Saturday, May 29, 2010

GISCA 2010: “Water: Life, Risk, Energy and Landuse”

Geospatial experts meeting at GIS Central Asia Conference in Bishkek

by Ainura Nazarkulova,
Austria-Central Asia Centre for GIScience

The 4th annual Central Asia GIS Conference at the Austria-Central Asia Centre for GIScience (  was opened on May 27 by Rector Abdykalykov from the Kyrgyz State University of Construction, Transportation and Architecture in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. He was assisted by the Austrian ambassador to Central Asia, HE Ursula Fahringer and the representative of the Eurasia-Pacific Uninet, Prof. Alfred Pitterle.

The two-day conference program brought together speakers from Central Asian and surrounding countries addressing the main theme of the conference: Water for life, Water posing a risk, Water for renewable energy, and Water as the key resource controlling regional landuse. Particularly due to climate change and increasing societal pressure on resources, quality and quantity of water supplies are critical factors in developing and maintaining livelihoods. Geographic Information Science offers an indispensable set of instruments for managing the water cycle.

The opening keynote on ‘Perspectives of Cartographic Design‘ by Prof. Karel Kriz from the University of Vienna recognized and illustrated the importance of using effective cartographic communication as a key success factor for geospatial methods and technologies. The main conference was preceded by four workshops, with the Kyrgyz National Agrarian University focusing on the topic of GIS for Environment Management, and one-day events dedicated to Data Modeling with FME, Open Source software options and the development of an SDI for Central Asia.

The latter topic turned out to be the most attractive innovation presented at GISCA’10: a regional geoportal will serve as a platform for collaboration and significantly lower the entry hurdle into GIS-based analyses and applications. This service is available from and is supported by the newly created Kyrgyz GIS Association, which can now be contacted at

Even though the recent political turmoil in Kyrgyzstan caused difficulties due to institutional and corporate travel restrictions, over 100 registered participants had the opportunity to continue building a Central Asia – focused network of GI experts and professionals. Capacity building within and beyond this network now is led by the UNIGIS study centre for Central Asia ( reaching out to GIS professionals with its postgraduate programs of study.

Conference 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 are available from the conference website at Plans for a 2011 conference with an even stronger educational focus are currently being finalized for May/June 2011 – emphasizing GIS as an indispensable component in the development of the Central Asian societies and economies.
GISCA 2010 was made possible through generous support from
the Austria-based Eurasia-Pacific Uninet (