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Advancing the Pacific development agenda with smarter maps

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Suva, Fiji – Over 300 participants from about 30 countries will converge in Suva, Fiji next week to discuss advancements in Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing (GIS/RS) applications and their relevance to the management of resources in small Pacific Island countries and territories.

 

Bridging Information Gaps by Creating Smarter Maps’ is the theme of the conference jointly organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Fiji Department of Lands and the University of the South Pacific (USP), at the Japan ICT Auditorium, Suva from 16th to 20th November.

 

The largest of its kind in terms of Pacific Island state participation, the weeklong conference brings together users of the two applications from Pacific Island governments, consulting companies and the private sector to discuss the latest software, hardware, data and methods available and how they can be optimised to suit customer needs.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a computer-based tool used to collect, combine and overlay information from up-to-date satellite images and data for the construction of easily understood maps, whereas Remote Sensing (RS) is the collection of information from sensors on aircraft, satellites, ships and other vessels. 

Both GIS/RS are increasingly being recognized as a powerful tool to inform policies and decision making by providing a visual framework for conceptualizing, understanding, and prescribing action. Timely and relevant imagery and data allows for rapid and accurate assessments of resources, land use, and environmental issues such as applications in disaster reduction and climate change adaptation.

The combination of the two applications can be used to make critical decisions about particular areas of interest, such as forestry, land use planning, fisheries, disaster management as well as infrastructure and urban planning.

The Pacific GIS/RS Conference has been held annually since 1999. Financial contributions from satellite data and GIS/RS software vendors, regional partner agencies, and various departments of the Fiji Government, have allowed the participation of Pacific Island nationals and partners at the conference.

 

MEDIA ACCESS:

Media are invited to all sessions of the conference which starts on Monday 16 October at 08.30 a.m.



 

Information about the conference is available online: http://gsd.spc.int/gisconference twitter: https://twitter.com/PacificGISnRS

Media contact:

Wolf Forstreuter, SPC GIS and Remote Sensing Specialist, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or +679 332 2193

Dr John Lowry, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment, USP,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .f or +679 323 2549

Zhiyad Khan, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2016 16:39  

Newsflash

16 April 2013 - A survey of the South Tarawa lagoon has revealed some potentially explosive secrets from its past as one of the major battlegrounds of WWII. The survey was designed to identify battle debris that still litters the floor of the lagoon seventy years after the infamous Battle of Tarawa in 1943.

Funded by the New Zealand Regional Ocean Sciences Grant, the survey was undertaken as part of the Government’s work to reduce the atoll’s damaging reliance on beach mining by identifying potential sources of construction aggregate on the floor of the Tarawa Lagoon. The widespread practice of beach mining has been weakening the atoll’s vulnerable shoreline along with Government efforts to protect communities from the worsening impacts of climate change and rising sea levels.

The Government turned to SOPAC, the region’s Applied Geoscience & Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, for guidance on safe methods to dredge an alternative source of sand and gravel from Tarawa’s southern lagoon. Before dredging can begin, as part of the European-Union funded Environmentally Safe Aggregate for Tarawa (ESAT) project, SOPAC first needed to identify any potential problems that might be posed by any unidentified and unexploded ordnance.

During WWII, the islands of Kiribati saw some of the Pacific’s bloodiest encounters.  From 20-24 November 1943, an invasion flotilla of 18,000 US Naval and Marine Corps troops attacked the fortified Japanese garrison on Betio in Southern Tarawa. The 4,600 Japanese defenders fought almost to the last man, and more than 1,000 Americans lost their lives.

SOPAC’s Survey Leader, Geophysicist Robert Smith, is still analysing the data but he has already identified two previously unknown vessel wrecks and unearthed numerous artillery remnants. Of the vessels, Smith says, “These may be sunken Higgins boats, which would have carried 20-30 marines each.” The US government has already expressed a keen interest in Smith’s findings.