Geo Message (May 2011)

Message from Chair

Welcome to the Geo Message from the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Commission.  At the last meeting of the Committee held on 13 April 2011 during the 34th ISRSE in Sydney the following committee positions were filled:


John Trinder – Chair

Tim Whiteside/Renee Bartolo – Vice Chair

David Byrne – Treasurer

Shona Chisholm – Communications

Craig Smith – CPD


Renee has been very busy filling a number of roles in the past, and is still providing support and leadership to the committee. Thanks for your efforts Renee.


The Committee looks forward to working with members to advance the activities in remote sensing and photogrammetry in Australia. An immediate activity will be the SSSC2011 conference that will be held in Wellington, New Zealand from 21-25 November 2011.  Submission of abstracts has now closed and there are reported to be over 150 abstracts submitted.   It is hoped that there will be a good attendance by members at this conference.


An important opportunity for advocacy for the Commission will occur when the Government releases its space policy, expected to occur in about the middle of this year.  I hope members will assist the Committee in compiling a strong response on the need for earth observation capability that will suit the needs of Australia as well as provide Australia with some leverage to participate in other international programs.



Members will recall that there was concern about the requirement by SSSI for all members to annually compulsorily document a certain number of units of CPD (Continuing Professional Development).   I personally agree with the concept of CPD, because I believe it is incumbent on all of us, as professionals, to ensure that our professional expertise is current.  However, the concerns of members have been recognized and the SSSI Board has agreed that CPD will in future be acknowledged for individuals by checking a box on their membership renewal that they have maintained their CPD. 


John Trinder

Chair RS&P Commission


Report on 34th ISRSE held in Sydney from 10-15 April 2011(this report includes parts of Press Releases authored by Republic Consulting)

The 34th ISRSE was held successfully from 10-15 April 2011. The Symposium comprised Plenary Sessions, Oral and Electronic Sessions and Workshops.  There were almost 600 delegates from about 60 countries with 310 papers presented in the oral sessions, and 130 presented as electronic posters covering the 12 themes of the Symposium:

  1. Climate change and atmosphere
  2. Agriculture: food crisis and reducing poverty and hunger
  3. Forests, Ecosystems and Biodiversity
  4. Disaster reduction and response
  5. Coastal and Marine resources 
  6. Water: a limited and degraded resource
  7. Urban environments and Cultural heritage – monitoring and mitigation
  8. Health and wellbeing
  9. Regional, international programs and applications
  10. Airborne remote sensing applications and technologies
  11.  Data and Information systems: spatial data infrastructures emerging technologies
  12.  Societal benefits of earth observations: applications and assessment methodologies

Plenary sessions were given on: Earth Observation Supporting Disaster Management and Situational Awareness; Space Agency Reports: Earth Observation Programs; Earth Observations for  GEO Forest Carbon (GEO stands for Group on Earth Observation); Climate and Water, Space Policy.  Many of the world’s space agencies, including NASA which was the Platinum Sponsor, were represented.  As well, the Symposium featured a number of sessions of Task Groups of GEOSS, the Global Earth Observation System of Systems. 


In his keynote speech during the opening session,  Dr Jose Achache, the CEO of GEO, said the Symposium’s theme, “the GEOSS Era: Towards Operational Environmental Monitoring”, was particularly salient in helping academics, scientists and governments plan for and make intelligent, uniform decisions and actions.  He said “As our world population reaches 9 billion, and as our climate continues to warm, we are facing a demanding future with a need for more food, more energy and more water.  In order to face these challenges, we need to continue to look for technological solutions in many areas, and, we need to look for and to environmental intelligence solutions.”


“The 2004 Banda Aceh quake and tsunami took place at a similar distance from the shore, and at a similar intensity as the Japan quake, and with an estimated death toll of 170,000.  Adjusting that impact for the population ofJapan, and we could have seen a possible death toll significantly higher than 500,000 had our ability to predict, monitor and model not improved.”  “The information and technology we have available to us is continually improving, and even in the five years between the Boxing Day tsunami and the events in Japan in March this year, our ability to pre-warn, react and save lives has improved substantially.”


Dr Mansanobu Shimada, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who was part of the “Earth Observation supporting Disaster Management and Situational Awareness” panel discussion, along with a number of key experts in recent Australian disasters, outlined the importance of remote sensing in full disaster analysis, floating object estimations, and the impact of salt-water covered areas and subsequent crop reduction.  Dr Shimada referred to the importance of remote sensing technology in influencing all aspects of life from urban planning to providing accurate modelling and monitoring of the quakes and effective tsunami warning systems.


The sessions on Forest Carbon Tracking program were also of considerable interest.  Forest Carbon Tracking is based on sustained availability of satellite and ground observations for an annual assessment of the forest resources in a number of countries around the world.  This is to satisfy the global need to monitor forest resources.   Australia is making a significant contribution to this program through Federal Government Department Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. 


In his paper on a vision of the future during the closing session,Lawrence Friedl from NASA, concluded as follows: remotely sensed data will be aligned with other sources of spatial Information and will be readily accessible, affordable and used routinely.  Public and private organizations will be seamlessly integrated for decision making.  There will be participatory sensing, but there are some issues with crowd sourcing, especially in respect of data quality.   In future we will need to understand how people use information so that the correct information can be provided to users,that isthe information should be context sensitive.  As well, there should be greater integration of physical and sociological data, so that issues of sustainability of the environment can be related to the users at the site.    In order to demonstration how future access to satellite data should operate, Lawrence prepared his own fictitious web site named ‘earth.orb’ for marketing satellite data, which was based on an approach typical of today’s market driven web sites.  Data should be made readily available to all who need it.


The papers will be published later this year in hard copy by the International Center for Remote Sensing of the Environment (ICRSE) in USA, and the digital version of the papers will be placed as part of the Archives for Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and SIS on the ISPRS web site at .


John Trinder

Co-Chair, 34th ISRSE


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