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Jeff Thurston — "It has been interesting to watch the reactions to our magazine. There is a
group of folks who need some help to understand where their
technologies slot into the sustainability equation. Yet others have
been awaiting for a good long while for this kind of magazine. A third
group is evolving with emerging technologies and arriving at the
conclusion that basic sustainability issues fit nicely into their
message."

Matt Ball — "Focusing entirely on global change has exposed me to a number of dire
and troubling indicators that point to a profoundly human-altered
planet. It’s also allowed me to see encouraging and hopeful signs that
the issues of sustainability are being taken seriously and that
necessary actions are starting to take root."

This column is sponsored by www.esri.com
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The sustainability message is important. The difficulty
has always been in attempting to articulate the connection of
sustainability to geospatial technologies, spatial and design
concepts  and geography in such a way the value is evident, the
results identifiable and using a clear, common sense approach that
integrates social, economic and environmental factors.

We aim to provide a pathway for people to understand
that they can impact environmental decision making and that the tools
and data we generate are powerful change agents which help both
the experienced and non-experienced understand sustainability issues
better so they can make informed decisions.

The message resonates, I believe, because people sense
something needs to be done about the environments we live in. They see
the problems, experience the changes and want to do something about it.
They care. I’ve learned that people can and will do more if we explain
how the tools work, how they can be applied and describe what to look
for in terms of benefits. As people learn, they will develop new
solutions, ideas and take their energy forward. So – the big message is
that people want to do something, but need help to understand how –
with geospatial tools. This includes governments, institutions,
businesses and individuals.

I would hope that I understand the relationship of design principles
to spatial analysis in ways I did not before. I believe GIS folks can
learn from those involved in the design of infrastructure, not only its
operation. And, I think design professionals would benefit by
learning GIS principles. The goals are more oriented to the scale of
our workflows and their multi-disciplinary nature than we may have
previously anticipated.

A common thread that seems to be recurring, and which
disturbs me, is that we are not generating enough kids and younger
people with a sense of positive outcome that geospatial awareness can
bring. Publishing V1 Magazine has underlined the shortage of trained
and educated minds in our fields while growth rates of 10-20% per year
are often mentioned, suggesting many jobs are available.  I think we
need to figure out how to solve this issue and our magazine needs to
partake in working to help on this front.

It has been interesting to watch the reactions to our
magazine. I think some people have been waiting to see what would
transpire. There is a group of folks who need some help to understand
where their technologies slot into the sustainability equation. Yet
others have been awaiting for a good long while for this kind of
magazine. A third group is evolving with emerging technologies and
arriving at the conclusion that basic sustainability issues fit nicely
into their message.

Our message does not follow the traditional geospatial
media. We have indicated that sustainability and infrastructure are the
primary themes which drive us. If technologies or approaches fall into
the themes, or can be expressed through sustainability, then we engage
them. Our reckoning is that great technologies are designed,
manufactured and distributed – to solve the world’s problems. I’ve
learned our role is to help readers connect how this happens, how they
can make it reality and the issues involved. This is a far different
message than simply saying “here is the technology, you figure it out.”
We seek to engage you to learn, understand, apply and realise
opportunities.

I do have an admission. I find myself wanting to drive
geospatial technologies higher into the decision making levels of
government and business – as a regular way of operating. Maybe I am
impatient in wanting this sooner rather than later.

But, I have learned. There are truckloads of people
doing really great work, excellent product development and working to
make a difference – so why shouldn’t I be impatient to see it all
realised?

 

The impetus for starting V1 Magazine was
to break out of the mold of technology-centric geospatial reporting and
focus on the processes that the tool set enables for the better
stewardship of our planet. The application of geospatial tools for
sustainability is a natural fit, and something that has been ongoing
since the tools were invented. The idea to focus entirely on this space
came about because of the greater awareness of geospatial capabilities,
and the increased urgency for better management of our impacts.

The timing of the Vector1 Media launch was
predicated by a number of personal and professional factors. In
retrospect, we jumped onto the green wave just as mainstream media was
ramping up their green coverage. This serendipitous timing has meant
exposure to a wealth of good stories and ideas that have fed our
reporting. The growing awareness of green technologies has also meant
more projects and applications that have a green geospatial bent.

Focusing entirely on global change has
exposed me to a number of dire and troubling indicators that point to a
profoundly human-altered planet. It’s also provided me with encouraging
and hopeful signs that the issues of global change are being taken
seriously and that necessary actions are taking root.

International Coverage
With editors in both North America and
Europe, we provide unique coverage that aims to give readers a global
best-practices perspective. The exposure to projects and technology
customizations on the global stage has given me a greater appreciation
of the creativity that is unleashed through geospatial applications. No
one country, region or city has a lock on good geospatial practices.
There are interesting applications in all areas of the globe, and the
most impactful implementations are often the result of just a small
team or individual with a good idea and a passion and drive to execute
that idea for the greater good.

Europe is well ahead of North America in
exploring and mandating sustainable approaches. The United States can
learn a great deal by looking closely at the projects and policy that
European countries have undertaken. We should shamelessly adopt any
ideas that offer practical solutions to sustainability issues. We all
share the same planet, and while our cultures have some differences,
there’s an increasing urgency to right the course of our planet’s
natural systems.

The broader global coverage has also made
me aware of growing political will to change our habits and create more
vibrant communities. Our process-centric approach has greatly expanded
my interest in urban planning, transportation and energy, all areas
where geospatial tools can help achieve far greater efficiency. The
importance of better city planning, mass transit with fewer personal
vehicles and renewable energy options all have a geospatial context.
I’m excited by the activity in these areas, and eager to report on
advancements and breakthroughs.

New Media Advantages
The Internet provides a phenomenal
platform for business incubation. With a few good ideas and dedicated
work toward a goal, it’s possible to reach a broad audience in a rather
short time. The low overhead of Internet distribution has meant less
risk, and provides broad reach.

The speed of our news coverage is far
accelerated from the previous monthly distribution that I became used
to. Reporting quickly on topics that affect sustainability and
geospatial practice has probably contributed the most to our exposure.
People want to be the first to know, by providing timely coverage we
can convert the immediate news visitor into an awareness of our
sustainability message.

The function of syndicated content has
greatly expanded the number of reporters, all with different
perspectives. The shift from solely objective reporting to subjective
and inquisitive reporting has helped me to forge stronger opinions and
visions for where I’d like to see the technology expand.

The discipline of daily writing isn’t
difficult when there are tools that provide instant feedback on the
topics that readers find of interest. I’ve enjoyed the dialog with
readers and the ability to see posts spread widely, and when posts miss
the mark it’s good to know the topics that don’t resonate.

Interesting Conversations
I’ve always enjoyed conducting the
one-on-one interview, as both an exercise in fact finding and as a
means to stay in touch with both vendors and users. I’ve gradually
increased these conversations as they have been one of the more
enlightening sources of information on the quest to understand how
geospatial tools are applied to sustainability.

The focus on sustainability through a
spatial lens has led to a great number of interesting conversations.
The discussion of sustainability has far wider appeal to the general
audience than just saying that I report on geospatial technology, which
almost always has to be followed by the descriptor of computer-based
mapping. Cocktail party conversations are so much easier to start with
sustainability as the goal. The message of mapping for efficiency is a
topic that most people can readily relate to.

I feel grateful that in six month’s
time we have been able to build a strong international community of
like-minded and active readers who contribute comments and feedback on
a regular basis. With more than 30,000 unique visitors per month, we’ve
already reached the point that we wanted to be at for the year.

The support of many sponsors have allowed
us to focus most of our efforts on reporting and digging into details.
I’m confident that we’ve struck a chord that will have long-term
viability, and I look forward to reporting interesting ideas in the
geospatial sustainability area for some time to come.

 

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