On Friday, March 20, 2015, DigitalGlobe hosted its first User Conference in Palo Alto, California (That’s the Location, Time, and Context…more on this later). Industry leading experts in the fields of web-mapping, visualization, analytics, and data science kicked off the day with a networking breakfast in the Garden Court hotel. The collaborative atmosphere set the stage for the day as geo-geeks, data-nerds, and business-suits discussed how location has become the canvas on which they build their products, algorithms, and strategies. Engage was not only the name of the event, but the theme which resonated throughout the day. Kevin Bullock provided a theme to ground the event around: Location, Time, and Context. Every day, these three pieces of meta-data are uniquely associated with everything we do. This struck a chord with an audience of people who collectively map, analyze, extract, and make big decisions based primarily on these three discrete data-points. Morning sessions were focused on platforms, portals, and applications with – as expected – beautiful presentations from Mapbox, CartoDB, and PVM. A panel of experts fielded questions from the audience and moderator Marc Prioleau. Open source data, bespoke mapping platforms, and API accessibility were the topics of the day, instigating plenty of healthy discussion. With data distribution and access covered, the conference shifted gears in the afternoon and focused on image mining, deep learning, analytics, and Geospatial Big Data. Dr. Walter Scott kicked things off by discussing the interaction between machine learning algorithms and human intervention – setting the stage for our afternoon partner presentations. Exogenesis and Orbital Insight made “trillions” and "petabytes" seem small as they demonstrated how they are sifting through years of DigitalGlobe imagery to extract valuable insights. Heads were blown on more than one occasion as capabilities only dreamed of were live[!] demoed. The final event of the day was a “big data” panel moderated by Dr. Shay Har-Noy. This panel offered interesting perspectives on questions such as: How big does your data need to be? How do we address privacy concerns? Is there a killer app? (Consensus was no, but one poll voter seemed to know something the rest of the room didn’t). After a long day of insightful conversations and thought provoking presentations, perhaps it was the networking that was most valuable. Users across vertical markets and with divergent technical backgrounds immediately began riffing on new ways to bring Location, Time, and Context to use. One thing is certain -- we have only just scratched the surface in this space. Special thanks to our presenters and panel members: Eric and Paul @Mapbox, Javier @CartoDB, Bret, Laura, Pat, and Sydney @PVM, Angelika @Stalman Consulting, Marc Prioleau @Prioleau Advisors, Sean @ExogenesisGEO, Jimi @OrbitalInsight, Alex @RSMetrics, Luke @DigitalGlobe. Josh Winer is Commercial Sales Manager for the Americas at DigitalGlobe.
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