial information was used by INCOIS for Ocean information services.
This was followed by our presentation, on “Connecting IoT, Location Services and Project Management”. It was a great opportunity to showcase how Location data is very important in construction and infrastructure projects and how our product Ayoga leverages ESRI technologies for that. We are just starting to use ESRI technologies in our product and our road map includes using some of their features like Geo fencing, Heat maps and Geo Event processor for our IoT operations. It is going to quiet interesting working with those new things from ESRI.
The last session of Panel discussion was the icing on the cake. The panel had eminent persons in their respective fields and moderated by Mr.Rajesh Mathur. It started with Dr.Bergvinson talking about how GIS technology can enable equitable development profitable agriculture. That is so true, that technology is not only for the riches, but it is for everyone and will bring value to the lowest rung in the society when democratized. It was a profound statement and I was totally in agreement with him on that.
The other panelist Mr.Jay Krishnan, CEO, T-Hub made a significant point that Indian entrepreneurs have to stop copy pasting of business models that worked elsewhere. The challenges faced in India can be solved only by applying local knowledge of the market. We are based out of Bangalore, else would have been a pleasure to work with some one like him.
Mr.JSRK Sastry of APCRDA spoke about how the Amaravati Smart city is being planned. No one should travel more than 2 kms for accessing public transport and similar such goals were setup in planning the city. He even cited how they used GIS data that is more than 100 years old to predict flooding situations and the preventive measures buit in the city.
The other panelists Maj.Gen. Dr.Sivakumar ( retd ) spoke about GeoSpatial bill how it will bring GIS technologies available to normal citizens. Prof.Dr.MuraliKrishna spoke about manpower planning for a GIS aware India.
The final vote of thanks by Mr.Asheet Makhija, Sr.VP of ESRI. When he spoke about DesignSense he recollected our product tag line, “Create Connect Collaborate”. Thank you very much sir. We were also given a memento for having presented our product at their conference. That was a very touching gesture from ESRI.
We wrapped up the day after great sessions and networking with different people. One of the ESRI staff was kind enough to take a picture of the three of us from DesignSense together.
Over all it was a great two days spent with some of the best brains in GIS area. Our personal take aways have been many, but the key ones are
- ESRI has such a vast GIS technologies which we were not very aware. This conference gave us an opportunity to look at what all is available.
- The support ESRI gives to start ups like us, has been super helpful for us to experiment, build prototypes and validate ideas. It is a great initiative and we hope to leverage them to the most.
- The panel discussions were a great idea to showcase what is coming up, not only in technology space but at the policy level as well.
We thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and interactions we had with various participants. It was two days well spent. We drove down to Bangalore from Hyderabad with our IoT device tracking our location. Here is the screenshot as seen in our product Ayoga with ESRI map as basemap.
And we had our share of fun too, while driving back. Thats me, Anu, our Customer Engagement Engineer and Sonia, our Software Developer.
Anu and Sonia played some cool songs while I was at the wheels. From being a software developer Sonia transformed into a punjabi rock star and Anu got designated as resident DJ of DesignSense.
Thank you ESRI for the opportunity. Looking forward to leveraging the technologies and making ESRI as the preferred “Location Platform” for Ayoga.