An Introduction to Geospatial Open Source

Tues, Sept. 13th - FOSS4G 2011 Conference, Denver, Colorado

"Everything you wanted to know about open source geospatial but were afraid to ask"

This day-long event right before FOSS4G will provide a broad introduction to the world of geospatial open source from the ground up. Free and open source geospatial software has matured in recent years and is being used by a wide range of commercial and government organizations for many mission-critical applications. If your organization is paying for geospatial software / GIS and you haven’t yet evaluated whether open source software has a role to play, you owe it to yourself and your organization to attend this event and find out more.

We’ll address common questions and misconceptions about open source software, including:

  • Is the software really free? (Yes)
  • Do its capabilities really compare with closed source software that I pay money for? (Yes)
  • Can I get support for it? (Yes)
  • Can it work together with my existing closed source software? (Yes)

The event is mainly targeted at users, developers and managers involved with geospatial software / GIS who haven’t yet had significant involvement with open source, but it will provide a good overview for anyone interested in learning more about geospatial open source.

The day will work equally as a standalone event, or as a way of getting up to speed to get the most out of the subsequent FOSS4G conference, which will provide 3 more days where you can get into much more detail, hear about more projects, and meet the leading developers and companies working in open source geospatial.

Morning Session: Wading Into Geospatial Open Source - 9AM-12PM

From desktop to server to core library, we’ll take you on an enjoyably informative tour of the rich, diverse world of open source geospatial software.   And yes, we’ll provide a cheat sheet of acronyms so you’ll be able to decode the otherwise opaque references you may sometimes hear in conversations on this topic.  We’ll specifically touch on

  • What is Open Source, and Why?
  • Desktop, Database, Server, Web:  A Tour of Open Source Geo Projects
  • Code Libraries and the Algorithms ‘Under the Hood’ That Make It All Work
  • Is This All Really ‘Free as In Beer’: What are the Licensing Rules of the Road?
  • Business issues relating to open source: licensing, support, integration


Peter Batty

Peter Batty, Ubisense

Blog: geothought

Geoff Zeiss

Geoff Zeiss, Autodesk

Blog: Between The Poles: All About Infrastructure

Michael Byrne

Michael Byrne, Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Link: National Broadband Map 

Arnulf Christl

Arnulf Christl, OSGeo

Link: Arnulf's OSGeo Wiki Page

Afternoon Session:  Case Studies, and The Business of Open Source - 1PM-4PM.

Now that you have the lay of the land from the morning session, we’ll cover some case studies and discuss the question of geospatial open source as a business proposition. 

First we’ll have a number of case studies from end users of geospatial open source, who’ll talk about the applications they are running and the benefits to their organizations.

Then we’ll talk about how companies make money in this space. From consulting to software development to geo-aware information platforms, we will have a panel of those for whom open source forms a core part of their business models.  They’ll discuss both the positives and pitfalls, as well as how they see the future role of open source in the burgeoning market of location-aware applications.  With an emphasis on lively interactivity, we’ll have a Twitter back-channel setup to field questions from the audience, ensuring your most pressing questions get straight answers.


Frank Warmerdam

Frank Warmerdam, Google

Blog: Frank's Geo-Geeking

Tobin Bradley

Tobin Bradley, Mecklenburg County, NC

Blog: Fuzzy Tolerance

Matt Krusemark

Matt Krusemark, DRCOG

Paul Ramsey

Paul Ramsey, OpenGeo

Blog: clever elephant: a perspicacious pachyderm

Dale Lutz

Dale Lutz, SAFE Software

Blog: It's All About Data

Dennis Wutrich

Dennis Wuthrich, Farallon Geographics

Blog: Farallon Geographics GIS & Geospatial Blog

Andrew Turner

Andrew Turner, GeoIQ

Blog: High Earth Orbit

Evening Social: Wynkoop Brewery

After the day’s sessions, we’ll be repairing to downtown Denver’s first brewpub, The Wynkoop, for relaxed socializing with FOSS4G attendees.  Chat with developers, network with executives and entrepreneurs and maybe shoot a little pool in the heart of Denver’s LoDo nightlife hub.