The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) held its 26th Annual Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas, March 2-5, 2003, attracting 2,256 attendees. The conference, featuring 88 educational sessions organized into 14 tracks, as well as 13 seminars and three industry panel discussions, also included a 100,000-square-foot exhibition hall with 137 vendors.

"I was extremely pleased with the excitement of the conference attendees," said Conference 26 Chair Susan Powell of Miner & Miner. "The efforts of the conference committee to develop a productive and educational program really paid off."

Tom Gavula, manager of GIS records and drafting at New England Gas Company, Providence, R.I., said he found the educational sessions particularly helpful. "The educational sessions really had concrete examples--to see how other people have benefited (from a GIS implementation)--that I could take home to help me," said Gavula.

Joel Minster, senior vice president at Rand McNally & Company in Skokie, Ill., said he's missed only one GITA conference in the last 15 years. "I certainly got what I came for," Minster said. "I come to see a lot of vendors, find out what's going on in the industry, and see what new technology is coming up." For some participants, the opportunity to share the benefits of GIS with others in their organizations proved to be the most valuable aspect of the conference. "The highlight for me was that my supervisor, the engineering manager, attended with me," said Raymond Brunner, GIS programmer/analyst with Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc., in Willcox, Ariz. "He attended the sessions and seminars, and hit the exhibit floor and learned who all these people are. Because my manager was able to come to the conference, I really feel we're going to get better support for our GIS."

Vendors at the products and services exhibition said they were pleased with the strong interest of potential customers on the show floor. "We've been really busy all hours of the show, all days of the show," said John Leeuwenburg, international sales manager at Netherlands-based Tensing-SKS. "We've also been able to develop some really good relationships with some vendors here on the floor."

Work has already started on Conference 27, Information, Strategy, Vision…Building Performance for a New Age, set for April 25-28, 2004 at the Washington State Trade & Convention Center in Seattle.