For Environmental Systems Research Institute, success stems from thinking globally and mapping locally. Known as ESRI, the company develops geographic information systems (GIS) software used to create and label digital maps, publish maps on the Internet, and build related databases. ESRI has customers in fields such as government, forestry, oil and gas, and transportation. Its ArcGIS product line includes applications used for tracking oil spills, planning land use, monitoring rainforest depletion, and routing emergency vehicles, among many other uses. ESRI was founded in 1969 by president Jack Dangermond and VP Laura Dangermond, who own the company.
While ESRI's GIS technology underlies the mapping services of other companies, it is mostly concerned with supporting institutional, enterprise, and civil customers. Companies such as Garmin and TomTom, a partner, are more focused on the consumer mobile mapping market, while ESRI's clients have included American Transmission, National Geographic Society, and the City of Philadelphia.
Still, mapping technology for the Web and mobile phones is a burgeoning market, and ESRI supports a growing number of wireless platforms. Formerly available only for Microsoft's Windows Mobile wireless operating system, ESRI's mobile mapping tools and data have been adapted for other platforms to tap the growth opportunity. In 2010 the company opened up ArcGIS for Apple iOS developers to enable incorporation of ESRI's technology and data into iPhone applications; it added support for Google's popular Android OS in 2011. In 2012 the company added support for map access and editing for Amazon's Kindle Fire wireless tablet.
ESRI uses periodic acquisitions to augment its own product development efforts and expand its client base. The company acquired interactive map specialist SpotOn Systems in 2011 to extend the functionality of its Business Analyst product, a tool that combines demographic and business data with maps and spatial analysis information. Also that year ESRI bought Procedural, a developer of software (CityEngine) used to generate 3D renderings of urban environments from 2D data sources. ESRI integrated the CityEngine technology into its core ArcGIS suite.
Looking overseas for growth in 2011, ESRI opened an R&D facility in Beijing, and it partnered with location data specialist NAVTEQ to tap their store of global map data for such countries and regions as Australia, New Zealand, and South America, in particular. To further improve its ability to serve international markets, ESRI added support for Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, simplified Chinese, and Spanish to its ArcGIS Online service.
The company's ESRI Press unit publishes books on the GIS field, including atlases, software manuals, and textbooks. ESRI also provides professional services, such as project management and technology implementation, as well as support and disaster response consulting.