Wernigerode PhD Summer School


Another hectic few weeks draws to a close. The literature review is more grounded than before nearing 5,000 words and pretty much all of them are ‘good’. The past week has been spent in Wernigerode in the Hars region of Germany on an AGILE (Association of Geographic Information Laboratories Europe) PhD Winter School.

Mixing PhD candidates from research centres across Europe from GIS, Geomatics and other disciplines the event started with the customary ice-breaker. Even over (some very very good) local beer, it was clear that the participants were from very diverse backgrounds, most in the process of doing interdisciplanary research, with projects looking at conflating ontologies, predicting the location(s) of serious criminals, visualising change and crowd sourcing 3D building models among many others.

The first day started with introductions, followed by 10-15 presentations with questions on our topics. Taking all day it was good to see how other geospatial PhDs evolve in differing subjects and countries. During a very German (schnitzel) lunch we wandered in the forest surrounding Wernigerode. Though the place is quite of the beaten track it really is worth a visit if you want to chill out.

The second day started with a very good talk from Bénédicte Bucher from IGN about the differing research groups of the French National Mapping Agency, concluding with her thoughts on the PhD process. She noted that when you first start it’s like being in a Bazaar, you see the different pathways however, eventually, you’ll be forging your own path in the wilderness over tough terrain.

This followed into break out sessions with other participants to start either a paper or initiative on your subjects. Being in the Volunteered Geographic Informations group we went back to basics. Though we were from differing subsections of VGI (Crowd sourcing 3D indoor models, policy of VGI in government and myself in Community Mapping) our common ground was the lack of definitions in VGI, so we proposed an AGILE initiative to fix this.

After putting a 10 minute presentation together (where we managed to get MC Hammer into a slide, under the rather tenuous headline of “Break It Down”) we formally ended the winter school with our proceedings in hand. Then a spot of further networking in the only club in Wernigerode…!

Written and submitted from the DB RegioBahn Magdeburg – Berlin train.

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Author: Mark Iliffe

Traveller, Programmer, Geospatialist and Motorcyclist

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