To a large extent, it was business as usual for a typical spatial event: lots of inward looking observations, lamenting that our industry remains so misunderstood, and mild outrage if someone dares to mispronounce (or take the Mickey out of) our beloved SSSI. Oh, and death by PowerPoint. Slow and painful.
The good thing of course is that in this context, the positive highlights really stand out. With four parallel session in the afternoon, I'm sure I have missed one or two, but these are the ones I noticed:
- Westport's Michael Haines' keynote on his vision of a 'Virtual Australia' was a breath of fresh air. The main reason being that he's not one of us! Westport has a real, massive logisitical problem to deal with, and is turning to experts from many domains, including the spatial industry, to help fix it. He wants to build an accurate and topographically correct virtual model of the greater Melbourne area to simulate different transport and planning scenarios.
An outsider armed with a real, quantifiable business case is someone we should embrace warmly!
- Late in the afternoon, I attended Peter Bayley's (OpenEarth) Smart Images presentation. The first truly innovative thing I saw at the conference so far. In short (and I'm not doing it full justice), smart images give you all the benefits of dumb images (e.g. portability), but add data and functionality to the image file. Modern browsers will then let you not only view the image, but also access the underlying data, perform analysis, build DEMs, or whatever you can think of.
It's like GeoPDF on steroids. Watch this space!
- My highlight of the awards night was Stuart Nixon's acceptance speech after winning the "Professional Eminence and Excellence in Spatial Sciences" awards. A serial, and highly successful entrepeneur, he wasted no time pointing out that if we really want to achieve success as Australians, the last place we want to be is in Australia! Or as he put it: "Australia is not a market, it's a testbed". Amen
Did you spot the common theme? All three are pointing to innovations and opportunities outside of our known world and comfort zone. I for one will try and follow their lead.