ASPRS 77th Annual Conference – Very Successful with Good Conference Attendance

The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) 2011 Annual Conference was held May 1-5 at the Frontier Airlines Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with many and varied conference activities and an attendance of over 1,100.

There were 11 workshops held on the two days preceding the conference covering a wide array of topics including, Professional Airborne Digital Mapping Systems – An Overview; Looking Above the Terrain: Lidar for Vegetation Assessment; State-of-the-Art Automated Linear Feature Extraction for a Production Environment; Object-Based Image Analysis; Lidar Waveform: The Potential and Benefits for Topographic Mapping and Making SAR Accessible.

User group meetings were also held on Sunday and Monday sponsored by ASD, Inc., BAE Systems, ERDAS, ESRI, GeoCue/ QCoherent, ITT Visual Information Solutions/ ENVI, LizardTech, Microsoft, New Tech Services, Inc, Optech, PCI Geomatics, Topcon, and Trimble,

This year’s conference theme of Ride On The Geospatial Revolution was carried throughout and particularly with the opening general session on Tuesday where the premiere of Episode 4 of the Geospatial Revolution film by Penn State Public Broadcasting was shown to an audience of over 800. The excitement continued through the opening session as the Honorary Member Awards were given to Alan R. Stevens and Jack Dangermond. Dangermond continued the electricity of the morning by announcing a revolutionary online geospatial product from Esri called ChangeMatters a Landsat viewer with online imagery services to access multi-temporal and multi-spectral worldwide Landsat data. Continuing our revolution was the informative and thought-provoking Paul Ramsey, the Conference Keynote speaker. Ramsey focused his remarks on the Open Source Geospatial Revolution and wowed the crowd with his discussion on open source or free sharing of technologies available for remote sensing and geospatial organizations.

Wednesday’s general session included an address by newly elected President, Gary Florence. He focused on ASPRS – Leading the Way. To better understand the Geospatial Revolution, we need to understand not only where we are going, but where our profession has been. ASPRS Past President, Dr. Carolyn Merry moderated an ASPRS Who’s Who list of esteemed experts who led the start of the revolution over 50 years ago – Charles Olson, Jr., Ron Ondrejka, and Terrence Keating. When one steps back a moment and reflects on how far we have come, these ‘revolutionaries’ created the remote sensing and mapping systems that gave our industry, government, and military the leading edge geospatial technologies and intelligence to grow and protect our societies.

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 over 35 student volunteers played a very vital role in the Conference. There were many opportunities for students to meet including a Speed Networking session and a Student and Employer “Meet and Greet,” as well as the popular tour of the exhibit hall designed for students to become acquainted with the exhibitors.
More than 200 technical papers covered many diverse topics including; Innovative Approaches to DEM & Ortho Production; Hazard Assessment; GIS Modeling for Resource Management; Remote Sensing Applications; Use of SAR, MIS Spectrometer, and Line Scanners; Integrated Spatial Sensors and Technologies; and Remote Sensing Applications for Wetland Mapping.

New this year, poster presenters were given a chance to present their poster information in a Technical Session format. Three different sessions were held on Tuesday for the more than 30 poster presenters and each was given eight minutes to speak on behalf of their poster information. This Poster Session timeslot gave each presenter a chance to speak about their poster and also answer questions in an open forum. Posters were also set on display outside the Exhibit Hall throughout the conference.

A number of special sessions were included in the program and over 18 un-classified technical and special sessions were given by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). The special sessions covered Oil Impact Assessment using Remote Sensing; Geospatial Visual Analytics; Sensor Modeling & Metadata Development for UAS Platforms; Sparsity and Compressive Sensing; and Modernization Program for the North American Reference Frame.

Continuing the very popular feature of Hot Topics established several years ago, found open discussion of “Mobile Mapping Committee,” “Going to the “Mat” over Metadata. FGDC and NAP Metadata Standards, when are they too much or too little?,” “3D GIS and the Topology of Time: Sharing Thoughts,” “Breaking the 85% Barrier,” and “The Future of Sensor Calibration and Quality Assurance.”

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 Wednesday for these presentations called Commercial Sessions. Six concurrent sessions were held by the following companies: Ball Aerospace Technologies Corp, ERDAS, Esri, Icaros, Inc., LizardTech, and Vexcel Imaging GmbH, a Microsoft company. Good responses from their audiences were reported.

The Exhibit Area was filled with 60+ 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 Tuesday evening was, as always, a conference highlight. Sales of exhibit space for the 2011 Pecora 18 Symposium and the 2012 Annual Conference were vigorous, indicating the success of this year’s event.

The ASPRS Western Great Lakes Region held a reception on Monday evening at the Harley-Davidson Museum as a conference kick off event. Numerous awards 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 Paul R. Wolf. He was honored with numerous awards and citations throughout his lifetime. Alan P. Vonderohe presented the highlights of Wolf’s life through a heart-warming multi-media presentation.

A major social event of the conference took place Wednesday evening at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The evening included three floors of experience-centered exhibits including the Streets of Old Milwaukee, the Artic, Africa, and even a Live Butterfly exhibit. A plethora of food stations were scattered throughout the museum to entice all visitors. Over 600 conference attendees took part in this evening.

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