FOSS4G 2011: starts your mapping engine

While the FOSS4G 2011 just began Monday, it looks that the number of attendees for the overall conference would beat the best ever in Spain last year. The first two days of the Conference started with one of the moment always appreciated by the community: the workshops. This year in USA around half of the audience of the workshops were newbies in geospatial open source community (mainly from the Colorado area) and the other half were developers, users and experts of the FOSS world.

I have attend two workshops on Monday, the first one was: Introduction to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. This organisation has been involved manly since the Earthquake in Haiti by sharing mapping resources with the affected people when needed. I found particularly interesting at the workshop is the “Walking papers” application. This idea is a way to “round trip” map data through paper, to make it easier to perform the kinds of eyes-on-the-street edits that OSM needs now the most, as well as distributing the load by making it possible for legible, easy notes to be shared and turned into real geographical data.

Walking Papers is a website and a service designed to close this final loop by providing OpenStreetMap print maps that can be marked up with a pen, scanned back into the computer with a cellphone, georeferenced automatically by the service and traced using OSM’s regular web-based editor, such as Potlatch or JOSM.

The second workshop I went to on Monday was: FOSS4G routing with pgRouting tools, OpenStreetMap road data and GeoExt. This workshops has been given in previous edition, but this time in Denver new improvement have been made. One of the topics discussed in the workshops was that pgRouting functions is an effective way to trace in one or two seconds a shortest path based on more than 500000 features by using the wrapper with bounding box. Even if pgRouting was quite effective for the OpenStreetMap data of Denver during the workshop, it does not mean that all parts of the world are well covered with topological streetsline. The osm2pgrouting is a great tool to prepare OSM datasets to routing and show if the datasets needs be cleaned and snapped. At the same time, Daniel Kastl from Georepublic, as one of the trainer at the workshops, said that pgRouting was made first for geospatial analysis and will never be as effective as the one implement in Google Maps, because the Google routing engine is precalculated and can be effective for entire continent. This pgRouting has not published a new releases since 2010 and any developer involvement or corporate supports is welcome. The entire workshops can be found at this address: http://workshop.pgrouting.org/.

I have made a pause and I went to see the Monday Night football at the Mile High Stadium in Denver were fans were predominantly in orange jerseys to support their home Team! It was great game, in a very nice Stadium that has quite a lovely view of the City by night.

On Tuesday, An Introduction to Geospatial Open Source was the last workshops have been to before the formal presentation part of the conference starting on Wednesday. This workshops is given an overall tour of FOSS4G world and its business model and main open source projects.

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