Ernst Spiess was the founding Chair of the ICA Commission on Cartographic Technologies and was awarded the ICA Honorary Fellowship in 1995. He is an Honorary Member of the Swiss Society of Cartography which he served twice as president, as well as president of the organizing committee of the international congress of cartography in Interlaken in 1996. He was also president of the Swiss Society of Photogrammetry. He has represented Switzerland at UN Congresses on geographic names and was member of the German-Speaking Commission on Geographic Names. He was a collaborator of the Schweizer Mittelschulatlas and has been and still is editor-in-chief of the new Schweizer Weltatlas, which was awarded the ICA prize in 1997.
In 1959 Ernst Spiess participated in a Swiss Expedition to the Panta Mountains in Peru, from which an outstanding topographic relief map–including a breathtaking cliff representation–resulted. In 1974, he introduced at the Institute one of the first digital cartographic computer systems, which became a basic tool for advanced scientific work on map production, thematic cartography, and map projections. The adaptation and extension of Bertin’s “Graphical Semiology” to modern thematic cartography is one of his most important contributions. He has always regarded the application of theoretical work as equal in importance to theory, and he has been a highly effective communicator and teacher of both.
For an outstanding career in cartography that has included contributions in topographic mapping, atlas production, technological advancement, and as an effective teacher and researcher, the International Cartographic Association awards Professor Ernst Spiess its highest honor, the Carl Mannerfelt Gold Medal.