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China measures up in surveying sector

Yuan Shenggao
Updated: Nov 19,2018 1:20 PM     China Daily

Deqing, a scenic county in Zhejiang province, is catching global attention by hosting what the organizers said is the world’s largest and highest-level “geospatial congress” to date.

The first United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress-organized by the UN and hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Zhejiang provincial government-is taking place in the county on Nov 19 and will run through Nov 21.

Themed “the Geospatial Way to a Better World,” the event aims to provide a participatory and inclusive environment to enhance communications, understanding, knowledge and applications of geospatial information management to address local, regional and global challenges.

It brings together about 1,000 attendees, including high-ranking UN and government officials, and representatives from international geospatial information organizations, academies and industries.

China is well advanced in geospatial surveying, mapping and analysis, and has witnessed growing international importance and influence in recent years.

In 2013, the country received an award for the world’s distinguished national department of geospatial surveying, mapping and information management at a related global forum, becoming the first developing country to win the honor.

In 2015, it was awarded another international prize for geospatial technological innovation by finishing 30-meter resolution global land cover maps. Thirty-meter resolution means a pixel on the map is equal to a 30-m by 30-m square, which is about 100 times clearer than the 300-m resolution typically used in global landscape mapping.

The Chinese government donated the world’s first 30-m resolution global land data set to the UN in 2014, benefiting more than 8,000 users from over 120 countries and regions. China also makes annual investments to update and maintain the data set, in a bid to promote information sharing in fields of Earth observation and geospatial information science, and provides a platform for developing countries for their research and decision-making toward sustainable development.

China for many years has played an active role as a member of the UN Asia-Pacific regional committee on global geospatial information management, promoting the establishment of other regional committees in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Saudi Arabia.

In 2011, the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management was set up, serving as the highest-level intergovernmental consultation mechanism in the sector. China has acted as a co-chair of the experts committee since 2014, playing a leading role in improving the management system, work priorities and strategic plans.

In 2012, the Chinese government signed an agreement with the UN to implement projects that could enhance developing countries’ capacities in geospatial information management. Several related international conferences were held in China for this propose, including the third High Level Forum on United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management.

The second period of the agreement runs from 2018 to 2022, focusing on the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development supported by geographic information.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. During its development, Chinese surveying, mapping and geoinformation departments have gained fruitful results in enhancing competitiveness and promoting international exchanges and cooperation.

One of their efforts is to build a cloud service platform for the ZY-3, a high-resolution imaging satellite launched in January 2012 for monitoring China’s land use and ecology, as well as urban planning and disaster management. The satellite’s effective global coverage area now reaches over 118 million square kilometers.

China has also promoted the application of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System in more than 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. It has released high-precision geographic information data on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and part of the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations region through Map World, the Chinese version of Google Earth.

Since its reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, China has conducted nearly 30 international scientific and technological cooperation projects in the geospatial information sector, centering on such fields as geodetic surveys, digital photogrammetry, high-accuracy navigation and positioning, and ecological environment monitoring via remote-sensing technologies.

The country has also positively organized local companies in the industry to attend important international conferences and exhibitions, in a bid to help them expand business in overseas markets.

Currently, Chinese companies have exported their self-developed equipment to some 100 countries and regions, and provided surveying and mapping services across five continents.