Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

Phew

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Time for a quick catch up…

Last Thursday was the first get-together for the UK OSGeo local chapter. Actually we’re not a formal chapter yet- we have to get approved by the board first but it’s a start! People came along from a wide variety of different GIS sub-disciplines, which was nice, although there was a comment that perhaps archaeology was over-represented! We had a selection of quick talks from Tyler Mitchell (intro to OSGeo), Suchith Anand (OGC Interoperability), me (Portable GIS) and Jason Jorgenson (FOSS for archaeological site catchment analysis), and then had a lively discussion about what we thought the local chapter should do.

Various channels were suggested for promoting the chapter and providing forums for meeting up (important for continuing the momentum), and there were many good ideas for what it should actually do. In general people felt that a local chapter could provide a “professional face” for the use of open source software, making links with the big industry players within the UK, like the AGI (Association for Geographic Information). Rather than “going up against” the proprietary companies, we should be highlighting the fact that there is a viable choice.

This is a big ask in a way. Holding informal seminars on the back of conferences is one thing, but providing a professional face means creating literature and display material and attending as many of the large industrial conferences as possible. I’m not sure how that’s going to play out as we’ll be relying on the goodwill and enthusiasm of volunteers, but we’ll see how it goes. I might sound a little down-beat about it, but I don’t mean to- it’s exciting stuff- or has the potential to be.

Our next step is to get the mailing list of the ground, to get people talking. Then we are hoping to have a presence in some fashion at the Geospatial Web Services workshop at the University of Nottingham in June. Then the AGI conference is in September, and FOSS4G is after that… the world is our oyster (or should that be fish and chips for us Brits?)

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