ESRI Releases Apple Map App, Reveals “19.20.21 Project” as Annual Conference Begins

At the U.S. Census Bureau, where the World POPClock is ticking, the total population of the world (as of July 10) is estimated at 6.85 billion. But what does that mean, really?

Today, our understanding of what that means comes from the sort of knowledge that only information technology delivers. Now just about anyone with Internet access can zoom in to a satellite-based map of their city, neighborhood, and even their home. Today, with 13,000 people from 110 countries in San Diego set to attend the 2010 ESRI International User Conference, that knowledge is accelerating through advances in geographic information systems (GIS), the mapping technology that integrates hardware, software, and data for specific places—and has the capability of displaying it in layers of information.

As an example of how GIS technology has advanced just from last year’s conference, a free GIS application for the Apple iPhone and iPad released on July 5 had more than 13,000 downloads from the Apple Store by the end of the week, according to ESRI product manager David Cardella. The “ArcGIS for iOS,” which can be found here, is a GIS field-mapping tool for viewing and accessing U.S. topographical maps published by National Geographic, as well as aerial, road and hybrid street maps, custom fire maps, geological maps, land use maps, and others, according to Cardella. The app even enables users to create maps using authoring tools from (the portal to its online GIS system). Cardella says developers can download a beta version from ESRI’s iOS Resource Center .

ESRI is the Redlands, CA-based developer of GIS modeling and mapping software and technology, and to Richard Saul Wurman, this year’s conference represents an opportunity for people with different interests to come together and focus on the map as a means for explaining themselves.

19.20.21 screenshot Wurman, the peripatetic author (he’s written 82 books on topics ranging from football to healthcare) and TED conference founder, is scheduled to give a keynote talk this afternoon to announce something he calls the “19.20.21 project.” As Wurman explained it to me, it is a five-year, multi-media project to use GIS technology to create databases on the 19 cities of the world that each have 20 million people in the 21st Century. Wurman says he’s working on the project in partnership with Jon Kamen, the chairman and CEO of and Jack Dangermond, founding president of the Environmental Systems Research Institute, now known as ESRI.

“In 1800 [when the total population of the world was just 1 billion], less than 3 percent of the world lived in cities,” Wurman told me. “Today, more than half the population of the world lives … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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