Current meeting

What to expect at a NACIS meeting

NACIS annual meetings begin on Wednesday with Practical Cartography Day (PCD). PCD requires a separate registration from the Main Conference. The Main Conference opens Wednesday evening with a keynote speaker and a reception in the Map Gallery. Presentations, panels, and all other sessions start Thursday morning and along with activities mentioned below, continue throughout the day Thursday and Friday. The Main Conference formally concludes Friday evening with a banquet. Workshops and field trips take place on Saturday. A general NACIS schedule is outlined below. Check back later for a link to our NACIS 2024 Sched page containing details on the full schedule, when available.

Whether you’re new to NACIS or a returning member, here’s an overview of what to expect when you’re attending our annual meeting. To view past talks, please visit our YouTube channel.

General overview

  • Attendees at NACIS come from all corners of the map-loving community: academics, freelancers, government employees, librarians, web developers, and more. There are a wide variety of interests and perspectives represented so you won’t have to go far to find someone who shares your passions.
  • The atmosphere is friendly and casual. Many of our members are just as interested in the breaks between presentation sessions as they are in the sessions themselves as it offers a chance to socialize, meet new people, and reconnect with friends.
  • We’re serious about everyone having an enjoyable time in a respectful atmosphere. Please review our Code of Conduct which provides guidelines for appropriate behavior at our meeting.
  • As many of our members say, “NACIS is Nicest!” Our attendees tend to be friendly and easy to talk to. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself to anyone you’re interested in meeting.
  • Beginners are welcome! Attendees are usually excited to share their knowledge with anyone who wants to learn, especially students. We welcome and encourage people of all skill levels to join us.
  • Most attendees dress casually or in business casual.
  • Light food and beverage is provided. Pastries, coffee, and tea are available before PCD and the Main Conference sessions start. Other meals are listed in the day-by-day guide below, which notes if the meal is included with registration or on your own.
  • If you have any questions while at the meeting, visit the registration desk or ask a member of the NACIS leadership. They have ribbons on their name tags indicating that they’re a Board Member or Director. They’re here to help you!


  • Many people start arriving on Tuesday and often hang out in the hotel lobby or bar as they get in, hoping to locate fellow attendees and strike up a conversation. You can check in at the registration table, located in the foyer near the conference sessions. Check back here later as we get closer to the conference for details of an informal Tuesday night meetup to go out and socialize with other NACIS attendees.


  • Wednesday starts with Practical Cartography Day (PCD), an optional all-day event that requires separate registration from the Main Conference. PCD is a popular event where leading members of the cartographic community present tips, tricks, techniques, and advice on practical mapmaking.
  • The Main Conference formally opens after dinner on Wednesday with a welcome from the conference organizer, followed by a keynote presentation from an invited speaker.
  • After the speaker’s presentation, there’s a reception in the Map Gallery where students and professionals have displayed their latest works. You and your fellow attendees vote on the winner of the Student Map and Poster Competition.
  • Food:
    • Light pastries, coffee, and tea are available for PCD attendees before it starts.
    • Lunch is provided for those who have registered for PCD.
    • Dinner is on your own.
    • Snacks and a cash bar are available at the Map Gallery reception.


  • There are typically four sessions during the day: two before lunch and two after, with short breaks between each set. There are multiple tracks running concurrently so you can choose what talks you most want to see.
  • Most sessions feature several presentations about 15–20 minutes each including questions from the audience. There are also panel sessions, group discussions, and other formats for engaging with speakers and attendees.
    • You don’t need to stay for an entire session if you want to catch talks in different rooms.
    • Presentations cover a wide variety of topics, reflecting the varied interests of our members including history, librarianship, techniques, data sources, research, theory, and more. Check back here closer to October for a link to the NACIS 2023 online program when it’s available.
    • Attendance at sessions is not mandatory. If you’re feeling overloaded or caught up in a good conversation outside the session rooms, you can pace yourself by taking a break from the presentations.
  • The NACIS Annual Business Meeting is held during lunch. Everyone at the conference is encouraged to attend to learn how the Society operates and other noteworthy developments that have happened since the last meeting. If you’re a NACIS member, this is a chance to get involved and vote on Society-wide policies during the Annual Business Meeting. There will be an opportunity for members to share announcements of interest to the whole group.
  • Between the last session of the day and NACIS Night Out, there is an optional Fun Run/Walk. It’s a great way to get exercise after sitting in sessions and explore the city before going out to eat.
  • NACIS Night Out is an optional social event that requires separate registration. Attendees head to a nearby restaurant and enjoy an evening of food, drinks, and good company. Check back later for more details on NACIS Night Out 2023.
  • Food:
    • Light pastries, coffee, and tea are available before sessions start.
    • Lunch is provided at the Annual Business Meeting.
    • Dinner is on your own. For those attending NACIS Night Out, food and drinks are available.


  • This is the second day of the Main Conference and the format is the same as Thursday.
  • During the lunch break, there is an optional social event called Lunch Bunch in which groups led by NACIS veterans go out to nearby restaurants. If interested, sign up for Lunch Bunch at the registration desk as early as possible since it fills up quickly!
  • Friday evening is the closing banquet. Dinner is provided, awards for the Student Map Competitions are announced, and the location for NACIS 2024 will be revealed.
  • The final event of the Main Conference is a game of Geodweeb Geopardy! After the banquet, four teams of contestants compete in front of a live audience. If you’d like to participate, you can sign up at the registration desk. Geopardy! is a NACIS tradition — you won’t want to miss it!
  • Food:
    • Light pastries, coffee, and tea are available before the sessions start.
    • Lunch is on your own (this includes the Lunch Bunch).
    • Dinner is provided at the banquet.


  • There are two kinds of optional events (separate registration required) on Saturday:
    • Workshops – hands-on instruction on the latest software or techniques
    • Field trips – tours of local sites of beauty or cultural interest
  • Some workshops/field trips are half-day, so it’s possible to attend more than one. Check back later for schedule details in the online program, when available.