Teaching the Value of Open Source Geospatial Tools

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking to a class of GIS students at the University of Buffalo on the topic of open source geospatial tools. I have made this presentation before but last night my message to these students was to think of open source as a legitimate alternative and to take the time to learn about it.

The current GIS landscape is quite different from when I graduated from college. For one, the number of legitimate GIS platforms has doubled from the time I started working with GIS. In addition, GIS technology is being used in far more industries than they were when ESRI, MapInfo, and Intergraph were the main options and costs has become an increasingly important factor when organizations choose their technology platforms. If a student were to land a job with a non-profit or a small business where managing costs is important they could earn their keep immediately by knowing how to implement low or no-cost solutions such as QGIS, PostGIS, or GeoServer.

We at NBT Solutions have made open source geospatial tools a large part of our GIS development toolbox and have had many successes because of it. We clearly make it part of our company resume and I would recommend to all those future GIS professionals to make it a part of their resume as well.

Here are the URLs for some of the web sites I used in my presentation last night. These are great resources for learning basic and advanced topics of several open source geospatial technologies.

FOSS4G 2014 – https://2014.foss4g.org/

QGIS – http://foss4geo.wordpress.com/

Open Web Mapping – https://www.e-education.psu.edu/geog585/node/508

Github – https://help.github.com/articles/mapping-geojson-files-on-github/

OpenStreetMap – https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=12/42.8963/-78.9244


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