Next week is GeoWeb 2009 – Cityscapes  – the little conference about collaboration and sharing information about the world around us. As I noted in the previous blog (“Wither the World ”) the point of this conference is a serious one. The technologies and the issues addressed in the conference are important ones, not just for the Geo business, but in terms of how we humans make our way forward. The conference is about business, of course, but it is also about how we use or might use GeoWeb technologies to deal with the pressing issues of our time… issues which, I would hazard to guess, will become more and more troubling as time passes. One might even wonder if we are witnessing a fundamental shift in our views of government and business, one where provisioning for society in a sustainable fashion takes precedence over the aggregation of wealth.
The program this year addresses the GeoWeb theme from a variety of perspectives. It is a technology event at heart – but one with a focus on the importance of information sharing and collaboration.
We have five invited speakers: John Stutz (Tellus Institute), David Boloker (IBM), Javier de la Torre (Encyclopedia of Life), Dr. Baoquan Chen (Shenzen Institute of Advanced Studies), and Ken Greenberg (Architect and Urban Planner).
We have two keynote speakers – Alex Miller, the President of ESRI Canada, and Michael T. Jones of Google.
This is a group of excellent and thought provoking speakers.
Alex Miller, President of ESRI Canada, will offer his vision of the leading GIS technology provider on the planet and a company that combines leading technology with a passion for the earth.
Michael T. Jones, the visionary for Google Earth and Chief Technology Evangelist for Google, will offer us his insights, which are always stimulating and make us all think – “I wish I could talk like that”.
John Stutz is a co-founder of the Tellus Institute , perhaps best known for their work on scenario planning and the essay “The Great Transition ” in which they look at different scenarios for the future of the globe as we evolve toward a “planetary” society.
David Boloker  is CTO for emerging internet technologies with IBM, and a leading researcher and speaker on software for collaboration. David will have a few slides and an interesting live demonstration.
Javier de la Torre is from Vizuality in Spain and is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Life , a project to record every species on the planet (“Imagine an electronic page for each species of organism on Earth.”). This talk reminds us that even as we race to build the cities of the future and “manage” the earth, we will still only occupy but a single page in this catalogue of living things.
Dr. Baoquan Chen  from the Shenzen Institute of Advanced Studies will speak on Digital Cities (his talk, for scheduling reasons, will be in the Academic Track).
We wrap up the conference with the well known architect and urban planner, Ken Greenberg . Formerly an urban planner for the City of Toronto, Ken has been at the center of many urban development projects across North America and Europe.
This year we have our first Science/Academic Track, focused on 3D Modeling. This will have some 20 papers (oral and poster) that present leading academic thinking from Computer Graphics, modeling of buildings, other infrastructure and entire cities. We hope this Track will become a permanent feature of GeoWeb conferences and encourage the interaction between academia, government, and industry.
The main body of the conference has some 50+ papers on a wide range of GeoWeb topics – see Geoff Zeiss’ article “Between the Poles ” for an excellent summary.
No conference would be complete without at least some controversy, and we have three panels to provide it – from a knock-down drag-out war of the architectures (REST-farians in full battle gear) to a more sedate discussion of GeoWeb business issues and digital cities. All to get your synapses snapping!
If this all looks a bit daunting, start the week by attending a few of the 15 workshops being offered by leading experts. This includes a session on GeoWeb 101, covering everything you ever wanted to know about the GeoWeb from a standing start.
An important, interesting and, yes, serious conference – a vendor networking event – a chance to learn – influence – talk with your friends – and save the world in the same week – topped off with a fireworks dinner cruise. Who could ask for more than that!