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Towards a GeoSmart Planet

Geneva, the worldwide centre for diplomacy, formed the perfect backdrop for Geospatial World Forum 2014 which saw over a thousand participants from 78 countries, 35 partners and six ministerial level participations over five days.

The five days of knowledge intake and experience-rich discussions at the Geospatial World Forum 2014 not only made an impact at the venue but the social media too was abuzz with tweets and status shares; “UN-style convention”, “engaging discussion”, “enriching” being few of the adjectives used by delegates to describe their experience. The latest edition of the Forum, which had the theme, ‘Geosmart Planet, Resources, Infrastructure and You’, was hosted by Geospatial Media & Communications at Geneva, Switzerland recently. In addition, 48 exhibitors from 16 countries highlighted their brand prowess at a co-located exhibition.

While delegates and speakers equivocally agreed that geospatial technology is ubiquitous, they also stressed that there is still a waning gap between the demand and supply of geospatial technologies across the world which needs to be addressed effectively.

Amar Hanspal

Juergen Dold

Jay Freeland

Barbara Ryan
Group on Earth Observations

Chris Cappelli


Setting the tone for the conference, Bryn Fosburgh, Vice President, Trimble during his inaugural address said converging forces had placed geospatial information at the centre of an evolving ecosystem. He also noted that the declining cost of geospatial technology was opening up new uses for high-accuracy geospatial data. Dorine Burmanje, Chairman Executive Board, Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency, The Netherlands, echoed similar views and added that new geospatial technologies require strong partnerships between the golden triangle — government, private sector and academia, and all three must come forward to make this a success.

Juergen Dold, President, Hexagon Geosystems, informed that geospatial technology had evolved into an engine for smart enterprises, driving productivity in decision-making processes by integrating solutions from data capture to creating information. Barbara Ryan, Director, Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Secretariat, Switzerland, underlined the use of earth observation data for global benefits while calling for a connect with the private industry, including geospatial and mainstream businesses. Making a powerful statement on the issue of sustainable development, Ryan said the earth will survive without human beings, but is the opposite true? Explaining how geospatial data could integrate into the future of infrastructure, Amar Hanspal, Senior Vice President — Information Modelling & Platform Group of Autodesk, said humanity was living in interesting yet challenging times and technology was part of the problem itself, because projects were massive and there was a huge backlog of refurbishment of existing infrastructure in developed countries and construction of new infrastructure in developing countries.




(L-R) Sally Fegan-Wyles, Assistant Secretary General, United Nations and Director-UNITAR; Karam Hasanov, State Committee on Property Issues, Azerbaijan; Alhaji A.B. Inusah Fuseini, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Ghana; Prashant Shukle, Director General, Canada Centre for Mapping; Dr. Shailash Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Science, India; Dato Sri James Dawos Mamit, Dy. Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources, Malaysia; and Dr. Abu Twalib Kasenally, Minister of Housing and Lands, Mauritius; and representative of the Commissioner of Establishment, Training and Pensions, Lagos State Government, Nigeria.

While, Michael T. Jones, Chief Technology Advocate, Google, said maps were just pictures and they must come alive to communicate with people, Steven Hagan, Vice President Development for Server Technologies, Oracle, made a strong pitch for Internet of Things and Cloud technologies by saying that they help governments to check the pulse of things, and ensure transparency and inclusiveness. FARO President and CEO, Jay Freeland, pointed out that everything in the world had three dimensions and the need to capture and visualise the same was growing by leaps and bounds. Several other sessions dotted the forum specifically focused on various industry verticals such as land, agriculture, building and construction, infrastructure development, energy, urban planning, governance, among others, and tried to connect geospatial stakeholders with the industry stakeholders. The session on Land Information System for Smart Cities was spread over two days and was co-organised by the UN Economic Commissions for Europe (UNECE).

The conference also witnessed a thought-provoking discussion among the ministerial panel on ‘Geospatial Policy for National and Regional Development’. All the speakers deliberated and echoed the view that geospatial technology is an imperative factor in national development. During his presentation, Prashant Shukle, Director General, Canada Centre for Mapping, said geospatial data should be treated as a natural resource and global currency, and that its true value could be realised only by its liberation and use.

In another session, giving an overview of the ambitious Copernicus programme, Dr. Reinhard Schulte-Braucks, Head of Unit, Copernicus Infrastructure, DG Enterprise & Industry, European Commission revealed that the programme has secured a dedicated funding of €4.3-bn for 2014–2020.

Providing a perfect end to the conference, the Geospatial World Awards 2014 honoured impeccable works and minds of the industry by conferring 10 leadership awards, 14 excellence awards, 5 policy awards and 8 innovation awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on Dr. Carl Reed, CTO, OGC.

An award ceremony honouring the best of the industry was held at the forum. To know about the winners click Here.

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