Keynote presentations - synopsis


Gérard Hégron

French representative and scientifique expert at UERA - Urban Europe Research Alliance. Scientific Director since 2008 in charge of sustainable city at IFSTTAR (French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Planning and Networks).

From 2000 to 2011 he was the director of IRSTV (Research Institute on Urban Sciences and Techniques) gathering 20 laboratories working on interdisciplinary research projects about urban environment and sustainable urban planning and where spatial information and open source GIS development (OrbisGIS) plays a major role for spatial analysis and for the integration of urban data and models. He is also currently the director of the national scientific network on Urban Modeling.

Presentation title: "The open source GIS, an ideal framework for the development of and integrated modelling platform devoted to sustainable urban planning: first steps with OrbisGIS and CartoPolis."

Sustainable urban planning needs the development of a systemic approach involving environmental, social and economic dimensions where the evaluation of public policies is of paramount importance for decision making. This approach requires to set up an integrated modelling platform for the computation of indicators and spatial analysis tools at different scales. In this presentation we will demonstrate first that the GIS is an ideal framework to fulfil this objective, second, that the open source paradigm is essential to face the integration of multidisciplinary packages and its use for very different professional applications, third, that the development of such software needs a specific collaborative methodology to manage the understanding and the interaction between the various stakeholders (developers, users). We shall illustrate these three points by showing why and how we have implemented these principles with the open source GIS OrbisGIS and the spatial data infrastructure CartoPolis.


Helena Mitasova

Associate Professor since 2008 at Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS), North Carolina State University (NCSU), Raleigh.

Her teaching and research areas are about spatial Modeling and visualization : modeling and monitoring of landscape processes, evolution of coastal topography, geoinformation science, multitemporal lidar data processing, spatial interpolation and topographic analysis, coastal and watershed erosion studies. Applications of GIS and multidimensional dynamic cartography for sustainable land use management and conservation of natural resources. Member of the OSGeo foundation and Open Source GRASS GIS development team. See complete profile.

Presentation title: "Building open source geospatial education at research universities: where we are and what is holding us back."

In spite of a growing government and industry support for open source geospatial software (OSGS) and its use at university research laboratories, only few Geospatial Information Science programs include open source approach as a core component of their curricula. Brief overview of the current programs at the universities worldwide will be presented followed by experiences with introduction of OSGS at North Carolina State University. Examples of innovative student class projects will illustrate the diverse OSGS applications and highlight challenges the students face when working in open source environment. Ideas for facilitating more direct involvement of students in the OSGeo projects will be proposed and the possible role of the global network of OSGeo research and education laboratories will be discussed.


Sergio Rey

Sergio Rey (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara) is a Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University, where he also serves as an executive committee member and core research faculty in the GeoDa Center for Geospatial Analysis and Computation.

Rey’s research interests focus on the development, implementation, and application of advanced methods of spatial and space-time data analysis in the social sciences. His substantive foci include regional inequality, convergence and growth dynamics as well as neighborhood change, segregation dynamics, spatial criminology and industrial networks.  Recent and current research projects include an analysis of the relationships between spatial linkages and urban economic dynamics (EDA), flexible geospatial visual analytics and simulation technologies to enhance criminal justice decision support systems (NIJ), spatial analytical framework for examining community sex offender residency issues over space and time (NSF),  and cyberGIS software integration for sustained geospatial innovation (NSF).  Rey is the creator and lead developer of the open source package STARS: Space-Time Analysis of Regional Systems as well as PySAL: A Python Library for Spatial Analysis.  In 2010 he co-edited with Luc Anselin, Perspectives on Spatial Data Analysis (Berlin: Springer). See complete profile.

Presentation title: "Open source spatial analysis: lessons for research and education from PySAL."

This talk explores the intersection of open source with the areas of spatial analysis research and education. Drawing on lessons learned in the development of PySAL: Python Library for Spatial Analysis, it touches on the opportunities and challenges related to the adoption of open source practices and culture. While open source has had major impacts on pedagogy and research in spatial analysis, these are somewhat under-appreciated and at times seen as separate spheres. The talk reconsiders open source spatial analysis teaching and research from an integrated perspective and suggests some possible future developments.


Robert Weibel

Professor of Geographical Information Science since 2000 at Department of Geography, University of Zurich.

His research interests concern, computational cartography, spatio-temporal analysis, spatial analysis for the cultural sciences and GIS for the environment. Also, he has been a principal investigator of the GITTA project, Geographic Information Technology Training Alliance, a platform offering e-learning content as Open Educational Resources. Initiated in 2001, the GITTA project won in 2008 the Medida Prix for innovative use of digital media in education. See complete profile.

Presentation title: "How open source can help achieving sustainability of e-learning content: The GITTA experience."

In the early 2000s, plenty of money was spent in various countries on initiatives that funded the development of e-learning content for academic programs. However, many of these e-learning projects quietly disappeared after funding ran out, since they were not built for sustainability. One of the projects that have survived for more than a decade now is GITTA (Geographic Information Technology Training Alliance), a large, multilingual e-learning project that originally started out in Switzerland. In this talk, I will first provide a quick overview of GITTA, and then move on to discuss the reasons of this project’s longevity. I will focus on discussing how open source and open content strategies employed in this project have helped achieving better sustainability. In particular, this concerns the technical basis of the project, which is formed by eLML (e-lesson markup language), an XML framework developed within GITTA and released as open source (and thus re-used by many other e-learning projects). And it concerns GITTA’s open content strategy, which allows publishing content as open educational resources (OER) and thus helps attracting a larger user base.