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A Look at #COGS Conference in Nova Scotia: Sensors High and Low

The Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) hosted its third annual Winter conference at the Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS) in Lawrencetown this week, January 23-24th.  There were twenty presentations (see link to program and abstracts). They can be divided into four components:

  1. a) Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG) 4
  2. b) Applied Oceans Research 5
  3. c) International Technology companies 4
  4. d) Nova Scotia / Maritime based businesses 7

AGRG has expanded its technology reach from bathymetric radar and weather networks to LiDAR and Hyperspectral sensors on UAV platforms and the integration of UAV footage with ground penetrating radar for archaeological research.

In Halifax, the NSCC has established its Applied Oceans Research Group (AORG) with links to the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE). Jim Hanlon (COVE) spoke to the challenges of sensing in the offshore ocean environment.

The third component was the International companies who came to Lawrencetown, to recruit, and to present their global technology vision e.g. the Internet of Things. This included Leica, Esri, IBM and Hoskins Scientific. As a rural resident, it was both refreshing and stimulating to hear this global perspective and to reflect on the implications for rural Nova Scotia.

The final element was Nova Scotia/Maritime based businesses and organizations who have adopted these sensor technologies. In this category, I would include Stantec, Nova Scotia Power, CFB Greenwood, Glas Ocean Electric,FORCE, Hanatech, WSP and GSTS. In many case, the projects were driven by business decisions in the energy sector e.g. Muskrat Falls.

Over the two days, the audience likely reached towards one hundred, with a significant number of students from both the Geomatics and Ocean technologies programs.

Future Directions

Canada has a large geographic footprint. The COGS Winter conference served to reinforce the need for the Geomatics community to come together and bring its regional solutions and expertise to a common forum. Coincidentally, this supports the decision for a National “GeoIgnite” conference in Ottawa this Summer. Canada has a large coastal/ocean geography. Solutions from the East coast need to be shared with the West coast and the Arctic coast. (and vice versa).

Canada has a diverse urban/rural geography. Technologies which support agriculture, fisheries and other resource sectors need to be explored and shared. What, for example, is the rural equivalent of the ‘smart city’ movement ?

Finally, there is an education component. In the late 1990’s colleges moved into ‘applied research’. What is the learning environment today for 2020? At the NSCC, AOGR appears to be the next step beyond the AGRG model. There is a changing relationship between industry, community, technology, and the teaching environment for the next generation. Technology permits ‘blended learning’: a combination of online, classroom, workplace practicums. How do we make institutions more flexible?

Congratulations to Tim Webster (AGRG) and Michael Purcell (COGS) and their teams for the excellent mix of presentations: regional projects in combination with global technology vision.

My highlights from the conference were the Autonomous Vehicle/Smart City presentation by Jean-Francois Barsoum from IBM, Montreal and the audacity of Derek Law  from Esri Redlands with his electronic white board presentation on the evolution of ArcGIS Online.

These opinions are mine as a retired Geographic Scientist.

They do not represent the view of the NSCC, COGS or AGRG.

2 comments on "A Look at #COGS Conference in Nova Scotia: Sensors High and Low"

  1. GEORGIOS CHALARIS says:

    Bob, very glad to see that you are still writing excellent articles.
    George , Athens Greece.

  2. Eric says:

    Had a great time promoting our new GIS division “Eagle-GIS”. COGS was the first stop on our promotional tour, lots of interesting people, I would like to add our company as one of the Maritime companies using sensor technology as it seemed to have been missed by the a fore mentioned list.
    Hope to come back some day.

    Eric Langin
    Operations Manager
    Eagle GIS

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