Spring 2014 GIS Conference Deals

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year for a bunch of reasons.   March Madness, Major League Baseball season begins (sorry Yanks & Mets fans, having been raised outside of Cleveland, I’m a hapless lifelong Indians fan – which is a curse) and the public golf courses in Westchester County open late March!  But this Spring is particularly sweet as we finally begin to sense and feel an end to the brutal and seemingly endless winter we’ve all suffered through over the past several months.

Over on the geospatial front, Spring also offers some of my favorite one-day GIS conferences held in locations which are easily accessible to the Empire State  geospatial community.     These one-day conferences are user-friendly, light on registration fees, provide excellent networking opportunities among colleagues and industry representatives,  provide good content, and minimize overall travel expenses – which is significant due to the substantial travel restrictions many GIS professionals are currently dealing with across the state.

Three Spring 2014 regional GIS conferences and meetings worth considering include:

GIS-SIG 23rd Annual Conference, April 15th, Rochester, NY.   GIS-SIG is the long standing western New York geospatial educational user group whose primary mission is to “foster the understanding of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology.”   GIS/SIG provides a professional forum in the Rochester – Genesee Finger Lakes region for GIS education, data sharing, communication and networking with other local, state and national users, dissemination of information about trends and policies related to GIS, and technology advancement.  With a loyal membership and Board of Directors, the size and content of the GIS/SIG conference is broad enough to often substitute as an  annual state conference for many GIS practitioners in the western half of the state.  The conference boasts a wide range of vendors and presentations involving government, industry and business, nonprofits, and contributions from the many academic institutions in the Rochester-Buffalo corridor.  Corporate sponsorship keeps the price tag of an individual registration at under a $100 for the day which also includes lunch.   Online registration is available and while you are at the GIS/SIG website you can also see the many resources and links GIS/SIG provides to its user community.

Northeast Arc User Group (NEARC) Meeting, May 13th, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.  Though not in New York State, the Spring NEARC meeting is conveniently located in Amherst, MA which is easily accessible to the Albany Capital District and GIS professionals in eastern New York State. Once considered the smaller venue of the NEARC suite of annual conferences, Spring NEARC grew too large at its original site at Smith College in Northampton, MA and moved to a larger venue at the University of Massachusetts.  Unlike the GIS/SIG conference which is software vendor independent, this show is very much ESRI centric though is packed with high quality user presentations, well attended by ESRI business partners, and has grown to be so popular that the show competes with the larger annual three-day NEARC Conference held in the fall and other similar New England GIS shows.   This is a great one-day conference, well attended, great user content, easy access, lots of opportunities to meet industry representatives and ESRI regional staff,  professional networking,  and includes lunch – all for $45.  If your organization is an ESRI shop – this is a Spring show not to miss.

Westchester GIS User Group Meeting, May 15th, Purchase College, Purchase New York.  As one of the largest geospatial meetings in southeastern New York State,  the Westchester GIS User Group Meeting is a free one-day conference held at Purchase College.  Made possible by financial support from exhibiting vendors and conference facilities through the college, the 2014 event includes a wide range of user presentations,  a specific PDH (Professional Development Hour) user track for engineers,  afternoon workshops, coffee breaks for networking,  and both a student poster contest and on-campus geogaching and orienteering contest.  The Purchase College location provides easy one-day access across the metropolitan NYC area, including the lower Hudson River Valley and also southeastern Connecticut. While a preliminary agenda has already been posted, it will be updated on a regular basis leading up to the day of the meeting.

So, if overnight travel and expenses are simply not available, fret not – there are regional geospatial meetings and conferences which are accessible from most areas of the state – which provide many of the same benefits of larger shows – and at the same time are easy on the wallet.  It’s worth considering these and other smaller shows to support your professional development efforts and outreach.  At the end of the day, it will be worth your while and you’ll be supporting both your colleagues and the industry representatives which support our Empire State GIS programs.

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