Under the slogan of “Empowering local communities”, the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Balamand (UOB) inaugurated the GIS Awareness week organized by ESRI Lebanon. The celebration of the GIS Day at UOB on Tuesday, November 15th 2022, was an ordain to a weeklong of GIS-related events worldwide. The event was also an occasion for UOB to announce the launch of the MENA region’s first Geo-Artificial Intelligence (Geo-AI) Academy. The Geo-AI Academy is dedicated to the capacity building provided by international experts for students and GIS professionals in the field of geospatial big data and artificial intelligence. This exclusive collaboration between UOB and ESRI crowns a long history of collaboration and achievements between them.
The importance of GIS day lies at the core of this system, which implements the utilization of smart technology for the amenity of society, as the UOB GIS Center, under Dr. Amal Iaaly, thrives on using smart maps to help in forming a resilient community.
Through the work of the GIS Center in different areas of Lebanon, especially in building the capacities of local authorities, GIS has proven to be a driver of a paradigm shift in the management of local affairs and in finding smarter solutions for good governance. This was evident during the event as trainees from the municipal unions presented their work in this regard.
During the event, ESRI Lebanon presented the GIS Center at UOB with the “Excellence in GIS Award for Academic Institutions” in recognition of the center’s achievements in empowering local communities. ESRI also offered advanced GIS professional licenses and GIS training for the participants as an award for their positive contribution to their community.
It is also worth noting that the UOB GIS Center collaborates with a number of international development agencies to assist local communities in digital transformation through GIS. The event was also an opportunity to sign an agreement with the MASAR consortium to make GIS training resources available free of charge online for the public good. This material was prepared during the MASAR project in which the University of Balamand took an active part through the GIS Center.
In his welcoming address, Vice President for Internationalization and Engagement and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Professor Rami Abboud, highlighted the strategic partnership between ESRI Lebanon and the UOB GIS Center as a key driver for the success of the UOB GIS Center which has rendered the UOB GIS Center an international and recognized Center of Excellence in GIS. Professor Abboud also highlighted his view that the way forward is to integrate AI into these applications, an effort in which UOB will be playing a pioneering role in the MENA region.