Sparkgeo @ FOSS4G

several assorted-color glass frames

Another international Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) event has come and gone. Thanks to OSGeo and the local organizing committee for organizing an event that brought many like-minded people to such a beautiful country. The conversations ranged from fundamental geospatial concepts like projection math to applied use cases like conflict mapping.

Image of the Sharr mountains in Kosovo.

Sparkgeo presented two topics this year at FOSS4G at both ends of a spectrum traversing from open business ideas to geospatial grids and code :

  • Openness as a strategic advantage – In this talk, we argue that organizations creating value from geospatial ideas through a product or service do better when they communicate ideas and code in an open and collaborative environment. Geospatial is hard, and encouraging people to work openly in this space means individuals and humanity will benefit more than working alone.
  • Discrete Global Grid Systems (DGGS) and you! – this talk dove into the historical and technical implications of geospatial grid systems. We live in a four-dimensional world, and accurately capturing and communicating ideas across those dimensions requires new ways of indexing geospatial data. 

Community Talks

The geospatial community is broad and diverse, reflected in the types of presentations given at the conference. SpatioTemporal Asset Catalogs (STAC) once again had enough talks to justify an entire morning describing the state of STAC, ecosystem tooling, and use cases. The point is fairly clear – if you create, manage, or use raster geospatial data and are not using STAC, you are falling behind.

Erica Fischer (@enf) from Felt gave a talk updating the community on Tippecanoe and described new features, including a smaller deployment footprint and introduced PMTiles as an output format. She also gave some very interesting use cases of vector data at Felt.  Brandon Lui (@bdon) was at the conference and gave an update to PMTiles and featured use cases for serving planetary scale vector data.

One of the most attended talks was by Logan Williams from Bellingcat, who went into depth about how Bellingcat uses Open source data and technology to support its investigative journalism. This talk was so popular that an encore presentation was added to the schedule to support the number of people interested in attending his talk. I highly encourage you to watch this when the videos are released.

The FOSS4G conference in Prizren, Kosovo, was an enlightening and highly engaging experience. It was more than just an opportunity to learn about the latest developments in open-source geospatial technologies; it was a unique occasion for cultural immersion and exchanging ideas in a city rich in history and charm. The sense of community and collaboration among the more than 700 attendees was inspiring, reinforcing the positive impact of open-source software on our world.