[VisCom] FOSS4G Conference Summary

Tyler Mitchell tylermitchell at shaw.ca
Tue Oct 3 17:17:18 EDT 2006

----- Original Message -----
From: Markus Neteler <neteler.osgeo at gmail.com>
> thanks for writing it up!
> Small addition: Let me suggest to add a note about the organizers:
> http://www.foss4g2006.org/internalPage.py?pageId=12&confId=1
> I guess especially:
> - Camptocamp
> - University of Lausanne
> (the organizers in cc will know better)

Good suggestion.

To avoid confusion and not look like I'm just going to blog this, I have removed the blog link and am pasting the text here:

FOSS4G 2006 Conference Summary

The energy and enthusiasm of the Free and Open Source Software for Geoinformatics (FOSS4G) Conference continues to grow. This year over 500 attendees made their way to Lausanne, Switzerland from September 12-15th to participate in this annual international event.

The conference began with a day and a half of more than 25 hands-on workshops. They covered web mapping, desktop applications, 3D visualization, and much more. As in years past, these workshops were completely sold-out due to their popularity.

Plenary sessions and over 120 presentations made up the remainder of the formal event. During the Sponsor Presentations, several of the FOSS4G sponsors introduced their companies and explained their involvement in Open Source. It was encouraging to see that the sponsors invested in the conference not merely for promotion, but because they are keenly interested in the success of the ideas represented at FOSS4G.

The birds-of-a-feather (BOF) sessions were an informal way for communities to meet, discuss, plan and even do some programming. Topics included: promoting open access to geospatial data, developing international user groups, planning new programming projects, debating details of APIs and more.

The final afternoon consisted of plenary talks and a discussion panel where several community members shared observations of the past and offered future predictions. James Westervelt shared some early history of the GRASS GIS project in a unique way, by presenting recent thoughts from many of the original programmers and users of decades past.

We also heard from the Director of Swisstopo, the Federal Office of Topography, about their National Geodata Initiative. He described their efforts to make geodata more affordable and highlighted several parallels between their data management efforts and open source development.

The capstone of the conference was the presentation of the second annual Sol Katz award. This annual award recognizes the important contributions of an open source community member. This year it was awarded to Markus Neteler from the Center for Scientific and Technological Research (ITC-irst, Italy) recognizing his instrumental work on the GRASS GIS project. Markus' hard work and commitment brought GRASS GIS back onto the radar for those needing powerful analytical and visualization tools. Anyone who has worked with Markus knows that the award was well deserved. His enthusiasm, commitment to open source and enjoyable personality have been an encouragement to the broader open source community.

The conference, including great social events, could not have happened without an incredible amount of volunteer energy and resources. An event of this size and stature had dozens of people working behind the scenes, months in advance, including local organizers, sponsors, an international committee, university staff and more. It also required substantial funding from generous sponsors. Thank you to all who helped organize, fund and attend the event - it was a great cross-pollinating experience and will remain the highlight of the year for many of us.

FOSS4G was also an important venue for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). With generous sponsorship support and planning from Autodesk, OSGeo volunteers were able to introduce the foundation to hundreds of attendees in a professional manner. The booth was a focal point for learning more about the foundation and how to get involved. There were also several OSGeo-related presentations during the conference to help inform attendees. Thank you volunteers, speakers and Autodesk staff for making our presence at FOSS4G such a success.

The 2007 event will be organized by OSGeo. The foundation will be soliciting proposals from local communities who would like to host the event. The location is yet to be determined and will depend on proposals received. Watch the foundation discussion mailing list for more information.
Some videos and photos from the event are available on the FOSS4G website under Souvenirs. Workshop and presentation slides are also available from the conference timetables.

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