23rd September became a red letter day in the history of Australian spatial community when Spatial Sciences Conference 2003 took off in a grand fashion. The Spatial Science Conference (SSC) is the outcome of combined efforts of five different professional bodies of Australia – AURISA (Australasian Urban and Regional Information Systems Association), IEMSA (Institution of Engineering and Mining Surveyors, Australia), ISA (Institution of Surveyors, Australia), MSIA (Mapping Sciences Institute of Australia) and RSPAA (Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Association of Australia). Under the new banner ‘Spatial Science Institute’ the five professional bodies came on a common platform.
The SSC, which is the biggest ever conference in spatial sciences in Australia, was attended by 832 delegates and over 60 exhibitors participated in the mega exhibition. The organisers were highly satisfied with the good response and the overall fine mood amongst the participants. The opening address by Dr Robin Batterham, Chief Scientist of Australian government focused on the topic of commercialization of research. He said, “To have one successful implementation, one goes through a process where about 3,000 raw ideas are converted into 300 submitted proposals which further develop into 125 projects; 9 early stage developments; 1.7 launched and in the end finally one gets success.” His statement “Failure is Good, as there is not single approach of success” was appreciated by all the visitors and delegates.
There were five Keynote presentations. First was by Dr Vanessa Lawrence, Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey, UK. In her address she talked about the changing role of geography and how geography is becoming a part of mainstream in today’s life. “Location is the key and joining of various types of data with geography makes a significant contribution in decision-making,” she said. She also shared her experience of modernization of Ordnance Survey and how its efficiency was improved.
Barbara Ryan of US Geological Survey made a presentation on ‘Refocusing the Geography Discipline – The National Map Transferring from Mapping to Geography’.
The presentation was about the National Map initiative of US Federal Government. It talked about the plan, orientation, data content, operations, access and partnerships in the National Map. She also emphasized on the lessons learned during the process, some of which are the following: Map information is an infrastructure in itself; Data must be readily accessible; There must be partnership orientation amongst partners. While doing cost benefit analysis of National Map, she found that it provides more benefits than the cost involved in the process.