Friday, 26 November 2010

Goals and schedule for OSGeo-Live 4.5

We are starting to build the 4.5 OSGeo-Live DVD and want to hear from all included projects, translators, packagers, users, testers or others who wish to help improve OSGeo-Live. OSGeo-Live 4.5 will be released mid March 2011, ready for a number of big GeoSpatial conferences soon after.

Focus on this next release will be on improved Quality and Translating documentation.

Packaged projects - which version?

Could each project please tell us which version is intended to be included. Status is maintained here. Understanding what will, or will not change helps us coordinate reviewers and testers. We will be building from the Xubuntu 10.04 base, which is the same as last release.

If you have a established, stable project which you would like included on OSGeo-Live, then please talk to us about it.

Use Natural Earth dataset for examples

In order to ensure consistency and reduce disk space used, we ask that, where appropriate, examples use the common Natural Earth dataset, as explained here.

Translations

We expect to have main pages, Project Overviews and possibly OGC Standard Overviews translated into multiple languages for this next release. People have already translated much of the documentation into German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Greek.

Could all projects please update your English Project Overviews as soon as you can to give translators enough time to translate.

Please contact us if you are able to help with translation, or would like to translate a new language. The process is described here.

Quick Starts

Half the packaged projects had Quick Starts written for the last release (4.0) and we'd like to see Quick Starts for all projects for the next release. One of our users has volunteered to review Quick Starts for usability and help projects capture screen grabs. This is a big job and we'd like to hear from anyone else who'd can help out.

Again, could projects please update Quick Starts early to allow time for review and screen grabs.

User Testing

With ~ 50 applications to be packaged on the next OSGeo-Live, our core OSGeo-Live team have not had time to run all the Quickstart applications. We would really like some help. If you have very little experience with OSGeo software, then all the better, as you would be like a typical first time user of OSGeo-Live.

Running this user testing is one of the best ways to become familiar with the breath of OSGeo Software available. If interested, please join the OSGeo List, and start running Quick Starts as soon as they have been completed by projects.

OGC Standard Overviews

The OGC have already written one page overviews for half the OGC standards and have committed to writing up the remaining standards for then next release. We will be calling on the standards community to help review these standards to ensure they are accurate, clear and understandable.

Key Milestones

24 Jan 2011 Application Overviews ready for Review
31 Jan 2011 Application Feature Freeze
21 Feb 2011 Deliver to User Acceptance Test
14 Mar 2011 Final sent to printers

... full schedule

About OSGeo-Live

OSGeo-live is an XUbuntu based distribution of Geospatial Open Source Software, available via a Live DVD, Virtual Machine and soon to be released USB. You can use OSGeo-Live to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything.

Contact Us?

Website: http://live.osgeo.org

Mailing List: http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/live-demo

or contact Cameron Shorter directly at: cameronD O TshorterATlisasoftD O Tcom.

Friday, 22 October 2010

EU Guidelines for Public Administrations purchasing software


The European Union has published excellent, very practical guidelines to support government agencies purchase software. While it is specifically targeted at purchasing Open Source Software, by its own admission, most of the discussion is valid for purchasing Proprietary Software too.
The key message that it describes in business terms, is the importance of using Open Standards in order to adhere to EU purchasing criteria of fair competition, transparency, and long term value for money.
The full guide is available here: https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/sites/default/files/OSS-procurement-guideline-public-final-June2010-EUPL-FINAL.pdf

Below are some of the highlights I picked out as I was reading it:

Government Business Drivers
Public sector consumers of software have an obligation to support interoperability, transparency and flexibility, as well as economical use of public funds. When it comes to public procurement, the principles applied to the public sector require them to support (and certainly not to harm) competition through their procurement practices.
Pro-Proprietary discrimination
Studies have shown that in practice, much software procurement discriminates between individual vendors, typically in favour of specific proprietary software companies.

E.g. OpenForum Europe, 2008. "OFE Monitoring Report: Discrimination in Public Procurement Procedures for Computer Software in the EU Member States", December. Ghosh, R. A. 2005. "An Economic Basis for Open Standards". FLOSSPOLS project, European Commission.

Proportion of Software Spent
While precise figures for the European public sector are not available, it is worth noting that the share of proprietary packaged software in European software spending is only 19%. Much more is spent on custom built software (52%) and internal software development (29%).
European Commission DG Enterprise, 2006, Study on the Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU, pp124 (Table 24). Available online at http://flossimpact.eu

Defining Standards
Note that compatibility with previously purchased IT solutions may seem like a very valid technical requirement, but can also be a way of perpetuating the consequences of previous purchasing decisions, perpetuating vendor lock-in and preventing an unbiased procurement based on real organisational needs. Requirements for compatibility with open standards and no proprietary elements, i.e. full compatibility across multiple vendors and producers, increases the freedom of future procurement choices.
Funding drivers for Government
Freed from the obligation of the short term financial cycles of the private sector, public organisations are also obliged to maximise costs effectiveness over the very long term. However, with limited, short-term budget cycles, they need to find a good balance between limiting the initial investments and limiting the overall, long term cost.
Exist Costs
The exit cost is also an important consideration: the cost incurred in migrating to another IT system, which should properly be accounted for as a cost not of the new system being migrated to, but the old system being migrated from. After all, if the old system were based on open standards, migration would not be as expensive, thus the cost of migration is imposed by the current, old system.
...
Software is used to create documents, databases and customised applications that, in the public sector, have a life-time that may be well beyond the originally announced life-time of the procurement procedure for the software. If the software originally purchased makes it difficult to use the documents, databanks and customised applications with similar software from other producers, then there is a high cost in terms of changing from the original software to another software - the exit cost.
...
Buying new software because it is compatible with previously purchased software may seem to save on migration and training costs. But when this software is proprietary, and is not fully based on protocols and standards that are fully and freely supported by other independent vendors, exit costs and associated costs may greatly increase over the long term. The agency's dependence on the proprietary vendor is increased. Thus the apparent short term benefit of compatibility is much reduced when considered over the longer term.
Total Cost of Ownership Studies

Total Costs of Ownership (TCO) is a term often cited in relation to software purchases. However, there are several different methodologies, and few include all the long-term costs involved in software purchases, such as the costs of required regular upgrades, or the exit cost of Guideline on Public Procurement of Open Source Software P. 31 migrating to another software. It is therefore difficult to use TCO studies, or even compare them.
Furthermore, such studies rarely evaluate anything other than quantifiable costs; the benefits of flexibility, independence and transparency while essential to a public organisation, may be qualitative and hard to quantify. Thus, it is advisable to analyse costs and benefits for the needs of the public organisation concerned, over the long term, rather than relying on TCO studies.
Open Source Quality Metrics
A number of EU funded research projects are examining open source quality metrics, such as QUALOSS and SQO-OSS (www.qualoss.org; www.sqo-oss.eu)
Lowering Company Financial Viability for Open Source
The main justification for financial sustainability criteria for software is to ensure that the supplier will be able to provide support as long as the software is being used.
With open source, the availability of the source code assures interoperability, and there is no dependence on the original supplier. If the original supplier goes out of business, the software can still be maintained by others; if others are not maintaining the software, the public agency can hire a third party maintainer. This increased sustainability of open source is justification for lowering the financial sustainability requirements, or lowering their weight in the selection process for tenders for open source software.
Valuing Open Source engagement in selection criteria
Public agencies can also provide indirect support for the development community, by asking tenderers for open source software or services to demonstrate their level of contribution to the appropriate developer community - as part of the selection process, and/or as part of the execution of the contract. In any case, this may be a useful way of determining level of knowledge of the open source software and its community available with the tenderer.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

LISAsoft launches training in GeoSpatial Standards and Open Source Technologies

As reported by Computer World, three out of five technologies predicted to see huge growth in US government over the next four years are “Open Source”, “GeoSpatial” and “Service Oriented Architecture”, as facilitated by the spatial standards from the OGC. The other hot technologies include “Cloud Computing” and “Virtualisation”.

It is not surprising then that Geospatial Open Source technologies are becoming increasingly prevalent in job advertisements. As noted by Dean Howell, owner of Spatial Jobs Online and GIS Jobs Australia, “We have had 10 positions recently with specific GeoSpatial Open Source experience required. For each of these we have had limited applicants. We would encourage GIS professionals and job seekers to investigate training in this growing market area.”

However, to date, there have been limited opportunities to obtain structured GeoSpatial Open Source training. This situation is being rectified by LISAsoft who are introducing a range of training courses to address growing demand from industry. Courses cover targeted technical training, as well as a course for Managers and Business Analysts addressing the unique management opportunities and pitfalls introduced when acquiring and using Open Source Software.

Darren Mottolini, a Business Consultant with Landgate explains, “Organisations who manage data infrastructures such as Landagate’s Shared Land Information Platform (SLIP), are joining the world movement toward leveraging spatial standards to share data both between applications and agencies. This strategy minimises duplication of data by allowing efficient sharing of information via standards into any technology platform. Once organisations start using standards, the uptake and use of open source software becomes apparent as it provides an easy base to build common operating platforms across many agencies. SLIP includes a wide range of applications, including many Open Source components.”

“LISAsoft have been providing training in several mainstream open source products for a number of years on request for targeted events”, explains Mark Leslie, one of LISAsoft’s trainers. “In response to positive feedback from these courses, our new training program has now been restructured to emphasis hands-on learning in a collaborative environment. This allows our customers to leave the course with a real, practical knowledge of the subject matter that they can begin to act on right away.”

Cracking ahead at lightening pace are the many advancements in browser based functionality, which now enables tailored “Google Map” type applications to be developed with editing and analysis type functionality that was previously available only in desktop applications. LISAsoft’s course “Web Mapping with OpenLayers” teaches participants how to lever the powerful OpenLayers and GeoExt libraries to build intuitive map based websites.

Providing data to websites is the job of Web Service engines like GeoServer. GeoServer serves maps via OGC standards like WMS, WFS, WCS and more. It is popular due to its intuitive, yet powerful management interface, its conformance to standards, and its robustness. In the “Professional GeoServer” course, participants are taught how to integrate GeoServer with databases, setting up GeoWebCache to provide fast tiled maps, the art of making maps pretty, tuning GeoServer to handle large data volumes, and also how to deploy GeoServer into high reliability production environments.

Spatial data is most effectively stored and manipulated through the functionality of a spatial database, like PostGIS. PostGIS spatially enables the Open Source PostgreSQL database, in the same manner as Oracle Spatial spatially enables Oracle. PostGIS is mature and robust, fast, widely deployed, and is often selected for large systems as it is not license bound when scaling. LISAsoft’s “Spatially enabled with PostGIS” course teaches PostGIS’s geographic data structures and functions, loading data and tuning the database.

Maintaining good metadata records makes data much easier to find, and consequently saves organisations money by ensuring datasets are not purchased multiple times and avoids expensive recollection of existing data. However, GIS managers are challenged by trying to get data generators to fill in and maintain metadata effectively. Australia and New Zealand have been at the forefront of research into metadata, including a range of automated collection and management techniques. LISAsoft’s “Metadata with GeoNetwork” explains how to deploy GeoNetwork, how an administrator can tailor GeoNetwork’s metadata entry templates for specific user communities, how to make use of automated data entry techniques, and how to harvest data from external sources.

Targeted desktop applications which require mapping can be customised from uDig, a Java based desktop client, which is built upon the widely used Eclipse framework. LISAsoft provide a training course for Java programmers, teaching geospatial concepts, a walkthrough of the Eclipse programming framework, hands on exercises, and a complete tour of functionality from disk to display and printing.

How to build best practice, future proof Spatial Data Infrastructures is covered by LISAsoft’s “Standards based Spatial Data Infrastructure design” course. This course is specifically targeted at architects and spatial data managers responsible for designing, building and deploying spatial systems. It includes practical overviews of the key Open GeoSpatial Consortium (OGC) standards, how to design systems using the standards, when to use the standards, and where standards are still lacking or should be avoided. Attendees will have hands on experience building applications using standards compliant Open Source applications.

Further information at http://lisasoft.com/training

This article was published in the October 2010 edition of Position Magazine.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Script for "How to sell Open Source to Government"

At the recent Open Source Asia/Pacific conference, I presented on the tricky subject of "How to sell Open Source Software to Government", which can equally be read as "What logic can I use to convince my boss that installing Open Source is a good idea?".


The presentation is recorded on this 25 minute video and the script is copied below.





"Selling Open Source to Government"

In 2005 the Australian Government published guidelines describing how to buy Open Source Software.

Despite the potential benefits, however, government uptake of open source is surprisingly low.

Why is that? Well that is what I'll be speaking about today.

  • What factors lead to governments favouring proprietary applications?
  • What factors drive government purchasing decisions?
  • What are the strengths of Open Source?
  • How can we ensure that these strengths are recognised by purchasers?
  • And how do companies like ours successfully sell Open Source to government, anyway?

Hi, my name is Cameron Shorter, and I'm the GeoSpatial Business Development Manager at LISAsoft.

At LISAsoft we have carved a niche for ourself by being experts in all things GeoSpatial,

  • in GeoSpatial Standards,
  • in GeoSpatail Open Source,
  • in Infrastructure and Hardware,

and we do all this locally, here in Australia and New Zealand, and it is worth noting that being local is an advantage for us Open Source companies.

Like many of our staff at LISAsoft, I've been involved in a number of Open Source projects, and led few of them. Most recently, we have been involved in the collaborative development of a LiveDVD containing 42 preconfigured GeoSpatial Open Source Applications along with associated marketing material, and we have been using this DVD at conferences around the world to promote our Open Source applications.

Now, before we can define a formula for success, we need to understand the challenges we face convincing Governments to buy Open Source.

We need to be clear about the value of Open Source, and how to effectively measure that value. Once we know how to communicate the value we can then help government purchasers include selection criteria which foster the growth of these collaborative technologies.

And of course, I'm talk about what we as an industry can do to make our Open Source offerings more attractive to government.

Lets start with what governments look for:

At the root of government accountability is the need to address the Triple bottom line.

  • value for the Community
  • value for the Environment
  • value for Money

This translates down to project selection criteria based around:

  • Fit for purpose
  • Value for Money
  • Low risk

So now lets ask what is so great about Open Source.

  • You pay for the software development once, and after that, its free, for everyone. Well, it is licence free.
  • Following on from this: Others are actively encouraged to improve and extend your software, and depending on licence, these improvements are usually given away for free as well.
  • Next, because the software is available for free, it is hard to apply vendor lock in tactics. Governments can change their support company without being forced to change their software. And this reduces long term project risk.

So far, I probably haven't told you much that you don't already know.

What we need to do now, is explain these strengths of Open Source in government purchasing terms, and introduce practical steps to promote Open Source Software.

Lets start by looking at one of the dark sides of proprietary selling. Namely Vendor dependence, or vendor lock in.

If an agency moulds its business processes around one product, and integrates key applications around the proprietary interfaces to this same product, then the agency becomes dependant upon this product.

This is called vendor lock in, and any government purchaser who has any grey will be able to cite examples of how they have been burnt by vendors who have forced them to pay increased licence fees, or have had forced upgrade cycles, are who have been left hanging with an unsupported product which the vendor has deemed to have reached end-of-life.

The key solution to avoiding vendor lock-in is to build applications upon Open Standards and this is an easy sell to government. Most agencies will support the use of Open Standards, as they see standards as key to reducing medium to long term risk of their projects.

Different sectors have reached different levels of maturity for standards. Our GeoSpatial sector have developed some very mature and widely adopted standards and this has been valuable for creating opportunities for Open Source.

Because once you break the proprietary silos, it then makes economic sense to replace components of the silo, bit by bit, with Open Source equivalents.

So lesson number 1:

Promote the value of Open Standards for reducing vendor lock-in, and hence for reducing long term project risk.

Also, ensure that your Open Source applications are standards compliant.

Now lets talk about some the standard gripes that people have with Open Source.

I'm sure that many of you have heard comments like:

"I like the idea of Open Source, but what other government agencies are actually using these same applications you're recommending to me?"

or

"We've thought about Open Source, but who do we call, who can we blame, when things go wrong?"

You see, only alpha-geeks purchase software, everyone else purchases products.

And in particular, governments purchase products. Because in order for software to be valuable, it need to address all the implementation and risk requirements that purchasers are looking for:

These include:

  • Support
  • Case Studies
  • Training
  • Warranty and Certification that the application actually works as specified
  • And a hefty wad of user documentation

And that brings us to lesson number 2:

We in the Open Source industry need to sell products not software.

If you want government to deploy your favourite Open Source application, make sure there is an established company providing commercial support and training for the software. Presenting at this conference are many of the vendors who provide Open Source products, and also something that we at LISAsoft are launching for the GeoSpatial sector.

Now so far, I've been talking about Open Source applications as if you can take them out of the box and they will work straight away. Sort of like Microsoft Word, or the Open Office suite. And while some applications do fit into that category, most large government purchases require require non trivial customisation in order get new applications to integrate with existing systems. And that is what us Systems Integrators get involved in.

In this systems integration market, emerging Open Source applications are typically pitted against established proprietary applications. Usually both Open Source and Proprietary proposals need to develop new functionality to meet project requirements.

And this is where we it is very important for governments to get project selection criteria right, if they wish to give Open Source a fair chance during selection.

As mentioned earlier, Open Source is free once developed, so Open Source developers need to cover development costs up front. Proprietary vendors can charge less up front, then charge an expensive maintenance fee afterwards.

So lesson 3 is:

Ensure that purchasers evaluate the cost of the project over 5 or more years.

Next, we have already discussed the risk associated with a project being dependant upon an application. Purchasers should consider the full lifecycle of the project, including end-of-life. What will happen if the vendor stops supporting this application, or decides to apply unacceptable licence costs?

Of course, Open Source has an excellent story for these questions. Firstly, licence costs are free, so a stable old application can keep on working in the background without any licence fees required.

Second, governments can change their support company without changing their software. And this keeps the support companies honest.

Third, if my support company goes out of business, there is no licence restrictions to stop me going and hiring another company.

Fourth, your Open Source application is probably standards compliant, so you should be able to replace it with another standards compliant product.

So this brings us to Lesson 4:

Encourage purchasers to consider exit costs when they purchase software.

The next huge benefit of free software, is that once written, it can be used by, and benefit, many more communities than just the sponsoring agency. This is particularly pertinent to government which has thousands of government departments.

An Open Source application developed by one government department, will likely be of benefit to many other government departments. And the application will also likely be valuable to community groups that the government represents.

So Lesson 5 is that governments should assess the value of their purchases against the needs of the whole community, not just against the needs of the particular agency. If this one criteria were widely adopted by government, I predict that the majority of applications purchased by government would be Open Source.

And this is probably where we in the industry can help the most. You see, the Open Source industry is excellent at collaboration. Collaboration, and sharing your workload with external developers is exactly what makes Open Source so successful.

So Lesson 6 is to help governments find like minded agencies who would all benefit from the Open Source solution. At LISAsoft, we have been quite successful with this approach, partly because government agencies are already quite familiar with collaborating with each other to share development of proprietary solutions.

But if we limit our collaboration to just working with organisations that we can engage before we start a project, then we miss the core success factor of Open Source. Namely, if you have useful software, and you give it away as Open Source, then others will use and improve the software, and you, original sponsor, will benefit from these enhancements.

This core principle has been well understood for 20 years or so, and is basis for almost all successful Open Source projects, so why is it that Governments don't use it?

Basically, it comes down to the fact governments do not have the tools to assess the potential value of collaborative opportunities.

Governments need to make use of "Opportunity Management" to assess the value of collaboration.

"Opportunity Management" is the same as "Risk Management" but with the numbers reversed. Instead of identifying what could possibly go wrong, and then applying mitigation strategies to reduce the chance of the things going wrong, with "Opportunity Management", you identify what could possibly go right, and then deploy enablement strategies to give the Opportunity every chance of success.

For instance, I've about to build a super-duper widget which will be useful for governments and communities around world. I expect that if I spend an extra $20,000 Open Sourcing this application, then there is a 90% chance that some of these potential users will join my development team, and extend the application, adding another $300,000 worth of valuable.

So this brings us through to Lesson number 7:

When proposing a Collaborative Opportunity like Open Source, be sure to spell out the value in financial terms using "Opportunity Management".

Of course, Open Source is just one of the uses of collaboration in successful web based businesses.

Tim O'Reilly defined the key design patterns for a successful web business and called it web 2.0. Tim's Web 2.0 defines such things things as crowd sourcing information from your users in order to significantly reduce the cost of collecting and maintaining data.

Now the Australian government has actually been absorbing the lessons of Web 2.0 into government thinking, which they have coined Gov 2.0, and I understand that we will be hearing more about this from Pia this afternoon.

This Gov 2.0 has a focus on taking the collaborative and participatory practices into government in order to make governments more effective at engaging the community.

And this is good news for us in Open Source, because it is legitimising the value of collaborative technologies like Open Source, which makes it easier for us to sell Open Source right across Government.

As discussed earlier, Open Source changes the monetisation points in the sales cycle. Instead of paying a large company for software licences, which is then used to support an overseas software development team, you instead pay local developers and systems integrators to provide support and customisation.

And this takes us to lesson 8. Governments usually wish to promote local industry, and by promoting Open Source, they will also be advantaging the local software industry.

Even Leybourn explained another variant on this message in an earlier presentation, noting that in the business intelligence domain, it is more important to invest in people than in technology, which is one of the reasons why he prefers to use Open Source Software, and use the saved licence fees to invest in a better quality team.

So in Summary,

  1. Promote Open Standards in order to reduce long term risk and break vendor lock-in
  2. Sell Products, not Software
  3. Evaluate value over the full life cycle of the project
  4. Consider exit costs of solution
  5. Consider value to whole of government and greater community
  6. Look for Partners
  7. Use "Opportunity Management" to describe the collaborative value of Open Source.
  8. Open Source promotes local industry
  9. Prioritise investment in people over technology

Saturday, 18 September 2010

How to sell Open Source to Government

At the recent Open Source Asia/Pacific conference, I presented on the tricky subject of "How to sell Open Source Software to Government", which can equally be read as "What logic can I use to convince my boss that installing Open Source is a good idea?".
The presentation is recorded on this 25 minute video.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Video of the best GeoSpatial Open Source - OSGeo-Live


Version 4.0 of the OSGeo Live GIS software collection has been released, along with a "teaser" 25 minute video describing the 42 contributing GeoSpatial Open Source applications.

Jody Garnett will be providing a much better, more detailed, 90 minute presentation at the start of FOSS4G next week. Don't miss it!

OSGeo-Live is a self-contained bootable DVD, USB flash drive and Virtual Machine based upon Ubuntu Linux that is pre-configured with a wide variety of robust open source geospatial software. The applications can be trialled without installing anything on your computer, simply by booting the computer from the DVD or USB drive.

Homepage
http://live.osgeo.org
Video
http://cameronshorter.blip.tv/file/4078371/

Highlights

  • 42 of the best GeoSpatial Open Source applications installed and pre-configured.
  • One page overviews for all projects
  • Overviews of key OGC standards
  • Many application Quick Start documentation

Packages

  • 52°North WPS 2.0.0
  • AtlasStyler 1.5
  • deegree 2.3
  • GeoKettle 3.2.0-20090609
  • Geomajas 1.6.0
  • GeoNetwork 2.4.3
  • Geopublisher 1.5
  • GeoServer 2.0.2
  • GMT 4.5.1
  • GpsDrive 2.11
  • GRASS GIS 6.4.0rc6
  • gvSIG 1.10
  • Kosmo 2.0
  • Mapbender 2.6.2
  • Mapfish 1.2
  • MapGuide Open Source 2.2.0
  • Mapnik 0.7.0
  • Mapserver 5.6.5
  • MapTiler 1.0beta2
  • Marble 0.9.2
  • MB System 5.1.2
  • OpenJUMP 1.3
  • OpenLayers 2.9.1
  • OpenCPN 2.1.0
  • OpenStreetMap editors and tools
  • osgEarth 1.3
  • Ossim/OssimPlanet 1.8.6
  • pgRouting 1.03svn
  • PostGIS 1.5
  • QuantumGIS 1.5.0
  • QGIS mapserver 0.7
  • R geostatistics 2.11.1
  • Sahana 0.6.4
  • SAGA GIS 2.0.4
  • SpatiaLite 2.4
  • Tilecache
  • uDig 1.2.0
  • Ushahidi 1.1.0
  • Viking 0.9.9
  • zyGrib 3.9.2
  • ZOO Project 1.0
  • Xubuntu 10.04 (Lucid)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

I'm giving away my discount tickets to "Business centric Open Source conference"


I'll be speaking on the tricky subject of "How to sell Open Source Software to Government", which can equally be read as "What logic can I use to convince my boss that installing Open Source is a good idea?".
This will be just one of the Open Source for Business presentations at the OSSPAC conference here in Sydney 13 & 14 of September 2010. http://www.osspac.com/
As a speaker, I've also managed to score a few $100 discount passes to the conference which I don't have use for. I'd hate to see them go to waste. Please contact me if you think you can make use of the pass.

Friday, 13 August 2010

OGC Webinar describing advances in GeoSpatial Standards during OWS-7 testbed


The results of this year’s main OGC testbed for GeoSpatial Standards development will be presented during an Australian / New Zealand time-zone webinar this coming
Friday 20 August 2010 at:

2:00pm: New Zealand
12 noon: Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart
12:30pm: Adelaide, Darwin
10:00 am: Perth

For information and registration, see https://portal.opengeospatial.org/public_ogc/register/100819_ows7_asiapac_webinar.php

Australian and New Zealand has played a key role in this testbed.

  • LISAsoft, Landgate, Landcare Research and CSIRO extended a Web Processing Service client to address testbed scenarios for supporting standardised algorithm access. Video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjNCWnZztmM
  • LISAsoft and CSIRO tested and recommended improvements for AIXM, an Aeronautical profile of Geographic Markup Language (GML). Video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUgQmrcZ-1M
  • LISAsoft defined the schema for the upcoming standard for OWS Context, a standard for storing all layers and other information on a map in a configuration file.

OGC testbeds, pilot projects and interoperability experiments are part of OGC's Interoperability Program, a global, hands-on collaborative prototyping program designed to rapidly develop, test and deliver proven candidate specifications into OGC's Specification Program, where they are formalized for public release.

The recently concluded testbed for OGC Web Services (OWS-7) covered: interoperability architectures, enhancements to existing and candidate standards for sensors, video change detection, database synchronization, information cataloguing, web processing services, event architecture and aviation.

The OGC® is an international consortium of more than 395 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OGC Standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful with any application that needs to be geospatially enabled.
http://www.opengeospatial.org/

LISAsoft is a Systems & Software Integration company with targeted expertise in GeoSpatial Standards, Spatial Data Infrastructures and Open Source Software.
http://lisasoft.com

Using Web Processing Services in the OGC's testbed: OWS-7

LISAsoft, in conjunction with Landgate, Landcare Research and CSIRO, recently deployed and extended a Web Processing Service client as part of the OGC's OWS-7 standards development testbed.
A Web Processing Service (WPS) provides a standard interface for applying spatial algorithms.It is particularly useful for:
  • Reducing complexity in data processing by providing plug & play algorithms.
  • Enabling processes to be chained together.
  • Enabling processing to be deployed once then used everywhere.
  • Streamlined maintenance. Processes/models are maintained in a central place by the entities who created them.
  • Taking advantage of high-speed computational capabilities on a central server.
  • Easy and interoperable access to highly complex processes, such as climate change models.
The following 3 minute video provides a demonstration of the WPS client we developed being used with the OWS-7 scenario.

Tools for developing & validating GML Application Profiles using AIXM

LISAsoft and CSIRO recently concluded validation of an Aeronautical profile for Geographic Markup Language (GML), called AIXM (Aeronautical Information Exchange Model), as part of the OGC testbed OWS-7.
Results of the project have been summarised in a 3 minute video which covers:
  • Tools for building and refactoring the AIXM application schema.
  • Tools for building Schema and Schematron validation rules from the AIXM UML/XMI model.
  • Tools for validating Web Feature Services and GML against the Schema and Schematron rules to confirm they conform to the AIXM model.
See below for the video:

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

OGC and OSGeo collaborate on documentation


The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC®) and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) will develop conforming documentation for key OGC standards and geospatial open source application descriptions. Both sets of documentation will be available online and on the OSGeo-Live DVD, to be released at the international conference for Free and Open Source Software, FOSS4G, in September 2010, in Barcelona, Spain (http://2010.foss4g.org).
“We are happy to work with OSGeo to meet the needs of open source developers,” explained Steven Ramage, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications, OGC, “because wider use of OGC standards increases interoperability, innovation and market growth, and this benefits developers and users of both open source and proprietary software.”
According to Cameron Shorter, coordinator of the OSGeo-Live project,
“OGC standards underpin our GeoSpatial Open Source applications, and hence OGC documentation will greatly enhance the Open Source documentation being developed.”

About OSGeo-Live

OSGeo-Live is a DVD, USB drive and Virtual Machine based upon Ubuntu Linux that is pre-configured with a wide variety of robust, open source, geospatial software. The applications can be trialed without installing anything on your computer, simply by booting the computer from the DVD or USB drive. OSGeo Live is handed out at conferences around the world, and is regularly used by students in geospatial workshops and tutorials. (http://live.osgeo.org)

About OSGeo
The Open Source Geospatial Foundation, or OSGeo is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and promote the collaborative development of open geospatial technologies and data. (http://www.osgeo.org/)

About the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®)
The OGC® is an international consortium of more than 395 companies, government agencies, research organizations, and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geospatial standards. OGC Standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful with any application that needs to be geospatially enabled. Visit the OGC website at http://www.opengeospatial.org/contact.

Monday, 28 June 2010

One week till OSGeo-Live Feature Freeze

In one week, we will be locking in software versions on this year's OSGeo-Live DVD, which will be handed to every delegate at FOSS4G 2010, as well as many other Geospatial events. At the OSGeo stand at conferences, the OSGeo-Live DVD is by far the most sought after marketing item we have, with delegates consistently asking for extra copies.

So please ensure that all install scripts are pointing at the latest stable software, and if you wish to see your favorite stable OSGeo application on OSGeo-Live, then contact us right now.

Resources

About OSGeo-Live

OSGeo-live is an XUbuntu based distribution of Geospatial Open Source Software, available via a Live DVD, Virtual Machine and soon to be released USB. You can use OSGeo-Live to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Building OSGeo Live DVD for FOSS4G 2010

We have started building this year's OSGeo-Live DVD which will be handed out to every delegate at FOSS4G 2010, as well as many other Geospatial events.

This year, OSGeo-Live will be even sexier, more useful and professional by including:

We want to hear from:

  • Established GeoSpatial projects who wish to include their project in OSGeo-Live
  • Workshop leaders or trainers who wish to use OSGeo-Live. We'd like to know how we can help you.
  • Project representatives please:

Milestones

  • 25 July 2010: Documentation template ready for use
  • 5 July 2010: Feature freeze
  • 2 August 2010: Final delivery for User Acceptance Test

..more

About OSGeo-Live

OSGeo-live is an XUbuntu based distribution of Geospatial Open Source Software, available via a Live DVD, Virtual Machine and soon to be released USB. You can use OSGeo-Live to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything.

Contact Us?

Website: http://live.osgeo.org

Mailing List: http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/live-demo

or contact Cameron Shorter directly at: cameronD O TshorterATlisasoftD O Tcom.

Governments don't know how to buy Free Software


For the last ten years, web-based communities have achieved significant advancement in productivity by using collaborative work practices, such as open source software, open standards, and organic data sharing.
Open source offers a diverse range of applications which are robust, feature-rich and compliant with current standards. Indeed, the government has publicly recognised its benefits for years. For example, the 2005 release of the Guide to Open Source Software for Australian Government Agencies notes that “[Open Source] has the potential to lead to significant savings in Government.”
Despite the potential benefits, however, government uptake of open source is surprisingly low. Why? Because government purchasing practices inadvertently hinder the procurement of open source. Government purchasing guidelines favour business models that build closed systems and apply lock-in tactics over the sharing and collaborative business practices used by open source communities.
Development costs for open and proprietary software are similar – the difference is in the sales model. Once written, open source software is free! Gratis! Costs nothing! This does not mean that geek-fairies write beautiful software in the middle of the night out of the goodness of their hearts for no money at all (although that does happen). With the standard open business model, vendors are paid to maintain, improve and support the software. Upon completion, the software is free for everyone to use and improve – including the vendor’s competitors. Consequently, open source vendors tend to charge their first client the full development cost.
In contrast, proprietary vendors are able to absorb initial software development costs because they re-sell product licenses multiple times, effectively spreading development costs across multiple customers. This means that when government agencies only consider the needs of their own agency, and ignore potential cross-agency benefits, proprietary vendors will always have an advantage over their open source counterparts.
Once a vendor has an established product they can charge a premium for the claimed reduction in development risk. Then, once an agency becomes dependant upon an application, possibly due to a dependence on the vendor’s proprietary formats, it becomes commercially favourable for a proprietary vendor to increase license fees. These lock-in tactics don’t apply to open business, as customers can replace their product support, without replacing their products.
For example, let’s consider asset management. In Australia there are 610 local councils and hundreds of state and national government agencies who all need software to manage their assets – they need to monitor, maintain and upgrade their roads, street signs, parks and buildings. Numerous proprietary applications have been sold and customised to support each agency’s specific requirements, which means that in effect, the government has paid for the same functionality, many times over, to different vendors. Moreover, it is usually in the vendor’s best interest to apply lock-in tactics and hamper integration with competing products, further reducing potential collaborative benefits.
Compare this business model with the ParkInfo Asset Management System LISAsoft is building for Queensland’s Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM). ParkInfo uses open standards and is built upon, and will likely contribute back, to open source software. Future government asset management systems will be able to use and extend relevant components of the ParkInfo application. Consequently the ParkInfo application is significantly more valuable to government than a proprietary application would have been.
Unfortunately this significant cross-agency value of open source is usually not considered by government when purchasing software. The open source ParkInfo project was selected over its proprietary competitors purely on the government’s guidelines of fit for purpose, low risk and value for money.
A strong commercial incentive for DERM to open source their ParkInfo code is that external users will likely use and improve the ParkInfo codebase, which in turn will benefit Queensland Parks. The practice of giving code away so that others will improve it is justified financially using “opportunity management”. Like risk management, opportunity management entails identifying potential opportunities, valuing them, then deploying enablement strategies to increase the probability that the opportunity will be realised.
Adoption of open source benefits communities as well. When the Danish municipality of Lyngby-Taarbæk installed 1,700 school computers with the Open Office suite, parents didn’t need to purchase software licences for their children to do their homework. Similarly, government agencies can make open source software and expertise freely available to community groups and businesses they interact with.
If government purchasing guidelines factored in community and whole-of-government value provided by each purchase, the collaborative value of these developments would lead to a significant increase in the deployment of open standards and open source software due to the collaborative value these development methodologies bring.
Australia would do well to follow the lead of other national governments are who are revamping their purchasing guidelines to realise the benefits of open source and open standards. For instance, in 2009 the UK re-released their Policy for Open Source, Open Standards and Re–Use which in summary states:
  • Government procurement will fairly consider open source solutions alongside proprietary ones and will take into account total cost of ownership, including exit and transition costs.
  • The Government will, wherever possible, avoid becoming locked in to proprietary software.
  • The Government will require solutions to comply with open standards.
  • Where appropriate, general purpose software developed for government will be released on an open source basis.
The UK policy and associated action plan would be a good template for Australia to build upon. I suggest the following inclusions:
  • Government procurement will consider the cross-agency and community value to government purchases.
  • Government procurement will evaluate the potential return on investment government would likely receive by Open Sourcing developed code.
There is huge potential for governments to reduce costs and increase community value by embracing the collaborative technologies of Open Source and Open Standards. But in order to achieve this, governments need to make fundamental changes to funding practices in order to recognise the cross-agency value of collaborative technologies.
This article was published in the June 2010 edition of Position Magazine.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Report from OSGeo stand at the Federation of Surveyors conference


The international Federation of Surveyors conference finished last week in Sydney, attracting well over 2000 delegates and by all accounts was a great success. Congratulations to the organisors.
I spent most of my time at the OSGeo booth promoting Open Source and Open Standards, presented a 15 minute lightening presentation titled "GeoSpatial Open Source for Surveyors", http://blip.tv/file/3503561, and attended some Open Source presentations.
At the booth I was helped by Chris Body (OGC Standards representative at GeoSciences Australia), Darren Motollini (West Australia's Shared Land Information Platform (SLIP)), Gertrude Pieper (FLOSS-Cadastre Expert Group at FAO/FIG Commission) and Lee Hughes from LISAsoft. We were armed with:
  • An OSGeo Banner
  • A stack of OSGeo Live DVDs
  • Some OSGeo fliers let over from FOSS4G 2009
  • Some 52 North fliers we inherited after FOSS4G
  • As well as some Open Source Support fliers from LISAsoft.
The LiveDVDs were very popular with everyone we talked to at the stand. I heard reports of people being seen showing the LiveDVD to people they were sitting next to while watching presentations. And we had a number of people coming up to the stand asking for the LiveDVD. I was concerned we were going to run out of DVDs, so I ensured we only had 10 or so DVDs on display at a time.
One of the 52 North fliers had "Open Source" prominently displayed on the front, and people were picking up this flier first, rather than looking at some of the other fliers, which probably would have been more appropriate for their particular use cases. Lesson: People recognise "Open Source" and don't recognise "OSGeo", so marketing material should adjust emphasis to include Open Source in a large font.
There were many surveyors keen to try out open source, who were asking for direction as to which desktop GIS tools they should use. Lesson: There appears to be a relatively untapped market for Surveyors looking for Open Source Software, for anyone prepared to step up and support this industry.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

2 International GeoSpatial Standards meetings coming to Australia

The two key organisations leading the development of geospatial standards internationally—the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee on Geographic information/Geomatics (ISO/TC211)will be holding their Technical Meetings in Australia in November and December 2010.

This is the first time for over 10 years these two organisations are meeting in the same location, and it is also the first time that OGC Technical Committee has met in Australia. This is in recognition of Australia’s role in contributing to International Standard’s development and the leadership shown in promoting the adoption of these standards.

ISO/TC211 and OGC have developed a range of standards to advance geospatial interoperability, enabling spatial data and information to interact with relevant services and also to interact with other business processes in a seamless and integrated manner. In Australia, the application of these standards is essential in developing such capabilities as national water accounting, the Australian and New Zealand Spatial Marketplace and numerous other government and commercial capabilities.

Any user of spatial capability benefits from the ISO and OGC standards in numerous ways and as an early adopter of many of these standards, Australian organisations have developed considerable knowledge of these standards. Australia has played a role in developing these standards and can continue to play a significant role in their ongoing development. Australia’s influence in this area is acknowledged by both ISO and OGC through their holding of their critical technical meetings in Australia this year.

LISAsoft are proud to be one of Australia's key supporters of OGC standards development through our participation in OGC testbeds and standards writing projects, and welcome the International community to join us in Australia.

“Standards are the foundation of the spatial capabilities we use across government, commercial, research and education sectors. The concept of sharing spatial resources which is undertaken through standards-based interoperability technologies would not be possible without the efforts of ISO and OGC. Standards are usually well hidden from most users of spatial technologies, but it is essential that we understand the role they play and also that the Australian spatial community continues to actively support both their ongoing development and the adoption in our evolving systems. Australia is fortunate to be the location for these significant meetings and will hopefully take full advantage of having this body of knowledge in the country.”

Ben Searle General Manager

Australian Government Office of Spatial Data Management

OGC Technical Meeting

Sydney, 29 November – 3 December 2010

Contact: Dr David Lemon

ISO/TC211 Meeting

Canberra, 6–10 December 2010

Contact: Chris Body

Monday, 29 March 2010

OSGeo Live DVD and Virtual Machine released

The Geospatial LiveDVD team is pleased to announce version 3.0 of the OSGeo GeoSpatial Live DVD and Virtual Machine, code named Arramagong.

From the Arramagong LiveDVD, you can try the best of GeoSpatial Open Source Software(OSS) without installing any applications on your computer. As a royalty free, reference release with fully tested and configured OSS stack, the LiveDVD is ideal for training, demonstration and public outreach.

The LiveDVD is based on XUbuntu 9.10 so it can be run on most computers simply by rebooting the computer with the DVD inserted. The Arramagong LiveDVD also comes with Windows and Macintosh installers for many of the GeoSpatial applications too.

Highlights from this 3.0 release include:

  • 34 of the best GeoSpatial Open Source applications included.
  • 14 new applications added since release 2.0, at FOSS4G 2009
  • 13 applications updated
  • Formalised testing introduced for all packages as part of the release process
  • Plus lots of general improvements and fixes

Downloads:

http://download.osgeo.org/livedvd

Packages:

  • AtlasStyler SLD editor and Geopublisher :: 1.4 (new)
  • deegree WMS, WFS, WCS and iGeoPortal :: 2.2
  • GDAL :: 1.6.3
  • GeoKettle :: 3.2.0-20090609
  • Geomajas :: 1.4.2 (new)
  • GeoNetwork :: 2.4.2
  • GeoServer :: 2.0.1
  • GMT: The Generic Mapping tools :: 4.4.0 (new)
  • GpsDrive :: 2.10pre7
  • GRASS GIS :: 6.4.0rc5
  • gvSIG :: 1.9 stable
  • Kosmo :: 2.0 RC1
  • Mapfish :: 1.2 (new)
  • Mapnik :: 0.6.1 (new)
  • Mapserver :: 5.6.1
  • MapTiler :: 1.0 beta2
  • Marble :: 0.8.1
  • MB System :: 5.1.2
  • Octave Mapping Toolbox :: 3.0 / 1.0.7 (new)
  • Open Jump :: 1.3
  • Open Layers :: 2.8 (new)
  • OpenCPN :: 1.3.6 (new)
  • OpenStreetMap editors and tools :: JOSM svn1788, Gosmore svn20090624 (new)
  • osgEarth :: 1.3 (new)
  • Ossim/OssimPlanet :: 1.8.3 (new)
  • pgRouting :: 1.04
  • Postgres/PostGIS :: 8.4/1.4
  • PROJ.4 :: 4.7.0 (new)
  • QuantumGIS :: 1.4.0
  • R geostatistics :: 2.10.1
  • SpatiaLite :: 2.4.0 (new)
  • uDig :: 1.2RC1
  • Unofficial gvSIG Mobile for Linux :: 0.1.6 (new)
  • Xubuntu :: 9.10

Interested?

You can find more details about the project on our wiki at: http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Live_GIS_Disc

Us packagers are keen to help projects make use of the next release of the Live DVD at this year's OSGeo FOSS4G conference, http://2010.foss4g.org. Can you use the Live DVD in your presentations, tutorials or workshops? Talk to us about it.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

OSGeo Live DVD joins Google Summer of Code

Us packagers at the OSGeo Live DVD project are pleased to announce that we have joined other OSGeo projects in offering students the opportunity to get paid and mentored creating great Geospatial Open Source Software as part of the Google Summer of Code program.

From the Live DVD, you can trial the best GeoSpatial Open Source Software without installing any applications on your computer. It is ideal for use in training courses and handing out to people wanting to try GeoSpatial Open Source for the first time.

We are looking for keen developers to help us improve our cross project infrastructure, in particular focusing on quality through the development of systematic testing processes. This will be a great opportunity for students who would like to gain a breath of knowledge across the GeoSpaital Open Source development stack.

More details at:

http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Live_GIS_Disc_GSoC_2010

Friday, 5 March 2010

Does your favourite OSGeo application work on the LiveDVD?

This weekend, we will be cutting our last release candidate of the 3.0 LiveDVD which is targeted to be handed out at at number of spatial conferences in the April->July 2010 time period.
The DVD is looking really good, we have updated a number of packages, as well as improvement the look and feel.
Our only problem is that us packagers don't have the expertise to verify that each of the applications have been installed and runs correctly, and we are asking for help to document 10 to 20 test steps for each package.
Could we please get some help filling in test steps for each project here:
http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Live_GIS_Disc_Testing
We would like people to use the template format here:
http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Live_GIS_Disc_Testing#template
Deegree has filled out an excellent set of steps as an example here:
http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Live_GIS_Disc_Testing#deegree
We will take any test steps that people can provide us. Feel free to update existing steps, as we are aware that some are based against old versions of the DVD and don't follow the template.
If you have downloaded the one of the 3.0 DVDs, as per: http://download.osgeo.org , then please write test steps from there.
Alternatively, you can write against the click2try 2.0 browser based viewer of the Virtual Machine, as explained here:
http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Live_GIS_Disc#Click2Try:_run_from_browser
Alternatively, use a default install of the software you have on your computer, which should be similar to the LiveDVD install.
Lastly, thanks in advance for your help. Providing these testing steps helps us provide a quality DVD we can all be proud to hand out at conferences.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

FOSS4G Registration Metrics


With excitement building around the 2010 conference for Free and Open Source Software for GeoSpatial, http://2010.foss4g.org, I think it is timely to share registration metrics from previous conferences (from 2006 to 2009).

Some key highlights from the metrics are:
  • FOSS4G traditionally attracts ~ 50% of its delegates from the locally hosted country, and up to 75% of its delegates from the local region. This highlights the value of moving the FOSS4G conference around the world as it boosts exposure to local communities. This metric also helps predict attendance numbers based on region population densities. Small nations in the middle of the Ocean, like Australia have less delegates to draw upon, but we should see big attendance numbers coming into Barcelona this year.
  • Over 80% of people heard about the conference virally, via a friend, email list, blog, etc. Despite us having contra-deals and advertisements with many geospatial magazines, only 1% heard about the conference through a magazine. Lesson for organisors: focus on viral marketing.
  • 3/4 of the delegates are technical.
  • Half the local registrations come in late, after the early bird registration. In Barcelona with expected high numbers, it might mean that the conference organisors will need to turn away late registrations.
I'd love to see some of these metrics built into map displays. If you are a mapping wizard, you might want to create some fancy maps with these figures. Please let me know if you do, and I'll reference them from this blog.