Last week I had the pleasure of speaking in the emerging Baltic state of Lithuania about GIS - the technology which is helping people to locate and map valuable information.
The half day event was hosted by the Irish embassy in Vilnius and was attended by policy and decision-makers from government departments including education, economy, environment, tourism, agriculture and science, and transportation and communications.
As an Irishman I firstly addressed the fact that Lithuania is known as “The Land of Rain” and assured the audience that it could be much worse. For the remainder of the morning I spoke as someone who fell into the GIS profession through my work and study experience in the fields of planning and geography.
During the 3 hour talk I introduced the audience to GIS and explained how and why it can be used by a range of sectors. I also used the opportunity to explain how GIS can be an intimidating software to learn for those who are less-technically inclined but one which is well worth the learning effort.
The fact that the audience was from a diverse range of fields allowed me to demonstrate how GIS can enable better decision-making. Just like the geographic discipline, GIS is all encompassing technology - when using it one generally uses a range of datasets in order to understand or represent a particular location. In order to demonstrate this point I used a policy extract from the local Department of Education.
“173. We will guarantee safe transport for every child living in a village, which is more than 3 kilometres away from the nearest school as well as every child with special needs, who have difficulties getting to school.” SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA RESOLUTION No XII-51 - 13 December 2012 Vilnius
Just consider how many professionals and departments could use GIS and geographic datasets to more efficiently achieve this target.
In a post from a few months back I referred to the following quotation from the UN-GGIM:
“….there will be a need to educate policy and decision-makers, planners and delivery agents in geospatial data, potentially to the very highest levels of governments and NGOS, to enable them to fully understand the potential of geospatial data in solving key issues.”
I like to think that during the talk in Vilnius, an area identified as the geographic midpoint of Europe, just a few more key people were convinced.
NB: As an Irish-Australian I'd like to give credit in this post to the dynamic GIS community in Brisbane, Australia.