ITC 70 Years

From Tuesday the 26th till Friday the 29th of October 2021 we celebrated our 70th anniversary with research seminars, invited speakers, and a diverse range of activities. Our 70th birthday provided a perfect chance to reflect on our past, present, and future. We celebrated together with our staff and students and showcased ITC’s expertise built up over time. Alumni and partners from all over the world have joined us from the convenience of their own country via one of our live streams. The sessions that were streamed from our Auditorium are also available to watch.

Listed in this article are some highlights of this festive week. You can also view the video to get a glimpse of the great atmosphere of our celebratory week.

Great start of the week

The first day of the 70 year ITC celebration started with a surprise by the ITC foundation by offering the faculty with a Foundation funded Special Chair for a Visiting Professor. This was a great surprise that was very well received by our dean, prof. Freek van der Meer who indicated that the ambition is to appoint a visiting professor from our international network to create an additional bridge between ITC and our alumni.

“Professor Gilberto Camara made a compelling case that as a faculty we make an important contribution by empowering people to use all the data that is out there for the better use of humanity. It was heart-warming to hear that from the former director of GEO who knows like no other what the efforts are to generate the data we have at our disposal at the moment, but at the same time made very clear that data alone is not enough. We need to train people on how to use this data, and that this goes beyond just processing it through advanced artificial intelligence methods”, says Thomas Groen, who together with Elnaz Neinavaz, lead the sessions on Food Diversity and Biodiversity on Tuesday. Please have a look at the programme overview for all the videos and keynotes of Tuesday 26 October.

Other highlights of this first day that kickstarted the eventful week, were keynotes from prof. Andy Nelson, prof. Andrew SkidmoreIlse Geijzendorffer and Thomas Groen

Living Innovation Lab excursion and clean-up session

“The Living Lab excursion gave us all a clear look into future experiments that will happen on the campus and illustrated the ambition of the faculty to contribute to excellent science with infrastructure that in some of the experiments can be considered world-class facilities”, says Groen. “The clean-up session was  a nice wrap-up of the day, making an actual contribution to a better world in our own direct vicinity, involving staff from different departments that were willing to pull up their sleeves.” See our website for more information on the Living Innovation Lab. 

Launch of Geo-Hero YouTube channel

On Wednesday 27 October, our colleague Ivan Oliveira launched the GeoHero YouTube channel. This is a project to showcase the talent and knowledge within ITC in an informal manner. Since its launch, there are multiple videos published - with many more to come. Please subscribe to the channel to be the first to know when the GeoHero account posts a new video on YouTube.

Geo-Health: addressing global health challenges

On October 27th the discussions centered around how to address global health challenges, involving global public health and geoinformation science experts, alumni, and students from ITC for keynote lectures, sharing of experiences and discussions, network sessions, and matchmaking events. After an opening through Karin Pfeffer, Professor at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-Information Management at ITC, the event took place through an online/hybrid conference environment.

Two keynote speeches addressed global health challenges that the world is currently facing, while also highlighting the geographic issues they entail. The keynotes included an “outside” perspective of an expert in global health with a focus on the African continent, region-specific impacts of climate variability and health system priorities, as well as an “inside” perspective of an expert in GIScience and GeoHealth. Both were discussing the importance, prospects, and challenges of using spatial information for addressing and strengthening global health. Jürg Utzinger, Director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, shared insights into the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute’s work, shed light on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and one year of genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Africa. He also addressed neglected tropical diseases and spatio-temporal risk profiling Sub-Saharan Africa. Prof. Justine I. Blanford looked at current global health challenges, the role of geospatial technologies for health, and gave insight into the GeoHealth work conducted at ITC.

Three talks by alumni at ITC reflected on the GeoHealth studies at ITC, and possible career paths after graduation. Interaction with the alumni through questions and answers in an online/hybrid panel discussion were facilitated. Frank Badu Osei, Assistant Professor of spatial statistics/epidemiology at ITC talked about the marriage between spatial statistics and public health conceiving GeoHealth, highlighting, among other global health challenges, malaria. Shaheen Abdulkareem, lecturer for Artificial Intelligence at University of Duhok, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, shared her experience of studying GeoHealth at ITC, obtaining a PhD on enhancing agent-based cholera models with artificial intelligence for complex decision making, and insights into her career paths after. Nazmul Sohel, Senior Statistician and Epidemiologist at McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, presented his work on investigating spatial and socio-demographic dynamics of the 2000 Dengue outbreak in Dhaka city, Bangladesh. He gave insight into his career path with the GIS unit of ICDDR, Bangladesh, works with ongoing disease surveillance systems, and investigations of the Arsenic problem in Bangladesh.

A network session offered insight into ITC’s past work on GeoHealth, open online courses conducted and facilitated short talks and pitches of staff and students through a “wall of faces”, which will be made available on ITC’s online geohealth space. The living text book, a tool that can be used as a textbook or concept mapping tool, was introduced and used to create a common understanding of what our GeoHealth field covers, and to identify possible collaborators.

Finally, a  matchmaking session brought together those researchers, alumni, students, decision-makers, and practitioners interested in finding new ways and discussing future plans to work together in collaborations, project proposals, projects and capacity building, research initiatives, and sharing open courseware. This event was set up as an online world café setting, focusing on global health challenges we should prioritize. Discussions centered around GeoHealth-related training needs, research needs, networking,  information provision, and exchange.

Please have a look at the programme overview for all the videos and keynotes of Wednesday 27 October.

Food festival

Having been absent from the events calendar in 2020, the ITC International Food Festival was once again back this year. During the celebrations for our 70th anniversary, various cuisines from all over the world were prepared for sampling from food stalls representing all the participating countries. It was a great opportunity for ITC students to show off their culinary skills and for students and staff to experience cuisines from all over the world, right in our garden and restaurant.

Opening Centre for disaster resilience

On Thursday 28 October Dutch Princess Margriet officially opened our new ITC Centre for Disaster Resilience. The centre is meant to connect science and practice and increase the visibility of ITC as hub for geo-information in disaster research. Please have a look at the programme to view all the videos of Thursday 28 October

Opening DISC

On Friday 29 October, we opened the DISC at ITC, which stands for Design and Interactive Space for Co-creating.  There was also a keynote lecture by Prof. dr. Stan Geertman from Utrecht University.

Cheryl de Boer and Johannes Flacke explained their ideas of the DISC, the vision they have with it, but also offered a short introduction to what they have done so far in the lab. Flacke elaborates: “Thereafter came the interactive part in which colleagues, researchers, students working in the DISC presented their tools and guest good try it out hands-on. Overall the opening was, I think, very well received, both by internal participants ITC staff, and students, but also by guests that were there, among others from Hogeschool Saxion, our BMS faculty, and the TU Delft. Particular the chance the try the tools out hands-on was intensively made use of. In the final discussion, first ideas were brought up by guests for further research directions and potential collaborations.”

pITCom and PhD Award

The ITC PhD community is a large part of the ITC research capacity. In a panel discussion on Friday, organized jointly by PITCom and our Open Science Officer Markus Konkel, they explored the do’s and don’ts of open science at ITC, and how this is relevant for academics in all stages.

Also on Friday, Rosa Aguilar has won the PhD Award. Dean Freek van der Meer awarded Rosa with the honor and a cheque of €1000. The ITC Foundation provided the cheque and the award. Please visit the website for more information on the award and Rosa’s article.

Finish Schermerhorn Race

From Saturday, October 10 to Friday, October 29 ITC hosted the Schermerhorn race; a unique experience in which your participation was not limited to walking, running, cycling, swimming, rollerblading etcetera. The objective was to cover a distance using a sustainable, environmentally friendly method. On Friday afternoon, the participants of the Schermerhorn Race finished their relay race. We also put our pensioners who retired during the COVID-19 period in the limelight.

Please have a look at the programme to view all the videos of Friday 29 October.