Another excellent MAGIC Symposium was held last week in Omaha, Nebraska. This was the 16th Symposium with the first having been held in Lawrence, Kansas in 1987. This Symposium also celebrated the 30th year of MAGIC. When a show of hands was asked for who was a first-time attendee, I was very pleasantly surprised to see nearly half of the people in the room raise their hands. Was this because of the location (Omaha is very nice place by the way)? Or perhaps more people are hearing about this conference and the value that it brings to them and their organization.
I've written and said before that the MAGIC Symposium is one of my favorite conferences because it provides content ranging from coordination/oversight to very technical content, all of it very applicable. During a session, a first-time attendee pointed out that he was somewhat surprised how government-centric the Symposium is, with attendees from cities, counties, states, and federal agencies.
The opening keynote was provided by Brian Elms, director of Peak Academy in Denver. He talked about his experience in the city of Denver during the 2008 recession. They challenged themselves to innovate without hiring more people, obtaining new technology, or growing their budget. Very applicable thinking in the current State of North Dakota environment. Some bullet points on one of his slides: "say yes, innovate with only what you have, infuse humor and trust, read."
This Symposium once again continued the tradition of providing excellent content and networking opportunities. We had over 300 attendees and over 31 exhibitors and sponsors. What follows are just a few of my takeaways from the Symposium:
- MAGIC experiences continued and steady support from a good number of companies - several of them were recognized for their past support going back seven symposiums - that's fourteen years!
- From the keynote, we need to focus on things that we can control AND on things that matter.
- Commercially supported open source GIS that includes integrated and streamlined server and desktop tools has made great strides in recent years and is beginning to become an integral tool in government and private-sector organizations.
- It appears that North Dakota will once again have NAIP for 2018 assuming contracting goes through in a timely manner.
- Licensed geospatial data - it's not a matter of if but of when we will have Content as a Service (CaaS), in particular imagery such as the NAIP imagery. It appears that most vendors will desire to work with customers on important issues such as accessing data by multiple levels of government and their contractors, and having access to previous collections of that imagery for temporal analysis.
- North Dakota is not the only one…other states are involved with main street revitalization programs that leverage GIS and location-based business intelligence to help show (and learn) where they are spending money.
- I really liked the CrowdCompass tool that was used at the Symposium. It worked very well for viewing the schedule, setting one's personal schedule, messaging between attendees, taking notes, being notified of events and room changes, and sharing photos. Don't be surprised if it shows up at a future ND GIS conference.
What is one of my main takeaways from this MAGIC Symposium? Stay relevant! Technology is changing, the integration of GIS with other systems is growing which drives the need to be flexible and to remain aware of that fact, and the way people consume information, how they learn, and their expectations continue to evolve.
If you haven't had a chance to be a part of MAGIC, please consider doing so, there are lots of opportunities, just visit the web site or contact me. Planning for the 2020 Symposium is already in the early stages, you are invited to be part of that event, as an attendee, presenter, sponsor, planner, or any combination of these.