4th ISDE, Tokyo, Japan

4th ISDE, Tokyo, Japan


4th ISDE Tokyo, Japan

Adeeti Jain,
[email protected]

The 4th International Symposium on Digital Earth under the theme ‘ Digital Earth as Global Commons’ was held at Mori Towers Roppongi-hills Tokyo Japan, from 28th to 30th March 2005. ISDE-Japan based in Keio University (Japan) served the symposium as the secretariat. The 4th ISDE Symposium provided an opportunity for ISDE Members, Supporters and Symposium participants to share the progress and operations that have matured since the ‘Digital Earth’ vision was given by the former Vice-President of the United States of America Al- Gore in January 1998. A total of 345 registered participants attended the Symposium from 37 countries. The symposium drew a total number of 1221 attendees during the three-day event for the various Technical Sessions, Keynote Addresses and the Exhibition.

The Digital Earth vision conceptualizes Digital Earth as a virtual representation of our planet that enables a person to explore and interact with the vast amounts of information gathered about the Earth. The Digital Earth framework integrates a wide variety of geo-referenced data, including natural, cultural, and historical components. The vision thus represents an ‘Earth Metaphor’, reconstructed into a virtual world directly linked through the Internet. The growth of this virtual world would be, the resultant of contributions from governments, universities, corporations, and individuals striving to populate the Global dataset. In view of the Global collaboration required for making Digital Earth a viable resource, the 4th ISDE symposium themed on ‘Digital Earth as Global Commons’. Under the aegis of this theme, the issues related to Available Technology, Future advances; Data Policy, Validation, Harmonization and Semantics were deliberated.

Prof. Hiromichi Fukui, Secretary General of the International Society of Digital Earth Japan drew attention to the opportune time of the Cherry blossom season in Japan and Welcomed the Delegates and Participants. The Symposium commenced with the inaugural address by Prof. Junjiro Takahashi, Chair of the International Society of Digital Earth Japan, who is also the Executive Director of Academy Hills Tokyo. Prof. Takahashi, encapsulated the progress of Technology starting from the 1st GIS in 1970 with limited Map Making and Map Reading Capabilities to the currant 3rd generation advent in Global Positioning Systems, Grid Computing and the ongoing amalgamation of Technologies.

Keynote Addresses
Each day of the symposium was segregated into two blocks of Keynote Sessions and Technical Sessions. The day began with forward looking keynote addresses emphasizing the efforts and technological requirements of the Digital Earth Vision followed by the Technical sessions elaborating the various purviews of Technological applications and their case studies. The keynote Addresses elaborated the requirements of the Digital Earth while succinctly pointing out the lacuna and limitations of the present day technology, policies and Data.

“The Earth Simulator Designs the Future Human Life”
A spinning globe dominated the large screen of the conference hall while the 300 plus audience comprising of Academicians, Scientists and Engineers watched enthralled, while Dr. Tetsuya Sato, Director General of The Earth Simulator- Japan, showed the Aurora Arc formation, the interaction of the Sun’s magnetosphere – Ionosphere interaction. This was followed by a 1000-year simulation of the Deep Sea currant based on the Chloro- Fluoro Carbon Concentration in the sea. Dr. Sato enunciated the limitless possibilities, applications and Capabilities of the Earth Simulator in terms of designing the Future Human lives, ranging from Surface air temperature change to predicting Typhoon trajectories and various Hydrodynamic Simulations.

Mr. Richard Simpson, Executive Director Mapping and Geospatial Solutions Intergraph Corporation, took the audience through the history of mapping starting with Ptolemy, Abraham Ortelius and Ludovico Giorgio (Barbuda) and the issues faced by these ancient geographers as compared to the currant issues related to Geospatial Data Management and Dissemination. Mr. Simpson delved on the Geo-spatial convergence of high performance architecture, Scalability, Interoperability, Data Confidence and Data reach leading to the present day Geo-centric experience.

Prof. Chen Shupeng, Honorary Director, Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China enunciated on Grid computing and the Global Grid system. He stressed the need to bring the myriad Data into the global database of Digital Earth by uniform spatial grid and numeric grade to make them be a subsystem or a layer of Digital Earth. He elaborated the squama fabric’s suitability in bringing the city kilometer grid into global longitude and latitude grid to achieve the data interchange.

Prof. Etsuo Yamamura, President, GIS Association in Japan presented the practical application and implementation of an Integrated GIS to promote cluster industries in the Hokkaido region of Japan. This implementation was suggestive of the viability of the Digital Earth vision as the replication of this project on a Global scale defines the Digital Earth.

‘Vision without action is a day dream but action without a vision is a nightmare’ so quoted Prof. Milan Konecny, President, International Cartographic Association He elaborated that technology alone is not sufficient to solve problems like disasters or even reduce their occurrence; there is a need to establish and formulate the future path for Digital Earth as well as delimit its position among other related initiatives.

Prof. Shunji Murai, Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo Japan stated that Education is an industry today and E-learning / Distance education is the way this industry is growing. Prof. Murai detailed the capacity building exercise carried out in Developing countries through the JICA- Net Distance education initiative from Japan. JICA Net conducts courses on GIS and Remote Sensing through video conferencing using the Internet and currently reaches 6 countries. Prof. Murai stressed the need for Education in terms of capacity building for Digital Earth.

Prof. Ian Dowman, President, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing examined the currant techniques, applicability and the future prospects of Global Digital Elevation Models (DEM). The available techniques of Spaceborne IfSAR Spaceborne Optical and Airborne sensors were weighed with the possibilities that the future missions of SPOT HRS, ALOS, Cartosat-2 and TanDEM-X would bring. He stressed the need for International test sites for validation and accuracy verification for the satellite DEM’s.

Prof. Guo Huadong, Professor, Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, Chinese Academy of Sciences spoke of the PRC’s long-standing efforts in pursuing Earth observation Systems. Along with listing the capabilities of the Feng Yun and Zi Yuan series of Earth Observation Satellite’s, he elaborated on the Digital Earth Prototype System (DEPS). This system is an effort at building a test-bed for the research and development on Digital Earth and introduces the concept of Digital Earth, key technologies as well as its applications in crop growth monitoring, disaster monitoring, digital archaeology, environment management, and demonstrates the huge developing potentials.

Prof. John Townsend from Department of Geography, University of Maryland bought forth the need for a reliable, validated and periodic Global Lancover Change dataset for Digital Earth. He stressed that Land cover change is one of the most potent agents of global change and it arguably will have more impact on sustainable development that climate change. In the efforts to build a global dataset, Prof. Townsend maintained that Validation procedures need to be agreed upon internationally and implemented operationally. Prof Townsend stated that Improvements are needed in the capabilities of satellite sensors, in their acquisition strategies and in policies affecting distribution.

Technical Sessions
Technical Presentations were conducted in three parallel sessions on each day of the symposium. Nearly 75 oral presentations were made during these sessions on various topics related to Remote Sensing applications, Imaging and Mapping, Visualization and Simulation.

There were special sessions on the second and third day by JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Keio University. The special session by JAXA focused on the JAXA Space Technology for GIS while the session by Keio university focused on’DARSREC'(Digital Asia Regional Strategy Research Center) Project.

A total of 26 exhibitors, exhibited their products, Services and capabilities during the three-day conference. The exhibition area saw quite an amount of interaction and activity as the 1200 crowd thronged the area during the free timeslots. The exhibition saw a lot of participants from the local universities and Government departments. Academy Hills, ESRI Japan, NTT DoCoMo Inc., Pasco Corporation, Mitsubishi Estate Company Ltd. and Leica Geosystems were the main Sponsors for the Symposium.

Future Agenda
The International Society of Digital Earth in Collaboration with North American Committee for the International Society decided to convene the 5th International Symposium in San Francisco during June 2007. The 5th Symposium will theme on ‘Bringing Digital Earth Home’ The ISDE also announced a special Digital Earth Summit on ‘ Foundations for Sustainability’, which will be held in Auckland, New Zealand during the early months of 2006.

Closing Ceremony
During the closing ceremony theISDE flag was officially handed over by Prof. Guo Huadong, Secretary General of the International Society of Digital Earth to Timothy Foresman, President of the International Center for Remote Sensing Education, symbolically representing the handover-of-charge for convening the 5th ISDE in San Fransisco.