GeoAmbassador– Prof. Dr. Josef Strobl

It is my great pleasure to introduce our excellent colleague Prof. Dr. Josef Strobl as our GeoAmbassador. Josef Strobl is Professor at the Department of Geoinformatics at the University of Salzburg, Austria. He is one of the pioneers involved in expanding geoeducation esp. online GIS education through the UNIGIS International Association . He is not only the chair of UNIGIS but also the brains behind the success of UNIGIS . Josef  is the force behind GI_Forum GeoInformatics Forum Salzburg which helped establish University of Salzburg at the centre of key developments by bringing together the GI-Forum community to discuss new ideas and developments for the future.

I greatly admire his leadership abilities and vision. When we established GeoForAll, he was one of the first visionaries that we approached to serve on our Advisory Board . We thank Josef and colleagues for establishing the 75th OSGeo lab at the University of Salzburg.











A geographer by training and research, Dr Strobl has over 30-years research and teaching experiences. He obtained his Master and PhD from the University of Vienna in 1982 and 1984, respectively. His research interests are in Geographical Information Science and Systems, Remote Sensing and Image Processing., Spatial Analysis, Digital Terrain Models, Spatial modelling of renewable energy potentials, Spatial Statistics and Geostatistics. Modelling and Simulation of dynamic processes. Open Systems architectures, interfaces, metadata and catalogues – SDI, Location based services. Internet-based distance education. Active learning in online environments and design of interactive learning materials, Learning with Geoinformation – from spatial awareness to thinking to citizenship.

His services to the geo community are immense. He serves as the Full Member, of Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and Chair ÖAW Commission for GIScience. He is the Co-Founder and President (2007-2011) Austrian Umbrella Org. for Geographical Information (AGEO).. Board. He is the Founder and President since 1999 International Institute for Geographic Information (IIG).

Josef is member of GISIG Executive Committee , Member of Eurogi Executive Committee , Council Member of the International Society of Digital Earth (ISDE ). Josef serves in the Editorial board memberships of GIScience , International Journal of Geoinformatics , ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information ,Journal of Geomatics .He has (Visiting) faculty positions at many universities worldwide.
I am grateful for this opportunity of introducing some of our amazing colleagues from different parts of our world each month as our GeoAmbassadors and get inspired by their amazing work and contributions for the wider community. We are proud to honour Josef as our GeoAmbassodor and we are extremely grateful for his contributions to Geo for All. Josef is a great ambassador for Geospatial Science globally. May I also use this opportunity to send greetings on behalf of GeoForAll to all colleagues now  at GI_Forum 2017 this week (July 4-7 , 2017) and wishing them productive meetings and discussions.

Best wishes,
Suchith Anand

GeoAmbassodor – Patrick Hogan

It is my great pleasure to introduce our colleague Patrick Hogan (NASA) as our GeoAmbassador.











Patrick Hogan began his U.S. Government career with the Environmental Protection Agency in 1990, and then joined NASA a year later as their senior environmental geologist at Ames Research Center. In 2002 Patrick was asked to lead the NASA Learning Technologies program. This is where NASA World Wind was born, the world’s first open source virtual globe program. In 2009 World Wind received the prestigious NASA Software of the Year award. There are versions of World Wind in Java, Android and for the Web in JavaScript.

NASA has a motto, ‘for the benefit of all.’ In this spirit, NASA World Wind helps the world advance innovative solutions for spatial data in the realm of free and open source software, as well as proprietary. In recognition of this work, Patrick was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.

Patrick graduated in 1985 with a Masters in Earth Science and a teaching credential and was a High School science teacher for a couple years and then, as a licensed Professional Geologist and Registered Environmental Assessor, did geo-tech subsurface cleanup work for major refineries and the mining industry. Patrick is a former commercial deep sea diver and pilot, as well as a big fan of the Italian Renaissance.

We are especially grateful for Patrick’s efforts in creating the NASA Europa Challenge initiative which adds great momentum to our efforts to promote openness in education and research worldwide. Now in its fifth edition  the aim of this challenge is to inspire ideas for building great applications that serves the INSPIRE Directive and uses NASA’s open source virtual globe technology World Wind. This NASA challenge attracts the best minds to develop their ideas covering a broad range of domains from transportation to air quality to linked data. The previous competition winners work is available at

The Europa Challenge has always had Europe’s INSPIRE Directive to guide project development. This year we continue to have INSPIRE guide us and more specifically, we are looking for solutions specific to urban management. The CitySmart Europa Challenge is challenging the world’s *best and brightest* to deliver sustainable solutions serving city needs.

Almost every city needs the same data management tools as every other city. How can we help cities work together to be more sustainable, more livable and more resilient? If cities were able to share their solutions with each other, this would multiply their investment by the number of cities participating. Each city could develop different functionalities and then ‘share’ these with each other, massively increasing our planet’s collective productivity. This challenge is open to all on our home planet. Students and SMEs are welcome to join the competition this year.

This year’s Europa Challenge is an excellent opportunity for the global community to begin working in collaboration and prepare for the increasing climate change scenarios in cities context. Students are our future and looking at previous year’s contributions from Global Earthquake forecasts systems (developed by some high school students from Alaska who went on to win the first prize in 2015 and 2016!) to Urban Traffic Visual Analytics Simulator , it just shows the amazing contributions of these students and SMEs made for the global good and for the benefit of all.

Details at and overview video at

Those interested in being part of this global enterprise, please subscribe here  . Your participation is very welcome.

We look forward to your strong participation for the NASA CitySmart Challenge 2017and joining our mission to make geospatial education and opportunities available for all.

Geo for All is a worldwide movement that provides immediate benefit to the world. We aim to create openness in Geo Education for developing creative and open minds in students which is critical for building open innovation and contributes to building up Open Knowledge for the benefit of the whole society and for our future generations. We are proud to honour Patrick as our GeoAmbassodor and we are extremely grateful for his contributions to Geo for All.

I am grateful for this opportunity of introducing some of our amazing colleagues from different parts of our world each month as our GeoAmbassadors and get inspired by their amazing work and contributions for the wider community.






GeoAmbassador of the month – Victoria Rautenbach

It is my great pleasure to introduce Victoria Rautenbach from the Centre of Geoinformation Science (CGIS) at the University of Pretoria (UP) in South Africa. as our GeoAmbassador. It is even more great pleasure to have another GeoAmbassodor Dr. Serena Coetzee (the GeoForAll chair of Africa and who all of our colleagues will already know) who nominated Victoria for us. I have been always amazed and inspired by the work that Serena and colleagues have been doing in South Africa. I first met Serena at ICC Dresden in 2013 where she also presented her ideas at the ICA Commission meeting of Open Source Geospatial Technologies meeting. I have not yet got the opportunity to meet Victoria but I am aware of her great work and contributions to Open Principles in Geo Education. I want to thank Serena for introducing to us a great colleague as our GeoAmbassodor of the month and sending us all the details.









Victoria Rautenbach, Centre of Geoinformation Science (CGIS), University of Pretoria, South Africa

Victoria is an enthusiastic contributor to open source / open data / open education work at University of Pretoria. She uses open source software, such as QGIS, GeoServer and PostGIS, in the modules that she teaches and is the first port of call for open source software support for students. She engages students in open data events and has arranged a number of events to introduce geoinformatics to school children. Below a few recent examples.

In 2014, Victoria helped to introduce the use of open source software in the final year project of geoinformatics students. Since 2015, the students have mapped the informal settlement called Alaska, in Mamelodi East, Pretoria (the name was given by locals because of its remoteness from the Pretoria city centre) for their project. After capturing data, such as dwelling numbers and tap distribution, various maps and 3D images were developed to show the current situation in the settlement. The data and maps assist local NGOs in the settlement with identifying and addressing symptoms of poverty, lack of security, and health concerns. This year, the students are improving the data and plan to add the footpaths to OpenStreetMap. A 2015 student blog describes their work and impressions .
































Third year students capturing data in the Alaska informal settlement

Victoria has also been involved in a number of student events to promote open data. The concept of an open data quest, started by SciBraai and Code4SA, is a South African initiative that encourages individuals from various backgrounds to discover and use South African data to find interesting stories and to create powerful visualizations.  In October 2015, the National Data Liberation was hosted at the Innovation Hub by Code4SA, geekulcha and Open Data Durban. Victoria Rautenbach competed at the event together with two UP students, Tshepo Mahudu and Sean Cullen, and another South African student, Nadia Oosthuizen (CSIR, Rhodes University), and Madi Hanekom (private consultant). They participated as Team DataDevils. The team used the 2013-2014 national protest data to create a visualization of the impact of protests on three economic hubs in South Africa. The DataDevils team was awarded first prize for their visualization at the Pretoria event. In April 2016, CGIS hosted a DataQuest on open data from the South African National Treasury. The aim of the event was to encourage participants to develop innovative data visualisations, stories and app ideas, using this local municipal budget information. For example, one participant designed a visualisation to show government spending per student at each South African university.

In 2016, Victoria hosted three groups of school children on three different Saturdays. The aim of the events was to inspire school children to be become passionate mappers through hands-on experience in a GIS lab. The first event was hosted for Grade 6 to 8 school children (12-14 years old) from the Leeuwenhof Academy. The event was part of the YouthMappers initiative and celebrated National Youth Day in South Africa. 55 children participated in two activities: 1) mapping a building on campus using ClassiCube (a free and easy-to-use substitute for Minecraft Classic, an early version of the popular game Minecraft); and 2) participating in a task of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) by mapping dwellings in Mozambique. This event ran concurrently with another YouthMappers event hosted by the Texas Tech University. During the two mapping events (i.e. at UP and Texas Tech), approximately 15,000 OpenStreetMap edits were made on this task (  )










School learners experiencing geoinformatics at UP, August 2016

In August and September 2016, learners from a number of schools were invited to spend a Saturday at UP to learn about geoinformatics. Most learners were from Mamelodi (close to UP), but a few had travelled from as far as Limpopo (approx. 300km) and KwaZulu-Natal (approx. 600km) to attend the event. Each day started with short talks by UP staff members, UP students and professionals from industry. The talks provided insight into the work of a geoinformatics professional. Subsequently, the learners collected data on campus during a scavenger hunt and used this data to create a map of the campus.


















YouthMappers map-a-thon, October 2016

A YouthMappers map-a-thon in October 2016 contributed to the Peace Corps efforts in Botswana. The aim of this Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) task was to contribute to a better base map for 45 sites in Botswana. The group of mappers mapped buildings and roads that would ultimately support long-term development and HIV projects in Botswana. The group used both OpenStreetMap and MapSwipe for the map-a-thon.

More information about CGIS activities can be found in the annual reports on the website at

Geo for All is a worldwide movement that provides immediate benefit to the world. We aim to create openness in Geo Education for developing creative and open minds in students which is critical for building open innovation and contributes to building up Open Knowledge for the benefit of the whole society and for our future generations.

I am truly inspired to understand more about the amazing work done by Victoria and colleagues at the University of Pretoria. We are proud to honour Victoria as our GeoAmbassodor and we are extremely grateful for her contributions to Geo for All.

Best wishes,

Suchith Anand