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  The American Surveyor     

GITA Solutions Conference Energizes Geospatial Industry Print E-mail
Written by GITA   
Thursday, 30 April 2009

More Than 1,000 Practitioners Invested in Their Education in Tampa

Aurora, Colo., April 30, 2009—The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) would like to thank its corporate members, individual members, and the 1,071 attendees of the 2009 Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference and Geospatial Dimensions of Emergency Response Symposium for making the event a great success. The conference was held at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla., April 19-22, 2009. The final attendance count represents a 30% decrease from 2008’s 1,531 attendees, which is consistent with the typical 25-40% conference attendance decrease being reported across the association market in this economy.

“We felt that the conference was a huge success. We were extremely pleased with this year’s conference content, as well as the attendance, given the current economic situation,” said Kecia Pierce, 2009 Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference Chair and Industry Manager, Intergraph Corporation. “While the quantity may have been down slightly, the quality was high. Those attendees that were there had a real vested need and interest in being there to find solutions to the particular problems they were facing.”

During this second year of a branding transition, GITA has done more than ever before to market the conference because association leaders knew the full success of transitions can typically take about three years. GITA planned for a possible temporary decrease this year, and is excited about the future of this conference as the new brand fully takes shape. In consultation with Attendance Marketing, a firm that specializes in non-profit association marketing, GITA has aggressively promoted to infrastructure-related audiences in many new market segments.

Prior to the official kickoff of the conference, 11 Knowledge Immersion seminars offered participants a chance to get in-depth education on a wide range of topics. GITA’s Industry Trends Analysis Group Meeting focused on how geospatial projects can get a piece of the stimulus package. The Opening Session featured a keynote address by Blaine D. Leonard, President-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the educational program included 111 paper presentations, and a total of 85 vendors showcased the latest in geospatial products and services on the exhibit floor. “It’s been a very good show this year. I’ve been quite surprised on the number of attendees in these tough economic times. I think the quality of the attendees as well has been surprisingly better than average,” said Damon Dougherty, Bentley Systems, Inc. “Over the past couple of years I think we haven’t had this level of interest in our technology and this year seems to bring in a lot of interest.”

“The show has been great. I used GITA’s new online Zerista event community before the conference to pick out people I’m interested in meeting and I’ve scheduled a number of meetings, so it’s worked out quite well. This is the first time I’ve been personally and it seems well attended. I think everybody’s having a great time,” said Mark Alexander, President, IS Consulting.

“This is one of the biggest conferences that is vendor neutral, and it’s a conference we’re going to continue to attend to meet clients from all sorts of vendor focus and that sort of thing. We’re actually pleased with the numbers that are here this year. We were worried it would be even further down. So we’re confident that once the economy turns around, the numbers will come back,” said Don Murray, Safe Software Inc.

The 2009 Conference Committee made big changes to the call for presentations process, asking practitioners to build their own conference. There were not set topics that speakers had to work with, and speakers were not required to write a full paper. The result was a fresh program of the most relevant topics for the geospatial industry.

“GITA 2009 was an invaluable experience for professional growth and networking on an international level that is focused on a sector found in no other conference like it.,” said Tim Jones, Engineering Supervisor—GIS, Ponderosa Telephone. “I feel that when the economy is down is the best time to invest in education to get a step ahead in an increasingly competitive market place.”

Attendees admitted that traveling to conferences was more difficult, but had no problem identifying the ROI of attending GITA’s event. "In these tight economic times, I have to more carefully consider which conferences to attend each year. I find the GITA conference particularly relevant to my profession of utilizing geospatial technology to manage our infrastructure. This event provides me the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals all trying to discover better ways of conducting our business.  It is a refreshing experience, and well worth my investment of time and travel,” said Jeffery M. Coffey, Tarrant Regional Water District.

The Geospatial Dimensions of Emergency Response Symposium was held concurrently with the Solutions Conference for the second year in a row, and many exhibitors on GITA’s show floor showcased emergency response applications. The Symposium kicked off with the Keynote Power Panel: A Unified Federal Approach To Geospatial Technologies In Times Of Crisis, which explored how geospatial technology, information and data continue to play a major role in the support of Homeland Security, Homeland Defense and Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Operations. Panelists included Todd Cummings, NGA; Rick Driggers, Department of Homeland Security; Craig Skalet, USGS; and Antwane Johnson, HDASA. “This conference was fantastic and very well run. I mostly attended the Geospatial Dimensions of Emergency Response Symposium, and I found the sessions and the exhibit floor very beneficial. I will definitely be back next year,” said Charles H. "CH" Cook II, GEOINT Advisor supporting CET and the 1st Space Brigade, Camber Corporation, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

Following the conclusion of GITA’s Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference, the Oracle Spatial User Conference, ESRI ‘s Managing Infrastructure Projects with GIS Seminar, and the Common Ground Alliance’s Stakeholder Summit were conducted at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina on Thursday, April 23.

The planning committee for GITA’s 2010 Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference and Geospatial Dimensions of Emergency Response Symposium are already hard at work developing the educational program and other aspects of the event, set for April 25-29, 2010, in Phoenix, Ariz. The event will be co-located with the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping’s 2009 Annual Conference.

Audio and PowerPoint presentations from educational sessions were recorded at the 2009 Solutions Conference, and should be available soon. The Call for Presentations for GITA’s 2010 Solutions Conference is currently open. To submit an abstract, please visit: gita.org/cfp.

About GITA
The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) is the professional association and leading advocate for anyone using geospatial technology to help operate, maintain, and protect the infrastructure, which includes organizations such as utilities, telecommunication companies, and the public sector. Through industry leading conferences—along with research initiatives, chapters, membership, and other programs—GITA provides education and professional best practices. Visit us at www.gita.org.

 
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