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Everything you wanted to ask about GIS, but were afraid to know!

2011 August 28
Fort IJmuiden

Locked up in a former fortress to work on open data!

Can one get a more intriguing introduction? Yesterday I participated in an Open Data event/unconference, organised by the Province North-Holland. The clear challenge was ‘an introduction to GIS’ and ‘maps and apps’ in half an hour.

After an intro by the organisation and a keynote by Chris Taggert, several data owners gave a short introduction to their datasets. Our (Marco and the undersigned) presentation was ‘loosely coupled’. My contrib in a few lines:

–      Purpose (do think about the purpose of your app and its development first; do you have a certain goal you want to reach, e.g education, learn. No purpose is fine as well.)

–      Eco system (the ecosystem which makes your app possible). Topics of that ecosystem, which  I choose to present:

  • Projection systems ( I gave a five minutes explanation)
  • Data (accuracy, scale, raster/vector, metadata,…)
  • Visualization of data (quantity vs qualitative, colour ranges, dots on a map or..)

–      Trends (I ran out of time for that, so send a msg if you are really interested)

Good questions from the audience (do I really have to understand projections?, what is special about open geo data?, why are dots on a map not enough? What about other technologies?). I should have jotted all of them down.

Marco explained how one can tie into geodata webservices using and the open api’s Esri provides. Don’t think he had any boring moment later in the afternoon. Nor did I, lots of interesting conversations. Apart from the talking I hunted some more open data down and found a set of health data. The purpose of My map (hospitals (number of beds) and noise zoning) was merely to get more ideas flowing… I challenge everyone to go (way) beyond dots on a map!

Open data is a great development, also for geographic data. Keyspeaker of the day clearly was Chris Taggert (Open Corporates & Openly Local), who had a few interesting lines of thought to share. I do see that through time, societies look different at the semidivide between citizens, government and firms. But openly sharing everything (every piece of data) is not a good idea. Hope to get back to this subject in the near future.

BTW: for an obscure reason –apart from Chris’s presence- the language of the day was (D)english, hence this English blog.

Do note: this was just the coding day of the contest. Deadline is Monday September 19th, 9.00. All the best!
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