WhereCamp PDX: bringing the electronic world into the physical

I think that WherecampPDX may be the most important unconference in Portland this year.

Why do I think that? It’s not just because I’m helping organize it… I’m helping because I think it’s that important.  I think that location-based services, in general, have more potential to bring about fundamental change in our society than any other modern technology. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to participate in this conference, and that’s why I want everybody else to, as well.

What’s so special about location based services? Well, to me what’s special about it is that this is where the virtual world and the physical world intersect. Because if you think about it, in many ways the most important aspect of the physical world is location, is space. Where things are relative to where other things are, how to get from place to place, what things are located where… these are fundamental issues in our daily lives. Everything we do in the world involves place.  Location-based services, for the first time, let us bring the electronic world to serve us as we go about our physical lives. The value to this, the potential to revolutionize the role of technology in human life, is… is beyond imagination. But let’s try.

I do a lot of work in emergency preparedness, disaster planning and recovery. One of the most critical aspects of EM/DR is simply knowing what resources you have, what resources you need, where they are (or need to be) and how to get them there. Take medical services, for instance. In the event of a major disaster, the county health centers need to get medical supplies and services together with patients and customers. But how do they know where they are? Well, for instance, technology to plot the locations and menus of food carts or happy hours, might easily be adapted to address this fundamental societal need! Events like WhereCampPDX will let people who need these services explain what they need to people who can provide them. I am hoping that this event will draw those people in, people who aren’t developing location-based services, but who need them.

The most amazing thing about Portland is the spirit of generosity that pervades the entire community – people WANT to solve problems! They don’t wait to be told what to do, they don’t stall until they get the contract signed or the check clears, they don’t expect somebody else to solve all their problems for them… they jump in with both feet and start solving! More than anywhere I’ve ever been, Portland has the culture, the community, and the technical know-how to create solutions to national problems. Let’s get started with WhereCampPDX!

Irene Schwarting


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  2. […] And very quickly, which is why I’m really excited about the next Portland Tech Event: “WhereCamp PDX: Bringing the Electronic World into the Physical” this weekend (Oct 18-19, […]

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