Preview: Interview with Lawrie Jordan, ESRI’s New Director of Imagery

Renee Brandt, ESRI’s product marketing specialist for imagery, recently interviewed Lawrie Jordan, ESRI’s new director of imagery enterprise solutions. The interview will be published in the Spring 2009 issue of ArcNews, which will be mailed and posted online in a month or two. In the meantime, I wanted to share some excerpts from the interview.gi_ljordan1_jpg

Lawrie Jordan has more than three decades of experience working in imagery and has served on several defense science advisory panels to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, provided numerous testimonies to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and served as an adviser to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

What strengths do you bring to ESRI’s imagery team?

First of all, I bring a passion for imagery with me. I never met an image I didn’t like and I’ll admit it, I’m just thrilled that I have the opportunity to be here at ESRI. Jack Dangermond has personally asked me to be an imagery evangelist in the company, which I am really excited about. I’ll be working on a comprehensive strategic plan for ESRI and imagery, the path going forward, and focusing on how imagery can help shape the future and most importantly create success stories for our customers. Some of the strengths I bring to the ESRI imagery team are the knowledge and experience gained from more than 30 years working as a leader in the field of image processing and remote sensing, including a long-standing strategic partnership with ESRI.

Is this focus on imagery taking ESRI in a new direction?

I would not call it a new direction. Imagery is essential to what we do, and it has been, actually, for a long time. We believe that imagery is core to GIS, and customers tell us that they want more integration of their imagery with the GIS, and we agree wholeheartedly. The whole focus of our offerings has imagery as a central component of what we do. We’ve had many great imagery capabilities in our products over the past years, which people have appreciated. Historically, it’s been through partners but now, it’s moving to the core of what we do.

The thing to remember is that imagery is a core source of information to create a GIS. Many times, particularly in natural disasters and things of this nature, things happen suddenly. Traditional GIS databases are instantly out of date, but the most appropriate, the most accurate, and most timely information to update that is near real-time or live imagery, which we can now collect and support. The exciting thing is commercial imagery providers, all of them are our strategic partners, are providing tremendously high-quality imagery now that we didn’t have even a few years ago. So we’re having much higher volumes of imagery, much higher quality of imagery, and much better tools now, so I think you’ll see less of a separation between “imagery” customers and “GIS” customers. In fact, what we see is that a GIS is incomplete without imagery. It is core to what we do. It’s no longer a separate industry; it’s actually an integral part of a GIS. Imagery gains its full benefit by being in a GIS. Imagery and GIS inform each other, and having imagery integrated into the geodatabase and populated throughout the architecture of the enterprise is the direction that we’re going.