Experts from around the world gathered in Vienna today for the start of a five-day United Nations conference aimed at standardizing the use of place names so that governments, organizations and the public can benefit.
The UN Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN), which was created in 1960, is holding its latest session at a time when digital technology has made it easier to disseminate and obtain detailed geographic information.
“Global expectations are for correct and authoritative information to be available virtually on demand,” said UNGEGN Chairperson Helen Kerfoot, adding that “the challenges we face today remain as thought-provoking as in the past.”
UNGEGN was established to try to promote the use and availability of accurate, clear and unambiguous geographic names given their importance to national and international communication.
Place names are fundamental to many aspects of society, including the coordination of emergency services, tourism, communications systems, economic development and the setting up of planning databases.
International standards and the challenges of making standardized names available for disaster responses are among the subjects to be discussed at this week’s session in Vienna.
UNGEGN is one of seven standing expert bodies of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).