[Ica-osgeo-labs] [OSGeo-Discuss] How to quantify the economic impact of OSGeo software? Your help needed for a research article

Anthony Robinson acr181 at psu.edu
Thu Jun 4 18:15:37 PDT 2015


As a counterpoint, if Esri decided now to withdraw their offer of software, course mentors, and class materials, what would be the missed opportunity associated with dropping the largest ever effort to increase geospatial education in schools in America?

I think in this case there's too much effort expended to associate everything they do as somehow being deeply wrong and having zero possible benefits to society. What do you make of efforts by CartoDB and MapBox to integrate their tools into educational settings? They're certainly moving in that direction, and you can bet it's motivated by the same reasons that Esri look to get their stuff in front of students. I think it's great, personally - the CartoDB folks were extremely generous and helpful with a part of my MOOC, just as Esri was also extremely helpful with other parts.

Here's a potentially crazy idea - what do you think might happen if the FOSS4G community got together and decided to approach Esri with the aim to *partner* to expand even further the ConnnectED concept to include all sorts of tools and techniques to twice as many schools? What if something surprising and awesome were to come from that partnership that really did focus on the main goal - to expand the reach of geospatial tools and methods to new audiences around the world? I think at least exploring that concept would be a lot more productive than to try and unpack an Esri claim regarding how much their donation is worth.

Both communities have the need to expand the audience of people who understand mapping and spatial analysis, and both have plenty of talent, tools, and application ideas to contribute. I would think that improving geospatial education is one area in which all potential parties could agree that they've got a shared goal to reach.



Anthony C. Robinson, PhD 
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography 
Director for Online Geospatial Education, John A. Dutton e-Education Institute 
Assistant Director, GeoVISTA Center 
The Pennsylvania State University 

----- Original Message -----
From: "Suchith Anand" <Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>
To: "Margherita Di Leo" <diregola at gmail.com>
Cc: discuss at lists.osgeo.org, ica-osgeo-labs at lists.osgeo.org
Sent: Thursday, June 4, 2015 6:22:54 PM
Subject: Re: [Ica-osgeo-labs] [OSGeo-Discuss] How to quantify the economic impact of OSGeo software? Your help needed for a research article

Hi Margherita,

Your points have helped to distill the essense of this excellently and i couldn't agree more "The hidden cost, however, is the missed empowerment of a generation, that will most likely depend upon the software that they have learned to use at school. How would you quantify this economically? This is a tough problem! "  

The missed economic and innovation opportunities are too big to be quantified. Students instead of being developed as creative innovative minds and future innovators turn to be just users of a particular properitory software. I think this is big moral question for educators and policy makers.

The quote from Eben Upton , Cofounder of  Raspberry Pi initiative  is something all educators and  policy makers should give deep thinking "The lack of programmable hardware for children – the sort of hardware we used to have in the 1980s – is undermining the supply of eighteen-year-olds who know how to program, so that's a problem for universities, and then it's undermining the supply of 21 year olds who know how to program, and that's causing problems for industry."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi_Foundation

Also these discussions made me think of the issue raised by Gert-Jan van der Weijden last week on the delay between policy and implementation  http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-May/014269.html

"In the monitoring results of 2014 it became clear that the use of open standards still isn't a regular requirement in tenders, and that there are no nationwide concrete goals regarding the use of open source software in the public and semi-public sector
For that reason, on april 13th this year the Dutch parliament approved a resolution in which the Government is asked:
1. to assure that by the end of 2015 the use of open standards becomes iscommon practice in tenders
2. to investigate how vendor lock-in can be avoided
3. to include open source as a regular choice in tenders

This resolution is a spin-off of the parliamentary inquiry regarding the failures in ICT-projects in the Dutch public sector (estimation: an annual loss of 1-5 billion euros)."

If for a country like The Netherlands,  the annual loss estimation is  1-5 billion Euros, then imagine how much the annual losses for whole Europe will be !  But more importantly in education can we afford NOT to empower our future generations and not give them opportunities for accelerating economic growth and innovation opportunities. 


PS: Based on all feedbacks recieved http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-June/014311.html i can now  understand that the "esri's $1 billion gift of cloud-based ArcGIS Online software" is more a marketing and publicity statement (though i find it bit disappointing that learned societies like AAG are putting this  in thier website ) and we will not use that metric as basis for our planned paper (as we wont be able to scientifically back this $1 billion gift for peer review!)

From: Margherita Di Leo [diregola at gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2015 4:26 PM
To: Suchith Anand
Cc: ica-osgeo-labs at lists.osgeo.org; discuss at lists.osgeo.org
Subject: Re: [Ica-osgeo-labs] [OSGeo-Discuss] How to quantify the economic impact of OSGeo software? Your help needed for a research article


On Thu, Jun 4, 2015 at 4:38 PM, Suchith Anand <Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk<mailto:Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>> wrote:
Very good point and here is where we need help (maybe from an Economics expert).

There are many studies already done which we can build upon. For example the Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU at  http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/ict/files/2006-11-20-flossimpact_en.pdf

So any ideas/inputs greatly welcome.

A common strategy of proprietary vendors is giving nearly for free their products for education and training, for example the agreements proposed by Microsoft to Italian universities [1] and the Italian Ministry of education [2] - I'm sure they propose similar agreements all around the world but I cite the Italian example because in the past few days has raised the indignation of many, although this doesn't come as new because such agreements have been in place for several years now and they are only renewed from time to time. In order to make an estimation of the real cost that such an agreement implies, you can not refer to the agreement itself : you would read that the proprietary vendor "donates" something, and the government receives without giving nothing. The hidden cost, however, is the missed empowerment of a generation, that will most likely depend upon the software that they have learned to use at school. How would you quantify this economically? This is a tough problem!
I only cited Microsoft but there are plenty of examples, in nearly any field of application. In GIS the impact is even worse because it's a more specialized software, therefore if you want to move to open source having learned proprietary, the learning curve is steeper.
Anyway, I would like to thank you for bringing this up, because it's utterly important to speak about this. Furthermore, analysing the "market of open source software" is extremely interesting, if you consider how relatively new is, and new models of business could be considered also learning from the strategies of proprietary vendors.

[1] http://www.microsoft.com/it-it/education/leadership/accordo-microsoft-crui/default.aspx#fbid=oGMOM9RxpgQ
[2] http://www.repubblica.it/tecnologia/2015/05/29/news/accordo_miur_microsoft-115578889/
Best regards,

Dr. Margherita DI LEO
Scientific / technical project officer

European Commission - DG JRC
Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES)
Via Fermi, 2749
I-21027 Ispra (VA) - Italy - TP 261

Tel. +39 0332 78 3600
margherita.di-leo at jrc.ec.europa.eu<mailto:margherita.di-leo at jrc.ec.europa.eu>

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