[OSGeo Africa] FW: FOSS vs ESRI and other GIS issues

Llewellyn Gush llewellyn at jgdm.gov.za
Wed Jun 5 04:19:35 PDT 2013

Hello Walt

Just read your RANT on OsGeo

Seems you may be changing your allegiance - to ESRI and all that ;-)

On a serious note the debate around the use of OSS has been doing the
rounds in Gov now for longer than I care to remember. Nothing yet seems
to have come of it, the reasons may be many and the will seems to be non
existent, but one of the major stumbling blocks has been identified by
yourself and the previous writer. This is not just about GIS though that
is the primary focus of this forum. The whole debate is much broader and
I think needs to have the profile raised.

It is really sad when a person considers themselves "computer literate"
when they can use Word & Excel and then not even do Styles or formula's
more complex than simple addition - they use them as a glorified
typewriter. It is a fact that our educational institutions are doing a
very poor job of skilling students to really be computer literate. This
has come about mostly due to the penetration and exclusive use of a
proprietary vendors solution, which was given to educational
institutions for free (Catch them young and they are yours forever
principle). I fail to understand why it is accepted that a single
vendors solutions should be considered as the only contribution to a
school/university curriculum. The education authorities carry equal
blame in this regard

Your "low blow" about IT support in Gov :-(

I like to think that at the institution where I am employed there is a
least a semblance of support. Suppose there has to be since OSS has been
almost exclusively implemented in the server space, and what do you know
"it works" and works well.

Free State...??? Maybe the reporter did not know the scope of the work,
but neither did the department that wanted the solution. How many man
hours can you buy for 40 Million? A hellava Lot!! Way more than the
scope of work done so far.

And finally ...........DATA......... I would almost term this the Holy
Grail of computing. Proprietary vendors, service providers etc are doing
a really really good job of capturing data and then making it
unavailable to the client. I have seen more than my fair share of
projects that at the end the service provider walks away with the IP in
the form of the data. I know that this is almost always the fault of the
project managers, but am afraid that it all links back to the above re
training and skills and knowledge about how to manage the data component.



On 05/06/2013 12:19, Walter Smit wrote:
> Hi Ray
> I have been physically deployed in a national government department
> (DRDLR) for the past 18months and many of your points are very true. I
> could write a whole essay about it, but here are some quick points.
> ·        Training and inexperienced staff – I have had to teach
> graduated GIS people (from various universities) what the difference
> is between files and folders. Seems to me that many universities are
> missing the plot completely on how to make young people ready for
> actual work.
> ·        “not programmers” – true, but the FOSS software I have used
> does not require any more programming than over-the-counter suites.
> ·        Enough PGPs? Correct, there are very few. It is however a
> fallacy that you need to be mentored by a PGP to be able to register
> with Plato (I was not – and I didn’t get the benefit of the
> Grandfather clause either). I don’t know who started this lie, but it
> seems to stop people from even trying to register.
> ·        I cannot comment on unscrupulous service providers –
> solutions should be scalable.
> ·        Freestate in the limelight – I actually asked someone with
> more knowledge than the reporters. He was of the opinion that the
> service provider under quoted, because the range and scope of related
> services to that website was enormous. Like following several
> officials around to all their meetings for a year.
> ·        Why pay more than once? Petty politics and leaders protecting
> their own little empires. And corruption of course. We have tried
> doing this for 18months…no luck yet. Also the communication between
> provinces and levels of government is ludicrously poor. Do you know
> what your direct neighbours in Environmental Affairs are using?
> Hopefully Enrico and Nacelle will be uploading their Bioregional Plans
> to the sharing platform when they are done. The same platform where
> you can see the EIAs from NEIMS…*shameless plug*
> ·        Data with known custodians. Have been doing this for
> 12months…it is very very difficult. Reasons: lack of high level regard
> for (spatial) data, capacity and attitudes of “it isn’t in my job
> description”. Hopefully more OSD posts will change this. Remember that
> very few departments have ever taken responsibility for spatial data –
> ever. It is a massively foreign concept to them. We are making good
> progress on this in 2 provinces. In the Northern Cape we have actually
> got all the HODs to sign MOUs that they will be custodians for their
> datasets. Appointing the actual person/post to an actual dataset is
> more of a challenge.
> ·        GIS people in government. Lack of funding usually, or no GIS
> posts on their organograms. Government salaries for GIS people are
> actually much higher than private sector.
> ·        IT support in government. Cannot comment on something that
> doesn’t exist J
> Personally I believe that departments would be better served by
> implementing FOSS and spending the saved money on training. Because
> training (regardless of software used) is what people really need. But
> then again…Tswane…why change a system if it is already working for
> them? And their staff have probably already had some decent training.
> Rant over,
> _______________________________________________
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> Africa at lists.osgeo.org
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Llewellyn Gush
Information Technology Manager
Joe Gqabi District Municipality

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