About FOSS4G-Europe

FOSS4G-Europe is the annual gathering of European Open Source Geospatial Developers, Users and Leaders - at Jacobs University Bremen in the heart of Europe, 15th to 17th of July. A free and open source conference and exhibition that offers geospatial communities, research groups and businesses a place to meet, share ideas and have fun.

This year's conference is under the motto "Independent Innovation for INSPIRE, Big Data, and Citizen Participation", characterizing the independence of the Free and Open Source movement from commercial product interest, and the power of innovation which the worldwide networks of FOSS enthusiasts unleashes. This energy is essential for mastering the challenges we are facing. Among the many ones ahead of us two stand out in particular.

INSPIRE, the European legal framework for a common spatial information basis, is a worldwide unique endeavor to homogenize Spatial Data Infrastructures that are historically heterogeneous, complex, but indispensable assets for the overall prosperity of the societies and economies affected. Actually, INSPIRE's impact reaches far beyond Europe being watched closely by other continents.

Big Data have become a Grand Challenge since acquiring data has become more and more simple and inexpensive. This availability has led to an unprecedented data deluge of sensor, image, simulation, statistics data, and many further information categories. Commonly today, following Doug Laney and IBM, Big Data are characterized by four core features which may occur in isolation or combination:

  • Volume - the sheer volume of data; for example, ESA plans to hold 1,000,000,000,000 images under its custody with the Sentinel satellite program.
  • Velocity - the sheer speed of data arriving and requiring instantaneous evaluation; for example, NASA EOSDIS deals with five Terabyte of satellite imagery per day.
  • Variety - the enormous diversity of data structures; for example, the OGC coverage concept unifies regularly and irregularly gridded data, point clouds, and general meshes.
  • Veracity - issues of quality, such as accuracy, trustworthiness, provenance, etc; for example, ocean color analysis with the l2gen program generates for each pixel around 30 quality features - but it is not entirely clear how data consumers can make use of such information.

Incidentally, INSPIRE with its Annex II and III building massively upon coverages also faces Big Data issues. The circle closes.

Exciting discussions, new insights, technology push and application pull, but also pizza, beer and fun we eagerly await for FOSS4G-Europe 2014 - in the end, we all unite under the umbrella of free and open source software crafted diligently for the better of our little planetary village with that neighborhood called Europe.

May the crowd gather!

With a warm welcome,
Peter Baumann and the international conference team

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