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Asia Geospatial Forum: G-tech for better governance

Held for the first time in Vietnam, the 11th Asia Geospatial Forum, jointly organised by Geospatial Media & Communications and the Vietnam Association of Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing, brought together stakeholders from over 30 countries to deliberate upon the geospatial developments in the region and exchange of knowledge, with the theme “Enabling Geo- Governance”.

Inaugural session
Nguyen Van Duc, Vice Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam said the world in general and Vietnam in particular is facing severe effects of climate change and economic recession. To address the demand from government agencies in pursuing their national objectives, Vietnam is actively working on building its own capabilities in space science and geospatial technology. Trinh Anh Co, Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Geodesy, Cartography and Remote Sensing urged the delegates and stakeholder communities to collaborate for a win-win situation. In his guest address, Prof Dang Vu Minh, President, Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations informed that the country has experienced rapid economic development in the last 20 years but there are several challenges it is still working on.

Mainstreaming geospatial information for national development
Tracing the evolution of SDI concept and benefits of SDIs in enabling egovernance, Hoang Lam Son,Deputy Director, Dept of IT, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the national coordinates have been constructed based on national geodetic reference system, VN-2000. According to Hoang, the first version of geographic data standards, cadastral data standards and land registration standards are completed, approved and are already in use. However, information service standards are yet to be approved.

Underscoring the significance of geospatial technology in national development, Matt Delano, Business Area Director, Cadastral Solutions, Trimble, said that several industries like energy, oil and gas, mining, telecom, infrastructure, transportation, water, agriculture, local governments and business enterprises, which are key to sustainable socio economic development, depend on geospatial information. Winson Wang from Intergraph said governments are under tremendous pressure to ensure infrastructure is safe for the public, to increase transparency in decision making, to improve public services and offer services at lower costs.

Atty Ernesto d Adobo, Undersecretary for Staff Bureaus, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines highlighted the department”s initiatives in land administration. According to Ernesto, even though Philippines has a history of using land titling system, there are several challenges on the ground.

Strengthening technology capacity for geo-governance
Prof Duong Ngoc Hai, Vice President, Vietnam Academy for Science and Technology (VAST), said that along with satellite launching programme, the country has also developed the national research programme on space science and technology. Kapil Choudhery, Director, Spatial Decisions exhorted that geospatial industry should go beyond the ordinary and routine to provide solutions, draw upon multi-sectoral, multi-domain expertise, create synergy and competition so that the industry moves up the value chain.

Discussing the rationale of developing a smartphone app for mountain- climbing accident rescue in national parks in South Korea, Yeong-Deok of Korea National Park Service said that there had been a dramatic increase in the number of park visitors in South Korea recently, simultaneously increasing the mountain- climbing accidents. The Korea National Park Service has created a geodatabase of the trekking trials, accident-prone spots and a host of other layers. Lim Ser Chin, Regional Sales Director, DigitalGlobe, Singapore, said that imagery is seen as the basic building block for geo-governance and said imagery can address several geo-governance needs like topographic mapping, elevation models, land cover, cadastral/parcel mapping etc.

Exchange forums
For the first time, the Asia Geospatial Forum presented exchange forums that aimed to provide a dialogue platform among stakeholders and facilitate exchange of knowledge and experience in the region. The full day Forum “Land Administration for Economic Development” featured twelve speakers representing land authorities in Asia and the leading technology providers in cadastral solutions. The Exchange Forum “Engaging SMEs in National Development” was conducted entirely in panel discussion format. The first panel, “Value Proposition of SMEs in National Development” discussed the approach taken by SMEs in securing national projects, the challenges faced, their synergy with multinational companies that they represented and role of government in providing more opportunities for SMEs” survival on the ground. The panel on “Relevance of SMEs in New Geospatial Business Order” highlighted the impact of economic recession to SMEs and the mergers and acquisitions trend among principal technology companies that affect their distributor/reseller network.

Seminars and special session
Asia Geospatial Forum presented four seminars on the major topics in geospatial activities in Asia Pacific – forest management, utilities and transportation, disaster management and public safety and a special topic of interest in Vietnam, Mekong River – Integrated River Basin Management.