We are pleased to inform that the ICA-OSGeo Lab was launched at CEPT University , Ahmedabad, India on the concluding day of the AGSE 2013 conference, on 19th December 2013. This Laboratory is part of the international ICA-OSGeo Open Source Geospatial Labs Network . The aim of this worldwide network is to provide on global basis collaboration opportunities for academia, industry and government organizations in open source GIS software and data based on the Memorandum of Understanding  of the International Cartographic Association (ICA) and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). The aim of ICA-OSGeo “Geo for All” initiative is to bring more opportunities for geospatial education worldwide.
Dr. Anjana Vyas, chair of AGSE 2013 conference and Professor CEPT University, gave an overview about the future plans of Open Source Geo Lab at CEPT University , India and launched the website . Photos of the event are at  . Guest speakers contributed to the discussions at the launch event. Dr. D Schroeder (HFT Stuttgart) gave his views on the benefits of open source and explained about its success stories in the field of Information Technology. He also added that the philosophy behind open source development is the importance of freedom to use the software. Dr. FJ Behr (HFT Stuttgart) gave a talk on open source in the context of GIS and the need to promote it. He included in his presentation about the OSGeo foundation , its mission , goals and its activities on a global scale and local scale. As Head of the first ICA-OSGeo laboratory in Germany he outlined the work and importance of the OSGeo Foundation. M. G Koenig (TU Berlin) presented the power of the open CityGML standard as an example to visualize 3D data to support management and development of cities. He provided city GML as an example of open consensus driven OGC standard.
We congratulate Prof. Anjana Vyas and her team at CEPT University for leading the establishment of Open Source Geospatial Lab in India and working to provide opportunities for staff and students to learn the latest geospatial technologies. We are sure more universities in India will establish OSGeo labs and create geospatial education programs to help to provide the supply of skilled labour that is needed to meet the requirements of Geo industry and drive the digital economy.
Google Oxera’s report on the economic impact of Geo Services report  published in January 2013 estimates the revenues from global Geo services at $150 billion to $270 billion per year. This study is one of the first to consider Geo services as an industry in itself, encompassing all digital mapping and location-based services. It clearly shows the potential for thousands of skilled jobs being created by GIS. But unfortunately, the number of universities offering GIS programs in developing countries is very low and hence developing countries have been lagging behind in benefiting from the opportunities created by the global geo services. This is very disappointing that so many staff and students in the developing and poor countries and regions in our planet not having access to this rapidly growing area and we needed to take action so that everyone can study and benefit from geospatial opportunities. High cost proprietary GIS software packages are unaffordable for majority of users in developing and poor countries and has been a big stumbling block for developing and poor countries to take advantage of the immense opportunities provided by GIS technologies. Hence our “Geo for All” initiative is very timely as by using free and open source based GIS will help in the spreading geospatial education among the economically disadvantaged people and countries (removing the need for high cost proprietary GI vendor softwares) . Free and Open source GIS provides accessibility, low cost solutions and lowers the entry barriers for the use of geospatial technologies for all.Our key aim is to make it possible for students in developing and poor countries to be also able to get geospatial education.
On the same day (19th Dec) we also welcomed our 64th ICA-OSGeo lab at the University of Geneva. Big welcome to Dr. Gregory Giuliani, Prof.Anthony Lehmann , Dr.Nicolas Ray and colleagues at Institute for Environmental Sciences  at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
As 2013 is nearly over, we take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your support and contributions which helped to build up the “Geo for All” initiative. It has been amazing to see our humble initiative grow rapidly and this has been due to the dedication of all of you and we would like to thank you for your continued contribution. We have now put strong foundations for our “Geo for All” initiative from Australia to Uruguay and we are looking forward to working with you all in 2014 to rapidly build upon this.
On behalf of everyone at “Geo for All” initiative, we wish you and your families very happy holidays and Happy New Year.