Reflections on GeCo in the Rockies 2014

01 October 2014 by Kyle Tolle

Last week, I attended the GeCo in the Rockies 2014 conference. This was the first geospatial conference I’ve attended, and I found it enlightening in many ways. I wanted to share a few reflections from my week.

GeCo

My background is in computer science and software, so I’m still learning a lot about the geospatial field. The workshops and conference itself quickly boosted my understanding of the industry, what problems people face, and how they solve them. On top of that, the people I met during the week told me of their backgrounds, which tools they use, and what the field is about.

The keynote was given by Chris Sheldrick, CEO of what3words. He explained his previous experience in the music industry and how the common problem of sharing a location or address lead to his co-founding what3words. Here is a person with a non-GIS background giving the keynote at a GIS conference.

It is a powerful demonstration that geospatial is bleeding into other facets of our life. People from different backgrounds - be they from fish and wildlife departments or market analytics firms - realize how important spatial thinking is to what they do.

And some of these people launch non-traditional, well-focused, and incredibly talented companies that compete with established entities in the GIS industry. Companies that gain a lot of traction and exert a force on the incumbents, who won’t acknowledge the new players but do scramble to catch up.

A fair number of sessions revolved around mobile data collection. Some presented reviews of inexpensive or free data collection apps, which were interesting to see compared. Some talked of troubles with new technologies, but many more shared their experiences in successfully moving from paper to modern tablets. They focused especially on how they not only saved on costs, but also increased their data quality. It really showed how large the need is for easy and low-cost ways to collect data in the field.

The application I built to track the happenings at the conference worked well. Six people signed up for alerts via email and/or SMS, and many others recorded over fifty happenings. It was also a relevant way to show people what the Fulcrum platform can do. We’ll work to improve the software for use at future events.

Socials in the evenings allowed me to get to know people better than I could in a few minutes between sessions. And the city of Grand Junction was excited to host us and incredibly welcoming. I took advantage of the bike trails and gorgeous scenery along the Colorado River and in the Colorado National Monument. Those alone are worth a visit!

Overall, I was impressed with the conference and feel fortunate to have met as many people as I did. I returned to Denver feeling more energized and excited than ever before. It’s a good time to be in the geospatial industry.

About the author

Kyle served as a software engineer with Fulcrum, and worked with our web and backend platform.

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