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 https://ec.europa.eu/research/openscience/index.cfm

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 https://ec.europa.eu/research/openscience/index.cfm?pg=open-science-policy-platform 

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

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/research/openscience/pdf/draft_european_open_science_agenda.pdf#view=fit&pagemode=none

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 http://qgis.org/en/site/  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 https://www.ictu.nl/archief/noiv.nl/service/english/index.html

There are now lot of best practice examples from other EU governments at https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/community/open_standards_ict/og_page/best-practices-library

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 http://blog.gvsig.org/2011/02/10/building-up-gvsig-community-in-uk/  ) 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

[1] http://opensourcegeospatial.icaci.org/2015/08/ree-gis-info-workshop-for-uk-government-organisations-smes-and-startups-the-university-of-nottingham/
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-bodies-must-comply-with-open-standards-principles
[3] http://www.gvsig.com/en/gvsig-association
[4] http://www.osgeo.org/node/1518
[5] http://www.osgeo.org/search_profile?SET=1&MUL_COUNTRY[]=00002
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hat

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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqKblSZUBd0

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 http://2016.foss4g.org/home.html  this year to keep expanding our close collaborations with the United Nations.

So please join the webcast at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqKblSZUBd0

Best wishes,

Suchith Anand

[1] http://www.unlb.org/
[2] http://2015.foss4g.org/united-nations-special-session/

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 http://www.openeducationweek.org/

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  http://www.openeducationweek.org/

Best wishes,

Suchith Anand