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Sunday
Aug022009

Review of the GeoWeb 2009 Conference

I spent most of this past week in Vancouver at the GeoWeb 2009 conference.  This was my first experience at GeoWeb, and my first time in Vancouver.  Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever had the pleasure to visit.  They are hard at work preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympics which will be held in Whistler, just outside Vancouver and the city is busy building infrastructure to be able to accommodate huge numbers of new visitors.  Vancouver is a very modern and livable city with beautiful surroundings.  I hope that I can find an excuse to return to Vancouver soon.

GeoWeb is a pretty hard core technical conference that caters to the open source and open standards communities.  Ron Lake, the father of GML, is one of the main organizers of the conference and the agenda and speakers definitely reflect an open standards world view.  The speakers were all very bright capable individuals with interesting things to say.  I felt honored to have my presentation be selected to be a part of the program.   The conference agenda had a nice balance of hard core technical sessions and high level context sessions.  Some of my favorite presentations were from John Stutz of Tellus Institute and the very accomplished landscape designer Ken Greeley.

I learned a LOT at GeoWeb and really broadened and deepened  my global perspective on a number of issues.  I had the opportunity to meet and have fascinating discussions with guys like Tim Case and Carsten Roensdorf, the coordinators of the OGC CityGML effort, and Dr. Thomas Kolbe the father of CityGML himself.  James Fee gave me a personal demo of the WeoGeo product.  This is an absolutely brilliant play and I hope it goes far.  I hope to be able to blog about it once vectors are supported soon.  Vancouver being the home of Safe Software, there were lots of Safe folks there.  If ever there was an example of what it means to have a great corporate culture, it would have to be Safe.  The whole company seems to be imbued with the intelligence, creativity, and energy that they seem to inherit directly from Dale and Don.  It would be hard to say enough good about Safe.  Great company.  Great people.

As I mentioned before, this was my first time at GeoWeb and really my first time immersed in the open standards culture.  I was really impressed with some of the collaborative data development efforts that are happening on the web.  Michael Jones described the work that Google is doing to enlist collaborators in the process of developing street maps in their local area.  It is still unclear to me how this effort differs in scope and quality from the OpenStreetMap project.  Perhaps someone can enlighten me.  Javier de la Torre described some of the work that he and his colleagues are doing to enlist the public in gathering biodiversity data.  And then there was the presentation from Flikr that described some of the patterns they are seeing in their "Nearby" project that is definitely greater than the sum of the uploaded photos.   Clearly there is tremendous opportunity to leverage the online population to help create new data sets that are collaboratively developed and openly shared online.  That said, there will always be a need for authoritative data sets where companies or government agencies can be held accountable for the rigor of their quality assurance programs.  It is also my opinion that not all data sets gain value by being published to KML.  In fact, in my experience KML data sets are often of low value for analysis.  There is more to life than being able to discover your data with Google and visualize it on Google Earth.

As with my previous post about the value of the ESRI conference, the value of GeoWeb to me is measured by the quality and quantity of meaningful conversations that I was able to have during the conference.  While this is not nearly as big an event as the ESRI UC, the quality of the presenters and attendees was very high and I got a lot out of it.  Hopefully I will be able to return to Vancouver next summer for the next GeoWeb in 2010.

I spent most of this past week in Vancouver at the GeoWeb 2009 conference.

Vancouver Vancouver

This was my first experience at GeoWeb, and my first time in Vancouver.  Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever had the pleasure to visit.  They are hard at work preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympics which will be held in Whistler, just outside Vancouver and the city is busy building infrastructure to be able to accommodate huge numbers of new visitors.  Vancouver is a very modern and livable city with beautiful surroundings.  I hope that I can find an excuse to return to Vancouver soon.

GeoWeb is a pretty hard core technical conference that caters to the open source and open standards communities.  Ron Lake, the father of GML, is one of the main organizers of the conference and the agenda and speakers definitely reflect an open standards world view.  The speakers were all very bright capable individuals with interesting things to say.  I felt honored to have my presentation be selected to be a part of the program.   The conference agenda had a nice balance of hard core technical sessions and high level context sessions.  Some of my favorite presentations were from John Stutz of Tellus Institute and the very accomplished landscape designer Ken Greeley.

I learned a LOT at GeoWeb and really broadened and deepened  my global perspective on a number of issues.  I had the opportunity to meet and have fascinating discussions with guys like Tim Case and Carsten Roensdorf, the coordinators of the OGC CityGML effort, and Dr. Thomas Kolbe the father of CityGML himself.  James Fee gave me a personal demo of the WeoGeo product.  This is an absolutely brilliant play and I hope it goes far.  I hope to be able to blog about it once vectors are supported soon.  Vancouver being the home of Safe Software, there were lots of Safe folks there.  If ever there was an example of what it means to have a great corporate culture, it would have to be Safe.  The whole company seems to be imbued with the intelligence, creativity, and energy that they seem to inherit directly from Dale and Don.  It would be hard to say enough good about Safe.  Great company.  Great people.

As I mentioned before, this was my first time at GeoWeb and really my first time immersed in the open standards culture.  I was really impressed with some of the collaborative data development efforts that are happening on the web.  Michael Jones described the work that Google is doing to enlist collaborators in the process of developing street maps in their local area.  It is still unclear to me how this effort differs in scope and quality from the OpenStreetMap project.  Perhaps someone can enlighten me.  Javier de la Torre described some of the work that he and his colleagues are doing to enlist the public in gathering biodiversity data.  And then there was the presentation from Flikr that described some of the patterns they are seeing in their "Nearby" project that is definitely greater than the sum of the uploaded photos.   Clearly there is tremendous opportunity to leverage the online population to help create new data sets that are collaboratively developed and openly shared on line.  That said, there will always be a need for authoritative data sets where companies or government agencies can be held accountable for the rigor of their quality assurance programs.  It is also my opinion that not all data sets gain value by being published to KML.  In fact, in my experience KML data sets are often of low value for analysis.  There is more to life than being able to discover your data with Google and visualize it on Google Earth.

I think that the most impactful concept that I brought away from my week in Vancouver was the understanding of the exponential nature of evolutionary change.  This trend was highlighted by John Stutz and Michael Jones among others.  The implications of this would be hard to underestimate.  Look for a copy of John Stutz' presentation on line soon from the conference proceedings.  If we don't figure out how to manage this rate of change soon, the implications to humanity could be alarming.

As with my previous post about the value of the ESRI conference, the value of GeoWeb to me is measured by the quality and quantity of meaningful conversations that I was able to have during the conference.  While this is not nearly as big an event as the ESRI UC, the quality of the presenters and attendees was very high and I got a lot out of it.  Hopefully I will be able to return to Vancouver next summer for the next GeoWeb in 2010.

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