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Latin America Geospatial Forum: Connecting diverse communities

With the objective of establishing a geospatial communication network within the Latin American region and raising the profile of the region’s geospatial community, Geospatial Media & Communications presented the first edition of Latin America Geospatial Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Forum brought together over 550 professionals from 32 countries to share their experiences, to learn from one another and to debate on future developments. Brazil being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the theme – Bringing Global Perspectives to Local Action – quite fittingly explored the relevance and importance of geospatial technology for development.

NMO-Industry Exchange Forum
A high-level delegation comprising heads of national mapping organisations (NMOs) from 17 Latin American nations, along with industry representatives and pioneers of geospatial data management from around the region, came together to discuss data policies, data generation, its usage by public and its innovative applications, during the pre-conference NMO-Industry Exchange Forum.

During the Exchange Forum, participants resolved to find new ways to increase the visibility of the benefits of location referenced information; increase efforts to build both human and institutional capacity for the creation and use of location-referenced information; create geospatial data to facilitate access of the data; develop new business models which should be demand-driven and respond directly to sub-national, national and international priority needs; to participate in United Nations Forum on Global Geospatial Information Management in Korea and beyond and to get technical support from industry to strengthen the work of NMOs.

Visionary thoughts
The first day of the event introduced luminaries of the global geospatial community who put forth their views during the inaugural session and subsequently at the plenary and panel discussions. Carlos Alberto Muniz, Vice-Mayor and Municipal Secretary of Environment of Rio de Janeiro alongwith Dr. Eduardo Pereira Nunes, President, IBGE and Ricardo Henriques, President, Instituto Pereira Passos graced the inaugural session.

Steven W. Berglund, President and Chief, Executive Officer, Trimble Navigation, USA opined that to survive and prosper, organisations will not only need to formulate effective growth strategies but also implement and execute them as well on a local level. Greg Bentley, Chief Executive Officer, Bentley Systems, USA deliberated upon “Semantic City” in which information modelling enhances infrastructure performance, for improved quality of life. Denis Sant Anna Barros, Deputy Secretary, Secretary of Planning and Strategic Investments – SPI, Ministry of Planning Budget and Management, Brazil asserted that geospatial serves as a key tool to formulate plans and deliver goods and services in an efficient manner.

Ola Rollén, President and CEO, Hexagon, Sweden was of the view that industry is raising its own profile and it can contribute to improve the conditions for many in the years to come. According to Santiago Borrero, Secretary General Pan-American Institute of Geography and History, Mexico, availability of highquality data at the supranational level is still wanting in the region. Steven Hagan, Vice President Development of Technologies Server, Oracle, USA said that every business application is location-enabled, not just GIS applications Luiz Paulo Souto Fortes, Director of Geosciences, IBGE, Brazil opined that technological advances have increased the availability of locationbased information, which contribute decisively to the formulation of public policies, given its ability to integrate quantitative and qualitative information from various sectors. Guilherme Brechbuhler De Pinho, Chief Executive Officer, Fototerra, Brazil put forth that Brazilian economy has to adopt geospatial technology to see development on ground. H. John Oechsle, Executive Vice President, Strategy & Product, DigitalGlobe, USA opined that crowd sourcing has become an integral part of creating maps. Geoff Zeiss, Director, Utility Industry Program, Autodesk, Canada informed that a key smart grid technology in the region will be distribution automation.

Focussed deliberations
As applications get increasingly divergent, it is becoming necessary to bring these divergent communities together, provide a common platform and connect them to the experts working in the fields through the common thread of geospatial technologies. LAGF enabled this through the symposia and seminars on mining, exploration, utilities, agriculture, environment, GNSS, 3D modelling and photogrammetry. The conference successfully helped in bringing together and connecting the staggered efforts of individual geospatial communities in different countries of the continent.

The exhibition at the Forum echoed the fact that geospatial has come a long way from its status of a technological tool to a way of life. All major national and international Geospatial firms and user agencies participated in the exhibition, each showcasing its products and services. The exhibiting served as a new begining towards building relationships and developing ‘Geospatial Culture.’