GISSA Gauteng branch looks to the future

December 20th, 2016, Published in Articles: PositionIT


Digital data collection innovations, data science analysis, and international geo-information trends were some of the subjects under discussion at GISSA Gauteng’s last general meeting for 2016.

Held at the impressive new headquarters of Statistics South Africa in Pretoria, delegates first heard from Esri South Africa’s Rudolf de Munnik who detailed how local government can make use of ArcGIS software to assist in fulfilling its service delivery requirements while simultaneously ensuring compliance with applicable legislation such as the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act, the Spatial Development Framework, and the Integrated Transport Plan.

Fig. 1: From left to right: Samuel Osei (GISSA Gauteng chair), Vukosi Marivate (CSIR) and Rudolf de Munnik (Esri South Africa).

Following on from this was Vukosi Marivate from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), who described the challenges encountered when using data science to tackle societal challenges.  He spoke about mining social media in order to identify patterns for analysis and the need to consider ethics and issues of privacy while doing so. He provided examples of data science applications which included social media analysis of the elections and extracting insights from Department of Water and Sanitation data. Marivate also impressed delegates with his demonstration of how he had transformed the lengthy National Development Plan from a static document to a living document by using automated document narrative understanding.

Next up were several geoinformatics students from the University of Pretoria who described the geospatial and mapping applications that they had built to assist the residents of the Alaska informal settlement near Mamelodi. The projects were part of their third-year coursework requirements. The applications developed included one for hazard management in Alaska built by the Map Chasers team, a communal tap management system by GeoSol, a recycling platform for Alaska by the Alaska Assimilators, and a business intelligence solution for the management of the non-profit Viva Foundation by Apex PentaVertics.

Fig. 2: The GeoJozi Challenge finalists.

The event also featured an informal discussion on the future of geomatics co-hosted by Corne Eloff (Airbus) and Marius Burger (Esri South Africa). Eloff focused on the space system satellite perspective while Burger focused on the GIS, platform data management portion of the discussion. Burger explained that technology is adapting to the amount of data that is being generated by users, and stated that the focus is going to increasingly be on geo-analytics for big data processing, raster analytics, realtime data and predictive analytics. Eloff pointed out that as complete solutions at customer level become increasingly complex, the market is moving towards integrated services with partnerships being created to provide a full solution. He said that these partnerships can also be multi-national citing examples of co-operative arrangements between Ghana and Nigeria, and Kenya and Tanzania.

A highlight of the day was the presentation by Mnqweno Mnyengeza from Statistics South Africa who demonstrated how technological innovations introduced for the 2016 Community Survey helped save his organisation R700-million. He outlined the challenges encountered along the way citing silo planning, lack of technical expertise, bandwidth issues, procurement processes and lack of integrated testing. He also detailed the successes experienced during the transition from paper to digital systems, and pointed out that the Community Survey results were released 22 months earlier than the 2007 Community Survey and Census 2011.

Fig. 3: Top of the class – winners of the quiz.

Marcelle Hattingh from the City of Johannesburg Corporate Geo-informatics then provided details on the GeoJozi  Developer Challenge which was co-sponsored by her organisation in conjunction with the University of the Witwatersrand and Esri South Africa. The aim of the challenge was to come up with geospatial solutions to tackle some of the city’s problems with street addressing. The finalists of the GeoJozi Challenge were then introduced to the audience and proceeded to demonstrate their innovative applications.

Following on from this GISSA Gauteng Chairperson Samuel Osei presented the branch annual report. He cited the achievements of the branch, the challenges encountered and outlined some of the plans for 2017. He explained that there would be a 10% increase in the membership fee, and provided details on the five GISSA award categories which have been introduced for the first time.

The meeting came to a close with an invigorating quiz session, with delegates doing their utmost to press their control buttons first and prove their geospatial prowess.

To see the photo gallery, click here

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