GISSA Gauteng members debate academic models

March 31st, 2015, Published in Articles: PositionIT


The GISSA Gauteng branch held their AGM on 12 March 2015 at the South African National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg. The day focused on administrative planning and also featured presentations covering topics such as academic models, spatial transformation and geo-marketing.

GISSA Gauteng chair S’lindi Mhlongo decried the low attendance of the society’s members at meetings, with roughly 200 of the registered 1047 members in the province regularly attending meetings – a membership issue at other branches also. The low number of paid-up-to-date membership fees has forced new measures for CPD points awarded, which will now only be awarded to members in good standing, while non-members and members with outstanding fees will pay the R200 per day visitor fee. Payments will also from now on be handled at national level, and be paid into the GISSA national account, though members who have already paid and submitted proof of payments will be updated on the national system.

The day included presentations from speakers Ivan Muzondo, Ben Botha and Riona Naidu, Chris Wray, Craig Schwabe, and Morena Letsosa. Adrian Roos also chaired a discussion on a new GISc academic model.

Ivan Muzondo’s presentation on “Registration as GISc Technician, Technologist and Professional – what differs” drew the most reaction. Muzondo described these three roles as contributory rather than hierarchical, and called for clearer definitions of each. He went on to define technicians as specialists on practical aspects such as equipment and software, typically requiring two years of study. A technologist in his opinion is a specialist in developing trends and software to introduce new applications of technology (typically requiring three years of study); He defined a professional as a specialist in coordination and strategic thinking, someone who understands the legal implications and underlying processes in-depth (usually studying four years).


Mzi Shabangu, Michelle Bester, Pieter Otto, Lydia du Toit, Sami Katumba, S’lindi Mhlongo, Anina du Plessis, and Prevlan Chetty.

Muzondo also called for a better assessment framework of each of the three roles, stating it as both a key for harmony between them, but also a cause for the hierarchical view of roles. He also argued for an outcome-based assessment model (granting people with the necessary skills the most applicable title), even though they might not hold a formal qualification in the said roles. This drew strong reaction from academics and employers in the industry, who emphasised the need for assessable skills.

On a different note, Morena Letsosa spoke of the importance of being involved in geospatial bodies such as GISSA, SAGI and others, with benefits extending beyond networking opportunities. Letsosa mentioned the upcoming Geomatics Indaba 2015 (which takes place from 11 to 13 August 2015) as one such an opportunity for involvement from the geospatial industry. This industry event, co-hosted by GISSA, SAGI, IMSSA, and EE Publishers, features academic and general paper tracks, training workshops, international and local keynote speakers, as well as an exhibition of the latest geospatial products and services.

Other presentations included one by Craig Schwabe, which considered the simplicity and complexity of future GIS applications. Chris Wray discussed extracts of maps and ideas from a book he co-authored, Changing Space, Changing City: Johannesburg after Apartheid. Ben Botha and Riona Naidu’s “Geo-marketing decoded” presentation looked at interesting ways in which location has featured in marketing, from compelling advertising campaigns to current international business trends.

Adrian Roos concluded the day with an open floor discussion to draw input from the audience for the structuring of a new GISc academic model for tertiary education institutions. He gave a brief overview of the current draft model, which will remain open for further input, with no certain deadline for implementation yet.

Planned for this year are four GISSA Gauteng meetings, a PLATO exam session to help prepare those writing the exam, a new GISSA website, a GISSA presence at the Expo for Young Scientists competition, and more tertiary level engagement with students with the aim of promoting GIS and careers in GIS.

In addition, five new members were selected to join the GISSA Gauteng branch committee – Andre Erasmas, Lydia du Toit, Sami Katumba, Mzi Shabangu, and Helena Fourie. They will take over the roles of outgoing committee members, S’lindi Mhlongo, Morena Letsosa, and Marlanie Moodley.

An image gallery of the event can be viewed here.

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