As we reflect on the NORTH51 Conference in Banff, Alberta, we’re filled with a sense of awe and inspiration. This geospatial industry conference brought together thought leaders, innovators, and passionate individuals from around the world. Collaborating with GNO-SYS and Sparkgeo, this year’s conference marked its fifth anniversary, and we’re already excited to start building the 2024 edition.
Throughout the conference, attendees were immersed in a wealth of knowledge, innovation, and inspiration. Keynote speakers, panelists, networking events, and conversations provided deep insights into the current trends and future of our geospatial field. The diverse range of topics covered during the event took us on a journey of exploration, delving into practical and cultural implications, value creation through big data, and the smart grid. Dan O’Donohue from Mapscaping Podcast was gracious enough to MC the conference this year which added an insightful journey through the various topics on the program.
One of the highlights of the conference was the annual debate on ‘Humans versus AI in Geospatial’. The light-hearted debate sparked a lively discussion and moments of laughter, with speakers presenting compelling arguments while injecting humor into the proceedings. Rachel Olney’s unexpected suggestion to embrace a more hands-on approach in mapping captured everyone’s attention and helped her secure a memorable win.
Another insightful presentation came from Todd Barr, who showcased the invaluable role of geospatial data in the insurance industry. By using captivating graphics and compelling arguments, Todd highlighted how geospatial data can help insurance companies understand and prepare for climate-related disasters, ultimately mitigating their impacts.
Big data and open-source data were also hot topics at NORTH51. Panel discussions provided unique perspectives on the current and future state of open-source data. The panelists engaged in thought-provoking conversations, challenging each other with differing opinions and sharing their firsthand experiences. The consensus was the need to create more accessible and globally diverse datasets to move the industry forward.
A notable aspect of the conference was the focus on offsetting carbon emissions and environmental sustainability. With the help of Tarin Resource Services, NORTH51 successfully offset 50 tonnes of the conference’s carbon emissions, recognizing the importance of reducing our environmental footprint. Many speakers and conversations addressed the impacts of climate change and how geospatial data is helping us better understand and reduce emissions. We’re thrilled to do more next year, learning from the insights of speakers.
Networking has always been an integral part of NORTH51, fostering innovation and valuable connections. This year was no exception, with dedicated networking events and breaks providing opportunities for attendees to connect meaningfully. Whether it was the Welcome Drinks sponsored by Element84 or gathering at the Bison in downtown Banff, the atmosphere was electric, and conversations flowed amidst the breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains.
Co-hosts GNO-SYS and Sparkgeo, deserve a special mention for their dedication to creating an exceptional event. The absence of tradeshow booths prevented the conference from feeling “salesy,” while the limited number of delegates ensured an exclusive and intimate atmosphere, facilitating meaningful networking – driving home NORTH51’s mission for a company-agnostic event.
“N51 is single-tracked, short, and heavily curated. There are virtually no booths or sales paraphernalia. As a result, the focus is very much on collisions between ideas and people. Speakers are sought out for their insight, though applications to speak are encouraged. This year, we asked Daniel O’Donohue from the MapScaping podcast to MC, which was tremendously beneficial. His natural curiosity ensured insightful questioning, which warmed up the rest of the audience nicely.” – Will Cadell, CEO, Sparkgeo
NORTH51 will undoubtedly be back next year, and if given the chance, we hope you can attend. It’s an event that brings together passionate individuals, fosters collaboration, and offers more than what seems possible in a two-day program. Thank you to all the sponsors who helped make the 2023 edition of NORTH51 possible!