I had a terrific time at AGI North’s Where2.0Now conference at Geoplan’s offices in Harrogate. Not just great for me because I live barely one mile from the venue, but because of the sheer brilliance and quality of the day’s speakers – so how chuffed was I that all this was happening on my doorstep?
Rollo did a fantastic job of organising what was literally a ‘who’s who’ of GIS folk for the day. For me personally there was a great deal of interest in what was being discussed, and a good mix of business and technical content.
Great presentations were the order of the day – all of them. Henk Scholten set the scene very well with an energised talk on how we should consider the next few years of GIS development very positively. Some fantastic apps were shown, including John McKerrell’s life story over the last couple of years, by location. Most impressive; especially how he’s used DNS to track location. That was pretty natty. I also liked Chris Osborne’s visualisation of traffic flow, taken from AADT data, but lengthened out across the major motorway/trunks of GB. Harry Wood from CloudMade showed some highlights from OSM (particularly chuffed to see my own small contributions to OSM around Harrogate on display!) – surprising to see how precise the Germans have got with their offerings…?)
I’ve got a couple of thoughts about the Neo vs. Paleo debate. Clearly, the Neogeography has such a lot of momentum at the moment; we know how the field is expanding and how the push for great user content has occurred over the last few years. Tim Warr of Axon Active came out with some very interesting statements, though. In the current times of user generated and end-user focussed delivery, there’s been so much effort placed on ensuring context mapping is provided slickly, to ensure that users can somehow get to where they want to be, easier, quicker, and without thinking too much; it certainly answers the ‘where’. Where 2.0 doesn’t quite push for yet (and admittedly, doesn’t need to focus right now) is the analysis layer. For me, that will be paleogeography for some time to come. For instance, I own 10 Volvo dealerships, and I want to open 10 more. I want to focus on the geodemographics, use travel times, and add postcode sectors where Volvo ownership is high to the mix. Currently I’m pretty much stuck with writing my model in ArcGIS land; that’s fine, because only I will be running the model.
There wasn’t so much talk on this today, and I’d be interested to work out how 2.0 will start to consider this. Is it right to say that this will only *ever* be thick client? Does 2.0 provide the GIS consultant with the tools to display the front-end results of the back-end work that I charge for? Maybe. Maybe there’s a gap between what I can produce easily as a chargeable service in my thick client, and how I can deliver that response personally to the end user over 2.0. I suspect that what I need is something that lets me show the results of my work in the way the user will understand – slippy maps with my content overlaid.
Either way, I think there is plenty of opportunity to think about how the gap between thick/paleo/traditional/analysis and thin/neo/end-user/slippy-presentation is traversed. There’s now a standard set for delivery of information to end users that can’t ever be breached, and certainly the quality of web map presentation of old can’t be repeated. Linking the analysis layer with 2.0 will become critical in time, as the consumers of analytical results demand the same quality of presentation as Joe Public gets for hunting out Pizza restaurants.
It’s grim up north (and anywhere outside London, for that matter…)
60% of the AGI’s conference work goes on outside of London, so it’s perhaps my poor perception that it’s south-east centric. (Of course, I’d suggest that as population wise, 45 million or 75% of the population live outside the South East… but I’m happy with the 60% of conferences figure!) Given how much business activity goes on in the South East, I think the AGI is doing a good job of ensuring the provinces get a chance. Harrogate, as a location, hopefully went down well.
So I’m hoping for another one next year in the north – same location maybe; there’s certainly an appetite up this way, I’m sure. Hope everyone enjoyed the day as much as I did.