Goings on at FOSS4G 2011

I’m at FOSS4G in Denver this week (Free and Open Source for Geospatial conference) and have learned a few things (eventually all presentations, audio and visuals of slides, will be available online):

  • There will be a QGIS update, version 1.71, sometime this month; it’s a minor release that will fix a few bugs. Some future version of QGIS will included a Data Browser (think Arc Catalog).
  • For folks who have asked me how they can get more cartographic production power out of QGIS, Inkscape looks like a good option – folks at UC Davis have been experimenting with it with some success.
  • Learned about a documentation system for open source (or any) project called Sphinx; documents are stored as restructured text files with some Python scripts that link them together and provide formatting for output and display.
  • Got a great, clear, concise overview of what’s involved with an open source web mapping stack.
  • There’s a study at Idaho State (affiliated with the group of folks there that created Map Window)that’s attempted to define the core functions of GIS based on a survey of GIS users. You can view their data by contacting the project lead.
  • Educators at a community college in Arizona are experimenting with an open source raster program called Opticks; a viable solution to more expensive packages like ERDAS and IDRISI.
  • There are some new Python libraries you can use to create and mine KML data
  • The FCC used a clever method for collapsing / aggregating US Census geography from the block level to create their Broadband Map.
  • While I’ve heard of and poked around the Open Street Map Project, I never realized that many of the users were contributing to the project by walking, cycling, and driving around with GPS units, which they upload to create and update road networks around the world. They also use some free datasets (like the Census TIGER files and equivalents from other countries) to augment and provide a frame of reference for their systems.
  • Data in the UK is finally opening up some more, and demand for products from the Ordnance Survey have been off the charts.
  • My presentation on using QGIS in an Academic library went pretty well, and I was pleased to discover I’m not the only GIS librarian at the conference! I’ve met folks from Ontario, Alberta, and Kansas.
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