Making the GRSS a Community of Communities

I would like to start by reporting some very positive news. In February, GRSS was reviewed by the Society and Council Review Committee (SCRC) of the IEEE Technical Activities Board (TAB). Every 5 years all Societies are reviewed. This is an intensive procedure involving writing a comprehensive report describing all of the activities of the Society, including membership development, publications, conferences, education, professional activities, financial management, strategic planning, etc. I am very pleased to tell you that GRSS was approved after evaluation by SCRC without any request for changes (not even minor ones) in our core activities. Of course, we can always do more and better, but the way the Society has been managed during the last five years was deemed to be very successful: “Significant successes have been accomplished by the Society since the last SCRC review in multiple areas of its operation. The SCRC commends the Society for taking action to address recommendations from the previous review.”

And now, let’s look toward the future. At the moment we are all busy preparing for the 2019 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS 2019) in Yokohama, Japan. Indeed, the IGARSS conference is the most important meeting for our membership, during which we discuss the latest results and novel developments in geoscience and remote sensing. We are all very grateful to the Local Organizing Committee, and we should not forget that this event is made possible by an enormous amount of effort by many volunteers, from reviewers devoting their time to reading and analyzing the submitted papers, to Session Organizers recommending final decisions on the papers, to the Technical Program Committee determining the schedule and content of the final technical program. These people deserve a big thank you from all of us, because everything that we benefit from and enjoy during the conference is a direct result of their work. As mentioned above for the entire Society, aspects of the review and program definition process of IGARSS could also be improved, and therefore I welcome any suggestions from the membership. Of course, in general, I am confident we are all trying and doing our best to serve our community.

As I mentioned in my first message, I am working to make our Society more inclusive, and IGARSS is a great venue to make progress in accomplishing this. The diverse technical program of IGARSS is a place to engage communities that operate within our Field of Interest but traditionally do not connect with our membership. Moreover, other activities at IGARSS can be extremely helpful for starting new connections and relationships. I would like to stress three of them, the GRSS Summer School (also known as GR4S), the Women in GRSS (WinGRSS) initiatives, and the GRSS Booth.

The GRSS Summer School is focused on attracting students and young professionals interested in IGARSS topics and motivating them to become involved in the activities of our Society. GR4S is always held the week before IGARSS. This year it will be held at the Tokyo Institute of Technology on July 23-26 (see https://gr4s2019.org/). It is open to Japanese and international students, and provides an excellent opportunity to meet other students as well as more experienced researchers. GRSS has also funded a three-year pilot project with the goal of organizing multiple GR4S instances around the globe. These new “GR4S beyond IGARSS” have the same objectives but involve student groups that cannot attend our flagship conference because of distance and/or funding issues.

The WinGRSS activities this year start with the Women in GRSS Luncheon, an informal platform for women and men to interact and network with senior members of the Society as well as guest speakers. Moreover, the GRSS IDEA (“Inspire, Develop, Empower, and Advance”) Committee organizes the IEEE Women in GRSS Forum to provide professional women in GRSS, whether in industry, academia, or government, the opportunity to create communities that fuel innovation, facilitate knowledge sharing, and provide support through a session designed to foster discussion and collaboration.

Finally, let’s not forget about the GRSS Booth, a traditional landmark in the IGARSS exhibition. Last year in Valencia, Spain, this booth was a real experience, with a Social Media Wall, live-streamed interviews of senior Society leaders, and a photo contest. This year the team in charge of the booth is planning for more, with the opportunity to meet the Vice Presidents and Directors of the Society, and collect one of the many giveaways from the Society and its Technical Committees. Do not forget to come by and visit the GRSS Booth during your week in Yokohama!

In addition to IGARSS as our annual flagship conference, GRSS is working at multiple levels to engage more communities on both technical and geographical levels. One of these activities is the organization of regional conferences. Indeed, in 2020 we are starting three regional conferences held in locations far from the IGARSS flagship conference. The idea is to help communities that cannot come to IGARSS because of distance, but also because of economic issues or other barriers, and organize dedicated events. The first event, the Mediterranean and Middle-East Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (M2GARSS, https://2020.m2garss.org/default.asp) will be devoted to practitioners and scholars in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and will be held in Tunis, Tunisia, on March 9-11, 2020. Two weeks later another regional conference will be dedicated to Latin America, i.e. the Latin American GRSS and ISPRS Remote Sensing conference (LAGIRS, see https://2020.lagirs.org/es/default.asp), jointly organized with ISPRS in Santiago, Chile on March 22-27, 2020. The last, but not least, regional conference in 2020 will be devoted to the Indian continent, i.e. the Indian Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (InGARSS), organized in Ahmedabad on Dec. 2-5, 2020. These three conferences are very important and need to be supported and attended by the largest possible number of researchers from these three regions. GRSS volunteers in the Meetings & Symposia and Global Activities portfolios are working hard to support the organization of these regional symposia. We kindly ask for your help to spread the word and make these events a new way for GRSS to serve local communities better.

As usual, we have an exciting period ahead of us. IGARSS 2019 is coming, and will be the first of a number of events that can help to make our Society a real “community of communities.” Let’s help each other make this happen!

Prof. Paolo Gamba
2019 IEEE GRSS President
E-mail: president@grss-ieee.org
Twitter: @EOurban