In 30 days, the largest EdTech Conference in the world will transcend upon one of the hottest cities in the U.S. The Conference…ISTE, of course. The city = none other than Atlanta, GA, better known as “Hotlanta”. With approximately 15,000 educators gathering together for this incredible, there are a few things that one needs to consider.
The City of Atlanta has a population of approximately 45,000 residents. However, when you factor in the metro area (Buckhead, Bankhead, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, etc.), that number rises to a metropolitan population of 5.45 million people, making the Atlanta metro the 9th largest metropolitan area in the country.
With so many people living and working in Atlanta, there are a few things that one must consider.
- There will be TRAFFIC. For anyone who went to FETC this past January, I think that we can all clearly remember the biggest news during that time was the fact that people who were driving in the middle of the very random snow storm were stuck in traffic for as many as 12 hours. That being said, even though the sun will be out, one needs to be prepared for the traffic. The really tricky thing is that in most cities, you have shortcuts. In Atlanta however, you have confusion. I-285 and GA400 have regular traffic jams that extend beyond what you’d typically see in a city. Here in the DC Metro area, we have traffic on the major highways and Interstates from 6:30 a.m. till about 9:30 a.m. or so. In the afternoon, it starts up again at about 3:30 p.m. and doesn’t tend to die down until 6 or 7 p.m., depending upon the artery. In Atlanta, your “safest” times to drive are between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- This brings me to Point #2. Peachtree. When you’re headed anywhere in Atlanta, it’s important to know which Peachtree you’re supposed to be on. Atlanta is notorious for having one too many Peachtree something or anothers. The main thing to keep in mind is that Peachtree St. is the one that goes through Atlanta, and Peachtree Rd. is the one that begins in Buckhead, transitioning you out of the city.
- Now, we can get into public transportation. MARTA is the name of Atlanta’s transit system. This is a real treat for anyone who has been to the last 2 ISTE Conferences. ISTE 2012 had a decent transit system in San Diego, CA. ISTE 2013 had nothing in San Antonio. This year’s ISTE Conference is located in a city that has a very regular and reliable transit system, with stations opening as early as 4:45 a.m. and closing as late as 1:36 a.m. I’ve created a metro-coded map for ISTE that lays out the location of all Metro train stations. It’s pretty easy to understand, as the metro system is color-coded, and only contains 4 possible lines. The red and yellow lines will get you to and from the Airport. The blue and green lines will get you to the Georgia World Congress Center for ISTE. Riding the metro is very inexpensive, as a full-day pass is only $9.
- The (ATL) airport is BIG. Having worked on a few marketing campaigns inside of the airport, I can tell you that its a very entertaining place. Airtran and Delta are the major airlines here. There are only 2 security lines. Each line tends to have 3 to 5 lanes open. Baggage claim and flight check-in counters are located on the same side of the airport, so at the very least, you won’t get lost in those areas. In terms of Concourses, there are a total of 7, and they go in order (T, A, B, C, D, E, F). The International Concourse is Concourse F, so if you’re arriving from outside of the U.S., then you’ll need to make the trek from F to T to exit the airport. The nice thing about ATL is that there are moving sidewalks and escalators that take you to each Concourse. And, if you really don’t want to walk, then there’s always the Concourse train that arrives at each Concourse within 90 seconds. There’s great food on every Concourse, it’s just all up to what you’re in the mood for. Personally, if I end up flying (instead of driving), then you’ll find me on the T Concourse at Jamba Juice (the only one that’s not on a college campus in Atlanta).
- Last, but not least, when it comes to transportation, we must include Amtrak. Amtrak is located on Peachtree St., and unfortunately, it’s located near a metro train station. Thus, if you’re coming to ISTE by train, then I’d suggest having a taxi pick you up from the Amtrak station to take you to your hotel.
When it comes to experiencing ISTE in Atlanta, my suggestion is to rely on MARTA. With MARTA, you get the most convenience for the least amount of money, and you don’t have to worry about the stress of driving.
There’s a reason as to why Atlanta is referred to as “HotLanta”. After taking a look at the upcoming forecast, I can pretty much guarantee to you that the heat of the city will be on. If you’re coming from a coastal area, then you’re about to face a very rude awakening, as the heat in Atlanta is no joke. If the forecast says it will be 90+ degrees out, then please make sure that you bring the appropriate attire. You can almost liken the weather conditions to what we experienced last summer when ISTE 2013 was in San Antonio, Texas. Capris, skirts and shorts are the preferred attire for most, as jeans and full-length pants are often too heavy and lead to heat exhaustion when one stays outside for too long. The good news is that the vast majority of the hotels in the area have a pool. Below is a break down of what the weather is expected to be during the week of ISTE 2014.
The Convention Center tends to be quite cool, so all in all you should need nothing more than some capris and a very light jacket. Oh, and make sure you bring a raincoat and/or an umbrella…it looks like it’s going to rain (for at least a few of the days).