A three-day celebration of all things Esri, the Esri Asia Pacific User Conference (APUC) was an opportunity for more than 500 of the region’s users to gather, collaborate and share their knowledge and experiences with GIS technology.
The event featured more than 30 presentations from some of the world’s leading geo-enabled organisations, including: the Singapore Land Authority (SLA); Earth Observatory of Singapore; Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA); Gangneung-Wonju National University; and, Pennsylvania State University.
In line with APUC’s theme – Asia in Transformation – SLA Chief Executive Mr Vincent Hoong delivered the opening keynote speech, providing a glimpse into how fundamental GIS technology is across all facets of the work the SLA undertakes.
Mr Hoong’s presentation also conveyed how geospatial analysis is a growth area not only for the SLA, but for all of Singapore. One example he gave of this is OneMap – Singapore’s ‘one stop’ geospatial platform for the country’s government agencies.
When the platform launched in 2011, it featured 40 information types from 20 agencies. Today there are 69 information types sourced from 36 agencies. Mr Hoong said key to driving this growth is the fact geospatial content is now recognised by the Singapore Government as key for effective decision-making.
Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) presentation reinforced this assertion. Their session provided APUC attendees with a look at how the LTA is using GIS and data sensors to better understand Singaporean commuter behaviour across different modes of transport.
With this approach, LTA has been able to undertake evidence-based planning, which is resulting in: improved road and construction safety; higher levels of workforce productivity; and proactive maintenance of Singapore’s transport network.
APUC also provided a look at the role of spatial technology in the realms of academia, including a presentation on the world’s latest education phenomenon, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC).
Dr Anthony Robinson from Pennsylvania State University presented on a MOOC he delivered called ‘Maps and the Geospatial Revolution’ – in which he taught geospatial skills to more than 48,000 students from over 150 countries simultaneously.
Dr Robinson said there is significant demand for geospatial knowledge, which is being driven by the fundamental role geography plays in our day-to-day lives.
“The vast majority of all data has a location component, and people are starting to recognise cartography is vital to all that we do,” Dr Robinson said.
Another popular presentation came from the Earth Observatory of Singapore, with Research Associate Humza Akhtar delivering a presentation showcasing GeoTouch – a giant interactive touchscreen powered by GIS technology.
“This new age device is the perfect educational medium to teach today’s and tomorrow’s generations about the elements which make up the planet we live on,” Mr Akhtar said.
“GeoTouch is already being used at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and I believe it will become an essential tool for students across the globe.”
Finally – the event provided a fascinating glimpse into the latest technological advancements, with Jack Dangermond giving attendees a sneak peek at what’s coming with ArcGIS 11.
APUC Technical Director Kellie Persson said having Esri’s Founder and President at the conference brought a whole new level of excitement to the event.
“APUC 2013 was Jack Dangermond’s only trip to the Asia Pacific this year, so there was real buzz amongst the attendees,” Ms Persson said.
“Everyone appreciated having the opportunity to meet him, and hear, first-hand, his vision for Web GIS.”