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Report from the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) GeoCommunity '11 conference in Nottingham, UK

So you know what GIS (Geographic Information System) and CAD (Computer Aided Design) stand for, what about BIM? It was new to me. Building information modelling is defined as the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle. The Building Information Models encompass building geometry and quantities and properties of building components. Pieces can carry attributes for selecting and ordering them automatically, providing cost estimates and well as material tracking and ordering (Wikipedia 2011).

If you are into mapping emergencies, you will be interested to know that the Canadians have developed a national approach to Emergency Management Symbology (EMS)*.

The EMS is designed to be used by individual and multi-agency emergency mapping applications to facilitate interoperability and situational awareness.

Successful emergency response often starts with a map. The question of “where” is fundamental to instigating an effective response to an incident, the deployment of resources, the assessment of risks and the safety of the community. The symbols used to represent the location and type of incident or resources are critical to communication. The more recognizable the symbol, the faster its interpretation and the ability to make decisions based on it.  Critically, there may be dire consequences if symbols are misinterpreted.

Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, was the site for the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS http://bit.ly/10FIw6) annual conference for 2011. Madison is home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, home of some of the great cartographers and geographers of the 20th century http://bit.ly/8Y3Szd , such as Arthur Robinson and Yi-Fu Tuan http://bit.ly/92NX3u. One of the great experiences of the conference was the closing address at the banquet by Yi-Fu Tuan "On the Relationship Between Cartography and Humanism". His talk covered topics as diverse as representations of cities on medieval maps and landscapes in Chinese art, to our sense of place when one feels homesick.

How does design makes a difference?

The NACIS (North American Cartographic Information Society) conference 2011 is being held in Madison, Wisconsin, a beautiful city situated between lakes Mendota and Monona. The first day of the conference kicked off with a Practical Cartography Day, which consisted of 13 speakers presenting short presentations about matters as diverse as working with LIDAR to thematic cartography using Javascript.

Recently Spatial Vision's Application Services Division have been busy developing ICE (Integrated Catch & Effort) system for Fisheries Victoria. A large part of the ICE application revolves around operators entering data from paper forms which record the fish caught by each commercial fisher on a trip. This enables Fisheries Victoria to monitor fish stocks. Getting the data entry part of the application right was absolutely essential. Even small insufficiencies would add up, leading to hours wasted and endless frustration.

When the signs on the freeway and at train stations are directing you to a conference, then it must be big, and Intergeo certainly is. Intergeo is billed as the world’s biggest trade fair for geodesy, geoinformation and land management and is the premier geospatial conference for Germany. There were over 500 exhibitors at the trade show with over 17,500 visitors. Now that’s big. In addition, 1,500 people attended the conference.

I came to see what 500 exhibitors of geospatial related services and technologies would look like and was impressed by the variety of offerings. There were three themes that stood out to me: 3D visualisation, data collection vehicles and open GIS.

When I look at a map of London, I not only see a monopoly board with places like Euston Station, Mayfair, Kings Cross, Marylebone etc; I also see my city, Melbourne in a parallel universe. Here are Camberwell, Kensington, Sydenham and Epping, suburbs of Melbourne. Obviously, there are many parallels in the UK and Australia, no less in the spatial industry.

I am attending the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) GeoCommunity '11 conference in Nottingham. That’s right, place of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood fame. AGI is the UK equivalent of the Survey & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI), and the annual conference is the largest independent GI conference in the UK. GI refers to Geographic Information, however as one speaker pointed today, across the industry there are a range of terms used: Spatial Information, Geospatial, GIS pronounced various ways, and Location intelligence etc. And we wonder why people are confused about our industry...

In 2002, Spatial Vision completed the first GIS Benchmark Survey of Water Authorities in Victoria. Spatial Vision has since followed this up with national surveys in 2006 and 2009. The purpose for the surveys is to enable each authority to benchmark their operational deployment of this technology against their industry counterparts.

Water authorities first started using GIS or spatial information technologies in the early 1980s. However, as evident by Google Earth, the technology has rapidly evolved in recent years and become far more accessible. By 2009, 100% of authorities surveyed operated web-based spatial systems available enterprise-wide, a huge shift from 40% in 2002.

What are Web 2.0, Science 2.0 and Government 2.0 and why do they matter?

The web is firmly embedded in our lives. My teenage kids don’t know, and wouldn’t know life without it. My wife, kids and my mother, who is 80, all have Facebook pages. I can’t imagine how bored my kids would be if the web suddenly reverted back to static html pages, as it was not many years ago. The web has evolved from a place to find information to a place to hang out with friends.

The term Web 2.0 is used to describe a set of cumulative technologies that software developers could use to build applications that enabled everyone to build their own websites, to interact with applications and with each other . For this reason, Web 2.0 is also termed the ‘social network web’. The web is now actively used by every day people to collect and share information.

So what is Web 3.0? I’ve just attended, I should say was ‘engaged’ in the ‘Web 3.0 and the Future of Social Media’ conference in Sydney to find out. Engaged was the most overused word over the two days. However, you can’t escape the fact that ‘social engagement’ is the biggest thing going in the web and is central to its future. As noted by one speaker, the term ‘social media on the web’ is fast becoming redundant as the web is becoming synonymous with ‘social’. Whereas in 2008 mobile phones were the platform of choice for keeping up social interaction by calls and text etc, in 2009, Internet social networks have become the main way for people to connect with each other. (Mark Higginson, The Neilsen Company) 

The name WhereCamp raised more questions than answers when I knew there was going to be one in Madison, following from the NACIS conference. As I discovered a WhereCamp is an 'unconference': a user-generated conference covering topics only relevant to the attendees.

The format went something like this:

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