My First FOSS4G Experience

I was delighted to be selected for a traveling grants for the HOTSUMMIT / FOSS4G to Dar es Salaam from the27th August to 2nd September. The Free and Open Source Software 4 Geospatial (FOSS4G)conference is the largest community gathering focused on open source geospatial software. The event brings together developers, users, decision-makers and observers from wide range of organisations and field operation. The event comprised of a series of workshops, presentations, community events as well as social events and hangouts. I learned that FOSS4G is a platform for collaboration, business and networking.

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The workshops were held by developers of various software, and that gave us an opportunity to meet face to face with people using software one is interested in. My interest was on QGIS and I was able to attend a number of QGIS specific workshops. There was also a wide range of QGIS related presentations during the main conference. I became fully aware of how diverse the open source community is and how it is used by people from various discipline and that to me became prominent in the keynotes.

I learned from the conference how other countries make use of open source and I made a decision to create Lesotho OSGeo Local Chapter of which I wish to see Lesotho taking part in FOSS4G community. As a spatial planner all I thought was useful to me was how QGIS is used to manipulate data in making spatial plans but from what I learned from this conference I have to go beyond that and spread my wings. Open Source is important to everyone it is of assistance socially, economically and environmentally. There are some ministries or departments in Lesotho besides Physical Planning which I think can benefit from open data such as health and education to name but a few.

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I met a lot of people I have been in contact with through social media from HOTOSM, OpenStreetMap, OSMAfrica, Mapillary etc. That gave us a chance to exchange ideas and learn from each other. I was also able to hold my head high as Lesotho is well known for being the mostly mapped country through the #MapLesotho. However I realised how detailed Dar es Salaam OpenStreetMap is and learned that we can only achieve that if we can all come together as organisations, ministries, departments etc and map our country.

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I also volunteered and chaired some of the workshops and presentations and that taught me a thing or two; time management, coordinating and immediate decision- making. I’m really grateful and appreciative to the FOSS4G for granting me the opportunity to have such an amazing experience.

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