The World Geospatial Industry Council (WGIC) actively participated in the Thirteenth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), which took place from August 2-4, 2023, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The event convened high-ranking officials and executives representing national geospatial information and statistical authorities from Member States alongside private sector representatives and international geospatial experts worldwide.
GEO’s Heat Resilience Roundtable: Global Insights for Urban Well-being
WGIC Executive Director Barbara Ryan participated in the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)’s roundtable discussion titled “Building the Foundation for Heat Resilient Communities.” During the event, Martin Clarke from the GEO secretariat introduced an impactful presentation centered around the Global Heat Resilience Service. This pioneering initiative aims to collaboratively develop a service that equips urban areas worldwide with comprehensive data and knowledge concerning the health vulnerabilities linked to extreme heat exposure. These insights hold the potential to empower cities to formulate and implement plans that enhance their capacity to
adapt to rising temperatures, thereby mitigating the adverse effects on public health and local economies.
Distinguished panelists, among them prominent members of the WGIC community, collectively concurred on the imperative to deepen our comprehension of the repercussions of extended exposure to extreme heat. This shared understanding underpins the vision to foster heat-resilient communities through the transformative capabilities offered by the Global Heat Resilience Service.
UN-IGIF Forum: Geospatial Synergy Across UN Entities
Ryan’s intervention during the UN-Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (UN-IGIF) forum underscored the imperative to move beyond isolated concerns within the UN framework. She passionately advocated for the harmonization of geospatial efforts across multiple UN undertakings. Significantly, her discourse shed light on the symbiotic relationship between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the broader geospatial coordination landscape. Ryan urged the esteemed members of UN-GGIM Principals to unify with their respective national delegations for the imminent COP28 in Dubai. This collaborative step would further leverage the commendable groundwork in the report presented by the UK Ordnance Survey, showcasing the benefits of space-based heat data in preparation for the upcoming assembly.
UN-GGIM Private Sector Meeting: Unlocking Geospatial Potential
During the UN-GGIM Private Sector Network (PSN) Meeting, the voices of Valerie Grant and Zaffar Mohamed-Ghouse reverberated as they highlighted the pivotal role of the WGIC in leveraging geospatial tech across diverse domains such as urban planning, agriculture, disaster management, environmental conservation, and transportation. Notably, Mohamed-Ghouse holds a dual position as the UN Engagement Lead of WGIC and the Chair of UN-GGIM Private Sector Network (PSN), and Grant is the founder of one of WGIC member companies actively involved in three of its committees. Their discourse shed light on WGIC’s significant contributions to policy research, underscoring the significant impact and synergies between WGIC and UN-IGIF. Emphasizing the essence of inclusive collaboration in tackling disaster risks and fortifying vulnerable communities, they specifically highlighted WGIC’s noteworthy involvement in this realm.
During his intervention, Mohamed-Ghouse, brought to the forefront WGIC’s insightful report titled “Enabling the Geospatial Ecosystem – Policy Considerations for Governments And Industry,” unveiling how WGIC’s policy research endeavors, synergized with private sector support, breathe life into the framework and its trajectories. He articulated, “UN-GGIM PSN member WGIC published a report that assesses the UN-GGIM’s IGIF and identifies the pathways that benefit from the WGIC’s body of knowledge (Published Policy Reports) and launched the report at the 2nd UN World Geospatial Information Congress in Hyderabad in 2022.”
Grant, on the other hand, underscored the imperative of fortified collaboration across sectors to effectively confront disaster risks and uplift vulnerable communities through geospatial and disaster risk reduction (DRR) initiatives. “We encourage greater collaboration not only with member states and existing UN geospatial network partners, academic institutions, and the private sector but also with geospatial civil society and industry organizations such as MapAction and WGIC, which also has a working group looking a geospatial and DRR. These partnerships can offer vital insights, technical innovation, and resources to effectively address disaster risk reduction challenges and bolster support for the most vulnerable communities,” emphasized Grant.
GeoAI: Opportunities and Challenges Session at UN-GGIM
The side event titled “GeoAI: Opportunities and Challenges” was led by Mohamed-Ghouse. While not yielding definitive conclusions, the discussion fostered significant discourse on GeoAI applications and their legal implications. However, the geospatial industry, to a significant extent, has yet to delve deeply into the legal ramifications that AI might entail. Among the topics discussed, privacy emerged as a focal point, yet the consensus leaned towards the positive impact of AI within the geospatial community.
In this context, it is important to note that back in 2021, a significant milestone was achieved when WGIC released a comprehensive report titled “Geospatial AI/ML Applications and Policies – A Global Perspective.” This report aimed to enlighten governmental bodies and industries on the dynamic realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) within geospatial data, technology, and its multifaceted applications. In addition to shedding light on these aspects, the report meticulously pinpointed pivotal global concerns and intricate policy considerations inherent to AI/ML.
As the curtains drew close on the Thirteenth session of UN-GGIM, a clear and unified message reverberated: the call to integrate the interests of commercial industries and the private sector within UN-GGIM’s framework. WGIC’s strong voice amplified this message, showcasing its dedicated contributions. At the close of the Thirteenth Session, the global geospatial community is left with a shared commitment to forge a path where collaboration continues to guide progress.