ASPRS Celebrates 75th Anniversary with Record Conference Attendance

The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) 2009 Annual Conference held March 9-13 at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland marked the 75th anniversary of the Society with over 1500 attendees at the many and varied conference activities.

There were 13 workshops, many filled to capacity, held on the two days preceding the conference, and they covered a wide array of topics including Remote Sensing of Vegetation; Now That You Have Land Use/Land Cover, What Are You Going To Use it for?; Topics in Orthophoto Production; Marketing Your Business; Introducing Active  Hyperspetral Remote Sensing; Assessing the Accuracy of GIS Information Created from Remotely Sensed Data; GIS Updating from Imagery and Collateral Data Sources, as well as a specially designed workshop for those seeking ASPRS certification.

User group meetings were also held on Monday and Tuesday sponsored by ASD, Inc., BAE, ENVI, GeoCue Corporation, GeoEye, Intergraph, DAT/EM, DIMAC, ESRI, ERDAS, INPHO, Merrick & Co., Microsoft, Optech and PCI Geomatics.

This year’s conference theme of Reflection of the Past – Vision of the Future was carried throughout and particularly with the keynote address on Wednesday by John Townshend, Chair of the Department of Geography, University of Maryland.  He focused his remarks on “Challenges of Monitoring the World’s Land Cover”. 

Thursday’s general session included an address by newly elected ASPRS President, Bradley Doorn.  He followed the conference theme by discussing Mapping, Monitoring and Preparing for Change.  Anne Miglarese of Booz, Allen, Hamilton, was also on the Thursday general session program with a presentation entitled The National Geospatial Advisory Committee: The First Year and “Unofficial” Observations from the Chair.

Townshend’s, Doorne’s and Miglarese’s talks are available on line at

The Student Advisory Council (SAC) continued their participation in this year’s conference by organizing and moderating a number of sessions directed at students and young professionals.  The Student Assistantship program also grew and additionally nearly 30 student volunteers played a very vital part.  The opportunity for students to meet by way of the Speed Networking session, as well as the tour of the exhibit hall designed for students to become acquainted with the exhibitors, continued this year by popular demand.

Over 300 technical papers covered many diverse topics including ASPRS History, Feature Extraction, Homeland Security Emergency Management, GIS Modeling and Analysis, Wetland Aquatic, Lidar, Higher Education K-12 Workforce Development, Vegetation Mapping, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Data Visualization.

A number of special sessions throughout the week aimed at the conference theme included discussion of International Charter Space and Major Disasters, The Road to Launching the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, KML Applications in Remote Sensing and GIS, and Mobile Lidar Mapping.
Poster presentations were well viewed in a main area of the hotel and rounded out the conference theme.

Continuing the very popular feature of Hot Topics established several years ago, found open discussion of  “Geospatial Professional Procurement Guidelines,” “ASPRS Professional Certification – Your Ticket to a Better Job,” “ASPRS’s Role in K-12 Education,” “Exploring Opportunities in GIS and Remote Sensing Beyond the Typical Job Title,” and “The National Land Imaging Program – What’s Next?”

To allow vendors the opportunity to present their products and training in a well-defined format, the program committee set up a one-hour segment on Thursday for these presentations.  Five concurrent sessions were held with a total of 12 companies participating.  Good responses from their audiences were reported.

The Exhibit Area was completely sold out with 80+ worldwide vendors showcasing the latest in products and services.  Exhibit area traffic was brisk during the entire conference. A very well attended Exhibit Hall Reception sponsored by the Exhibitors on Wednesday evening was, as always, a conference highlight. Sales of exhibit space for the 2009 Fall ASPRS/MAPPS Conference and the 2010 Annual Conference were vigorous, indicating the success of this year’s event.

The Potomac Region hosted an After-Dinner Coffee and Dessert Reception on Tuesday evening as a conference kick off event.  Numerous awards from the ASPRS Foundation were made throughout the conference to many deserving recipients.  The ASPRS tradition of honoring members who have contributed greatly to the field and to the Society continued this year with a Memorial Address for Rupert Barron Southand, a career staffer at USGS.  He was honored with numerous awards and citations throughout his lifetime.  Roy Mullen, also a career staffer at USGS, presented the highlights of Southard’s life.

The 75th Anniversary Celebration was marked by an extensive exhibit of the ASPRS History memorabilia, photos, a time-line and included a video of some of the industry pioneers giving living history testimonials.  A special celebratory dinner for over 700 attendees on Thursday evening was punctuated with entertainment by The Capital Steps, who received rave reviews.

Founded in 1934, ASPRS is an international professional organization of 6,000 geospatial data professionals.  ASPRS is devoted to advancing knowledge and improving understanding of the mapping sciences to promote responsible application of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems and supporting technologies.  For additional information about ASPRS, visit our web site at