IRLOGI GIS Conference 2020


This year’s event hears how GIS has been used effectively in many areas from combatting the effects of Climate Change in Los Angeles, to better understanding the things that cause people in Northern Ireland to develop kidney problems and how we can better prevent it from happening.

Thursday November 26th saw people intimately involved in the area of Geographic Information Systems and those interested to hear of the latest developments in that research area gather online for the 2020 IRLOGI Conference.

Last years conference was held in the Irish Management Institute in the Dublin suburb of Sandyford and little did the people know what we would be facing on this planet a year later. The event was co hosted by GeoDirectory, whose CEO Dara Keogh welcomed all attendees to the event, briefly mentioning the various factors that led to this year’s event having to be moved online.


Next to speak was President of IRLOGI, Helen Bradley, who gave the annual opening address. She started off by referencing the fact that this years event was truly a milestone occasion as it was the 25th staging of the event, which has now been running for a quarter of a century!

Helen emphasised the fact that more and more data is being created daily and our task is to find out where the data has come from and not just how it was created.The better we can plan for and identify the hotspots, the better we can meet future challenges. At times it can feel like we are drowning in data, when we would prefer to be swimming in it.

Helen then gave an example of her job with Dun-Laoghaire County Council and how GIS played a critical role in helping local services get to people who needed help during the pandemic, as quickly as possible.


The first presentation was made by Ulla Kronberg Mazzoli, from The Danish Agency for Data Supply and Efficiency.

After spending 10 years analysing the overall picture in Denmark, particularly in the role of Public and Private Sectors and how both could best meet the societal and demographic changes Denmark faced. Since 2001, Denmark has had various digital strategies which created an ever evolving roadmap that opened up Public Sector data in order to be utilised more efficiently for the Danish society.

An example she gave was how they were better able to collate data from the whole country which enabled the Danes to meet climate proofing targets in a more timely and cost effective manner. It is now regarded as the one-stop-shop for Government agencies in Denmark that wish to access the most up to date mapping and statistical data.

To check out Ulla's presentation, please click here.


Next up was Ed Parsons, the Geospatial Technologist for Google. His role is in essence is to spread the word about the benefits one can obtain from using Google’s mapping software.

Ed gave an insight into the overall GIS area and spoke about the difficult balancing act of people wanting as much data mined about everything as is possible, while at the same time ensuring that people’s privacy is also protected.

He went on to explain that one of the key mantra’s in Google is to “Focus on the User” – this means to try and understand as best as possible a customers’ needs and then work out best how to meet them. Ed then gave the example of how authorities in Los Angeles used Google’s mapping tools to better plan their efforts to combat the effects of Climate change on the LA area.

Ed then referenced how GIS was used to plan the rollout of trees to help in the climate battle and how analytics enabled the authorities to work out where best to plant them. To give a more localised context to the importance of GIS, Mr. Parson’s then gave the example of how it has been used by the likes of the H.S.E. and NPHET in the fight to control the spread of coronavirus in the Republic.

To check out Ed's presentation, please click here.


We then moved to Belfast for the next presentation, where the next speaker was Jennifer McGuinley from the School of the Natural And Built Environment of Queen’s University.

Jennifer spoke about the major study that sought to map out the areas were the prevalence of people with kidney problems was highest and thus hopefully find out the underlying causes for such health problems. Through this work they realised that Belfast had a much higher incidence of people suffering from kidney problems than the rest of Northern Ireland. Using environmental data collated in the Belfast area, enabled researchers to narrow down the possible causes of kidney problems in people who lived in the city.

This significant study has been utilised by research institutions all over the world, who see it as a good template to use when trying to bring about better overall health management in their region.

To check out Jennifer's presentation, please click here.


Last but not least we heard from Martin Charlton, who until his recent retirement, was involved with Maynooth University. His talk was titled “Who’s next door?  Exploring spatial data”.

He spoke about how we are using GIS data to ascertain the overall demographics of an area, take for example; How many people living in an particular area go to college, how many work in a trade and so forth. He then spoke about the technological problems faced by persons involved in the collation and extraction of data. The bigger our datasets get, the more RAM and storage space we require to be able to work with such information, tasks that most computers you can buy on the High Street would struggle to handle, if at all. But the positive aspect is that the bigger the dataset, the more areas of information it covers in one place, the easier and more cost-effective it is to plan for the future.

Martin finally gave the example of how GIS is used to try and work out the urban and rural density in a country and ascertain future patterns of growth or decline. He then made a special mention of how excellent software tools available from GeoDirectory has helped him enormously in his research.

To check out Martin's presentation, please click here.

To learn more on deriving insights from Geospatial Data, check out a previous webinar we did with Martin Charlton and Chris Brundson here.

In the last 12 months, we have witnessed unprecedented events across the globe. G.I.S. has and will continue to play a key role in helping us to better work out where we are and where we are likely to be in the future.