“Geo for All” – Service for the benifit and betterment of humanity


Service for the benifit and betterment of humanity is a key element of “Geo for All”  and i am always amazed by the various educational and development initiatives that our colleagues are doing. We are going to add service for the betterment of humanity as one of the key “Geo for All” criteria and i wish to invite ideas on how we can do this better linking with the UN Millennium Development Goals

There are  four areas that i believe we can contribute our joint expertise for global development and reducing poverty. Even though the scale of these global challenges are big , together we can atleast provide our small efforts linking to the UN Millennium Development Goals

1. DEVELOP A GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/global.shtml

How – we are doing this already through geocapacity building globally and can think of ideas for esp. in Target 8.F: In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications for development

2. ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY   http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/environ.shtml

How – our Urban Science research theme http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/GeoForAll_UrbanScience_CityAnalytics  is a good example of how we can bring ideas together for Climate Change Adaptation and Environmental Sustainability

3. ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY & HUNGER http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/poverty.shtml

How – We will start a new thematic on AgriGIS. Agriculuture is the main livelihood of millions of poor people globally. It is important that poor farmers not only get better yield productivity using geospatial technologies but also empower them to get fair prices for thier produce (for example by knowing market prices) . Some initial ideas on Open initiatives in Agriculture at https://opensourcegeospatial.icaci.org/2013/12/open-initiatives-in-agriculture/

4. ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION  http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/education.shtml

How – We are already doing this for Geospatial education at university level but need to focus also on school education and our teacher training thematic is aimed at this. Openness in Education will be great first step in making this possible and digital technologies will help accelerate this and we need to provide all help we can for this.

We are hoping that in the future we will  have dedicated session at FOSS4G conferences on “Open GIS for UN and International development” and this will help us start putting ideas for this also.

Education and empowerment are key to enable lifting billions of people out of extreme poverty and enable rapid development and we have to do our bit for this.

All ideas/inputs welcome.


Open Geospatial Science

One of the key academic objectives of “Geo for All” is to firmly establish Open Geospatial Science as a discipline (academic journals, journal special issues etc) and thanks to our excellent academic colleagues we were able to achieve this in a very short time.

For example, the Open Access ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information special issue on Open Geospatial Science and Applications  (which is now getting ready) is aimed for this.

Please note  that for  the special issue on Open Geospatial Science and Applications that we are editing (myself, Thierry, Barend, Serena, Franz-Josef, Luciene)  , the call for papers has been closed in Feb 2015 and we are NO LONGER accepting any new submissions. I thank ISPRS and the publishers for waiving the  article processing charges for all articles published in this Open access journal for our special issue.

But there are many other opportunities now for those interested to consider, for example the new Open Access Springer journal on Open Geospatial Data, Software and Standards. Details  at http://www.opengeospatialdata.com/

I also understand that many other GIS journals are also planning regular Special Issues on Open GIScience, so there are lot of other journals you can submit your research.

We will be discussing this at FOSS4G Europe -2015 to see how we can ensure that the Academic Tracks at the various FOSS4G and various GIS  conferences with Open GIScience tracks  globally  can be better streamlined for specific journals and how we can rapidly advance the discipline.

It is very essential that we continue establishing and expanding Open Source Geospatial Labs in universities worldwide to build firm foundations to rapidly expand the discipline. We are now actively working to further enable Openness in Geospatial Education (expand university programs through our labs worldwide, MOOCs through GeoAcademy  , PhD summer schools in both Open GIS and Geospatial Data , training programs for School teachers etc), so we are able to train and develop a new generation of  geospatial scientists globally. We believe in empowering people with spatial decision making tools to help build a better society for all of humanity.

As part of our next stage of expansion of “Geo for All”, we want to focus on using the Open Geospatial Labs that we are building in universities worldwide to expand research by bringing together colleagues from other departments in the universities for expanding in  three key areas where there is Big Data focus in research and development (Urban Data Science , Transport Science & Applications , Environment and Climate Science ). This will help  expand our established research labs and to establish new research labs in  universities worldwide in Urban Science , Transport, Environment themes building on Open Principles (Open Data, Open Software, Open standards, Open Access to Research publications etc).  For new universities who wish to establish Open Geospatial Labs focussing on any of these research themes, we would be happy to hear from you and you can contact our regional chairs for details at http://www.geoforall.org/

I had good discussions today with Charlie who will be leading the GeoforAll meetings at FOSS4G 2015- Europe, Como, Italy  http://europe.foss4g.org/2015/    (July 14th-17th, 2015 ) to discuss and plan future ideas for our expansion.

Combining the potential of  Free and Open Source software, Open Standards, Open Data, Open Education Resources, we are now offering education opportunities to nurture and develop Open Minds in students globally for a better planet and better future for all.

We look forward to working with all in expanding Open Geospatial Science.

Best wishes,


Summary of initial responses after delivering the Open Letter about LiDAR standards


As many of you are aware in April 2015, i send out an email informing colleagues in Academia, Government and Industry who have interest in maintaining Open Standards in LiDAR to respond to the developments [1] and provide inputs.

Thank you for all of you who responded and supported our Open Letter [2] and as the next step of the process on 6th May 2015, i have emailed responsible contacts in the three organisations ASPRS (Stewart Walker), Esri (Jack Dangermond) ,  OGC (Mark Reichardt)  inviting all of them to respond and participate constructively for helping find a solution for this.

Dr. A. Stewart Walker (President of ASPRS) has  confirmed that he has received the e-mail and that ASPRS will discuss this  and will  respond formally in due course. They were holding their annual conference, IGTF 2015, in Tampa, Florida, earlier this month so i understand all key ASPRS people were there face to face to discuss this in detail and find a best way forward.

Mark E. Reichardt (President & CEO of the Open Geospatial Consortium)  has also replied positively and we welcome OGC’s support for geospatial interoperability and standards. Details at http://www.opengeospatial.org/blog/2224

Jack Dangermond (founder and President of Esri) has emailed me assuring thier commitment for interoperability and open standards and to support OGC to organize an open process leading to an open standard for storing LiDAR data [4]. I have replied thanking Jack for responding positively and  inviting thier participation for this. I also recieved email from Esri staff (Keith Ryden) that i replied suggesting that from now he be in direct contact with  Martin Isenburg (author of LASzip and LAStools) and Scott Simmons (OGC) to get thier feedbacks and inputs in  this discussions so that everyone can work together in the common objective of Open Standards in our discipline for the benifit of the wider geo community.

I thank Carl Reed for this sharing his years of experience ( i was not even born when he started his career!)  and wisdom on collaboration and building consensus and i take inspiration from his words. We all have to be patient, listen to all different viewpoints/perspectives and work together, step by step and always keep doors of communication  open so we can bring everyone together for building consensus.

We have achieved two important objectives so far:

1. We were able to educate the wider geo community on this issue and the importance of Open Standards and get strong support from all cross sections. It is a strong message to all that we are watching closely all developments and will take action as and when needed.

2. All key stakeholders are now committed to work together to find a solution for this.

It is important that discussions with all stakeholders start with open mind (OGC, OSGeo, ASPRS, Esri, other properitory GIS vendors, government organisations, LiDAR companies/users etc..) and i request that everyone put forward all the options for discussions and ideas for consensus. If you or your organisation wishes to contribute ideas/viewpoints for this discussion (even if you are not able to participate in the Boulder meeting, your views will help in finding the best solution) please email Scott Simmons (Executive Director, Standards, E-mail – ssimmons at opengeospatial.org ) your ideas/proposals on this before 25th May 2015, so that all proposals/ideas can be looked into and discussed  at the OGC Point Cloud ad-hoc meeting planned at next TC meetings in Boulder, USA (June 1st, 2015).

I now leave this in the safe hands of our OGC colleagues to guide the process forward and i request  everyone to work together step by step for this. It is important to be patient , listen to all viewpoints and slowly build consensus. I hope all stakeholders will work together in the common objective of Open Standards in LiDAR for the benifit of the wider geo community.

I thank all colleagues in GeoforAll, OSGeo, OGC, ASPRS, ISPRS, ICA and wider geocommunity  esp. Martin Isenburg, Cameron Shorter, Patrick Hogan whose efforts made this possible.I once again thank the wider geospatial community for thier attention and support on this important matter.

Best wishes,


[1] http://www.osgeo.org/node/1518
[2] http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/LIDAR_Format_Letter
[3] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/board/2015-May/012814.html
[4] http://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/discuss/2015-May/014222.html

Terms of Reference for the ICA Commission on Open Source Geospatial Technologies (2015-2019)

Dear Colleagues,

As i informed you all earlier this year, that as part of the succession plan for the ICA Commission on Open Source Geospatial Technologies, it is my great pleasure that Dr Silvana Comboim (Universidade Federal de Paraná ,Brazil) has accepted my request and she will be nominated as the proposed new chair of the commission for 2015-2019. As per the ICA statutes the nomination of chair should be done through National member states only and i expect Brazil to support this nomination  at the next General Assembly at ICC 2015 and take this forward with the new Terms of Reference for the commission for the period 2015-2019.

It is very important that we have a strong leadership in place for this commission to support and expand all of the initiatives that was started and i have full confidence in Dr Silvana Comboim’s dedication and abilities to take us to higher levels. I had the pleasure to work closely with her over the last 4 years  and  she was the main person who took the initiative to establish the first OSGeo lab in South America at the Federal University of Parana, Brazil.  I believe that Silvana will be the right person to chair and lead this commission for the next term (2015-2019 ) and build upon the activities that we have done and take this to higher level.  I also had the opportunity to see the amazing work she and her colleagues are doing when i visited Brazil last year and i see the work she is doing in Brazil having a great momentum for our global activities of “Geo for All” mission.

I am closely working with Silvana for the smooth transition of the commission at ICC 2015 and would like to share the draft ToR for all colleagues


Terms of Reference for the ICA Commission on Open Source Geospatial Technologies (2015-2019)

Chair : Dr. Silvana Comboim (Brazil)

1.    Continue maintaining website for Commission for the exchange of knowledge, news and information on the developments in  open source geospatial technologies.
2.    Contribute to  further instruments of ICA such as development of Open Education materials for educational and capacity building programmes
3.    Maintain a email discussion group and database of individuals working on, or with expertise in, open source GIS, open data to stimulate exchange of information.
4.    Produce a major publication on Open Source Geospatial Technologies (either a special issue of a refereed journal or a text book).
5.    Organize sessions/hands on workshops on Open Source GIS at future ICA conferences.
6.    Participate in / contribute to other workshops / seminars organized by representatives of other disciplines or by other ICA Commissions / Working Groups.
7.    Be the main contact in ICA for expanding successful flagship projects of this Commission, the ICA-OSGeo Labs and the Geo4All initiative and will contribute to its expansion in close ongoing consultancy with the ICA Executive Committee.
8.   Contribute to the International Map Year activities


Silvana has already made a great start  for this new term of the commission with  the ICC Pre-conference workshop on Spatial data infrastructures, standards, open source and open data for geospatial (SDI-Open 2015)  jointly organized by the ICA Commission on Geoinformation Infrastructures and Standards, the Commission on Open Source Geospatial Technologies and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) on 20 and 21 August 2014 at Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) in Rio de Janeiro  http://www.labgeolivre.ufpr.br/  and the Conference itself http://www.icc2015.org  will be great opportunity to strengthen the “Geo for All” initiative and to reinforce the key projects and research links for the future.

It had been my great pleasure  to get the opportunity to chair this commission in the last 4 years and i thank each and everyone of you for the support and help that you all provided for the initiatives we that have undertaken. Also special thanks to Prof. Thierry Badard (Canada) who was the cochair of this commission during this period for all his help provided to me.  I also thank the ICA President (Professor Georg Gartner) and the Executive Committee of the ICA for the strong support they all provided for all our activities including “Geo for All”  http://www.geoforall.org/  and i am sure they will continue their strong support to Silvana for the future to take this to higher levels.

I request all of you to support Silvana in her new role and provide her all help to expand our mission. Thanks again to you all for your help and support.

Best wishes,

Suchith Anand