Afrispatial attended the SA GEO 2013 conference at the university of fort Hare to present its current work in the remote sensing field. The presentation mainly focused on how Afrispatial is preparing teachers in helping them understand the basics of remote sensing and how remote sensing techniques can be applied using Open Source GIS such as QGIS. Bridget Fleming, a Geography teacher and examiner with more than 26 years in the teaching profession and Admire Nyakudya, a graduate in remote sensing, are rolling out teacher education for remote sensing and GIS in the whole country in preparing teachers for understanding remote sensing since it will be fully part of the curriculum as of next year. As well as presenting the courses, Afrispatial is also involved in preparing course material which the teachers will be able to get free under an open licence.
The involvement of Afrispatial in educating teachers received a welcome from all the participants and it resulted in the establishment of a Community of Practice for remote sensing education whose primary aim is to consolidate what Afrispatial is doing and also ensure that all other relevant professionals (remote sensing scientists and experts) can collaborate and produce standardised teaching materials to use in preparing teachers for the remote sensing curriculum. Afrispatial made a plea for collaborating with the Education department to have competent teachers who are equal to the task of teaching new technology as it becomes available, as is already the case with the Western Cape Department of Education.
The SA GEO conference also had notable speakers from SANSA, ARC, academics from the major universities in the country and students from the University of Fort Hare. They showcased the work that they are undertaking in the remote sensing field. SANSA talked about the satellite that they are planning on launching and there was much discussion on what the remote sensing experts expected the satellite to cover, the bands that it will be monitoring and how to adjust that to the budget that they have; their initiative in distributing the Fundisa disk with SPOT 5 images for students in South African universities and the need to establish a portal to share data.
Other notable presentations centred on how remote sensing is being utilised in the industry and examples of topics that were presented are Land cover mapping for erosion modelling of Macubeni, Eastern Cape and the value of terrain attributes to map land at risky of soil salinity. All presentations that were done during the conference will be available for public viewing on the SA GEO website.
As the conference wound up, one of the primary sponsors, SACNASP (South African Council for Natural Scientific Professionals) encouraged all participants to be registered within the professional body and highlighted the importance of being a registered professional and the code of conduct required of professional. The registration material is readily available at the SACNASP website.