Latin America Geospatial Forum 2018 – the gap of knowledge is growing in the geospatial world

Although there seems to be more opportunities for the usage of geospatial information than ever before, the gap of knowledge is widening in the geospatial world. There’s quite a difference between managing geospatial data in a middle-income Latin American state/municipality, and implementing a weekly-based workflow on illegal deforestration area identification based on machine learning algorithms in a region of 1.2 million km² in the Brazilian Amazon.

Gispo and Santtu attended to the Latin America Geospatial Forum 2018(LAGF 2018) in the beginning of November 2018 learning a lot about the Latin American geospatial escenario. This conference was attended aprox. by 1000 industry experts from Mexico, the Caribbean region, South and North America, besides the brave Finnish individual found among the attendees :). The local and international industry hold a strong presence during the conference and had an ongoing exhibition parallel to the presentation sessions.

The conference was titled as “Geospatial information: making a difference for millions”. This certainly is true for the widening customer base in the field. The example referenced above reflects to a customer case from Planet: together with the Brazilian officials, they identify illegal deforestration practices from satellite imagery in the huge state of Para, Brazil (equal to the area of half Mexico). These innovative new geospatial solutions are widening the use of geospatial data, but the knowledge gap is widening among the experts.

Geospatial technologies keep un upgrading as ever before.

To keep up with the technological advances organizations need to grow and widen the overall “geospatial literacy” through the different departments and thus enable new geospatial solutions to arise from the untraditional geospatial knowledge areas. And so must the actual geospatial experts enhance their geospatial knowledge and software know-how, sometimes by unlearning the old and levelling-up with the new technological trends.

These ideas were also in the core of the presentation Santtu did in representation of Gispo Ltd.: on the geospatial capacity empowering the Smart cities, giving some concrete examples from the geospatial solutions applied in the Finnish cities of Helsinki and Tampere. As the main point, the presentation invited the attendees to ponder what is the main component in the geospatial capacity of the Smart cities, is it 1) hardware, 2) software or is it 3) human capital?

Santtu’s presentation from the event, titled in English as “Geospatial capacity behind the Smart Cities”.

As committed smart cities have certainly understood, the success lies in the experts. The knowledge, that these geospatial experts, geospatial database admins and geodata scientists hold, is actually the difference these cities can make from the geospatial standing point.

And as a final thought, open source geospatial solutions have legimitized their position among the visitors of Latin America Geospatial Forum. There’s no stepping down anymore: open source geospatial software fuels completely or partially the majority of the geospatial solutions seen in the presentations made during the LAGF-community.

Santtu Pyykkönen

Santtu Pyykkönen is MSA who is interested in GIS (and all it's glory), open source software and open communities and urban development. Freetime activities constist of running and reading.