Header image alt text

Mapping the difference

Mapping the difference

This post was written by ragnvald

We come to you from 3 continents to share with you our conference program. Internet tools from Google, Linux, Windows, MacOS, Skype – not to mention countless open source libraries makes this happen. In this context place hardly matters. For us, the organisers of this conference, the internet has made us equals whether we are in Africa, Europe, Asia, or the Americas.

But in our conference place matters. It matters because we live in a world of difference in health, safety, freedom, economy, education, and more. Some of these differences fall along the axis of north-south, gender, political opinion, social status and many other. Some differences can be measured along coastlines, distance to the nearest hospitals, rainfall patterns in space and time and many other spatiallines.

Our community provides the tools to minimise these differences. For the users of these spatial tools, place and geospatial technologies becomes the means to many ends. Some of us use geospatial technologies to focus on equality, some on democracy. Some map for better crops, safer societies, accessible education. For geospatial technologists, everything from the code itself to the ecosystem they support can bridge the challenges of difference and make a difference. The FOSS4G 2018 conference program 300 presentations over three days is a feast in intellectual capacity and the will to share knowledge.

With this we present to you an overview of the program. In this round we will look at the categorisation of the content.



What’s with the categories?

In setting up the program we wanted to keep the categories at a minimum. We failed miserably and ended up with too many categories. The following is our attempt to “map” all the diversity of content our conference will cover.



Academic We have a peer reviewed category which holds presentations on an academic level. The presentations will be published in separate proceedings. This part was curated by a team headed by Professor Maria Antonia Brovelli.
Big data Big data was the easy one. Imagine terabytes of point cloud data , political survey data with multiple dimensions, sensor driven data sets with thousands of points per week per car, elephant or other. Collecting, storing and analysing data often points to open source spatial data analysis. We ended up with 11 presentations in this category.
Bridging the gaps At the core of this conference we are trying to understand how we can bridge the gaps. Gaps stemming from social injustice, gender imbalance, access to health.

We decided to create three sub-groups within this category:

  • A – Strategic
  • B – Practical approaches
  • C – Technology
Cartography For some of us cartography is the last thing we tend to before we send our maps off or press the publish-button. For others it becomes a passion and a lifelong love. We have three presentations on cartography this time. As always – we would have loved to spend more time on cartography.
Catalogue systems Cataloging systems relates to systems used to manage metadata. Massive amounts of data become easier to handle when we approach them through cataloging systems.

This is about core systems like Geonetwork, PyCSW and others. It is also about applications of these systems and theories of data management.

  • A – Core systems
  • B – Applications
  • C – Theory
CGIAR/SIIL CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food secure future dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL), headquartered at Kansas State University, supports the Feed the Future goals of reducing global hunger, poverty and undernutrition. CGIAR and SIIL has joined forces with FOSS4G. Focusing on open source solutions the benefit of having a special category was obvious for all of us.

Learn more about agricultural analysis and the use of open source software here.

Crowdsourcing We have divided the crowdsourcing category into three sub-categories:

  • A – Society
  • B – Collecting data
  • C – Analysis

Crowdsourcing social media in the context of an emergency can provide important insights to provide relevant help. Approaches to collect data quickly became a separate category with Mapillary as a project in more than one way leads the way. Analysing crowdsourced is just a download away. Much of this is open data.

Drones A drone in the hands of a geographer, ecologist, emergency responder or spatial analyst can give us something new. Advances in open source software makes it possible to pilot drones and analyse their data in sophisticated ways. Our community has a particular responsibility towards data from drones. Current commersial solutions are good. Open source systems are competing with the best of them. Presentations in this category will show you why – and how.
Education This conference is about all of us learning new things. The education category is about exploring methods and contexts so others can learn.
Disaster In exploring this category it dawned on us that disasters has two phases which are particularly focused by our community; before and after. Before an disaster we can plan our societies and our responses. After the fact the plans are enacted to save and support lives and livelihoods. This is where we can learn more about disasters and emergency response systems supported by open data and open source gis.

  • A – Before
  • B – After
Environment Collecting environmental data and processing it is now possible with a full open source stack. Learn how QGIS, Geoserver, R and other tools are used in the process of counting animals, monitoring deforestation and more.
Geonode Geonode represents an excellent integration between many systems. Geoserver, PostGIS, PYCSW and more. Meet up to learn more about the future of Geonode. Did you know that Geonode is flirting with QGIS – learn more here!
Geoserver Geoserver is a cornerstone system for many of us. It is a powerful application for publishing geospatial data on the web in a standards compliant way. This is where you can get up to speed on the latest developments and plans for Geoserver.
PostGIS PostGIS is the powerhouse backbone of many map servers. This is where you can learn about the features of the newest version as well as how practitioners use PostGIS to its full capacity.
Government The governments meet challenges with regards to ‘commodity off-the-shelf’ (COTS) hardware and software, human capacities, hardware access and more. In this category we will be looking at services provided by our governments. The broadest one is on land ownership management. We have presenters from Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi and others which will give us insights into how governments integrate open source solutions to server regulations and laws on land ownership.

  • A – Services
  • B – Land ownership
Mapping systems We ended up with 5 sub-categories in this one:

  • A – Generic systems
  • B – Specific systems
  • C – 3 dimensions
  • D – Services
  • E – Strategy

Generic systems are systems where the goal is a system which with little or no modification can be used in other contexts. Specific systems are tailor made systems. 3 dimensions are systems dealing with 3D mapping. Services are systems where services are in focus and not a holistic one. Lastly we get some strategic views on mapping systems.

Meeting new projects Meet our new friends! Learn about GIS and blockchains. Find out about how historical shipping data can be visualised. 14 presentations in this category is an indication of an exciting future for us enjoying open source gis software.
Open data With focus on open data we have presentations pointing to the use of data in disaster preparedness and planning. Case study showing how open data is used is also presented here.
OSGEO community The OSGeo community is important for all of us. Without it we would not have this conference. With the first two sub-categories we are trying to understand our community better. With the last one we try to present some of our solutions.

  • A – Community health
  • B – Our place in the world
  • C – Solutions
QGIS QGIS is the every day desktop GIS tool for many of us. We recently saw version 3.2. In these 11 presentations you will be introduced to the QGIS ecosystem and examples of use.

  • QGIS A – Using it
  • QGIS B – The system
Remote sensing Remote sensing is partly about getting the data. What if your network is slow? What if your computer is too slow for proper analysis? What if the procedures are too complex?

This category will offer answers to some of the above questions.

  • A – Processing
  • B – Products
SDG The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations in 2015. FOSS4G and its users contribute to the UN Sustainable development goals. This is where we showcase particularly relevant initiatives and methods.
The library Software libraries are what makes the OSGeo community tick. Big or small – these are the projects which provide developers with tools to bring about the solutions we appreciate so highly.

A second blog article will be posted soon about how to find and plan your conference experience at FOSS4G this year. In the meantime, please join the conversation with us and tweet to us @foss4g!

We’re looking forward to joining you in the Tanzanian sun this August! Karibuni Sana!