Point of Beginning

A Global Scope

November 1, 2007


INTERGEO 2007 was held in the East German city of Leipzig, approximately 120 miles south of Berlin. During the three-day event, the congress, the educational portion of the event where papers are presented (some in English), drew more than 1,500 international attendees, and the exhibition drew more than 16,500 visitors (mostly German). The two events are managed separately with separate admission, registration fees, proceedings and catalogs.

Since the reunification of Germany in 1990, the federal government of Germany has invested heavily in the redevelopment of the east, much to the chagrin of many West German citizens. As part of this development, major international businesses have been encouraged and given incentives to locate operations in the area. Well-known corporations such as Porsche, BMW, Amazon, DHL and Dell have set up major centers in the Leipzig/Saale area, vastly changing the surrounding environment of townspeople, infrastructure and local businesses, and improving the quality of life for the residents. It was in this geographical and societal context that German and international exhibitors and attendees congregated in Leipzig.

Hagen Graeff, president of the German Society for Geodesy, Geoinformation and Land Management known as DVW, under whose auspices INTERGEO is held said: “The congress [offers] the latest results from science and practice. It thus also reflects the changing role of surveying in the wake of social development. Current areas of focus such as [geospatial information] for everyone, mobile phone navigation, three-dimensional data capture and development of natural spaces … highlight the variety of our work.”

This year’s event was cosponsored by another technical society, the German Society of Cartography (DGfK), and is the third time the two societies have collaborated in this manner.

Attendees represented more than 50 countries, driving the congress and the exhibition to cater (even more than previous years) to the language of international business: English. Olaf Freier, CEO of Hinte Marketing and Media, the business retained by the DVW to manage INTERGEO, and project manager for INTERGEO, reported that more than one-third of the attendees came from outside Germany. Their countries of origin were spread all over the globe, including many Asian countries, just about every European nation and the United States.

The INTERGEO exhibition continues to be the largest in the world on the subject of geomatics or geospatial information; the 484 exhibitors at this year’s event encompassed more than six acres of gross exhibit space. While exhibitors consisted of the traditional hardware and software vendors, they also included a number of international government institutions, universities and schools, book and magazine publishers, service businesses for surveying, mapping, cartography and other areas of geomatics, and a huge range of software vendors of GIS, CAD and COGO. In addition to exhibitors from Germany, vendors came from 27 other countries including the United States, several Eastern European countries and Asia. Most notable was China’s presence with approximately 10 companies displaying optical surveying and GPS instrumentation.

Continuing a relatively new initiative, a Focus Forum area was set aside in the exhibit hall to enable presentations, primarily by exhibitors on a variety of subjects and not all necessarily on their own products. The forum was a separate event from the congress. This year, 25 half-hour sessions were presented, 13 in English.

Some of the English-language presentations covered topics such as scanning (both terrestrial and airborne); data conversion tools, especially with respect to datums and projections; data warehouses and networks for sharing; imaging; mapping automation; mobile application and deployment; and many others.

At the congress, general topics included discussions on the diminishing exclusivity of geodata resulting from Google Earth and other factors, issues affecting the property surveying and management sector, and geoinformation-related issues of interest to architects.

The Leipzig INTERGEO also marked the second consecutive year that an Open Source Forum was organized. Here, attendees had an opportunity to learn about the latest developments in free and open source GIS software projects and to obtain information on the professional services and solutions offered by the participating companies. This consisted of a mini-forum with lectures and workshops on open source software as well. The conference plays a role as a key platform for expanding cooperation between universities and other institutions, and the OSGeo (the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, created to support and build the open source geospatial software).

Event organizers reported that more than 240 new products, services and announcements were made at INTERGEO 2007. NavCom Technology launched its European introduction of new RTK systems for surveyors and machines. Trimble announced the acquisition of a German software company to expand its ability to meet the needs of German-market software requirements, as well as the new Trimble S8 Total Station, designed for monitoring and other high-accuracy applications. Drawing high interest from potential European buyers and competitors alike were three new offerings from Topcon Europe Positioning (The Netherlands), including the IS imaging station; the company’s entry into the laser scanning market with the GLS-1000 full-featured scanner; and the GMS-2 Pro that adds an electronic compass and laser rangefinder to make it a miniature, handheld total station with GPS positioning. Many more products were announced by these companies and others, further indicating the importance of INTERGEO as a leading venue for the leading companies in the geomatics product business to make their product premiers.

In 2008, INTERGEO will move back West to the northwestern German seaport of Bremen, unique with Berlin and Hamburg as the only city-states in the current German republic and one of the members of the Hanseatic League of the 12th through 16th centuries. This historic trading community, perhaps a forerunner to the current European trading community, is one of many historic aspects of this fascinating city. INTERGEO 2008 will be held from September 30 through October 2. For more information about INTERGEO visit www.intergeo.de and click on the British flag icon for the English language version.

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