Dear members of the ISPRS community,
We do hope you are doing fine in these uncertain times, and that COVID-19 has only moderately impacted your life and work. ISPRS and its Council obviously had to adjust its business during this strange period of social distancing, as before the crisis much of the society activities comprised bringing people together to share advances in science and their experience in research, technology developments, and applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing and spatial information sciences.
As with many other people and organisations, we were surprised by the vigour and impact of the crisis and at first did not know quite what the best measures of coping would be. As you know, once we realised that problems would continue to prevail, we decided to postpone the Congress, which had been so diligently prepared by our French colleagues for this summer, by 13 months. This decision proved to be correct as the Congress Centre was indeed closed for sanitary reasons during what would have been our Congress week 2020.
The new dates for the XXIV ISPRS Congress to be held in Nice, France are July 4-10, 2021. As paper submission and review for the 2020 edition was already in full swing when we announced the postponement, ISPRS decided to produce two editions of proceedings – one for 2020 and another one for 2021, submission for the latter will open in December.
During the Congress in 2021, we will organise the next General Assembly. This means that nominations for hosting commissions during the next inter-congress period from 2021 to 2024, for the 2024 Congress, and for Council positions between 2021 and 2024 are again now possible, as the related deadlines have been postponed as well. In the meantime, the current ISPRS officers continue to serve the society for another year.
At the same time, ISPRS, as many of our sister societies and, indeed, much of our everyday life, has gone digital. The contributions of 2020 will not only be available on the ISPRS web site, but will also be presented in the XXIV ISPRS Congress – Virtual Event of the 2020 Presentations from 31 August to 2 September 2020, see http://www.isprs2020-nice.com/index.php/virtualevent-2/ for details.
More than 300 authors with accepted contributions will share their thoughts and results with the ISPRS community. This is a unique opportunity for ISPRS to experiment with what we believe may be a permanent component of future scientific meetings – the possibility for a remote participation as a presenter, as well as for somebody wanting to learn about new developments. While we are currently discussing a sustainable financial model for this new format, the 2020 edition will be free of charge for presenters and for the audience. In this way, we hope to enlarge the impact of our activities also in the long run by reaching out to those groups who – also under “normal” circumstances – may find it difficult to physically join our events. We will also include remote participation for the 2021 Congress.
As a consequence of postponing the Congress, a number of other ISPRS events had to be postponed as well, including the ISPRS Geospatial Week in Dubai, which is now planned for March 2022. We are very grateful to both organising teams, that of the Nice Congress and of the Dubai Geospatial Week, who readily agreed to take on the extra work related to this postponement. For both events, we hope and believe that we will once again be able to enjoy personal encounters, discussions and exchange of information in a face-to-face fashion.
The recent special session in honour of the former ISPRS President, Gottfried Konecny, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, originally planned to be held as part of the Nice Congress 2020, provided a first glimpse of the additional benefits of the virtual world. The session was attended by about 200 participants from across the world, some of you would have been among them. It was very heart-warming, as some participants put it, to see so many familiar faces of friends and colleagues together in that special session in times were travelling is impossible.
All logistics for this session were provided by the ISPRS Student Consortium (SC). In their Virtual Rooms, the Student Consortium had already started to organise webinars in April to keep our community together, see http://sc.isprs.org/virtual-rooms.html. I would like to thank them very much indeed, both, for the activities they have been running over the last few months and in particular for their tremendous help with the special session in June. Having seen the ability, enthusiasm and dedication of the SC, I see ISPRS being in very good hands in the future.
Council has also started a few additional projects. The next call for the Scientific Initiative 2021 has been published on the ISPRS home page recently, see www.isprs.org – the deadline for proposals is 1st November 2020.
A project, which may very well become a major building block of our publication strategy rather soon, is an open access scientific journal in photogrammetry and remote sensing, to complement those journals the society is already running: the hybrid ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and the open access ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. While contracts have not yet been signed, and it is thus too early to provide details, I can say that we are working hard to get the new journal started at the beginning of 2021.
Concerning our proceedings publications, we have introduced a regular plagiarism check for all submissions, both for the Archives and the Annals. We believe that this check will further increase the quality, value and the visibility of our proceedings, which constitute a major result of our scientific meetings. The check was first carried out for the papers of the 2020 Congress edition. Fortunately, not a single case of plagiarism was detected.
Finally, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you to attend the XXIV Congress in Nice in July 2021. We hope that the COVID-19 crisis will be behind us by then, and that our friends and colleagues from all over the world will be able to travel and join us next year to share an unforgettable and unique experience. We want to reassure you that we will take all necessary measures to make the congress a safe event. If you mark those dates of 4-10 July 2021 in your diary now and plan to join us in Nice, this experience will even be more unique – please show your support to ISPRS in this way, as you have done so many times in the past.
I am looking forward to seeing you in Nice in summer 2021, if not before. In the meantime, I wish
you a very good and healthy time and remain with best greetings.
ISPRS President, on behalf of the ISPRS Council