Below the El Misti volcano: Applied Geoinformatics for Society and Environment Conference 2010

Dr. A. P. Pradeepkumar, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, India, Representative STUTTGART Active Alumni Group (SAAG),
Prof. Dr. F.-J. Behr, Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences, Germany,

AGSE 2010 Group Photo
AGSE 2010 Group Photo

The third AGSE2010 (the Third Applied Geoinformatics for Society and Environment Conference 2010) jointly organized by the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences, Germany (SUAS) and the Catholic University of Santa Maria (UCSM) took place between Aug 3 and 6, 2010 at Arequipa, Peru, under the benign gaze of the El Misti volcano. This was the third continent the conference was travelling to in as many years, the first being in the humid tropical environments of Kerala, in southern India, within the continent of Asia; the second in the temperate zone of southern Germany in Stuttgart, in Europe. In a way this could be record, because the fourth conference plans to move to Nairobi, in the continent of Africa. It won’t surprise anyone if an AGSE took place in Antarctica for that matter.
The conference took place under a very bright sun, which perked up the spirits of the participants, some of whom had been on flights for the last 24 hours. Again in keeping with the very international character of the AGSE, nearly 100 participants from India, Germany, Equador, Colombia, Canada, Peru, Chile, Ghana etc took part. A parallel conference took place alongside the AGSE2010, entitled JINIS2010 (Jornada Internacional Ingenieria de Sistemas), with a stress on computer science and engineering, demonstrating the strengths of the University as well as the melding of diverse streams of endeavour on the common platform of scientific information dissemination. The primary theme of the AGSE was ‘to offer an interdisciplinary, international forum for sharing knowledge about the application of geoinformatics with focus on applications and on developing countries’. Additionally this year, the AGSE had a focus on biodiversity too, 2010 being the UN Year of Biodiversity, and Peru being one of the world’s nations with the largest biodiversity.

This year’s AGSE at UCSM in Arequipa was facilitated by an alumnus of the SUAS who was also an UCSM alumnus and native of Arequipa, Cesar Ocampo Lecaros, who coordinated with Cesar Beltran Castanon of the UCSM. AGSE2010 was sponsored primarily by the DAAD, Germany, as well as by the Catholic University of Santa Maria. The conference started off with a welcome address by Prof F-J Behr, the founder of the AGSE conference series, expounding the ideals and philosophy of the conference and its role in ushering in internationalization to the Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences (SUAS). This was followed by welcomes note by dignitaries of the UCSM, Cesar Castillo Caceres (Head of Faculty), Jose Sulla Torres (Director of PPIS) and Cesar Beltran Castanon (Faculty). The conference venue was a state-of-the-art auditorium in University, and the ambience was that of quiet efficiency, with the students very professionally compeering the whole show. The evenings were occasions for showcasing the traditional dance forms of Peru, which in addition brought out the best talents from amongst the students of the University. The delegates appreciated this show of culture amongst a setting of high technological achievements.

AGSE 2010: The Venue
AGSE 2010: The Venue

The conference got off to start with the keynote addresses of A.P.Pradeepkumar from the Mahatma Gandhi University of India on the opportunities for internationalization of education in Latin America and especially Peru followed by Prof Sandoval’s (Chile) keynote on vegetation and land use change in Chile. The presentation in the AGSE2010 brought out the versatility of GIS techniques, with papers ranging from programming in GIS, GIS applications in car pooling, Open Source GIS as the GIS with a future, Crowdsourcing and Citizen as Sensor applications of GIS, REDD and GIS, Lidar and GIS to GIS applications in tackling developmental problems in developing countries like India, El Salvador, Chile, Peru, Colombia etc., and biodiversity monitoring and GIS for pollution control, to name a few.
William A. Llactayo León (Ministerio del Ambiente, Peru) introduced geospatial application in the field of environmental protection with “El Geoservidor del MINAM: GIS en Internet para la Gestion Ambiental y Territorial del Pais”. Environmental issues where also addressed by D. Elsaesser (Germany) with his report about “The ArtWET tool: a georeferenced approach assessing runoff related pesticide pollution in surface waters across Europe”.
Andres Flores (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) gave an overview:about low-cost Airborne Platforms and Remote Sensors for Precision Farming. Raul Yanyachi talked about “Satellite Tracking with LASER” and Arturo Arroyo Ambia about “Cálculo de Profundidad de Socavación para puentes usando ArcGIS, HEC GEOGRASS, HECRAS”.
It was not just all talk and the afternoons gave the delegates an opportunity to catch up with the latest trends in GIS, through participation in a series of half-day hands-on workshops handled by Profs.Behr, Schroeder, Lehmkuehler, Rawiel (all of Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences, Germany) and Adda (Uni of New Brunswick). These workshops are the hallmark of the AGSE.s and are sought after by the delegates, because of their lucid and practical nature. This year’s workshops introduced the eager participants to Internet Mapping, Setting up a WMS server in 45 minutes, ‘R’ for spatial analysis, Open Source GIS especially gvSIG, Process Management, Geostatistics, and OGC standards for disseminating geodata. All presentations in English were translated in real time into Spanish by a SUAS alumnus from Ecuador, Karina Guardado, thus ensuring that none was left out of the vitality of the science that was being discussed. She alongwith Patrick Adda and Detlev Wagner also outlined the alumni experiences as a student of SUAS.
Prof Schroeder’s evaluation of the readiness of Open Source Desktop GIS for use in universities showed that not all such GIS may be ready for the purpose, but one which got high recommendation was gvSIG, and the hands-on workshops on the capabilities of gvSIG and R revealed why it was rated so high. Internet Mapping, OpenStreetMap, Volunteered Geographic Information and Crowd Sourcing are the characteristics of the Web2.0, and its versatility was evident from the presentation by Prof Behr. Daimler and the SUAS has got into a collaboration for developing a car finding and sharing system that makes use of GIS, GPS and some involved programming; such systems, once it can overcome the issues of complicated logistics could serve as a car emissions-reduction model for the developed as well as developing world, opined Prof Paul Rawiel. Results of Euler deconvolution of airborne magnetometer data from the north Peruvian coast presented by Javier Solano Salinas of the National Engineering University at Lima revealed the very effective resolution of subsurface geological structures, which could be of use in archaeology, as well as exploration for resources. Patrick Adda’s evaluation of the LIDAR system was remarkable for its lucidness and care for detail.

Poster sessions were arranged in the sunny courtyard of the auditorium and drew the attention of the delegates as well as that of the students of the UCSM. The sunny days were a great motivator in the AGSE2010 days at Arequipa, and the overall tempo amongst the delegates as well as the students of the UCSM was upbeat and there was a palpable sense of excitement in the air.

Saying “Adiós” was not easy, but as with all good things in life AGSE2010 too came to a close in the fading dusk of 6th August 2010, in a colourful, joyous and overcrowded function, and with the traditional UCSM gift of the Peruvian Pisco being handed out as a gift, and with the good wishes that all could meet again at Nairobi for AGSE2011 and renew the spirit of internationalization and scientific cooperation.

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