News in 2021

FIG e-Working Week 2021 - report

20-25 June 2021, online + Apeldoorn the Netherlands

Well, now we have also tried this. A fully online event - well almost fully online. The only who could meet in person were some from the local organisers (not all in order to be able to keep the corona-distance) as well as FIG President Rudolf Staiger and Director Louise Friis-Hansen who travelled to Apeldoorn from Germany and Denmark. A tech-hub with local helpers was installed at a hotel in Apeldoorn. FIG General Assembly and keynote sessions were run from a studio i Apeldoorn (the home town of Dutch Kadaster). Another tech-hub was the FIG Office in Copenhagen with Claudia Stormoen and Maria Bargholz.

On top of this there were 1301 participants sitting in front of their computers, tablets, phones - at home, in their office, outside - a speaker was even talking from her car. All with the common purpose to attend in the over 80 sessions and other activities that took place during these 6 packed days. These 1301 participants came from in total 110 countries.

All who attended recall the banner picture shown at the top of this page, prepared by Get Kids into Survey. FIG and the Dutch local organisers thank Get Kids into Survey very much for this wonderful drawing. It captures this virtual and special event - with the half digital globe, Dutch elements, FIG President, main partners and sponsors and other surveying elements. This drawing will be a very nice way to remember this different e-Working Week. FIG and the local organisers appreciated the cooperation with Get Kids into Survey an hope to establish contact between GKIS and our national members. For that reason GKIS was invited to attend the Member Association and Regional Bodies Forum.

Watching the opening - from anywhere

Tech-hub in Apeldoorn with local organisers

Paula Dijkstra, Martine Eelderink and Rudolf Staiger in the Apeldoorn tech hub

Studio - backend

Frank Tierolff and Kees de Zeeuv, Kadaster, in the back room of the studio on Apeldoorn

The FIG Office tech-hub with Claudia Stormoen and Maria Bargholz - and a number of screens

A different concept

An online confrerence differs very much from a face-to-face event and therefore much effort was done to create and event that would work virtually instead of converting the usual on-site elements. The conference consisted of:

The conference spirit

It was important for FIG and the Dutch local organisers to not "just" organise some sessions - but instead give a full conference feeling and to feel part of the surveying community. This spirit is however not that easy to create - especially online.

The comments in the chats and also our post survey show clearly that an online event is not the same as to meet in person. There are also many challenges such as time difference (there is no time that is good for all!) and to keep an open calendar and not fill in other activities at the same time. On the other hand, online events also have some opportunities especially for those who are not normally able to travel to a destination. The current situation, however, forced us to either connect online or cancel, and we are very pleased that the Dutch organisers stayed on board and did a very big and successful effort to bring in this conference and community spirit to this online event.

The time difference was an will always be a challenge. The programme had sessions and activities spread over the day - and since the local organisers was from the Netherlands, all timing was kept in Central European Summer time. Although there were early morning sessions and late evening sessions (Central European time) there are always time that is convenient for some and not for others. The second-best solution is recordings of sessions, and participants have access to the recordings.

Various networking opportunities were offered. Many of the 1301 attendees managed to find out both how to network randomly and also to organise small meetings with up to 5 in a chat room. The random networking feature was a replace of the "coffee-line chats" - the small-talk that takes place while waiting in line for your coffee/tea. Each participate could enter this networking environment and be randomly brought together with another participant for a 3-minute talk. The system made sure that each time participants would be paired with a new partner. This 3-minute talk could be prolonged if both parties agreed to it. In the breaks there were also different activities to bring attendees together such as "break sessions" with a specific topic, the AMA sessions (see below), and the students from ITC had made a quiz - and these quiz sessions were very well attended.

AMA sessions

A new feature that was introduced were the AMA sessions... the Ask Me Anything sessions. They were organised right after most of the ordinary sessions (in the breaks) and were meant to serve as a room where it would be possible for participants to have an extra chat with the speakers, ask further questions, and it was also a place for authors who were connected to a session to meet and discuss. At face-to-face events there are always some participants who want an extra chat with the speakers and with other participants and this was our interpretation of how this could be done in a virtual environment. It was a new concept, and along the week the attendees got used to this extra opportunity (although placed during the breaks). In the post-survey many found these AMA sessions useful and good.
Opening session

How do you make a grand opening - online... Well, the FIG Fanfare was a recognizable element. In the General Assembly the FIG Fanfare was played while a picture-show from previous General Assemblies took the participants down memory lane. At the Opening Session, the Fanfare was accompanied by a count-down video created by the local organisers, counting each second with various colourful photos of all the more than 30 local persons who have been involved in the organisation of the event - counting down each second with finger signs. 

Invited to the studio were the partners of this e-Working Week, who are at the same time the Dutch members of FIG, Ron Rozema, President of GIN, the national association of surveyors, Frank Tierolff, Chair of the Executive Board, Kadaster and Freek van der Meer, Dean at ITC, University of Twente. A video greeting was provided by the official representative of the Ministry of the Interior Maarten Schurink. Hereto, Durk Haarma from Geomares, the fourth Dutch member of FIG, had prepared and conducted special video interviews with Mr Arnold Bregt, Dean of Education and profession of Geo-Information Science at the Wageningen University and at the same time chairman of the Netherlands Centre of Geodesy and Geo-Informatics.

At the end of the welcome address each speaker was asked to plug in a cord with the four Dutch colours: orange, red, white and blue, and at the end Co-Conference Director Paula Dijkstra turned on the switch to mark the opening of the conference.
Keynote sessions

Seven keynote sessions were organised during the three conference day and one workshop day.

The keynote sessions differend in their format from the more traditional plenary sessions at face-to-face meetings where often three plenary speakers are invited for a presentation. The keynote sessions were of 1-hour duration - followed by an AMA session, and were based on seven different and current topics with either a panel discussion or interview-style format and adapted to the online format.

The seven keynote sessions had the following topics:

The Impact of COVID 19 on the Profession with Benjamin Davis, FAO, Steven Ramage, GEO and Léa Bodossian, Eurogeographics (not in the picture), chaired by Kate Fairlie

The Challenges for Smart Surveyors in a New Reality with Founder and President of Esri - Environmental Systems Research Institute, Jack Dangermond, in conversation with FIG President Rudolf Staiger 


Fit-for-Purpose 2021 - Ten years of FFP: lessons learned and what now? with Emmanuel Nkurunziza, RCMRD, Stig Enemark, FIG Honorary President, and Professor emeritus, and Amy Coughenour, Cadasta Foundation, moderated by Jaap Zevenbergen and Mila Koeva, ITC

Integrated geospatial information for transformational change with Greg Scott, UN-GGIM and Rosamond Carter Bing, Co-Chair of the Extended Bureau of UN-GGIM and moderator Anders Sandin, the Swedish mapping cadastral and mapping authority

Making the land and property sector sustainable and resilient: Ensuring Diversity and Inclusion moderated by FIG Vice President Diane Dumashie with Narelle Underwood, Surveyor General of NSW, Australia, Chitra Weddikkera, Dean of Colombo School of Construction Technology, Paul Olomolaiye, Pro Vice-Chancellor Univercity of the West of England and Victoria Stanley, Senior Land Administration Specialist (not in the picture)

Digital Twins | How can DT support legal security? with Frank Tierolff, Netherlands Kadaster, Sisi Zlatanova, UNSW Sydney (not in the picture), Noud Hooyman, Chief Geo-information Officer Directorate for Spatial Planning Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Netherlands and Henk Scholten, Director Research and Innovations Geodan Netherlands

Success - a Continuous Journey - how about your journey? Co-conference directors Paula Dijkstra and Louise Friis-Hansen talked with Chief Success officer at Bentley Katriona Lord-Levins on how to tacle your own situation successfully.

You can watch or re-watch the keynote sessions in the FIG Article of the Month series during the coming months.

This following wonderful drawing which was created by Sophie Druif includes a summary of some of the keynote sessions. The drawing came as a surprise and was reveiled at the Closing Ceremony - please check out the many details...

Click on the picture to see it in bigger format

Sponsor booths and sessions

An online platform called Hopin was used for the e-Working Week. This platform was selected because it had the opportunity of other features than sessions to bring in a more complete conference feeling. One of these features was a sponsor area, called expo where all sponsors could showcase themselves.

It is thanks to these sponsors and partners that the conference could take place. A very big thanks to all sponsors.

The sponsor booths could have been visited more frequently by participants. We knew however that this is a challenge online, so therefore some sponsors were also offered sessions in the programme, and these sessions attracted a good number of participants.

Please thank all these sponsors and partners for their cooperation:

Institutional partners
FIG works together with several institutional partners, and it is important for FIG to serve as a link between the institutional partners and country level activities. FIG operates at an international level, assisting with the creation of tools, reports and knowledge that can be used at a regional and national level. It is therefore also important for FIG that institutional partners are connected to the FIG conferences to establish these important links and to give a platform to exchange information and to bring experts together e.g. in sessions and workshops.

A high-level and currently very relevant session was jointly organised by  FAO, FIG, UNSD/UN-GGIM, UNECE and World Bank onThe Role of the Geospatial Information in Responding to Crises and Accelerating the Progress on Achieving the SDGs. This session aimed to discuss the role of the geospatial information in responding to covid-19 pandemic and to share good practices for using geospatial information to better respond to future crises and to accelerate the progress on the achieving the SDGs.

FAO also organised three other sessions. One on Fit for Purpose (FFP) for Land and Water Management –The Relationship of the Water and Land Tenure Nexus on the role of participatory mapping experiences using FFP technologies such as Open Tenure (OT) in programmes and projects in cooperation with FIG Commission 8. A session on The Role of Land Banking in Support of Land Consolidation and finally in the book-corner presenting the book: Real Estate Registration and Cadastre. Practical Lessons and Experiences (more information about the book)

Two sessions were organised in cooperation with UN-Habitat/GLTN (Global Land Tool Network) on the two activities that FIG has been involved in: Urban Rural Land Linkages (URLL) where a report was launched, and the Valuation of Unregistered Land, launching a manual.

UN-GGIM was also involved in several sessions Apart from the keynote session on IGIF - Integrated Geospatial Information for Transformational Change that explained what IGIF is and the use of it there was also a high-level session on IGIF at the Country-Level focusing on the needed steps and actions by member states for the implementation of IGIF.

The UN-GGIM Framework for Effective Land Administration (FELA) was also the topic of a session giving an insight in what FELA is and to have an open discussion on the uptake of the framework in the FIG community, a communication plan and to share first ideas on implementations and use cases. Also a session on Coordination of Global to Regional Geodetic Efforts through the United Nations was organised in cooperation with FIG commission 2 and 5.

Much work had been done to create and design sessions that would work to an online concept. What works well online are interviews, dialogs, panel discussions etc that gives a more dynamic session. It was nice to see that many sessions were well visited. One challenge of an online worldwide event is how to deal with different time zones. And it is a recurrent challenge with no real solution. There is no time that is good for all. There were however good attendance - also from some brave spirits who attended during their night time. With no travel there should be no jet-lag, but there was certainly some odd hours in front of the computer... There was really an amazing spirit.

Sessions were scattered over quite many hours during the day. The online system made it easier to move from one session to another than had it been at an event in a conference centre, and it can be seen that quite many used this opportunity to jump between several parallel sessions.

A big thanks to all attendees and speakers for taking up the challenge with these online session - it was different, but hopefully still inspiring in a different way.

In total 335 abstracts were accepted. Only few of these were upgrated to present in a session. All authors were given the option to produce a video presentation which is published in the proceedings together with the full papers. All abstracts were connected to a session and was used for reference material and the authors also had a role in the AMA (ask-me-anything) sessions after the actual session.

All attendees had the possibility to see recordings of the sessions - not the same as real-time, but hopefully still useful. The sessions are also included in the e-conference bag that has been sent to all participants.


At FIG events often several pre-workshops and seminars are offered. Online, a full day in the technical programme was dedicated to a quite big number of workshops. These workshop were well attended and seemed to be a successful feature. The workshops spanned over quite many different topics :

Read more about the workshops

6th Young Surveyors Event

The Young Surveyors event took place one month before the e-Working Week, on 15-16 May 2021. The 6YSCe was held in four regional programmes covering the Africa and European Region, the South American Region, the North American Region, and the Asia and the Pacific Region. Each programme comprised a keynote session, two parallel sessions, which included panel discussions and presentations, as well as a plenary interactive session. In total, the conference brought together about 300 young surveyors from around the world into four
regional programmes, which focused on two broad streams - sustainablity and professional development. The 6YSC provided young surveyors a unique insight into the future of the surveying profession, the future of technology, as well as sustainable development all within the context of the challenges of the current day. This report outlines what transpired in the the two day conference.


After the final two General Assembly sessions on 25 June which concentrated on FIG Governance and the Work of FIG (read more about the General Assembly here) it was time to close the e-Working Week 2021. Six full days with a packed programme came to an end.

In his closing speech FIG President Rudolf Staiger wrapped up the activities during the week, the cooperations with the institutional partners with a special thanks to them for their cooperation, to the invaluable sponsors of the event and also all the participants who chose to spend a week in the company of FIG - despite the distance.


After the closing speech FIG President Rudolf Staiger invited the co-conference directors, Paula Dijkstra and Louise Friis-Hansen to a short wrap-up and reflection of this different format of a working week.

Finally - and it is important to keep some traditions with these many new features, Brent Jones, ESRI, had agreed on behalf of the sponsors and corporate members of FIG to make his evaluation of the e-Working Week which was done by a score of tulips. He did this with his usual insight and humor, and with his orange tie... Thanks Brent for doing this. We cannot help your coffee and chair, but we agree with your tulip-votes.

The local organisers need a very big thank you. They agreed to take up this challenge - on unknown ground - to explore together with FIG, to set up goals and achieve (most of) them, to create more than "just" a conference. Together with many FIG volunteers a relevant programme was brought together with relevant sessions that were fitted to a virtual environment. A lot of work, and more work than for a normal Working Week. Thanks also to all these many people who have contributed to the content of the conference.

We do want to share this last slide by Brent Jones - and agree with the number of tulips to give to the local organisers from the Netherlands. They did an amazing job to make this different event come through with all its unknown factors and elements. They took up this challenge with an enormous spirit, energy and drive.



Once the closing was over a small number of the local organisers had gathered outside the studio:

Kees de Zeeuv and Frank Tierolff, Kadaster, with a final goodbye to the studio.

All members of the local organising committee need a proper and sincere THANK YOU. This was received by Paula Dijkstra on behalf of everyone.



Relevant links:

Post survey result:


Louise Friis-Hansen
July 2021

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