9th UNGIWG Plenary Meeting

General Information

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 (All day) to Friday, November 7, 2008 (All day)
Venue (short): 
Vienna International Centre (VIC), Vienna

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) cordially invite you to attend the 9th Plenary Meeting of the United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG) to be held in Vienna at the Vienna International Center, Austria, on 4-7 November 2008.

Formed in 2000, UNGIWG is a network of UN professionals working in the fields of cartography and geospatial information management science to address issues of common concern. Since its inception, UNGIWG has been laying the foundations for a United Nations Spatial Data Infrastructure (UNSDI).
At its core, the UNSDI contributes substantively to the mission of the United Nations by engaging member states, regional organizations and partners in building consensus, policy and governance mechanisms to ensure that geospatial data and information sharing practices are used widely in advancing social, economic development, environmental and humanitarian agendas.

UNGIWG-9 deliberations will focus on the adoption of the UNSDI framework as well as other related documents which will inform UNSDI Phase I implementation in 2009-10. The participants will hear from the UNGIWG Secretariat and Task Group Managers who will report on past year’s activities and discuss Task Group priorities for 2009. Innovative and challenging projects related to Geospatial Information Management and SDI (Spatial Data Infrastructure) from around the world will be presented in a number of modalities including a poster session.

At UNGIWG-9 members will be called upon to elect new Co-chairs for 2009-10. It is expected that more then 30 UN agencies, departments, funds and local, national or regional partners are expected to attend UNGIWG-9.

All UNGIWG members are encouraged to attend the full four days. UNGIWG Partners (i.e. non-UN) are encouraged to attend the full day plenary on Thursday the 6th, and the morning session of the following day. Note that in the morning on Tuesday, 4 Nov. there is a workshop on "SDI Best Practices" offered by Roger Longhorn, Co-Chair, GSDI Association, Legal & Socioeconomic Working Group.

Please confirm your participation by filling the registration form. If you would like to participate in the poster session or the Tuesday workshop, please indicate so by filling the appropriate sections in the registration form.

Accommodations in the vicinity of the Vienna International Centre with UN discounts and other relevant information on Vienna are provide via the links in related pages of the UNGIWG-9 site. Note that each participant is responsible for travel, accommodations, visa arrangements and all expenses.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the UNGIWG Secretariat at contact at ungiwgsec.org for further information.

Looking forward to a productive UNGIWG-9 in Vienna on 4-7 November 2008.

UNGIWG Co-Chairs

Ms. Alta Haggarty
Deputy Chief, Advocacy and Information Management Branch (AIMB)
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Mr. Karl Steinacker
Coordinator for the East
Goma (République Démocratique du Congo)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Sixty-three experts attended the meeting, representing UN agencies, government authorities, academia, as well as public and private sector organizations at the local and regional levels involved in geo-information. During the open sessions, the participants heard from the UNGIWG Secretariat and the Task Group Managers who reported on past year's activities and their 2009 plans. The UNGWIG Co-chairs reported on the status of the UN Spatial Data Infrastructure (UNSDI) initiative. Innovative and challenging projects related to Geospatial Information Management and SDIs (Spatial Data Infrastructure) were presented in a number of forms including keynote panels, presentations, lightning talks and a poster session.

During the UNGIWG-9 closed sessions, UNGIWG members deliberated on the Interim UNSDI Framework Document, adopted the Ninth UNGIWG Plenary Resolution, discussed the Terms of Reference of key UNSDI bodies and elected the UNGIWG Co-chairs to serve for the next two years.

The main outcomes of UNGIWG-9 were the following:

  •     Endorsement of the "Ninth UNGIWG Plenary Resolution" which commits UNGIWG to the development of a UN Spatial Dat Infrastructure (UNSDI);
  •     Agreement that the Interim UNSDI Framework Document be revised so that it constitutes the basis for the first phase of UNSDI implementation in 2009-10;
  •     Establishment of ad hoc UNGIWG Drafting Teams to finalize the Terms of References of UNSDI bodies (i.e. Steering Committee, Technical Advisory Group, Partners' Group) and to review the roles and responsibilities of the UNGIWG Task Groups to ensure complementarities with UNSDI bodies;
  •     Election of UNOOSA and UNECA as UNGIWG Co-chairs for 2009-2010;
  •     Decision to hold UNGIWG-10 in Bonn, Germany.


Anonymous's picture
Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 22:30

"The proponents of human geography, physical geography and now neogeography spend too much time worrying about how to define their particular area of expertise and interest -- usually to the degradation of the other two.  It's too much like siblings who fight amongst themselves, and only band together when the family is attacked.  We tend squander great amounts of energy and time fussing over the differences and especially the tools we use, or don't, and completely miss the fact that our internal divisions are completely invisible to the other 99.9% of the world.

I believe it is time to bury the hatchets and concentrate on improving the human experience of billions of citizens of the earth who don't have time to worry about our internal differences and the UN, along with the SDI, can be the starting point."

Sam Bacharach


Michael Gould

Professor of Information Systems, University Jaume I, Castellón (Valencia), Spain. 
Member of management council of Spain SDI (IDEE) 
Participant in Implementation Rules Drafting Teams for the INSPIRE initiative 
Past chair of management council of Association of Geographic Information Laboratories in Europe (AGILE) 
Research currently focuses on alternative methods for georesource publication and discovery.


Roger Longhorn

Roger Longhorn, a graduate of M.I.T. in Ocean Engineering (BSc) and Shipping Management (MSc), has been involved in the ICT industry since 1976 and the geospatial industry since 1992. He provided transport and regional planning expertise to UNCTAD (Shipping Division), UNDP and UNESCO (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission - IOC), in Africa, the Indian Ocean and Pakistan. He worked as a marine information systems developer globally from 1976 to 1986, followed by an external expert post at the European Commission’s DG Information Society (1989-1999), during which period he was involved in developing the strategy for the pan-European SDI, beginning in 1995, now embodied in the INSPIRE Directive being implemented across the EU.

Currently co-Chair of the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) Association Legal and Socioeconomic Working Group, he is also Information Policy Advisor for EUCC – The Coastal Union (Leiden, NL), a consultant for UNESCO’s IOC IODE Project, and represents two INSPIRE coastal/marine Spatial Data Interest Communities (SDICs). Roger is a member of the EUROGI (European Umbrella Organisation for Geographic Information) International Affairs Working and Advisory Group, and Editor of GEO:connexion International magazine, a trade journal that covers the geomatics industry globally.


Ed Parsons

Ed Parsons is the Geospatial Technologist of Google, with responsibility for evangelising Google’s mission to organise the world’s information using geography, and tools including Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Maps for Mobile.
Ed was the first Chief Technology Officer in the 200-year-old history of Ordnance Survey, and was instrumental in moving the focus of the organisation from mapping to Geographical Information.
Ed came to the Ordnance Survey from Autodesk, where he was EMEA Applications Manager for the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Division. During his tenure, he helped Autodesk to become one of the key providers of GIS software.Earlier in his career he was a Senior Lecturer at Kingston University, where he helped establish Europe’s first undergraduate course in GIS.
He earned a Master degree in Applied Remote Sensing from Cranfield Institute of Technology and is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London. He is the author of numerous articles, professional papers and presentations to International Conferences, and has developed one of most popular Weblogs in the Geospatial Industry, www.edparsons.com.
Ed is married with two children and lives in South West London.

His family life is documented at www.blakeparsons.com


Sam Bacharach

Sam Bacharach is the Executive Director, Outreach and Community Adoption Program of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), Inc.

Sam Bacharach joined OGC in April 2000.  He was a user of mapping data for many years as an Army officer, and then supervised terrain analysis and mapping production as a Topographic Officer before retiring in 1994.  He spent 5 ½ years working for Intergraph Corporation and became convinced that open standards, specifically those from the OGC’s open consensus process, were a requirement for geospatial knowledge to ever make its way out of the basement (where the offices were usually located) to full integration with information and communication technology.  He has managed several Test Beds for OGC and has presented on geospatial services and OGC in the U.S. and Canada, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe.  He sees the creation of standards very much like surfing in that the effort has to match the wave pattern to be useful.  A standard set before there is commercial viability will be out of date by the time business is realized and a standard that awaits business to be established may be too late to gain wide acceptance.  He represents OGC to the Digital Geospatial Information Working Group, and the Committee for European Normalization (CEN) Technical Committee 287.

Sam holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science, Geography, from the University of Idaho.


Schuyler Erle

Schuyler Erle is a long-time Open Source software developer and activist, and a founding member of OSGeo Foundation. Schuyler was a co-author of /Mapping Hacks: Tips and Tricks for Digital Cartography/, one of the first books on the subject of digital cartography and GIS aimed at the mass market. More recently, Schuyler co-founded the OpenLayers and TileCache projects, two widely used components in the OSGeo software stack.

Schuyler currently runs Entropy Free LLC, a software engineering firm based in New York City, where he provides consulting services on geospatial technology to clients in the private and non-profit sectors,
including the UNICEF technology innovation unit.




Opening date and place of the session

  • The UNGIWG 9 meeting will be held at the Vienna International Centre (VIC), Wagramerstrasse 5, A-1220, Vienna. The Vienna International Centre has its own U-Bahn (metro) stop, called “Kaisermühlen/Vienna International Centre”, which is on the line U-1 (red). From the platform, follow the sign for “Vienna International Centre” (not “Austria Centre”). This will take you directly to the Gate 1, the entry point for the Vienna International Centre.
  • Plenary sessions will take place in conference building C (Rotunda), in conference room 2 on the 7th floor. Break out groups will meet in rooms C0713 and C0727, which are located on the same floor.

Security: registration and conference passes

  • Security regulations at the VIC require that all participants possess conference/grounds passes. To enter VIC, the participants of the Meeting must receive conference passes at the United Nations Security and Safety Section Pass Office at Gate 1 of VIC. Please, mention the name of the meeting “UNGIWG 9” to the officer.
  • The Pass Office will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Participants should provide an appropriate form of identification (passport, national ID, LP) to receive conference passes.
  • Participants are requested not to leave any luggage or briefcases unattended. 6. Lost and found is operated by the United Nations Security in Room F0E21 on the ground floor of VIC. Lost and found can be reached at the following number: +43-1-26060-3903 (you should dial the last four digits when calling from a VIC internal phone).


Commissary privileges

The VIC Commissary is located in level -1 (underground) of Building F. Participants from the United Nations system will have access to the Commissary. To receive a commissary badge, participants should go to the Pass Office.


Catering services

A cafeteria, a restaurant and a cocktail lounge/bar are located in Building F of the VIC, entrance level. The restaurant (table reservation recommended, ext. 4877) is open from 11:30 am to 2:30 p.m. The cafeteria is open from 7:30 to 10:00 am and from 11:30 am to 2:30 p.m. The cocktail lounge/bar is open from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm and from 4:30 pm to 8:00 p.m. Additional cafeterias are located on the 4th and 7th floors of conference building C (“Rotunda”).



Bank Austria has branches on the first floor of Building C and at the entrance level of Building D of VIC. Both branches provide full banking services. Bank hours are from 9:00 am to 3:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 9:00 am to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. Both branches are equipped with ATMs.


Medical services

Medical attention is available from the clinic operated by the Joint Medical Service located at VIC, Building F, seventh floor (extension 22223/22224 and, for emergencies 22222).


Postal service

A post office on the first floor of Building C of VIC provides all regular postal services, including cable, fax and telephone services, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:30 p.m.


Travel services

American Express and Carlson Wagonlit Travel are at the disposal of participants requiring assistance with such matters as travel, sightseeing, car rental and excursions. The travel offices are located in the Main Lobby in Building C and in the corridor connecting the Main Lobby in Building C with Building F of VIC. The office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Visitor Center

  • Information desk for guided tours of the VIC and several shops are located at the
  • Visitor Center at Gate 1 of VIC. The information desk at the Visitor Center (ext. 3328) is open from Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, and on Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) Services of UNPA (including procurement of UN stamps and dissemination of philatelic information) are available at the Visitor Center from Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.
  • United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) UNICEF counter (for greeting cards, gifts and publications) is open from Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. UNO Café Open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Flower Shop Open from Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Hairdresser (Bundy & Bundy) Open from Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Souvenir Shop Open from Monday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • United Nations Women’s Guild Open from Monday through Friday, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.


Smoking is not allowed inside the conference and meeting rooms at VIC. VIC is a smoke-free environment. Smoking is allowed only in the clearly designated areas, where “smoking permitted” signs are displayed. Such areas are located on the fourth and seventh floors of Building C. Mobile telephone 15. Use of mobile telephone is not allowed in the conference rooms.

Travel Information

Language, Currency and Credit Cards

The language spoken in Austria is German. The currency used is the Euro (€). Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept internationally valid credit cards as well as debit cards with the “Maestro” logo.


The average temperature in Vienna in November is between 3 and 7 °C. Time Zone Austria follows Central European Time, which is Universal Coordinated Time + 1, during the period of the meeting.


The electric voltage is 220 volts (50 cycles). A standard voltage converter and plug adapter should be sufficient for conversions. Normally, the electrical outlets in Vienna require a two-prong plug with round prongs. Computer modems require a European plug adapter and phone jack adapter that can be easily purchased at an appliance store for about € 1.50.


Shops are generally open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Shops are closed on Sundays.

Arrival at the International Airport of Vienna-Schwechat

Vienna International Airport is located about 16 km south-east of Vienna. Public transport to the city centre is provided by:

  • Shuttle bus (Vienna Airport Lines) serving several destinations in the city centre (every 20 minutes). There is also a shuttle bus that makes a stop in front of VIC. This shuttle bus leaves the airport every hour from 7:10 a.m. to 20:10 p.m. Travel time is about 20 to 30 minutes, and the fare is € 6 for one way, and € 11 for a round-trip.
  • S-Bahn (regional train), every 30 minutes, € 3.40 for one trip to the city, connecting trips with public transport within Vienna city are included.
  • The City Airport Train (CAT) runs every 30 minutes from the Airport Train Station to the city centre (Wien Mitte). The train journey lasts 16 minutes and costs € 9.00 for one-way.
  • There is a taxi stand in front. A taxi from the airport to the city centre costs approximately € 35.

More detailed information is available at http://www.viennaairport.com/.


The Internet site http://www.wien.info/article.asp?IDArticle=10069 offers information on hotel booking, sightseeing and other useful information for visitors. Some hotels offered discounted rates for UN visitors. Please, ask when making your booking.

Those who want to stay really close to the venue may want to try these hotels:

Starting from 52 euros:
(Guest house. The website is only in German but you can send them an email or call)
E-mail: zimmer@sportcenter-donaucity.at
Tel.: +43 1 269 96 30

Starting from 85 euros:

Starting from 108 euros:

Starting from 136 euros:


UNGIWG Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland

Mr. Suha Ulgen, OCHA
ulgen at un.org
Tel: +41 22 917 8773

Mr. Franck Albinet, UNHCR
albinetf at yahoo.fr

Local Organizing Committee, Vienna, Austria

Focal point for the local organizing team of the meeting

Mr. Martin Raithelhuber, Programme Officer
UN-SPIDER Office for Outer Space Affairs
Vienna International Centre, Room. E0971 (9th floor in building E))
Wagramerstrasse 5, A1400,
P.O. Box 500, Vienna,

Tel: +43 1 26060 4198
Fax: +43 1 26060 5830
E-mail: martin.raithelhuber at unoosa.org

Mr. Ashraf Abushady, CTBTO
Ashraf.Abushady at ctbto.org
Tel: +43 26030-6284