Curious Planeteer working to make the Earth's changes visible, accessible and actionable.

Five Things I Learned as an Esri UC Newbie


I’ve spent the better part of my career in more traditional enterprise SaaS software, so my recent move to Planet has been both a challenge and a breath of fresh air. I was lucky enough to attend the ESRI User Conference in San Diego – an illuminating experience as my first industry conference in the GIS space. While it was a whirlwind, I was able to capture a few key learnings:

Innovation for Good. The GIS and geospatial world is a vast ecosystem, all of whom share a common DNA of doing good for the world, open collaboration, and continuous innovation. From the keynotes, to the breakout sessions, to the vast expo floor, it was clear that this community is rooted in this common set of principles. Jack Dangermond, co-founder of ESRI, summed it up best when he said in his keynote, “Collaboration happens at the speed of trust.”

The Machine Learning Revolution. Machine learning is playing a larger and larger role, just as it is in countless other industries. What’s most exciting is the tremendous impact potential that machine learning and artificial intelligence have in a space that influences the way we view and analyze our world. (Psst – on that note – stay tuned for some exciting announcements from Planet this week!)

The Science of Now. The GIS field is about location intelligence and the “science of where.” Today the “where” is all about the “now.” With the rise of the Internet of Things and the sensor revolution, increasingly we can get geospatial data on-demand, enabling near-real-time information streams about what’s happening in the world. This combined with the machine learning revolution above is creating totally new opportunities in GIS.

GIS is Transforming Education. As an English Literature Major (shh, don’t tell anyone) I can confirm that I was not exposed to Esri or even the acronym of GIS in the slightest. But stories of how so many education institutions have integrated GIS technologies into their curriculum – to wild success – and the opportunity to expose my own daughters to this world, was truly inspiring.

GIS for Sustainability. According to Crowther Lab, one of the engaging keynote speakers, there are three trillion trees on the planet! Who knew? And according to their research, we have space for an additional 1.2 trillion trees. The data to come to these answers would not have been possible just 10 years ago, nor would the ability to track the progress of sustainability efforts.

There are many more learnings from my Planet colleagues in attendance, but that’s my take as a first-timer. From drones and aerial imagery, to “new space” and daily satellite data, this is a vast and quickly evolving industry, and I’m excited to see what comes next – both from Planet and the broader community.


What were your takeaways from ESRI UC? If you missed us at the event, we’d love to catch up with you about “What’s next” for Planet.