Attending the RSCy 2018 Conference
Caroline was invited to present her paper on “Innovation in Arabic cartography for the National State of Qatar” at the Sixth International Conference on Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of Environment in Paphos, Cyprus. It was a great opportunity for Caroline to meet academics from all over Europe and discover more about the commercial applications of remote sensing.
Having never been to Cyprus before, Caroline assumed it would be pleasant weather and wasn’t disappointed. After experiencing a snow-bound Cornwall, Caroline was grateful to arrive in Cyprus to blue sky and much warmer climes. The Aliathon Village provided a beautiful setting for the event – planted with palms, lemon and orange groves, marjoram, thyme and bay.
This is the sixth year of the Remote Sensing and Geoinformation of Environment Conference (RSCY) in Cyprus, hosted by the Cyprus Remote Sensing Society. The Remote Sensing Society is a non beneficiary organisation that deals with the science of Remote Sensing and other contiguous issues. The Society is made up of academics across different universities throughout Cyprus, plus the Department of Public Works and Land Surveys.
Over the four day conference there were around 200 attendees, 110 presentations and 42 poster presentations. The over-arching theme of the conference was on supporting good governance by analysing open data satellite imagery, freely available from earth observation organisations such as NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). By keeping an eye on trends in natural resources, weather forecasting, natural disaster predictions, agriculture and sustainable development, this information can be used to support good governance around the world.
Barbara Ryan – Director, GEO Secretariat at The Group on Earth Observations gave a powerful speech about unleashing the power of earth observation and collaborating across borders. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is an intergovernmental organisation working to improve the availability, access and use of earth observations for the benefit of society. GEO works to actively improve and coordinate global EO systems and promote broad, open data sharing. GEO’s global priorities include supporting the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The Value of Open Data
Why should governments release data as open data sets? Barbara made the case beautifully. Remote sensing is so important for the economy, for society, research and development, education and good governance. When governments sell their data the biggest purchaser of those data sets are other governmental departments. By making data open, this not only means usage goes up, but so does societal and economic benefits.
Buying data puts up barriers to not only government agencies being able to access data, but to everyone. Level access to data means better decision-making and better governance at all levels.
As well as emphasising the need to make more data available, Barbara highlighted the challenges ahead. With a migrating population due to Climate Change and population gravitating to the cities, the need to keep up with the amount of open data is essential. Delivery based data sets should be switched to user-centric data sets making it easier to keep up to date with changes in the data and to see trends developing much quicker.
All the earth observation (EO) organisations were keen to not only collect and record the data, but make this as open, current and historic as possible for academics, governments and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage.
Peer to peer review
Caroline learned so much from her peers over the four days, she found it fascinating to listen and discuss topics such as; how rock-falls can be anticipated and therefore save lives; how Artificial Intelligence and GIS are merging to complete complicated data-processing tasks and how soil organic carbon (soc) sample libraries are being built to help scientists analyse their data better from around Europe and the world.
Caroline returned from Cyprus feeling heartened that scientists are taking action on moving humanity forward to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. All of this information is out there ready to be harvested for the common good. ‘Doing Well By Doing Good’ means utilising open data combining it with other national data sets and enabling the end user to make better decisions.
Being able to attend the conference was made possible by the Department for International Trade through the provision of Export for Growth funding. We appreciate their contribution.
If you are looking for maps that promote sustainable development and good governance, we would love to work with you. Contact Kirstin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on +44 (0) 1326 337072.