Dr. ShirishKumar Ravan, Senior Officer, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
As a senior person in United Nations, Outer Space Affairs, what role would/could UN play to strengthen the Geospatial domain knowledge?
Okay, our location is very small but it’s really a big question.
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs basically deals with space technology and since your question is about Geospatial information, I have to make it clear that much of the Geospatial information today comes from earth observation.Unlike in the past, you had to use different paper maps available in survey agencies and (various) administrative departments and then we created that special information. But today, much of the information comes from space, like digital elevation models. So space and Geospatial information have become synonymous. Our role is to work with the government at the highest level to see that countries get assistance of the best international experts. We take people from different countries to our conferences, workshops to build their capacity. So we have thematic conferences in areas like socio-economic development on water or earth observation for disaster management, earth observation for human space capacity. These people then go back with a new vision and build their programs.
Another way is that you have six education centers, we call them United Nations Affiliated Center for Space Science Technology Education. They conduct courses in the areas of remote sensing, GIS, satellite technology and satellite communication. Representatives from different countries come and benefit from these courses, that help them to innovate or build the curriculum in their own universities or to start operational programs in earth observation or meteorological observations.
And it’s not just UN’s Outer Space Affairs Office that builds Geospatial capacities, but there is Food and Agriculture Office, there is World Health Organisation and others that promote the use of remote sensing technologies and work towards building capacities in countries.
What role can Academia play in this field?
It has a very important role to play in this because it shapes the new generation. I would always say that the purpose you are studying Geospatial Technology is to make the world a better place. Whether you go to the private industry, a business organization, a startup, or work as a researcher / academician, you should remember that you are doing this to preserve the earth and make the world safer and better. With this in mind you will do your best in whatever you have chosen for yourself.