[OSGeo-Discuss] New Mexico local chapter?

Zachary L. Stauber zachary at stauber.org
Sun Feb 4 16:11:20 PST 2007

Hash: SHA1

Hi All,
	Some of us down here in New Mexico (or up depending on your orientation) want
to start a local chapter.  I've started a wiki here listing some info on us.

Anyone think it's a great idea?
A bad idea?
Too small of an area?
Too big?
Just right?

Before you answer let me go into a little bit of why we need a chapter.  I work
for a private engineering firm that does photogrammetry that does a high volume
of orthophotos plus I teach photogrammetry part time at the local tech-voc
institute where we can't afford the usual software.  I'd like to see the
software cheaper (specifically, free) and developers pay more attention to bug
fixes and so on, which open source usually does.  So I need a vehicle for
starting up photogrammetry in open source, and rather that duplicating efforts,
we figured we'd join OSGeo.  My co-worker John Nipper is a programmer with
experience in programming for aerial cameras and LiDAR sensors and wants to
help.  But we also need to be able to solicit help from experts in the field,
professors of photogrammetry and surveying, mathematics, etc., and open source
is the only neutral ground on which we can easily work together.

My colleague and chair of the GIT program at the tech-voc school Amy Ballard
wants to offer a class just on open source software.  She believes it's taking
off and will is useful in real jobs around New Mexico, and she wants to
encourage its further use.

R. Cliff Wilkie, geodetic surveyor for the City of Albuquerque, wants to offer
users some shifting and reprojection software for surveyors to manipulate their
points that operates transparently and has a good manual or explanation of the
mechanics internally so people know what's happening to their data, for people
like him to whom 1mm is a significant error.

Karl Benedict is hosting the server.  He's the senior research analyst and IT
manager for the University of New Mexico's Earth Data Analysis Center.  He's
been 100% open source for years now, big user of the usual suspects (MapServer,
Linux, SOAP, and so on), and is all for encouraging their use in the GIS
community in New Mexico.

I think we have a unique setup here, not only having people from all three
communities (private, government, and academic) but most important working in
some fields that are somewhat esoteric.  GoogleEarth has millions of users, and
with it things like MapServer.  Desktop GIS has tens of thousands around the
world, but photogrammetry and high accuracy geodesy, probably only several
hundred.  So there are a lot of things being developed in the high volume areas
of open source that get a lot of attention, and the esoteric ones don't so much,
which is too bad because the commercial software available suffers in quality
from the same dynamic.  There are only a dozen photogrammetry packages out there
compared to scores of desktop GIS, and most of them are flirting with a price
around US$20,000 per component, per license.

The US National Geodetic Survey provides some tools for datum shifts and
reprojecdtions like CorpsCon, but they are US-centric, and the development is
controlled by a body which is not funded as well as it should be considering
it's the foundation on which all geographic data is collected.  Some software is
still DOS-only.

We need to be part of OSGeo so development can make sure the intellectual
property rests in the public domain and the development is still controlled by a
long-lived body devoted to the task like OSGeo rather than the US federal
government or any private business.  They can donate money and their peoples'
time to us, grants, etc., but development that goes into a private box is
notoriously cumbersome to update, doesn't have a wide range of users to test it,
and has a habit of dying off.

	-Zack Stauber
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