28 November 2006
First international conference on GIS hosted by the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, LJMU
More than 100 delegates attended the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences' successful First international Geographic Information Systems conference in LJMU from December 11 to 12, at which some of the leading experts in GIS took part. The conference was officially opened by Professor Meehan, Dean of the Faculty of Technology and Environment; and Dr. Michael Francis, the initiator, whose vision inspired the conference.
Professor Meehan, opening the proceedings, told delegates that conferences of this kind offer a valuable opportunity to share experiences and to hear about what is happening in the field of GIS. She praised Dr. Francis and Hülya Francis for taking action and organising the conference. She outlined the various successes Dr. Francis has enjoyed since initiating the North-West GIS Research Laboratory in the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences in 2003. The conference brought together GIS end-users and developers from around the country as well as from a number of overseas countries to listen to a range of academic papers, attend practical workshops, see the latest GIS technology, and learn about successful GIS applications and, network with GIS experts.
The North-West GIS Research Laboratory was set up in 2003. Since then, the NWGISRL team has implemented a series of free bi-monthly workshops offering GIS training for staff and the public as well as an international annual conference. LJMU has funded the research lab through a series of grants and the Intergraph Corporation in the USA has funded the development with a major grant of £100,000 of software, licensing and maintenance. NWGISRL Director Dr. Michael Francis said: "The North-West GIS Research Laboratory is becoming a leading centre for GIS technological innovation. Our recent work in the development of state-of-the-art Semantic Web Services GIS, and other major innovative research projects focused on end-user groups in the North-West have raised our profile internationally."
Apart from the major success of the recent conference which attracted delegates from industry, national government, the NHS, local government, the defence services, emergency services and higher education, the NWGISRL has devised a series of innovations. Take their bi-monthly workshop/seminar series for example, which has attracted around 50 people into the University each time, to listen to leading experts in the field of GIS and geospatial technologies and to try out the latest GIS software. Then there is the Network of Excellence in GIS which has been initiated by the NWGISRL and led by the LJMU School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and which, despite still being under development, has already attracted interest from academic faculty based in eleven other Universities in the UK and in Europe. The NWGISRL team also manage to find time to offer four undergraduate modules focused on GIS in CMS and another two modules on GIS that are offered across the faculty. They are also putting together an active website for GIS users in the UK that will offer information on current vacancies, innovations, and sample code. Then there is also the LJMU Steering Group on GIS that was a major initiative attracting academic staff from across the university to its monthly meetings last academic year. Apart from that, the team are busy contributors to international conferences and journals around the world.