The 10th edition of the Geospatial World Forum (GWF), a mega geospatial business-cum-technical event highlighting the value and power of geospatial technology as an enabler in addressing global economic and socio-economic issues, has begun in Hyderabad, India.
With 3,000 high-profile delegates from global geospatial community, policy makers, academia, researchers, technology providers, solution providers, and end-user segments across industries, regions and communities targeted, the forum features large-scale conference and exhibition, top-ranked keynote speakers, major industry segments, high-level discussion programs and various social networking events. The event is organized by Geospatial Media and Communications, and co-hosted by Survey of India and Indian Space Research Organization — giving it great governmental leverage and support.
M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development and Information Broadcasting, Government of India, inaugurated the forum on Monday. Appreciating the futuristic theme of the conference — Geospatial + Deep Learning: Shaping Smarter World, Naidu commented, “A forum like GWF, that covers all aspects of geospatial technology, is very important and relevant in today’s times. My ministry’s programs like Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) are all based on geospatial and information and communication technologies (ICT).”
Geospatial Media and Communications CEO Sanjay Kumar added, “IT majors are playing a key role in the geospatial community today — either through investments and acquisitions or by developing collaborative, enabling technologies. Geospatial is the foundation on which a digital world can be built.”
As the co-host of the conference, it was fitting for Dr. Swarna Subba Rao, Surveyor General, Survey of India, to point out the historic significance of GWF 2017 as this platform was chosen by the national surveying and mapping organization of India to kickstart the celebrations of 250 years of its inception. “Geospatial Media and Communications is known to be a crusader of geospatial technologies, relentlessly promoting the use and importance of geoinformation. I can see many legendary faces of the geospatial community here, alongside famous geospatial scientists and professors of India. There is a marked participation from the state and central government also.”
Dr. Rao also used the opportunity to announce that SoI would now begin advertising its work and capabilities, something that the agency has not done in the 250 years of its existence.
That everyone uses space technology, knowingly or unknowingly, was the thought put forward by Dr. Y.V.N. Krishna Murthy, Director, NRSC, at the inaugural session. “Geospatial data has become an integral part of planning and implementation for development activities of all countries. In fact, it is must for the sustainable development of any nation.” Krishna Murthy went on to explain that since Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, himself was taking steps to promote space technologies, the potential growth of this sector has increased manifold.
Stefan Schweinfest, Director of Statistics Division, United Nations, enthralled the audience with his wisecracks, even as he explained how creating complex data architecture can support the rather comprehensive development agenda. Sample this: “The geospatial community moves at the speed of light, and no one has ever accused my office of being hasty.” Or “We have a habit of biting up pieces that we find difficult to chew afterwards. So, we need a little help from our friends.” Or even this: “Next time you get a letter from me, please don’t classify it as ‘nice try’. Engage with us, we are rather friendly!”
The next speaker at the session was Barbara Ryan, Secretariat Director, Group on Earth Observations (GEO). Having spent three decades at the U.S. Geological Survey, Ryan quipped, “I felt so proud of USGS’ 137 years of history. The Survey of India is 250 years old! That’s an amazing accomplishment, and I wish them the very best for the next 250 years.”
Steven W. Berglund, CEO, Trimble, detailed how Trimble was participating in the Internet of Things, even before the term became a buzzword. “The convergence of technology forces coming together has made this period all about transformation. And forums such as GWF are important and timely to help the community find the right balance between these disparate forces. Driven by digitization, the world may be becoming more intelligent, but we will spend the next couple of days at this forum pursuing both intelligence and wisdom.”
For K.K. Singh, Chairman and CEO, Rolta, scarce resources and infrastructure are best managed through geospatial technology. “We are moving toward more networked societies, where relationships are more fluid. And this rapid absorption of innovation and the disruption caused thereafter are increasing day by day. We need to recognize the critical role convergence and integration of geospatial technology is playing in decision-making and problem-solving.”
The inaugural session concluded with encouraging remarks from Minister of State for Labor, Bandaru Dattatreya. Calling attention to the immense contributions of SoI in the development of the nation, Dattatreya said, “Can anybody imagine any country’s borders without you? Can anybody set out on a journey without you? Can any development meeting conclude without your map? Can any police station function without your map? You know each and every inch of the nation because you map it.” Dattatreya also rallied for SoI’s deeper association with Telagana to help resolve land management issues relating to farmers in the state.