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Dale Lutz

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About Data    |   May 21, 2008   |   By Dale Lutz

Safe On Location at Where 2.0

After hearing lots of stories from Kevin Wiebe, our Chief Scientist, upon his return from Where 2.0 the last three years, I finally decided to check it out myself this year. Don Murray, Kevin and I trekked down to San Francisco for what certainly was an exhausting (9am to 11pm, one track, one room, three days), but mind-stretching experience.

The show was unlike anything else I’ve ever attended. For one thing, it was the first spatial show I’ve attended where attendees may not know who Jack Dangermond is – when he took the stage the woman sitting next to me asked who he was and how to spell his name. It was also the first show where I witnessed Google and ESRI sharing the stage, displaying their products working closely together. And it’s a show that’s known for its IRC back-channels where the ongoing banter of attendees rumbles quietly on as speaker after speaker take the stage. (Hopefully we don’t add that dimension to next year’s FME Worldwide User Conference, subjecting me to occasional mockery!) But truly, their humourous if sometimes irreverent remarks were always insightful and added another dimension to the conference experience.

The great thing about attending such an untraditional conference is that I was inundated with topics that stretched my understanding of what can be done with location information. There is definitely change taking place in our wired ecosystem. One presentation showed how Twitter can play a role in responding to emergencies as the recent cyclone which had such a devastating impact in Burma by providing an easily used communications backbone for communicating status and points of interest in real time. And Chris Anderson’s talk on Do-It-Yourself-Drones for high resolution home aerial mapping has got me plotting some cool projects to do with my sons…

As for ideas directly related to FME, I left convinced we need to add support for the new Geohash (and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geohash) into FME—I can see this being useful in some situations—kind of a modern version of our old GOID (another idea a bit ahead of its time) crossed with the MGRS system. And maybe we should consider adding an easy way to parse location from the location nano-formats Twitter users are standardizing on.

geowebOn the formats side, there were no earth-shaking format announcements that affected our plans for future development here at Safe (unlike other years). However, it was great to see so many real-life uses of the “formats of the GeoWeb” that we’ve been working hard to support. In fact, Andrew Turner’s slide from his talk on the GeoStack (you can see his last-year’s deck related to this here) provided a good summary of the formats of the GeoWeb, and confirmation to me that we were on the right track with our format support in FME and FME Server. formatsSince before the term GeoWeb was even coined, the format support of FME has allowed it to straddle the two worlds of the GeoWeb and traditional GIS. FME (and FME Server) will continue to play an important role as a bridging technology between these two universes, and we’ll be working hard to ensure our support of these GeoWeb formats is second to none. Indeed, as a result of the conference, we updated our bubble diagram of the type of formats FME supports to include GeoWeb as a family in its own right.

All in all, 3 mind stretching days, well worth it. See you there next year!