The conference began with a day and a half of more than 25 hands-on workshops. They covered web mapping, desktop applications, 3D visualization, and much more. As in years past, these workshops were completely sold-out due to their popularity.
Plenary sessions and over 120 presentations made up the remainder of the formal event. During the Sponsor Presentations, several of the FOSS4G sponsors introduced their companies and explained their involvement in Open Source. It was encouraging to see that the sponsors invested in the conference not merely for promotion, but because they are keenly interested in the success of the ideas represented at FOSS4G.
The birds-of-a-feather (BOF) sessions were an informal way for communities to meet, discuss, plan and even do some programming. Topics included: promoting open access to geospatial data, developing international user groups, planning new programming projects, debating details of APIs and more.
The final afternoon consisted of plenary talks and a discussion panel where several community members shared observations of the past and offered future predictions. James Westervelt shared some early history of the GRASS GIS project in a unique way, by presenting recent thoughts from many of the original programmers and users of decades past.
We also heard from the Director of Swisstopo, the Federal Office of Topography, about their National Geodata Initiative. He described their efforts to make geodata more affordable and highlighted several parallels between their data management efforts and open source development.
The capstone of the conference was the presentation of the second annual Sol Katz award. This annual award recognizes the important contributions of an open source community member. This year it was awarded to Markus Neteler from the Center for Scientific and Technological Research (ITC-irst, Italy) recognizing his instrumental work on the GRASS GIS project. Markus' hard work and commitment brought GRASS GIS back onto the radar for those needing powerful analytical and visualization tools. Anyone who has worked with Markus knows that the award was well deserved. His enthusiasm, commitment to open source and enjoyable personality have been an encouragement to the broader open source community.
The conference, including great social events, could not have happened without an incredible amount of volunteer energy and resources from many organizations. An event of this size and stature had dozens of people working behind the scenes, months in advance, including local organizers, sponsors, an international committee, university staff and more.¬† Special thanks to Camptocamp, the University of Lausanne, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) and the University of Applied Sciences, Western Switzerland for their critical role in leading and hosting the event.
The conference also required substantial funding from generous sponsors. Thank you to all who helped organize, fund and attend the event - it was a great cross-pollinating experience and will remain the highlight of the year for many of us.
FOSS4G was also an important venue for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). With generous sponsorship support and planning from Autodesk, OSGeo volunteers were able to introduce the foundation to hundreds of attendees in a professional manner. The booth was a focal point for learning more about the foundation and how to get involved. There were also several OSGeo-related presentations during the conference to help inform attendees. Thank you volunteers, speakers and Autodesk staff for making our presence at FOSS4G such a success.
Some videos and photos from the conference are available on the FOSS4G website (www.foss4g2006.org) under Souvenirs. Workshop and presentation slides are also available from the conference timetables.
The 2007 event will be organized by OSGeo. The foundation will be soliciting proposals from local communities who would like to host the event. The location is yet to be determined and will depend on proposals received. Watch the foundation discussion mailing list for more information.
About the Open Source Geospatial Foundation
The Open Source Geospatial Foundation, or OSGeo, is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and promote the collaborative development of open geospatial technologies and data. The Foundation provides financial, organizational and legal support to the broader open source geospatial community. It also serves as an independent legal entity to which community members can contribute code, funding and other resources, secure in the knowledge that their contributions will be maintained for public benefit.
OSGeo also serves as an outreach and advocacy organization for the open source geospatial community, and provides a common forum and shared infrastructure for improving cross-project collaboration. The Foundation's projects are all freely available and usable under an OSI-certified open source license.
© Copyright 2006 Open Source Geospatial Foundation, under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives (by-nd) License."