Minister Julian Popov Received the Highest International GIS Award at the Official Ceremony on the Occasion of World GIS Day

On November 15, over 700 participants gathered at Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia for the GIS Forum of the year. Prof. Dr. Galin Tsokov, Minister of Education and Science, also took part in the award ceremony

With an exceptionally successful edition, the largest GIS forum in Bulgaria was held again in person after three years in an online format – on November 15 at Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia. The event brought together leading international experts and over 700 representatives from more than 200 organizations, including state administration, local government, business, the academic community, the non-governmental sector, and many others. The official organizer of the GIS Forum is Esri Bulgaria, and partners are over 50 leading organizations from various fields.

The prestigious conference under the title “With GIS we create a more sustainable world together” was officially opened by Valentin Mundrov, Deputy Minister of e-Governance, Nikolay Naydenov, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Prof. Dr. Kliment Naydenov, Chairman of Bulgarian Geographical Society and Dean of the Faculty of Geology and Geography at Sofia University, and Evgenia Karadjova, founder and manager of Esri Bulgaria.

During the opening, Valentin Mundrov emphasized the increasingly key role of GIS technologies for electronic management in administrations, both at the central and local level, including in the coordination and cooperation between the various institutions that manage a common territory.
Special for GIS Day in Bulgaria, Philip Mot, the General Manager of Esri Europe, attended the conference to present global GIS trends and European best practices in the use of GIS technologies.

Among the examples demonstrated by Philip Mot, the web GIS application of the World Meteorological Organization stood out. This application showcases the state of the climate in Europe, highlighting the application of GIS in supporting the construction of the first new nuclear power plant in the United Kingdom in twenty years—a project of great significance for the UK in energy and climate change mitigation.

Catarina Clemente from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) took part in the conference on the occasion of World GIS Day in Bulgaria. Catarina presented various systems and GIS dashboards with which Frontex monitors and manages the borders of the European Union.

Some of the most significant and innovative GIS systems and applications implemented in the past year in Bulgaria were also presented. These include:

  • Development of Specialized Spatial Data Information Systems at the Agency of Geodesy, Cartography, and Cadastre;
  • Water Management System in the Iskar River Basin (WM-ISKB) as the first phase of the National Real-time Water Management System of the Ministry of Environment and Water;
  • GIS for Electoral Processes – Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • The Role of GIS in Maintenance, Planning, and Forecasting of “ERM Zapad”;
  • Maritime Spatial Plan of the Republic of Bulgaria 2021-2035, and many others.

During the official World GIS Day cocktail ceremony at Grand Hotel Millennium Sofia, the annual awards for special achievements in GIS were solemnly presented in five categories: “State Administration,” “Local Government,” “Private Sector,” “Security,” and “International Organization.”

In the “State Administration” category, the highest international distinction in the field of GIS technologies was awarded to the Ministry of Environment and Water for the implementation of three strategic systems based on state-of-the-art GIS technologies. These systems include the Information System for Flood Risk Management, Enhancement of the Unified Information System for the Management of Protected Areas of the NATURA 2000 Ecological Network, and the Water Management System in the Iskar River Basin. For their special achievements in GIS implementation, the Ministry of Environment and Water was selected from over 100,000 candidates worldwide. The prestigious award was presented by Philip Mot, General Manager of Esri Europe, to Julian Popov, Minister of Environment and Water.

“Perhaps many people are not aware, but we are increasingly dependent on geographic information systems. I am very proud to receive this award. I accept it on behalf of all the employees of the ministry. My expectation is for us to progress more and more in the analysis of all natural climate risks so that we can confront them more informed and manage them even more effectively,” stated Minister Popov.

In the “Local Government” category, the municipality of Chirpan was honored for implementing state-of-the-art GIS technologies to enhance the efficiency of activities related to territorial planning. Nikolay Naydenov, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, presented the award to the municipality of Chirpan.

The largest private gas distribution company in Bulgaria, Overgaz, received an award in the “Private Sector” category. Overgaz is implementing and developing a comprehensive corporate GIS system that enhances the efficiency of managing the gas distribution network and supports planning, design, and decision-making activities in the implementation of infrastructure projects related to the gasification of Bulgarian cities. Ivan Mihaylov, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, presented the prestigious award to Viliyan Yanakiev, Deputy CEO of Overgaz Networks.

In the “Security” category, the Ministry of Defense was honored for the implementation of state-of-the-art GIS technologies to create and develop capabilities for working with geospatial data and operational compatibility that meet the high standards of partner organizations and NATO. Colonel Georgi Popov of the Ministry of Defense received the prestigious award from Konstantin Zografov, Regional Vice President for Southeastern Europe at AFCEA International, a member of the Board of Directors of AFCEA International, and President of the AFCEA Sofia Section.

In the “International Organization” category, the prize went to CWP Global for building and developing innovative cloud GIS applications to enhance the efficiency of management and access to information for the company’s renewable energy projects on a global scale. Dobroslav Dimitrov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Association of Software Companies, presented the award to Vladimir Krumov, Global Manager for Renewable Energy Resource Assessment at CWP Global.

During the ceremony, the winners of the National Educational Competition “Exploring the World with GIS” were also awarded. Minister of Education and Science Prof. Dr. Galin Tsokov presented the awards in the Teacher category.

The first place among teachers went to Desislava Misheva from 79 Secondary School “Indira Gandi”, Sofia, for her interactive GIS project “Let’s Recycle.” Among students, the winner was 6th-grader Mihail Lazarov with his interactive GIS storymap for the Amazon River. In the Team category, the prize went to 7th-grader Dilyana Videva and her teachers in Geography and Economics, and IT—Greta Stoyanova and Tanya Srebreva—at “Alexander Georgiev-Kodzhakafaliyata” School in Burgas for their project “Plastic-Free Sea.” The Grand Prize for Students was won by Stanimir Dimitrov, a doctoral student at the Sofia University of Mining and Geology, who presented the highly relevant topic “Israel – a Day Before the War” using GIS. Two teams — from the Sofia University of Mining and Geology and the University of Forestry — received special awards for their scientific projects: “Monitoring Erosion in the Eastern Rhodopes” and “Forest Protection and Special Uses.”
All web maps, studies, story maps, and GIS projects, part of the National educational competition, can be viewed in the gallery of the “Exploring the World with GIS” competition.