Monday, August 31, 2009

Emerging GIS Landscapes in Central Asia - Geospatial Experts Converging at GISCA Conference in Bishkek

by Ainura Nazarkulova, Austria-Central Asia Centre for GIScience

The 3rd successful Central Asia GIS Conference was concluded by conference chairs Akylbek Chymyrov and Josef Strobl from the Austria-Central Asia Centre for GIScience ( on August 28 at the University of Construction, Transportation and Architecture in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. The two-day conference program brought together speakers from Central Asian countries with their counterparts from Central Europe, with representatives from Russia, India, Iran, USA and several other countries making this a truly international event.

Within and beyond the conference theme of “GIScience for Environmental and Emergency Management” 28 paper presentations were highlighting current trends –like the building of spatial data infrastructures- and innovative applications ranging from environmental monitoring, risk assessment and planning for sustainability to logistics and navigation. Over 100 registered participants had the opportunity to continue building a Central Asia – focused network of GI experts and professionals at the social events supported by conference sponsors Trimble Navigation and SAFE Software.

A keynote on ‘Thinking Spatially’ by ESRI’s Michael Phoenix recognized the importance of capacity building and human resources development as the single most important success factor for geospatial methods and technologies in this region. This was further supported by educational workshops facilitated by SAFE Software and various other learning opportunities for participants, like access to exhibits of publications and technologies by GIS companies.

Pre-conference workshops were attracting particular attention. The UN-SPIDER ( program for the first time in this region invited to an expert meeting on “Managing Disasters using Space-Based Technologies”. The three day openSolar-Workshop attracted 25 participants to assess and evaluate ‘Solar Energy Potentials in Central Asia’, but actually reaching far beyond this topic and aiming at a sustainable energy concept for this region.

The openSolar event as well as GISCA’09 were made possible through generous support from the Austria-based Eurasia-Pacific Uninet ( Its president, Prof. Brigitte Winklehner spoke at the GISCA opening ceremony together with KSUCTA Rektor Akymbek Abdykalykov and Austrian ambassador HE Ursula Fahringer, emphasizing the value of international cooperation to manage environments, resources and societies at the ancient crossroads of Central Asia with modern geospatial technologies.

Participants received a copy of the conference proceedings at registration (jointly published by KSUCTA and Salzburg University’s Centre for Geoinformatics), this volume and further information is available from the conference website at Plans for the 2010 conference are currently being finalized for late May 2010 – striving to recognize GIS as an indispensable technical resource for the development of the emerging Central Asian economies.