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Pharaohs to Geoinformatics: Shaping the Change

FIG Working Week 2005 and GSDI-8, Cairo, Egypt

The FIG Working Week 2005 was organised in Cairo, Egypt from 16 to 21 April 2005. This was for the first time that the annual FIG Working Week was organised together with another international organisation. The FIG Council and the local organisers – the Egyptian Committee for Surveying and Mapping (ECSM) and the Egyptian Survey Authority (ESA) – decided to organise the conference jointly with the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI). So the joint conference “From Pharaohs to Geoinformatics” combined elements both from the FIG Working Week and the GSDI conference (this time GSDI-8).

The joint FIG/GSDI conference turned to be the biggest ever FIG annual conference outside congresses, which are held every four years. The conference attracted more than 900 participants from about 80 countries. The attendees got an excellent opportunity to get familiar with the history of surveying and even more important on the trends in surveying and SDIs for the future. During the three-and-half day technical programme there were 51 technical sessions, several round table discussions (e.g. on the education in Africa, FIG future governance, standards etc.) and working group meetings. When totally seven pre-conference workshops (each lasting for a half or for a full day) are added there was professional programme for almost one week. In the technical programme more than 400 papers, presentations and posters were made.

At the opening ceremony the keynote address from the Government of Egypt was made by HE Dr. Mahmoud Abu Zeid, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation. The conference was held under the patronise of the Government of Egypt and Prime Minister, Dr. Ahmed Nazif, who unfortunately was unable to attend because of the NEPAD meeting in Egypt at the same time. The greeting from the Prime Minister was given by Dr. Abu Zeid. The greeting from Dr. Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communication and Information Technology was presented by Dr. Hora Baraka.

The welcome address from the organising committee was given by Dr. Eng. Ahmed Fouad El-Sheikh, Chair of the Organising Committee and President of the Egyptian Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ECSM). The GSDI presentation was given by Dr. Mukund Rao, President of GSDI. The keynote opening address was about the conference title “From Pharaohs to Geoinformatics – Shaping the Change” presented by Prof. Holger Magel, President of FIG, who also formally opened the conference. The entertainment at the opening ceremony was taken care by the Egyptian military band. After the opening ceremony the full hall – more than 600 people – joined the opening welcome reception at the pool area of the conference venue, Semiramis Intercontinental in Cairo.

The professional quality of the plenary sessions got this year many positive comments. Especially the first plenary session, in which the presentations were made by Dr. Ismail Serageldin, CEO of the Alexandria Library and Mr. Jack Dangermond, President and Founder of ESRI and Mrs. Preetha Pulusani, President of Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions was highly praised. At the other two plenary sessions the topics were Land Management and SDIs (with Dr. Paul Munro-Faure (FAO), Dr. Clarissa Augustinus (UN-Habitat), Ms. Dorine A. J. Burmanje, Chair of the Board of Dutch Cadastre and Eng. Mohamed Mosaad Ibrahim, Ex-Chairman, The Egyptian Survey Authority, ESA as speakers) and on the Future of the SDI / Surveying Communities (with Prof. Ian Dowman, President of ISPRS, Prof. Hans Sünkel, Rector of the University of Graz and Dr. Hisham El Sherif, Chairman of IT Investments Group, Egypt as speakers).