Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

OSGIS 2012

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This week was the fourth annual Open Source GIS Conference, otherwise known as OSGIS 2012, at Nottingham, and a great time was had by all. It might have been the lovely weather and the super venue on the University’s Jubilee Campus, but I very much enjoyed it. The first day was for workshops, and I attended one on OSM-GB. This is a project around measuring and improving the quality of OpenStreetMap for the UK, and providing pre-configured WMS/WFS feeds of openstreetmap data, ready projected into British National Grid format. While I personally really enjoyed the workshop, it was probably a salutary lesson in the need for some serious load-testing of the service, as the sudden spike in demand on the WMS and WFS feeds made the server quite poorly. Check it out though, as if you’re using openstreetmap as background mapping in your desktop GIS it’s probably the easiest way to get an up-to-date version on demand. I also learnt about some useful things from the OSM-GB team though, like Nominatim, for creating a searchable Gazetteer from openstreetmap data. I also went to a workshop on using Geoserver for INSPIRE compliance, run by the guys from GeoSolutions which was again really useful, and more interesting that you might think!

Day Two was talks- and the sessions that I saw were a good mix of academic and practical. The stand-out one for me was by Ken Arroyo and was about a tool for automatically repairing polygons and planar partitions. Not the worlds most punchy title, but you could see everyone in the audience who has ever struggled with getting invalid geometries into postgresql getting really excited. You can find the tool here on github. I did a reprise of a talk I did for the AGI a few months ago on “actually doing things with open and linked data”. You can find it on ELOGeo, where you can coincidentally see all the talks for the conference.

In the evening of Day Two we held the OSGeo:UK AGM, and it was good to see some new faces there. This was my final AGM as the Chapter Representative (of which more in another post), and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Ian Edwards from the UK Met Office for bravely taking over.

Day Three wasn’t strictly conference, but was the first official Face-To-Face for the FOSS4G 2013 Organising Committee. A lot of work has already been going on behind the scenes- we have the skeleton of a website, and will soon be releasing the provisional dates for the Call for Papers, Registration, and all the other important dates that you need to know. We’re starting to put together the Sponsorship packages, the contract with the venue is nearly ready, and we have a great idea for the t-shirts but we’re not telling you about that yet…

If I had any negative thoughts about the OSGIS event this week, it is that numbers were lower than usual, but that’s probably because it clashed with other conferences (it’s normally in May, which is much better, but that wasn’t an option this year). It was good to see a large number of international delegates though. There won’t be an OSGIS event next year though, because we want everyone to come to FOSS4G instead!