Varsity Marks GIS Day 2018

From left: Prof. Kwanza, Mr. Kamau, Dr. Grosskurth and Dr. Mutua interact during a health break

Around the globe, Geographic Information System (GIS) has been vital for better decision-making but its uptake on spatial planning has been slow especially in Kenyan counties. While the country produces over 200 GIS graduates annually, only 4 counties have taken up some of these experts despite the use of GIS being crucial in the day-to-day activities of the counties. This was one of the concerns raised as JKUAT marked GIS Day 2018, on Wednesday November 14, 2018.

The event dubbed ‘Discovering the World through GIS’ was organized by students and faculty from Geomatic Engineering and Geospartial Information System (GEGIS) Department with the aim of bringing academia and industry to explore, share and learn about the applications of GIS to manage problems that affect the environment and community.

While giving a keynote address on ‘GIS in Commercial Research’ Managing Director, Dalberg Research, Dr. Jasper Grosskurth said the day marks the celebration of GIS software and unites the geospatial community in a global movement of collaboration, sharing, and education.

Dr. Grosskurth informed the gathering that GIS application is an interesting, broad and growing field with great potential to do good to humanity and urged the students present to expand their conception of GIS data.

“While you are here, share your experience for GIS application and enrich your understanding of what it takes to generate GIS-based insight for commercial research,” said Dr. Grosskurth.

GIS students interact with GIS equipment during the event

The MD said that gains have been made in the use of GIS and the geospatial community, and that both academia and industry, should take the opportunity of this new wave to foster economic growth in the country.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi while acknowledging that GIS application will be key in the attainment of the Government’s four pillars of development, urged academia and industry to scale up GIS research to enhance decision-making and build more capacity for the generation, use and consumption of GIS data.

“As a University, we look forward to a stronger collaboration and encourage you to participate actively in every dimension of this day as we look to a future where GIS will be integrated in all spheres of life and governance,” said Prof. Ngumi, in a speech read by the Principal Karen Campus, Prof. Jackson Kwanza.

George Kamau from the Council of Governors (COG) informed the congregation that the COG had conducted a GIS needs assessment in relation to spatial planning in Kenya by assessing GIS resources. The assessment which involved both academia and industry players came up with recommendations that stipulated the importance of capacity building for successful adoption of GIS in the counties and that counties must allocate resources to hire and support continuous training of GIS professionals.

“There is need to establish a system through which national institutions can collaborate with counties for data standardization and sharing, as well as knowledge transfer, for GIS application to be effective,” said Kamau.

A cross-section of the participants follow proceedings during GIS Day

The low uptake of GIS in counties is mainly attributed to lack of a clear policy to guide GIS application. To curb this and enhance government-academia-industry collaboration, COG formed a working group including JKUAT’s GEGIS Department to develop the County GIS guidelines emanating from the GIS needs assessment.

The event was also addressed by Principal, College of Engineering and Technology, Dr. Hiram Ndiritu, Dean, School of Civil, Environmental and Geospatial Engineering, Prof. Abiero Gariy and Chairman GEGIS, Dr. Felix Mutua among others.

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