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Digital Earth 2003

Henry Tom
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Technical Committee 211, Geographic information/Geomatics
[email protected]


This was a well-organized international conference centered on the theme ‘Digital Earth: Information Resources for Global Sustainability’.

There were more than 250 attendees from over 34 countries. Some people came, not only in support of this concept, but to also support Milan Konecyn, the conference organizer and newly elected President of International Cartographic Association.

Preetha Pulusani, President, Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions, gave a well-focused opening plenary on ‘Enabling Interoperable SDIs for Sustainable Development’. The intellectual content for the conference was provided by Professor Michael Blakemore with his discourse on data. Alessandro Annoni, JRC, chaired the very informative session on ‘European Spatial Data’ projects which focused on INSPIRE. Ed Parson, Ordnance Survey, UK, presented very interesting and innovative technical approaches in the organizational marketing and sale of spatial data.

Ravi Gupta’s presentation on ‘ICTs for the Underserved Communities’ dramatically demonstrated the power of GIS technology used by common people at the local level. Jeanne Foust, ESRI, gave the passionate plenary address and plea for the Digital Earth in terms of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and conducted an excellent ESRI Workshop on Technical Approaches to the Digital Earth featuring a fascinating new product called ArcGlobe. The Standards Workshop, co-sponsored by ISO/TC 211, Geographic Information/Geomatics and the Open GIS Consortium (OGC) was considered by many to have the highest attendance of all the sessions.

Some people were somewhat skeptical of the viability of Digital Earth initiative. The International Symposium on Digital Earth has occurred every two years as just an international conference without a real agenda and plan of action. There are now plans for the International Symposium on Digital Earth to incorporate into an entity called – International Society on Digital Earth (ISDE). Hence, the triad of international initiatives /conferences Global Mapping, GSDI and Digital Earth may want to consider how to coordinate, cooperate, or even consolidate.

The President of the Digital Earth Steering Committee was Yongxiang LU (China) and Secretary General, Huadong GUO (China) [ [email protected] ], Professor and Deputy Secretary General, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The next International Symposium on Digital Earth will take place in Tokyo, Japan in March 2005. ISO/TC 211 and the OGC have already been invited to conduct a Standards Seminar at this symposium.