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GWF2014: Geospatial World Forum opens in Geneva

Geneva: The theme, ‘Geosmart Planet, Resources, Infrastructure and You’, was the focal point of attention among speakers as the Geospatial World Forum 2014 opened to an enthusiastic audience on May 06, 2014.

Giving the inaugural talk, Jean Philippe Amstein, Director, Swisstopo, Switzerland, the co-organisers of the Forum along with Geospatial Media & Communications, said geospatial data and information have become integral to our everyday functioning now. As professionals, we need to make this information more accessible and simple so that they can be widely used in the world of political and economic world for developmental activities. Switzerland is at the forefront of any new development and Swiss cartographers have been best in the world; a case in point —the mapping of the highest point in the world, Mt Everest. Swisstopo had mapped Mt Everest at 1:50,000 scale as far back as 1991.

Drawing on the importance of Geneva as a city of conventions on any new development, whether in terms of politics, economics or science, Ueli Maurer, Member of the Swiss Federal Council, Head of the Department of Defence Civil Protection and Sports, said it is apt that the Geospatial World Forum has travelled to Geneva with such an innovative theme. Underlining the importance of geospatial information and technology in decision making, Maurer said, “I am told 80% of government decisions are based on geo information. I quite believe it when I look at the working of my department.” The minister also called upon the use of developments and innovations in the geospatial world in a positive ways by increasing efficiency in workflows, and working towards economic growth, sustainable development and social inclusiveness.

Geospatial World Forum 2014 opened to an enthusiastic audience on May 06, 2014.

Barbara Ryan, Director, Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat, opened her presentation with a question: “The planet is quite smart [to survive] but are we?” Drawing up on some of the pressing problems of global warming and climate change, sustainability issues, increasing natural disasters, impending food and water crisis, Ryan said the planet will be there even after we disappear. “We as human beings have to make use of all available technology to ensure that we remain part of this existence.” In the process, Ryan also highlighted the many uses of earth observation data and GEO’s role in unleashing its potential. She also said to seamlessly incorporate geospatial data in government and developmental activities involvement of the private sector is essential.

Earlier, declaring the conference open, Sanjay Kumar, CEO, Geospatial Media & Communications, gave a rundown of the geospatial industry from its evolution to ecosystem, while listing out the trends in the industry and in which direction it is heading. HE said that the industry is moving towards solutions, and data is driving these solutions. He noted that in the process, the industry is witnessing a lot of acquisitions and consolidation. Another interesting trend highlighted by Kumar was how mainstream IT and engineering firms like IBM, Oracle, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, GE have in the last few years acquired companies with geospatial component. “This is not because they want to serve the geospatial industry but because they have discovered that the geospatial component helps them deliver their solutions better,” he said.

Kumar also pointed out that geospatial industry is growing at an astonishing rate and according to a recent estimate by JP Morgan, the professional market is worth $100 billion while a study by Boston Consulting in 2013 had put the consumer market at $250 billion.

The five-day Geospatial World Forum, which technically started on May 5 with preconference sessions, is expected to be attended by a wide variety of delegates cutting across geospatial companies, user industries, minister-level government representatives and senior academia.

Source: Our Correspondent