Welcome back.
Like an exciting series you have been watching on TV, I have kept you a whole week until PART TWO of GeoCom. How cruel!

PLENARY SESSION 09:45-11:00 Observing the Earth – Sir Mark Walport, UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor

So I was particularly interested to hear what Mark had to say as he provided our Government’s view on GI and its value to the nation. Mark is an incredible character as he is seemingly able to advise the Government on ANYTHING scientific! Wow! Mark begins by describing his role to be about the well being of society and the economy but that geographic information underpins almost everything he does. He believes, like Neil from yesterday, that new tech are changing the way we approach GI. From AR to social media mapping, there is change in the air. Mark warns us however:

“Careless use of GI poses a threat to personal privacy”


The ability to geo-locate almost everyone and everything brings utility but also hazards and threats. Privacy controls Mark argues, however, do not exist on a binary scale but a sliding scale which can be adjusted to our preferences. A question from the audience asked – “Would a case like Harold Shipman be prevented if GI was used better?”

“People are wicked. There are wicked lawyers, there are wicked doctors. There are even wicked geographic mappers”

What is important is using personal information in a proportionate manner.

PLENARY SESSION 09:45-11:00 Observing Mars – Professor Sanjeev Gupta, Imperial College London


From observing the Earth to observing Mars, Prof. Gupta takes us a journey through his work.

“Space is a gateway drug to science for kids – this justifies the $2.7bn cost for Curiosity!”

Although we are a bunch of geo information folks, the talk was absolutely fascinating. Spatial information is so important in Prof Gupta’s work from the planning to the actual mission itself. It is incredible to hear the $5mil/day cost of Curiosity but the advantages that it brings from inspiring the next generation into science is priceless. Top stuff.


SESSION ONE 11:45-12:15 3D or not 3D, is that the question? – Daniel Irwin, Crossrail Ltd

A talk from Dan Irwin of Crossrail and UK 3DGIS Special Interest Group (http://bit.ly/UK3DSIG) about 3D GI. So far, this conference hasn’t had much 3D chat although it has been nice that BIM and GIS are mentioned together without any ill feelings. Dan outlines some of the work done at Crossrail and how 3D is a vital component. He discusses how although 2D is less complex and easier to interpret, it has visual, topological and extrapolation constraints.

“GIS can help us realise BIM, but only in 3D”

Dan feels that 3D should be the master source for geometry and that 2D is derived from it. It is, however, a while until 3D becomes the norm…


SESSION TWO 12:15-12:45 Will BIM provide a platform to finally integrate CAD and GIS for holistic asset management? – James Colclough, AECOM

James echoes many of Dan’s views such as a “single master source” of data. He highlights that customers ask for GIS end products as many are not BIM capable. It was nice that he also feels that BIM is bringing CAD & GIS folks together rather than having that frosty divide!


During the lunch/networking/exhibits break, I took the chance to go interrogate ESRI UK about their latest product offerings, with a particular interest in ArcGIS Pro’s 3D capabilities as well as CityEngine. Here are my findings!

ArcGIS Pro

  • Out before Xmas with 10.3 release
  • Not all the functionalities of ArcMap or ArcScene at first
  • Ribbon layout, not dissimilar to MS Office 2010 and later suite
  • Better UI and new graphics engine


  • ESRI recognises it doesn’t have the same UI as it is a recent acquisition
  • Trying to bring it beyond procedural modelling tool
  • Great “warm up” to 3D

I asked… “Will there be a convergence between ArcGIS Pro, ArcScene and CityEngine in the future for 3D?”

Answer? Yes… but in the very long term!


SESSION THREE 14:00-14:30 Benefits of 3D analysis and visualisation in GIS – Carl Watson, BGS/UK3DGIS SIG

Carl Watson from BGS and the UK 3D GIS special interest group kindly showed us some of the 3D work he was doing. In particular, 3D seems to be a very effective communication tool – for school children, he had physical models created from paper, Lego and 3D printing. This tactile experience is what people enjoy, understand and engage with. Carl also showed us iGeology (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/igeology/) a mobile app and an online borehole viewer (http://mapapps.bgs.ac.uk/geologyofbritain/home.html?mode=boreholes)

What was really interesting was BGS have also been attempting to represent these 3D datasets in a 2D fashion, on an old school map. These are experimental of course, but what is promising is that there is a concerted effort to bridge that gap between 2D and 3D such that in the future, hopefully 3D will be the norm!


So there were a few more presentations but by the end of the conference my notes became more and more vague… so let’s summarise what I did learn/remember.

  1. Hard Work – Richard warns us that we have to work harder or face extinction!
  2. New Tech – Lots of new tech out there, embrace it and deploy it commercially.
  3. Ubiquitous – I grew to hate this word, but it seemed to feature in every presentation and it does sum up what GIS should be pretty well…
  4. All about Data – GIS is like an aged boy band. Forget playing material from your latest album, time to go back to our roots and play the classics. It’s all about the data.
  5. BIM – I’m glad we can finally be friends and talk about CAD and BIM.
  6. Change is in the air – Change is imminent, good or bad. We better be ready!

An absolutely fantastic conference, thanks to the AGI, the chair of the conference Rollo and also his small, but efficient team. I’ll see you all next year!


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