by Matthew Kemeny
INTERSECT, a four-day biennial user conference dedicated to training, learning, collaboration, and networking, reached its climactic final night. One by one, attendees made their way down the ramp behind the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, eager to catch a glimpse of the moonlight reflecting off the serene bay waters that overlook Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Against this captivating backdrop, the faint sounds of music wafted from the Foundation’s banquet hall, where revelers savored live entertainment, crabcakes, and Smith Island Cake – the state’s official dessert. It was a night of celebration after a day filled with enriching conference sessions, and there was another day of learning ahead.
As the music concluded, buses arrived to transport guests back to the Graduate Annapolis Hotel. The conference, which had commenced just a few days earlier on Monday, September 25th, was drawing to a close. However, the journey of learning and growth was far from over, with a full slate of client and employee presentations scheduled for Thursday, along with industry-specific roundtable discussions.
The unofficial theme of this year’s event, “Your Participation Sets Our Direction,” underscored the paramount importance of hearing from RouteSmart users. Their insights into challenges, successes, and experiences are invaluable, shaping our products, services, and support to better serve the RouteSmart community.
“The biggest takeaway every year is connecting with other professionals in my field,” Brendan Ford, GIS Coordinator for the District of Columbia Public Works, said. “I mean, this is a specific group and it’s one thing to talk to somebody on the phone, but if you meet face-to-face and you make that connection, you can leverage those connections for decades at a time, literally. And so that’s my favorite aspect of it.”
Conference early birds who registered for conference training on Monday and Tuesday had the opportunity to take advantage of free training this year. Doug Hill, VP of Marketing with RouteSmart said, “We have so many new products and features, we wanted to give our clients even more incentive to join us. It’s more important this year than ever for them to be here.”
The classes were full – in the public works sessions, you could barely find a seat. Our expert product and client success managers Mike Corder, Danielle Baci, and Amy Ma deftly explained the nuances of two new products, RouteSmart for ArcGIS Pro and RouteSmart Online for the waste & recycling industry. When users had questions, we were there to answer them.
“With the debut of these new products, the opportunity to be guided through the use (of them) is going to ease people into that migration,” RouteSmart Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President Larry Levy said. “They’re going to have a feel for the product and understanding of what RouteSmart is trying to accomplish so that they’ll have an easier time making that step forward and begin that migration process.”
Tuesday afternoon also offered some attendees the opportunity for a golf outing at the beautiful Queenstown Harbor Golf Links.
The general session kickstarted Wednesday with a presentation from Dave Nemazie, Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Government Affairs for the University of Maryland Center of Environmental Science, who discussed the importance and challenges of restoring the Chesapeake Bay.
Following Nemazie’s speech, attendees shifted into learning mode, soaking in client, employee and partner presentations from Brendan Ford of DCDPW, Katherine Smyth, Technical Enablement Manager, Global Partners & Alliances for Esri; our partners at Integrated Skills Limited, Corder (who discussed RouteSmart Online for the waste & recycling industry); RouteSmart Senior Operations Research Analyst Linda Apergi and Operations Research Analyst Kewal Shah who talked about RouteSmart neighborhoods, sequencing evaluation, and hard/soft zones; and Jake Kimber-Thomson of Bestrane in Australia discussing how RouteSmart is paving the way for route planning and optimization down under.
Among their portfolio of clients, Bestrane works with the Australia Post, Cleanaway, and National Distribution Services.
“This is a fantastic week. It’s totally worth the flight,” Kimber-Thomson said of the 20+ hour journey from Melbourne to the greater Baltimore-Washington area. “It’s got a great vibe to it, a great feel. The people are the best part. Getting to catch up with the RouteSmart people, but also just the wider route planning community as well and see how they’re using the products and what they’re getting out of them is invaluable to me.”
Following Wednesday night’s revelry, attendees convened Thursday morning to listen to a presentation by David Biderman, of Biderman Consulting LLC, on the importance of establishing a “best in class” safety culture and providing safety training for waste and recycling firms.
Rumpke Director of Hauling Tim Bath discussed the importance of having route planning partnerships in the post-Covid world, before another RouteSmart client James Kostoroski, Director of Logistics for Smith Brothers Farms & Alpenrose Dairy, presented on how having quality route metrics and balanced routes increases operational efficiency, reduces costs and improves customer service.
RouteSmart Senior Product Manager Amy Ma took the stage to give an overview of RouteSmart for ArcGIS Pro followed by HERE Technologies Product Owner Devon Disrude explaining how customers benefit from the longstanding RouteSmart-HERE partnership.
Following the day two presentations, attendees broke up into small groups for roundtable discussions on public works, waste collection, utilities, newspaper, and postal/parcel delivery operations.
As soon as it began with the first slide, clink of the wine glass, golf shot, or breath into the microphone, INTERSECT23 was a wrap. The event was a resounding success, offering a week of learning, networking, and fun to clients, partners, and employees alike.
As we look forward to the next INTERSECT (which has yet to be scheduled), we are eager to build upon the collaborative spirit and valuable connections forged during this memorable event. INTERSECT is not just a conference; it’s a celebration of our shared achievements, experiences, and our shared vision for the future.