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Planting a Seed in the Canadian Geospatial Community: 2019 GoGeomatics Conference Discussion & Feedback

Ottawa GoGeomatics Social 2018

At the Ottawa GoGeomatics Meetup this past November, founder and CEO Jonathan Murphy led a discussion on what will be the first-ever GoGeomatics Conference in 2019.

In Canada we are lucky to have some excellent geomatics events, and many interesting regional and tech specific events on the calendar each year. Check out our Events Calendar for some of them (or to add your own event).

GoGeomatics wants to plant a seed that will grow into a national annual conference encompassing a wider view of our sector. To that end, at the Ottawa Meetup discussion on November 19th Jonathan Murphy presented his personal vision of the structure, partners, and potential themes for the conference, and invited feedback and ideas from the Ottawa GoGeomatics community. What did they want from an Ottawa conference? The answer was loud and clear: it’s time for a new national conference that showcases Canadian geospatial talent and looks to the future of location technology in Canada and beyond.

Over 40 participants highlighted multiple barriers that have prevented such a conference from being held in the past. Fragmentation within our industry looms large among those barriers: just as geospatial businesses attempt to reach clients, conference organizers struggle to reach their potential attendees in an industry with many subdivisions, including forestry, space, artificial intelligence, etcetera.

With regards to themes, many conferences divide location technology into various streams and cater their activities specifically towards the government, academia, businesses, forestry, and space, limiting the opportunities for professionals to make connections in a wider arena. Some participants identified a lack of industry and business-to-business connections representing a major gap in geospatial conferences; business owners want to network with other businesses owners rather than geospatial professionals, and students similarly need networking venues that are tailored to their needs.

One suggestion we received was to sell our conference as the best place in Ottawa to learn about what is on the cutting edge of GIS tools. Right now in geospatial the traditional aspects of GIS are changing. A major draw for conference participants—especially business owners—is access to the newest technology. There is an opportunity for the GoGeomatics conference to differentiate itself from other national conferences by offering technology demonstrations and workshops. There was also helpful feedback regarding location and duration. Co-location of a GoGeomatics conference within another conference in the same space could serve as a solution to high costs for students and graduates (as well as hosting student-focused events offsite, like career seminars and workshops). Alternatively, co-hosting a conference with a non-geospatial association might be a possibility.

No matter the theme or attendees, the GoGeomatics Conference is intended to be an opportunity for luminaries, researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, experts and students from across Canada and abroad to meet, share ideas and engage in discussions on location technology that will have direct importance for Canada and the lives of Canadians.

Keep an eye on the GoGeomatics magazine and newsletter for an announcement on the conference coming VERY Soon!

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