Orhan Altran Steps down as ISPRS President

A term has ended
My Voyage in ISPRS
Orhan ALTAN
President of ISPRS 2008-2012

My involvement in ISP (RS) activities begun in late 70ties and first attendance to an event of the Society was the Technical Commission V symposium in Stockholm, where I have presented 2 papers on structural monitoring with Close-Range methods.

After this the Hamburg Congress was a miles tone in my career where I have had the chance to present several papers. During this congress I was appointed as the liaison between TCV and TCVII on "Engineering Applications".

Then the TCV Symposium in York/UK and TCVII Symposium in Tubingen/Germany were other events in ISPRS where I have participated actively. During these meetings I have learnt several colleagues working in different scientific organisations and I was invited to participate into the activities of IAG and FIG on "Engineering Applications" as Working Group or Task Group officer. I returned to ISPRS activities with the Congress in Vienna, where my institute received the "Dolezal Support" and members have presented several papers.

Working on "Photogrammetric Applications" the Turkish Ordinary Member has applied in 1999 the Council to organise the ISPRS in 2004 Congress in Istanbul me as "Candidate Congress Director". The bid was successful at the congress in Amsterdam and I have started to work as "Congress Director" in the council acted between 2000-04. Then followed by the council memberships as "Secretary General" and "President of the Society since 2008.All during these years I have learnt many things and made many friendships. It was a very active years in Technologies in photogrammetry and remote sensing have changed enormously over the past 100 years. They were originally based on hardcopy images and outputs, and processing methods, prior to the development of computers, were aimed at avoiding computations because of their complexity. Today’s images are digital and the processing is likewise digital. As well, multi-spectral digital imaging from aircraft and satellites are far more readily available than in the past. Management of spatial data has become inherently part of the processing of information derived by image processing. Hence ISPRS now has two Technical Commissions dealing with spatial information acquisition, processing and management. ISPRS today is also governed by Statutes and Bylaws that ensure that the Society is well managed and is very active in attracting many high quality scientists to work on the ISPRS Council and to manage its scientific activities. Therefore ISPRS today has developed from the strong foundation introduced by the early leaders based on photogrammetry, into a leading broadly based Society dealing with all aspects of ‘information from imagery’.

ISPRS is a ‘Society of Societies’ with a mandate to include members from all regions around the world. The Society adheres to the Statutes and Bylaws of ISPRS which specify that the ‘Society pursues its aims without any discrimination on grounds of race, religion, nationality, or political philosophy’. Through the ISPRS Technical Commissions we aim to attract people from as many countries as possible to

participate in their activities. The newly appointed Regional Representatives from Africa, Latin America and Asia are a further demonstration of the Society’s commitment to include participants from parts of the world. Recent meetings with these representatives have proved to be very fruitful and have led to new collaborative initiatives for the regions. As well, the ISPRS Council has been very active in visiting as many national members, regional members and international organisations to encourage participation in ISPRS activities.

Major applications of our technologies have especially included managing and monitoring natural and man-made disasters. The ‘JBGIS Best Practises Booklet on Geo-information for Risk and Disaster Management’ to be launched at the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs (UN-OOSA) on 2 July 2010 during the ISPRS Centenary Celebrations will document a number of examples. There has been excellent cooperation between ISPRS and UN-SPIDER in applying remote sensing technologies for disaster monitoring, management of relief for victims and documenting the impacts of the disasters. In addition, ISPRS is a member organisation of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO), which is making significant advances in the development of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). Achievements of GEOSS are many, but they include: the GEOSS data sharing principles; and the Geo Web portal and GEOSS clearinghouse for searching data, information and services registries containing information about GEOSS components.

Looking into crystal balls is fraught with difficulties, not the least because one can be accountable for one’s predictions. However, in a general fashion, I think we can see an increase in the type and flexibility of new digital imaging and lidar systems; we are likely to see increasingly higher resolution space systems; there will be a continued introduction of automation for processing images, so that maps can be kept up-to-date more rapidly on a regular basis; there will be a greater availability and use of images and spatial information. However, we are not likely to see a major leap forward in these developments. Looking back over the past 10 years, the improvements have been gradual and I think this will continue to occur over the next 10 years.

The role of president is indeed very challenging, but I am grateful to my supervisors at Istanbul Technical University, who have permitted me to hold council positions in ISPRS, including the presidency. I am indebted to my colleagues at the Institute for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing who undertake my duties in my absence. My wife Melike has encouraged me to take on this role, even though it means that she remains at home while I carry out many of my responsibilities even during very difficult times for her. I am very grateful to her for her ongoing support.
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