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I had the great privilege to attend FOSS4G NA 2023 in Baltimore last month and catch up with the North American geospatial community. This was the first large regional event since Covid and it has been a long time since the last FOSS4G 2019 event in San Diego!

Workshops and FedGeoDay

The conference started out with workshops, and I enjoyed running a GeoServer Introduction workshop.

The workshops took place at the same time as FedGeoDay which invited the no-cost participation of those in public service. This was very effective for community outreach, and contributed to the first day feeling part of the conference (rather than a technical prelude).

Co-locating these activities ensured the “b2b” and “icebreaker” functions were enjoyed and well attended. A tip future event planners can take into consideration.

Conference Presentations and Themes

The FOSS4GNA conference was a marked difference from FOSS4G earlier in the year. A great mix of new technologies and challenges, and less of the established OSGeo projects of the global event.

There was also some great reflection on the free and open source community and its role in establishing a level playing field for technology and standards development.

  • Sophia Parafina provided “A Biased History of FOSS4G” rewinding the clock to MOSS and GRASS marching through the innovations leading to today.

  • Chris Holmes provided a keynote highlighting the combination of simple catalogue services (like STAC) and commodity hosting of data (COG, PMTiles,…) forming a “cloud native spatial data infrastructure”.

  • Howard Butler’s “Guerrilla Standards Development in Open Source Geospatial Software” reflected on the trinity of format, producer and consumer being a successful driver of innovation, which is later standardized.

Together these and other talks brought home the idea that the much anticipated OGCAPI transition is starting in earnest – with the established STAC standard leading the way. I cannot wait for the remaining OGCAPI standards to be completed.

Community Representation

I spent a lot of time at the OSGeo booth (located at the end of a hall near the recharge station) and enjoyed a chance to catch up with others, and help with free and open source first contact questions. Perfect!

I did take time out for several presentations:

  • GeoServer Orientation – orientation presentations are an important aspect of the FOSS4G experience. Entry-level talks can feel rare and far between for newcomers to our community.

  • GeoNetwork Orientation – a great response to this presentation which covered the recent GeoNetwork 4.2 release. I hope we hear more from the North American GeoNetwork community.

It was great to share some of the work we do here at GeoCat (although I wish I had a little more energy on the third day to keep up).

Food and Social

The Gala was located at a large science centre nestled in Baltimore harbour, amid majestic Dinosaurs, and captivating hands-on exhibits. True to the event logo, crab was part of the Gala culinary experience.

Thanks to the Organizing Committee

I would like to thank the organizing committee, and especially the OSGeo-US local chapter for helping bring together this event.