Point of Beginning

Global Outreach

November 30, 2006


This year INTERGEO returned to the south German city of Munich on Oct. 10-12, just after the close of the famed Oktoberfest. Although Oktoberfest was over, visitors could still see some traces of this hugely attended event. INTERGEO itself was also hugely attended, partly because it was also the joint venue for the quadrennial Congress of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). Early reports by the organizers put the total attendance at more than 19,000 visitors. More than 550 exhibitors came from 28 countries including the United States, India, South Korea, Montenegro and South Korea. Almost a quarter of these exhibitors came from outside Germany. The exhibit area was larger than ever, covering 7.4 acres (gross area) over three vast halls. Probably because of the concurrent FIG Congress, approximately one in four of the visitors came from outside Germany, and more than 15 percent of the international contingent came from outside Europe. Many U.S. attendees were visible at the conference and exhibits. This event is accurately billed as the largest conference and trade fair covering geodesy, geoinformation and land management.

While most visitors came to look at new products and talk to vendors, approximately 2,750 of them participated in the conference. More than 600 papers on 120 topics were presented, many of them in English. The papers can be viewed on the FIG website at www.fig.net/pub/fig2006. FIG is composed mostly of professional member organizations, including governmental and professional societies, academic institutions and other groups that may be corporate or other surveying organizations. INTERGEO itself represented the 90th annual meeting of the host society, the German Society of Geodesy, Geo-information and Land Management (called DVW in German). This organization has 10,000 members, mostly from Germany.

The exhibitors included many of the international and U.S. names familiar to U.S. conference exhibits, but the range of applications far exceeded the usual surveying and mapping. Also included were exhibits for products in the fields of remote sensing, photogrammetry, cartography, reproduction technologies, office organizing, marketing and processing of various kinds of data. In addition to vendors, the exhibitors included publishing houses, institutes, associations, government agencies, and consultants and service providers. While the halls are traditionally reserved strictly for exhibits, this year a forum area was included for presentations and knowledge transfer. This interesting aspect of INTERGEO featured a different focus each day. On the first day, the focus was on transport and logistics. The premise was that innovative companies in the field of transport and logistics are likely to be geo-oriented. This makes them more likely to be service providers rather than product suppliers, and will probably change the way the GIS solutions market is perceived. The second day brought forth presentations from governmental organizations talking about how many departments are now involved in "geo-government" enterprises, as geographically based data becomes tagged with other information normally processed or collected and distributed by governments. The third day contained a series of best-practice reports from government and industry on the subject of geodata infrastructure and how it is developed, organized and used.

The Munich INTERGEO also saw the premiere of the concept of an "Open Source Park" within the exhibit hall, focused on projects and solutions developed around open source geo software, especially GIS solutions.

In 2007 INTERGEO will move to eastern Germany. It will be held in Leipzig from September 25-27. For more information about INTERGEO see www.intergeo.de. On the home page, click the British flag icon to see the English language version.

Special reporting by Joseph V.R. Paiva, PhD, PS, PE.

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