Monday, September 22, 2014

UNIGIS Day Switzerland

No matter if you listen to experts from the domain of environmental or regional planning, the administration of agricultural subsidies or the simulation and visualization of urban masterplans - GIS plays and will play a significant role. And thus fundamental GIS education is widely demanded. This is the essence of this year's UNIGIS Day Switzerland which took place last Friday (09-19) at the University of Applied Sciences in Rapperswil (HSR).

This is the place to be at UNIGIS Day Switzerland!
Approximately 50 UNIGIS alumni and students, active members of the Swiss GIS community and experts from industry, administration and academia spent the whole day at lake Zurich to gain insights into various fields of GIS application and to exchange experiences and ideas in interactive workshop sessions (slides will be available here).

UNIGIS alumni Andreas Eisenhut gave a presentation about his every day challenges in a planning office. Interestingly, data acquisition and data accessibility are still significant bottle necks; especially in inter-cantonal projects. This is why he plead for more efforts being put into providing harmonized data as web services. Another important hint came from Dr. Keller from the canton of Zurich. He pointed to the fact that agencies which have large monetary turnovers are eager to adopt GI technologies for their systems because a minimum amount of increased efficiency leads to significant cost reductions in absolute numbers. Dr. Keller brought the example from subsidies in agriculture where the canton of Zurich pays an annual amount of 180 mio CHF to farmers. If GIS helps to improve the accuracy of the subsidized areas by only 1% the canton saves 1.8 mio CHF!

Both examples illustrate the potential benefits of a broad implementation of GIS know how which is the perfect argument for UNIGIS' offer of domain-independent, in-service GIS education.
The HS Rapperswill, the exclusive UNIGIS node in Switzerland, is the perfect place to make first steps into advanced GI applications. Courses taken within their post-graduate programs (CAS courses) can be credited for any UNIGIS study (electives). Furthermore HSR serves as first contact point in Switzerland for anyone interested in UNIGIS.

Monday, September 8, 2014

UNIGIS MSc Days in Nepal

UNIGIS@Kathmandu organised a week long intensive workshop from September 1-6, 2014 at Kathmandu Forestry College (KAFCOL), Nepal. The workshop focussed on enhancing the geospatial analytical competences of UNIGIS MSc candidates by critically discussing their Master theses currently being prepared by 9 students. The students presented preliminary findings of their research encompassing a range of topics highly relevant to the environment and society in the Himalayas. 

Their research areas covered land use / land cover changes, forest biomass estimation in various ecological zones, soil carbon estimation, habitat suitability for particular tree and animal species as well as applications of GIS for evaluating municipal tax collection systems and garbage management systems. The presentation sessions were open for participation and critical feedback by other students and faculty members. The vibrant discussion sessions spread over 2 days followed by a thesis proposal session by another 14 students now entering into the MSc thesis stage.

Dr. Shahnawaz (Director, UNIGIS S/E Asia), Dr. Ambika P. Gautam (Principal, KAFCOL), Mr. Durgendra Kayastha (Coordinator, UNIGIS@Kathmandu) and Dr. Krishna Poudel conducted the workshop. The week concluded with a meeting of the Board of Studies to review the progress of UNIGIS@Kathmandu. The Board expressed immense satisfaction with the outcomes and decided to organise such workshops more frequently and, possibly, to offer these as open seminars for a wider 'geospatial' audience in the region.