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#FMEUC17 and Shapefile’s Silver Jubilee

Selina Sandoval

This year, Safe Software held its first worldwide user meeting in three years at the beautiful Vancouver, BC Convention Centre.  We love the people at Safe - authors of the “Feature Manipulation Engine” or FME that transforms data and coordinates from one format to another.  WhiteStar uses this technology intensively to prepare data formatted for a wide variety of customer applications. 

You would think after twenty years, data transformation problems would all be solved.  To the contrary, the number and variety of data formats just continues to explode.  Indeed, we use Safe’s FME Server technology inside of WhiteStar Cloud, where customers can come to a website and “clip, zip and ship” the data they need in their desired format.   

Col, Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station,  gave the keynote talk at the conference about managing complexity and change. “If you want things to stay the same, something is going to have to change!”  set the tone for the UC.  We can’t continue to do things the old way.  In WhiteStar’s world, we need to stream data rather than deliver GIS data using old methods such as ftp and shapefiles.   
Hadfield mentioned that the May 6th, 2017 cover story of The Economist rightly cites data as the world’s most valuable resource.  As a data company, we have known that for a very long time, and spend time and effort trying to convince our prospects of this.  Still too many are seduced and spend their entire budget on software. 

Amusingly,  the conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of shapefiles.  Even more amazing (horrifying?) is that shapefiles use the old 1980s vintage dBase III DBF format to store data. Perhaps next year @dbffiles could celebrate their 35th birthday.  On Twitter, you can follow the very active and humorous @shapefiIe account so as not to miss any developments!

WhiteStar Geodata Analyst Pete Vaziri and I gave a well attended talk on the large task of compiling and continually updating parcel data for the more than 3142 counties and county-equivalents in the USA.  WhiteStar has a research staff who contact each county and update the data on a regular basis.  Data must then be converted to a common format (using FME of course), normalized to a standard schema, converted to a common coordinate system, and then loaded into GIS databases where it can then be streamed to customers or available on WhiteStar Cloud.  

FME Colorado User Group
Are you an FME-er in the Denver area? We are looking for a speaker for the next meeting of the Colorado FME User Group.  Please contact me if you would exchange a beer for a 25 minute presentation on some topic of interest to the FME User community.  

Now Playing on GridTV

Selina Sandoval

We spend a lot of time on here focusing on what good grid will do for you – save time, save money, drive better decisions, and make you look like a rock star. But back in the office, we’re really a bunch of data nerds who get an inordinate amount of enjoyment from digging into historical records and finding weird little anomalies, tracking down backstories, and knitting together an elegant web from all these pieces.

We have some amazing in-house experts overseeing the data you use. If you’re interested in learning more about how this all comes together, we invite you to grab a bowl of popcorn, sit back, and enjoy this double feature – and stay a few minutes extra to get some insight into what to look for in a data contract. 

How It’s Made: The History Behind Lots, Tracts and Quarter-Quarters
Jessica Schiewe, QA/QC Manager: A Girl, Some Grid, and the Fine Print

In-house expert Jessica walks us through how her team interprets historical documents and reconciles them with current records to produce the best data.

(Re)Solved Mysteries: Deciphering Texas
Jeff Smith, GeoData Admin Lead: Texas Land Survey

Railways, shifting borders, and a history of occupations – the Texas land survey has it all. WhiteStar expert Jeff gets to the bottom of it to analyze what it looks like today. 

Bonus Feature: The Data’s Advocate
Peter Edwards, Director, Fairfield and Woods, PC
Data Contracts – What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

WhiteStar Counsel Peter Edwards talks what to look for before signing a data contract.

Twenty Years an Esri Partner

Selina Sandoval

WhiteStar recently marked twenty years as an Esri Business Partner. We had the opportunity to have breakfast and chat with Jack Dangermond, the billionaire, philanthropist CEO and owner of Esri at the recent Business Partner Conference.  Dangermond has strongly supported his business partners - Esri provides the software tools and we provide the domain expertise and customization to make both of us successful. 

This anniversary represents a tremendous milestone for WhiteStar and our customers as Esri offers us a common set of tools.  As an Esri partner, we have access to all of the latest and greatest innovations and can develop software and data to meet customer needs.   Esri notably invests hundreds of millions of dollars every year evolving its flagship ArcGIS line of products - from the desktop to the enterprise to the Internet. 
Dangermond often emphasizes the need to be a “node in your network.”  I credit much of WhiteStar’s success to that idea, that we are all interconnected and can meet and serve each other’s needs if we only reach out to one another.  Having a common software platform helps enormously. 

Partnering with Esri enables WhiteStar to develop a rich and full featured set of curated data libraries for use by our customers.   We use Esri tools in-house to build data to the highest possible quality standards and with full topology.  Esri’s vast installed base then allows us to seamlessly market our data to thousands of customers around the USA and Canada.  

The tight integration between our data and their software provides an excellent user experience for our customers who in turn can then add their own data layers, integrations, and applications. 

In those early, heady days of GIS, the Esri User Conference was an energetic event held at a central hotel in Palm Springs. The group then numbered several hundred enthusiastic power users. Twenty years of interaction with those GIS leaders has driven an incredible amount of worldwide change, and today that group fills the entire San Diego Convention Center and numbers more than 15,000 attendees. It’s an extraordinary testament to the power and longevity of GIS.

WhiteStar VP of Sales, Adam Cordova, Esri CEO, Jack Dangermond, Whitestar CEO, Robert C. White Jr.

WhiteStar VP of Sales, Adam Cordova, Esri CEO, Jack Dangermond, Whitestar CEO, Robert C. White Jr.