The first URISA conference was held in 1963, and was known as the Annual Conference on Urban Planning Information Systems and Programs. Anniversary conferences in 1977 (15th), 1987 (25th), 1992 (30th), and 2002 (40th) included plenary and special sessions to highlight benchmarking activities, and a number of papers were commissioned to create a written record of URISA’s progress, achievements, challenges, and prospects.
These documents are major contributions to the learned, professional, and technical literature on urban and regional information systems, land information systems, and geographic information systems. The summaries which follow are an introduction to the benchmarking activities, and readers are encouraged to consult the respective conference proceedings to learn more about URISA’s benchmarking activities and the reports.
At URISA’s 15th anniversary conference in 1977 (Kansas City), Barry Wellar was the conference and program chair, and Information System Inputs to Policies, Plans, and Programs was the conference theme. Edgar Horwood provided a review article, “Perspectives on URISA’s Origin and on the Emergence of a Theory of Urban and Regional Information Systems”, and Barry Wellar gave an overview presentation, “Evolution of Information Systems as Essential Infrastructure in Urban and Regional Governments” which provided a framework for the bench-marking reports.
The focus of the plenary session review and recommendation papers (14 in total) was on the use of information systems in governments, and 40 invited papers included reviews and previews on the topics of:
Ed Crane was conference chair, the program chairs were Mike Kevany and Randy Gschwind, and the theme of URISA’s 30th conference in 1992 (Washington, D.C.) was Making Connections.
Barry Wellar and Dan Parr organized a special track, and were editors of Volume V of the conference proceedings, IS/GIS/LIS and Public Policies, Plans, and Programs: Thirty Years in Perspective. The proceedings include the Edgar Horwood and Barry Wellar papers from 1977, and 14 progress reports and review papers on the themes of:
The 1992 benchmarking project represents one of the most definitive and comprehensive benchmarking contributions to the literature on urban and regional information systems, land information systems, and geographic information systems. URISA is pleased to recognize this outstanding achievement by listing the titles of the papers and the names of their authors, and by again thanking the dedicated and talented individuals who made this exceptional publication possible.
For the 40th anniversary conference in 2002 (Chicago), Martha Lombard was conference chair, Tom Conry was the program chair, and the conference theme was Looking Back, Moving Forward
Barry Wellar was commissioned to prepare a benchmarking report which would overview URISA’s 40-year record of achievement, and would also provide terms of reference that URISA could build on in developing plans for moving progressively forward into the next decade.
His presentation, “Forty Years of Vision: Measuring URISA's Contribution to IS/GIS/LIS Progress”, was organized around nine evolving themes in the design, development, and applications of information systems, geographic information systems, and land information systems (IS/GIS/LIS). The nine themes are:
The nine themes are used separately and in combination to outline and review URISA’s history, to measure and evaluate the organization’s progress to date in terms of its contributions to each theme, and as a framework to guide URISA and its members as they consider how to best deal with the challenges and opportunities of moving forward to the 50th anniversary conference.
Barry Wellar, ed., 1977. Information System Inputs to Policies, Plans, and Programs. Vol.I, Vol. II, Vol. III. Papers from the Fifteenth Annual Conference of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association.
Barry Wellar and Dan Parr, eds., 1992. IS/GIS/LIS and Public Policies, Plans, and Programs: Thirty Years in Perspective. Vol.5. Papers from the Annual Conference of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association.
Barry Wellar, 2002. “Forty Years of Vision: Measuring URISA's Contribution to IS/GIS/LIS Progress”, in URISA 2002 Annual Conference Proceedings and Exposition.