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Hybrid conference with Kathmandu University in Nepal was a great success

With more than 200 registered participants, AGSE 2021 (Applied Geoinformatics for Society and Environment) took place from November 24-26 as a hybrid conference – with a broadcast studio at HFT Stuttgart as well as streaming from the rooms of the partner university in Nepal. The continuous participation of 40 to 70 participants from (almost) all parts of the world over three days was a huge success.

The alumni conference of the master’s program “Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics” had to overcome special hurdles this year. For a long time it was not certain whether a conference in presence at Kathmandu University in Nepal would be feasible during the Corona pandemic.
The planning and preparations in summer were still based on a presence event, because everyone would have preferred a face-to-face meeting in Kathmandu. With alumni and alumnae coming from all parts of the world, an online-only conference across time zones means a big challenge: for some it’s breakfast time, for others it’s the middle of the workday, after work, and some have to get up extra in the night. But the pandemic situation ultimately forced a switch to a hybrid conference. And that is why the organizers were very pleased that 58 alumni and alumnae from almost all continents of the world were present.
The now 11th AGSE conference was planned and implemented together with the Department of Geomatics Engineering, School of Engineering, Kathmandu University. Numerous international experts, many of them alumni of the study program, attended to listen to the interesting lectures on the topic “Geospatial Technology in Times of Global Challenges” and to exchange ideas in scientific discourse.

Live from the auditorium with Nepalese flair

Thanks to the support of the DAAD, it was also possible to spread a little “Nepalese flair” in the hybrid conference. For the ceremonial opening of the conference, staff, technology and artists were supported. All contributions were streamed live from the large auditorium of Kathmandu University.
The typical “AGSE flair” was also maintained through the contributions. Many speakers from academia, but also from Nepalese ministries, addressed the challenges in the host country Nepal, so that the exchange of knowledge and the discussions could result in an even greater added value for the region and the international participants gained a better understanding of the local conditions.

Focus on food – water – energy

A strong focus was placed on the food-water-energy nexus, which is also of great importance in many other parts of the world. The keynote speakers Janak Raj Joshi (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Land Management, Nepal) reported on current developments on data collection and transfer to the first national land management plan adopted in 2020.
Matthias Ruchser (Coordinator Outreach, Global Crop Diversity Trust) sensitized the audience with his presentation “The Loss of Biodiversity – Climate Change as a Security Risk”. He highlighted the fascinating diversity of crops that his company is actively helping to preserve.
Athina Trakas (Open Geospacial Consortium) invited all participants to share the latest developments in the OGC, to actively participate with their needs and thus to bring the international community even closer together. Prof. Dr. Peter Schmitz (Department of Geography, University of South Africa) showed in his contribution “Food Insecurity, fortunate Index and Income as possible Indicators for Vulnerability” interesting connections and correlations, which were lively discussed.
Prof. Dr. Matthias Möller (University of Bamberg & Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin) offered a review of “Five Decades, almost a half Century of Operational Earth Observation”, which also provided an exciting look into the future. Dr. Jagannath Aryal (Senior Lecturer Infrastructure Engineering, The University of Melbourne) addressed a special area of the use of earth observation data with his lecture “Earth Observation and Digital Twin for SDG: a Future Outlook from Urban Systems” and impressed with numerous examples from the field of “Smart Cities”.

Workshops and networks

The workshops offered were also in great demand. Highlights were the workshop on “Geo-Information Management for the humanitarian/development Nexus: Challenges and Opportunites” by Christine Brönner and the workshops by alumni Hamidreza Ostadabbas, Winhard Tampubolon, and Mohammad Shafi Bajauri on various geo-information systems and data analysis.
During the various lecture sessions, 40 speakers reported on their current projects – be it in the context of research projects or projects from their daily professional practice.
There was also time for private chats. During the breaks, pictures from the study programmes as well as from previous AGSE conferences were shown. This stimulated the exchange in the chat again and again: Who is there from which year? Do you still remember? Are you still working on this or that topic?
The successful concept of the AGSE conference will of course be continued – the 12th AGSE will take place in November 2022 together with the Department of Geology, School of Earth Systems Sciences of the Digital University Kerala in India. Hopefully in presence, in any case again with DAAD funding.
Further Information: http://applied-geoinformatics.org/

Acknowledgement

AGSE 2021 was funded by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) by means of Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)