It is always great to go to the ESRI International User Conference and connect with our users and friends in the beautiful city of San Diego. As the largest GIS vendor ESRI puts on a great show and the event is full of information from ESRI and its users. There are always exciting announcements and the vision of where ESRI is taking their technology is shared with the masses.

When I go to any user conference I find that the most interesting and surprising talks are, without a doubt, those from users. Looking back to our own user conference, the talks that really got me excited were those where something simple was done that could be used across many different types of industries. One such example of this is the presentation by Brendan Cunningham from Kilkenny County Council. In his talk Brendan showed how Kilkenny has built a location-based notification system that can send information of interest to residents who register. Some examples are water outages, road closures, and flood warnings!

The beauty of what Brendan and Kilkenny have done is the sheer simplicity of the solution; they have cleverly leveraged the platform technologies of our society. Firstly, almost everyone has a cell phone and therefore is able to receive SMS messages. This system is all about exploiting the ease with which information can be “pushed” to users. Coupling the ability to send SMS messages with a web registration service for residents and common place “point on area” overlay algorithms, and there you have it – a solution that can be used to notify users of events that they are interested in!

What also excites me are the many opportunities for enhancing the system. Where each cell number is currently associated with a fixed location, one can easily imagine a system where the current location is used in addition to, or instead, for notification services. The genius and the beautiful thing about the Kilkenny solution is that they saw the big picture of how a few key pieces of technology can be brought together to provide a new service that in the past would have been very difficult or very expensive.

(Take a few minutes to watch Brendan’s presentation below)

Are you going to the ESRI UC? If so, let me know! Both Dale and I will be there this year alongside many other Safers. I know I speak for all of us when I say we look forward to seeing you in San Diego and hearing about anything new and simple that you have done.

About Data Data Interoperability Extension Data Transformation Data Translation Esri FME Server Location Intelligence Spatial Data

Don Murray

Don is the co-founder and President of Safe Software. Safe Software was founded originally doing work for the BC Government on a project sharing spatial data with the forestry industry. During that project Don and other co-founder, Dale Lutz, realized the need for a data integration platform like FME. When Don’s not raving about how much he loves XML, you can find Don working with the team at Safe to take the FME product to the next level. You will also find him on the road talking with customers and partners to learn more about what new FME features they’d like to see.


4 Responses to “Looking for Simple at the ESRI International User Conference”

  1. Hi Don,

    Thanks for the kind words about my presentation. I guess the best way for you and others to fully understand the application is to sign up at

    The only restrictive field to fill out is the Mobile/Cell number. This is validated to only allow an Irish cell phone prefix. For this reason all numbers entered must begin with “08” and contain a total of 10 characters. A typical example would be “080000007”. Don’t worry, there isn’t actually an “080” extension in Ireland so this is only to satisfy the data entry validation.

    If you register you will receive a number of PDF reports about your location which has proven to be a big hit with registered users. As mentioned at the end of the presentation these reports provide countless information to a citizen based on a simple Google Maps point data entry! This only takes a few minutes to carry out and is all done through FME Desktop.

    What I didn’t mention in my presentation is that there is a blue KML polygon surrounding Kilkenny so that coordinates cannot be entered outside the county boundary. Sounds simple, but is very effective for forcing users to register in a local area. To check this out do a search under the Google Map for “Paulstown”. This is on the county boundary, so click on the blue area to see what happens…

    I’ve also progressed the application to be much more scalable both from the Staff Management portal and from the User Interface points of view. Using some tips I learned at FMEUC I have developed this into a scalable solution for multiple notifications, both big and small. Thanks to all speakers and SAFE staff for helping with this!

    If anyone has any questions about this project feel free to get in touch.


  2. Don Murray says:


    Thanks for the invitation and tip on how to register even if we don’t have a phone in Ireland. Being able to check it out for ourselves is the best way to get an appreciation for what you have done.

    Please also keep us up to date on your updates. One thing that I forgot to mention was that your talk was great as you also spent some time eluding to other ways that this capability could be used on a more global scale.

    I will be sure to look you up when I go to Kilkenny.

  3. Matt says:

    Great blog post…and the ESRI show has not disappointed. So, many things happening…so much news. Speaking of, did you see that S&K Technologies purchased a controlling share in TerraEchos? You can find out more here if you’re interested or stop by booth #730 within the ESRI Defense Showcase.

  4. Don Murray says:

    The ESRI show was indeed a great show. I didn’t hear about the TerraEchos purchase. With the move of technology to the server we are seeing more and more work with users getting information pushed to them rather than having to pull it when they want it. During the plenary there was a great demo of a “geo-fence”. Another one that I liked was the FedEx showing real time locations and problem resolution based on an unexpected event. A good review of the session was done by James Fee here

    Two strong themes I took away were Server and 3D. As Dale mentions above we are excited about this as we started our R&D on 3D a little over two years ago. Wait for exciting 3D in FME 2010.

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