Earth observation technologies crucial to Sarawak’s development, according to Curtin Malaysia geospatial technology expert

Miri – 13 June 2022 – Earth observation technologies based on Digital Earth could greatly benefit Sarawak in its drive for sustainable development, according to Prof. Tuong-Thuy Vu, a geospatial technology expert and researcher, and dean of the Faculty and Engineering and Science at Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia).

This was elaborated in his public talk at the ‘Digital Earth for Sarawak Sustainable Development’ seminar hosted by the Curtin Highway Infrastructure Research and Innovation Hub (CHIRI) and Faculty of Engineering and Science in collaboration with the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) Miri Branch at the university recently.

Prof. Vu, who has had over 20 years’ experience in the geospatial technologies field, highlighted common applications of related technologies in various fields, including urban planning, tourism, geology, agriculture and transportation. He also talked about the processes of data acquisition, management and analysis in the use of such technologies.

To highlight the practical uses of geospatial intelligence in Sarawak, Prof. Vu gave examples of how imagery and data acquired from multi-modal remote-sensing sources such as earth observation satellites and drones can be effectively used for research, land use mapping, urban planning, disaster management, agriculture, and other applications in the state.

“It is important that Sarawak develops the necessary systems to make effective use of all the data and computing technologies available. This will allow people in government, stakeholders and decision-makers to make timely decisions based on evidence-based information. That would be the first step, and with the combined efforts of everyone, it is quite achievable,” Prof. Vu concluded.

Delivered in hybrid mode to over 100 physical and 32 online attendees, the seminar was organised as part of the ‘Sarawak Digital Month’ satellite programmes being held across the state in conjunction with the International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (IDECS) 2022 to be held in Kuching from 20 to 22 June 2022.

The annual IDECS is hosted by the Sarawak Government in collaboration with the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), and is one of the government’s initiatives to spur socio-economic growth and advancement and achieve a thriving society with high income status by 2030.

Officiating the opening of the seminar was Sarawak Minister for Transport, Dato’ Sri Lee Kim Shin, who is chair Curtin Malaysia’s management committee. Also present were Curtin Malaysia’s pro vice-chancellor, president and chief executive Prof. Simon Leunig, chief operating officer Ir. Pieter Pottas and dean of research and development Prof. Nagarajan Ramasamy, as well as IEM Miri Branch chairlady Ir. Chong Boon Hui and immediate past chairman Ir. Sean Wong Siong Ung.

In his opening address, Dato Sri Lee commended Curtin Malaysia and the IEM Miri Branch for organising the seminar in support of IDECS 2022 and Sarawak’s digital transformation and post-COVID-19 development strategies.

He said that while the pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to Sarawak’s economy, the state under the able leadership of Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg took them as an opportunity to propel its development with a sound Post COVID-19 Development Strategy aimed at creating a thriving society driven by data and innovation by 2030.

“To reach that aspiration would require a colossal effort but it is within reach through a concerted endeavour and accelerated digitalisation, where Digital Earth can play a significant role in providing geo-information, the knowledge and understanding that is important to support planning, informed decision making and evidence-based policy intervention and sustainable development,” Dato’ Sri Lee said.

The seminar concluded with a panel discussion. In addition to Dato’ Sri Lee, Prof. Leunig and Prof. Vu, the panel included another geospatial technologies expert, Sr. John Cheu from Kuching-based Resources Surveys Services, while Curtin Malaysia programme coordinator and IEM Miri Branch vice-chairman Ir. Meheron Selowara Joo moderated.

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Prof. Tuong-Thuy Vu, geospatial technologies expert and Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Science.

Prof. Vu delivering his talk during the seminar.

Dato Sri Lee officiating the opening of the seminar.

Prof Leunig presenting token of appreciation to Dato Sri Lee while other representatives from Curtin IEM and Resources Surveys Services look on.