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EditorSpeak: Space is so startling…

Prof. Arup Dasgupta
Managing Editor
[email protected]

The Geospatial World Forum 2013 was a great experience with a chance to meet old friends and make new ones; also to take in new ideas and new thoughts as geospatial systems evolve. One of the important takeaways for me was the concept of open spending in which government spending is opened up and mapped to indicate to citizens what is being implemented where. This would be a very innovative application of geospatial technology.

Another takeaway was a very interesting session on GI Policy where some very novel ideas were presented. These included the use of geography as a policy driver; a policy to address the citizens who cannot access geospatial services because of poor literacy, conflict, poverty, repression, lack of information and lack of bandwidth. If knowledge is power then absence of knowledge is enslavement. My third takeaway was a very novel interactive session on spatial thinking. Spatial thinking is thinking in, with and about space which can be micro, personal, environmental, geographical and finally outer or extraterrestrial. Such a concept makes use of all our senses — not just visual.

Now returning to terra firma, this issue has several articles on land administration. This is an area as old as civilisation itself but like all other human endeavours, it must evolve with changing needs of the society. Sustainable development is the demand of the millennium and this needs land recordation to be quicker, cheaper, simpler using techniques like crowdsourcing, high resolution remote sensing imagery, unmanned aerial systems, digital pen and harness the potential of ICT in providing appropriate services to the public. Developing countries building modern land administration systems should include participatory enumerations, use inclusive mechanisms (STDM), apply standards (LADM) and voluntary guidelines (UN-FAO), and utilise the available funding mechanisms of UN-HABITAT, World Bank and USAID.

Evolution is happening in the business world as companies merge to create strong solution-based entities. Geospatial is no longer a set of building blocks but an interconnected flexible solution to specific requirements. As Ola Rollen says, “Geospatial technology will be increasingly important, simply because life is getting more and more complicated. We need to be more careful about the resources on this planet… infrastructure, resources, manufacturing, and protection — all enable us to work towards sustainable development of the planet”.

Space is so startling, particularly if we expand our consciousness about the space around us. It goes much beyond maps — paper and digital.