Monday 10 December 2012

Geospatial Open Source Lightening Overview

Here is a 25 minute lightening overview of the Geospatial Open Source stack, presented at the Open Source Developers Conference in Sydney, Australia. It is a cut down version of the OSGeo-Live Lightening Overview (which now takes ~ 40 minutes). For more details, refer to the OSGeo-Live Project Overviews and LISAsoft training from which this presentation was derived.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Starting build cycle for OSGeo-Live 6.5

Grass on OSGeo-Live
We are starting the build cycle for the 6.5 OSGeo-Live DVD/USB/VM which will be released in March 2013, ready for the FOSS4G - North America, Spanish FOSS4G, FOSSGIS Germany, among others. We would like to hear from anyone wishing to add new projects to OSGeo-Live, anyone wishing to extend or add extra translations, or anyone who has ideas on how we should shape the upcoming release.

Also, could all projects please reply to us with which stable version of their software should be included on OSGeo-Live 6.5.

Key Milestones

  • 10 Dec 2012 All new applications installed, most old applications updated 
  • 24 Dec 2012 Feature Freeze (all apps updated) 
  • 28 Jan 2012 User Acceptance Test (all apps installed and working) 
  • 18 Feb 2012 Final ISO sent to printers
... full schedule

OSGeo-Live 6.5 Alpha1 released

We have released the first alpha version of OSGeo-Live, which includes an update from Xubuntu 12.04 to 12.04.1 along with updated versions of applications from UbuntuGIS repository. Feel free to start testing your applications in the latest release. Download Alpha 1

About OSGeo-Live

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

Monday 17 September 2012

Will Australia's CRCSI "Spatial Infrastructure" research see the light of day?

CRCSI Focus:
Australia's Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Infrastructures, CRCSI, has announced its research agenda for Spatial Information in a series of workshops around Australia, and in Sydney the presentation was met with a sceptical audience.
The CRCSI have $180 million worth of research budget, and "Spatial Infrastructure" represents 1/3 of the CRCSI's core agenda, and as such there is the potential to make some great contributions to Spatial Infrastructure. So why were the audience sceptical?
This is the second 7 year CRCSI agenda. In the first there was a feeling that many of the research projects did not follow through into practical implementations. As such, the bid for this second CRCSI emphasised a changed focus toward practical research. However audience sentiment was that the recent research proposed would not see the light of day. Here are some of the reasons why:

Lack of collaboration with Spatial Infrastructure champions

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is the leading international body coordinating research, development and testing of the standards which back Spatial Infrastructure. I would ague that for a research program to be of value, it needs to advance OGC standards. However, CRCSI's current agenda mentions only the use of existing standards.
Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, CSIRO, are already world leaders in spatial research, having led development of a number of Spatial Initiatives and standards developments in conjunction with the OGC. In particular, CSIRO are currently leading the world in research into  Ontologies, Linked Data, and Catalogs which has many synergies with the the Australian and New Zealand Spatial Marketplace being promoted as a focus for the CRCSI's research agenda. However the CRCSI strategy has no mention of collaboration with CSIRO and seems to be proposing to solve similar problems themselves. Long term, this will result in the technology behind the Marketplace becoming obsolete as the rest of the world pick up and mature CSIRO's research, while Australian/New Zealand will be solely left to maintain the Marketplace.

Gap between Research and Implementation

There were serious concerns raised by both industry and government audience members about the usefulness of any research likely to be generated. You see, most of the pressing (and expensive) Spatial Infrastructure problems needing to be solved are found in the integration of systems. However, the CRCSI seem to have abdicated responsibility for tacking these hard problems, as they don't constitute "research". What would be preferable is that the success of research be judged by whether it has been integrated into Spatial Infrastructure software and processes, not by the earlier stage of being published in an academic journal.

What should the CRCSI do instead?

If the CRCSI is to heed the feedback from the Sydney meeting, the CRCSI will tackle less research topics, but will take these topics right through to implementation. The CSCSI will engage deeply with the OGC, probably leading a stream in an OGC testbed or pilot. The CRCSI would also work closer with the CSIRO and collaborate on initiatives.

Saturday 25 August 2012

OSGeo Board and Charter members refreshed

The annual OSGeo Board of Directors and Charter Membership elections have come to a close with the first meeting of the new board, and the selection of a new executive. During the process 22 new charter members were added bringing this group to 144 charter members from around the world. During the Board of Directors election, the following new board members were elected for a two year term:

Jáchym Čepický (Czech Republic) has been welcomed onto the board for a one year term to complete Jo Cook's term who stepped down just before the elections.
These new board members will join existing members, Peter Batty (United States), Michael Gerlek (United States), and Mark Lucas (United States).

The new board is pleased to announce the following executive:
  • President: Frank Warmerdam
  • Treasurer: Daniel Morissette
  • Secretary: Michael Gerlek
As the new President of OSGeo, Frank Warmerdam brings many years of geospatial experience and has been involved in the OSGeo foundation since its inception. He is known for his work with the GDAL/OGR translation library, which has become the backbone of the spatial industry. Daniel Morissette is continuing the role of Treasurer and brings practical experience as a business owner to this key role as well as over a decade of experience as a technical contributor and community leader in the MapServer project and OSGeo. Michael Gerlek is returning to the role of Secretary and brings a passion for supporting OSGeo both locally and globally.

About his new role as OSGeo President Frank Warmerdam says, "OSGeo has a fantastic set of volunteers, projects and an energized board and I believe we can continue to move forward on many fronts in the coming year. I can't thank Arnulf Christl, our past president, enough for his tireless work. While I can't fill his shoes as a globe trotting speaker on behalf of OSGeo, I believe we can as a community continue to be everywhere."

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Analysing the downfall of FOSS4G 2012

The international FOSS4G 2012 conference, which was scheduled to be held in Beijing in Sept 2012, was cancelled. This has been a disappointing setback for our OSGeo community, and here I capture some of the key events which lead up to this cancellation, and with our hind site perspective, identify areas we can change to make future conferences more resilient and successful.
This conversation started on the OSGeo Conference email list, then moved to the FOSS4G 2012 Lessons Learned wiki page as ideas consolidated.
The following discussion ground rules applied:
  • Avoid letting the discussion break into a witch hunt, or blame game. Remember that almost all people involved in FOSS4G 2012 were volunteers, giving of their precious time freely.
  • Instead, identify an event or decision, discuss the implications of the event, and ideally follow up with some recommendations on what we can do in future. 

Host City Selection

Prior to 2012, OSGeo's Conference Committee had agreed to a 3 year rotation for the location of FOSS4G conferences, which went:
  • Europe (2010)
  • North America (2011)
  • Rest of the world (2012)
  • Europe ...
The bid process involves cities providing a light, 2 page, "Letter of Intent", followed by a comprehensive bid if the "Letter of Intent" was approved. However by Letter of Intent deadline for FOSS4G 2012 there were no Letters of Intent. The deadline was extended, and Letters of intent were received from Rome (Europe), Prague (Europe), Hanoi (Asia), and a late entry from Beijing (Asia).
This was summarised by OSGeo Conference chair,
What happened is that we did not receive any submissions before the initial deadline, and then we opened the bidding to all areas, and then we received 1 submission from the desired region and 2 from Europe, and then a second late submission from the desired region.
My opinion is that the stated desired region is in fact still the desired region, and that all OSGeo conference committee members should keep this information in their head as they vote. (meaning: all 4 letters are an option for this voting stage, but the preferred region is 'anywhere other than NA or Europe')
In the end, only Prague [Europe] and Beijing [desired region] submitted a full FOSS4G bid, and when it came to a final vote, the OSGeo Conference committee was split between a bid from a more experienced team in Prague, and following OSGeo's established rotation with Beijing. In retrospect, we should have put more emphasis on selecting the experienced FOSS4G team.
European and North American international FOSS4G events have traditionally attracted more delegates and sponsors, which makes these conferences:
  1. More financially profitable
  2. Less financially risky
  3. Reach more people (although not necessarily reaching more regions)
As we move forward, we may wish to favour selection of committees and cities with prior experience of holding local or regional FOSS4G events before being awarded an international event.

Competing regional conferences

In 2011, major regional conferences started in both Europe and North America, which competed for international FOSS4G attendance, along with some FOSS4G conferences from the region. It was debated whether OSGeo should support and encourage these new regional conferences, knowing that they would have an impact on attendance at Beijing.
As explained in a post by the Chair of the OSGeo Board:
From all that I can tell, now FOSS4G Beijing will become a local conference with support from "OSGeo international". This and no more. It will not be the Global or World conference that FOSS4G was before because we will have a FOSS4G CEE and FOSS4G North America event (plus the regular local ones) in the same year. There is no chance at all that Beijing can attract the same vibrant global participation that we had at the last global FOSS4G conferences.
The question is not whether we will have a FOSS4G in Beijing or CEE or North America. From all that I can tell we will have them all. There is no reason (and probably no way) to stop the North American or CEE initiative or both. Instead it is great to see so much interest and momentum - and we would be stupid to stifle it.
The competing regional conferences are listed here and here.

Local Organising Committee experience

Lack of Professional Conference Organiser

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) had teamed with a Professional Conference Organiser (PCO), starting from the bidding for the FOSS4G 2011 conference. However, it seems that at some point the PCO stopped helping with FOSS4G. The LOC were then unsuccessful in trying to sign up a new PCO. This was a significant setback for FOSS4G 2011, as PCO's bring significant experience in running a conference. They have experience with local venues and business, and they manage many of the day-to-day tasks which takes workload off the LOC.
From what I can gather, the PCO were not contractually engaged with the PCO up front, which allowed them to disengage later. What are the lessons? The LOC should contractually engage with the PCO very early in the conference cycle, and OSGeo oversight should ensure this happens.

Loosing key LOC members

One of the key Chinese OSGeo community members, Professor Yu, passed away shortly after Beijing was awarded the conference. This was very unfortunate, both on a personal level, and organisation level.
Loss of key committee members is reasonably common (although usually people step down for various reasons, rather than pass away). For instance, a key FOSS4G-Sydney evangelist, who promoted the Sydney event at prior FOSS4G conferences, stepped back and didn't attend Sydney's FOSS4G 2009. The original FOSS4G-Devar 2011 chair had to stand down for personal reasons shortly after the bid was accepted. These examples highlight the need for organizing committees to have strength in depth, and in particular to have a backup plan if the conference chair has to step down. This was a question that was asked of the Nottingham FOSS4G 2013 contenders, who have two backups to the conference chair, as well as a committee with strength in depth overall.

Decision Making

A conference chair is asked to make many decisions related to the conference, and the majority of the time, there is no clear understanding about the benefits or downsides of each option. Usually the only sure thing is that not making a decision will be detrimental to the conference. Consequently, it is important for LOCs to become quick and efficient at analyzing possibilities and then making decisions.
From what I can gather, the Beijing LOC would have benefited from being more efficient in making decisions. For instance, in mid-November 2012 the OSGeo-Live community asked the LOC to commit to distributing OSGeo-Live DVDs at the Beijing conference. The LOC took almost 3 months to confirm they would support this. Other conferences usually provide such confirmation within a week, often within a day or two.
I suspect delays related to decisions would have contributed to schedule slipages. The lesson here is that LOC's should be structured and resourced such that they can make decisions efficiently. A prior conference chair extended this observation to note the importance of the conference chair:
[A key lesson is the] importance of an active LOC and even more importantly an active CHAIR. Committees don't move, they can't communicate, they can't move. People can, so an active CHAIR is the single critical ingredient. And the more that person in invested in both organizing and communicating the event, the better it will be.

Schedule slip

As the deadline for the FOSS4G conference approached, there was significant schedule slip on key milestones, such as the ability to accept conference papers. This was providing a visible indication of some of the other issues listed in this analysis.
I think the lesson here is quite simple. Make sure there is an appropriately resourced project manager responsible for managing the conference schedule. (This task is usually provided by a PCO).

OSGeo Oversight

A second issue is that although OSGeo had identified concerns with FOSS4G Beijing's progress reasonably early, intervention from OSGeo was late in coming. A prior FOSS4G chair noted:
We need to put harder stops in place to short circuit failure. If you don't have a call for workshops out by February, [serious questions are asked, such as should the conference be cancelled?]. If you don't have $30K in sponsorship in place by April, [serious questions]. If you don't have a call for papers out by May, [serious questions]. This [FOSS4G 2012 conference] dragged out longer than it should of because there were no hard stop points.
During the build up to FOSS4G Beijing, one of the key volunteers on OSGeo conference committee, who had previously been very active, was showing signs of burnout and was not contributing to his prior levels. This left a noticeable hole in the OSGeo conference committee which was not filled by another volunteer. The OSGeo Conference committee had previously provided checks on conferences, such as reviewing and approving the conference's budget and submitting to the OSGeo board for approval, however this didn't happen for the FOSS4G Beijing conference.
What are the lesson's here? It may be that the critical role of approving finances should be covered by a paid position, funded by profits of FOSS4G conferences. Something like this was considered as described under the No mentor section below.

Is Failure Acceptable?

There has been discussion over the level of OSGeo Oversight that should be applied to a LOC. An OSGeo board member noted:
It is still desirable to give the local organizers quite a bit of freedom and that we should accept that occasional failure is not a disaster.
Which a prior FOSS4G chair responded with:
On the contrary, I'd say that random failures are a disaster and will actually contribute to more failures. ...The success of a conference is tied to the perceived expectations. Throwing a conference is like throwing a party. Do you want to go to a lame party? No, you want to go to a rocking party. If PartyPete throws awesome parties every Thursday, you'll clear your schedule as next Thursday rolls around. If LameLou throws passable parties sometimes, and sometimes cancels them, you'll start going to PartyPete's instead. Consistency is very important.
The same thing will go double for sponsors: are you going to commit to early sponsorship and send a cheque to an event that was cancelled last year? Or will you hold on to your cheque until the last minute just in case? The uncertainty effect is going to make the financial situation of future conferences more precarious as sponsors and registrants hedge their bets until later in the calendar. This will only get worse if we embrace failure as an occasionally acceptable mode.
I'd argue that while it may be ok to experiment with some fringe elements of a FOSS4G program, occasional failure of the international FOSS4G conference should be considered unacceptable.

No mentor

A proposal was put to the OSGeo board, which was eventually approved, to have an experienced FOSS4G mentor support the Beijing Local Organising Committee. (A funded mentor was not provided to previous conferences). This proposal fell through, and although some prior FOSS4G chairs were approached (and others?), a replacement mentor was not found.
This left the Beijing FOSS4G LOC committee without some key expertise which could have been very valuable.
What is the lesson here? I think this was a good idea which fell through, and is worth pursuing again in future.


Language barrier

From what I understand, Beijing LOC were most comfortable speaking in Chinese, and had varying levels of experience with English. I observed that finding the right English words to support a conversation and convey important messages was a time consuming task, often involving decisions being made in Chinese, then translated to English. This communication overhead would have produced a significant workload on the LOC, who were already working on the difficult and time consuming task of running a FOSS4G conference.
I believe this communication gap also contributed to many of the other symptoms discussed here. Slow communication between the LOC and community would have:
  • Contributed toward slow responses to community queries, hindering the international community contributing prior experience toward the LOC,
  • Slowed decisions from the LOC resulting in schedule slip,
  • Caused difficulties getting the quality control of the website correct,
  • and reduced marketing and communication to potential international delegates.

Cultural Differences

I question whether cultural differences contributed to communication shortfalls. From my observations, it seems Chinese are more circumspect about sending public communication, often using face-to-face meetings, and waiting for review from a superior before making a public statement. This contrasts with open source communities I've observed, where many opinions are discussed publicly, both amongst senior and junior developers, until a rough consensus is reached.
The OSGeo board representative to FOSS4G 2011 noted:
For a while I attempted to play [the FOSS4G board representative] role ... Also, while I was nominally involved, in practice there was never any discussion on any mailing list I was on ...
To me, a lesson of the Beijing effort is that it is hard to be involved remotely if the LOC won't communicate by email/irc/etc. I presume all the discussions that did happen were done by private email or in person but I was left with no visibility or ability to assist.

Collective Knowledge

I believe our experience with this conference highlights how much of our collective FOSS4G knowledge is stored in volunteers' heads, and is passed between different events through our various communication channels. When we constrict information flow by introducing a language barrier, we have also constricted access to our knowledge on how to run a conference.
A few suggestions on ways to address this include:
  1. Collect our conference running knowledge in a central source, that can be handed on without the high level of communication currently being used. In particular, I'm suggesting starting to collect our processes in a FOSS4G Cookbook or similar.
  2. Set up a permanent FOSS4G coordinator role (one person, or an international PCO, or similar) who are responsible for coordinating conferences and personally remembering lessons learned between conferences. (Note the risk of this person resigning and loosing all collected knowledge)
  3. Additionally, ensure key members in the LOC can communicate fluently with the rest of the OSGeo community. In most cases at the moment, this would mean speaking fluently in English.

Response to emails

There were a number of comments that I was privately CCed on which indicated that the international community were not receiving responses after emailing the LOC. Here are some examples:
As I've told you before it has been frustrating to me to not receive any feedback from the LOC on my offer to sponsor the event. I basically had the plan to come with my whole team (5 people now), but can't afford such investment considering the state the conference and participation levels are at now. In fact we have moved focus to the Nottingham event just after Beijing because it appears to be (1) better organized (but that may just appear like it due to the lack of communication from Beijing, (2) an audience that is of interest to [company name] and (3) cheaper / closer to home.
Another from the academic lead, who later stepped down:
... [regarding email responses] from two "important players" I have had no feedback, namely from the local organizers and from OSGeo.
I think the lesson here is that the LOC and PCO should be suitably motivated and resourced, and be provided with enough delegation to respond to all community queries promptly. Every query should be responded to within one working day, even if the response is "we will have an answer to you after the LOC meets next week".

Website out of date

A conference's website is the primary form of communication with potential delegates. For FOSS4G 2012, the website took an excessively long time to be developed and brought online, and then when it was brought online, it contained incorrect information and broken links (mainly cut and paste from the prior FOSS4G website). People were having significant issues with submitting papers and registering to attend.
The FOSS4G LOC had hired an external web developer to create the website, who had done a poor job of development. It seemed that there was a lack of quality control from both the web developer, and LOC. In the past, development of the website has either been managed by technically experienced developers (as was the case in 2009), or by the PCO.
The lesson here is that the website needs to be made a priority and suitably resourced. There is the potential for website management software to be passed on from one conference to the next. (We considered this option in 2009 but found the Open Source conference management software used by FOSS4G 2008 was not going to integrate easily with the software our PCO was using). It would be worth future FOSS4G conferences revisiting this question.

Minimal "buzz"

To a certain extent, a conference is successful because the LOC says it is going to be successful (and potential attendees and sponsors believe the statement). Presenters and sponsors attend the conference because they believe there will be lots of delegates, and delegates attend because they believe there will be lots of quality presenters and sponsors. And one of the most effective ways for everyone to be convinced of the conference's success is to create lots of "buzz". I.e., lots of press releases, articles, blogs, twitter discussion and more talking about how good the conference is going to be.
FOSS4G 2009 possibly went a little too far by putting out 41 press releases. However, FOSS4G Beijing could certainly have benefited from more "Buzz", as the OSGeo Board Chair noted:
on the website at there is still no option for submitting abstracts although the submission has been opened - apparently without notice to any of the regular OSGeo channels. Workshops submission ends in two weeks.
No international speakers have been announced and there are only Chinese sponsors listed (although interest by regulars was documented as early as December 2012).

Engaging international organisers

Compared to prior international FOSS4G events, there was minimal international involvement in organising the FOSS4G event. Of particular concern was that the international academic track lead resigned, saying:
... I regret [the LOC] did not fully support the setup I proposed. Specifically, the LOC insists on using their own deadlines and reviewing and publication plan. Of course they have every right to do so, because it is in fact their conference...
There is a significant amount of work involved in organising a conference, and it is very valuable to share tasks with the international community. This has two key benefits:
  • It allows the LOC to focus on the local issues (like sorting out the venue)
  • It facilitates knowledge transfer between years, as roles like the Academic track lead are often coordinated by the same core people over a number of years.
So lesson here is look for opportunities to make use of the international community to coordinate specific areas of the conference.

Weekly meetings

Less than 3 months before FOSS4G 2012 was due, weekly meetings were started between volunteers from the international community and the LOC. I understand that the LOC were having meetings internally, but there was little visibility of them from the international community. The extra meetings facilitated transparency from the international community into the progress of the LOC, which in turn provided opportunities for the international community to volunteer to help. Eventually, with the help of these weekly meetings it was assessed that the level of effort required to bring the conference back on track, along with the likely outcome, resulted in a decision to cancel the conference.
In retrospect, these meetings should have started much earlier, ideally from the start of the conference planning a year or so earlier such that support from the international community could have made a better impact in the earlier stages. So lesson hear is start having periodic meetings from early in the planning cycle, and invite the international community to participate if you can.

Who wrote this analysis?

The telling of history is always influenced by the perspective of the narrator, and as such it is useful to know who the narrator was. This narration was by myself, Cameron Shorter. I was the chair of FOSS4G 2009, I'm a member of the OSGeo Conference Committee, and I voted for FOSS4G 2012 to be held in Beijing. I helped volunteers add Chinese translations to the OSGeo-Live DVD, and commit to handing the DVD out at FOSS4G Beijing. I later attended weekly meetings with FOSS4G Beijing's LOC and other international volunteers, until it was decided by the LOC that the conference should be cancelled.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

OSGeo-Live 6.0 released

image: osgEarth - 3D Terrain Rendering on OSGeo-Live
Version 6.0 of the OSGeo-Live GIS software collection has been released, and will be officially launched at OSGIS 2012, the Open Source GIS conference in Nottingham, UK, 4-5 September 2012.

Release Highlights

All geospatial applications on the disc have been updated to their latest stable releases.
OpenJDK 7
All OSGeo-Live java applications have been successfully migrated to OpenJDK 7. Migration to OpenJDK was driven by Oracle's announcement that including Sun Java in Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, or OSGeo-Live, is no longer allowed.
There has been significant activity translating OSGeo-Live documentation. Core documents are available in ten languages, and comprehensive translations are available for many other languages, including: Catalan (new), Chinese (new), English, French (new), German, Greek, Italian (new), Japanese, Korean (new), Polish, Spanish
Xubuntu 12.04 LTS
The Xubuntu base has been upgraded to 12.04 LTS (Long Term Support)

About OSGeo-Live

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 a DVD or USB drive, or running in a Virtual Machine environment. An accompanying collection of lightning presentations introduce the breadth and depth of Free and Open Source for Geospatial (FOSS4G).

OSGeo-Live includes:

  • Fifty Quality Geospatial Open Source applications installed and pre-configured
  • Free world maps and geodata
  • One page overview and quick start guide for every application
  • Overviews of key OGC standards
  • Translations for multiple languages


Over 120 people have directly helped with OSGeo-Live packaging, documenting and translating, and thousands have been involved in building the packaged software. Packagers, documenters and translators include:

Activity Workshop, Agustín Dí­ez, Aikaterini Kapsampeli, Alan Boudreault, Alessandro Furieri, Alex Mandel, Alexandre Dube, Amy Gao, Andrea Antonello, Andrea Yanza, Angelos Tzotsos, Anna Muñoz, Anne Ghisla, Anton Patrushev, Argyros Argyridis, Assumpcio Termens, Astrid Emde, Barry Rowlingson, Benjamin Pross, Brian Hamlin, Bruno Binet, Cameron Shorter, Christophe Tufféry, Christos Iossifidis, Cristhian Pin, Dane Springmeyer, Daniel Kastl, David Mateos, Diego González, Dimitar Misev, Dominik Helle, Edgar Soldin, Eike Hinderk Jrrens, Eric Lemoine, Estela Llorente, Etienne Delay, Etienne Dube, Fran Boon, François Prunayre, Frank Gasdorf, Frank Warmerdam, Gavin Treadgold, Grald Fenoy, Hamish Bowman, Haruyuki Seki, Henry Addo, Hernan Olivera, Howard Butler, Hyeyeong Choe, Ian Turton, Jackie Ng, Jan Drewnak, Javier Sánchez, Jesús Gómez, Jim Klassen, Jing Wang, Jinsongdi Yu, Jody Garnett, Johan Van de Wauw, Jorge Arévalo, Jorge Sanz, José Antonio Canalejo, Judit Mays, Klokan Petr Pridal, Kristof Lange, Lance McKee, Lars Lingner, Luca Delucchi, Lucía Sanjaime, Mage Whopper, Manuel Grizonnet, Marc Torres, Marc-André Barbeau, Marco Curreli, Marco Puppin, Margherita Di Leo, Maria Vakalopoulou, Mario Andino, Mark Leslie, Massimo Di Stefano, Mauricio Miranda, Mauricio Pazos, Micha Silver, Michaël Michaud, Michael Owonibi, Mike Adair, Milena Nowotarska, Nacho Varela, Nathaniel V. Kelso, Ned Horning, Nobusuke Iwasaki, Oliver Tonnhofer, Òscar Fonts, Otto Dassau, Pasquale Di Donato, Paul Meems, Pedro-Juan Ferrer, Pirmin Kalberer, Raf Roset, Ricardo Pinho, Roald de Wit, Roberto Antolín, Roger Veciana, Ruth Schoenbuchner, Samuel Mesa, Sergio Baños, Simon Cropper, Simon Pigot, Stefan A. Tzeggai, Stefan Hansen, Stefan Steiniger, Stephan Meissl, Steve Lime, Thierry Badard, Thomas Baschetti, Thomas Gratier, Tom Kralidis, Toshikazu Seto, Trevor Wekel, Valenty González, Xianfeng Song, Yoichi Kayama, Zhengfan Lin

Sponsoring organisations

  • The Open Source Geospatial Foundation, OSGeo, provides the hosting infrastructure for the OSGeo-Live project, and infrastructure for many of the software projects themselves. 
  • LISAsoft provides sustaining resources and staff toward the management of the Live DVD.
  • Information Center for the Environment (ICE) at the University of California, Davis provides hardware resources and development support to the OSGeo Live project.
  • The DebianGIS and UbuntuGIS teams provide and quality-assure many of the core packages.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Joining the OSGeo board

I feel quite humbled and very honoured to have been voted onto the OSGeo Board. I'll do my best to live up to what I believe are the expectations of a board member.That is:
  • I believe a board should listen to the community, work out what is the best for the community, then vote accordingly.
  • We need to recognise the limited time constraints of (already busy) board members. If most decisions are deferred to a 9  member board, then we are wasting the potential of the 1000s of OSGeo volunteers, and 100s of OSGeo charter members. So primarily, a board's role should purely be a job of oversight, validating decisions made in OSGeo's various committees and projects.
  • It is important to discuss ideas, but even more important is to follow through with solid actions, and I believe it is important to look for opportunities to enable volunteers to make a difference. It is important to work out ways to collate our volunteer efforts effectively and efficiently to make something much bigger than one person can do on their own. Effectively, the OSGeo Board should make way for OSGeo volunteers being more effective.
  • It is good for a board to have a breadth of experience and opinions, but even more important is for a board to be able to work together effectively to make decisions. This means that at times, each board member will need to compromise, because a compromise is almost always better than making no decision at all.

Thursday 2 August 2012

All OSGeo-Live java applications now working with OpenJDK 7

100% of OSGeo-Live java applications are now running successfully using OpenJDK 7 in OSGeo-Live 6.0 beta releases.
This move to OpenJDK has been driven by Oracle's announcement that the "Operating System Distributor License for Sun Java has been retired", meaning that Sun Java is no longer allowed to be distributed in Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, or OSGeo-Live.
The good news is that OpenJDK, the fully Open Source implementation of java, has improved to the point where we have shown that all OSGeo-Live applications will run under OpenJDK 7. And by extension, we have shown it is feasible to incorporate these applications in linux distributions.
We have verified applications compile and quickstarts run as expected, and we have been impressed with what we have seen. However we have not done comprehensive testing of all functionality in each application. Nor have we tested performance or reliability. Users who wish to see a specific application deployed into production using OpenJDK should contact the project about whether more detailed testing has been completed.

About OSGeo-Live

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

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Australian National Environmental Information Infrastructure pilot

 LISAsoft has recently supported the Australian Bureau of Meteorology set up a National Environmental Information Infrastructure pilot.
The natural environment plays an important role in Australia’s economy and way of life. To manage it effectively, governments, industry and the community need comprehensive, trusted and timely environmental information to make sound environmental decisions. To support this need, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau) is leading the National Plan for Environmental Information initiative that will deliver improved quality, coverage, usability and access to environmental information. As one element of the initiative LISAsoft has supported the Bureau in piloting parts of a National Environmental Information Infrastructure (NEII).  This pilot has demonstrated the process of modelling and publication of environmental information from atmosphere, ocean, land and water domains.

There are multiple challenges involved in achieving an effective infrastructure. First, the source data, which is continuously updated by multiple agencies, needs to be dynamically collated into aggregated datasets to facilitate macro analysis. This requires development and agreement upon standard data formats, processes and tools which source agencies can use to publish the source data. Once aggregated, the data requires distribution and publishing in a manner that can easily be accessed and manipulated by end users. This requires a robust and reliable publishing infrastructure, built upon standard interfaces, which can be used easily and efficiently by existing or provided tools. Furthermore, the infrastructure developed needs to be both feasible and sustainable. As such, the Bureau has selected a distributed design, based upon OGC standards based services and formats.
This early NEII pilot has focused on the development of standard information models, and a reference implementation of a source data node. LISAsoft has helped the Bureau by:
  • Consulting on and documenting the NEII architecture design.
  • Defining some of the information models required.
  • Developing pilot implementations of an NEII node. The NEII node publishes data via a Web Feature Service (WFS) interface using the GeoServer spatial data server.  GeoServer has been the target of recent CSIRO development efforts to create a service capable of supporting the complexity of data models required for projects such as NEII.
  • Configuring a web based catalogue which can be used to find datasets. This is based upon the Catalogue Service for the Web (CSW) interface, and implemented using the Open Source GeoNetwork application.
  • Testing of the conformance of the services within the pilot.
To support the Bureau, LISAsoft has drawn upon years of relevant experience, including:
  • Domain Modelling during international, OGC standards development testbeds
  • Co-authoring a Domain Modelling Cookbook with CSIRO
  • Testing conformance of Web Feature Services in both Australian Spatial Data Infrastructures as well as in OGC testbeds.
  • Deploying, configuring and optimising GeoServer for multiple projects.
The NEII pilot has completed successfully and has validated the feasibility of the proposed design, and provided valuable feedback into the practicality of the approach and tools. These valuable lessons will be fed into the greater National Plan for Environmental Information initiative.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Calling for "OSGeo Advocate" profiles

Do you know a lot about aspects of Geospatial Open Source, and are prepared to stand up in public and talk about it? Then please consider adding your name to the "OSGeo Advocate" list.


With my role on the marketing committee, increased number of foss4g related conferences, and with the success of the OSGeo-Live DVD, I'm now regularly being asked to recommend speakers who can talk about OSGeo related topics. Arnulf, as chair of OSGeo, similarly reports being invited to present at more conferences than he can sustain. So the OSGeo Marketing committee has created a space to show off the breadth of experience amongst our OSGeo community, which at the same time will allow conference organisors find local OSGeo experts.
Is this something you can help with? If so, please register within the next month, before the end of July 2012, when we intend to officially launch.

Monday 30 April 2012

Call for interest in OSGeo-Live 6.0

We are starting to build the 6.0 OSGeo-Live DVD which will be released in September 2012, ready for FOSS4G 2012 as well as many other spatial conferences. This upcoming version will be built upon the stable Xubuntu 12.04 Long Term Support (LTS) release. Documentation will be translated into eight languages, now also including Chinese and Catalan.
Any new applications?
We would like to hear from anyone wishing to add new projects to OSGeo-Live, anyone wishing to extend or add extra translations, or anyone who has ideas on how we should shape the upcoming release.

Key Priorities for next release

Package Updates
Migrate to Xubuntu 12.04 LTS
Update and test latest stable software releases
Migrating to OpenJDK
Due to Oracles changed license conditions for Sun-Java, Ubuntu users are now strongly encouraging to move to OpenJDK instead of Sun Java, due to both improvements in OpenJDK, and difficult licencing conditions with Sun Java. As such, we will be endevouring to move all java based applications to OpenJDK (instead of Sun Java).
Disk Space
We have reached our DVD size limits, and need to be creative about saving space and disciplined in not losing space to duplication. We hope to ship a single Java and single Tomcat version this time, in addition to further consolidation around shared sample datasets.
With Quality being a key focus area for us, we need lots of help with testing.

Key Milestones

10 Jul 2012 Feature Freeze
07 Aug 2012 User Acceptance Test (all Apps installed and working)
28 Aug 2012 Final ISO 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 USB. You can use OSGeo-Live to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything.

Saturday 17 March 2012

LISAsoft's training for Geospatail Open Source

If you work for one of the many Australian organisations which are starting to make use of geospatial open source, and you'd like to get skilled up in the technologies, then you will probably want to ask your boss to send you to one of LISAsoft's training courses.
LISAsoft has the following courses scheduled to be run this financial year:

Friday 2 March 2012

Highlights from GeoNext Conference, Sydney, Australia

The recent GeoNext conference in Australia provided an interesting and very refreshing set of diverse presentations, covering the emerging technologies and businesses which are making use of geospatial.
I answered interview questions around how to successfully build a business around Open Source, with a focus on Geospatial.
James Moody, a futurist from CSIRO, boldly predicted that the next wave of innovation will address moving from a world of abundance to a world of scarcity, and the next big business opportunities will be based around improving efficiencies and recycling waste.
It was disappointing to discover that the Australian initiative, which was looking very promising a year ago, doesn't have anyone driving it anymore.
There were talks on augmented reality, cartography, geocaching, mobile gaming, building and marketing mobile applications, and some great lessons on building a startup company as 3 startups made a pitch to judges.
Further on the business front, I was very impressed with a presentation from Mark Carniello. It is challenging for Australian companies to break into the US market, largely because a personal sales call to the US costs $10K worth of travel costs - and yet Mark explained how his Australian manned company is successfully selling a mission-critical system to electrical utilities in North America by setting up a virtual office, and leveraging phones and internet technology.
This is certainly an event to look out for again next year.

Wednesday 29 February 2012

OSGeo-Live 5.5 ready to distribute at international conferences

Version 5.5 of the OSGeo-Live GIS software collection and accompanying Lightening Presentation, has been released, ready for distribution at a large number of geospatial conferences and workshops from around the world.

About OSGeo-Live
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. The lightening overview introduces all these applications, and hence provides a comprehensive introduction to the breadth of Geospatial Open Source.

  • 50 Quality Geospatial Open Source applications installed and pre-configured
  • Quality free world maps and geodata
  • One page overviews and quick start guides for all applications
  • Overviews of key OGC standards
  • Translations for Greek, German, Polish, Spanish and Japanese

Browser Clients
  • OpenLayers - Browser GIS Client
  • Geomajas - Browser GIS Client
  • Mapbender - Geoportal Framework
  • MapFish - Web Mapping Framework
  • GeoMoose - Web GIS Portal
Crisis Management
  • Sahana Eden - Disaster management
  • Ushahidi - Mapping and Timeline for events
  • PostGIS - Spatial Database
  • SpatiaLite - Lightweight Database
  • Rasdaman - Multi-Dimensional Raster Database
  • pgRouting - Routing for PostGIS
Desktop GIS
  • Quantum GIS (QGIS)
  • gvSIG Desktop
  • User-friendly Desktop Internet GIS (uDig)
  • Kosmo Desktop
  • OpenJUMP GIS
  • SAGA
  • OSSIM - Image Processing
  • Geopublisher - Catalogue
  • AtlasStyler - Style Editor
  • osgEarth - 3D Terrain Rendering
  • MB-System - Sea Floor Mapping
Navigation and Maps
  • GpsDrive - GPS Navigation
  • Marble - Spinning Globe
  • OpenCPN - Marine GPS Chartplotter
  • OpenStreetMap - OpenStreetMap Tools
  • Prune - View, Edit and Convert GPS Tracks
  • Viking - GPS Data Analysis and Viewer
  • zyGrib - Weather Forecast Maps
Spatial Tools
  • GeoKettle - ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) Tool
  • GDAL/OGR - Geospatial Data Translation Tools
  • GMT - Cartographic Rendering
  • Mapnik - Cartographic Rendering
  • MapTiler - Create Map Tiles
  • OTB - Image Processing
  • R Spatial Task View - Statistical Programming
Web Services
  • GeoServer
  • MapServer
  • deegree
  • GeoNetwork - Metadata Catalogue
  • pycsw - Metadata Catalogue
  • MapProxy - Proxy WMS & tile services
  • QGIS Server - Web Map Service
  • 52°North WSS - Web Security Service
  • 52°North WPS - Web Processing Service
  • 52°North SOS - Sensor Observation Service
  • TinyOWS - WFS-T Service
  • ZOO Project - Web Processing Service
  • Natural Earth - Geographic Data Sets
  • OSGeo North Carolina, USA Educational dataset
  • OpenStreetMap - Sample extract from OpenStreetMap
Geospatial Libraries
  • GeoTools - Java GIS Toolkit
  • MetaCRS - Coordinate Reference System Transformations
  • libLAS - LiDAR Data Access
Other software of interest (not available Live)
  • MapWindow GIS - Microsoft Windows based GIS
  • MapGuide Open Source - Web Service
Where to find OSGeo-Live

You can pick up an OSGeo-Live DVD or USB and/or see the presentation at:
  1. Our website
  2. Malaysian Geospatial Forum, Malaka, Malaysia, March 2012
  3. Spanish FOSS4G 2012, Girona, Spain, March 2012
  4. FOSSGIS 2012, Dessau, Germany,March 2012
  5. AWRA GIS and Water Resources Conference, New Orleans, USA, March 2012
  6. GISRUK 2012, Lancaster University, UK, April 2012
  7. FOSS4G North America 2012, Washington DC, USA, April 2012
  8. FOSS4G-CEE & Geoinformatics 2012, Prague, Czech Republic, May 2012,
  9. MapWindow/FOSS4G Regional Netherlands, Velp, The Netherlands, June 2012
  10. International Environmental Modeling and Software Society Conference (IEMSS), Leipzig, Germany, July 2012
  11. 34th International Geological Conference, Brisbane, Australia, August 2012
  12. International FOSS4G2012, Beijing, China, September 2012
  13. INTERGEO, Hannover Germany, October 2012
Over 80 people have directly helped with OSGeo-Live packaging, documenting and translating, and thousands have been involved in building the packaged software.
Packagers, documenters and translators include: Agustín Díez, Aikaterini Kapsampeli, Alan Boudreault, Alexandre Dube, Alex Mandel, Andrea Antonello, Andrea Yanza, Angelos Tzotsos, Anne Ghisla, Anton Patrushev, Argyros Argyridis, Astrid Emde, Brian Hamlin, Bruno Binet, Cameron Shorter, Christos Iossifidis, Dane Springmeyer, Daniel Kastl, David Mateos, Diego González, Dimitar Misev, Dominik Helle, Edgar Soldin, Eike Hinderk Jürrens, Eric Lemoine, Etienne Dube, Fran Boon, François Prunayre, Frank Gasdorf, Gavin Treadgold, Gérald Fenoy, Hamish Bowman, Haruyuki Seki, Henry Addo, Hernan Olivera, Howard Butler, Ian Turton, Jackie Ng, Jan Drewnak, Javier Sanchez, Jesús Gómez, Jim Klassen, Jody Garnett, Johan Van de Wauw, Jorge Arévalo, Jorge Sanz, José Antonio Canalejo, Judit Mays, Klokan Petr Pridal, Kristof Lange, Lance McKee, Lars Lingner, Lucía Sanjaime, Mage Whopper, Manuel Grizonnet, Marco Puppin, Mark Leslie, Massimo Di Stefano, Mauricio Miranda, Mauricio Pazos, Michaël Michaud, Michael Owonibi, Micha Silver, Mike Adair, Milena Nowotarska, Nathaniel V. Kelso, Ned Horning, Nobusuke Iwasaki, Oliver Tonnhofer, Òscar Fonts, Otto Dassau, Paul Meems, Pedro-Juan Ferrer, Pirmin Kalberer, Ricardo Pinho, Roald de Wit, Roberto Antolín, Ruth Schoenbuchner, Samuel Mesa, Sergio Baños, Simon Cropper, Simon Pigot, Stefan A. Tzeggai, Stefan Hansen, Steve Lime, Thierry Badard, Thomas Baschetti, Tom Kralidis, Trevor Wekel, Valenty Gonzalez, Yoichi Kayama
Sponsoring organisations
  • The Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) provides the primary development and hosting infrastructure and personnel for the project, and for many of the software teams which contribute to it.

Friday 27 January 2012

Presenting at GeoNext conference

I'm speaking at the GeoNext conference, and will be answering audience questions on the topic of:
"Where to start with Geospatial Open Source Software, and how to build a business around Open Source products".
Speakers at the GeoNext conference are covering topics around emerging geospatial business trends, which are being driven by such things as mobile phones, commoditisation of data, and web 2.0 principles such as crowd sourcing. It is running in Sydney, Australia on 29 February 2012. More details here:
If you will be coming, then let me know and come and say hello.