Second Open Source GIS conference, Nottingham

Open Source GIS (OSGIS) was something I’ve always been intrigued by from an early stage in my GIS degree. Not only because of its significance for developing countries and non-profit organisations, but also for its participatory development (and to find out whether this actually works well).

The second UK OSGIS conference, 21-22 June 2010, was different from most of the academic-centred conferences I usually go to as most of its participants seemed to be drawn from the industry/public sector. The first day had a range of full-day training courses to choose from and true to my vocation, I went for web mapping workshop. Using a Linux live CD to trick the university’s Windows workstations, Jo Cook from oaDigital gave us a crash course in how to get spatial data onto a website. We started off by loading data into a PostgreSQL database and then displaying it in QuantumGIS, a desktop GIS. where we where able to perform some spatial queries. Moving on to MapServer, we learned how to visualise layers of map data in a browser by using the correct map file syntax. Once this was mastered, we could use php to create our own web maps with the OpenLayers library – not only to display various layers but also elements such as zoom controls and custom viewboxes.

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