[OSGeo Africa] Another illegal GIS RfQ

Leon Vosloo leon.v at govanmbeki.gov.za
Thu Oct 17 05:14:54 PDT 2019



I followed some of the discussions on this topic, and it is not as easy as you would like it to sound. I want to raise a few issues which I hope may give an better understanding and personally think need to be addressed to ease the mind of people afraid of using it.


Before I continue, I need to say that I personally are a supporter for open source packages.


However issues that is surely uncertain in the open community is the following: (taking into account that it is not everyone that know about these packages or have the know how where to get it or what its reliability is, and what is the best package for me or is it user friendly. We are in general people from different profession backgrounds. So in short people use what they know what works for them.) 


*         Some years back I wanted to install Linux to my personal computer – the hardware supplier did not even want to go that route giving reasons like – there are too many basic operating software packages that they are afraid of installing the OS, as they will have to install too many other add–on’s  to let all the hardware and software work. Till today I rather stay away as I am no expert in this field.

*         I am using open office at home- the problem is if I give this information (e.g. Spreadsheet file) to someone else, some functionalities is claimed not to work properly and there is always a message that information can be lost. We live in an environment where people cannot afford to lose any data. So security and integrity of data is key, even sharing between paid and non-paid software. 

*         There is no e-mail package that integrates with an open office package that I know off, or work as easy as outlook. Not even the one I am using (forgot its name).

*         GIS – this is in a different league as it entails a lot more than the above.

o   When it comes to desktop applications I think there are good open source products that can be used and it is surely debatable which is superior or more suitable software for an company or institution as needs differ. My little knowledge about it is that specific GIS packages have been developed for specific needs – meaning that they are strong in certain functionalities e.g. 3D. Government need a good all-rounder, capable of dealing with many and large datasets.

o   A lot of institutions and government bodies works with limited personnel. So good support structures are needed and also needs to be available to visit offices to assist with sorting out issues that may arise. I have not seen or heard about any such business supporting open source GIS or any other open source software.

o   Software Training is needed from time to time, especially when it is used for the first time or when upgrades was installed. 

o   GIS is normally also kept on a server. Again there are limited information available on what combinations of open source software is available and works perfectly together. This now ranges from OS, SQL, GIS server software, Backup solution, office package, security solutions, even desktop GIS compatibility, etc. things that may be common knowledge to you may be a mountain for someone else.

o   It is one thing to know what works well together but is it a good all-rounder package to the needs of the institution, and who can set it up. Remember I made the comment that most institutions work with limited staff and GIS have various Fields of expertise.

o   I think one can add a lot more issues to this list but will stop here.

*         Government tenders: I have seen a few comments that is a concern to the open source community and I am not trying to defend anyone, I am talking from my perspective.

o   Tenders should be open and fair and that is correct. Government Tenders should comply with National treasury regulations. The employer is therefore limited in using brand names. For example, if I need spares for a Toyota, you should indicate the brand and model, etc. of the vehicle, otherwise the tenderer will not know what to tender for. Surely a Mahindra petrol pump may not work on it (maybe it will I don’t know) yet there are universal spares available. The employer now have a problem as he needs a specific quality. You also do not want a situation the potential supplier tender for genuine parts, but delivers sub-standard products. So you ask that it at least be measured against a standard, or minimum SABS, or whatever the case may be and that the tenderer provided on the tender document the brand name tendered for.

o   With Software this is not as easy and compatibility and costs starts to be an issue.

o   The issue of licences needed does not necessarily refer to a specific GIS brand (as there is again a few paid GIS software options available). It is a way to indicate how many people will need to use the software either desktop users, internal web based viewers from the server, direct users to the server, etc.  So I do not see this as ring-fencing but rather information, on how big the setup is. I believe certain GIS server software is more suitable for small user groups while others can deal with huge groups. It is up to the tenderer to decide on the licence price. I can see that there are frustrations and maybe legal issues in this. After all - Open source is supposed to be free:-

o   I think if someone (company / supplier / individual) do his homework very well come up with a very good proposal and can guarantee long term support, installation, setup, and training service (for a price)  a tender might just be won (and of course I cannot guarantee that). It is an open market and everyone (open source and paid programs) should be able to have an equal opportunity to tender. 


Are there anyone in the open source community who can deliver support services on a full time basis? 


Please people, I am not criticising, I just wanted to highlight some issues and that you also understand that there is a lot of uncertainties about a lot of issues.  I think there is still a lot of research to be done and knowledge be shared through good marketing.



Kind regards,



From: Africa [mailto:africa-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] On Behalf Of Immo Blecher
Sent: 16 October 2019 09:56 PM
To: Africa local chapter discussions <africa at lists.osgeo.org>
Subject: Re: [OSGeo Africa] Another illegal GIS RfQ


Hi All, 

I think this is ignorance. The people involved in sourcing the software, whatever it is (even Office packages) have got no clue, because they don't care. So they go the easy route... Just quote for whatever we have. And as long as there is nobody looking into "hey dude... are you actually doing your job? Have you investigated other options? " nothing will change. And even marketing the alternatives won't help...this will take time!!!

My 2 cents. 


Immo F. Blecher 

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On 16 Oct 2019, at 21:37, Gavin Fleming <gavinjfleming at gmail.com <mailto:gavinjfleming at gmail.com> > wrote:

this time, Umungundlovu DM not even trying to hide names.

Government entities are not allowed to simply renew contracts like these ELAs. They have to go out to *open* tender to test the market for alternative solutions and lower prices. 


Now how many firms can compete for this one?


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