Open source initiatives so far

Open source initiatives so far


Hyderabad, India: Mission GIS for billions of people can be achieved with open source geospatial software, observed Dr. V Ravi Kumar, Retd. Director, Geological Survey of India, India. He was talking on the topic, Transparent Administration Through Open Source GIS, during the seminar, Open Source Initiatives at Geospatial World Forum 2011 in Hyderabad, India.

The session in two parts was chaired by Arnulf Christi, President, OSGeo, US; and  S Narendra Prasad, Senior Principal Scientist & Head, SACON India, respectively.

Dr. Ravi eloquently demonstrated how GIS practices can be a fun. Using example of Open Street Map (OSM), he said one can deposit data (information) in Google Maps/Earth but he/she can’t get it back but in OSM one can deposit and get it back as well. Elaborating the role of GIS in determining transparency, he explained how one can make information fetched through Right to Information, meaningful using GIS and ensure transparency in the governance.

Earlier, Christi addressed three topics: free software licenses, open source methodology and about OSGeo. He claimed that OSGeo has almost the same reputation as geospatial server software as Apache has as a server for general applications. He appreciated IBM contribution in open source domain. According to Christi, software vendors adopt open source in geospatial including Autodesk, Oracle, Esri and many others. Even Microsoft has recognised open source works. He precisely mentioned that open source is neither anti commerce nor an advocate of copying, an open source software developer can also make money through training, consultancy and as a solution provider. About copying, he said there is difference between material theft and digital copying. We have difficulties understanding this because we are material.

Dr. P G Diwakar, Associate Director, EOS, ISRO, India talked on a topic, Open Source Software Tools for Societal and Public Good. Diwakar said, “GDAL/ OGR, Proj4, GEOS, FDO, Geotools, Terralib and OpenMap are good geospatial libraries. GRASS, QuantumGIS, OpenJump, uDIG, ILWIS and TerraView are good Web mapping/Web GIS.” He also recommended Ka-Map, OpenLayers, MapBuilder and CartoWeb as good Web Projects/Toolkits.

Diwakar elaborated applications and benefits of Open Source GeoTools, through some case studies like Village Resource Centers (VLC), Gram Resources Advisories Management and Information System (GRAMINS), SUJALA, Tsunami Information System, CARTOWEB, Karnataka Tank Information System and Andhra Pradesh Forest Management Information System. He also explored role of Satcom for capacity building.

Dr. Venkatesh Raghavan, Professor, Osaka City University, Japan  talked about goGPS which helps enhance GPS positioning as Web-processing service and rely on Open Source Software. However, he agreed that it is not yet compatible with Michibiki – Quazi Zenith Satellites. He said that detailed about goGPS can be obtained from Dr. T V Ramachandra, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Sciences, India talked about Open Source GIS – GRASS and its applications in land cover assessments.

Kumaran Narayanaswamy, Co-Founder, kCube Consultancy Services, India addressed the topic, Road Map for Commercial use of FOSS4G Tools in India. He mentioned an old report, Conservative Estimate by IIM-Banglore, which claimed, “FOSS can save India USD 2billion in 2010.”He also recommended some open source libraries and software as Diwakar earlier mentioned. According to Narayanaswamy, advantages of FOSS4G Implementations include:
– Zero license cost and hence provides flexibility to implement an robust and scalable architecture using load balancing and multi CPU/Core Capabilities.
– Source code is completely available which can be customised for customer requirements.

S Narendra Prasad, Senior Principal Scientist & Head, SACON India addressed the topic Open Source Geospatial Tools in Environmental Conservation: Problems and Prospects. He said in India, Kerala is the only place where most organisations and institutions are using open source software. He presented a case study based-on Kerala wetland mapping.

Addressing the topic, FOSS4G in India – Challenges Ahead, Dr. K S Rajan, Associate Professor, International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad, India, mentioned how languages are proving a big barrier in making a tool or software user-friendly. He also identified data interoperability as one of the major challenges. Moreover, he quoted that proprietary Analytics have become tool centric rather idea centric. For instance, if we realise we need some specific features then we need to wait for next version. Though, we can ourselves develop desired features in open source software. At the end of his talk, Dr. Rajan presented some case studies based-on open source software like OpenJump Localization and Collab Mapping tool for Village Resource GeoDB.

Focus of the talk by Dr. Haris Chandra Karnatak, Scientist, National Remote Sensing Centre, India, was on BHOOSAMPADA – land use/land cover information portal using open source GIS. He explored how multi temporal IRS AWiFS data helps in rapid assessment of national level land use and land cover.

Source: Our Correspondent