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GWF_logoThe Geospatial World Forum took place this past week in Amsterdam, drawing an international crowd of more than 1,000 geospatial technology leaders from 78 countries. This is the fourth event in a series, and the first time the event has taken place outside of India. The European location served well to elevate the participation and the program, with a high degree of sessions aimed at cutting-edge policy and technology frontiers, including the sustainable development of the developing world. The conference drew CEO-level participation from many geospatial organizations, representation from mapping agencies worldwide, and top-level participation from the Indian government, including an integral role for India’s 11th president, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

The Geospatial World Forum took place this past week in Amsterdam, drawing an international crowd of more than 1,000 geospatial technology leaders from 78 countries. This is the fourth event in a series, and the first time the event has taken place outside of India. The European location served well to elevate the participation and the program, with a high degree of sessions aimed at sustainable development in the developing world. The conference drew CEO-level participation from many geospatial organizations, representation from mapping agencies worldwide, and top-level participation from the Indian government, including an integral role for India’s 11th president, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

The theme for this year’s event was Geospatial Industry and World Economy, with tracks that addressed the growing role of geospatial technology for intelligent infrastructure and economic development, the benefits of spatial data infrastructure for more efficient government, and the need for tools that help us track global change. Focus areas included energy, water, defence & intelligence, mining & exploration, construction & infrastructure, surveying & mapping, and business enterprise. There were also technical sessions to address earth observation, mobile computing, 3d modeling, real-time geoinformatics, 5D modeling, and cloud computing.

Key vendors were also given spotlight sessions that allowed them to frame their visions for the future. Notable among these sessions was a session where Trimble framed their plans with the Gatewing purchase, and outlined the role of unmanned aerial sensors (UAS) for the industry as a whole; a presentation by Hexagon on the benefits for an enterprise plan with smart web editing of data; Autodesk on Building Information Modeling and its role for better planning and designing; and TomTom on their Location-Based Services platform and the benefit of up-to-date data.

The event’s central European location, and presentation at the RAI exhibition and convention centre, gave a nice  send-off for this global content. The event benefited from affiliation with a number of strategic institutional partners including Eurogeographics, ISPRS, OSGeo, the Open Geospatial Consortrium and the International Cartographic Association. The high level of government support from the Indian government was illustrated by the participation and presentation from India’s past president, who demonstrated a strong understanding of the benefits and challenges of the geospatial technology sector.

participation. The level of support is manifest by the participation and evangelism of Kapil Sibal, minister for Communications and Information Technologies, Earth Sciences, and Human Resource Development, with a past stint as minister of Science & Technology. Sibal said that it’s an accident of history that he is the minister of all three organizations, and here at the event, because geospatial technology drives convergence of all three areas that he administers and is very important for further development of the country.

This year’s event was preceded by a focused international gathering of mapmaking agencies, and earth observation practitioners. There were also discussions of data sharing and interoperability for global spatial data infrastructure efforts. The coming together of international spatial data leaders for this meeting has helped it to legitimately earn its name, as it offers an unprecedented opportunity for globall discussions across a broad range of technologies and applications.

Kalam put the role of geospatial technology in good perspective during his address, lamenting that there are still too many barriers for the benefits of this technology to reach all citizens. He called for the creation of a World Geospatial Knowledge Platform with core geospatial technologies to improve the lives of multiple nations. The elevation of this agenda is perhaps within reach as we all listened to several presentations from United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) secretariat. The thread throughout such presentations was the unprecedented rate of global change, and our need to get a good handle on this change to impact lives, economies, and our planet.

Blog Posts from the Event:

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