Last August 16-19, 2017, I attended the International Conference For FOSS4G held in Boston, Massachussets, USA. It is an annual recurring global event hosted by OSGeo. The FOSS4G (Free and Open-Source Software for Geospatial) conference is the largest global gathering focused on open source geospatial software. It brings together developers, users, decision-makers, and observers from a broad spectrum of organizations and fields of operation. I was one of the ten travel grant awardees under the OSGeo Travel Grant Programme (TGP). Through the financial support from OSGeo and UP NOAH have provided me, I was able to attend FOSS4G. It has given me the opportunity to gain knowledge on the on-going open-source projects around the world. My participation from the conference has provided me direct access to presentations from many organizations within the open-source community, allowing me to gain valuable information about what other projects are all about and where they are focusing their efforts. Attending this conference has provided me with opportunity to learn more about the latest free and open-source software for geospatial technologies and developments, but also increase visibility for the research organization I am working for, UP NOAH.
Breaking Up is Easy to Do: Leaving ESRI Behind for QGIS – A Case Study This, perhaps, was one of my favorite sessions. Alex Cohn discussed the reasons why their organization made a transition from using ArcGIS to QGIS and explained the impacts of this transition on their everyday operations for two years.
It’s About People: Putting the ‘Community’ in ‘Open Data Community’ This session was basically focused on solutions and challenges to empowering collaboration within the community using the MapStory project. MapStory is a free and open-source platform for crowd-sourcing global spaciotemporal data. Since it is a participation-focused open data platform, it emphasizes and revolves around the contribution of the global community.
Lastly, I enjoyed listening to the talk of Steven Feldman about Fake Maps. Obviously, it was telling us about the power of maps that may mislead people through the message of the map intentionally, or through a lack of understanding. It was a fun and chill talk by Steven and I am sure that everyone loved it.
There were 5 keynotes for this year’s conference and I must say that one really stood out – the keynote from THE Richard Stallman. Dr. Richard Stallman launched the free software movement in 1983 and started the development of the GNU operating system in 1984. It is a free software – everyone has the freedom to copy it and redistribute it, with or without changes. It was a pretty long keynote though, but surely leaves discussion within the community about what an open-source software really is.
Attending FOSS4G was quite rewarding for me. It is an opportunity that should not be missed. It was also great to meet the geo-geeks and learn so much from them.
I would want to take this chance to thank everyone involved in making this conference possible.
Next year, it will be held in Tanzania in August, and I hope to be there!
May the FOSS be with you!