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‘Geospatial sector should strive to become more useful’

Melaka, Malaysia: “Geospatial technology has shown a great market potential in Malaysia, as it is applied not only in perambulation and mapping but also in resource investigation, environment assessment, regional planning, public facility management, traffic, telecom, city construction, energy, power, agriculture etc. A proactive government and a wanting user and industry, together have created an environment of synergy in the region essential for the exponential growth of geospatial in Malaysia,” remarked Y.A.B. Datuk Seri Haji Mohd Ali bin Mohd Rustam, Chief Minister of Melaka, the state hosting Malaysia Geospatial Forum 2012, being organised by Geospatial Media & Communications. In his address to the participants of the Forum, Datuk Rustam observed that the theme of the conference is very significant to our country today based on the fact that the government is working hard in achieving its goal to become a transformed nation by 2020. He also stresses that as we are living in an era where the pace of change in science and technology is mind boggling, “geospatial sector will have to continue to strive to change and become better and more useful for its users.”
The second and concluding day of Malaysia Geospatial Forum witnessed a number of sessions demonstrating the application of the technology in the country. Agriculture and plantation are important contributors to the country’s economy and a session on this theme deliberated upon how the technology can further strengthen this sector. Satellite data for this sector is restricted by data recurrence, high data-collecting cost, weather impediment and resolution while other data collection mechanisms like aerial photography and LiDAR are too expensive for precision farming. In such a scenario, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system exhibits much potential in solving these problems, observed Dr. Mohaizi Mohamad, Rektor, Geomatika College International. He added that multi sensors such as IR camera and SAR be used with the UAV for precision farming. Dr. Wan Mohd Kamil bin Dato’ Wan Nik, Senior Veterinary Officer, Division of Livestock Commodity Development, Department of Veterinary Services, Malaysia demonstrated the application of geospatial technology in veterinary services. He informed how mapping of livestock has helped in planning and decision making in aspects like animal disease outbreak and controlling environmental pollution.  
Haji Mohd Yazid Abdullah, Principal Assistant Director, Agriculture Drainage and Irrigation Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Malaysia discussed the prospects and constraints in the applications of geospatial systems in Malaysian agricultural economic transformation plan programmes. Application of geospatial technology in agro-food sector especially for rice production as envisaged under Economic Transformation Plan is an important element to increase productivity, reduce cost of production and increase efficiency, according to Haji. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry has planned several initiatives to promote and utilise those technologies through several project in granary areas. Muhamad Radzali Mispan, Principal research officer, Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute too discussed issues and challenges related to use of geospatial technology in agriculture. He remarked that experts in geospatial technology should look into the issues and challenges facing the agriculture sector in an integrated manner and should not be technology driven. Geospatial technology can have a number of applications in oil palm plantation. Haji Wahid bin Omar, Head of Crop and Livestock Integration Unit, Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Malaysia demonstrated how geospatial technology can be applied in advancing the oil palm industry. The technologies provide fast and precise information for oil palm plantation managements, he said, and that with the technologies, oil palm monitoring and verifying works are much easier and less laborious. He also informed the audience about Oil Palm Resource Information System (OPRIS) which is a GIS functional geodatabase which has been developed based on complete spatial data management workflows designed for scientific investigation, resource management and development planning for the oil palm industry. Mohd Zahlan Mohd Zaki, Senior Scientist, Sime Darby Research, Malaysia, highlighted the application of geospatial technology for oil palm plantation management. The technology can be used for various aspects like yield forecasting, site yield potential, leaf area index and nutrient mapping, growth performance index, palm management performance index and terrain analysis. Wong Tai Hong, General Manager, Juropro talked further on use of UAVs earlier highlighted by Mohaizi, with particular reference to detection of oil palm fungal disease infestation. The session on remote sensing, surveying and mapping witnessed discussions on several aspects and applications of these technologies. Azmi Hassan, GeoStrategist, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia stressed upon the need for a space act. He asserted that space act is not only an important and independent part of international law and treaty, but has come in close connection with many other fields of law such as telecommunications, broadcasting, trade, export controls, competition, arbitration and government procurement law.  Another aspect of earth observation images was discussed by Shahrizal Ide Moslin, Research Officer, National Space Agency, Malaysia. He observed that optical applications and emerging SAR (synthetic aperture radar) applications are complementary and end users can benefit by having access to the imagery products generated by both instruments. Integration of the images is the best answer for the society to have updated EO images for their applications, he said. Dinesh Sathyamoorthy, Research Officer, Science & Technology Research Institute for Defence (STRIDE), Ministry of Defence, Malaysia presented an analysis on physiographic features extracted from digital elevation models. The objective of the project undertaken was to conduct the statistical analysis of elevation variances of cells of physiographic features extracted from multiscale DEMs. The project observed that for all the parameters, with the exception of mean elevation, the DEMs and mountains exhibit similar patterns at the initial scales, indicating that mountains are the more dominant of the three predominant physiographic features in deciphering terrain character. Tan Yong Teck, Assistant General Manager, Data Services, Retail Product, Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Malaysia informed the audience about SmartMap, a web-based GIS application developed by the company for non-GIS users to help them in business planning, business operation and business performance, to help them overcome challenges in business GIS like base map availability, technical capacities in an organisation and cost prohibitiveness. Ahmad Fauzi Sudim, Manager, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Malaysia discussed the challenges in the implementation of enterprise GIS, called Corporate Geospatial Information System (CGIS), in the organisation. The challenges included change management, diversified requirements, internal team preparation, data readiness and accuracy and system integration. Murahari Ponugoti, Business Analyst, NIIT Technologies, highlighted how mobile GIS can be used for forest surveillance and conservation. Some of the benefits of implementing mobile GIS in forest management include analysing animal movement pattern and predicting the next movement; identifying black spots of encroachments and offences; identifying forest patrolled and un-patrolled areas; time series mapping to analyse the changes over a period of time and enabling senior level officers to make decisions based on real time data from the field crews. 
Source: Our correspondent