It is my great pleasure, to introduce our colleagues at SIGTE University of Girona , Spain as our “Geo4All” lab of the month. One of the founder labs of the Geo for All initiative, SIGTE has been contributing immensely to our teaching, research and service activities.
University of Girona is a public institution devoted to excellence in teaching and research and to participating in the progress and development of society through the creation, transmission, diffusion and criticism of knowledge related to the sciences, technology, the humanities, the social sciences and the arts. It is deeply rooted in Catalonia and Catalan culture and is one of the primary economic and cultural motors of the region. At the same time, it pursues a vocation of universality and openness to all traditions, and cultures. The University, located in the city of Girona, is a part of the Catalan public university system. Historically, the Universitat de Girona is heir to the so-called Estudi General which was created in 1446 by Alphonse the Magnanimous, who granted Girona the privilege of awarding degrees in grammar, rhetoric, philosophy and theology, law and medicine. Recently, in 1991, a decree of the Catalan Government created the new Universitat de Girona, a multidisciplinary reference point thanks to contributions from a rich variety of university cultures.
The Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing Service (SIGTE) of the University of Girona is a research support service specialized in geospatial data treatment and the use and application of geographic information technologies. They offer technical support, advice, training and technological solutions in the field of geographic information. SIGTE colleagues have been the pioneers of a very successful summer school program dedicated to free and open geographic information software and aimed at promoting the use and development of free geospatial solutions and empowering students.
The Summer School, that was traditionally been held in Girona during one week in July (and it has been running for 5 editions -2010 to 2014-), have brought together 30 persons from around the world (see figures 1,2). The programme was focused on open web services and web map applications, especially in regard to publishing data on the web. It dealt with issues such as spatial data base management and consultation, the creation of web-based geospatial services and the development of web viewers for data publication. The Summer School offered participants practical experience in the use of free geospatial software to create and implement open web services and web map applications.
Fig 1 – Girona GIS Open Source Summer School in progress
Fig 2 –Group Photo of Summer School Participants
I still remember the email discussions that I had with Lluis, Gemma and other colleagues (sometime in early 2009!) when we put together a joint ERASMUS bid for helping us start upon this Summer School initiative and I am very grateful I had the opportunity to collaborate with amazing colleagues at SIGTE to lay the seeds of this pioneering Summer School initiative. This summer school initiative has been an inspiration for lot of similar Open Source GIS summer schools around the world from China to India. GIS Open Source Summer School initiative aims to ensure the highest quality of results and internationalize the curricula, in order to prepare students in an international working environment and competitive skills with emphasis on collaboration during the course. All course materials from the summer school are available online .
In 2016, SIGTE is still working and applying free and open source technologies in the geospatial domain, in a wide variety of technical projects such as a Participatory GIS, the Mosquito Alert! project (a citizen platform for studying and control mosquitoes which transmit global diseases) or SIG Dunes (a web mapping application for the inventory and monitoring the dunes located on the shore front of the Catalan coast), among others.
On the training side, SIGTE is providing basic and specialized training courses (on site and on line courses) based on the use of Open Source Technologies in Geospatial applied to different scopes (regional and local planning managers, public administration in general, researchers in primathology, oceanography, …) and UNIGIS Girona , has become a Msc in GIS where FOSS has a noticeable adoption and presence, and it is a sign of identity.
Moreover, SIGTE that is the organizer of the Spanish FOSS4G (Jornadas de SIG Libre) , ten editions to now, in 2016 has also organized the 2nd International QGIS User and Developer Conference as well as a QGIS Hackfest  with the kind support of the OSGeo Foundation.
I would like to thank our SIGTE colleagues for their pioneering introductory video on Power of Geography at https://vimeo.com/22069904
I really liked the final sentence in the video “In the not so distant future, it is hoped that GIS will help us build a better and more efficient society for all” – This is exactly why we are all working on Geo4All…
The contributions of SIGTE colleagues are good example of our philosophy and why we are working on Geo4All at http://opensourcegeospatial.icaci.org/2016/07/sharing-is-caring-why-openness-is-key-for-true-empowerment-and-sustainability/
We thank Gemma Boix, Lluís Vicens, Gemma Pons, Rosa Olivella, Ferran Orduña,Toni Hernandez, Alexandre Busquets, Josep Sitjar, Laura Olivas and all colleagues and students at SIGTE lab for their contributions to the Geo4All initiative and look forward to working and building more collaborations with all interested on this education mission.