Last week’s sell-out AGI Scotland event once again highlighted the breadth of expertise and interest in the geospatial community in Scotland. Held at the COSLA Conference Centre in Edinburgh, the event focussed on emerging technologies and techniques that deliver savings when capturing, maintaining and analysing spatial data.
Registrations for the event were 70% higher than in 2015, enabled by a larger venue and supported by reduced tickets rates made possible by our Gold Sponsors (SterlingGeo, ThinkWhere, SopraSteria and OS). Due to demand and interest in the programme this year, we managed to increase our initial ticket capacity – the sold-out event offered exceptional networking opportunities.
A strong programme chaired by Abigail Page (EuroGeographics) covered a range of innovative techniques and developments tied to geospatial technologies. This included Remote Sensing, UAVs, Mobile Mapping, Crowd-sourcing, Big Data and Open Data. Four plenary speakers were joined by a range of additional speakers to discuss not only the opportunities for these technologies, but also the application and efficiency savings for organisations. Colin Mair, Chief Executive of the Improvement Service, opened the event by clearly setting out the context for the day. With a widening gap between the demand on services and available funding, it’s no longer possible to continue to deliver using the same approach. Colin outlined the need for transformation – and the role of the audience to ensure they are at the heart of this, using their skills and innovative techniques to have an impact.
This was re-iterated by Diana Murray, Senior Executive at Historic Environment Scotland, in a range of examples demonstrating the impact of the use of geospatial data in the historic environment. In particular, Diana called for the use of partnership working and the need for a clear vision that goes beyond the currently available technologies, to shape the future of the use of geographic information in Scotland. A range of case studies then discussed the opportunities to embed new technologies to deliver cost savings. Jonathan Marshall, Canal and River Trust, demonstrated an innovative Future Opportunity Matrix to assess the benefits of these new technologies. Tom Riddleston and Deglan Gibbons, Network Rail, presented on the the positive impact of new opportunities within the rail sector. The use of and drivers for Open Data was discussed by Kate Royse of the British Geological Survey, who highlighted that it’s often a crisis (such as Foot and Mouth) that can influence behaviours such as making data available.
In a parallel session, the emergence of satellite and GPS technologies were featured. Douglas Gilmour, TomTom, showcased impact on navigation and an increasing move to the reliance on sensors. Sam Campbell, SterlingGeo, spoke about The Space for Smarter Government Programme (SSGP) and opportunities for the use of cloud based applications. Bringing the session to an end, Ian Woodhouse, The University of Edinburgh, presented a fascinating explanation of recent innovations in airbourne Lidar.
A post lunchtime series of Lightning talks saw a change of pace, as speakers covered a range of topics from UAVs, aerial surveys, crowd sourcing and how to get involved with the AGI Early Career Network.
The final sessions of the day took an inspirational look at the possibilities for connecting location information with other emerging innovations. Craig Clarke, founder of Clyde Space – one of the most successful suppliers of small satellites in the word, introduced the audience to cube sat technologies and the possibilities that this opens up as part of a “data driven economy”. Craig presented the increasing use of satellites for earth observation new technology which is improving the capabilities for imaging. As a Scottish company which is leading in the field globally, the story behind Clyde Space was inspiring in highlighting the opportunities for Scottish talent.
Ed Parsons, Geospatial Evangalist for Google, rounded off the day with a demonstration of the embedded location technology that is shaping and supporting everyday experiences for the mass market. The use of the smart phone as the new map in our pocket in addition to being a valuable source of crowd sourced data provided both an insight into large scale applications of technology – which raised a number of questions on the issues this raises.
Throughout the day, presentation from the event Gold Sponsors also provided insight into the event theme – from user experience (Sopra Steria), data management (ThinkWhere) to approaches of data capture (OS), in addition to the presentation provided by SterlingGeo in the main programme. As well as being a packed day of content, with an impressive turn out and level of engagement, the event was also a key opportunity to consider strategic opportunities for AGI Scotland.
AGI Scotland Chair, Bruce Gittings, spoke about recent activities as well as highlighting the desire of the committee to work with the membership in Scotland to continue to lead and support. The AGI Scotland committee will pick up on many of the themes and issues raised at the event throughout our activities in 2016 and welcomes the input from members on these.