9_25 Asia-Pacific Broadcast (South China Sea, Earth Observation Data and More)

Hello, and welcome to this Asia-Pacific-themed GeoSpatial Stream. I’m your host, Todd Danielson, and today’s Lead Sponsor is Trimble Geospatial Division.

Today’s Top Story is the long-disputed South China Sea region. China and Taiwan have been the focus of a very public territory dispute in this area, with countries such as The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also making claims, and strong efforts are being made to legitimize the respective stances. The Philippines has taken its case to the United Nations, and Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior is completing a project to map the disputed islands, which started in 2011 using onsite mapping and satellite imagery.

China is taking different, and more dramatic, tactics to shore up its claims, literally creating a new string of island bases in the area from dredged-up ocean-floor material. It’s speculated that China is seeking strategic land and sea claims, possibly to thwart U.S. fleets that regularly sail through the area. The island-making sounds fantastical, but here’s a clip from a BBC video showing exactly what’s been happening:

That was today’s Top Story. I’ll be back with more news after this brief message.

Space News reported that China’s major push into satellite imagery has nearly accomplished its goal of eliminating usage of foreign Earth-observation data. In 2009, 80 percent of China’s imagery was foreign-sourced, but by 2013 that number is only 20 percent, and it is expected to be 10 percent or less in 2014.

Vietnam’s first Earth-observing satellite recently had to change its orbit to duck a possible collision with another object cruising at high speed. The Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology made the move after receiving a warning from the U.S. Joint Space Operations Center that the VNREDSat-1 might collide with an object that was flying at a speed of 14,000 meters per second.

In industry headlines, Supergeo released SuperGIS Server 3.2, providing an enhanced user interface and service-management workflow to create, manage, integrate, and publish various types of GIS services within a centralized server infrastructure.

Esri sees a major growth opportunity for GIS in India as the country’s government plans to develop smart cities. According to Esri President Jack Dangermond, “In India, many customers are building their geographic knowledge base. Our job is to support these agencies and government by providing them the best technology and help in their vision of building a better India.”

And JSC Russian Space Systems is continuing to produce equipment for GLONASS satellites, despite difficulties caused by Western economic sanctions. Russia is planning to develop three GLONASS base stations in China as well as two in Kazakhstan.

And now for today’s Final Thought:

I’m not going to pretend that I understand the complexities and history of the disputes in the South China Sea, but they certainly are troubling. Territorial disputes go back as far as the first humans, I’m sure, and won’t stop with any UN resolution or even island building. New technologies—did I mention island building?—as well as climate change, which, for example, enabled new shipping lanes and resource access in the Arctic, are creating new ways to make and challenge disputes.

It’s certainly better than historical methods, which typically included the invasion and killing of a lot of people. But until we have worldwide consensus on territory (and I don’t see that happening any time soon), this will be yet another area where geospatial technology and mapping will play a key role. It will be fascinating to see how it all plays out, but here’s hoping it can be worked out diplomatically and not militarily.

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I’m Todd Danielson, and this … was your GeoSpatial Stream.