Andrew Drinkwater

It was great to see everyone in person at the FME User Conference 2022 and have the opportunity to present with Jessica Maitland, Associate Registrar at Douglas College. It’s been five years since the last in person FME User Conference back in 2017. Safe Software did an amazing job hosting the three-day conference at the Vancouver Convention Center, right in our back yard!

We’re proud to be Safe Software partners. Three of our team members were able to attend this year’s conference and we enjoyed the Partner Summit where Plaid leadership was able to network, discuss technology updates, and brainstorm on how data integration can benefit higher education. There were multiple roundtable workshops that provided opportunities to converse with other partners, system integrators, and consultants.

At the Partner Summit, we heard case studies from around the world outlining how customers are using FME to integrate data across a myriad of systems. These were inspiring stories, ranging from saving governments and businesses time and money to ensuring that the trees in the vicinity of an airport runway were at a safe height each year. We also learned about the value of providing a subscription model based on the number of students at an institution as it we heard how it removes barriers for institutions large and small, ensuring that everyone who needs to integrate and transform data has the tool to best support spatial data. We were also happy to learn of new institutions joining the FME family, including two that Plaid has partnered with this year!

Pre-Conference Training courses were also available to anyone that wanted to dive into topics through hands-on training with FME experts from Safe Software. Plaid was well represented by Mika Sohma who completed the Introduction to FME Desktop and Introduction to FME Server courses.

This was Mika’s first time using FME Server, and during the training, she built a web application showing earthquake patterns on a map. Importing data from a geodatabase and ultimately presenting it through a web browser in Google Earth as an app was a great learning experience. She noted that as a beginner, the opportunity to attend the pre-conference training was a great resource that provided her with ample opportunities for questions. Interested in exploring this concept further? Sign up for the free FME Academy to get started.

Day one at the conference began with a guest keynote from Rick Hansen, a local from Port Alberni, British Columbia. Rick is also known as the “Man in Motion” for undertaking a 26 month, 40,000km journey around the world in his wheelchair! Rick was the first person with a physical disability to graduate with a degree in Physical Education at the University of British Columbia, spreading hope, inspiration, and advising leaders on issues such as accessibility and inclusivity throughout his journey.

The second guest keynote on the first day was Susan Walsh, the Classification Guru. As an industry thought leader and TEDx speaker, Susan explained her data COAT (Consistent, Organized, Accurate, Trustworthy) philosophy and methodology that accurately and efficiently classifies, normalizes, cleanses, and checks data for errors.

Day two brought in Matthew Luhn as another guest keynote speaker. It was inspirational to hear of Matthew’s journey as a storyteller and the techniques he used to build strong business communication skills. He began as the youngest animator to work on The Simpsons, then continued creating stories and characters in the Toy Story series, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, Monsters University, Ratatouille, and UP. Matthew works with Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, and other professionals to help bridge the gap between business and passion through storytelling.

Plaid was chosen to be one of the speakers at this event and we presented with one of our clients, Douglas College. Our very own Co-Founder Andrew Drinkwater presented alongside Jessica Maitland about Using FME to Streamline College Operations. In our presentation, we discussed three use cases where FME helped Douglas to streamline operations: government data submissions, course scheduling process improvements, and student course registration timeslot process improvements.

Using FME has provided Douglas with the ability to generate a staged release of course registration timeslots over the course of two weeks, which will grant over 20,000 students access to registration based on a set of established institutional policy and priorities. This new dynamic timeslot process can better adapt to evolving registration policy and practices.

Plaid is also using FME to enhance Douglas’ Central Data Warehouse submission process. The existing process runs for over 26 hours, making daily reporting and analytics impossible. The scripts date back over 20 years, with minimal improvements and several challenges. While this project is still in process, the tailored series of FME workflows and automations developed completed in less than 2.5 hours, are easy to debug, and can now populate automated daily analytics.

Working collaboratively together, Plaid and Douglas are hoping to automate the College’s course scheduling data entry processes, integrate them across multiple data systems, and collaborate with the facilities management office to better manage resources for rooms, facilities, exam timetables, and course conflicts.

We will post a recording of our presentation once it becomes available.