Over 300 participants from about 30 countries will converge in Suva, Fiji today to discuss advancements in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing applications and their relevance to the management of resources in small Pacific Island countries and territories.

‘Bridging Information Gaps by Creating Smarter Maps’ is the theme of the conference jointly organised by the Pacific Community (SPC), Fiji Department of Lands and the University of the South Pacific (USP), at the university’s Japan ICT Auditorium in Suva from 16th to 20th November.

The largest of its kind in terms of Pacific Island state participation, the weeklong conference brings together users of the two applications from Pacific Island governments, consulting companies and the private sector to discuss the latest software, hardware, data and methods available and how they can be optimised to suit customer needs.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a computer-based tool used to collect, combine and overlay information from up-to-date satellite images and data for the construction of easily understood maps, whereas Remote Sensing (RS) is the collection of information from sensors on aircraft, satellites, ships and other vessels.

Both applications are increasingly being recognized as a powerful tool to inform policies and decision-making by providing a visual framework for conceptualizing, understanding, and prescribing action.
Timely and relevant imagery and data allows for rapid and accurate assessments of resources, land use, and environmental issues such as applications in disaster reduction and climate change adaptation.

The combination of the two applications can be used to make critical decisions about particular areas of interest, such as forestry, land use planning, fisheries, disaster management as well as infrastructure and urban planning.

The Pacific GIS/RS Conference has been held annually since 1999.  Financial contributions from satellite data and GIS/RS software vendors, regional partner agencies, and various departments of the Fiji Government, have allowed the participation of Pacific Island nationals and partners at the conference.
Information about the conference is available online: http://picgisrs.appspot.com and on twitter: https://twitter.com/PacificGISnRS

Media contacts: Wolf Forstreuter, SPC GIS and Remote Sensing Specialist, wolff@spc.int or +679 3322193
Dr John Lowry, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment, USP, lowry_j@usp.ac.fj or +679 323 2549
Zhiyad Khan, zhiyadk@spc.int or +679 3370733