News in 2016

FIG President Chryssy Potsiou participated to the GIM International Summit

10-12 February 2016, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The first GIM International Summit – took place on 10-12 February 2016 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It was a very successful initiative of GIM International to bring together important speakers from inside and outside the geomatics community to address the topic of global challenges (such as evidence-based policies for poverty reduction, climate change, water scarcity, fit for purpose planning and experience sharing among developed and developing regions), as well as to link all participants together into four interactive workshops on urban planning, social justice, food security & agriculture, and infrastructure for geo-IT, and challenge them to think beyond their own field of professional activities, link geospatial technologies and expertise to contribute to fit for purpose solutions on aspects like climate change, migration, water & energy and property rights. Social events included a boat trip on Amsterdam’s canals and a delegate dinner. FIG President Chryssy Potsiou as well as Vice President Diane Dumashie participate to the GIM International Summit and contributed to the discussions.

FIG President Potsiou participating in one of the round table discussions at the GIM Summit, Photo courtecy of GIM Magazine

Among the most interesting speeches was the one of Prof Morten Jerven, Associate Professor in Global Change and International Relations International Environment and Development Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in Oslo, Norway. Morten Jerven is the author of the very interesting book: Poor Numbers. In his speech: Africa by numbers, Knowledge and Governance, he emphasized the importance of the availability and reliability of official statistics and metrics mainly for monitoring GDP and developing knowledge about a country’s economic growth, the success or failure of the applied governmental policies, and the country’s need for support.
Morten Jerven presented examples of poor official statistical data in various countries of the Africa region (mainly due to the existence of a large informal sector that causes gaps in data capturing and to inefficiency in frequent data updating) derived from his current research. Due to those difficulties, the missing data are usually filled-in by almost non-professional “gap-filling methods” by the local administrators in Africa region, or are “manipulated” for political reasons; in several cases official data delivered within a time-period of two successive days may differ significantly. When recycled by the international agencies (e.g., the World Bank) and used to develop the various country ranking lists, such data do create great confusion. Morten’s clear message is that in such cases, international experts in their effort to develop “evidence-based policy” they actually end up using “policy-based evidence”.
To avoid this, his advice to the stakeholders is that before using any official statistical data to estimate a country’s GDP change over time more information should be investigated, such as some kind of meta data (e.g., who did the observation, when, and by what method, etc); in many cases the accuracy in data recording may not be as critically important as are the inconsistent and non-professional “gap filling methods” used.
Finally, Morten Jerven also commented on the MDGs and the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals with the numerous indicators that the statistical offices in the various countries are expected to record, and noted that the existing practical difficulties in such recording simply make the whole task look totally unsustainable…
Among the many other interesting speakers who participated to the summit were Daniel Steudler, scientific associate from the Swiss Federal Office of Topography, who identified various current trends in technology such as the Internet of Things, crowdsourcing, augmented reality and social media; Ed Parsons from Google who demonstrated that by engaging end users in the mapping procedure using their smartphones we may create personalized maps; James Kavanagh from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) who presented examples and challenges of adopting BIM in the geospatial industry; and Steven Ramage who explained the concept of what3words, a new addressing tool that facilitates addresses for over four billion people who do not currently have an address, by pre-allocating three common words to each grid of 3 by 3 metres on Earth.

Chryssy Potsiou,
27 June 2016