View Samples
View Samples

Key Takeaways from Esri UC 2023: Geoenabling Industry Professionals with Mapping Data

We heard a few key themes on repeat throughout our week in San Diego. In this blog post, we break down our key takeaways in case you weren’t able to make it.

The Ecopia AI team had a blast at Esri UC 2023! We enjoyed meeting up with customers, partners, and the geospatial community at the world’s largest GIS conference. As proud bronze sponsors of the event, it was great to hear what everyone is up to by attending some thought leadership sessions, meeting geospatial professionals at our booth, and hosting our customers and partners at our rooftop party.

We heard a few key themes on repeat throughout our week in San Diego. In this blog post, we break down our key takeaways in case you weren’t able to make it.

Key takeaways from Esri UC 2023

1. Geoenablement & geospatial literacy

This year’s hot topic was geoenablement, the concept of making geospatial insights accessible and usable to all who need them - not just trained GIS professionals. Every session we attended touched on geoenablement in some way, and it was also top of mind for many of our booth visitors. For some organizations, geoenablement means increasing geospatial literacy in industries where mapping and location intelligence are only beginning to emerge. For others, it means expanding the use of geospatial analysis to other departments and creating collaborative networks to share data and insights.

2. Data-driven insights > anecdotal evidence

Another theme we heard frequently from different industry stakeholders was the need for data-driven insights instead of relying on anecdotal evidence for decision-making. While analyzing data to derive important information is not a new concept, many organizations still lack comprehensive, accurate, and up-to-date geospatial data for this process. Many of the folks we spoke with shared that their organizations leverage anecdotes or best guesses to power some of their most critical decision-making workflows, but are seeing the negative impacts of this and seeking solutions to the issue. Advancements in sustainable data creation are helping organizations move beyond anecdotal analysis, enabling them to leverage up-to-date insights in a rapidly changing world that are not represented through one-time data creation.

3. Data sharing & collaboration

Across the many industries present at UC this year, we heard a common thread of challenges in data sharing across entire organizations. In both the public and private sectors, organizations are struggling to develop efficient and secure ways to make data accessible to the users who need it. Those who have figured it out have been able to not only expand geospatial literacy by geoenabling different groups, but also facilitate data-driven decision-making.

Geoenabling industry professionals with access to accurate data

These three themes are all related to each other, but look a little different in each industry. Here’s what these themes look like in different industries based on the sessions we attended and conversations we had. 

Climate resilience

Climate change and the role mapping and geospatial data play in building community resilience was top of mind for many attending UC. During the NOAA user group meeting, federal, state, and community leaders met to discuss how diverse data layers can be combined for critical climate analysis, but they must be high quality and accessible for all stakeholder organizations in order to be useful in decision-making. Ecopia touched on our work with NOAA during our own presentation about building climate resiliency strategies. In addition to demonstrating how data can reveal insights into critical issues like climate inequality, Brandon Palin and Briana Brown from the Ecopia team highlighted how NOAA is providing open access to 1.3M+ square miles of high-precision land cover data, further geoenabling coastal communities with the insights needed to build a climate resilience strategy.

Ecopia StoryMap on climate resilience inequality
The Ecopia team presented a StoryMap on how land cover data can be layered with other information to reveal climate inequality and inform resilience strategy planning.

Federal & state government

As Ecopia met and attended sessions with federal and state GIS leaders, we were interested to hear how this need is felt at the federal and state government levels. In one session, we learned that the State of Washington (like many states) has undertaken a massive effort to centralize access to geospatial data for various state agencies. While other statewide IT initiatives had previously been streamlined, Washington was experiencing data sprawl and redundancy when it came to its geospatial resources. A critical component of this project was granting the appropriate level of access to certain datasets that may be more sensitive than others, while still promoting data accessibility to geoenable state agencies with the accurate data needed for decision-making. By developing a sustainable and scalable tech stack, Washington was able to centralize their data resources, including Ecopia land cover data. This ensures state agencies have access to reliable data for their analytics, and can make decisions based on a digital source of truth.


Transportation planning

Smart city planning remains a priority for states and municipalities across the US, and all of the transportation planning sessions we attended had a focus on how to leverage data and geospatial analytics to foster smarter, safer, and more sustainable communities. In one session we attended, leaders from Esri highlighted the top five challenges facing community planners today, which include geoenabling non-GIS professionals with location-based insights, moving away from using anecdotes by llayering accurate datasets together for deeper analysis, and sharing geospatial information for collaboration across departments. In our own partner lightning talk, Bill Singleton from the Ecopia team showcased how high-precision transportation data can not only be an important analytics tool, but also a way to communicate smart city planning strategies with less technical stakeholders and the general public.

Ecopia presented transportation planning maps at Esri UC 2023.
Ecopia participated in a partner lightning talk to share how AI-based mapping data is transforming transportation planning workflows.


The public sector is not the only industry doubling down on geospatial data literacy, quality, and access. In the telecommunications sessions we attended, thought leaders shared their own challenges and successes in network planning through geospatial analysis.  For example, Telenet and Vodafone outlined how the development of a geospatial digital twin for their networks has helped them to identify and expand to new markets, as well as monitor and maintain infrastructure to improve the customer experience. Broadband expansion was another common topic throughout UC, as BEAD funding acquired with the help of geospatial information was just recently announced. With data literacy and access becoming more widespread, similar opportunities to bridge the digital divide in telecommunications will arise, but accurate datasets are needed to effect real change.

Insurance analytics

We made sure to stop by the insurance special interest group to hear the latest in property intelligence and analysis. While there, we heard insurance leaders express similar challenges with geospatial literacy and data sharing. As property risk continues to climb, some carriers are ceasing operations in high-risk areas simply because they do not have the data needed to accurately assess individual properties and optimize their strategy. However, many carriers are seeing success analyzing different layers of information with building-based geocodes in order to derive accurate property risk profiles. Geospatial redundancy remains a common challenge for carriers as different departments leverage disparate datasets for their analytics, although there is a trend towards data sharing across lines of business to increase efficiency and work from the same source of truth.

The future of the geospatial industry

Based on our observations at Esri UC 2023, it appears the future of the geospatial industry is in the growing use of location-based insights by professionals that have not traditionally leveraged GIS. As more industries begin to incorporate geospatial data and analytics to a diverse range of use cases, the need to expand geospatial literacy and access to reliable datasets is paramount to maintaining the integrity of analytics. Ecopia is dedicated to producing high-precision datasets to geoenable any professional looking to make data-driven decisions. To learn more about how we can help your organization leverage the power of geospatial data, get in touch with our team.

PS: Did you see our map of Seattle land cover in the UC map gallery? Check it out here:

Comprehensive land cover map of Seattle
Ecopia AI's submission to the Esri UC 2023 map gallery.

Learn more about Ecopia

Ready to get started?

If you're ready to leverage groundbreaking advancements in artificial intelligence, let's chat.

Let's talk