Discussion group topics

Bringing together international experts from academia, industry, government, and beyond, the OGRS symposium provides a neutral forum for participants to exchange point of views on the role of open source in research and education.

The symposium offers a session for discussion groups (Thursday 25th, 16:00-17:00, see program) which are organized to address specific subjects in an open and comfortable context of sharing. Indeed, opportunities, challenges but also threats are particularly important for the significant topical subjects which are proposed:

Academic reseach and open source software to serve open standards development

Chair: Prof Olivier Ertz

The standardisation challenges for the geospatial community are manifold and academic research is continuously ongoing in these areas: research is leading to standards, and vice versa, standards are generating further need of research. Nonetheless, the white paper "Modernising ICT Standardisation in the EU - The Way Forward" (Commission of the European Communities, Brussels, 3.7.2009) highlights a major goal: "Fostering synergy between ICT research, innovation and standardisation". The definition of such a goal by the Commission clearly stresses the starting point of this discussion: the observation that in the geospatial domain, it seems there is a gap between research and standardisation, a gap in term of involvement of research bodies in standardisation processes. Thus, the motivation for this discussion is to argue and evaluate the reality of this observation and to identify opportunities to make a better connection between research and standardisation in the geospatial domain.

The outcomes of the discussion shall contain some arguments for all bodies, standards organizations, organizations funding research and innovation, researchers and research organizations and evaluation agencies. To feed the discussion, some questions might be considered, they include: Are all bodies aware of the economical benefits of standards and standardisation regarding research and innovation? While open source helps for the dissemination and transfert of knowledge and technologies through open innovation, what about open standards? Does research teams include some driving activities at the heart of a standardisation body in their research planning? How do funding organizations and evaluation agencies consider standardisation activities in academic research? How do standardisation bodies consider academic research and do they favor the inclusion of research teams and their results? How does open source software support both research and standardisation?

What licence should be used to release software or data produced in an academic context?

Chair: Eric Grosso

Recently there has been massive public interest in the media's reports of an 'academic spring' in the UK, in other words the potential for an 'open access' to public funded research papers. As most research projects are financed by public funds that same public started to ask the question: "As a tax payer, can I obtain free access to the results of public research, and furthermore do I have the right to use the produced software or data resulting from this research?".

This subject therefore raises further questions for the academic population: "When research is funded with a public grant, what licence should be used to release software or data produced in an academic context?". With regard to the fact that academic researchers publish their work through articles, why not also publish the resulting software developed or data produced in this same context rather than by the usual practice of using a patent to release it?

In order to answer these questions, a discussion will be raised around the advantages and the drawbacks of freely sharing software and data.

Spatial Data Infrastructures in developing countries: Is Open Source a solution?

Chair: Dr Gregory Giuliani, Yaniss Guigoz

Open source technologies have recently reached a good level of maturity and could help to address the current weaknesses or threats regarding SDI implementation in Africa. The goal of this discussion group is to propose ways for successful SDI implementations for environmental management in Africa in light of these recent advances of open source philosophy and technologies. We will consider in this discussion the current situation in Africa in terms of the various components of the SDI framework : the status of the legislation on data sharing and SDI, the existence of executive bodies linked to SDI, the trend in teaching about SDI and more generally about GIS, and the current participation of African countries to international SDI initiatives such as GEOSS and Eye On Earth. The existing status of the technical enablers of SDI, such as the availability of broadband access, the variety of mobile devices to access data, and the potential forexisting at portal to fully adopt international standards for data sharing, will also be taken into account.

Urban remote sensing and environmental indicators

Chair: Prof Elizabeth Wentz

The goal of this discussion group is to introduce and discuss the use of remote sensing technology for monitoring and modeling cities. The group will engage in an extensive discussion around five themes: the nature of cities, the problems to be solved, remote sensing solutions, spatial data sources, and classification, and analysis tools. The focus will emphasize open source software tools especially during the discussion of classification and analysis tools.

Cities are large and permanent settlements of human populations reflecting the physical, cultural, economic, and social conditions of the people living there. The city form is a critical research area because more people are moving to and living in cities compared with past generations. What is unknown is the impact cities have on the global environment and how those impacts will continue to change. What is known is that as cities grow and change through urban densification and sprawl there is ‘consumption’ of land for urban purposes. These land transformation have a profound effect on the biophysical processes locally –urban climate, soil properties, water patterns. These effects scale up to regional and eventually global changes. Remote sensing can be a tool to monitor and model these multi-scale processes.

This discussion group was motivated by a workshop organized by the discussion leader on urban remote sensing held in Arizona, USA in April 2011. One of the primary outcomes of the workshop was to identify the gaps in knowledge and research opportunities in urban remote sensing. A second outcome was insight that remote sensing scientists needed to engage with a larger research community, such as the participants at this conference.

PGIS, from crowdsourcing to decision-making : research challenges, perspectives and emergences

Chair: Prof Stéphane Roche, Dr Matthieu Noucher

Past decades were mainly characterized by a very top down and institution-driven production of authoritative Geographic information. With the development of geo-crowdsourcing, volunteered geographic information (VGI) and open data, more bottom up forms of production and diffusion of GI are gradually emerging. Yet the use of such user generated geo-contents as a support for decision-making processes is still a complex issue. Even if local policies are potentially strongly transformed by the development of the GeoWeb 2.0, it is not clear to what extent individual expressions (VGI are in a sense mainly individual) could produce collective representations. One of the main challenges for geomatics research is then to invent new innovative models to integrate geo-crowdsourcing with formal decision-making processes.

Operating mode.

Each session of discussion are organised in four main steps, based on a simplified SWOT analysis (Strength – Weakness – Opportunity – Threat).

  • Step 1 (5 min.) : Chair’s brief introduction of the topic : Why the topic has been proposed ? What are in his own point of view the main stakes to be considered ?
  • Step 2 (5 min.) : Each participants writes on a post-it 2 or 3 different keywords classified as either a : Strengh / Weakness / Opportunity / or Threat. (These categories will be caracterised with specific colored post-it).
  • Step 3 (30 min.) : Each participant sticks his keywords post-it on a common keyboard and comments briefly his choice.
  • Step 4 (20 min.) : General Discussion in order to synthesis results of the SWOT analysis and to identify the main challenges and some recommendations.

Outcomes from each discussion group are presented during the closing plenary session. They will be published online after the symposium.

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