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December 11, 2014
First International GECCo Event Held in Vietnam

Dec. 11, 2014 - The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA), in partnership with the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), conducted its first international Geospatially Enabling Community Collaboration (GECCo) event in Hanoi, Vietnam at the Hanoi Club from 10-13 November. The GITA team, comprised of Talbot Brooks (Delta State University), Dave DiSera (EMA Inc.), and Dick Kotapish (Lake County, OH GIS Dept.), worked with Dr. Shirish Ravan (UN-SPIDER) to coordinate the meeting with Vietnam partners Dr. Hoang Van Thang (Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development) and Mr. Dang Quang Minh (Director of the Disaster Management Center). This workshop was an outgrowth of a prior UN-SPIDER Technical Advisory Mission conducted in March of 2013 which identified data sharing across governmental agencies as a challenge for realizing the true benefits of applying geospatial technologies to disaster management.

Prior GECCo workshops conducted in the United States revealed that the most significant barrier to successfully applying geospatial information technologies to disaster management is not a lack of technical expertise or capacity, but rather the compartmentalization of pertinent data and personnel resources among stakeholder groups. The GECCo agenda seeks to gather together stakeholders, particularly those from the critical infrastructure domain, to identify barriers to collaboration and help them identify successful policies and practices which would help them better work together and share resources to plan for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from disaster.

As a rapidly developing nation, Vietnam faces unique challenges when compared with the United States and Canada. Geospatial technologies were embraced by government agencies and supporting non-governmental organizations working in the region early-on, but without the benefit of a formal coordinating body similar to the Federal Geographic Data Committee or a well-planned national spatial data infrastructure. Without such, a diversity of systems, standards, and methodologies has arisen independently across numerous stake-holder organizations. The GECCo team was able to provide several initial recommendations which would better unite Vietnam’s geospatial community while fostering greater future coordination and return on investment. These recommendations will be formalized in a report later this year and follow-on workshops are planned for 2015.

Individuals interested in becoming part of the GECCo program of work are encouraged to contact Talbot Brooks at president@gita.org.

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