Geographic intelligence to understand the world we live in: Meet Esri Panama

R + D + i

We had the opportunity to talk with Rocío Vega, Manager of Esri Panama, a company that for 5 years has belonged to the innovative community of City of Knowledge. Rocío tells us how Esri technology is being used in these times of health crisis due to COVID-19.

What does Esri do, how long have they been in Panama and who makes up the company?

With more than 50 years in the market, Esri is the world leader in geographic information technologies. About 350 thousand organizations around the world are users of ArcGIS, the technological platform produced by Esri and called by different studies, as the most powerful spatial mapping and analytics software on the market. Esri opened its office in Panama 6 years ago and for 5 years it has been part of the City of Knowledge business ecosystem. Professionals from different areas of the country with training in engineering (geomatics, systems, telecommunications, civil), cartography, geography, among others, supported by an international team, make up the knowledge base in Panama. Government entities, private companies, universities, NGOs, foundations, schools / colleges and individuals use technology, receive training and technical support services, to implement the science of where in their business processes. Most users see Esri Panama as a strategic ally in their digital transformation journey. With more than 15 years as an Esri user, the Panama Canal is the oldest company applying the power of location intelligence in the country.

Is Johns Hopkins University’s globally recognized COVID-19 dashboard powered by Esri technology? What can you tell us about solutions to face these types of events?

This dashboard definitely catapulted Esri’s image globally. We usually do not have this visibility and although we are present among the systems that make up the backbone of organizations, we always act behind the scenes. This dashboard has had multiple impacts, because it tested the response capacity of the technology with millions of hits per day, but not only that, in almost every country where we have a presence (more than 100 countries), they generated thousands of dashboards, which challenged the GIS professional community and people in general, to generate understanding with geolocated data.

Esri, with its DRP disaster response program team for 25 years, has supported organizations by assisting, providing state-of-the-art data, software, configurable applications and technical support for emergency operations. Collaborating in the emergency response for public health events (epidemics, pandemics), earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, landslides, famines, migrations, fires, among others. For the situation related to COVID-19 in particular, many free resources have been made available. Generating different solutions for companies, whether in business continuity, contact tracing, vulnerability mapping, humanitarian aid hubs, reopening, analysis of appropriate sites for sampling, modeling, epidemiological predictions and hospital capacity, among others. Any organization in Panama can request free of charge help and has access to the software, support and human support resources,

In Panama, the Chepo Mayor’s Office, the Santiago Mayor’s Office, SINAPROC, the Ministry of Health, the Pro-Chiriquí Foundation, Aerospace Consulting, among others, have been some organizations that have made requests for base support. In the case of the Ministry of Health, which has a more robust implementation and uses part of this aid, the rapid response teams that go to households to take samples (swabs) use ArcGIS in data collection, which are synchronized in real time with the Ministry’s surveillance systems.

Additionally, for people who are unemployed or have their contracts suspended, Esri made software and the entire Learn ArcGIS virtual learning platform available free of charge until August 31. Also, if a citizen with or without work wants to learn how to create a powerful and information-rich dashboard, they can apply here.

What programs or initiatives is Esri leading in Panama that you believe have an impact on the country?

We are not so pretentious in believing that we are generating an impact in Panama, or at least not yet. We are sowing. We have wonderful global initiatives that we have painstakingly adapted in Panama. One of the most important is the ArcGIS for Schools program. As part of our commitment to the education sector in Panama, we provide free access to the different tools of the ArcGIS platform for all schools in the country since 2019. We provide the necessary support to teachers in their initial training in these tools and in the work they do with students. So far around 10 schools are part of the program, public and private from different parts of the country. Continuing with education, the program with universities covers access to licenses with a 99% discount for students, researchers, teachers and even for campus administration. Additionally, every year, Esri runs a worldwide contest that rewards young people from different countries who submit the best geospatial analytics project. The winner travels to San Diego – California with all expenses paid to the world user conference that brings together more than 18 thousand people between users and those interested in technology. The winner meets students from all over the world, learns and lives unforgettable experiences. This year, the world conference was held virtually and brought together more than 86,000 people around the world from more than 150 countries.

Another important initiative for Esri is the support of non-profit organizations, foundations and associations of an environmental, social, business and community nature, which with their daily work contribute to the sustainability of the planet and the development of communities. Marviva, Nutrehogar, Azuero Ecological Project, CECOMRO, City of Knowledge, are some examples.

One of the initiatives that I like the most is the support for entrepreneurship Esri Startup Program. The aim is to support territorial management ventures, using Artificial Intelligence, BigData analytics, VR / AR, IoT, among others, with location intelligence. The program provides 3-year free access to Esri’s online services, software, development tools, ready-to-use content, training, support, and co-marketing opportunities. Once a minimum viable product is generated, the startup is ready to be part of the ecosystem of more than 2,000 Esri partners globally. We are currently beginning the support process to enrich the value offer of Inmuni, a product of the City of Knowledge Canal de Empresarias program.

In order to cover all the business needs, capacities and sectors, what is Esri’s strategy in Panama?

Our strategy is the commitment with our users, collaborators, partners and with the country, to support them to get the most out of the platform, as support for decision making.

The science of where is present in multiple areas of knowledge (public services, land administration, mapping, urban and rural planning, citizen security and defense, commerce and business, banking, land, air and water transport, infrastructure, engineering and construction, natural resources, and many more). To meet this broad spectrum of needs, alliances are fundamental to our growth strategy. Worldwide, Esri has more than 2,000 partners who help meet this great demand by implementing solutions that respond to the current challenges of governments, businesses, organizations and communities. Global alliances with companies like Microsoft, SAP, Autodesk, Adobe, to name a few, but also regional and local alliances. In Panama, our alliance program has partners that deliver a lot of value with real and grounded responses to the region, such is the case of Intelligis with international coverage, Synchronyzed Solutions, GeoMap, VisualTech, Spectra TELCOM, EON System, DATAGIS and others that they are in the process of becoming part of the network.

What are the new challenges Esri is working on and how do they contribute to the globally defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The geospatial revolution has just begun. This emerging geospatial nervous system is profoundly transforming our world. Like our nervous system, it will respond intelligently. But this is not just a question of technology. It is a question of people. We must prepare leaders, scientists and critical citizens who can imagine what is possible and what is not. The SDGs and the 2030 Agenda are part of our DNA. We help people to generate a positive impact and a difference in the world with the good use of geotechnologies. We partner with the United Nations, national governments, and licensed data producers to develop SDGs data centers, dashboards and other data products to support their advancement. New technologies emerge every day that must be articulated to help create those real changes. The Living Atlas of the World – Planet Indicators, the world’s largest collection of living maps and geographic resources, has content for everyone, to understand, but mainly to act.

We invite you to be part of this georevolution!

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