Launch of first African ICA/OSGeo laboratory

September 28th, 2012, Published in Articles: PositionIT

The Centre for Geoinformation Science (CGIS) celebrated the official launch of the first ICA/OSGeo Laboratory in Africa at the University of Pretoria on 5 October 2012. In addition to representatives from the University of Pretoria, the launch was attended by Prof. Elri Liebenberg, former vice-president of the ICA, and OSGeo board member, Jeff McKenna.

Prof. Elri Liebenberg, Dr. Serena Coetzee,
Prof. Hannes Rautenbach (front). Jeff McKenna and Gavin Fleming (back).

In 2011, the International Cartographic Association (ICA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Open-source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) with a view to develop global collaboration opportunities for academia, industry and government organisations in the field of open-source GIS software and data. The MoU aims to provide expertise and support for the establishment of open-source geospatial laboratories and research centres across the world to support the development of open-source geospatial software technologies, training and expertise.

The first African open source geospatial laboratory, under the auspices of this MoU was established in May 2012 within CGIS at the University of Pretoria. CGIS engages in open source research for geospatial software and data, either using open source geospatial software and data as tools in research, or contributing to the software and data through research. Open source software and data are also used in formal tertiary education and continued education courses at the university. Other research themes in CGIS are forensic geography; space geodesy, earth and atmospheric observation; and spatial data infrastructures.

The ICA’s Open Source Geospatial Technologies Commission aims to promote multi-national holistic research in free and open source geospatial technologies in order to make accessible the latest developments in open source tools to the wider cartographic community. The commission attempts to enhance the usage of free and open source geospatial tools among the cartographic community worldwide, especially for education and research. Their goal is to establish five laboratories in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas and Australasia, which will act as nodes for future expansion. The MoU also aims to provide support for building up and supporting the development of open-source GIS teaching and training materials, and the joint organisation of open-source GIS events and workshops through the ICA network in order to encourage wider participation globally.

As part of the ICA/OSGeo Laboratory launch celebrations, CGIS also organised two open source geospatial workshops at the University of Pretoria. An introductory, hands-on MapServer workshop was presented by MapServer Project Steering Committee Member, Jeff McKenna, and an open source geospatial software and open data workshop was presented by OSGeo Africa representative, Gavin Fleming, with assistance from CGIS students and lecturers.

Contact Dr. Serena Coetzee, University of Pretoria, Tel 012 420-3823, serena.coetzee@up.ac.za

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