His Coordinates, Interviews

“Information from Imagery”

Nov 2005 | Comments Off on “Information from Imagery”

Ian Dowman, President, ISPRS explains the mission and activities of ISPRS. He also discusses the current trends in GPS technologies


Please tell us more about ISPRS?

The International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) is a non-governmental organisation devoted to the development of international cooperation for the advancement of photogrammetry, remote sensing and the spatial information sciences and their applications. The Society’s scientific interests include photogrammetry, remote sensing, spatial information systems and related disciplines, as well as applications in cartography, geodesy, surveying, the natural, Earth and engineering sciences, and environmental monitoring and protection. Further applications include industrial design and manufacturing, architecture and monument preservation, medicine and others. In short ISPRS is concerned with acquiring and using Information from Imagery, and this stretches from information from imagery from space to imagery from electro microscopes, and the applications range from global climate to monitoring tooth decay.

What are the activities of ISPRS?

ISPRS works on a four-year cycle with the Congress being held every four years and the Commission Symposia being held in the year mid way between the Congresses. Working Groups hold meetings in the other years. The next Congress is in 2008, to be held in Beijing. In addition, ISPRS has a number of publications designed to provide high quality peer reviewed papers, conference proceedings in quick time, and a new bulletin. We publish the International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences and the ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing which contain scientific and technical articles. ISPRS Highlights is the official bulletin of the Society. The ISPRS Book Series was started in 2003 and contains collections of high quality scientific papers, usually presented at ISPRS events, after peer-review.

What is the mission of ISPRS?

The objectives for ISPRS during the next four years, were set out during my speech as incoming President at the Congress:

• Sustain and develop the scientific programme based on international excellence in research and in collaboration with other international scientific unions;

• Expand the international role of ISPRS by building on our existing links and developing a presence in developing countries;

• Continue the role of ISPRS in education and technology transfer in collaboration with international partners;

• Develop the Foundation and attract $500 000 of funds by 2008.

An excellent team of Working Group chairs and co-chairs has been appointed and over 30 workshops have already been held or are planned for 2005. The planning for the eight Technical Commission Symposia in 2006 is well advanced.

What is the international role of ISPRS?

We attend meetings of international organisations such as UN COPUOS, GEO, UN CODI and UN Cartographic Conference for the Americas. The objective of involvement in these meetings is to put the view of the photogrammetry and remote sensing community forward to the policy makers and purse holders in the international arena, and also to seek opportunities for ISPRS members and working groups to become involved in international projects and initiatives.

What is the role of ISPRS in education and technology transfer?

Technical Commission VI is responsible for Education and Outreach and has working groups which deal with various aspects of this. ISPRS Council also has a strategic role in planning outreach activities, especially in collaboration with other organisations such as UN. Council has decided to concentrate capacity building efforts on Africa as there is a clear need in this region, and it also an area where ISPRS members need support. We will maintain contact with African members through an email network, by attendance by a member of Council at one meeting in Africa per year and the organisation of a members meeting every 2 years. We will also support capacity building though collaboration with other organisations, such as ESA, CEOS or UN OOSA, to run tutorials and training courses; through sponsorship of people to workshops and regional meetings, possibly jointly with our Ordinary and Regional Members, and to collaborate with the ICSU GeoUnions in GeoInformation for Africa.

What is the funding source of ISPRS?

Of course if we are to do all of this properly, we need funds. ISPRS relies on subscriptions from members and some income from symposia and the Congress to fund its work. The ISPRS Foundation was launched in Istanbul in order to attract donations from other sources, and already we have attracted donations of $US50,000. Council has also decided to transfer $200,000 from our reserves to the Foundation as a loan to allow support for worthy activities to start as soon as possible.

Do you have any specific programme to encourage positioning technologies like GPS?

ISPRS has an interest in positioning technologies where they impinge of the collection of image data. Obvious examples are establishing the position and orientation of platforms with sensors in space and on aircraft for LiDAR and IfSAR. Another important example is mobile mapping systems. We have working groups that cover these topics and which investigate aspects of positioning.

What future you see of GPS technology?

As I have already indicated positioning is already important for acquisition of imagery, and will become more so as equipment becomes smaller and less expensive; but the future will see the combined use of GPS and other GNSS, and this will make such technology more accurate and more reliable.

Do you think that ISPRS has played a significant role in bringing technology to developing world? Any significant impact?

I like to think that we have played a role through our programme of workshops and symposia. The Commission VII Symposium which was held in Hyderabad in 2002 attracted many people from India and neighbouring countries and November 2005 39we also held a technology transfer workshop in Dar es Salaam in 2001. It is because we feel that we could do more, that we have decided to focus on Africa during the current four-year period and we hope to work with regional organisations and with other international societies to become more effective in the future.

Would you like to mention the three key achievements of ISPRS?

I believe that the most important achievement of ISPRS is to have created a network of over 100 national and regional organisations, which can exchange ideas and develop the science and technology of photogrammetry and remote sensing through discussion between scientists, industry and users. We have also made the voice of the photogrammetry and remote sensing community heard in international circles through our membership of United Nations fora, the International Council of Science, GEO and CEOS. A third major achievement is to have created a Youth Forum which will enable young people to appreciate the importance of our science at an early stage in their careers, and to start to make ISPRS stronger, and hence able to reach more people, especially in the developing world.


Ian Dowman has worked as a photogrammetrist for 40 years in the field of applying photogrammetric techniques to a wide range of image sensors for surface and feature extraction. He has developed geometric models for accurate 3D modelling from SPOT data, and for a range of subsequent sensors, including RADAR and LIDAR systems.

He has been a principal investigator for SPOT, ERS, JERS and RADASAT. In recent years the main thrust has been in the generation of digital elevation models and features from high resolution sensors and in using such techniques for the automation of registration of images to other images and to maps. He has been the project manager for the EU 4th Framework ARCHANGEL project for registration and change detection and has also carried out numerous research projects for Ordnance Survey, DERA and UK industry in the areas of feature extraction from imagery. He recently won a Joint Research Equipment Infrastructure grant from EPSRC worth £419K for equipment for 3D image measuring, processing and presentation, in collaboration with LH Systems and Laserscan. Current research focuses on use of LiDAR and IfSAR data, particularly with high resolution image data, and on the use of DEMs for geotectonic studies. Ian Dowman has been awarded the President’s Medal of the Photogrammetric Society in recognition of his contributions to advancement of Photogrammetry. From 1996-2000 he was the President of ISPRS Technical Commission II, 2000-2004 he was Secretary General and is now President of ISPRS. From 1996 to 1998 he was Dean of Engineering at UCL.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)