GIS Thoughts

GeoTEC – GIS Conferences the Canadian way..

GeoTEc 2007

This week I’m in Calgary at the GeoTEC 2007 conference, where I was asked to deliver the Keynote and it is proving to be an interesting contrast with conferences back in the UK.

Outside of user conferences and a few academic conferences, it is unusual to find particularly technical presentations and workshop sessions – things that appeal to me and the “hands-on people” in GIS.

Well that is certainly not the case here, taken at random from the programme..

Advanced LIDAR processing;

Intercomparison of DEM Terrain and Watershed Attributes Derived from Three Independent Sources;

Google Earth adds a New Dimension: Dynamic Time based Data Display;

and The 1901 Census as a indication of the Spatial Existence of a Letis Homeland.

Matt Ball and his team have developed a strong technical programme which has attracted over 1000 people to Calgary, and most of those will have had to fly here, arrange accommodation etc.. In Canada at least there is a strong demand for such content – and this is the 21st GeoTEC conference.

I have often had the debate with people back in the UK why we don’t have such strong technical programmes at UK conferences, which end up often only with “Hello I’m from [organisation A] and I did this with my GIS, and here is [Vendor X] who helped me do it”, or lets bash the OS (easy target) and “Why does nobody listen to us”.

Answers on a postcard, or maybe I can convince Matt to come and run a conference in the UK.

Written and submitted from Hyatt Hotel, Calgary, using its in-room wired network.

5 replies on “GeoTEC – GIS Conferences the Canadian way..”

…almost awake now…

I don’t understand how folks can attend conferences and still have enough energy left to blog about them.
I really enjoyed GeoTec this year. It was a great chance to put faces to names, like Paul Spencer, who I’d been working with for…

I went to GeoTech in Vancouver two years ago and helped out there. Heard it was much larger this year and the venue change to Calgary was part of that reason. Matt and the team put on a good show. Other than the local URISA workshops, GeoTech and the ESRI Users Conference are high on my list of GIS shows to attend.

Ed, is there any similar conferences like GeoTech to look out for in Europe? Or similar organizations like URISA?


Nothing quite like GeoTec, for Europe the big show is Integeo, but it is really a surveying trade show – very large !! Then there are national and regional shows in each country, for example the AGI show in the UK and Kortage in Denmark – these are often less technical.



Thanks for mentioning the AGI show – AGI2007 19&20 Sep, Stratford-upon-Avon, – (plug over!) and of course for agreeing to be a keynote speaker at that show.

I am the Finance guy at the AGI. It is my responsibility to ensure that our Conference makes a small contribution to the funds of the AGI. I am a non-Geographer (though learning fast). And I am fascinated about what constitutes success in a Conference and how to measure this. It seems to me that a Conference has to fulfil such a large number of functions. Firstly it must attract delegates. When delegates are there, it must be stimulating and thought-provoking for them. It should move the debate forward generally. Finally it must make delegates want to return for next year’s Conference. And it must do so for delegates in a wide range of sectors; not just those in commercial organisations, but also those in local and central government, the emergency services, health authorities etc. And also it must do all of this within a viable financial framework.

That’s a lot of things to get right, a lot of disparate needs to fulfil. Out Conference this year is entitled ‘Building a Geo Community’. We won’t do that if we take some of the easy options which you suggest that some conferences may have taken in the past. I think our progamme this year is bold, adventurous and relevant. Oh, and there will be a wonderful party on the Wednesday evening!

My measure of success? It would be to hear delegates as they leave, asking ‘When is next year’s Conference? I want to keep my diary free.’

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