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Happy International Map Year 2015–2016!Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic Association
Happy International Map Year 2015–2016!
Map of the Month 11/2015: 3D Map Longyearbyen and environs
Map of the Month 10/2015: Project Supra – Real-time heatmaps from sports workouts
Welcome to the website of the International Cartographic Association

President’s Blog: Report of the ICA Commissions and Working groups meeting in Vienna

November 8 and 9, 2015 the (co)chairs of ICA’s Commissions and Working Groups met with the members of the Executive Committee (EC) to discuss the future activities of the ICA. The objective of the meeting was to offer the ICA officers a good and fresh start for the 2015–2019 period. A side effect of the meeting was that all of us met new and old friends, and we had a chance to become familiar with each other.

The meeting, hosted by the Past-President at the Technical University of Vienna, was organized in three distinct parts. The first dealt with “What ICA expects from you”, the second part with “What do you expect from ICA”. The third part was linked to the International Map Year (IMY) and the UN sustainability goals.



What ICA expects from you

After an introduction round, Laszlo Zentai, our Secretary-General informed us on how ICA Commissions and Working Groups are supposed to operate, based on our statues and by-laws. This included information on how to organize a Commission (Chair/co-chair, website, members etc), how to communicate within ICA (the newsletter, the bi-annual report to the EC), options for publication of results (our International Journal of Cartography, again ICA news and the Springer book series), activities related to our International Cartographic Conferences (reviews, (joint)workshops, business meetings), and financial support. This might seem trivial since all information is available on the website, but it proves that these sessions are useful anyhow.

In an exercise the (co)chairs had to revisit their terms of reference, and decide which of those will be their focus point in the next four years. These so-called flagship projects could be joint commissions efforts. Also they had to think of there planned activities on the short term and for whole 2015-2019 period, to allow us share and combine events. And as you can imagine, they had to indicate how they would think to contribute to the International Map Year.

What do you expect from ICA

This session started with short presentations by different EC members of what we call ICA’s instruments, such as our strategic plan, the ICA directory, publications, the research agenda, our scholarships, and ICA external relations with the Joint Board of GIS and the GeoUnions. The first unites international organizations involved with geospatial information and strives to act as a collective and unified voice at the international level, such as within the UN. The second represents those geo-related organizations that are member of ICSU.

After this flow of information, the (co)chairs where asked to react and express their opinion about our instruments both from a positive and negative perspective. They where also asked to come forward with any issue they would like to see discussed to be able to let ICA better operate.

IMY / Mapping the sustainability goals

The third part of the workshop dealt with the International Map Year (IMY) and how we as ICA can make an impact by “mapping” the sustainability goals.


The new UN 17 sustainability goals can be found at sustainabledevelopment.un.org. Each of these goals has a specific objective. For instance Goal 4 on education states: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. For each goal a number of targets have been set. An example of an educational target is “By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes”. To see if those target are met multiple indicator have been defined. Indicators are numbers, for instance “Completion rate (primary, lower secondary, upper secondary)”.

These indicators can be mapped. As individual variable or in combination with each other. During the IMY ICA will organize a cartographic exhibition at the next UNGGIM meeting in New York, August 2016. The plan is to create a set of 17 posters, one for each goal that demonstrates how maps can help to get insight in these goals. The plan is not just to create a single map for each goal. The idea is to offer different cartographic perspectives on these goals via story maps. These perspectives are offered by our Commissions. Each of the 17 goals has been adopted by two Commissions and together these wil map a goal based on their skills set. So for instance the poster that involved the Commission on Visual analytics might show how in an exploratory environment one can combine different indicators to reveal trends, the poster involving the Commission Mountain Cartography could show how the landscape influences the distribution of certain phenomena. The poster co-designed by the Commission on Map Projections might show good and bad examples of global projection.

The final goal of this exercise is to create an atlas of best practices of mapping the sustainability goals. This should be ready by the end of the 2015–2019 period.

– Menno-Jan Kraak
President of the International Cartographic Association

Joint ICA meeting in Vienna, November 8–9


All chairs and vice-chairs of the ICA commissions and working groups were invited to join an ICA meeting in Vienna on 8–9 November 2015 to plan and discuss their activities for the term 2015–2019. 46 chairs, vice-chairs and members of the executive committee followed the invitation and spent two intensive workshop days at Technische Universität Wien.

Meeting participants

Commission chairs and vice-chairs

Working Group International Map Year

Executive Committee


More photos of the workshop can be found on the ICA Facebook page.

President’s Blog: Introducing the new ICA president

Portrait Menno-Jan KraakDear colleagues and friends,

It is a privilege to serve the ICA as your president for the next four years in our dynamic world where maps play an important role as interface to geo-related information to support decision making in many different situations.

It is obvious I do this not alone. I can and will built on the shoulders of my predecessors. And I do realize it is quite a responsibility because Georg Gartner, the now past-president has left us a healthy association. During his term ICA has been enriched in many ways. Think of our new journal, our embedding in ICSU and relation with UN-GGIM, the GeoforAll initiative and the beautiful website.

Secondly, I will act with an enthusiastic team. The newly elected members of the Executive Committee and the new Commission Chairs will allow me to put new accents.

Especially the newly established Working group Cartography for Global Geographic Information Management can put such accent. With this working group the plan is to provide the UN-GGIM an ‘atlas’ of good cartographic practice for the new sustainable development goals.

Dear all, over the next four year let’s make the world a better place with maps!

Menno-Jan Kraak

Results of the 16th General Assembly of the ICA

The 16th ICA General Assembly was closed on the last day of ICC2015.
Slides of the agenda can be found here.

The Executive Committee for the term 2015-2019 is:

  • President: Menno-Jan Kraak (The Netherlands)
  • Secretary-General and Treasurer: László Zentai (Hungary)
  • Vice-Presidents:
    • Sara Fabrikant (Switzerland)
    • David Forrest (United Kingdom)
    • Yaolin Liu (China)
    • Pilar Sanchez-Ortiz (Spain)
    • Monika Sester (Germany)
    • Lynn Usery (USA)
    • Vít Voženílek (Czech Republic)
  • Past President: Georg Gartner (Austria)

The 17th General Assembly and the 29th International Cartographic Conference in 2019 will be held in Tokyo, Japan.

All corresponding website subpages (EC, conferences, commissions, working groups) will be updated within the course of next week. Please stay tuned.

Category: General News

Final President’s Blog by Georg Gartner: Welcome Menno-Jan Kraak!

Georg Gartner at ICC2015 wearing an #welovemaps shirtDear collegues and friends of ICA,

ICC2015 brings a change of persons in charge. After four years of being president of ICA this function is passed to Prof Menno-Jan Kraak from the Netherlands according to the General Assembly of ICA.

In this context I would like to express my sincere thanks for all the support and collaboration I was happy to receive from so many of you; for many of the projects, ideas and efforts we have taken. It is because of this, why I consider those four years as most rewarding and successful on a personal level.

I would like to share with you my final report, describing some of the efforts and achievements which have been taken from so many in the term 2011–2015 and I would be happy to receive any comments on that.

It was a privilege to serve the International Cartographic Association as President from 2011 to 2015. I’m looking forward to the future of ICA under the presidency of Menno-Jan Kraak!


Nominations for the next ICA Executive Committee (2015–2019)

The summary of nominations the ICA got by the deadline of March 23 for the next Executive Committee (2015–2019):

  • President: Menno-Jan Kraak (The Netherlands)
  • Secretary-General: László Zentai (Hungary)
  • EC members (in the order of nomination date): Sara Fabrikant (Switzerland), Lynn Usery (USA), Vít Voženílek (Czech Republic), David Forrest (United Kingdom), Monika Sester (Germany), Masatoshi Arikawa (Japan), Pilar Sanchez-Ortiz (Spain), Yaolin Liu (China), Igor Drecki (New Zealand)

According to the ICA Statutes:

The Executive Committee of the Association consists of the following members:

  • The President of the Association, who presides over all regular and extraordinary General Assemblies, the meetings of the Executive Committee, International Cartographic Conferences and acts as the main representative of the Association.
  • A Past President, who shall serve for one term following the term of President.
  • Five to seven Vice-Presidents, the exact number to be decided at the General Assembly of Delegates. They assist the President in the performance of his or her different duties.
  • A Secretary General and Treasurer, who is responsible for the administration and the general running of the Association.

The nominees will introduce themselves on the first day of the ICA General Assembly (23 August), the voting will take place on the second day of the General Assembly (28 August). The nomination documents (CV, declaration and the official nomination) will be available on the ICA website later as part of the General Assembly documentation.

László Zentai
– ICA Secretary-General

Category: General News

President’s Blog: Inside an EC Meeting

The Executive Committee (EC) of the ICA is meeting twice a year to discuss related issues, analyse the performance of the instruments of the organisation and make operational and strategic decisions. But how does an EC meeting work? I want to give you some insight from my subjective perspective.

The meeting dates are set nearly a year beforehand to make sure that most of the ten members of the EC can make it. There are three central roles in preparing an EC meeting: the local host, which takes care of all arrangements needed to host the EC; the Secretary-General, which sets up the agenda, collects all necessary documents and sends hundreds of emails to communicate with all colleagues; and the president, which tries to steer the EC into the currently most important issues by prioritizing the agenda and asking for input, opinions, decisions and allowing and aggregating discussions.

Usually there are a lot of constraints to consider when scheduling such a meeting; most of them have something to do with the “bread jobs” of the EC members. That’s why not all are arriving at the same day and eventually will not leave with the same flight as well. Thus, time is always short and a “quick” start into the agenda is needed to make sure that the time is well used.

The rooms the EC uses for its meetings have something in common, which I would describe as “no-frills” – nothing to distract the colleagues from their work. However, WiFi and a projector are requirements our Secretary-General is insisting on; some of the colleagues – including myself – would add coffee to this basic requirement list :-)

The dynamics of such a meeting are always heterogeneous and hard to predict.  There are routine items to discuss, which eventually take much longer than expected. There might be controversial items to discuss, which are on the agenda since years, which all of a sudden are noted and acclaimed.  This has to do with understanding the EC as a group of persons finding themselves in a permanent process about their views, perspectives and shared and common understandings, rather than in unalterable fixed positions. For this reason major issues of core concern to the ICA – such as commissions, conferences, research directions or publications – are regularly put up for discussion. These discussions are not always leading to the same results but rather reflect that process as well.

Usually, an EC Meeting is accompanied with visits or meetings with representatives of the local host country. This allows interesting insights into the local activities and interests as well as the possibility to socialize with our hosts.

Impression of the last EC meeting in Rio de Janeiro

Impression of the last EC meeting in Rio de Janeiro. From left to right: Menno-Jan Kraak, Tim Trainor, Paulo Menezes, Yaolin Liu, William Cartwright, Derek Clarke, Laszlo Zentai and Anne Ruas

As in every group, also an EC meeting develops group dynamics: There are some who are reluctant, some who are cautious, some who are focused, some who are very well organised and prepared and some, who need the inspiration of the meeting itself to order their thoughts and opinions.

It is amazing to see that there can be a tough discussion with very emotional and opposing arguments but a friendly, calm atmosphere right after that. It is amazing to see that there can be fun and jokes and sharing of stories of private life as well. It is amazing to see, that what all EC members have in common, is their commitment towards cartography and their belief in the importance of the International Cartographic Association. They take responsibility, not because they have been forced to do so, but because they are convinced of the importance of being an EC member. Some of them spend private money and dedicate precious time, which they need to be prepared to argue when they are asked from their boss to justify such a travel. Most of them have leading roles in their respective professional backgrounds and are still able to make themselves available for all kind of roles which might be needed in a volunteer organisation.

They, this is Secretary-General Laszlo Zentai, Past-President William Cartwright, Vice-Presidents Anne Ruas, Derek Clarke, Tim Trainor, Menno-Jan Kraak, Yaolin Liu, Paulo Menezes and Sukendra Martha.

– Georg Gartner