Models used by forecasters at Tonga Meteorological Service rely on accurate positioning satellite data
Understanding where we are and where things are in relation to us has always been important.
Anyone who has ever used a smartphone app to locate themselves or search for driving directions can appreciate how widespread this technology has become, to the point that it is even taken for granted. ‘Where’ is now at everyone’s fingertips.
On Earth’s dynamic surface, however, ‘where’ we are is constantly changing.
We understand this through Geodesy, the scientific discipline that enables us to define the shape of Earth, how it changes over time, and our position on Earth. Such positioning information is needed to analyse and solve social, economic and environmental challenges and to support sustainable development.
The United Nations acknowledged the importance of ‘where’ in 2015 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution entitled ‘A Global Geodetic Reference Frame for Sustainable Development’. It provides a mandate for countries to improve geodetic infrastructure necessary to support science and society.
The Global Geodetic Reference Frame (GGRF) or the ‘global grid,’ is the framework that allows us to precisely determine and express locations on the Earth, as well as to quantify changes of the Earth in space and time. Most areas of science and society at large depend on being able to determine positions with a high level of precision.
The importance of ‘where’ in the Pacific
The work of Pacific Island geospatial scientists and surveyors helps improve the security and well-being of Pacific people. It supports understanding of our roads and transport, ports and shipping, water and sewerage, energy and power utilities, telecommunications, construction, agriculture, town planning, climate change adaptation and many more sectors and industries. All of these are critical to ensure we can develop resilient communities and countries into the future.
To further develop the region’s capabilities and share lessons, surveyors and geospatial experts from 14 Pacific Island Countries have formed a community of practice, called the Pacific Geospatial and Surveying Council (PGSC). In 2014, the PGSC adopted a charter governing its role and responsibilities, which has been endorsed by 11 Pacific Island governments to date.
The vision of the PGSC is:
Sustainable development in the Pacific enabled by world-class geospatial information and surveying services.