GIS, BIM, surveying & spatial applications in Southern Africa
Issue 107, August 2019
This edition of PositionIT e-News is proudly brought to you by
Click the ticket below to download your complimentary pass
to the ICT Infrastructure 2019 exhibition!
Editor's note: Thoughts on the geospatial industry’s digital literacy shortfalls

There’s a lot to say about applying geotech in digitalisation. But digital literacy, even with our tech savvy industry, still has a long way to go. Three notable aspects of digital literacy still needs addressing:

  • Applying technology, and geo-technologies in particular, ethically – codified geo-ethics still lack in our sector.
  • Understanding that digital technology is not the only or even the best solution, and applying geo-solutions in combination with other approaches and disciplines.
  • Creating long-term value by ensuring redundancy – be it of information file formats, or the reliance on single system without alternatives.

The recent data breach of four geospatially-based dating apps, which included users’ precise location data alongside information such as their sexual preferences might appear like just another of many data breaches in the news recently. However, for users in countries where the LGBTQ community is outlawed, such a data breach could put their lives at immense risk and lead to prosecution. This should raise serious ethical questions for geo-based app developers and others. The American Geographical Society has established the EthicalGEO initiative to tackle such questions – but it's still early days. While I don’t suggest creating yet another set of standards just for the sake of it, a basic list of ethical guidelines is essential to any professional’s work.

Further, data literacy means applying technology cleverly. Applying geotech solutions creatively means looking beyond technology solutions to the underlying human question that needs answering. This often requires working with other disciplines, which many geo-expert remain reluctant to do. The City of Johannesburg’s Heritage Portal is a great example of how geospatial experts have created a solution in partnership with historians to address the cultural value of architecture and historical sites to society and collective memory. Further afield, another creative solution is the use of South African boer goats to reduce California’s fire risk by helping with brush control.

Lastly, it’s time that the geospatial sector starts considering the longevity of their information and solutions in the same way that other information industries such as publishers, researchers, librarians and more have had to. The digital nature of geo-information complicates matters, but it should not prohibit finding ways to create long-term solutions which accommodate changing file formats and more. Longevity also relates to redundancy, which in light of geo-information’s role as critical infrastructure needs to be considered seriously. The recent Galileo GNSS disruptions showed the importance of redundant positioning, something the US is also investigating for its own GPS system. Many more geo-professionals whose work form part of critical infrastructure of various kinds need to think about this seriously.
Geospatial solutions offer potential for economic growth

The geospatial and construction IT solutions conference SA GeoTech 2019, which took place in July 2019 in Gauteng, explored various geotech applications and the opportunities they offer to drive business and economic growth.

Read more
Leadership needed to guide mining industry through 4IR

New opportunities accompany job losses as the mining industry continues its Industry 4.0 trajectory, shifting away from a labour intensive industry to one which requires new digital and cognitive skills. This calls for new leadership, vision and...

Read more
Tax incentives for employing youth in your business

A useful tax incentive for employing youth is ETI or Employee Tax Incentive. ETI allows you to benefit up to R12 000 per year for every qualifying youth you employ. ETI was introduced to help make it more affordable for businesses to appoint new...

Read more
Meeting assesses land reform implementation

Deputy President David Mabuza has met with the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform to track government's progress in the implementation of the Land Reform programme. The meeting took place on 15 August 2019...

Read more
Upcoming events

IMSSA’s 97th AGM and Colloquium
18 – 20 September 2019

The Institute for Mine Surveyors of South Africa (IMSSA) will host its 97th AGM and Colloquium at Cathedral Peak Hotel, in the Drakensberg mountain range. The colloquium includes technical and commercial solutions presentations, while the institute’s president Ebrahim Ramzan will deliver his annual report at the AGM, where a new council will be elected. Delegates qualify for 2 CPD points, and there will also be raffle prizes. Register now.

BIM Community Africa’s Unconference
22 August 2019

The BIM Community Africa is holding its BIM Unconference at the Aurecon Centre in Pretoria. Instead of featuring keynotes and guess speakers, the attendees determine the agenda and contribute towards the conversations. It will make for frank, transparent, and insightful conversations. The event is free to attend, but space is limited to 80. More info.

17 – 19 September 2019

InterGEO is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Stuttgart, Germany, where digitalisation technologies in drones, smart cities, digital construction and digital mapping will demonstrate how geo-innovations are the currency of the future. More info.

Esri South Africa User Conference 2019
22 – 25 October 2019

Esri South Africa is celebrating 30 years of spatial technology at its user conference in the Central Drakensberg. Delegates from Southern Africa will enjoy technical workshops, user presentations, training, and industrial tracks covering a broad range of topics including education, utilities, local government, and more. More info.

More details in Events Diary
PositionIT. Anytime. Anywhere.