On Assignment: 2015 Ghana Geospatial Forum
Last week I travelled to Accra, Ghana to attend Ghana Geospatial Forum, a two day conference focused on empowering the country’s growth. By bringing together professionals, service providers, researchers, technology users, policy makers, and representatives from the industry on a common platform, they can chart out the direction for the further expansion and growth of geospatial technology in Ghana and throughout West Africa.
My journey to West Africa began after a brief stopover at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and I was fortunate to be accommodated with a more comfortable window seat thanks to one Royal Dutch Airlines stewardess. That day’s clear skies at 10,000 meter altitude provided a diverse array of landscapes as the flight ventured southbound along the Balearic Islands, over the Atlas Mountains, through the Sahara, and a sunset view of the Sahel. The final approach into Accra’s Kotoka International Airport presented scattered sections of glowing city lights. I would soon learn that my week’s visit to Ghana was during its worst energy crisis in decades and that rolling blackouts or load shedding was a common occurrence across the country.
My focus at the event was to promote capacity building in the region and showcase Spatial Network’s mobile mapping platform, Fulcrum. Presentations from various ministries within local, regional, and national government shared how they are leveraging the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology to effectively map and monitor their stakeholder’s interests. It was inspiring to witness accounts of Ghana’s organic yet rapid transition from analog to digital data environment. Nearly all attendees had a need for or involvement with field data collection in their organizations. Deploying field teams with paper survey form remains a common practice in this region, but they all share the same crux of latent data transcription and delivery for consumption. The second day of the conference I organized several small groups of attendees who showed interest in a brief Fulcrum tutorial. These interested professionals represented a multitude of ministries ranging from energy, forestry, mining, statistical survey, and land planning. Fulcrum could serve a myriad of roles within Ghana and West Africa, here are a few:
- Census Survey - Ghana has expectations of implementing house by house surveys to complete a robust national census database by the year 2020.
- Energy Auditing - mapping energy use practices on site to implement cost saving initiatives.
- Mining and Forestry - mapping illegal mining and forestry operations throughout Ghana to deter natural habitat loss.
- Street Name Mapping - planning departments could survey localities to provide street names throughout the entire country.
There is certainly a vast number of opportunities to provide a service that could very well contribute to further growth of Ghana and the West African region as a whole. I’m fortunate to have participated with such an energetic and passionate crowd of professionals at the 2015 Ghana Geospatial Forum.