FOSS4G 2008

The 2008 FOSS4G conference has just officially closed today (well....apart from some workshops and code-sprints). On reflection, I personally found the conference extremely beneficial, both from communication and contacts, and learning what is new and great. So what did I learn?

  1. The developers of these FOSS products we are using are really clever!
  2. The OSGEO team is doing a fantastic job in the promotion of FOSS products
  3. Bearing in mind that this is a developer's conference, there was a lot of geek speak that went right over the head, but there was definitely some new technologies to look up
  4. Some very interesting comparisons of Mapserver vs Geoserver. This has prompted me to consider not relying entirely on Mapserver, but also using Geoserver.
  5. I learnt a bit about how to use tilecache properly!
  6. A product that I have overlooked, Sextante, is absolutely brilliant, and I am really looking forward to playing with it in combination with gvSIG.

And what did I think was lacking?

  1. I was disappointed to see no presentation on featureserver

And the South African perspective?

This I found the most interesting observation. There was a lot of talk about South Africa taking initiative in implementing FOSS solutions, but in reality this is going to take a VERY long time. Of Course it will be up to us to educate them. From what I could tell, the only national government representatives were the NSIF and DLA. NSIF seems to be taking some initiative with open source, but they really need to focus on their implementation model, or else all there effort will fail. For a national metadata collection framework to work, they need to hands on assist local and district municipalities over a 2 to 3 year timeframe. From what I could tell, that is not their plan. Of course they will do roadshows, but that will not publish the metadata.

I was pleased to see representatives from local and district municipalities and hopefully they will stand up and shout to national government. The real problem of course is that local government falls under DTLGA, and there was absolutely no representation from DTLGA (that I could see anyway). This is the department that is primarily responsible for GIS data management and implementation at a provincial level, and I am really disappointed that no-one was here to see the excitement, vigour and technical experience that is associated with FOSS GIS software.

We will of course using this fantastic software, and hopefully with some time, we will be able to readily implement in government...lets hope!