United Kingdom Chapter Report 2007

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UK OSGeo Local Chapter Report Feb 2008

In the UK we're still at the stage of deciding we'd like a chapter and figuring out what we'd like to do with it. There are a number of groups involved with open source GIS, in academia and in other disciplines, but no national focus for that. An OSGeo local chapter should hopefully be able to provide that focus.

Part of the problem in the UK is that the lack of readily available GIS data has, in the past, made it difficult for people to develop solutions- there's no point in creating a nice mapping application if you don't have any maps to put in it. Academic staff and students can access data through license agreements, but tend to be tied to whatever standard proprietary software that their university or other institution says they should use. This is also the case in other areas such as local Government.

This situation is starting to change, however. The rise of Openstreetmap, the Free Our Data Campaign, and a general increase in profile for open source software /open access data means that more people are aware that there is a choice, and are actually starting to investigate alternatives. As has been addressed on a number of occasions, the choice can sometimes be overwhelming, adoption of open source packages within an organisation can be hard, and sometimes it is hard to get the kind of support that you need.

An OSGeo local chapter in the UK should, therefore, exist to achieve the following objectives:

  • To raise the profile of open source as a concept ('free' as in 'speech' rather than 'beer');
  • To promote the use of open source GIS;
  • To facilitate collaboration on open source GIS development;
  • To provide a focus for the use of open source GIS by providing a presence at conferences and seminars, a web presence, and organising informal regional or national “get-togethers”.

In order to start achieving these aims, the first step needs to be the creation of a banner under which already interested people can come together. This will be best and most easily achieved by attendance at a national conference, where OSGeo could have a stand and arrange a meet-up. All we have to do is figure out which one!

Interested people should sign up at the wiki page United Kingdom where information will be posted once a suitable conference becomes available. People with strong ideas about what a UK Local Chapter should do should feel free to add their ideas too! If there is interest a mailing list can be set up.