Cambridge Conference; the international meeting of chief executives from national mapping organisations around the world originated from a modest meeting in the summer of 1928, when some leading surveyors were heading to Cambridge for the International Geographic Congress. The British Colonial Survey Committee decided to take advantage of this to organise an Empire Conference of Survey Officers – 45 people attended, representing countries from Australia to Zanzibar.
The Conference presented a tremendous opportunity for surveyors with similar roles in very different places to meet, exchange ideas and share experiences. Being scattered around the world, they rarely had the opportunity to meet or to communicate with each other.
The 1928 Conference proved such a success, with many friendships forged, that it was repeated three years later. Since then, it has been organised at quadrennial intervals. As international events unfolded, the term Empire gave way to Commonwealth, and in recent years more delegates were being invited from non-Commonwealth countries, to give a wider scope to discussions.
By 1995, the decision was taken to extend the Commonwealth meeting into a new Cambridge Conference – a global event for all national mapping organisations – always to be held in Cambridge. It is now a modern inclusive event, keeping the traditional emphasis on opportunity for discussion, both formal and informal.