7th South East Asian Survey Congress in Hong Kong, SAR China, November 3-6, 2003

The 7th South East Asian Survey Congress (SEASC) took place in Hong Kong November 3-6, 2003. SEASC occurs every four years and this time it involved over 250 delegates from 25 countries. FIG was represented by the Council (Vice Presidents Andreas Drees and TN Wong) and by the Commission chairs Adam Greenland, Matt Higgins and Stephen Yip).

In the program there were plenary sessions each morning with papers on many “big picture” issues for the region. All technical papers are available on the conference web site: http://www.seasc2003hk.org.

Andreas Drees (FIG Deputy President from Germany) gave a keynote address on “Shaping the Change – FIG Policy for the Challenges of Today’s World”. He outlined the importance of the United Nations Millennium Declaration with examples of issues where surveyors can contribute. He outlined FIG contributions to such issues. Andreas also spoke of how surveyors have an outer responsibility to society in general along with an inner responsibility to profession itself. Many of the associations involved in the SEASC are also member associations of FIG. He also pointed out that FIG has 9 academic members in SE Asia. He indicated that FIG intends to continue to strengthen its relationship with UN bodies and to also strengthen its information policy (public relations). He also outlined FIG’s new initiative of holding regional conferences in association relevant UN bodies and mentioned Morocco (December 2003) and Jakarta (October 2004).

Shih Wing Ching (Chairman of Centaline Group) spoke on “Business Opportunities in Mainland China for Surveying Professionals”. It should be noted that the term “surveying” in Hong Kong is as broad as it is in the UK. It includes real estate, property development, valuations, quantity surveying etc. The Centaline Group decided to expand from its Hong Kong base into Mainland China in 1992. Today, Centaline has become one of the biggest property developers in Mainland China. This presentation outlined the current boom economic conditions in China, the opportunities for foreign professionals and the approach to conducting and building business there.

Bill Robertson (Past Surveyor General of New Zealand) gave a plenary keynote entitled “Surveying! Preparing for Change and Opportunities Into The Future”. One point that struck a chord was the need to realise that when you get to a fully digital environment you need to transform how you do things. He pointed out that studies are now showing that incremental change will no longer deliver sufficient innovation and growth, the curve is too flat. The evidence is that a sea change is needed to get new growth in a digital world.

Earl James (Past President of FIG based in Darwin, Australia) gave a plenary keynote on “A Review of the SEASC 1979-2003”. He outlined his belief that there could be better participation by grass root surveyors. He summarised his views by outlining what he believed were two shortcomings of the Congresses to date:

  • Not doing enough to involve the less developed countries of the region.
  • Not acting on resolutions and taking those resolutions to relevant government organisations such as ASEAN.

Prof Yang Kai gave a keynote on “The Strategy and Policies for Development of Geo-spatial Information Infrastructure (GSII) in China”. He is President of the Chinese Society of Geodesy, Photogrammetry and Cartography and former Deputy Director General of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) for the PRC. He spoke about Al Gore’s concept of Digital Earth and how they are applying that to strategies for a Digital China, for Digital Provinces and for Digital Cities such as “Digital Beijing”. He outlined the GSII (equivalent of our term SDI) for China including its four parts and seven fundamental datasets. His excellent PowerPoint presentation included several slides with graphics neatly depicting different aspects of the GSII for China. Prof Yang Kai also spoke of “3S integration” which is the integration of Remote Sensing (RS) plus GPS and GIS. The end of his presentation included many fly-through depictions as examples of how GSII is being applied to planning and decision-making in China.

Dr. Khoo Boo Khean (President of the ASEAN Federation of Land Surveying and Geomatics – ASEAN FLAG) gave a plenary keynote entitled “Pacing The Times”. The paper examined the changing marketplace and preferences of consumers, the role of technology and progression toward a knowledge economy. He then outlined the role of Surveyors in that context and the need to constantly work to maintain relevance to society. His presentation finished with some observations on the work of ASEAN FLAG and its role in the larger Asia-Pacific region and on the international stage.

General Technical Sessions
After the plenary sessions each morning, the day was split into 2 parallel sessions. In the proceedings the papers are grouped in the following categories:
  • Cadastral Surveying
  • Satellite Positioning and Geodetic Surveying
  • Engineering Surveying
  • Hydrographic Surveying
  • Photogrammetric Surveying and Remote Sensing
  • GIS and Spatial Information Management
  • Valuation and Land Management
  • Project, Cost and Contract Management
  • Survey Instruments
  • History of Surveying

FIG Commission 5 on Positioning and Measurement sponsored two of the technical sessions. Esmond Mok (Hong Kong National Delegate to Commission 5) chaired one session and Matt Higgins chaired the other.

Future SE Asian Survey Congresses

The SEASC in 2005 will be held in Brunei Darussalam and the 2007 SEASC will be held in New Zealand. This is a good result for FIG in that the FIG Working Week in 2007 will be in Hong Kong and the SEASC being in New Zealand minimises the possibility of splitting the conference audiences in the region.

FIG Meetings

Matt Higgins, Adam Greenland and Stephen Yip at the SEASC in Hong Kong.

Present in Hong Kong were Deputy President of FIG, Andreas Drees (Germany), FIG Vice President TN Wong (Hong Kong) and three FIG Commission Chairs: Adam Greenland (from UK - Com 4 – Hydrographic), Stephen Yip (from Hong Kong - Com 9 - Valuation and the Management of Real Estate) and Matt Higgins (Com 5 - Positioning and Measurement). Rob Sarib (Vice Chair of Administration of Comm. 5) was also present. The presence of 6 FIG Officers enabled FIG to have 2 meetings to discuss various aspects of FIG business. A major focus was a discussion paper seeking to have all Commissions contribute to a FIG Good Practice Report (GPR). The GPR will be published at the next 4-yearly FIG Congress in Munich in 2006, which is the culmination of the term and work cycle for the current Commission Chairs. Other issues included an analysis of the issues raised in the open forum and the need for a mechanism at Working Weeks to allow Commissions to liaise better and more directly with Member Associations.

During the SEASC we also convened an open forum on FIG matters, which was attended by delegates from 10 countries. Vice President TN Wong convened the forum. Adam Greenland and Matt Higgins outlined the FIG in general and the work of the Commissions, including details on particular Commissions. Issues discussed in the panel discussion included participation by national delegates in the work of FIG Commissions, how to increase involvement in FIG by less developed countries, and liaison with FIG international sister associations.

Matt Higgins
Chair of FIG Commission 5

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