Los Angeles Geospatial Summit

USC Hosts Annual Showcase

On 28 February, I braved LA traffic to attend the Los Angeles Geospatial Summit 2020, a one-day event at the University of Southern California (USC). This was run by the Institute of Spatial Sciences (ISS), founded in 2010 and run by Prof. John Wilson and managing director Susan Kamei. ISS operates within the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at USC. Ever since the beginning of ISS, the founders have run an annual meeting to showcase the work of students at multiple universities throughout the LA basin and provide opportunities for students to network with experts and potential employers. The result was a lively day attended by more than 200 participants. The keynote was “GIS for science”, by Esri’s chief scientist Dawn Wright[1], who set a high standard for the presentations and panels to meet. The polish and confidence of some of the undergraduate presenters were impressive. The second half of the morning involved the audience crowding around 20 attractive student posters – I hope we see more of John Smith Mason’s innovative wind turbine with curved blades. The private sector exhibitors in the “knowledge network” over lunch were Accenture, Azavea, Eclipse Mapping and GIS, Hexagon, Northrop Grumman and The Aerospace Corporation. The afternoon began with an eminent panel about smallsats. Another on geospatial start-ups included Todd Simon, founder of Geospatial Alpha and a venture partner at DN Capital. Todd’s well-structured remarks oozed expertise and the audience surely understood that successful geospatial start-ups need something very special behind them, not only ideas and financing but also management.

One of the purposes of attending the event, however, was to meet with Col. (retired) Steve Fleming, a professor of practice at ISS. Steve’s responsibilities include ISS’s lidar and photogrammetry efforts and he has interesting views on how an educational institute must be nimble and willing to change its offerings as technology changes and the demands of students and employers evolve. We will work with Steve on an article about this, citing examples of ongoing lidar research at ISS to illustrate what can be accomplished.

[1] Wright, D.J. and Harder, C. (eds.), 2019. GIS for Science: Applying Mapping and Spatial Analytics, Esri Press, Redlands, CA, 237 pp. Each participant received a copy of this beautifully illustrated collection of essays, which is supported by immense online resources at www.gisforscience.com.

About the Author

Dr. A. Stewart Walker

Stewart is the Managing Editor of the magazine. He holds MA, MScE and PhD degrees in geography and geomatics from the universities of Glasgow, New Brunswick and Bristol, and an MBA from Heriot-Watt. He is an ASPRS-certified photogrammetrist. More articles...