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Geospatial rendezvous

Over 1,000 people from 80 countries across the seas congregated at Rotterdam, The Netherlands, to take part in Geospatial Media and Communications’ mega event, Geospatial World Forum 2013. The four-day event brought together experts from various government organisations, industry, academia and users on a single platform to discuss, plan and evolve strategies for the geospatial industry.

Adding a touch of sparkle to the gala event, an award function was organised to recognise outstanding professionals and organisations who have taken the industry several notches high.

Based on the theme, ‘Monetising Geospatial Value and Practices’, the geospatial rendezvous aimed at enriching the geospatial ecosystem with discussions on the vast gamut of technology, application and policy framework from across the world. With so many plenary discussions, seminars, workshops, panel discussions, dialogue and exchange forums, delegates had a tough time deciding which ones to attend.

Setting the tone for the conference, Drs Th A.J. Burmanje (Dorine), Chair, Executive Board, Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency, The Netherlands, discussed how the growing economic crisis is promoting acceptance of geospatial technology as an enabling tool.

The chief guest on the occasion, Alhaji A.B. Inusah Fuseini, Ghana’s Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, said geospatial technology was crucial for economic and social development and poverty eradication in the developing world. Giving example from his country, he said Ghana’s rapid growth has led to rapid urbanisation in the recent years and this cannot happen in isolation.

The conference also highlighted that calculating return on investment is very important for industry managers to adopt geospatial technology, who often tend to shy away owing to significant upfront investments and lack of knowledge. Chris Gibson, Senior Vice President, Trimble, argued that some benefits of geospatial data and technology cannot be calculated in terms of money. Barbara Ryan, Director, Group on Earth Observations (GEO) secretariat, explained that the economic value of geospatial data does not lie in data itself, but in its use in downstream application areas. The stage was abuzz with users and industries, from all the four corners, deliberating how GIS has become an inherent part of their workflows.

“The landscape and business direction of the geospatial market is changing but are we changing along with it?” With this question Ray O’Connor, President and CEO, Topcon Positioning Systems, set the stage for the debate. The business direction of geospatial industry is towards construction automation and we have to turn this process into reality, he added.

In a similar vein, Amar Hanspal, Vice President, IPG product Group, Autodesk said, “The future of geospatial is design technology. There is a growing need for the current generation of GIS to evolve.”

Captivating the audiences with his presentation on ‘trends in commercial satellite imagery’, Stephen Wood, Vice President, Analytics Centre, DigitalGlobe, said from being seen as a spy satellite company, DigitalGlobe (and other commercial satellite companies across the world) have come a long way where they are constantly monitoring the changes on the earth’s surface — be it human rights violations for Amnesty International or conflicts in Sudan for the
Sat Sentinel project.

Mark Reichardt, President and CEO, Open Geospatial Consortium, explained how standards save time and reduce costs, as it applies a uniform process to all data before it goes into the system.  

The exhibition hall displaying cutting-edge technologies was chock-a-block with who’s who of the geospatial world and user industries from a wide spectrum of countries.


Clockwise from top: The Holland pavillion which won the Best Pavillion Award at the exhibition; Hexagon CEO Ola Rollen; Trimble V-P Channel Development Peter Large; a plenary session at the Geospatial World Forum in Rotterdam; Bentley Systems Senior V-P Ted Lambo; MapStory Foundation Founder Christopher Tucker with Ingrid Vandan Berghe, Director General, National Geographic Institute, Belgium; and DigitalGlobe V-P Stephen Wood