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EditorSpeak: Europe – leading by example

Prof. Arup Dasgupta
Managing Editor
[email protected]

Europe is the cradle of modern surveying techniques which laid the foundation of photogrammetry and other quantitative methods in geosciences. Today, Europe is leading the drive to SDI through its INSPIRE programme. There are many activities in Europe that can be termed as best practices in the field. For example, the work of Ordnance Survey of Great Britain in opening up the national map base to a variety of users from school children to professionals in government and industry has become a benchmark for modern national mapping organisations. Some of Europe’s programmes like INSPIRE, GMES, GALILEO and the EU Digital Agenda show how European nations are rapidly moving towards a digital future where ICT will ensure information reaches where it is needed, when it is needed. The face of Europe has changed considerably with the induction of the East European countries including the countries of the erstwhile USSR. These countries have brought in their own expertise in the field of geospatial technologies and applications.

One of the actions that Europe took after the World War II was to look at the status of geospatial activities in the newly freed countries in Africa and Asia. The idea of ITC arose from discussions with the United Nations on the use of cartography for realising the development goals of underdeveloped countries. The idea became a part of the Netherlands technical assistance programme and the charter of foundation was signed on 11th July 1950. The first course with six students started in 1951 at the Geodesy department of the Delft University. Today, ITC has activities spread all over the world and is considered to be a premier training institute. ITC itself has gone through many changes, the latest being its affiliation to the University of Twente. Prof Tom Veldkamp, the current Rector of ITC spoke to Geospatial World about ITC and its direction for the future. One thing that will not change is the desire to extend geospatial knowledge to all corners of the world.

The Eye on Earth is also an interesting initiative by Europe which seeks to share environmental data. It is interesting to note that when Landsat was launched it was called the Eye in the Sky. Today that eye has become a cooperative venture and its visibility goes much beyond the spectrum visible to the human eye.

This issue covers the story of Europe’s activities in the geospatial arena. Come April 2012, Geospatial Media and Communications will be organising the Geospatial World Forum in Amsterdam. This is another first for the company and will provide an opportunity to the participants to experience Europe’s geospatial activities first hand.