The Esri Canada Toronto User Conference yesterday was a great success. Out of a total of 1100 people registered, over 200 were from the education community. We had over two dozen presenters in four concurrent sessions over the course of the afternoon dedicated to the higher education and research track. We saw presentations covering an impressive range of research using ArcGIS technology across four general themes: Land and Environmental Processes, GeoDesign and GIScience Analysis, Web GIS and Citizen Science, and Transit analysis and Population Health. I was chair for the Web GIS and Citizen Science, where we were presented with a number of projects that demonstrated a variety of custom tools and techniques for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing 3D and geospatial datasets, and complex citizen-sourced information.

It was great to see the use of the ArcGIS Web AppBuilder as a platform to develop innovative tools and user interfaces for visualizing and disseminating unique datasets (3D rock samples with 3-way blending of geological raster datasets, and another application for visualizing the locations and deployments of heavy urban search and recovery emergency services). Moving outside the box a bit, we were presented with custom web application developed with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript that facilitated exploration and access to a wealth of historical raster datasets for South Central Ontario, driven by a custom geoprocessing workflow in ArcGIS for Server.

The remaining four presentations from this track covered various aspects of Citizen Science in GIS. These included applications that utilized hosted ArcGIS online story map and crowdsourcing templates. One demonstrated mapping of geocontextualized comments from responses to a community survey in the City of Kitchener. Another used a hosted ArcGIS crowdsource app to collect survey responses about perceived safety, which are analyzed against crime data reported by police using ArcGIS (complete with an amazing 3D visualization of nighttime lighting in the surrounding downtown area).

A much more customized application by Project GrassLander uses the Esri Leaflet extension for Leaflet.JS to facilitate the creation of spatial data and reporting of observations of Bobolink migratory grassland birds by farmers in southern Ontario. Overall, I was also impressed by the utilization of the new 3D capabilities of the ArcGIS API for JavaScript version 4.0 to visualize massive amounts Geosocial network data, helping to reveal interesting patterns and behaviours in social networking data through space and time.

There were many more excellent presentations that I was unable to attend in the other three higher education tracks, so I’ll be sure to take a close look at the proceedings, which will be published online soon.