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International Affairs in the Department of Geodesy

The Department of Geodesy currently maintains an ERASMUS partnership with the University of Zagreb and is involved in the following ERASMUS+ project:



Geospatial data is the main catalyst in today's information society, where an unprecedented amount of geospatial data is being generated by various sensors such as smartphones, satellites and more. This data serves a growing number of scientific and practical purposes, all for the benefit of the world. The overarching goal is to collect, analyse, distribute, visualise and shape data for specific applications. At the heart of these processes are cutting-edge technologies that form the essence of geoinformatics. The geoinformatics ecosystem comprises three main groups of stakeholders: the creators of the ecosystem and an extremely wide range of users. While in developed countries the capacity and contribution of stakeholders to the ecosystem is balanced and mutually reinforcing, this balance is lacking in many less developed countries. The business sector of geoinformatics adapts to progress and technological advances, while the academic sector struggles to keep up with these changes and lags behind. This situation results in the academic sector failing to produce competent professionals equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to integrate into the corporate sector. We are facing a scenario that will have serious consequences in the near future. Globally, digital issues are recognised as one of the six key areas of EU action in the Western Balkans, including the development of digital literacy as one of the actions under the Digital Agenda for the Western Balkans (EC, 2018).

In light of these findings, the GEOBIZ project aims to address part of this overarching issue by considering whether and how a model for collaboration between businesses and universities can be constructed. This model aims to: a) help the higher education sector to modernise in line with technological and conceptual changes in geoinformatics, and b) promote the development of geoinformatics courses that enable the business sector to offer new bachelor and master programmes. These programmes should effectively prepare students for the business environment and visibly contribute to its activities and development.

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Spatial and Earth observation data are becoming increasingly pervasive. These data include information describing phenomena below, on and above the Earth, covering a wide range of topics such as road networks, rivers, soils and geological subsurface, buildings, land use and land cover, digital terrain models and more. To improve collaboration, access and use of these data, Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDIs) and Earth Observation (EO) platforms and services are typically developed by public agencies, possibly in collaboration with the private sector. While in Europe specific initiatives such as the INSPIRE Directive (Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe) and the Copernicus programme are driving and supporting these developments, initiatives and efforts are also underway in non-European countries, albeit sometimes at an early stage. A similar landscape is emerging in (North) Africa, including countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia. National SDIs or similar initiatives are being established to promote the use of geospatial information (GI) and EO data. However, these infrastructures are not being developed in a vacuum. They are essential to support activities in various scientific and policy areas. Indeed, geospatial and EO data are processed and linked with other information to solve complex problems in areas as diverse as agriculture (e.g. minimising water and resource consumption), transport and mobility (e.g. improving accessibility to specific regions), and spatial planning and territorial management (e.g. sustainable development of urban areas). The use of geo-information technology in this context is not new, but the establishment and use of SDI and EO platforms and services is not yet common practice. In many regions, the knowledge, skills and competences to develop, maintain and use these infrastructures and related technologies are relatively limited.

In summary, university curricula in North Africa already include some elements of geographic information science, EO data and technologies. However, there is a need for systematic modernisation and development of these curricula to take into account newer approaches, techniques and the latest concepts in the collection, management and dissemination of geospatial and EO data for cross-border and thematic applications. SEED4NA will focus on improving existing curricula in higher education institutions in four North African countries, drawing on previous experiences in Europe, in particular lessons learned from various European projects such as BESTSDI (Developing SDI Curricula in Western Balkan Countries), giCASES (Application of case-based learning techniques in GI education), and the recently launched EO4GEO project (Curricula design using EO data for climate change, smart cities, and integrated applications). Building on these past and ongoing projects, SEED4NA is ready to create synergies and refine the applied methodologies in different ways.

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Successfully completed ERASMUS projects:


The overarching goal of the BESTSDI project was to enhance the quality of higher education in the fields of Geographic Science and Technology, Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), and Geodesy. The project aimed to improve the relevance of education to the job market and society, as well as elevate the level of competencies and skills in higher education institutions. This was to be achieved through the development of new and innovative educational programs in the field of SDI. These broader objectives align perfectly with the priorities of capacity-building projects within the Erasmus+ program. The specific project objectives focused on the development, testing, and adaptation of new curricula, courses, learning materials, and tools in the field of SDI. In this way, existing curricula for Geodesy and Geoinformatics in academic institutions in the Western Balkans region were elevated to higher standards, recognizing the significance of spatial data for modern society and its development. By integrating the SDI concept and other modern concepts based on spatial data and information, the new SDI courses enable students to efficiently provide spatial data and services to SDI users. Concurrently, the project introduces SDI and related concepts into undergraduate and graduate programs at academic institutions with profiles recognized as SDI users. It raises awareness among students and professionals about the relevance of SDI and the benefits of well-organized geospatial data.

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Even though the project concluded in 2019, its activities persist. Read about the latest developments in the current newsletter.



In recent years, national spatial data infrastructures (SDI) have been developed throughout Europe to facilitate and coordinate the exchange and shared use of geodata. The long-term goal is not only to enable the use of geodata by public authorities, but also to involve users outside the public sector. The Erasmus+ project SPIDER (open SPatial data Infrastructure eDucation nEtwoRk) was initiated to highlight the benefits of geodata and to standardise training in the field of SDIs at European level. The aim is to establish a European platform that provides teaching and learning concepts for the integration of open spatial data infrastructures into existing curricula. In addition, the platform serves as a link between European universities and institutions that teach in the field of SDIs.

The project group consists of professors and staff from Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), Lund University (Sweden) and the University of Zagreb (Croatia). The next steps are planned in regular meetings and the results are documented in project reports. Current information about the project is published on In addition, a map application provides information on educational programmes on SDI throughout Europe.

The project team and all other supporters of the project hope to gain a better understanding of existing practices, policies and systems in education and training in European countries and beyond. The project also aims to promote a lively exchange on new, innovative concepts and topics and to strengthen the digital competence of academic staff in the field of SDI education in Europe.

Study semesters abroad and practical phases are welcomed and supported by the department.

Further information and tips on studying abroad can be obtained from our International Office.

Open SDI Summer School in Zagreb 2022

From August 22 to 26, 2022, the Open SDI Summer School 2022 took place in Zagreb, Croatia. Participants included KU Leuven, TU Delft, University of Zagreb, Lund University, and Hochschule Bochum. Representatives from Algeria and Morocco were guests from the SEED4NA project. The Summer School primarily targeted Master's and PhD students.

Morning sessions featured lectures and small group activities, while afternoons were dedicated to project work. The task was to conceptualize a geospatial data infrastructure for various use cases. The groups delved into topics such as "Impacts of Climate Change on Forestry in NRW," "Detect the drop before it eats the crop," and "How an open SDI cleans the bin."

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Departmental Representative for International Affairs

Carsten Keßler
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Carsten Keßler
Room: A 0-02

Contact at the International Office