Role of surveying is critical

Role of surveying is critical

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Holger Magel
President, FIG
Chair, UN Habitat Professionals
Forum and of Joint Board of Geoinformation

Born in Bavarian Neuburg / Donau in 1944, Prof Holger Magel has actively been performing various significant roles and also been instrumental in shaping the domains of urban planning, surveying and rural development in different regions of Europe and Asia. Director of the Institute of Geodesy, GIS and Land Management at Technische Universität München in Munich, Prof Magel discusses with GIS Development his views on geo-spatial sciences

In your opinion, what is the need and relevance of surveying and mapping in present societal development?
The role of surveying is paramount and critical. It has been so in the history of development and is emerging to be more critical for the future. The maps and spatial data, that a lot of individual countries have today, are still mostly outdated and old.

The latest maps and data are either owned by other people or are inaccessible for some reason or the other. On the other hand, the development needs have grown manifold and in the coming days development cannot be afforded to be hindered because of lack of accurate and timely data. The role of surveying and data generation emerges here.

The criticality is due to other emerging concerns worldwide that call for closer look towards grassroots level planning and focus towards homeland security. In all this right frame of ‘education’ is extremely important. Knowing how to run the software is only the beginning. Knowing the subject and becoming an expert in that is another thing. The field of surveying and mapping holds forth a massive potential as a discipline as well as a basic requirement for development of societies. Govern-ments have to understand this and they are doing so.

How do you see the evolution of ‘inclusive societies’ concept and where is it heading?
If you simply follow carefully the daily newspapers and local TV of any place, you will find that the world is at home everywhere! Anything happening anywhere in the world is known nearly everywhere in a short time. Humans and societies behave similarly in most cases.

It is just the traditions and local beliefs that differ. And that is why even though problems can be generalized at ‘global’ level, solutions need to be realistically ‘local’ in nature. The growing role of civil societies in the present world is something that is practical and on the field of bottom-up development and civic engagement in rural areas. Participatory planning and moderation, mediation and conflict solution is inevitable, at least in democratic countries of the contemporary world.

This type of development approach has a strong impact on theory, education and practice of planning processes and decision procedures of municipalities or local authorities. Hence it is pragmatic to look at development or rather ‘sustainable development’ in the perspective of ‘inclusive societies’. ‘Inclusive societies’ are societal setups that have internalized the role and say of local residents in their development and planning phase.