FOSS4G and the Open Sourcing of Google Earth Enterprise (GEE)

Published on August 16, 2018

Posted by Michael Terner (@TernerGeo)

I was privileged to Chair the FOSS4G 2017 Conference that convened almost exactly one year ago in my hometown of Boston. This milestone provides an interesting lens to reflect on the past year which has been full of change and evolution. Indeed, one of the larger changes in 2018 is that I am not the Chair of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation’s (OSGeo) annual, flagship global conference, known as the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) Conference. Instead, I look forward to simply attending and presenting (and taking on a small volunteer role) at what will be a far different FOSS4G 2018 event held in in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania beginning on August 27th.

The topic of my FOSS4G presentation will be Google’s open sourcing of the Google Earth Enterprise (GEE) code base and my new company’s role helping to guide and curate the Open GEE initiative. While my level of  involvement with FOSS4G is a large change, the biggest change over the past year is switching jobs and organizations after 27 years. And it’s not random nor coincidental that I would land at a company that is active, knowledgeable and committed to the geospatial open source ecosystem. In the run-up to the Dar es Salaam event I’m looking forward to working with the T-Sciences GEE team to incorporate the latest GEE developments and use cases into the presentation. If you’re coming to FOSS4G 2018 and are interested in Open GEE, please come to the presentation on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 15:00.

I’m also looking forward to attending a FOSS4G event in a vibrant, developing country like Tanzania. This conference will be different and diverse in a uniquely African way.  From the color and economic means of people in attendance, to the program and use cases that are presented, to the co-location of this event with the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team's annual conference, the Dar es Salaam event will be distinct from the Boston conference. Indeed, open source technologies and communities provide important opportunities in places where there is less technological infrastructure and where money is tighter. A lot can happen over the course of a year, but core beliefs like working with good people and having the ability to pursue and advocate for open technologies have a way of persisting.

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