Point of Beginning

GIS in the Rockies 2008 announces keynote speakers

September 2, 2008
CH2M HILL President Jeff Akers and Dr. Chris Elvidge, Earth Observation Group for NOAA’s National
Geophysical Data Center, to Keynote Colorado Conference.


Denver-August 26, 2008 – Spatial information management is changing the way C-level executives grow their companies and manage their bottom lines. From location-based services to mapping business assets, these new advances are changing business in a fundamental way.

According to Jeff Akers, President of Colorado engineering and spatial information management powerhouse CH2M HILL, if CEOs and other C-level leaders don’t start to take full advantage of this business-changing technology and “get on the bandwagon, their competitors are going to eat them for lunch.”

Akers will present the keynote address at the 21st annual GIS in the , the premier geospatial information and technology conference in the region. The conference, “Mapping Your Assets,” will be held September 10-12, 2008, at The Ranch, in , in Loveland, Colorado.  

Akers is a driving force behind ’s rise as a national hub for spatial imaging management and solutions, and the man responsible for moving the technology “from the basement to the boardroom.” A geographic information system (GIS), at its most basic level, is a technology used to transform, analyze and produce information related to the surface of the Earth. Often GIS is used to produce maps with associated data that people can use for inquiries or research.

According to Jeff Akers, “We are seeing a major change in the marketplace as traditional geospatial mapping evolves into the spatial information management industry. Executives are starting to figure this out, and it is driving the emergence of the industry.”

“Imagine you are a CFO in charge of worldwide supply chain management for a global manufacturer. We can now spatially show the location of all the parts that are being used on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly basis and where the suppliers are located -- where parts are being shipped from, who is manufacturing them, how much they cost, and the cost of the entire logistics chain. This allows executives to make much faster decisions about the supply chain and how to run their business than they would if they were looking at a 2D map and spreadsheet. This is a significant competitive advantage,” Akers added.

Dr. Chris Elvidge, who will also present a keynote address at GIS in the conference, has been working with GIS for two decades. Elvidge leads the Earth Observation Group for NOAA’s and produces satellite-derived maps of nighttime lights to construct global maps of fires and lights, and studies gas flares in oil fields around the world.

“What I am seeing is the popularization of geospatial data on mobile devices,” said Elvidge. “For a number of years you could search for locations, products, and services from your home computer, but now these capabilities are being enabled from mobile devices.”

“Over the past several years we have seen GIS capabilities being offered in easy-to-use form, hooked to geospatial data, available at no cost over the Web, for use by the general public. Google Earth and Zillow are prime examples. Even organizations that still require the high end functionality of commercial GIS systems are making a lot of use of the openly accessible and easy to use GIS functionality and geospatial data over the Web. As a result, the numbers of people using geospatial data and GIS functions has expanded from thousands to millions and is certainly headed towards a billion in the coming years,” Elvidge added.

GIS in the offers opportunities for industry professionals to learn more about geospatial technology issues and business-centric strategies. Historically, attendees have included representatives from local, state, and federal government, the utilities industry, environmental services, land surveying professionals, the oil and gas industry, retail and business marketing professionals. Additional information and conference registration is available through the GIS in the Rockies Web site, http://gisintherockies.org/.