There was a lot to do first thing on Tuesday at URISA’s opening session.
- Get an overview from Rob Bishoff, SSI Commissioner from Australia, on how the many geospatial organizations from that country are now united
Key ideas: it’s working well, but Australia needs to raise the number of women in geospatial and encourage young surveyors (avg age for current surveyors ~56)
- Name Hall of Fame inductees: Micheal Goodchild, Don Cooke
Goodchild: Things are changing quickly in GIS with new offerings from Google, et al, “volunteered information” (user generated content) is one of the next big things, GIS is coming out of academia into the real world
Cooke: The strength of URISA is in its people. Forty years ago it was the only place to talk about what would become GIS.
- Announce Horwood Award to Nancy Von Meyer
Key ideas: If you can do something and you don’t, you are an impediment - you get in the way. If you can lead and don’t you are an obstacle - you prevent forward motion.
- Keynote from staff and young people from Hopeworks ‘n Camden (New Jersey) - a program that empowers youth through technology (you may have seen them at ESRI and elsewhere)
Key ideas: This program is about empowering youth, not about GIS. (GIS was introduced because a neighboring organization, a land trust had a GIS intern some years ago. He introduced the program to GIS and it took off!), the young people have dreams but not geographic dreams: they want to be veteranarians, restaurant owners, not geogeeks. Said the founder, Father John: “I’d rather have your business than a contribution.”
- Develop key topics for stakeholders meeting later in the week
Key ideas thrown out:
- document recovery costs, selling data
- building regional data repositories before emergencies
- getting politicians to appreciate non-tangible results of GIS implementations
- getting senior leadership to recognize importance of GIS
- bad addressing data
- why data sharing/licensing is so hard
- GIS as a profession - what is it?
Ideally attendees will look for input on these ideas and share them in a final session on Thursday. This is an experiment.
The Hopeworks presentation was certainly inspirational (and I’ve heard about this program before). What struck me from the presentation was that this really is NOT about GIS. Sure, GIS and Web design are what the program rallies around (and it provides paying jobs for many of the youth) but it’s really about getting youth ready for what’s ahead, be it college or something else. They are learning responsibility, goal setting and enhancing some skills such as reading and writing, along with learning and doing Web and GIS work. It’s great and I do not want to diminish the concept. I will note however a similar program in Boston, Bikes Not Bombs, that does many of the same things around building and fixing bikes. There are many different ways to help youth grow into successful adults.
The set of ideas thrown out (alas in limited time as we started late) were requested to be “difficult problems we all share.” They were “voted on” informally to confirm their importance to the assembled (some 200 people, I’m guessing). I noted some topics that I thought would pop up which did not: cost of software, Google/Yahoo/Microsoft/Ask, education.
[Disclosure: URISA covered my lodging for this event.]