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 (without having to pay huge 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 continuing forcing them to pay high licencing costs) to make sure our future generations are fully empowered .
Thanks to our Geo4All colleagues globally, we have already seen many examples of the potential of Geo technologies in empowering communities and helping improving the lives of some of the most poorest people . By capacity building staff and students and by providing the geospatial tools to the municipal authorities for their infrastructure upgradation programs etc ( which in the long term will result in providing clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene facilities, electricity etc) 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. Thanks to the leadership shown by Patrick Hogan (NASA) and Prof.Chris Pettit (University of South Wales) and our amazing team of volunteers, we are now rapidly expanding this in collaborations with universities, government organisations and industry.
Open City Smart builds and uses open solutions to build richer toolboxes that empower organisations and people all around the globe to handle spatial (and non-spatial) data.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. If you look through our Geo4All labs lists, you will see there is already good examples of cross fertilisation of activities from universities/industry happening. For example, the Open Source Geospatial Laboratory at ETH Zurich  is linked with SourcePole  and more university labs are working to expand collaborations with industry and also help their students to create more startups in the future expanding the digital economy creating more highly skilled jobs both locally and globally . If you look at OSGeo UK Chapter and there are now many SMEs in the UK (generating hundreds of highly skilled jobs) who are service providers  and doing training  etc in this and we need to think of ways to expand more opportunities and help create more new highly skilled jobs locally and globally .
GeoforAll have at our disposal all the most advanced and powerful geospatial software from the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, NASA’s World Wind, AURIN’s What if and many more open solutions (build on open standards and open data) to build richer toolboxes that empower people all around the globe to handle spatial (and non-spatial) data for Open City Smart. We also have dedicated global infrastructure through over 100 ICA-OSGeo-ISPRS research labs now established across the planet in the top research universities (mostly in USA and Europe but we are rapidly expanding in Asia and globally) and more importanly we have the amazing, dedicated and talented people power making this happen.
So we warmly welcome you to join us and expand collaborations through joint research projects and bids that our colleagues are actively working on. If you and your research group have the expertise in urban science, smart cities, and wish to be part of these collaborations, please make you add your details and expertise to our list at https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Opencitysmart and we will contact those with needed expertise for our various bids (to H2020, NSF and other national research funding organisations) that we are working on.
We also welcome active participation from universities and SMEs for our NASA Europa CitySmart Challenge . Details at http://eurochallenge.como.polimi.it (Thanks to Prof. Maria Brovelli and Patrick Hogan for thier help)
We will have a dedicated session on OpenCitySmart at the GeoBigData workshop organised by the Geospatial IG of the Research Data Alliance https://rd-alliance.org/groups/geospatial-ig.html on 8th June 2016 at University of Nottingham (coinciding with RDA Chairs meeting which will be hosted jointly by the University of Nottingham and British Geological Survey in Nottingham).
You can view overview of OpenCitySmart at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWuMfMMPfPw (This was presented at European Space Agency’s Earth Observation Science 2.0 conference at ESRIN, Frascati, Italy) . Thanks to Ant Beck for the video.
We welcome everyone interested to join synergies and work together to expand OpenCitySmart opportunities 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.