Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
....made this conference one of the most interesting I have been to in the last year..
My overall thought was that the AGI got it right with this event. I went into it with some reservations, partly because I was talking about open source at a conference full of software vendors, and partly because I am pretty new to the AGI and didn’t know what to expect.
From talking to people throughout the event, as well as the entertainment that they put on, I really did feel that they were trying to get a sense of community, breaking down barriers between vendors and users.
Now that I think was the point of the event.
The GI industry in the UK is a mature community that is adapting (like many others) to some massive change brought about by technology and societal change. They are not as Ed Parsons has suggested "Paleotards" or the "Association of Empire Telegraph Operators" instead they are people who work with geo-information and systems on a daily basis supporting important and sometimes vital services such as urban planning and management, emergency services, flood defence and risk reduction, crime analysis, emargency planning and disaster response and (whether we like them being there or not) our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan - not quite as exciting as a buddy finder or personal tracking application on an iPhone I guess. The community is taking on board the immense opportunities that Google and others have opened up and are seriously debating how they can become part of their mainstream activities. Those who are surfing the wave of cutting edge may bemoan the fact that some of us are only just coming to grips with the basics of geotagging but I would suggest that the achievement of the conference and of our Geocommunity is that we are getting to grips with this stuff and not fighting it or ignoring it.
Enough of the debate between the traditional and new communities. Let me summarise some of the conclusions that I drew from the conference.
- Not withstanding a bit of sniping from a few neo geo-luminaries there was a real sense that a community is developing that wants to learn from each other, engage in discussion and debate and reach out to the wider world.
- INSPIRE implementation is gathering pace. It represents a challenge for many public sector organisations but the initial resistance in some quarters seems to have been overcome and there was massive interest in this stream with the room overflowing. This is very paleo I know but it happens to be important.
- There was a strong attendance at all of the sessions that had a neo theme. The fact that the GeoCommunity may be a bit behind the early adopters does not diminish their interest or enthusiasm to embrace cloud and crowd. I would hazard a guess that it won't be long before we start to see crowd sourcing being used by government as a means of building new data sets and encouraging participation in policy forming discussion.
- The term "place" is starting to evolve. I think we are going to need some form of fuzzy geography to allow a more individual definition of place and locality. I was impressed by the CLG presentaion on their Places Database there is a long way to go but this site provides a framework for drawing together information from across government that relates to place without neccessarily having a geotag.
- Most of the presentations were about what people are or could be doing with GI, the Geoweb or whatever you wish to call it rather that how they are doing it (the technology track of former years has gone). That for me is enormously exciting.
- As a number of speakers pointed out Google et al have made 100s of millions of people map savvy. Devices are increasingly becoming GPS enabled or location aware. The opportunities are unlimited, we just have to use our imagination and go for it. Exciting times and the UK GeoCommunity can be at the heart of it.
My favourite quotes
People can think we know more than we do because of the elegance of the visualisation.
Charlie Pattinson, Environment Agency CIO on 3D visuallisations
We are the last generation who will ever know it means to be lost
Sean Phelan, Multimap Founder
Best case - things are going to get worse. Worst case - things are going to get a lot worse.
Charlie Pattinson, Environment Agency CIO on areas predicted to be at risk of flood in 2080
Monday, September 22, 2008
Opening speech written, biographies of keynote speakers in hand, packing my bags and off in an hour along with my feeble attempt at an 80's outfit. Of course the prize for the best outfit will probably go to the Cadcorp team who seem to have made this part of the conference their speciality. It would be worth coming along to the event just to laugh at the fancy dress on Wednesday evening.