I owe my blog readers an apology for the lack of posting these last 2-3 weeks. June has proven a bit crazy for me with many Virtual Earth and UltraCam activities keeping me busy.

For example, last week I was in Sacramento for the California Geospatial Executive Conference. Hosted by the State's Chief Information Officer, Teri Takai, the event provided a forum for several hundred California public sector executives to come together to learn how government organizations across the country are using GIS to improve data sharing and citizen services.

My role at the event was two-fold: first, manning a table at the Solutions Center where agencies and vendors were showing off their technology enabled solutions. I was of course showing Virtual Earth and using the Miami Gov site (built and recently launched by Microsoft partner IS Consulting working with the City of Miami) to demonstrate the power of Virtual Earth as a user interface, especially for citizens, in this instance, to better understand GIS data (in this case, pulling from an ArcGIS geodatabase) relevant to their community. If you have not seen the application already, take a look at my blog entry. It's very cool.

It was a fun experience because delegates were provided with three poker chips to vote on the "Coolest," "Most Innovative," and "Best" solutions (chips labeled accordingly). I had great fun showing Miami parcel data in Virtual Earth 3D, flying through with my Xbox controller. At the end of the day, I believe that the solutions that received the awards were all CA State agency solutions, my observation was that my Virtual Earth & Miami Gov solution received the lion's share of chips for "Coolest" and "Most Innovative" among the vendors solutions.

What was also cool about showing this particular demo is that the Virtual Earth product team recently regenerated the Miami city model using its new fully automated processing technology that results in more buildings being modeled, and enhanced, more detailed and realistic texturing. I hadn't considered this until I zoomed in on some parcels in 3D and noticed that the buildings looked incredible (more so than before) and it illustrates a benefit of the Virtual Earth web service model that ye faithful readers of the Virtual Earth Public Sector blog know by now that I consider significant. Because the data is hosted by Microsoft and served up to your business intelligence applications via a web service model, updates are done for you, removing that burden from your organization. No need for your IT staff or users to install or maintain new datasets or applications. When updates are available, users just log on and marvel at the difference just as I did last week. Meanwhile, agencies that require their geospatial applications to be completely "air-gapped" from the Internet have the option of the Virtual Earth Appliance.*

My secondary role at the conference was to have the privilege of presenting along side Nate Johnson and Katja Krovoruchko of ESRI. Our presentation focused on the principals, applications and benefits of a GIS system, with me speaking specifically to the benefits of the visualization and dissemination of GIS data by the Virtual Earth platform and best of breed imagery, which is the ability to better understand data within the context of its location to ultimately act on that data in a more timely manner. We punctuated our discussions through several demos showing the value of using the ESRI ArcGIS Server for spatial analysis on the backend and the enhanced understanding of the resulting data by mapping it using Virtual Earth on the front end--a great reminder that when data is plotted on a map, the big picture view makes the geospatial relationship between data points more clear, and trends and patterns become more obvious. From that big picture view, zooming down on a particular point of interest provides better clarity of that datapoint through its location and surroundings.

The presentation and demos were extremely well-received. Because I like to show off with my Xbox controller in the Virtual Earth 3D environment, we showed the plume model demo that I shared with you all previously in this blog entry, underscoring the value of visualization by switching to the Virtual Earth 3D mode once the plume had been modeled, showing how the Virtual Earth accurate imagery and geocoding provides a much clearer understanding of the impact of the plume on the community, which buildings would be affected and those that would not. We also showcased the ability of ESRI's Desktop software along with Virtual Earth to integrate, visualize, and analyze data from a variety of sources (California Department of Health Services, US EPA, census, etc.) and to expose the results of the analysis to all members of the organization, as a web service integrated with Microsoft SharePoint. This is a great demo because for a mapping platform to be truly efficient and cost-effective, it must extend the investments your organization has already made in existing technologies (no demo link to share, unfortunately). Towards the end of this demo, one State executive stood, apologized for interrupting, and announced that we had just demonstrated a capability that his organization had spent years working to accomplish. This was followed by applause from all watching.

It doesn't get much better than that folks.

This was a great event that I look forward to doing again next year. (sorry ... no pics this time).

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