10-11 October 2013, New York, U.S.A. - The international community audience in New York is more accustomed to policy debates than to technical talks. Yet 150 experts from 20 countries and 85 organizations attended the second annual conference “GIS for the UN and the International Community”, an event organised by UNOSAT and Esri to raise awareness of the potential of GIS in all areas of international action and to bring together experts, ideas and users. This year, the World Bank Institute joined in as co-organiser, while industry sponsors included famous satellite data provider DigitalGlobe and other private sector and NGOs. The Guardian was the Media Partner of the event. A moment of the plenary discussions in New York

UNITAR Director of Research Francesco Pisano, who opened the debate, commented that this success is also a sign that technology is changing the way we take decision, implement action and evaluate results. He said “GIS reveals its full potential in combination with human action: it is not a cold technology, it is a all-around enabler and innovation tool for the action of the UN”.

The programme included plenary talks by the President of Esri, the Director of the UN University Office in New York, UNICEF, UNHCR and the UN Division for Geospatial, Information and Telecommunications Technologies. Meet-up sessions and lightings talks on environment and emergency response were also featured this year.

Jack Dangermond describing the GIS of the future.Esri President Jack Dangermond, whose engagement with the UN has made him popular with many UN circles and who was awarded the 2013 Champions of the Earth Award by UNEP, said: “GIS is an integrative technology and its use has changed how people understand our world and create practical solutions”. Dangermond then explained new developments linked to services in the cloud and on-line features exploited by next generation Esri software.

The second day of the event coincided with the annual UNOSAT Day (celebrated yearly on 11 October). Einar Bjorgo, UNOSAT Manager, said “this event is a good way to complement other international instances and the discussion fora we have in the UN and to open the discussion to non-UN partners and the younger public. It is a pleasure to work with brilliant Esri colleagues and be rewarded by this high turn up here in New York”.

The conference included hands-on sessions and ignite talks, both designed for experts and analysts to exchange experieces and learn from one another. The next annual event will take place in April 2014 in Geneva.

Photo 1: A moment of the plenary discussions in New York.

Photo 2: Jack Dangermond describing the GIS of the future.