ASPRS 2000 At A Glance

The annual conference of the ASPRS: the Imagine and GeoSpatial Information Society took place in Washington, DC, from May 22-26, gathering over 2,400 people.The week-long conference and its theme, "Start the 21st Century: Launching the Geospatial Information Age," were launched with a host of pre-conference workshops covering soft copy photogrammetry, remote sensing, GIS technologies and applications, and user group meetings sponsored by various commercial companies.The agenda included various ASPRS committee meetings, educational presentations and exhibitors' hall, culminating in a Friday morning golf tournament at the Andrews Air Force Base.

The ASPRS Conference is the signature event in the world of remote sensing and photogrammetry.While the conference is a national event, it draws participation from professionals and organizations from around the world.The Omni Shoreham Hotel, the site of this year's event, is a 70-year-old hotel that has recently undergone a three-year, $80 million renovation, yielding a 900-room hotel with an elegant atmosphere.The Omni Shoreham is a landmark hotel, noted for its long history as the locale of many important events in the diplomatic, social and official life of Washington.In fact, all presidential inaugural balls beginning with President Franklin D.Roosevelt to President Bill Clinton have been held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

The location of the conference offered a veritable feast when it comes to education, history, entertainment, and access to key organizations and players in the geospatial industry, notably the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and its director who gave the Keynote Address, Lieutenant General James C.King.General King's speech centered on the mission of the agency and its goals for the 21st century, and offered his vision of how geospatial technologies can play a key role in the agency's future.General King acknowledged that the goals of NIMA are inextricably linked to the research and development efforts within the academic community and commercial industry.

Technical tours to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USGS National Center, U.S.Army Topographic Engineering Center, and NIMA's headquarters, were convenient and proved to be very popular with the attendees.The entertainment high point was an evening at the National Air and Space Museum, sponsored by Autometric, Inc., Litton/TASC, Raytheon and SAIC.The entire museum and its exhibits were open to ASPRS attendees, who viewed a show at the planetarium, watched an IMAX film, and participated in the inaugural George E.Brown, Jr.Congressional Honor Award, given posthumously to its namesake for his leadership and efforts contributing to advancements in the geospatial information industry.Congressman Brown was an advocate of open skies, a great supporter of research and the growth of the commercial sector, and author of the Land Remote Sensing Act of 1992.His wife, Marta Brown, was on hand to receive the award on her late husband's behalf.

The mood on the exhibit hall floor was positive and enthusiastic for the 78 exhibitors who displayed their products and services.Naturally, the buzz in the exhibit hall quieted down when the sessions were in full swing, especially with this year's hearty agenda packed with diverse topics in the educational tracks, special sessions, forums, and panel discussions that filled the week.Presentations covered a broad spectrum: land management planning and GIS federal government applications; specific "how to" sessions such as automated feature extraction techniques, change detection, generating 3-D views, and merging multi-source imagery; application-specific tracks that covered urban mapping, transportation planning, water resources and quality, state and local government planning, and monitoring ecosystems and wildlife; and cost-effective mapping and photogrammetric production techniques and discussions on the business opportunities within the remote sensing community.

User group meetings are now an integral part of the conference and each year since the organization first introduced the concept, the number of user group meetings and attendees has grown significantly, with 10 separate user group meetings occurring during the 2000 conference.From software vendors to data providers, the user group meetings have become an important aspect of the ASPRS Conference by offering attendees economical and efficient opportunities to exchange information.

Since embarking on a campaign to invigorate the organization and its membership in the late 1990s, ASPRS has continued to develop and expand its annual conference to integrate all aspects of geospatial information technology and research.This path mirrors the approach that many vendors within the industry are taking in order to remove the barriers in thinking and technology when it comes to synthesizing photogrammetry, remote sensing, GIS, visualization, geographic imaging, radargrammetry, GPS, the Web, and more, into accessible geospatial information solutions.

Published Friday, June 16th, 2000

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