News in 2015

Report from FIG Working Week, Sofia, Bulgaria, May 2015

FIG Working Week 2015 was held 17-21 May 2015 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Working Week took place in the National Palace of Culture - the very same place as the FIG Permanent Committee Meeting in 1983, however at that time under very different conditions. For some participants the venue was a reunion – however much had changed since then both in Bulgaria and in FIG. Professor and FIG Honorary Member Georgi Milev, Bulgarian Union of Surveyors, was main organiser in 1983, and as a faithful FIG participant, he was also attending this years Working Week. At the Opening Ceremony FIG President recognised his presence, and Georgi Milev reminded the President that actually Sofia also hosted the 1964 Permanent Committee Meeting.

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Bulgarian dancers at the opening ceremony
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The facade of the National Palace of Culture

The Local organisers of the FIG Working Week 2015 were the Bulgarian Chamber of Surveyors who had done their utmost to create the conditions for a successful Working Week. The Working Week attracted around 900 participants from 70 countries, and altogether more than 320 papers were presented in 3 Plenary Sessions, 67 Technical Sessions, 5 Joint UN-Habitat/GLTN-FIG sessions, and a one day joint UN-Habitat/GLTN-FIG Workshops. Again this year the largest group of participants came from Nigeria - thank you for this continuous support to FIG.

Opening Ceremony

The President opened the Working Week 2015 with the traditional FIG Fanfare and commented that the very first time the FIG Fanfare was played was in the exact same place in 1983. Now 32 years later FIG proved to be as vivid as ever. At the Opening Ceremony President Potsiou introduced the FIG Work Plan in detail. She elaborated over the FIG Theme for the term 2015-18: Ensuring the Rapid Response to Change, Ensuring the Surveyor of Tomorrow. Mr. Angel Krumov Yanakiev, President of the Chamber of Graduated Surveyors, Bulgaria welcomed all participants to Sofia, Bulgaria, whereafter Ms. Lilyana Pavlova, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works was scheduled to give her opening address. Her Deputy Minister Mr. Nikolay Nankov, was present because the Minister had got a last minute commitment. They had however organised a video in which Ms. Lilyana Pavlova gave her opening address to the Working Week. Further speakers were Ms. Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Sofia Municipality, Mr. Svetoslav Nakov, Director of the Agency of Geod esy Cartography and Cadastre, and finally Co-Congress Director Zlatan Zlatanov who also welcomed all the participants to Sofia and to the FIG Working Week.

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Plenary sessions

During the Working Week one plenary session was organised each morning. The plenary sessions were built over the overall focus of FIG Council for the term and focused on the Surveyors’ Response to Changing the City Management, to Pro-Growth Land Management and to Global and Regional Professional and Institutional Reforms.  Among the speakers were Prof. em. Dr. Armin Gruen, Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich who spoke about the next generation of SMART cities and the role of geomatics. A series of new tools is available for documentation, analysis and dissemination of environment. A multi-sensor, multi-resolution approach helps in getting results of better quality, completeness and higher level of automation, and new concepts for 3D mapping/modelling are required – this is about crowd-sourcing, Big Data, data mining, cloud computing. 2015-2016 is the International Map Year, and Georg Gardner, President of ICA, talked about the importance of maps now and in the future hereunder with the use of 3D and 4D. It is necessary to promote Information Advocacy and Awareness from a data-centric ‘provider’ focus to a knowledge enabled ‘user’ focus and to find a future direction of data creation, maintenance and management as well as the use of big data. Trends in technology include that sensors will be pervasive, data increasingly interconnected and there will be emerging relevance of providing relevant data.

Daniel Roberge World Bank, talked about driving forces shaping the land agenda are growing prosperity, urbanization, food production, rising demand for land and climate change. Accurate location of land, people and resources is needed. This requires transparent and inclusive institutions. Cadastral infrastructure is essential to deal with these challenges. Dr. Clarissa Agustinus, Global Land Tool Network, UN-Habitat, highlighted the need for land administration reform for pro growth land management and Dr. Ionut Savoiu, Member of Parliament in Romania talked about the challenging role of surveyors in the land management issues related to growing economies. Land consolidation was one of the key issues.

Bengt Kjellson focused on Global Geospatial Information Management from a global and a regional perspective and the importance that UN-GGIM has decided to form regional bodies. UN-GGIM is a global initiative and the role of UN-GGIM is to make accurate, reliable and authoritative geospatial information readily available to support national, regional and global development. It is however also important to be able to act on a regional level and the aim of UN-GGIM-Europe is to identify European issues relevant to geospatial information management and recommend necessary actions on them and to ensure that the national mapping and cadastral authorities and national statistical institutes in the European UN Member States, the European Institutions and associated bodies work together to contribute to the more effective management and availability of geospatial information in Europe, and its integration with other information, based on user needs and requirements.

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Plenary session 1 - Armin Gruen, FIG Vice President Rudolf Staiger chaired the meeting, Valentina Bakalova andGeorg Gartner
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Plenary session 2 - Far left chair of the session FIG Vice President Pengfei Cheng, FIG President Chryssy Potsiou, Daniel Roberge, Clarissa Augustinus and Ionut Savoiu
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Plenary Session 3 - Chair of the session Vice President Diane Dumashie, Bengt Kjellson, Maurice Barbieri and Todor Kostadinov

Clarissa Augustinus, UN-Habitat is honored by FIG President Chryssy Potsiou for her long term and outstanding work in cooperation with FIG
FIG Honorary Ambassador

At the second plenary session Clarissa Augustinus was scheduled to talk about the work of the Global Land Tool Network, but before her speech, FIG President Potsiou took the scene and announced that FIG and FIG Council wanted to honour Clarissa Augustinus for her work and cooperation with FIG throughout many years.  Clarissa Augustinus is founder and Lead on the Global Land Tool Network and has worked closely with FIG through her position in UN-Habitat and since the establishment of the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN). The FIG Council acknowledged the longstanding cooperation with her that has lasted throughout many councils and FIG presidents, and President Potsiou presented Clarissa Augustinus with a framed certificate with the appreciation as “FIG Honorary Ambassador”. This is the first time this honour is given. Clarissa Augustinus is in June 2015 standing down from UN-HABITAT.

Highlights

The colleagues of the chamber of Graduated Surveyors in Bulgaria together with the FIG Council, ten FIG Commission and the FIG Office organised an attractive programme with around 320 presentations throughout the three conference days.

Under the theme “From Wisdom of the Ages to Challenges of the Modern World” the latest innovations and developments were discussed. The Working Week took place short time after the dramatic earth quake in Nepal and surrounding countries, which meant that the impact of an earth quake got very visible and meant that the challenges for surveyors of the measurement of our planet were in focus. Insitu scanners achieve a greater precision. Vertical and horizontal reference frames develop to a global level as foundation for global data infrastructures. At local level the crowdsourcing and public involvement is subject of debate: what is the role of the professional in the future when easy to use and hand held measurement devices will be more and more available? In any case participation will increase and will support substantially in the development of land administration world wide – including the marine environment. 3D Modelling for cadastre is under development. Ethics in relation to our profession is also under continuous attention.

Proceedings are available at: http://www.fig.net/resources/proceedings/fig_proceedings/fig2015/techprog.htm

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Participants at a session
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Some sessions grew out of their rooms...
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Young Surveyors working on Mapping for Nepal" on their computers
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Co-Conference Director Zlatan Zlatanov
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The Director General Forum for FIG Affiliate members chose to sit in a cirle in stead of the traditional seating
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Special exhbition on maps to celebrate the Year of Maps 2015-16
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President Potsiou and  Dr. Wang Qian, Deputy Secretary General, Chinese Society for Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation signing the MoU
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From left Louise Friis-Hansen, FIG Manager,  Dr. Wang Qian, Deputy Secretary General, Chinese Society for Surveying,, FIG President Chryssy Potsiou and FIG Vice President Pengfei Cheng who is the initiator.
Memorandum of Understanding

During the FIG Working Week FIG President Potsiou signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Society for Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation (GSSMG). GSSMG has offered a special support to FIG and especially FIG Office with a three year exchange programme where Chinese surveyors will be working in the FIG Office for half a year at a time.

Mapping for Nepal

The FIG Young Surveyors Network organised a ‘Mapping response - contributions for Nepal’. Participants joined with their laptops to the already established Open Street Map (OSM) initiative to map for Nepal. The Young Surveyors organised hand on sessions on the Social Tenure Domain Model – this software has been used already in disaster environment during the Ebola crises. Disaster recovery is one of the key areas of attention within FIG.

Bitcoins

The Young Surveyors seem to look at the developments on crowdsourcing with a somewhat different and more natural attitude than older colleagues. The Network organised its own event and some nice workshops during the Working Week. There was a debate on the use of blockchains (bitcoin technology) for land administration: a complete transparent approach where everyone can see all transactions. Just after the Working Week in Sofia the cadastre from Honduras announced the use of this technology as the first country.

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At the opening Ceremony at FIG Young Surveyors European Meeting
3rd FIG Young Surveyors European Meeting 16 May 2015

The Young Surveyors Meeting was held at the University of Architecture, department of Civil Engineering and Geodesy. FIG President Chryssy Potsiou attended the opening and welcomed everyone to Sofia and to the Working Week. She stated that it was important for FIG that there are active young surveyors to bring FIG further. After the opening President Potsiou had very good talks with several of the participants. FIG Vice Presidents Pengfei Cheng and Rudolf Staiger also attended the opening of the meeting. The Young Surveyors had put together a very interesting programme where among other things the question was raised: How do you see our profession in 10 years from now?
Report from the Young Surveyors Meeting

Commission meetings

The 10 FIG commissions as well as the networks, permanent institutions and task forces have worked intensely to create the technical programme of the Working Week. Without the work of all these active people FIG would be nothing. To inform about their work and to inspire participants to get more active in the work of the commissions, the 10 FIG Commissions held a one-hour meeting during the Working Week for all interested to discuss the development of the commission and the work that is going on. Hereto all commissions had organised to meet informally for a commission dinner in the evening of 19 May. These dinners were quite well visited and the atmosphere was in top.

Exhibition

The exhibition attracted many participants of the Working Week. Instruments were tried out, there were discussions with vendors, and there was a lively exchange both in the coffee and lunch breaks that took place in the exhibition area and also more in-depth talks during the sessions. A big thanks to the two Platinum Sponsors, ESRI and Trimble, the Silver Sponsor Leica, GEOCAD-93 as Primary Local Sponsor and to all the exhibitors. Gold Media partners were GIM International, GeoConnexion and Geomedia Bulgaria and Silver Media partner was Maney Publishing.

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FIG Foundation

FIG Foundation had sponsored the participation of 11 Young Surveyors to participate in both the 3rd European Young Surveyors Meeting and the Working Week. The eleven Young Surveyors came from Albania, Denmark, Greece (2), Malaysia (2), Moldova, Nigeria, Serbia (2) and Uruguay. The lucky winners of the grants were found via a selection process carried through by Young Surveyors and the Foundation from the 91 received applications. For the selected Young Surveyors it was a great opportunity to attend the Working Week and to get to know more about the international work that is going on as well as getting inspiration and a very good international network.

Social events

The Bulgarian organisers had done a great job to make sure that the Working Week was memorable for all participants and also managed to showcase the best of Sofia/Bulgaria. The Welcome Reception on 17 May in the evening took place in the National Museum of History, which is a very spectacular and large place – a former governmental residence. Currently it stores and owns over 650,000 objects connected to archaeology, fine arts, history and ethnography. As the same time as meeting fellow participants, it was possible to walk around in this extraordinary building and see the exhibition, and in this way learn more about the impressive 1300 year history of Bulgaria. The Quartet “Strings” entertained during the evening on spectacular string instruments.

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At the Welcome Reception
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Listeners to the music

On Monday 18 May the day ended with the Bulgarian evening which is also FIG Foundation Dinner. Traditionally Trimble played a big role in the dinner and had donated a sum to the FIG Foundation. The dinner was held at the Vodenitsata restaurant, which was located idyllically in the mountains outside Sofia and was a traditional Bulgarian restaurant. All participants were met with bread and spices at the entrance – a special Bulgarian greeting. The Folklore group “Vodenitsata” entertained during the evening both with dance, music and song. The dinner consisted of traditional Bulgarian dishes hereunder wonderful fresh local vegetables. The following entertainment waited until it was dark enough outside, where NESTINARI waited. This attraction consists of fire dancing - so called “walking on coals with bare feet”. This tradition/dance was born even before Christ as a pagan ritual performed from the ancient Thracians. With the dancing on the coals, they fall in trance, they met the coming summer, glorify the name of the Sun God who carried with him the fire and they asked him to give them health, success and fruitfulness through the year. The superstition is that the fire which burns pursued the ghosts, deceases and misfortune, purifies and absolves the sins of the present people at the ritual and makes them stronger and calmer. The fire dancers carry on their hands over the coals sick people to cure them, children and young people for long living.


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A Bulgarian tradition is to welcome guests with bread and spices
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Tuesday 19 May was reserved for commission dinners and all who were interested in a commission could join. Most dinners were very well visited.

The Gala Dinner on 20 May marked the end of the conference part of the Working Week. Only the Presidents meeting and 2nd General Assembly session with the closing was left for the following day. And the participants partied through the dinner at the Kempinski Hotel Ballroom. There was a high African and Nigerian participation which caused the evening to be even livelier. The Young Surveyors, however, lead the way dancing to the first performer, the singer Georgi Dulgerov. Later in the evening Trio Grande Tenori entertained with a true Tenor programme of both classical and more modern songs for Tenors. The third singer Teddy Katzarova had hardly sung the beginning of the first song when several participants could not resist dancing to the rhythmic music. Shortly after almost all at the dinner danced around the tables and around the surprised singer. Seldom have so many surveyors been so active on a dance floor. After the dinner there was a DJ party for the long lasting participants.

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The young surveyors who received a Foundation grant
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President of Bulgarian Chamber of Surveyors Angel Yanakiev and FIG President Potsiou greeting all guests
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In general the social events were very well organised and showed the very best of the Bulgarian culture.

Conclusion

At the Closing Ceremony FIG President Potsiou said: ‘FIG has a long-term commitment to support the global campaign for security of tenure for all and will endeavour to solve these land issues through partnerships. FIG, as a recognised NGO, will work closely with the global family of UN organisations to support solutions to the 21st century global challenges of climate change, food security, social justice, and urbanisation.’

The ambitions of the new FIG President Potsiou and FIG Council are clear: FIG has a long-term commitment to the global agenda. The Working Week in Sofia, Bulgaria, was her first and successful performance to the FIG community. She underlined that FIG will work with its Member Associations to support the implementation of UN FAO’s ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security’ and UN Habitat’s ‘Continuum of Land Rights’ at the country level. FIG will work with UN-GGIM in its mandate to include Land Administration activities into the domain of global information management.

Scalability of security of tenure solutions will involve the use of a network of grass root surveyors from the communities. FIG will embrace and manage the change to encourage the use of innovative, scalable approaches to recording and securing land rights, including informal and customary rights. This will include Fit-For-Purpose Land Administration and Property Valuation Solutions. Apart from the local level FIG supports the ideas for the development of a new generation of Global Surveyors working at the local level. Global Surveyors are aware of the global issues and contribute solutions to the global agenda. Global Surveyors should be able to identify, initiate and foster research and develop a clear professional and scientific vision.

A big thanks to first of all the local organisers who had worked hard on the success of the Working Week and to the company Company for International Congresses Ltd. for their comptent assistance both before and during the Working Week.

The Working Week was supported by platinum sponsors Esri and Trimble and silver sponsor Leica.

More information:

Finally - thanks to all the participants to took the long trip to Sofia Bulgaria, a very special thanks to the Local organisers, and see you in:


Christchurch New Zealand, 2-6 May 2016
www.fig.net/fig2016

Helsinki Finland, 29 May - 2 June 2017
www.fig.net/fig2017

Istanbul, Turkey 6-11 May 2018

Hanoi, Vietnam 2019

 

Louise Friis-Hansen
17 June 2016


©2017 FIG