Friday, December 5, 2014

Advancing UNIGIS Latin America

The past months marked an intensive period of outreach activities carried out by the UNIGIS program established at the University San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and several partner universities in Latin America. For the first time, the annual UNIGIS-symposium ForoMundoUNIGIS was not only held at USFQ, Ecuador and ICESI, Cali but also at our new partner sites at University Belgrano (UB), Argentina, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Brasil and the National University Federico Villareal (UNFV), Perú. These events were addressed especially to the growing community of UNIGIS students and alumni in these countries aiming at giving them a platform for presenting their thesis and professional projects as well as building sustainable personal and institutional networks.

The third anniversary of the ForoMundoUNIGIS at USFQ, taking place on October 22/23, gave reason for the UNGIS Team Latin America and the associated colleagues from our regional study sites to gather in an 10-days work shop where internal procedures were discussed and refined in order to providing a high-quality service to all of our students in the future.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

UNIGIS at Asia Geospatial Forum' 2014 Jakarta

UNIGIS was invited to contribute to the Asia Geospatial Forum 2014 (AGF) held in Jakarta, Indonesia from 25th to 27th November, 2014 and to conduct the 'GeoCapacity Forum' - bringing together academia, industry, organisations and students on a common education-oriented platform for face-to-face interaction. The AGF is one of the biggest regional conferences focussed on Geospatial themes in S/E Asia and has been organised in a different country every year since 2003. UNIGIS has been entrusted with a prominent role of conducting Geospatial Capacity Building sessions at the event since 2005.

Dr. Shahnawaz (Director, UNIGIS S/E Asia) represented UNIGIS and gave the lead presentation setting-up the overall framework as well as moderating the forum involving about 30 participants from Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. The first session was dedicated to presentations from students, organisations and industry followed by a second session devoted to plenary discussion.

The forum concluded with a vibrant open-floor discussion where a majority of students expressed that most of the educational institutions in the region offer geospatial study programmes at undergraduate levels and the GIS skills attained at this level are not sufficient to secure them good jobs. On the other side, the representatives of organisations and industry expressed that they are not finding the 'ready-to-deliver' job-seekers, which is hampering the growth of geospatial projects in the affected  regions.

Two distinguished panalists, Prof. Mastura Mahmud (Deputy Dean of Research, National University of Malaysia) and Dr. Chawee Busayat (Director of ITarch, Thammasat University, Thailand) exchanged their experiences about Geospatial Education in the SE Asia region as well as their visionary ideas for expanding it across the ASEAN space and enhancing its status to meet the challenges of the Job market. They also suggested that universities should offer geospatial education as a blend of online distance learning and classroom based residential periods. This will help not only current students, but also shall provide opportunities for in-service professionals to enhance their competences.

The attendees largely agreed that there is a need of exploring alternative modes of delivering geospatial education in the region serving the needs of current students as well as in-service professionals; all agreed that online distance learning programmes will serve these Needs best!


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Winners of the UNIGIS Academic Excellence Prize

The UNIGIS International Association (UIA) is honoured to announce the winners of its 2014 Academic Excellence Prize:

This award, initiated in 2008, is presented to the student, or students, nominated by their UNIGIS sites for submitting the best MSc thesis (or paper) during the academic year. This year the competition was very tight with nine excellent high quality MSc theses being considered by the review panel. In the end the panel decided to make four awards.

The winner of the Academic Excellence Prize for 2014 was Heidi El Hosaini (UNIGIS UK), the first runner up was Trang Minh VoPham (USC) and in joint third place were Cátia Sofia Alves Gouveia (UNIGIS Portugal) and Stefan Mayer (UNIGIS Salzburg). The Review Panel would like to commend and congratulate these individuals and the other candidates for the high quality of work.

Winning thesis topics:
  • Heidi El Hosaini (UNIGIS UK) "Locating and positioning solar panels in a 3D city model – a case study of Newcastle".
  • Trang Minh VoPham (UNIGIS USC) "Integrating Landsat and California Pesticide Exposure estimation at aggregated analysis scales: accuracy assessment of rurality".
  • Cátia Sofia Alves Gouveia (UNIGIS Portugal) "Predicting the impacts of climate change on the distribution and conservation of endemic forest land snails of Madeira Island".
  • Stefan Mayer (UNIGIS Salzburg): "An approach to model the thermal demand of buildings. A case study using two districts of Graz".

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Start learning the language of space!

No matter if you develop agrarian insurance products, maintain facility networks, provide data for community planning or do research on golden eagles: space matters.

The real world doesn’t happen on a needles tip. It requires physical space. Space not as a kind of arbitrary shoebox, it is the spatial configuration of things that often plays the key role: Real world processes require a certain form of coincidence, adjacency, nearness, connectedness or other form of spatial relationship between their elements to work out fine or happen at all.  Maps can help to understand those processes in their spatial and chronological dimension, computers can be used to model and simulate them in a digital sandbox, representing the real world.

However, before we can do so and use the respective results to make better decisions, we need to learn.  Not just about GI-software and data but also about the language of space. A group of 15 future GI-professionals will extensively do so within a year from now and already made a start at their introductory workshop in Salzburg. The first geospatial insights came cloud-based and shed a light on the spatial properties of the group itself. Who might be easy to reach partners to establish a local learning group? Is it possible to define my spatial neighbors and if yes, who are they? Also the question of centrality was discussed. However, centrality within a student group doing distance learning is probably better expressed in non-spatial terms: Sometimes communication matters as well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Upcoming u_Lecture Webinars

UNIGIS u_Lecture webinars are presented by invited speakers from academia, the GI industry, public administration, NGOs and other actors in the field of Geoinformatics and GIScience. Although this online lecture series is primarily designed for UNIGIS alumni and active UNIGIS students, participation is free for everybody.

u_Lectures autumn/winter:

  • 25 November 2014:
    Darren Ruddell, University of Southern California

    Geospatial Technologies and Urban Resilience: Building a Better World
  • 16 December 2014:
    Muki Haklay, University College London

    What geographic information science got to do with citizen science?
  • 27 January 2015 (double feature, MSc work):
    Heidi El-Hosaini, MSc student @ UNIGIS UK*
    Locating and positioning solar panels in a 3D city model - a case study of Newcastle, UK
    Emma Lewinson, MSc student @ UNIGIS UK*
    Analysing British wildlife distributions using a mobile GIS app for data capture

    *Both students will present an overview of their recent MSc research work at UNIGIS UK.

We cordially invite you to make use of this professional and academic ‚updating‘ opportunity.