Geo Promotion Event 2021

When? – 5th of March 2021

Where? – Online: Broadcasted from Stadslab Groningen


The theme of the upcoming Geo Promotion conference is ‘Resetting our Spatial Environment – the Interplay between the Physical and the Virtual World. The impact of the digital world on the physical world in spatial planning is increasing at a steady pace. The increase of insights and data from our physical world is being used, processed and visualized in digital ways to improve our living environment. This development provides us with new opportunities but also challenges, how will the planning realm adapt? Should we step ahead of digitalisation? How is this development being recognized and adapted to by planners, geographers, developers, advisors and policy makers? There is no doubt that this multidisciplinary theme will influence the spatial domain considerably in the coming years. The Geo Promotion conference 2021 will give you the opportunity to find answers as well as opinions.

Format & Schedule

The Geo Promotion conference 2021 will take place fully online. On this page you will find information regarding the format and the schedule of the upcoming conference*

Preliminary schedule: On the right, you will find the preliminary time schedule for the conference. Due to being online, the schedule has been shortened to start in the afternoon.

Online platform
The online platform will be hosted by an in-browser streaming service of Mertens AVR. This means that there will be no third-party software necessary to watch the plenary part of the conference. The conference will be streamed live from the comfy and inspiring atmosphere of Stadslab Groningen.

Plenary session
The plenary session will take shape in a talk show format. The keynote speakers will introduce their topics by means of a short keynote, after which all table guests will discuss the specific topic with regards to their expertise under guidance of our conference host. Here, you as a participant can also interact by posing pressing questions on the platform.

The workshops will take place in Microsoft Teams sessions. The sessions will be directly accessible from the online platform of Mertens AVR.

Networking opportunity
Within the online platform, you will have the opportunity to seamlessly switch between all partnering companies at the online networking drinks. This way, you can directly contact the company where you are interested in.

*If you sign up for the conference, you will receive an e-mail containing more information about the format and the schedule apporximately two weeks prior to the start of the conference


The conference host of the Geo Promotion 2021 conference is Dorien Zandbergen!

Dorien Zandbergen is an anthropologist of digital culture and politics, working as an independent researcher, lecturer, moderator and workshop facilitator. For her PhD, as a Fullbright scholar and with Stanford University as her home base, she lived for a year in the San Francisco Bay Area to study the cultural origins of the internet. Thereafter, ethnographic studies involving the complex politics of urban digitization, from citizen science projects focused on Air Quality, to public-private development of Smart Lampposts and the role of data in the Quantified Self movement. Her work has been published, among others, in City & Society, Urban Studies, New Media & Society and Public Culture. Based at the University of Amsterdam Centre for Urban Studies, and collaborating amongst others with Waag Society, Bits of Freedom, the Rotterdam Knowledge Lab for Urban Big Data, the Sheffield Urban Automation Institute, and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, she organized a series of workshops on the politics of data in urban life. She is the founder of Gr1p, a non-profit organization that aims to facilitate better public understanding of today’s digital environment. For her documentary In Search of the Smart Citizen (2015) she won the Public Sociology Award for the ways it spawned public debate about the politics of urban digitization.

Keynote Speakers

Hennes de Ridder

Prof. dr. ir. Hennes de Ridder is Professor Emeritus of Integrated Design at the faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences of the TU Delft. Hennes will give a keynote at the Geo Promotion conference concerning LEGOlisation (in Dutch, LEGOlisering).

LEGO is a very familiar product to most of us. With one box of building blocks, a large variety of buildings can be constructed, even by children. The main reason for this is that the geometric relations between the elements are standardised and small in relation to the end-product.

LEGOlisation as a development in its core focuses on the identification and application of these barebones principles of the built environment in such a way that they apply to multiple types of construction. The aggregated relationships and elements of the built environment form a coherent structure. LEGOlisation is a form of artificial accelerated evolution, where data can be used to build or adapt man-made structures, and change our physical environment. This makes the building process more efficient, and gives guidance towards a circular construction economy.

Tom Berendsen

Tom Berendsen is a Dutch member of the European Parliament on behalf of the fraction of the European People’s Party. He will give a keynote at our conference concerning digitalisation, regional development and role of European legislation.

After Tom Berendsen finished his study of public administration at the Universities of Tilburg and Leuven (Belgium), he completed an internship at the lobby office of Brabantstad in Brussels. Following that, he worked as an employee of the CDA (Christen Democratisch Appèl) for over 6 years in the European Parliament. From on 2015 he was active for over 4,5 years at the Consultancy Office until he was officially appointed member of the European Parliament in July 2019.

Digitalization hugely affects regional developments within the European Union. Not only economically, but also from a social and demographic perspective. How does European legislation have to respond to and lead the way for these developments? Furthermore, how does the European Union serve to protect the digital infrastructure in reflection to the increasing power of Big Tech companies? There are plenty of pressing issues that need to be dealt with adequately!

Tess Osborne

Dr. Tess Osborne is a researcher in the faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen. Tess will give a keynote on the relationship between digital technologies and people focusing on the quantitative self and virtual reality.

For her PhD, she used psychophysiological measures to measure emotional responses to heritage landscapes in Birmingham and virtual historic landscapes. She became increasingly interested in digital worlds in geographic research and became a founding member of the Digital Geographies Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society. Her research has focused on the relationship between people and digital technologies; how the digital can enrich people’s capabilities and how digital technologies can help us to better understand ourselves.

While focusing on virtual reality and embodied measures (such as fitbits), Tess will discuss the potentials and issues linked with everyday technologies with society and research. Using examples, she will stress that everyday technologies, while with promise, raise issues related to privacy and ‘solutionism’.

Showcase: Kavel10

This year, the Geo Promotion conference will also feature a showcase, provided by Kavel10!

Kavel10 is a company with a lot of international experience in collecting high-quality aerial imagery and LiDAR point cloud data on a large scale. They handled the 3D data collection aspect of the 3D Digital twin city of Groningen.

The aim of the 3D Digital City of Groningen is to create an identical replica of the reality outside. Involved companies consider this ‘3D Digital City’ project as a next step to optimize the entire construction chain, since the 3D model will enable (geo)spatial projects to be carried out faster, more cost efficiently and more transparently.

Based on the high-quality datasets, a state-of-the-art 3D city model with a level of detail (LOD) 2.3 has been created by Kavel10. The building model has also been texturized, but it is also enriched with other attributes from the 2D base map to make the 3D Digital City representation even more true to life.

Kavel10 will give a showcase on the Geo Promotion conference in combination with the municipality of Groningen on how Digital Cities are constructed as well as the way the information they contain can be used to improve real-world spatial projects.