2021 Esri User Conference Experience

“The 41st Conference was my first attendance which not only opened me up to understanding various areas that I wouldn’t have imagined could be explored using geographic applications, but it also revealed the importance of geography in solving world issues needed for a sustainable future” – Olumide Ogungbemi.


The ESRI User Conference 2021 was tagged as “Creating a Sustainable Future” and took place from Monday to Thursday, July 12-15, 2021, with GIS professionals from about 130 countries, 71,723 global attendees, 251 user videos shared, 181 exhibitors, 153 technical workshops and 57 SIGs.

Here is a recount of some of the technical sessions and lessons learned by Olumide Ogungbemi, a Research and Development officer at Sambus Geospatial Nigeria, at his first ESRI User Conference (virtual).


Esri’s president, Jack Dangermond, started the conference by showing the incredible work of GIS users from teachers, students, scientists, and those working with governments and private businesses. These users create a Global Information System community and the vision for future advancement in ArcGIS technology. 

ArcGIS Online: An Introduction

ArcGIS is a comprehensive geospatial system that provides

  • mapping and location services,
  • location analytics with a geo-enabled system, and
  • developer scripts to perform various tasks.

ArcGIS supports three fundamental systems as insight, records, and engagement. ArcGIS products provide Apps and support pro, online, enterprise, and developers APIs platforms.

ArcGIS Online can be defined as mapping analytics and location intelligence that supports Pro, Apps, and APIs. It has a public and organization account, running with the use of credits bought by getting a license, and can be set to one’s preference. The organization’s account has a list of members in the group.

ArcGIS can be used for geoinformation modelling such as maps and scenes, layers, analytics, and apps.

  • The usage of ArcGIS online portal and content layers ranges from a point cloud, feature layer, raster layer, scene later, OGC services, vector tiles, shapefiles, geo database, packages, ENC, image and raster data files to KML.
  • Analytics
  • Depending on users’ choice, map viewers and analysis can be shown in different maps and scenes, including map viewer classic, map viewer, and scene viewer.
  • Apps and functions can be performed using configurable Apps, Web App builder, dashboards and storymaps
  • Value proposition, as an open platform, as data, source, science, architecture, standards, and APIs.

ArcGIS Online can be used to convey complex information through location, navigation, and spatial relationships.

ArcGIS Spatial Analyst: Solving Real-world Problems

Solving real-world problems revolve around finding; the best place, what’s nearby, the best route, what else is here, and what can I see from here?

  • Finding the best place talks about the site, ranging from most suitable to least suitable.
  • Find what’s nearby by knowing the distance nearest to a feature, buffer areas, and travel times.
  • Determining the best route by examining the shortest walk time, planning route, tradeoffs checks
  • Checking for what one can see in a place using raster analysis and summary statistics
  • Terrain analysis by identification through DEMS
  • Value Estimation at entirely new locations through interpolating surfaces from points location and contour elevation.

ArcGIS Python Overview

The explosive growth of Python.

Python is a growing language with the ArcGIS environment; It helps to reduce loads and costs while solving problems in the technology space. Python is used everywhere (Enterprise, Desktop, SaaS/PaaS, and Runtime). 

  • Python in the ArcGIS Ecosystem

Grown over the years with Geoprocessing tools per year released with libraries to perform analysis in ArcPy and Python API

  • Python in the Desktop Stack

ArcPy, public service announcement in Python 2, Python 3, and premiere programming environment across all stacks

  • Python in the Enterprise Stack

Helps remote clients through spatial analysis, enterprise management, and automation of platform apps and also serves as ArcGIS Servers.

  • Python in the Runtime Stack

Runtime Stack gives much deeper access to Geoprocessing tools.

•Python in PaaS/SaaS

Builds libraries according to users’ preferences, provision, and location integration into applications and systems, reducing market time.

•Road ahead

Python libraries, enterprise, and desktop provide support authentication systems.

ArcGIS Pro: Mapping and Visualization

ArcGIS Pro integrates 2D and 3D mapping and can be used to analyze, create, visualize and share maps. Mapping and visualization are associated with the following.

  • Creation and visualization tasks include displaying, refining, generalizing, symbolism, designing, and post-production.
  • Styles and labelling are essential in map design. 
  • Feature and layer blending modes show-specific effects, including transparency, multiplication, and hard screen light feature types.
  • Coordinate systems and transformation


Four incredible keynote speakers shared stories, inspiring viewers to use their work to shape their future.  

Unlocking the Value of Location Technology

The HERE Technologies.

It is unmatched regarding quality and the extent covered behind map data and has a fleet of vehicles available; its AI machine learning has deep capabilities with possibilities of attributes extraction and the vectorization of the 3D data. It has a very valid point addressing system with one of the best geospatial solutions noticeable in many industries. Municipalities and intelligent city planning, geocoding traffic, vegetation management, and public safety are critical areas of attention.

Helping GIS users take their remote sensing to the next level

ENVI is noted for image processing and analysis; image analysis is accessible without prior experience or programming. 

• ENVI server can take over the modern hardware, run process in parallel to safe time, background running of ENVI, processes are distributed to local servers with a common data access. It can be used to multi-task, deep learning, data preparation, large data sets, and Programmer.

• ENVI Deep learning evaluates performance, creates training data, and creates models

• ENVI SAR scape analytics for ArcGIS helps to get information on the ground, even when cloudy or at night. Application areas include land use and land cover change, Forest Management, Engineering, Natural Disasters, and Agricultural Monitoring.

ArcGIS API for Python: An Introduction

ArcGIS API for Python is a library for GIS, spatial analysis, and Mapping; it performs script and can be combined with services, unlike ArcPy used for desktop and for local data. This API can perform various analyses on ArcGIS Online. It has a growing community; notebooks and IDEs are enabled and used to demonstrate, connect, search, and publish

ArcGIS Pro: Migrating from ArcMap 

Pro has an advantage over ArcMap due to its 64-bit, multi-threaded, contextual user interface, multiple maps and layouts, combined 2D & 3D, integrated with the ArcGIS system, and new features for enhancements. ArcMap is supported till March 1.2026, without extension, making the need for ArcGIS Pro intensify daily.

Changes include;

• System requirements hardware, an important check before ArcGIS Pro usage,

• New terminology

New User interface with contextual ribbon, views, panes, and context

Imports include;

• Maps and scenes -.mxd-.sxd-.3dd

• Layouts-.mxd-.mpk

• Symbology-.style .stylx

• Geodatabase annotation

• Map annotation

• Models

• Python Scripts

Unsupported include;

• Personal geodatabases (.mdbs)

• Application-level .NET add-ins 

• Coverages

• Geometric networks

• Representations

The file can be added, editing, analysis, mapping, and visualization, and sharing can be performed.

ArcGIS Pro: An Overview of 3D Analysis

Several analyses can be performed on ArcGIS Pro using 3D with an extension of Overlay, Visibility, Area and Volume, Data Management, and Surface Derivatives. 

• Interactive analysis tools include proximity & Overlap, and Visibility

• Surface Analysis is determined with change detection, area and volume calculation, surface derivate, Proximity analysis, and robust mathematical operations.

• Lidar analysis is concerned with surface derivates, proximity analysis

• Sun shadow analysis for shadow cast modeling and determination of shadow frequency

• Interactive Visibility Analysis showing the line of sight, viewshed, and view dome

3D Data Sources include,

• 3D points, lines, polygons & mesh geometry

• 2D features symbolized as 3D

• Derived from surface operations

• Raster & TIN-based surface models

• Multi-dimensional data

• Point clouds

• Space-time cube

• Building information models (BIM)

Proximity and Volumetric analysis, intersections, and geometric and raster operations are performed.


ArcGIS Dashboards: Designing Effective Dashboards

The dashboard is a single screen of information, displays charts, and is effective through communication, attention capture, and the ability to spot the most important and divided into snapshots and monitoring. Snapshots give information, explanation, persuasion, and analysis, while monitoring serves the purpose of monitoring dashboards information, Status, performance, evaluation, progress, and analysis.

Choice of colour is essential in creating a dashboard; considerations are also given to the mobile view, time changes, and ensuring a suitable dashboard scale. 

Applying ENVI Image Analytics and ArcGIS: Disaster Response Use Cases

• Occurrence of Non-COVID disasters reveals Asia (161), Americas (89), Africa (80), and Europe (41) as the top countries with a high number of disasters in 2020.

• Highest disasters occurred through floods (201), followed by storms in 127 cases, with Volcanic activity the minor disaster.

• Highest number of death was from extreme temperature with 6388, followed by flooding with 6171

• Highest economic losses were from Storm, 92.7 billion US dollars lost.

The disaster management cycle revolves around; mitigating, preparing, recovering and responding. Preparation of events that may occur and responding to the effect is essential.

Early warning signs of crop failure (Scale check), power utility monitoring, subsidence monitoring, volcano eruption, mapping of the Derecho path, and Cyclone Idai flood detection are all critical areas to manage in terms of disasters Management.

The Globe in 3D

Maxar functions around global coverage, automatic processing, unique technology, and automated derivative products

Types of Models Include;

• Textured 3D surface model

• Digital Surface Model

• Imagery (True Ortho in NDVI classification is necessary. 

• Terrain data is used for earth movement 

• 3D Buildings & vegetation vectors have a database where each feature can be attributed independently.

Administering your GIS Organizations using ArcGIS API for Python

It helps to manage the web GIS. It works with feature layers and feature services. It has below operations:

• To create profiles used to secure information

• handling SAML

• The GIS object is the entry class to web GIS. Properties define the information.

• Managing content

• Working with users

ArcGIS Online: Using Smart Mapping

Giving smart defaults to one map based on data available

styles of smart mapping include,

• An attribute can be visualized depending on location, type, colour, and size.

• Multiple attributes can be visualized by comparing A and B, dot density, predominant category (Category and size)

• Time visualization can be shown as a continuous timeline, age

• Highlighting essential values, including their themes

Living Atlas: US Demographics and Census 2020

Population and housing are essential characteristics of the census over time. Ratios and Indicators include,

• Economic Dependency Ratio (EDR): shows the children, unemployed, and those who are not in the labour force and are dependent on the employed.

• Tapestry segmentation shows market segmentation for US neighbourhoods

• Consumer spending shows products and services being bought and where.

• Market potential shows market potential index data.

Demographic trends cover total fertility rate and age-specific fertility. Adjustment occurred due to COVID-19 Census 2020. Data are demonstrated in Living Atlas, and the places application is compared.


Science Symposium

Special Interest Group – SIG Meeting – Humanitarian

Applying GIS in the best possible ways to help humanitarian actions cannot be overemphasized. The SIG focused on how actors can be empowered from vulnerable and less privileged communities to leverage GIS technology to manage disasters efficiently and take deliberate actions in limiting vulnerability and building resilience.

Non-Profit and NGO

Non-profits, NGOs, and other organizations that focus on mission-driven depend primarily on volunteers and dedicated citizens to move their mission forward. Maps, hubs, and other GIS tools can be used to inspire dedicated citizens and volunteers to take action and link them with the resources needed to contribute immensely to the non-profit’s operations.

Disaster and Emergency Management 

GIS tools are essential and invoked for all phases of the EM lifecycle. 


GIS can help bring data together, analyze patterns, and evaluate current performance, which will help public transit agencies to operate better than in the past.

Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), must be focused on. Addressing SDG 10 (at both global and local levels), and reduced inequalities is a top way to achieve all other SDGs. Geospatial information, processes, and partnerships enable the achievement of not only SDG 10 but other SDGs.

Ocean, Weather, and Climate

The ocean’s influence on weather and climate. Understanding ocean-atmosphere interactions give humans insight into societal wellbeing. Suitable approaches are needed to leverage the power of GIS to understand our oceans, weather, and climate. ArcGIS technology needs to be effective in addressing the processes.

GIS in Census and Statistics

Measurement is done on people, places, and the economy by the statistical office or census bureau. Information provided aid policy and decision-making to know the state of a country per time. The government quickly checks whether the right resources go to the right places. Census 2020 data was examined to check challenges faced and some of the technologies implored by statistical organizations.

Further Topic: Equitable Distribution of Humanitarian Resources in a Refugee Camp using GIS

Matamoros Refugee Camp – The camp hosts about 3,500 people due to the 2019 Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). The long journey to the US/Mexican border that takes months is embarked on by foot, hitchhiking, and bus travel. Travelers get to the camp exhausted and needy of essential items and medical attention. Minimal attention from the government brought about Ngo’s providing essential needs and services.

•   Hurricane Hanna displayed the camp on July 23, 2020, leading to the dire need for shelter distribution. The COVID-19 effect resulted in the severity of shelters for the camp occupant.

Distribution problems

o Confusion due to initial distribution methods of physical paper lists by country leaders

o Unequal access due to favouritism

o Slow response in the tracking of resources

Post-Hurricane Humanitarian Distribution

Resources such as tents, platforms, and tarps were distributed using Survey123; country leaders helped in getting resources to the asylum seeker. Through queues, the dispatcher organized the available resources for leaders. In all 198 tents, 600+ platforms and countless tarps were distributed. 

Lastly, with resource distribution, a survey was presented in Spanish and recorded in English to solve the language issue. Solutions are arrived at without favouritism, equitable access, improved time response, and communication. Dashboard, Drone2Map, ArcGIS Pro Survey123, Collector, and StoryMaps are essential in humanitarian or camp engagement.

Update, The Camp has closed due to a policy change. ArcGIS software can also be applied to other camps along the border.

GIS technology has a significant role in the world’s sustainability. Capturing the conference spirit of connection and collaboration is a step in the right direction in bringing Users together to share ideas and work on a way forward.

You can join the conference this year by registering on the link: https://www.esri.com/en-us/about/events/uc/registration