Transforming Our World: Connected Nation Attends International GIS Conference

Connected Nation GIS Services staff at the Esri UC (from left to right): Matt Brunt, Amanda Bentley, and Ashley Hitt

For the sixth consecutive year, Connected Nation’s GIS Services division has attended the Esri International User Conference in San Diego, CA. Esri is the world-market leader of Geographic Information System (GIS) software and solutions, which has enabled broadband providers, local communities, and other telecommunications stakeholders the ability to map, engineer, and analyze existing and future high-speed Internet systems.

The theme at this year’s conference was Transforming Our World, which has also been a prominent theme in the broadband industry as federal policy changes are being implemented in the form of the Connect America Fund, Mobility Fund, and other programs. GIS allows high-speed Internet providers, state agencies, Connected Nation, and a multitude of other organizations the ability to perform complex spatial analyses using broadband data collected for the State Broadband Initiative, managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

These datasets are used to populate the National Broadband Map, which the FCC in turn uses in additional analyses to impact and restructure federal policy. GIS remains at the core of ensuring the success of these programs through the spatial and analytical solutions available. The Esri User Conference provides accelerated training, industry analysis, and specialized services to all levels of GIS users and professionals.

“The Esri User Conference is a great opportunity to keep current on GIS technology advances, see what new solutions are in development, and hear from our colleagues on how they use GIS to better understand and transform our world,” said Ashley Hitt, director of GIS Services at Connected Nation. “GIS is applicable to almost every aspect of life and offers countless solutions for analysis and visualization; we keep discovering new ways that it can be applied.”

It was announced this week that Hitt has been elected to the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association’s (URISA) Board of Directors.

In addition to the GIS technical workshops, moderated user sessions, and industry-specific seminars, one of the special keynote speakers at the Esri User Conference this year was entertainer will.i.am. Through his i.am.angel Foundation, will.i.am promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and learning opportunities to students in need, hoping to transform “lives through education, inspiration, and opportunity.” During the conference, GIS students from Roosevelt High School in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles presented portions of their research projects to an audience of more than 12,000.

© Esri 2013

Esri President Jack Dangermond (center) and will.i.am (right) discuss GIS with representatives from the i.am.angel Foundation

These i.am.angel scholars have shown the profound effect that educational opportunities can have on enhancing students’ learning experiences. Connected Nation is also dedicated to enhancing education through the recent launch of Edified, a program that fosters innovation in education by working with public and private partners to accelerate the deployment of the latest mobile technology, robust wireless connectivity, education apps, and twenty-first century teaching practice in America’s K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.

Connected Nation’s GIS Services staff in attendance at this year’s Esri User Conference has certainly been empowered to expand GIS solutions for the various programs in which we take part; we look forward to applying our new knowledge to assist communities in understanding the local landscape and making more informed policy decisions.

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