Jack Dangermond, CEO of ESRI photographed at their HQ in Redlands, CA. Photo: Robert Gallagher/The Forbes Collection


How Esri Helps Map a Better-Connected Future, for Audubon and the World

Digital mapping technology is helping guide us through problems as big as climate change, disease outbreaks, and natural disasters.

The boom and bust of startup tech companies has left behind many casualties, but Jack Dangermond—the “Godfather of digital maps”—is not one of them. When Dangermond co-founded the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) in 1969 with his wife Laura, neither of them could have predicted the technology revolution that would ensue. Everything from Google Maps to Google Street View to Google Earth stem from the concepts Esri trailblazed over the last four decades, and today Esri’s work continues to shape how the private and public sector use cartography. In a feature for Forbes Miguel Helft chronicles the use of Esri’s tools and how our digitized navigational abilities are now being used to, well, map the future:

At Stanford University, researchers in virtually every field are increasingly using Esri tools to, for example, predict the impact of global warming on butterflies in Madagascar or study the incidence of certain cancers near Superfund sites. ‘There’s been an explosion of people who think of their research in geospatial terms,’ says Julie Sweetkind-Singer, Stanford’s assistant director of Geospatial, Cartographic and Scientific Data & Services.

Helft notes that Esri’s rapidly evolving tools allow “city workers, the public, NGOs, startups, the media–to access and mash up those maps.” 

An Esri map showing 22 state programs, 41 centers, 450+ local chapters, and countless Audubon events around the country. Photo: Esri/Audubon

This is certainly true of Audubon—over the past five years, Esri has donated $11 million worth of technology that’s proved instrumental in Audubon’s data sharing and conservation strategy. Whether it’s mapping the Christmas Bird Count, designating Important Birds Areas, or visualizing years' worth of Piping Plover research in the Bahamas, Audubon’s strides in conservation have been possible in large part to Esri’s technological advancements. In recognition of their contribution both inside Audubon and out, Jack and Laura were honored in 2015 with an Audubon Medal—one of the nation’s most prestigious conservation awards—for Esri’s contributions to the environmental movement.

And in recognition of Audubon's use of Esri technology, Audubon was awarded the Esri President's Award last year for our innovative approach to conserving and resotring natural ecosystems. Watch the award presentation here:

For more about how Esri’s tools are being used to transform mapping technology, check out the rest of Helft’s article here.


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