Invitation to Geo4All Webinar on Humanitarian Mapathons for Children

On behalf of Geo4All we would like to welcome you to the “Open Geospatial Science & Applications” webinar series. Thanks to Dr. Rafael Moreno and colleagues at University of Colorado Denver for organising the Geo4All webinar series. If you are interested to do a webinar for the Geo4All webinar series please contact Rafael (email- ) and he will be happy to discuss ideas.

Webinar details below:

  • Date and Time : May 5, 2016 (Thursday) at 1:00 PM Greenwich Mean Time (7:00 AM US/Canada Mountain Time)
  • Topic : Humanitarian Mapathons for Children
  • Presenters: Maria Antonia Brovelli, Marco Minghini, Aldo Torrebruno (Politecnico di Milano), and Tyler Radford (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT)

Talk abstract:

This webinar will provide an introduction on humanitarian mapathons for children, which represent a remarkable educational experience as they combine geography and awareness about our world, technology and humanitarian aspects. Following the successful experiences of Politecnico di Milano (Italy), the most important educational and technical aspects of humanitarian mapathons with children will be outlined. The purpose is to provide the GeoForAll community, and specially the teachers involved (at all levels), with some practical instructions on how to set up and run their own mapathons. The webinar is organized in collaboration with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) under the umbrella of the United Nations Open Geospatial (UNOGeo) initiative of which GeoForAll and OSGeo are partners.

See webinar description in the Geo4All webinars page:

Please join us here at

Recording and slides will be posted in the Geo4All webinars page after presentation:

For more details of the webinar series, contact University of Colorado Denver FOSS4G Lab at

The background of this webinar is at

Thanks to Maria Brovelli, Marco Minghini and all Politecnico di Milano colleagues for thier excellent work. They have been leading all our humanitarian mapathons (Nepal, Japan, Equador) [1], [2] and it will be a great opportunity to hear and learn from thier experiences.

So please join this Geo4All webinar on 5th May 2016.


Open Geospatial Science

“Open Science, Open Innovation, Open to the World.” European Commissioner Moedas’ statement [1] [2] emphasises the importance and potential of open  science for Europe and globally.

Open Geospatial Science builds upon the idea of Open science that scientific knowledge of all kinds are able to be develop more rapidly and in a more productive manner if openly shared (as early as is practical in the discovery process). The key ingredients to make Open Geospatial Science possible is Open Principles (open source geospatial software, open data, open standards and open access to research publications) .

“Geo for All” was initially started by scientists and research active academics to build strong foundations for Open Geospatial Science . We also wanted to create openness in Geo Education for developing creative and open minds in students which is critical for building open innovation and contributes to building up Open Knowledge for the benefit of the whole society and for our future generations. We were laughed at initially by some because we did not have any initial funding  when we decided to start “Geo for All” . We are grateful to all our colleagues globally for their help and efforts which enabled us to build this initiative   . For Geo4All , we had a mission to “Make geospatial education and opportunities accessible to all” and we were very clear from the start that we will be supporting Open Principles (open standards, open data, open educational resources,open software, open access to scientific publications) for our mission to ensure sustainability and bring together universities, industry, SMEs, NGOs together on this shared vision.One of the most important lessons that i learnt from my Geo4All journey  is that bringing together good people on a common mission and building a vibrant community  is the biggest asset.

Two week’s back , i was preparing a lecture on Open Geospatial Science for the Marie Curie MultiPos Summer School here at University of Nottingham and it helped me to reflect on how from very humble beginnings we started and without any funding (it was just an idea  back then ) and it is 100 percent thanks to the vibrant geocommunity that helped make this dream a reality. Thanks to our colleagues globally, we now have dedicated research labs, dedicated journals etc in place to help advance the discipline for the future. It is this global research outlook that is fundamental to the success of any new discipline.

Research projects come and go, even research centers/groups within a single university keep changing/merging etc  and are  transient  but research disciplines and ideas will have longer impact. Hence from the start our aim was to create Open Geospatial Science as a discipline. But we had to take this one step at a time to make this possible and i want to share some of our experiences, so we can help build more ideas.

I still remember the excitement   when we had our founding meeting of the first Open Source Geospatial lab in the UK  (June 2010) which helped lay the seeds for foundation for “Geo for All” initiative which has now grown to over 100 research labs globally  and established a new discipline of Open Geospatial Science.The sense of urgency is also very important. Though we did not have any initial funding, me and my colleagues decided that we cannot wait and we have to do whatever we can with our abilities to make geospatial education and opportunities accessible to all. We used the power of combining efforts of like minded communities (International Cartographic Association, International Society of Photogrammetery and Remote Sensing etc) to achieve this .


Figure 1 – Founding meeting of the first Open Source Geospatial Lab in the UK at the University of Nottingham  in June 2010

In fact, when we decided to set up the first Open Source Geospatial Lab in the UK  ( i did not have any funding that time but had big support from my colleagues across the university) to lay the foundation for “Geo for All” , i send invitations to  key players in the UK to send their representatives for the founding meeting . The Association of Geographic Information  , British Geological Survey, EDINA, Ordnance Survey etc all send their representatives for the founding meeting (Fig 1) at University of Nottingham in June 2010 .   Having the successful Triple Helix collaborations (Government, Industry, Academia) was important. We started with a few student projects. I also signed MoUs (Fig 2)  with other like minded organisations to expand our research collaborations.gvsig

Fig 2 – MoU with the gvSIG Association  (2011)


Fig 3 -Prof. Georg Gartner (President, International Cartographic Association) and Arnulf Christl (President, Open Source Geospatial Foundation) shake hands after signing the ICA-OSGeo MoU at the OSGeo booth at Intergeo 2011 in Germany

From the start we had a global outlook . It was also a big leap of faith as myself or any of my colleagues did not have  any idea when we announced in  2011   that we will be establishing 5 dedicated Open  Geospatial Research Labs globally in 5 years time .  We used the power of combining efforts of like minded communities to achieve this by having a MoU (Fig 3) between the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) and the International Cartographic Association (ICA)  with the aim of developing on a global basis collaboration opportunities for academia, industry and government organizations in open source GIS software and data. We now have over 100 research labs established over the world (USA has the largest number of research labs established countrywise but region wise Europe has the largest number of labs).

Again as with the  various Geo4All initiatives, we announced these without any initial funding (we just setup the frameworks)  but always had key volunteers to lead the efforts and jointly apply for funding to scale up ideas and make it sustainable over the future. For example 6 months back , we decided that we had to do something to enable Urban Infrastructure Management for all cities around the world . Inspite of all the technological advancements, it is a sad fact that majority of the world’s poorest living in urban areas do not still have access to basic facilities (clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene facilities , good quality education opportunities etc).  In order to achieve UN Millennium Development Goals it is essential to develop infrastructure facilities, strengthen the muncipal authorities and local city government organisations ( reduce corruption etc) in the developing world for helping improving the living standards of the people.GIS is fundamental technology in infrastructure development and high cost proprietary GIS is unaffordable to governments, town planners and local authorities in developing and economically poor countries. With the availability of free and open source GIS technologies it now offers a great opportunity for governments and municipal authorities in developing countries also to implement GIS tools for their decision making and implementation needs  and help improving the lives of some of the most poorest people and by giving the geospatial tools to the municipal authorities for their decision making and implementation needs will help in improving the living standards of the people. We need to empower people and communities  to make sure our future generations are fully empowered .

So with this aim we started the OpenCitySmart initiative by setting up a wiki site   and a mailling list and asked our community to join efforts. Our colleagues in Australia  Chris Pettit  and colleagues from NASA (Patrick Hogan) lead this initiative. Chris is also leading the AURIN initiative  and NASA is supporting us with thier WorldWind platform. We also are using the Europa Challenge to encourage more SMEs and students around the world to contribute to the OpenCitySmart initiative   We will be having a Think Tank on this to expand ideas (coinciding with the RDA meeting) . Details at

The big picture of OpenCitySmart vision at

So basically everything we do is by harnessing global efforts for finding solutions to global challenges. We believe empowering people with spatial decision making tools will result in a better society for all of humanity. The Open Source Geospatial Foundation is only 10 years old (It is thanks to the work and service of thousands of our colleagues globally that now we have a Foundation and all these active projects and communities) is good example of this.

OSGeo Live has been one of our key instruments for expanding Geo4All’s education aims globally .OSGeo Live contains  over 50 of the world’s widely used Geospatial software from Desktop applications to WebGIS solutions all provided free for the benefit of  all of humanity.  For example , QGIS has grown rapidly to be now the world’s most widely used Geographic Information System powering millions of users in governments, academia and industry worldwide.  Over 180 people have directly helped with OSGeo-Live packaging, documenting and translating, and thousands have been involved in building the packaged software. So it is harnessing global communities on a shared vision. Details at

We already have many examples of this in school education from our global colleagues that we need to expand for the future. For example, Ela and colleagues UNEP-GRID warsaw in Poland’s work on GIS at Schools . Details at

This is an excellent resourse for teachers not only in geography but also in other science subjects who wish to use data concepts in thier teaching. Details at

Our colleagues Sergio Acosta y Lara and others in Uruguay through gvSIG Batovi initiative have now able to teach high quality spatial technologies to students in all schools across  Uruguay . Thanks to the Plan Ceibal they also have free laptops for all Primary and Secondary students in the country so they truly have the opportunity to reach every student no matter they are rich or poor with high quality teaching and learning tools.   (Video with English translation)

We also have amazing academic colleagues in Geo4All globally who are contributing thier knowledge for Open Education efforts. We can get a flavor from last year’s GeoForAll – Global Educator of the Year Award 2015. Details are at

We are now working with MapStory Foundation    to expand our  spatial literacy  in school level program globally. For example, “mapping the neighbourhood” exercises to help teach spatial literacy in schools globally.  I think having MapStory examples of deforestation in different places might also be a good example to help teach students on effects of climate change as well as need for protecting the environment. Teaching Spatial literacy in schools  is key for also helping build good global citizens.

Why is Open Principles in Education and Research important?

Scalability is key for cost/sustainability issues esp if we are thinking global scale of expansion . The cost of hardware is getting lower (and will keep decreasing), internet access is increasing (even in poor countries, it will keep increasing) , so if we can also provide free and open technologies , open data, open educational resources etc it will be a big enabler for bridging the digital divide. Please also look into existing successful  initiatives in Open Principles in Education to understand why scalability and costs for scaling is fundamental .For example in India,  in the State of Kerala  (where i come from)  there is  a project called IT at Schools. It is one of the largest simultaneous deployment of Free and Open Source Software based education ( in over 12,000 schools benefiting 200,000 teachers and 6 million students ) that has transformed access to quality education to even students from the poorest backgrounds.  This is a good example of scalability of  education opportunities with very little resources using Open Principles. Details at

Imagine if all these 12000+ schools and 6 million students had to depend on buying software and data for their teaching and learning. This simple idea can be scaled to millions of schools globally .This empowerment of educators and students  is the true essence and gift  of Open Principles.

Every time i visit India, i always make sure however busy i am, i visit atleast one school and talk with teachers and students.  One of the most profound questions i was asked was by a  student in a small school in India that i visited some years back . From speaking to the teachers i understood that many of the students at that school were from very poor backgrounds. That school didnt even have a proper library but had just started a small “computer lab” .Basically it was 3 computers connected to the internet running on Open Source Software . The students were now  for the first time getting opportunity using online resources like wikipedia for thier study. The students were very excited about resources like Wikipedia and one student asked me  the question “Will this be always available to us?” and i looked at her and   told her that she can be fully assured that she and all students will always have access to these resources as they are fully free and open and more importantly there are thousands of amazing people worldwide who are doing selfless service by working to make these free and open tools and open data so that the doors of opportunities will always be kept open for everyone. These students have no money power or sponsorship power to make thier voice heard and we need to be thier voice .I also decided that day that i will do my best to make sure open principles in education are protected,  so that  students in all schools  worldwide (irrespective of thier economic background) who now are seeing a small glimmer of hope will have that doors of education opportunity always open.

It is also important that the voice of the voiceless are heard. My childhood and growing up in India has a big impact on my thinking . I  am truly grateful that i had an amazing grandmother from whom i learned many of the most important things in life. My grandmother did not have any educational qualifications or world knowledge (she never even got opportunity to travel anywhere!) but she did have amazing common sense and compassion . I learned from her about  an old Indian principle of “Vasudeva kudumbam” which means we are all part of one universal family and “Geo for All” is for my universal family. So i get incredible happiness to get the opportunity to work with colleagues from all corners of our planet and from all different backgrounds on this common journey for helping provide education and opportunities for everyone.

One of the most important lessons that i learnt from my Geo4All journey  is that bringing together good people on a common mission and building a vibrant community  is the biggest asset. The aim of “Geo for All”  is to develop on a global basis collaboration opportunities for academia, industry and government organisations  for enabling open education opportunities for all by empowering academics , universities, school teachers worldwide by using Open Principles in  Geo Education .

Open Geospatial Science – Future steps

I had the opportunity to participate in the  “EU Science: Global Challenges, Global Collaboration” meetings at the European Parliament in Brussels (March 4th-8th,2013). This high level meetings brought together top scientists across the planet , ministers , MEPs, senior policymakers  and industry leaders with the aim to encourage worldwide collaboration in science, to explore how Horizon 2020 can enable an effective scientific response to global challenges, and to provide an environment to build new partnerships with a view to increasing international participation in Horizon 2020.



Fig 4 “EU Science: Global Challenges, Global Collaboration” meetings at the European Parliament in Brussels , 2013



Fig 5 – Opening session of  “EU Science: Global Challenges, Global Collaboration” meetings at the European Parliament in Brussels , 2013

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn,  European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science summarized excellently the meeting aims in her keynote speech at

For me it was also an excellent opportunity to interact with policy makers and top scientists from all disciplines and share Open science ideas and explore new opportunities for future research collaborations.

Having direct inputs to national policy and Intergovernmental agreements are good way to expand “Geo for All” ideas and Open Geospatial Science  . For example, we have done this with other countries like Australia following the 3rd EU – Australia Research Infrastructure meetings   that i attended in  Canberra in Nov 2013 .

In the area of sustainable cities, we have agreement to  establish Open Source Geoscience Sustainable Cities  Lab at the University of Melbourne with linked laboratories across Australia and New Zealand, under the ICA-OSGeo Initiative (jointly by INSPIRE, AURIN, ICA-OSGeo).

The Joint European Commission- Australian Government Communique is at

I had the opportunity of participating in the NSDI conference and meetings in Brasilia, Brazil in May 2014 and I would like to thank the Ministry of Planning, Government of Brazil for organising this excellent event and also for their kind invitation for keynote presentation where i shared the developments in Open Geospatial Science and its importance for widening education opportunities, new jobs creation and innovation ecosystems in Geoservices.

I would like to share some of the things i learned from our colleagues in Brazil which i think is relevant to the wider community

1. There are fast paced developments happening in Geospatial domain and it is important the countries should keep updating their Geoinformation policies to reflect this and take advantage of the new opportunities. I am pleased to see countries like Brazil are well tuned to global developments.
2. It is important to have inputs from the academic community and i was pleased to see this bringing together of key people from government and academia to discuss ideas and good practices.
3. Education and Capacity building is key for expanding opportunities.

The pace of growth has been much beyond our dreams and with more applications for establishing research labs from universities across the world, we are in target to establish over 1000 research labs in the next three years globally. This is the biggest growth area in our Geospatial  Science discipline and will have direct benefit of millions of students across the world. Each of these research labs will keep expanding over the years with more staff and students .

We welcome more research labs interested in building and expanding Open Geospatial Science [3],[4] to join Geo4All and contribute to our joint research actions through the various research thematics now in place

Through our new initiative of Geo4All Schools we aim to use geotechnologies as a usecase to advance STEM interest in Schools through Open Principles so that students develop creative minds  and develop to be future thought leaders and creative thinkers to help solve global challenges (not just teach them to be mere users). The bigger aim is to also to advance STEM education across the world and bring together schools, teachers and students across the world in joint projects and help building international understanding and global peace.

Best wishes,

Dr. Suchith Anand

Geo for All – Building and expanding Open Geospatial Science



Humanitarian mapathons for Japan and Ecuador

May i request anyone who is interested to help for the humanitarian mapathons for Japan and Ecuador to please contact Dr Marco Minghini asap (Email – )  who is leading the Geo4All efforts on this. Details at

Our thanks to Marco and colleagues for their help and efforts  [1] 

Suchith Anand

Invitation for Expression of Interest for Urban BigGeoData and OpenCitySmart Think Tank on 8th June 2016 

The Geospatial IG of the Research Data Alliance and the Nottingham Geospatial Institute are pleased to welcome expression of interest for the Urban BigGeoData and OpenCitySmart Think Tank meeting and workshop at the University of Nottingham. This will be a free event (limited to 30 delegates) aimed to bring together key stakeholders in GeoBigData and OpenCitySmart research to brainstorm ideas and plan joint research ideas and collaborations for the future.

More details and registration url at

Deadline for application – 15th April 2016

Draft European Open Science Agenda and Call for EoIs for the Selection of members for the High level Advisory Group “Open Science Policy Platform”


With the objectives to enable more reliable science (by allowing data verification); more efficient science (by sharing resources); and more responsive science (by contributing to addressing societal challenges), and fostering research integrity are critical for Open Geospatial Science that “Geo for All” stands for . Hence we are extremely pleased to support the excellent developments in Open Science led by the European Commission.

In June 2015, the Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas defined three strategic priorities: Open Innovation, Open Science and Openness to the World.

Open Science describes the on-going transitions in the way research is performed, researchers collaborate, knowledge is shared, and science is organised. It is enabled by digital technologies, and driven by:

  • the enormous growth of data,
  • the globalisation and enlargement of the scientific community to new actors (e.g. citizen science), and
  • the need to address societal challenges.

The institutions involved in science are affected (research organisations, research councils, funding bodies), as is the way in which scientific results are disseminated and assessed. This is reflected in

  • the rise of new scientific disciplines,
  • innovative pathways in publishing (among them a substantial rise of open access journals),
  • new scientific reputation systems, and
  • changes in the way the quality and impact of research are evaluated.

In the short term, Open Science is expected to lead to more transparency, research integrity, openness, inclusiveness and networked collaboration. In the long term, it should increase the impact and quality of science, making science more efficient, reliable and responsive to the grand challenges of our times as well as foster co-creation and Open Innovation.

More details at

The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation intends to establish a Commission Expert Group to provide advice about the development and implementation of open science policy in Europe.
It is therefore calling for expressions of interest with a view to selecting members of the High-Level Advisory Group ‘Open Science Policy Platform’ (OSPP). The group will consist of 20-30 high-level representatives of the broad constituency of European (open) science stakeholders.

The mandate of the Open Science Policy Platform is to:

  • advise the Commission on how to further develop and practically implement open science policy, in line with the priority of Commissioner Moedas to radically improve the quality and impact of European science;
  • function as a dynamic, stakeholder-driven mechanism for bringing up and addressing issues of concern for the European science and research community and its representative organisations, following five broad lines for actions which are presented in the draft European Open Science Agenda [1]
  • support policy formulation by helping to identify the issues to be addressed and providing recommendations on the policy actions required;
  • support policy implementation, contributing to reviewing best practices, drawing policy guidelines and encouraging their active uptake by stakeholders;
  • provide advice and recommendations on any cross-cutting issue affecting Open Science.

DG Research & Innovation is hereby calling for applications with the view of selecting stakeholders as members of the Open Science Policy Platform according to the criteria detailed in the Call for expression of interest.

More details at 

So i request you all to share this info. widely and invite our colleagues who are contributing to Open Science to be part of this and support the EC .

Best wishes,

Dr. Suchith Anand


National level strategy for Open Principles in Geospatial – ideas and inputs needed

Few months back, i decided to start Free GIS Workshops and Think Tanks for UK government organisations, SMEs and startups at the University of Nottingham to bring together all interested players to learn, share and discuss ideas in for future collaboration opportunities in Open Source, Open Standards, Open Data in Geospatial in the UK [1]. This is now being replicated by our colleagues in Malaysia and other countries globally.

For background, Open principles are now implemented by the UK Government and delivering huge cost savings for government -£409 million in the first half of the year it was implemented (six months in 2012 alone) [2]. Open source GIS software will help the local authorities and various government departments in reducing huge licence fee costs for proprietary software and the UK Government and taxpayers as a whole will benefit from cost efficiencies, reduce the cost of lock-in to suppliers and products. This is especially important for future IT investments (for example Cloud Computing) , so that more options are explored and choices available.

In the geo field there are amazing developments happening in other countries in Europe. For example, in Spain where the joining together of universities, SMEs and local government resulted in gvSIG initiative (started in Valencia but now across Spain) where now national and local governments have shifted to free and open source GIS software (saving millions of Euros each year of tax payers money ) and also helped create hundreds of new highly skilled digital economy jobs through the starting of large number of local industry and SMEs providing value added services and customization that has resulted from this gvSIG initiative [3]. The “gvSIG” initiative was successful in Spain because it had strong collaboration between industry, local government and academia in Open Geo Services in Spain.

How can UK replicate gvSIG and other successful models ? I think we also need to similar model but customised for local needs and also have a National level focus. There are many things that are in our advantage including UK Government’s strong support and policy on Open Principles (this has already reflected in software procurement polices saving millions of pounds of taxpayers money but this just a tip of the iceburg). In the UK there are 433 principal authorities: 27 county councils, 55 unitary authorities, 32 London boroughs, 36 Metropolitan boroughs, 201 districts, 32 Scottish unitary authorities, 22 Welsh unitary authorities, and 26 Northern Ireland districts ,and every single one of them are using GIS, so imagine the costs per year of taxpayers money spend for buying proprietary GIS licences ! Now imagine the costs for not one year costs but costs for 5 years , 10 years, 25 years from now etc. It will be in billions of taxpayers money that should be spend for expanding investment in schools, universities,  healthcare etc NOT keeping paying to buy high cost proprietary GIS licences when there are now lot of open alternatives available and many other countries are already doing this. It will help also create and accelerate local innovation opportunities in location based technologies and stimulate local industry and accelerate new jobs creation in digital economy for value added services building upon technologies.

Professional Open source GIS software like QGIS  will help the local authorities and various departments in reducing huge annual license fee costs for proprietary  software and the UK Government and taxpayers as a whole will benefit from cost efficiencies, reduce the cost of lock-in to suppliers and products and help create opportunities for local SMEs and startups.

There are many best practice examples from governments globally that we can make use of to learn and adapt to suit our requirements.

For example, The Netherlands were one of the first governments in Europe (back in 2007) to have an action plan for the use of Open Standards and Open Source Software in the public and semi-public sector. You can get the full details from

There are now lot of best practice examples from other EU governments at

We are especially interested in examples of ideas and action plans from local authorities to make use of open technologies (esp in GIS) for helping reduce the high proprietary GIS licence costs as it is one of the biggest IT expenses in GIS. So you can imagine the cumulative annual costs for the UK government for keeping buying proprietary GIS . Now imagine the costs for not just one year but in the future 5, 10 , 25 years. The savings will be millions of pounds and with the UK government action plan on Open Principles implemented, i am interested in learning about examples from local authorities who are making this phased transition. This is especially important for Smart Cities programs and will help build an ecosystem at the local level and help create big opportunities for industry, SMEs and startups in the UK . This will create innovation opportunities locally. The startup community is especially open to the use of open software and data avoiding licensing restrictions which may impact on their business plans, raise early start-up costs and restrict their ability to innovate allowing them greater branding freedom and product flexibility.

I am trying to look at other successful  phased transition examples from properitery GIS to free and open GIS in other countries to learn ideas. For example,one key aspect of gvSIG success in Spain was that they were thinking at national level while acting locally. They came to meet me few years back at Nottingham to learn what we are doing and share thier ideas (they also invited us to be honourary member  ) and i was really impressed by thier clear implementation plans for the whole of Spain including developing strong value added support services for gvSIG across Spain through creating an Association for all SMEs to collaborate. They have been successful in expanding to other Spanish speaking regions but thier main drawback for wider global expansion was the focus on Spanish language . But  the launguage customisation and focus was also key thier local needs .

In UK there is already excellent early signs of effects (and this need to be accelerated) esp. in local government starting to happen with the UK Government policy and i understand that there are many local authorities now in the process of planning phased migration plans to QGIS for desktop GIS and also looking into open geo technology solutions for thier webbased mapping needs. I think this is a good sign but in my humble suggestion there needs to be a national level strategy for this (it is all being done differently in different local authorities) and we are missing an excellent opportunity of what the Spain and other countries have done by having Triple helix strategy – government, Industry and Academia” in place which helped accelerate developments and bring more cost efficiencies in the process. We also need to keep educating colleagues on the importance of protecting open standards [4] and open principles to ensure no monopolies are created in geospatial.

Another important development is now the central and local governments are in a strong position for the first time in history in terms of software procurement because there is lot of choice. It will force the properitery vendors (who used to be monopoly and dictate terms) to keep reducing thier high license fees and it just shows why it is important to have strong competition . So overall the UK taxpayers will benifit from savings of millions of pounds in software procurement for GIS in the future and the UK economy will benifit by this helping create more opportunities for SMEs and startups locally. So it will be double win for the UK government.

Also UK has already a fast growing ecosystem of SMEs in open geo services and this need to be supported by the right policy frameworks and instruments . For example, if you look at the SMEs in the OSGeo ecosystem in the UK , you can see many – starting from 1 person startups to companies employing hundreds [5]. The right policy frameworks is needed to help create the conditions for more RedHat type organisations [6] in the geospatial and smart cities sector for creating thousands of highly skilled jobs in the future. It needs someone with the National level vision to lead this and i am interested to hear from national level organisations who are interested to act as a bridge for this. So if you are working in central or local governments in the UK, please share my email with your colleagues and ask interested colleagues to contact me to discuss ideas.

Best wishes,

Suchith Anand


Invitation to seminar on “Geospatial Information for United Nations” on 14th March 2016

You all are invited to join a seminar ( join the live webcast)  on “Geospatial Information for United Nations” to be delivered by Kyoung-Soo Eom, Chief Geospatial Information Section, Department of Field Support, United Nations at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy. Thanks to Prof. Maria Brovelli and colleagues at Politecnico di Milano for organising this.

Date & Time : 14th March 2016 at 15.30 (Italy time) . Please check your local times.

The event will be also available in streaming at

The UN Geospatial Information Section supports cartographic and geospatial information needs of the Security Council and the UN Secretariat including UN field missions, and oversees global GIS programmes at UN Headquarters and in the UN field missions. It provides fundamental geospatial products and applications, which can be for brevity summarized as Geographic Information System (GIS) services, to: Security Council members, decision makers, political analysts, information managers, planning & operation teams, humanitarian affairs, economic & social affairs, safety & security and logisticians with a wide array of geospatial services. It also supports Member States in boundary making activities upon request. The UN Geospatial Information Section, together with the Statistics Division, is providing support to the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), as co-Secretariat.

Mr. Kyoung-Soo Eom joined the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in January 1999, and he identified the missed opportunities in using geospatial information and GIS tools in order to meet the operational needs to support effective decision-making of UN peacekeeping operations.

In March 2005, Mr. Eom was appointed Chief of UN Geospatial Information Section (formerly UN Cartographic Section), to which he brought the newly established and successful GIS programme. In accordance with the Peace Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the UN Secretary-General designated Mr. Eom to serve as the Secretary of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), and he successfully provided all administrative and technical service support to the EEBC activities in 2006-2008.

In his “Geospatial Information for United Nations” presentation at Politecnico di Milano Mr. Eom will describe in details as follows:

1. What are the geospatial information and services requirements for United Nations operations.
2. How geospatial information and services are supported for United Nations operations.
3. Collaboration and partnership as well as vision, “Geo-enabled UN operations”

This also builds upon the synergies of the United Nations Technical workshop in Brindisi  (Italy) [1] last week to support the United Nations Open Geospatial (UNOGeo) initiative. Thanks to Massimiliano Cannata and Maria Brovelli for thier efforts on this. We will be strongly supporting and establishing collaboration with the United Nations for this initiative.Both Maria and Maxi are members of the technical committee of this new UNOGeo initiative and we congratulate them.

The possible contributions from OSGeo for this initiative are:
– expertise on open source software
– access to the incubation process
– bridge / connection with the private sector
– connection with OSGeo projects
– connection with Geo4All labs
– support in education, research and training

The keen interest in, and commitment to, OSGeo and FOSS4G by United Nations agencies resulted in the organization of a full day U.N. Special Session entitled “Open Source GIS in United Nations and Developing Countries” on September 16 at FOSS4G 2016 [2] .Thanks to Sanghee Shin for his efforts to make this possible and laying the foundations of our long term commitement to the United Nations community. I am confident we will build upon on these excellent developments and will have dedicated session for the United Nations in all future FOSS4G global events including FOSS4G 2016 Bonn  this year to keep expanding our close collaborations with the United Nations.

So please join the webcast at

Best wishes,

Suchith Anand


Happy Open Education Week greetings to all

On behalf of Geo4All, i would like to wish Happy Open Education Week to everyone.

This is an opportunity to raise awareness about open education and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide. Open education encompasses resources, tools and practices that employ a framework of open sharing to improve educational access and effectiveness. Participation in all events and use of all resources are free and open to everyone. Details at

We would to like to thank all educators worldwide who have made contributions to open education efforts and being good global citizens by helping spread the benefits of education to all. This is also an opportunity for us to thank all our colleagues in Geo for All for their excellent contributions to Open Education principles in the Geo domain.

Central to Geo for All mission is the belief that knowledge is a public good and Open Principles in Education will provide great opportunities for everyone. Though the members of our community hail from many different backgrounds, we all seek to eliminate the digital divide and empower all as full citizens and contribute to building up Open Knowledge for the benefit of the whole society and for our future generations. Education and empowerment are key for getting rid of extreme poverty and help create digital economy opportunities also for billions of our economically poor brothers and sisters across our home planet .

So let us all work together to enable open principles in education to help create a world that is more accessible, equitable and full of innovation and opportunities for everyone.

Happy Open Education Week  everyone

Best wishes,

Suchith Anand

Geo4All Cartographic Challenge – How Openness can help to reduce inequality

This year is International Map Year [1], a worldwide celebration of maps and their unique role in our world. It’s organized by the International Cartographic Association (ICA) and supported by the United Nations (UN).

To celebrate this year, ICA Commissions are preparing a series of activities to demonstrate the ability of Cartography helping to solve global issues, accordingly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals [2]

The result of this will be a poster exposition and an Atlas published by ICA. Each goal (there are 17) will have one poster. The Open Source Geotechnologies Commission got the Goal number 10 (“Reduce inequality within and among countries”). Under this goal, there are 7 targets detailed in page 21 of this document [3].

UN Sustainable Development Goal 10 –  Reduce inequality within and among countries

10.1  By  2030,  progressively  achieve  and  sustain  income  growth  of  the  bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average
10.2  By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of  all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
10.3  Ensure  equal  opportunity  and  reduce  inequalities  of  outcome,  including  by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard
10.4  Adopt  policies,  especially  fiscal,  wage  and  social  protection  policies,  and progressively achieve greater equality
10.5  Improve  the  regulation  and  monitoring  of  global  financial  markets  and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations
10.6  Ensure  enhanced  representation  and  voice  for  developing  countries  in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions
10.7  Facilitate  orderly,  safe,  regular  and  responsible  migration  and  mobility  of people,  including  through  the  implementation  of  planned  and  well-managed migration policies
10.a  Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries,in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements
10.b  Encourage  official  development  assistance  and financial  flows,  including foreign direct investment, to States where the needis greatest, in particular least developed  countries,  African  countries,  small  island  developing  States  and landlocked  developing  countries,  in  accordance  withtheir  national  plans  and programmes
10.c  By  2030,  reduce  to  less  than  3 per cent  the  transaction  costs  of  migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors withcosts higher than 5 percent

This challenge is a call for all Geo4labs for inputs to construct this poster in an open and collaborative way. The idea is to expand the poster to a website, where projects, applications, and other solutions could be shared. This is a great opportunity to showcase the labs outcomes in the UN environment in this very sensitive and important global issue.  Any other ideas on this project are welcome!

How to participate:

  • Send and abstract from 500 to 1000 words include as many pictures of classes, projects, field works, mapathons, and, of course, maps and map interfaces.
  •  Optional: Video with up to 5 minutes presenting your lab activities.
  •  Send the results to until March 31st, 2016.

During the month of April, the posters layout ideas will be open to vote and collaboration.

Outputs :

  •    Poster and ICA Atlas
  •    Website with results and edited video
  •    Publication of the abstracts with ISBN





Future of GIS should be empowerment NOT enslavement – Examples needed for Geo4All newsletter

Around six months ago , i send an open letter to AAG humbly requesting to include Open Education principles  firmly in the new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T) [1].  I was concerned by the enslavement strategy in geoeducation . I haven’t heard any updates but i really hope AAG will consider my humble request.We have moral responsibility to be the voice for open principles in geoeducation and protect open principles for our future generations.

Inspite of all the technological advancements, it is a sad fact that majority of the world’s poorest living in urban areas do not still have access to basic facilities (clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene facilities , good quality education opportunities etc).
GIS is fundamental technology in infrastructure development and high cost proprietary GIS is unaffordable to governments, town planners and local authorities in developing and economically poor countries. In order to achieve UN Millennium Development Goals it is essential to provide free and open source geospatial tools to universities, government organisations etc in developing countries for helping them achieve these targets .But with the availability of Open Source GIS technologies now it offers a great opportunity for governments and municipal authorities in developing countries also to implement GIS tools for their decision making and implementation needs (without having to pay huge annual licencing costs to proprietary GIS vendors) and help improving the lives of some of the most poorest people and by giving the geospatial tools to the municipal authorities for their decision making and implementation needs will help in improving the living standards of the people. We need to empower people and communities (NOT enslaving them by forcing them to pay high licencing costs ) to make sure future generations are fully empowered.

Thanks to our Geo4All colleagues, we have already seen lot of examples from our amazing colleagues globally of the potential of Geo technologies in empowering communities and helping improving the lives of some of the most poorest people and by capacity building staff and students and giving the geospatial tools to the municipal authorities for their infrastructure upgradation programs ( which in the long term will result in providing clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene facilities etc) and will help in improving the living standards of the people. It is with these aims that the Geo4All community decided to work on
OpenCitySmart – The Open platform for Smart Cities [2]. We will have an article on OpenCitySmart for our March 2015 newsletter.

So i request you all to
please send us examples of GIS empowering people, companies, startups and governments worldwide for our Geo4All monthly newsletter 

Geo for All is the Open Source Geospatial Foundation’s Educational outreach and our mission for making geospatial education and opportunities accessible to all. Our monthly newsletters are key to reach out our ideas to thousands of readers and build new collaborations.We request wider geocommunity to share any updates/developments as short reports for next issue of Geo4All newsletter.

Also we want to hightlight the geospatial industry, SMEs and service providers building on OSGeo ecosystem [3]  in our future editions of our newsletter. The aim is to get the wider community know about the excellent companies and startups (generating hundreds of highly skilled jobs) that make the OSGeo ecosystem and encourage more collaborations and startups which will help accelerate digital economy for the future . This will create innovation opportunities globally and locally. For example, the startup community is especially open to the use of open software and data avoiding huge licensing costs and restrictions which may impact on their business plans, raise early start-up costs and restrict their ability to innovate and it frees them of the need to use proprietary software and data allowing them greater branding freedom and product flexibility.

So please email our chief editor [email-  ] a short article about your company and how OSGeo software has been empowering you and enabling your growth . We also welcome
usecases and implementation examples of how OSGeo software and open principles in education are empowering universities, government organisations, NGOs etc. We will get your articles published in our newsletter in forthcoming issues. Please make sure you send your articles before 24th of every month to get it published in the next month’s edition.

We are looking forward to your contributions on examples of GIS truly empowering people, communities and organisations.We welcome everyone interested to join synergies and work together to support open principles in geoeducation and enable Geo technologies in empowering communities and helping improving the Quality of Life and standards of living for everyone. Let us all work together to help create a world that is more accessible, equitable and full of innovation and opportunities for everyone.

Best wishes,

Suchith Anand