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

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

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