2015 NYS Spring GIS Conference Specials

Spring continues to be one of my favorite times of the year for a bunch of reasons including March Madness, MLB spring training, and the opening of our local golf courses. And this year, in particular, the end of the long and brutal 2015 winter the Empire State has endured.

Spring also brings my annual summary of favorite one-day regional GIS conferences – most of which are held in locations accessible via a maximum 2-4 hour drive from all parts of the state. These one-day conferences are user-friendly, light on registration fees, provide excellent networking opportunities among colleagues and industry representatives, often provide GISP credit,  provide good presentation content, and minimize overall travel expenses. Sound too good to be true? You decide.

GIS-SIG 24rd Annual Conference, April 14th, 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.  To the extent possible, I always try to attend and present at this event.

Northeast Arc User Group (NEARC) Meeting, May 11th, 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 now 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 normally in the $50-$75 price range. If you can afford an overnight, activities the evening before downtown Amherst and a hotel room at the UMass conference center (where NEARC is held) make it even more worth your while. If your organization is an ESRI shop – this is a Spring show not to miss.

Westchester GIS User Group Meeting, May 14th, Purchase College, Purchase New York. As one of the largest geospatial meetings in 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 provided by the college, the 2015 event includes a wide range of user presentations, student poster contest, and an on-campus geocaching and orienteering (aka Map Adventures) contest. The Purchase College location provides easy one-day access across the metropolitan NYC area, as well as the broader lower Hudson River Valley and southeastern Connecticut. Agenda and other meeting specifics – including registration – is available from the Westchester County GIS website.

So, if overnight travel and expenses are simply not available or significantly limited, fret not – there are regional geospatial meetings and conferences which are accessible from most areas of the state AND provide many of the same benefits of larger shows. And at the same time easy on the wallet. At the end of the day, it will be worth your while and you’ll be supporting both your colleagues and industry representatives which support our Empire State GIS programs.

Happy travels!

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