Delegates from around the world are meeting in Fiji to attend a GIS conference that will explore developments in this new science that is 'already influencing the way we live our lives,' according to Wolf Forstreuter of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).

The 2012 Pacific Island Countries Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) User Conference (27-30 November) has as its theme, 'Mapping Pacific resources'. The theme reflects the work being done in the region through an array of applications, including supporting the management of the resources of small island nations.

GIS is a computer-based tool used to collect, combine and overlay information in the form of easily understood maps constructed from up-to-date satellite images and field data. Remote sensing is the collection of information about earth at a distance from aircraft or satellites.

'GIS technology is already being used to map landslides, detect vegetation changes, map town boundaries and map the impacts of sea-level rise. It has also proved useful in helping utilities and transportation networks better define their resources.'

'The public might be more familiar with results closer to home. Many smart phone applications and social media tools combine data with maps to deliver new services to consumers - Google Earth is an example,' said Dr Forstreuter, who is GIS/RS Adviser with SPC's Applied Geoscience and Technology (SOPAC) Division.

The four-day conference, which is being held at the Holiday Inn, Suva, will feature presentations by GIS and remote sensing scientists and technicians on exploring new developments and how they might apply to improving the lives of people in the Pacific Island region.