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21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11) to Convene in Paris Monday

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

France will chair and host the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The conference is crucial because the expected outcome is a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2°C, a level that would ensure safety of the planet’s fragile resources. If that level is not achieved, it could have devastating consequences on world populations and survival.

One of the challenges of the Paris agreement, where heads of state will all gather, will be to establish a periodic – ideally five-year – review mechanism to raise the ambition of each Party and progressively improve the collective effort toward keeping global warming below 2°C.

Each country represented will obviously have reasons to participate but also issues, largely economic and political, that may create a climate of resistance to the review mechanism.

Royal Insight from Prince Charles

Prince Charles of the UK, The Prince, a tireless climate change campaigner for the past four decades, will deliver a keynote speech at the opening of COP21 next Monday.

He gave an exclusive interview to Sky News three weeks ago (well before the Paris attacks) about his ongoing concerns about climate change, saying he believes there is evidence to suggest that the reason for the Syrian conflict and resulting terrorism was drought. “We need to deal with the problem of the movement of people as a result of not being able to survive,” he said.

Environmental issues may have been one of the root causes of the problems in Syria. He said: “We’re seeing a classic case of not dealing with the problem, because, I mean, it sounds awful to say, but some of us were saying 20 years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues, you would see ever greater conflict over scarce resources and ever greater difficulties over drought, and the accumulating effect of climate change, which means that people have to move.

“And, in fact, there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land.” Displaced people who depended largely on agriculture moved to the cities that were already full of Iraqi refugees.

While Prince Charles is expected to steer clear of political topics because of his role in the monarchy, when asked if there is a direct link between climate change, conflict and terrorism, he said, “It’s only in the last few years that the Pentagon has actually started to pay attention to this. I mean, it has a huge impact on what is happening.”

He does appear doubtful that the UN countries will be able to reach a consensus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as there have been numerous conferences in the past to this end. His concern is that the issue is often being dealt with in a short-term way, which has left the “underlying root cause” of what humans are doing to the natural environment neglected.

“The difficulty is that by the time you try to take the action, it’s already too late,” he said.

“After the conference, it’s going to be very difficult I think to get agreement on the necessary reductions and the necessary actions that need to be taken to keep global warming at 2 degrees, or ideally below. So we then have to follow up, this is the key, and ratchet up the commitments after the Paris conference.”

Canada’s New Approach to Curbing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

After a meeting with the country’s premiers of 10 provinces to figure out a national strategy for climate change, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they will demonstrate Canada is serious about climate change at the Paris conference.

Trudeau’s Liberals won an election last month promising radical change on the environment from the previous Conservative administration, that was widely criticized for not taking enough action to combat global warming during its nearly ten years in power.

Canada must curb its greenhouse gas emissions, according to Trudeau. Alberta, home to most of Canada’s oil sands, said on Sunday that it would implement an economy-wide tax on carbon emissions in 2017.

According to a news report, Trudeau and the provinces hope their united approach and Alberta’s move will help dispel some of the international suspicion about Canada and climate change.

At previous U.N. summits the Conservative government sometimes found itself in disagreement with activist groups and even some provinces, perhaps because of the Conservative administration’s leanings.

“We need to show a renewed image of Canada to the world,” said Quebec premier Philippe Couillard.

The concern about Canadian employment has some premiers worried, because low crude prices have triggered major job losses among energy industry workers. There needs to be a balance between protecting and employment and the environment.

Architecture 2030

The organization, Architecture 2030, will play a vital role in the events at COP21, with their headlined offerings: “Paris: ZERO by 2050.”

UNFCCC Buildings Day, December 3rd, has planned the first ever “Buildings Day” to be held as part of the UNFCCC climate change talks. Their goal is to launch and alliance of organizations committed to putting the building sector on track to zero carbon by the year 2050. This event has free registration.

Zero Emissions by 2050

Symposium on December 9th, registration required, is focused on the “how-to” of ensuring zero emissions in the built environment by 2050.

A panel chaired by Farhana Yamin of Track O with Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, and Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change will outline why the Paris talks must convey decarbonization of the global economy and built environment.

Edward Mazria will give a keynote outlining the pathways, programs and tools available to achieve this goal and expert panels will address:

  • City and district building initiatives
  • Innovative building sector financing and building materials
  • Innovative building design and planning tools

Background on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted during the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. This Framework Convention is a universal convention of principle, acknowledging the existence of anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change and giving industrialized countries the major part of responsibility for combating it.

The adoption of the Kyoto Protocol at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992 was a milestone in the international negotiations on tackling climate change. For the first time, binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets were set for industrialized countries. The protocol, which entered into force in 2005, was intended to cover the period 2008-2012.

A longer-term vision was introduced by the Bali Action Plan in 2007, which set timelines for the negotiations towards reaching a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol, due to expire in 2012. It was expected that an agreement would be reached by December 2009.

Although Copenhagen , Denmark, did not result in the adoption of a new agreement, COP15/CMP5 recognized the common objective of keeping the increase in global temperature below 2°C. Furthermore, industrialized countries undertook to raise $100 billion per year by 2020 to assist developing countries in climate-change adaptation and mitigation. Cancún, Mexico, in 2010 made the 2°C target more tangible by establishing dedicated institutions on key points, such as the Green Climate Fund.

The willingness to act together was reflected in the establishment, in 2011, of the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), whose mandate is to bring all countries, both developed and developing, to the table to develop “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force” applicable to all the States Parties to the UNFCCC. This agreement should be adopted in 2015 and implemented from 2020.

Most of the information on the upcoming conference can be found on the COP21 website

Climate Change Affects Coastlines Greater Rate Than Other Places on the Planet



GISCafe News from the Bentley Year In Infrastructure 2015 Conference in London

Friday, November 13th, 2015

 At the Bentley Year In Infrastructure 2015 Conference held in London a week ago, it was noted that GIS was an integrated part of Bentley’s offerings, particularly in the utilities and assets areas of the products offerings. Products are being rolled into CONNECT Editions, which will allow users to leverage cloud services through a common modeling environment platform. Other products such as Bentley’s OpenUtilities, leverage GIS and their ContextCapture is being used to obtain a high resolution and georeferenced model of cities and even countries.

SA Water, Adelaide, South Australia, BE Inspired 2015  Winner in Asset Performance Management

SA Water, Adelaide, South Australia, BE Inspired 2015 Winner in Asset Performance Management


Technology Shrinks Geography

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Author Robert D. Kaplan Author of “The Revenge of Geography” Senior Fellow, CNAS spoke recently on the topic of technology and geography.

“Technology has not negated geography, but has shrunk geography,” stated Kaplan, “it has made it claustrophobic. The fights over packets of ground are more intense than before. Each part of world interlocks with the other.”

He chose to talk about the Middle East, then about Asia Pacific, then Europe.

Middle_East_geographic (more…)

Trimble Geospatial Announces New Solutions at INTERGEO

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Trimble Geospatial announced several new solutions at INTERGEO in Frankfurt, Germany this past month. Tim Lemmon, marketing director Geospatial Software for Trimble and Todd Steiner, marketing director for Imaging and UAS platform for Trimble. outlined what the new products and enhancements are for this release.

Survey Trimble R2 TSC3 Bridge Inspection

Survey Trimble R2 TSC3 Bridge Inspection


New HP Z240 Tower and Z240 SFF Next Generation Small Form Factor Workstations Announced

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Jeff Wood – vice president, WW Product Management,  Workstation and Thin Client Business HP and Josh Peterson- director, WW Product Management,  Workstation and Thin Client Business, HP met with the press in a virtual press briefing prior to the announcement of the new HP Z240 Tower and Z240 SFF Workstations with next generation Intel processors and HP Z Turbo Drive options, raising the bar for entry-level workstations, while providing the reliability of a workstation at the price point of a desktop PC.

HP Z240 SFF Workstation and HP Z240 Tower Workstation

HP Z240 SFF Workstation and HP Z240 Tower Workstation


TopoView from the USGS is Available

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

TopoView provides one of the USGS’s most important and useful products, the topographic map, in a way that is easy to use, accessible and provides wonderful historical map data.


In 1879, the USGS began to map the Nation’s topography. Just like in a lot of modern mapping, this topographical mapping was done at different levels of detail, as needed to support various land use, exploration and other purposes.  The collection of maps deepened and expanded as the years passed, with the USGS producing new map versions of each area. The most current maps are available from The National Map. For those users who need historical reference maps, TopoView shows the many and varied older maps of each area. TopoView also takes into account the fact that the names of some natural and cultural features have changed over time, and the ‘old’ names can be found on these historical topographic maps.

According to USGS materials, this interface was created by the National Geologic Map Database project (NGMDB), in support of topographic mapping program managed by the National Geospatial Program (NGP). Geologic mapping and topographic mapping at the USGS have a long tradition together (see 1888 report). The NGMDB project is proud to assist the NGP in bringing these maps to the Web.

TopoView is packed with new features as well as downloadable file formats such as jpeg, GeoTIFF, and KMZ. The maps shown through topoView are from the USGS’s Historical Topographic Map Collection (HTMC). The goal of this scanning, which started in 2011, is to provide a digital repository of USGS 1:250,000 scale and larger (more detailed) maps printed between 1884 (the inception of the topographic mapping program), and 2006. Currently, there are more than 178,000 maps in the HTMC. The NGP is accurately cataloging and creating metadata to accompany high-resolution, georeferenced digital files of each of these printed maps. At present, these maps are offered as GeoPDFs, through The National Map and the USGS Store. However, additional formats are now being offered for evaluation and use through topoView to include:


A Look at Two Ultra-Rugged and Rugged Tablets and a Handheld Device

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Randy Denny, vice president of Sales for Xplore Technologies, talked recently at the Esri User Conference held in San Diego about the company’s big news: acquiring Motion Computing in April of 2015. Motion added to Xplore a broader portfolio of solutions in the “rugged category” of tablets.

Xplore Technologies recently acquired Motion Computng

Xplore Technologies recently acquired Motion Computng


AccuWeather Addresses the Storms of our Century

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

“The business of weather is a storm of data driven change,” said Dr. Joel Myers, founder, president and chairman of AccuWeather in his keynote address entitled “Transformational Change Driven by Big Data” at the Esri User Conference 2015 held in San Diego. Myers added that, “We are reinventing ourselves over and over, to become the world’s most trusted source of weather information.”

Accuweather Portal

AccuWeather Portal

Weather information has definitely morphed over recent years, with maps that can be customized to the user’s requirements. With weather that has become increasingly unpredictable in the world, the challenge to provide up to the minute accurate coverage of weather patterns has also increased.

Tile data from AccuWeather allows users to see an accurate representation of the weather and “manage their business processes via the weather,” said Myers.

This certainly does seem to be the case for big weather events. Myers said that the key criteria for weather are the following: what was it and what will it be, how severe and how will it be presented, when will it happen? Where?

accuweather portal2

Weather today is the original Big Data, according to Myers, and has helped drive increases in data power.

In the 1940s, thousands of pieces of data were collected and plotted onto maps called weather maps. They were analyzed by meteorologists to create forecasts, including how terrain, water and land boundaries impacted the movement of weather patterns. Weather forecasters were among the first to use big data collected in real time. In 1960 the first accurate weather prediction was made 24 hours ahead of the weather event.


From the Exhibit Floor: Esri User Conference 2015

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

A look at what is being demonstrated on the Exhibit Floor is a great way to see what is trending in the geospatial industry. Location, navigation, GIS positioning, sensors, geospatial intelligence, UAS, 3D, emergency response are just a few of the areas covered in the vast offerings seen throughout the week.

TomTom_GOLIVE (more…)

Afternoon Plenary Session, Esri User Conference 2015: The Importance of Location

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Decision making in GIS would not be possible without knowledge of location and with it, a sense of place and culture. The stories of the afternoon plenary session at Esri UC 2015 showcased real life examples of this reality, from fighting the Ebola epidemic to fighting crime in Baltimore.

IMG_3348 (more…)

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