Blog

05.14.2019

Discussing Open Source for Geospatial at FOSS4G North America

By: Eddie Pickle, Managing Director, Open Source Programs


Read Time: 3 minutes

In April, a diverse team of Maxar technologists, data scientists and analysts attended FOSS4G North America to learn about the latest in open source geospatial technologies and connect with government, industry and academic members of the geospatial community. Nominally, FOSS4G is about “Free and Open Source For Geospatial,” but the conference is growing to become a go-to event for data science, collaborative mapping, open science ecosystems and more. And, since Maxar offers important tech and thought leadership in all those areas, by the end of the conference our team was increasingly recognized in having a hand in “everything!”

Maxar’s presentations were an important part of the FOSS4G program. Our team supporting open mapping programs led several sessions, including:

  • -An introduction to Hootenanny open source data conflation software;
  • -How to gather effective feedback for open source projects;
  • -And a deep dive on OpenStreetMap planet statistics and anomalies.

Additionally, our big data software team led workshops on the GeoWave software we support to manage huge streams of spatial and temporal data. I was fortunate to team with Dr. Carter Christopher of NGA in a plenary session in which we discussed how open source software and open ecosystems are changing the way the U.S. government develops and runs programs, and how the government is contributing to open source.


On the opening day of the conference, two “speed networking” events were held for well over a hundred leaders from industry and government programs, enabling relationships to be established and strengthened. These two events were a ton of fun and offered the opportunity for attendees to get a preview of important open source technologies. And I only had to force folks to get up and introduce themselves to new contacts a few times -- they thanked me later! One of the key discussions during this session was about the new “XYZ” service from mapping leader HERE, a powerful new platform based on open source. We had open source software luminaries Paul Ramsey (Crunchy Data) and Howard Butler (HOBU) reviewing the latest in PostGIS, PDAL and other software. Our speed networking sessions dovetailed into an insightful (and packed) “open Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence” session led by our partners at Cosmiq. The discussion in this session focused on where Cosmiq, Maxar and our collaborators are planning for the next round of SpaceNet open remote-sensing algorithm competitions.

At Maxar, our work puts us in regular contact with members of the intelligence community and the DoD, but FOSS4G North America provided a unique opportunity to engage with people of similar skillsets and interests with different applications and customers. Having the opportunity to chat with academics and researchers in our field exposed our team to some outside-of-the-box thinking on geospatial methodologies and future projects. The conference also gave us the opportunity to highlight our position as a core contributor to open source technologies that are central to many programs for government and industry that are helping to build a better world.

We are always looking for the best and brightest talent to join our team. Discover your next adventure on our career page.

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