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  • Rachel Kumwenda,University of Malawi

Attending Geospatial World Forum 2019

My name is Rachel Kumwenda. I am a final year student at University of Malawi, Chancellor College, studying bachelor of science majoring Geology with a minor in Geography. My undergraduate research is applying GIS and Open Street Map in earthquake mitigation as a case study of the Karonga Area (North of Malawi and part of the East African Rift system). Through this research, I am analysing areas most prone to earthquakes and suggesting increased resilience. I am a member of Chanco Malawi Youthmappers Chapter.

On 2-4 April I attended the Geospatial World Forum 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Geospatial World Forum is a collaborative and interactive platform, which demonstrates collective and shared vision of the global geospatial community. It is an annual gathering of geospatial professionals and leaders representing the entire geospatial. I was accepted to present my research.

I was invited to attend the pre-conference by FARO on the 1st of April. Through the amazing presentations on this day, I understood how geospatial technologies are being used in global infrastructure from alignment tools, surface analysis tools to virtually tools.

The first day of the conference on 2nd April opened with a keynote from Jack Dangermond, president of Esri. It was amazing to hear why he developed ArcGIS to solve world’s problems including floods. There were amazing keynote speakers from Poland to the Netherlands and a lot of other countries.

The second day of the conference had a lot of different sessions including academic tracks. I had an opportunity to display my poster and talk about my undergraduate research. Richa gave a presentation under CropIn Tech, an Indian company, how they are using AI, Machine learning and GIS for water identification, tree density etc. I also had an opportunity to attend the business seminar where the panelists talked about entrepreneurship and business models in the earth observation industries. From hyper-sonic sensors, national security, maritime to environment. How we can use artificial learning, machine learning and deep learning for entrepreneurship.

In the evening there were regional forums and I attended the Africa Regional Forum opened by the Deputy minister of Lands and Natural Resources in Ghana Honourable Benito Owuso. There were talks about how a country can develop its geospatial data, transparency of the data and data integrity to mention a few. There were African country representatives from Director of lands, transport etc. From Cameroon, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria and I represented Malawi. finally, we closed with a dinner.

From the amazing connections that I made to the awesome experience, I thank God for such an opportunity. This is a milestone worth remembering! Special thanks to John Gravois, Dorien and Daan, Dr Yotam Moyo, Dr Blackwell Manda and Pastor David Gondwe.

Rachel Kumwenda is a fourth year undergraduate student at University of Malawi Chancellor College. She is a geology major and a geography minor. She has been part of Chanco Malawi Youthmappers since 2016. Rachel is an open data enthusiast and thanks to YouthMappers. She has managed to interact with other Open Source users at FOSS4G 2018 and GWF 2019. During her free time, she enjoys volunteering to motivate girls in secondary schools around her community and she helps to enhance their English writing and speaking skills. She also enjoys playing guitar. Rachel is looking forward to continue applying OpenStreet data and GIS in solving today’s world problems.

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