This summer I was fortunate enough to attend
Esri‘s annual User Conference (known commonly as the “UC”), held from July 11 – 15, 2022 in San Diego, California. I have attended this conference several times in the past, and this year’s User Conference was this first in-person since 2019 due to COVID-19 precautions. The event was high-energy and eagerly anticipated by nearly 20,000 attendees for the last couple years.
If you ever have the chance to attend – take it! Esri’s UC is on-par with all the best tech conferences; and it’s probably the #1 spot in the world to nerd out about GIS for a week straight. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like, or if you attended in years past and wondered what the conference looks like now, here’s a big photo dump from this year’s (2022) Esri User Conference.
The San Diego Convention Center, looking southeast on Harbor Drive.
The opposite end of the Convention Center, looking northwest from the pedestrian bridge to Petco Park. The building is huge – to walk from one end to the other, indoors, is about 1/3 of a mile!
The Convention Center and Downtown San Diego, as seen from the Coronado ferry
In the Convention Center lobby is the Esri store, where t-shirts, books, and other souvenirs could be purchased.
Esri Store banner
A large illuminated aerial map of the Downtown San Diego and surrounding areas; this appeared to be a permanent display at the Convention Center, not specifically for the User Conference.
Proof of vaccination was required to attend, and they provided this cool option to communicate to other attendees with what level of comfort you are in these COVID times.
One of the plenary session presentations was from a National Geographic photographer, highlighting wolf populations around the world.
The UC also hosted a map gallery, showing off the top submissions from around the world and giving awards for the very best maps. A reception was held in this area on the first night of the conference – plenty of free food and drinks!
The map gallery is hosted in the Convention Center’s Sails Pavilion.
In addition to the traditional print/paper maps, interactive maps were also featured in the Map Gallery.
Some maps I liked from the gallery
In addition to the numerous presentations and learning sessions, the main exhibition hall featured many smaller and more intimate presentations and lightning talks.
A larger presentation theater which featured demonstrations of various Esri products by staff
Perhaps one of the best parts of the conference is the chance to speak directly to Esri staff. This includes engineers, product managers, and technical support. There were quite a few spaces such as this one, staffed by Esri employees who are ready to answer any question you can throw at them.
Some more pictures of the main exhibition hall
Free swag like pins and stickers aplenty!
Quite a few vendors and other exhibitors were present, but none seem to draw as much interest as drones.
This company produces immersive, 3D fly-through map experiences.
The map for the convention about maps..
Learning sessions are mostly held on the upper floor; long escalators lead to and from the main expo halls.
The upper level of the Convention Center
A typical presentation
The San Diego Convention Center staff is world class – hot coffee, snacks, fast food, catering – hot and fresh all day. All the service, convention, and support staff, the Esri employees, and the vigilant security are what makes this nerd fest a truly all-around enjoyable experience.
Get the pepperoni pretzel
Many of the sessions were completely full. However, Esri has an excellent overflow plan, allowing users to connect virtually to see and hear the presentation from a separate room.
I found one of the easiest ways to get to and from the Convention Center and around downtown San Diego were these Lime scooters for rent, found every few blocks.
There were many different socials and parties for alumni and special interest groups, career disciplines, business line, etc. I attended the developer social – the food and drinks were free and delicious!
Esri ❤️ TikTok
I refrained from dabbing at the conference.