EAASI Summit 2023: Uniting the Aerial Surveying Industry for a Sustainable Future
The recently concluded European Association of Aerial Surveying Industry (EAASI) Summit 2023, held in the vibrant city of Lisbon from November 21-24, served as a compelling testament to the growing unity within the industry. Bringing together 77 guests, representing 49 companies from 21 countries, the fifth edition of the annual gathering showcased the collaborative spirit that is shaping the future of aerial surveying.
Since the inaugural summit in 2018, the industry has made remarkable progress in fostering collaboration and addressing shared challenges. The meticulously crafted agenda for this year delved into crucial industry topics, including airspace access, talent attraction, evolving business models, and the standardization of data.
The summit featured expert speakers at the forefront of industry discussions, covering key areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), air traffic control, data standardization, and university-student engagement.
Notable was the AI-focused keynote by Emilie Lundblad, Director of Data & AI at Amesto Nextbridge and Microsoft Regional Director. Lundblad also joined a thought-provoking panel discussion on the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in geospatial applications. Moderated by Konrad Wenzel, Director of Esri R&D Center Stuttgart, the panel included key figures such as Abigail Coholic, Sales Director at Ecopia, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Kada, Technische Universität Berlin.
The discussion addressed critical questions, exploring the collaborative role of open-source and commercial partnerships in enhancing computer vision models for aerial surveying. Additionally, the panel delved into bridging academia and industry to foster innovation and talent acquisition, the potential of synthetic data for object detection, strategies for improving the efficiency of generative AI, and the intriguing concept of Large Language Models (LLMs) 'unlearning' information. These insights reflect the industry's commitment to advancing AI in geospatial science, paving the way for future innovations and collaborations.
Additionally, an Air Traffic Control (ATC) Experts Panel, moderated by Cedric Anciaux from CAE Aviation, brought insights from industry leaders involved in air operations: Dave Connor representing RVL Aviation, Søren Vosgerau Jespersen, Vice President Operations, Content Europe at Hexagon Geosystems, and Olaf Möller, Project Manager at AVT Airborne Sensing joined Helio Sales from NAV Portugal, the ATC agency in this country.
Furthermore, the Summit provided ample opportunities for networking, guided tours of Lisbon, and social events. These integral components reinforced the commitment to building meaningful connections among participants. At EAASI, there is a firm belief that collaboration is the key to overcoming industry challenges.
Florian Romanowski, President of OPEGIEKA and EAASI President, introduced a new framework for the Association: "At the Lisbon Summit, we proposed a new face and a new name for workshops - Industry Challenges Committees. The Leaders of Committees, who are members of the EAASI Board, have undertaken personal responsibility not only to manage particular topics during the Summit but to oversee them throughout their term on the Board. My great thanks to them for their commendable community involvement," stated the EAASI President. The Industry Challenges Committees, led by these dedicated individuals, focus on critical aspects:
• Simon Musäus (Hexagon): Universities and students' engagement
• Engelbert Breg (Vexcel Imaging): Industry technical standards, state-of-the-art technology
• Cedric Anciaux (CAE Aviation): Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Aviation Authorities
• Pedro Llorens (SPASA) : New business models and their impact on the industry
Romanowski also emphasized the association's primary objective from its foundation: to significantly enhance visibility among potential customers. This strategic imperative arises from a notable discrepancy, with more than 80% of Aerial Acquisition Data originating from aircraft missions, while media attention disproportionately centers around satellite and drone activities. Since its inception, EAASI has diligently promoted its endeavors, participating in conferences, contributing to professional magazines, and maintaining an active presence on social media.
As the industry reflects on the success of the Summit, it becomes evident that aerial surveying members need to continue collaborating. Together, the industry can work towards a sustainable future—both financially and ecologically.