Successful indaba puts SA’s geomatics sector in the spotlight

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Source: PositionIT

Almost 800 representatives from the South African geospatial industry gathered at Emperors Palace in Ekurhuleni to hear the latest geomatics news and research, and to view cutting-edge surveying, mapping and GIS technologies at Geomatics Indaba 2015.

The three-day event, which took place from 11 to 13 August 2015, featured three top international keynote speakers who shared their extensive expertise with delegates. These included Kees de Zeeuw from the Cadastre, the Dutch Land Registry and Mapping Agency (Kadaster),  Dr. Carl Reed, former Chief Technology Officer at the Open Geospatial Consortium; and Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska, President of the Institute of Navigation.

Eminent South African keynote speakers included Siyabonga Mdubeki from the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform; Mmboneni Muofhe from the Department of Science and Technology; and Subash Devkaran from the South African Civil Aviation Authority.


Chris Yelland, Peter Newmarch, Nape Mojapelo, Morena Letsosa, Siyabonga Mdubeki and Kees de Zeeuw


Organised by South Africa’s professional geospatial bodies, the Geo-Information Society of South Africa (GISSA), the South African Geomatics Institute (SAGI), and the Institute of Mine Surveyors of Southern Africa (IMSSA), in partnership with EE Publishers, the indaba programme featured 15 academic papers, 54 general papers, and 33 training workshops. Dedicated Optron/Trimble and Aciel Geomatics/Leica Geosystems streams were also held on day two and day three of the conference respectively.  In addition, the 82 exhibition stands provided delegates and visitors with the opportunity to view the latest geospatial software, hardware and services available to the South African geomatics sector.

Speaking at the opening of the indaba, GISSA national chairperson Morena Letsosa called on the geospatial community to unite and stand together to build South Africa and the geomatics profession. He was followed by SAGI President Peter Newmarch who called on geospatial professionals to be at the forefront of South Africa’s transformation from a resource-driven economy to an information-driven economy. IMSSA president Nape Mojapelo, in turn, called on delegates to embrace new technologies such as UAVS and to use them to advance South Africa’s strategic infrastructure development.

Siyabonga Mdubeki, the Chief Director: Cadastral Spatial Information at the Department of Rural Development of Land Reform, informed delegates during his opening address that the lack of development in rural areas is still a matter for concern and said that SPLUMA is set to aid effective land-use management in South Africa. He also called for intellectual capacity to be developed in all areas making up the geospatial sector.

Highlights from the conference included Kees de Zeeuw saying that cadastral organisations need to keep abreast of new technologies and crowd sourced data initiatives in order to provide an effective on-going service to citizens. He explained that governments tend to be citizen centric as opposed to the private sector which tends to be user centric, and stressed the importance of increased collaboration between both bodies. Carl Reed speaking on sensors, big data and OGC standards outlined how most location data will come from billions of sensors, that standards will assist to make this data discoverable, and warned that anonymised data can easily be linked to individuals. An additional highlight was provided by Rob Mahoney of RICS who spoke on the future of surveying and where it is heading in a changing world.

The Geomatics Indaba programme also featured three panel discussions with strategically selected panellists debating the following topics:

  • Cadastre’s role in the developmental state.
  • Elevating the role of geomatics sensors for strategic infrastructure development.
  • Financial models for the collection and dissemination of public sector information in South Africa in support of spatial data infrastructure? Which route to follow?

The range of topics covered by the paper and training workshops was extensive.  Day one included a service delivery stream with presentations on spatial data infrastructure, measuring service delivery in Gauteng, analysis of dissatisfaction with local government performance and combining crowd sourcing and engineering data for better service delivery. Day two included sessions on  managing groundwater resources using GNSS, technologies for assessing slope stability on mines, mapping and monitoring construction sites, investigations into the cause and impact of acid mine water induced seismicity in Johannesburg, using GIS for site and route selections at Eskom, and automated tunnel traversing for control of deep level mining. Day three included sessions on location-based services, fire scar mapping, geomatics in conservation, cartography for groundwater resource management and geomatics and its role on the Bloodhound project.

Ever popular among the training workshops were those hosted by Esri South Africa covering the topics of “Data quality management tools” and “Asset verification in ArcGIS online”. The South African Young Geomaticians Network’s workshop on challenges faced by South Africa’s Young geomatics professionals, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s GNSS and heighting workshop, and the Department of Environmental Affairs workshop on the 2014 Landcover dataset and its applications were some of the popular choices selected by delegates.

The organisers of Geomatics Indaba would like to thank the following sponsors for contributing towards the event and for their support of the geospatial industry as a whole:

  • Diamond sponsor – Optron /Trimble
  • Platinum sponsor – Aciel Geomatics
  • Gold sponsor – Topcon
  • Silver sponsor – Epson
  • Bronze sponsor – Esri South Africa

The organisers of Geomatics Indaba 2015 would also like to express their gratitude to all delegates, presenters and exhibitors for participating in this hugely successful event. It is hoped that everyone who attended and participated in this national geospatial gathering is now empowered to move forward with the conference theme of “Developing spatial technologies and skills for strategic infrastructure development”.

To see some of the action from the event, click on the following photographic galleries: Day 1, Day 2,  Day 3 and UAV Airshow

Contact Clare van Zwieten, Geomatics Indaba 2015, Tel 011 543-7000,