[OSGeo-Discuss] Are there any thoughts on how organisations can work with OSGeo projects?

P Kishor punk.kish at gmail.com
Thu Sep 27 00:04:21 PDT 2007

This is a very relevant and interesting topic to pursue further.

On 9/27/07, Bruce.Bannerman at dpi.vic.gov.au
<Bruce.Bannerman at dpi.vic.gov.au> wrote:
> <sorry for cross posting>
> I have been involved  in a number of discussions over the last year or so
> where people representing organisations have expressed an interest in
> extending Open Source spatial products and projects but are unsure or
> sceptical as to how it could be done.

To a great extent, they already do. After all, Refractions Research,
DM Solutions, even Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, are all
organizations. Some are private, some public, some may employ 20-30
people while other may even be just a solo show.

I guess you might be meaning specifically governmental organizations
-- specifying what you mean by an organization would be necessary.

Some organizations may support an open source project wholesale and
wholeheartedly, while others might tolerate one or two of their
employees working on them. The State Cartographer's Office in Madison,
Wisconsin, utilizes open source geospatial technologies pretty much
for everything they do. I myself have been part of organizations that
kind of let me do my thing without getting them actively involved.

In other words, this is a highly variable landscape, not unlike
non-open technologies, but it does have its unique characteristics as
you cite below.

> I'm interested in other people's thoughts on this.
> Overview:
> Typically in Government and other larger organisations, funding is Project
> based with a clear definition of business requirements, end deliverables and
> time frame.
> What I have seen of OS projects over the last seven years or so is that they
> are typically run by a group of committed individuals who have a desire for
> a particular type of product. Focus is often on delivering a quality product
> that is released 'when it is ready' rather than to a marketing department's
> timeframe. While there is often an end goal and a set of requirements for a
> release of a product, it is sometimes difficult to find people interested in
> spending their own time on the less exciting aspects of a project.
> For some context:
> #1 - I recently attended an workshop that contained representatives from a
> significant number of government departments from around Australia. There
> was a general consensus that we liked what we saw with GeoNetwork as a
> potential 'National' Metadata entry tool and Catalogue. There was also some
> discussion as to the types of features that we'd like to see developed
> longer term to support an 'Australian' metadata toolset. If this was to
> proceed we'd no doubt end up with a program of works that we'd like to see
> implemented.
> #2 - I have also been involved on the periphery of the GeoSciML efforts,
> part of which is a desire to use GeoServer to support GeoSciML and 'complex'
> objects. The GeoSciML work involves a number of Geological Survey
> organisations from around the world. This could also result in a program of
> works that people would like to see included into GeoServer.
> Some initial examples of issues that I can see (excluding funding) are:
> - Communication and liaison with the relevant open source community. We may
> have a block of work that we'd like to see developed, however this may
> potentially take a project in a direction that the community does not want
> to go in. How do we address this?
> - A shortage of developers with the required skills in a particular project.
> While we could put resources towards this problem, it will take time for the
> developers to get an understanding of the products and build the necessary
> credibility within the community. In the meantime, we have the problem of
> getting some early wins to ensure sufficient funding for the longer term.
> - Project based funding is typically focussed on a deliverable. The
> deliverable may well be an enhancement to an OSGeo project. How can a
> development team get that enhancement accepted into an OSGeo Project's code
> base in a timely manner? Can they be confident that the enhancement would
> not be removed at a later iteration of the OSGeo Project?
> - Where is the best place to discuss issues relating to a program of works
> that may span several OSGeo projects?
>   + If the discussions were to take place on individual projects'
> development lists, then the overall 'Program' context may be lost. Also
> other OSGeo project developers may not be interested in the additional
> 'noise'.
>   + In the first example above where it relates to a National program of
> works, it may be better to discuss these issues on the country's local
> chapter mailing list. At least this would still be visible to interested
> parties.
>   + In the second example where it relates to an international program of
> works, perhaps a dedicated chapter could be established under OSGeo?
>   + what would be the best way to coordinate the aims of a program of works
> and the aims of various OSGeo communities.
> I'm sure that others are thinking of these issues.
> They don't just relate to large programs of works, they also relate to
> smaller projects.
> Perhaps you would like to share your thoughts.
> Bruce

Puneet Kishor
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo)
Summer 2007 S&T Policy Fellow, The National Academies

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