Notes from the North Carolina GIS Conference

There has never been a time when I’ve attended a North Carolina GIS Conference and not felt extremely fortunate to be in such an innovative and forward-thinking community, and this year was no exception.

We found out a few days before the conference that we had won the G. Herbert Stout Award for Visionary Use of GIS for our REST Web Services Framework. Mrs. Stout was there to present the award, and it was a very humbling and happy experience for us. Congratulations to the Mecklenburg County GIS staff, and congratulations to Asheville for winning in the city category - it was definitely well deserved!

I recently released a new version of the REST Web Services Framework to coincide with some changes I had made here. The big change in the code is moving from ADODB to PDO as the database interface layer. This gives us a significant performance increase, and it’s arguably the direction PHP is headed, but the real reason I made that move is internal to Mecklenburg. Our SQL Server admins like to randomly reboot servers at night to keep them runnin’ smooth,* and my persistent database connections to our CAMA and other servers would be dead as doornails in the morning. PDO with pooling turned off to SQL Server seems to fix the problem without having to go CGI on it. The other thing I did is include all of the services we’ve built, not just the generic geo ones. I’ve gotten enough inquiries on these types of services that I figured it would be helpful to see the code even if your database schema is totally different. Enjoy!

I moderated a session (note to self: remember to say title of presenters’ talks next time) and talked about Geospatial Portal in another session.

There was more open source GIS material at the conference than I’ve ever seen at a conference not focused on the subject - GeoServer, OpenLayers, PostGIS, GRASS, you name it, there was probably a session on it or involving it. I hate to be one of those year-of-the-Linux-desktop prognosticators, but I think FOSS GIS is going to have a huge couple of years.

I was really surprised by the number of people that said they read this blog and that have taken advantage of Geospatial Portal, the REST Web Service Framework, and just some of the code samples I post here from time to time. I had one young lady at the registration desk realize who I was and proclaim “I love you!”, saying wonderful things about the blog and our award application, which is probably the closest approximation I’ll get to feeling like a rock star. Of the extensive list of things I’m terrible at, accepting praise is near the top, so please forgive the look of panic, the dropping prone, and the crawling behind furniture if you came up to me and said nice things. It meant more to me than I can express.

Congratulations to the conference organizers on putting together such a great conference in such bleak financial times. There were ~850 attendees, a number of whom I spoke to had their training budgets eviscerated and were coming out of their own pockets to attend. That says a lot about the conference and the GIS community in North Carolina.

*In all fairness, being responsible for data integrity on an entirely MS stack can make one paranoid. When I was doing it, I would stare at log files and DBCC results every morning while chanting a mantra and throwing salt over my shoulder.