Participants from across the globe were on hand to take part in the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Pacific GIS/RS Conference Tuesday morning at The University of the South Pacific (USP) Japan-Pacific ICT Centre. The conference, jointly convened by Fiji Ministry of Lands, USP and the Pacific Community’s Geoscience, Energy and Maritime (GEM) Division, is the premier event for regional leaders in GIS and RS technology. Over 300 registrations were received to take part in this opportunity to discuss the latest developments in the global GIS/RS field, and the progress towards establishing Pacific Spatial Data Infrastructure across the region.

The conference was opened by Fiji Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Hon Faiyaz Koya who extended a warm welcome to conference delegates and highlighted progress made towards the formation of a new Pacific GIS and Remote Sensing Council. In his remarks, Mr. Koya stressed the critical importance of GIS and Remote Sensing for the region’s development and growth in a climate uncertain world. He noted that GIS and Remote Sensing tools could help efforts to mitigate, adapt and strengthen the regions resilience efforts.

The Conference opening included a tribute to Philipp Müller, a Samoan and Pacific Leader who was a GIS/RS champion. His vision and advocacy efforts for ensuring Pacific countries have access to GIS technologies laid the foundation for the creation of the annual Conference.

The new SPC GEM Director, Dr. Andrew Jones, paid tribute to the legacy of Mr Müller and urged participants work towards his vision where Pacific communities could take advantage of spatial data and remote sensing. Dr Jones outlined his own prediction that the growth of GIS/RS knowledge in the region will one day outstrip the capacity of existing IT infrastructure. He stressed that SPC’s role will be less about strengthening technical capability, and more about providing data support and services to the Agency’s member countries and territories.

To meet the coming capacity gap, Dr. Jones highlighted the important role of SPC in helping Pacific nations supplement their technical GIS/RS capacity. Just as importantly, Dr. Jones highlighted the importance of viewing spatial data infrastructure as a project for the benefit of the entire Pacific community. By working together government officials, experts, researchers, practitioners and private sector leaders can not only bridge any capacity gaps, they can also make the Pacific a global leader in GIS/RS.

The Pacific GIS/RS Conference will take place over 4 days with a packed agenda covering a wide spectrum of GIS/RS related issues.

The full agenda of the conference is available on the conference web-site: https://picgisrs.appspot.com

For more details, please contact the Conference Chairperson, Dr. Wolf Forstreuter on email: [email protected] or mobile: 9272462