FIG Working Week 2019 - Report

A wonderful and warm Hanoi set the scene for this year's Working Week. It was hot outside, and inside the large National Convention Centre there was a warm and intense summing of activity throughout all the days. Around 1,000 participants had found their way to Hanoi from in total 86 countries to attend the Working Week. The local organisers had done their utmost to welcome all participants in the most friendly and hospitable way.

Three pre-events kicked off the Working Week - on BIM, Reference Frame in Practice and Young Surveyors meeting. All three events were well visited. The BIM Workshop was chaired by Mrs Mercy Iyortyer, Vice Chair of FIG Commission 10 and focused on how digital change and BIM can affect the future of the surveying profession. Reference Frame in Practice Seminar was combined with a BELS+ training.

The FIG Young Surveyors - Asia/Pacific held their meeting with participation from all over the world. The first day was a workshop day on Resilience and what this means for surveyors and how to take the Network further into the future. On day two there was a  an eco-friendly tour highlighting the challenges and opportunities for environmental preservation within Hanoi.

After the General Assembly the FIG Young Surveyors had organised a Chairty Dance. All participants were invited and the donations for the participation went to FIG Foundation and "Get Kids into Survey" Vietnam.

Opening Ceremony and Plenary Sessions

During the conference over 300 papers were presented in 80 technical sessions.  Most sessions were composed by the open call for papers and designed by the Commission and Network Chairs. Further to this there were sessions with our institutional partners FAO, UN-Habitat/GLTN, UN-GGIM and World Bank, other sessions were specially designed to specific topics, some to support FIG Task Forces and finally the FIG Platinum Corporate Members ESRI, Trimble and Leica each had a technical session. The highlights of the conference were the opening ceremony and the three plenary sessions - one per day.


The opening Ceremony showcased the elegant and smiling culture of Vietnam in the most beautiful way. Dancers were accompanied by pictures of Vietnam in an elegant show setting the scene so that no participant were in doubt that they were in Vietnam. From Vietnam Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Hoa, Vice-minister of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, MONRE, gave an opening speech. MONRE has been a close partner to FIG and the Local Organisers in the preparations of the Working Week, and Ms Nguyen Thi Phuong Hoa expressed her satisfaction seeing representatives from so many countries at the Working Week. Vietnam and MONRE has gone through a larger development on the geodetic infrastructure and is today facing challenges that are expressed in the overall theme of the Working Week: Geospatial Information for a Smarter Life and Environmental Resilience.

There were furthermore welcome speeches from Mr. Tran Bach Giang, chair of the national association, VGCR, Co-conference director Mr Trinh Anh Co and FIG President Rudolf Staiger. Key note speaker was Dr. Mika-Petteri Törhönen, Lead Land Administration Specialist, World Bank. His presentation: Secure tenure for all Men and Women - The World Bank’s Land and Geospatial Program with a Reference to Achieving Sustainable Development Goals put the theme and the following technical programme into perspective. The work of surveyors are a central part of the goals of the World Bank. Some of the major challenges by 2030 according to World Bank are:

Mika Torhonen presented a number of new possibilities that can help these challenges: Innovative technologies, privat-public partnerships and a changed perception of the meaning of land and land rights. Geospatial data and a geospatial framework is fundamental for a more sustainable and safe world.  

The folllowing plenary sssion had presentations by Profession Dr Van Cu Pham on Timing - Spatial Information System is the Informative Infrastructure to Develop the Smart World, Gary Johnston on UNGGIM-AP Aprroaches to a smarter life and environmental resilience and finally FIG President Rudolf Staiger who talked about the overall motto for his term of office: Volunteering for the future.

The second Plenary session that took place Wednesday 24 April 2019 addressed: A Smarter Life and Environmental Resilience through Science and Innovation featuring the Director General, Department of Surveying and Mapping, VIetnam, Dr Phan Duc Hieu on how they have dealt with the modernisation of the Geodetic Infrastructure in Vietnam. He stated that:

  • Improving and modernizing the geodetic infrastructure in Vietnam today is an important and urgent task for the country's development requirements.
  • Modernization should be developed at the same time and sync, to ensure surveying and mapping industry of Vietnam to reach the level of advanced countries in the region.
  • Contents of improvement and modernization of the geodetic infrastructure in Vietnam are necessary, feasible, has science-based and in accordance with practice.
  • Importance to implement the provisions of the Law on Survey and mapping.

After him Ron Bisio, Vice President, Trimble Geospatial used an example of sustainable palm oil production to show how geospatial technology can be applied and the role of surveying and geospatial technology in sustainable agriculture. Finally Dr Haral Schuh, president of IAG gave his outlook on future perspectives from a geodesy point of view.

On the third and final conference day the lplenary session included new insight into the 2030 Global Vision on Disaster Risk Reduction by Dr Khamarrul Azahari Razak, Technical University, Malaysia. With the increase of living standards, the economic losses of climate-related disasters are today very high. He concluded his presentation:

Ulla Kronborg's presentation "Sharing is everything" gave an inspiring insight in why it is so important to share data, have open access to data using INSPIRE as an example. She talked about various kinds of interoperability - legal, organisational, semantic and technical which need to be integrated in the public service governance.

Finally, the Young Surveyors were giving the stage and they showed both through an inspriring story and through the personal stories of five Young Surveyors how they do a difference in their daily life and through FIG. These impressive stories proves well for the future of surveying (and for FIG!) - we must hope that these young role models can inspire many others.

Technical sessions

The 80 technical sessions proved to be well visited by the participants. The offer was varied and several participants remarked that it was difficult to choose between the many parallel sessions. This is the downside of having such a packed and relevant programme... There were specially designed session such as a debate session on the Fit-for-Purpose concept - where the relevance of Fit-for-Purpose was discussed, Inspirational Short Sessions with inspiring introductury presentation followed by a general discussion, our sessions prepared by out faithful Platinum Corporate Members ESRI, Trimble and Leica, technical sessions covering the broad spectre of areas relevant for surveyors and geospatial experts, sessions that are part of a longer FIG work such as a session on FIG and the Sustainable Development Goals prepared by the new established FIG Task Force, a session on FIG Governance, sessions organised by the 10 Commissions, the Networks, the History Permanent Institution etc etc. In the proceedings you can find abstracts, papers and presentations.

The Newcomers sessions was repeated again this year - welcoming new participants to the Working Week, as it can be quite overwhelming to attend for the first time. Surveys have shown that around 2/3 of the participants to a FIG Working Week have participated previously, and 1/3 are new to FIG and the Working Week. Before the Opening Ceremony they are given a chance to learn more abut FIG, about the structure of the Working Week and get to know other newcomers in the hope that they will meet and exchange experience during the Working Week.


A central part of the FIG Working Week is the exhibition. Here, sponsors and exhibitors have the possibility to showcase their products and services and have good talks with the participants.

The main sponsors of FIG Working Week 2019 can be seen to the right. Thanks to all the sponsors for making this Working Week possible.

In total there were 31 exhibitors which all contributed to the vibrant atmosphere of the Working Week - there was good and heated spirits among the exhibitors and participants in the exhibition - not only because of the heat from the outside slipping in to the exhibition area...

The local organisers had managed to get a local company, TH True Water to sponsor water bottles during the Working Week.

Further to FIG appreciates the cooperation wit the institutional partners, who contributed to an interesting and relevant technical programme: FAO, UN-Habitat/GLTN, World Bank and UN-GGIM.

A very big thanks to all exhibitors.

Social events

There is no Working Week without social events. Our surveys show that networking is a significant reason to participate in the Working Weeks and valued high. Networking possibilities are therefore given at several occasions, such as the coffee/tea breaks and lunch and the Welcome Reception which is open for all participants. This year the Welcome Reception took place at the Daewoo Hotel, and due to the warm temperatures, the reception was moved from the poolside to inside the hotel. Here, all participants were met by a beautiful and special performance which showed several sides of the Vietnamese culture.

The local organisers would like to extend the traditional Cultural Evening to all participants, and it was therefore decided that the Vietnamese Evening would be an Opera Performance open for all participants. Since there was only room for 500 in the spectacular old Hanoi Opera House the performance was split in two, and half of the participants atteded the first half and the second the late performance. Each performance was different and yet again showed Vietnamese culture, performance, instruments and dance in a most spectaluar and breathtaking way.

Finally, the Gala dinner took place in a local restaurant with a variation of Vietnamese foods and again a show was performed. This time the organisers had managed to put together a show which had both elements of Vietnamese culture and performance elegantly combined with elements from all over the world. Very special.

Thanks to the local organisers for their immense work on putting all these shows nd evenings together.

FIG General Assembly

The General Assembly on 22 and 26 April was the first with Rudolf Staiger in the chair and his Council, Diane Dumashie, Orhan Ercan, Jixian Zhang and Mikael Lilje (who was unfortunately not present). At the first session on Monday 22 April, 58 members were present, and 57 at the second session on 26 April representing in total 67 member associations.

One new member association was admitted:

  • The American Association for Geodetic Surveying, US.

Other new members of FIG since the last General Assembly are:

Affiliate members:

  • National Survey Authority of Oman,
  • Department of Lands & Surveys, Anguilla, Government of Anguilla,  
  • State Committee on Property Issues of the Republic of Azerbaijan
  • Cadastre of DR Congo

Corporate members:

  • SuperMap, China - in the Category B - Gold level 
  • Dynamic Vision Afghanistan in the Category D – Bronze level 
  • GeoPlus, Canada – in the Category E - Basic level

Academic members:

  • British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Canada

A hearty welcome to all new members of FIG.

The Technical Chamber of Greece had sent FIG Council a proposal that it makes a nomination to the General Assembly of appointing Prof. Chryssy Potsiou, the immediate Past President of FIG as an Honorary President of the Federation.  President Rudolf Staiger handed over the certificate and the gold pin to Chryssy for her contributions during the past four years.

FIG President Rudolf Staiger presented his Work Plan for FIG, followed by the work plans of all Commissions, Networks, Permanent Institutions and FIG Foundation. Two new Task Forces were established: one internal Task Force concentrating on an evaluation of FIG Governance, and one external focusing on FIG and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Orlando in Florida, USA was elected Working Week destination for 2023.

The minutes from the General Assembly

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