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Open Source GIS & WebMapping for UN staff

20 & 21 November 2012


On the 20th & 21st November 2012 a hands-on workshop "Open Source GIS & WebMapping" was held in Vienna, Austria. This workshop was tailored especially for members of staff of United Nations and other international institutes and NGO's. The goal was to introduce the participants to the possibilities and pitfalls of using Open Source applications for GIS and webmapping. Some 25 participants from almost 20 different countries were registered, all people who were interested in this technology, but that did not yet have much experience in the actually putting it into practice.

The workshop started with an introduction session on Modern Cartography, with a focus on Open Source GIS and webmapping technology. The rest of the two days where spent on a set of exercises that guided the participants in setting up a webmapping site using OpenStreetMap data, adding their own data using the desktop QGIS application, serving that data as a Web Map Service using Geoserver and MapServer WMS, and finally bringing it all together on an interactive website using OpenLayers. We used the free and Open Source applications from the OSGEO LiveDVD. This initiative from the Open Source Geospatial Foundation is a self-contained bootable DVD/USB based on the Xubuntu operating system, that allows you to try a wide variety of open source geospatial software without installing anything.

The group worked enthusiastically for two days, interspersed with lively discussions on the possibilities of using this Open Source web technology in their daily work.


[photo by Markus Jobst]

The workshop was organised by Barend Köbben (ITC-University Twente). He has put together the course materials and was the main lecturer during the workshop. The materials, covering more than could be actually done in the two days available, have been collected to form a Cookbook that can be used stand-alone to teach yourself the theory and skills of Open Source WebMapping. This Cookbook has also been added as the last 100 pages of the proceedings of SOMAP 2012, the International Symposium on Service-Oriented Mapping. This symposium, held the two days after the workshops, was organised by Markus Jobst, who also edited and published the proceedings (JOBSTMedia Verlag, ISBN 3-95032039-2-3).

The workshop was hosted by the Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Geoinformation and Cartography, and supported by ESRI, OSGEO and the ICA Commission on Open Source Geospatial Technologies. This ICA commission has been actively promoting the use of Open Source software in a series of workshops such as this, and we are planning to organise more of them in the future. More details on this initiative can be found on the website at https://kartoweb.itc.nl/kobben/OSGEOcourses.html.

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