Since GeoForAll was started, i had the opportunity to visit all continents (except Antartica!) spreading our ideas and meeting and learning from our amazing colleagues globally. The biggest personal happiness for me was getting the opportunity to meet our amazing colleagues and students worldwide all working together as a “global brain” for ensuring that we take steps to bring down the digital divide and ensuring that quality education opportunities are available for all.
Our students worldwide are doing a great contribution by a genius work that they are doing now silently as the biggest donors of GIS software. They have been actively sharing software and educational materials to everyone by actively forwarding the urls of free and open source software like QGIS download from http://qgis.org/en/site/ (there is also lot of documentation for learning at http://www.qgis.org/en/docs/index.html and free online materails produced by GeoForAll colleagues at GeoAcademy with comprehensive QGIS tutorials at http://spatialquerylab.com/foss4g-academy-curriculum/ and also the freely available training materials at http://www.geoforall.org/training
Talking with students in India and many other developing countries (where internet is relatively expensive) i understand that they all (esp. in developing countries) download QGIS usually from their university network (where there is good internet connection) and then share it in USBs. So in fact one student who downloads one copy of QGIS is making thousands of copies later. So scale of expansion and impact is huge. I am so impressed by innovative thinking of digital natives. No problem is big for them. In areas where internet is expensive they come up with simple solution of downloading QGIS in thier university networks (where they have good connection) and then sharing QGIS in USBs to thier fellow students. The values of sharing and caring that our current students globally have are more important than thier technical skills or knowledge and they inspire me every second. They are all true global citizens. Knowledge without compassion is useless. Caring and sharing are important values in education . Details of why this is important at https://opensourcegeospatial.icaci.org/2016/07/sharing-is-caring-why-openness-is-key-for-true-empowerment-and-sustainability/
I am also very happy that free and open source software like QGIS havenow fully empowered our students and by sharing the software , students are now the biggest donors of GIS software. They are breaking down the artifical barriers created by proprietary GIS vendors and rapidly bringing down the walls of digital divide. I was joking to some students in India that if they were a proprietary GIS vendor they would be doing big press releases that they are now donating 100 billion USD!
This week i was at Nairobi and had the opportunity to meet and discuss ideas with many government organisations , educators and students in Africa. I was also invited by colleagues at Kenyatta University to deliver an open lecture on “Open Geospatial Science” to staff and students on Friday evening after my main meetings just before i left Kenya . Kenyatta University also offers Geo-related courses. There were also students from Technical University of Kenya, Nairobi University, Jomo Kenyatta University etc who came for my open lecture . The students also live streamed the lecture for the benifit of others worldwide . It was a pleasure to share ideas with excellent students from different universities and i learned a lot from them . I was really impressed by the scientific abilities of the students but more importantly thier interest and dedication for contributing for the betterment of others. I really see the potential for all these students to be the future leaders in their respective professions. For decades students , SMEs, startups , government organisations etc in Africa and the developing world did not benefit from the opportunities of geospatial science because of high GIS software costs but now they themselves are changing it so everyone benefits from the opportunities of digital economy and they are rapidly bringing down the artifical barriers created by proprietary GIS vendors. The academics and students are now writing the rules of the game not any vendor.
GeoForAll’s mission is to make geospatial education opportunities open to all and to make sure we all work together to create global citizens contributing to the betterment of humanity. I thank all teachers and students in Africa and worldwide for your dedication and efforts. We are proud to honour you all as the Biggest donors of GIS software.
Dr. Suchith Anand
Geo for All – Building and expanding Open Geospatial Science