European Geoscience Unit (EGU)
What is the EGU ?
The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the geosciences and the planetary and space sciences for the benefit of humanity, worldwide. It was established in September 2002. It is a non-profit international union of scientists with over 12,500 members from all over the world. Membership is open to individuals who are professionally engaged in or associated with geosciences and planetary and space sciences and related studies, including students and retired seniors. EGU is organised in so called divisions (22), which have specific thematic foci within geosciences.
What is an EGU General Assembly ?
The annual EGU General Assembly (GA) is the largest and most prominent European geosciences event. This years GA attracted over 12,000 scientists from all over the world, of which more than a quarter are students. The meeting’s sessions, typically over 500, cover a wide range of topics. General Assemblies have around 14,000 submissions (oral presentations and posters). Aside from disciplinary sessions, dealing with the topics covered by each scientific division, the meeting also features Union-wide sessions, including townhall meetings. In 2014 there were 13 such townhall meetings.
FOSS GIS and the role of OSGeo affect most if not all EGU divisions, as the paradigm of good scientific practice (open data and open source for transparency) is now changing all over geoscience. Since 2012, there have been FOSS GIS themed events at the EGU General assembly. OSGeo-related activities started with an improvised splinter session slides (compares to Birds of a Feather (BoF) meetings) which drew a surprisingly large crowd in 2012. This was arranged by Alessandro Frigeri (Italy) and Peter Löwe (Germany). This was followed by an equally successful splinter session slides in 2013.
At least since 2006, references to OSGeo software projects and other FOSS tools appear in the poster sessions (> 9000 posters) every year. In 2013, the first call for a EGU session on FOSS GIS in the Earth and Space Science Informatics (ESSI) received imediately sufficient interest from the science community to conduct both both oral presentations and a posters session. In 2014 there were two dedicated FOSS sessions (ESSI and Hydrology Diviisons). This is a significant step ahead: By now, researchers can successfully apply to attend this EGU conference, to showcase the FOSS aspects of their work. Before this, everything “FOSS” had to be relabelled since no session would address the topic.
There were two reasons why to consider a genuine OSGeo event at EGU in 2014: Firstly, the role and significance of OSGeo for geoscience still needed to be introduced at a cross-cutting venue (top-down). Secondly, experience shows that FOSS is already emergent in several other EGU divisions. So an event was needed beyond the rigid EGU division structure to allow all the different FOSS stakeholders to meet (bottom-up).