Impressions from the Athens GeoDataCamp

The first PublicaMundi GeoDataCamp took place this Friday 30th May 2014 in Athens, right in the heart of our growing innovation and open community, InnovAthens. The IMIS team, along with our colleagues from GET and rasdaman welcomed all participants, wondered a bit around the excellent facilities, and got straight to work!

InnovAthens, our new home for innovation and creativity

First impression from inside InnovAthens: the NX-01 Enterprise!

Spiros Athanasiou, our Project Coordinator, presented the motivation, ideas, and ambition of PublicaMundi. Our goal of makingopen geospatial data easier to publish, view, and reuse, resonated to all participants and for various reasons. Almost everyone had a story to share: how difficult they find to search for geospatial data and transform them from formats they are not aware of, how cumbersome it is to produce metadata (especially INSPIRE), how much they appreciate a scalable mapping framework, or even how hard it is to convince others for the value of open data.

Spiros (passionately) presenting our motivation and ambition

Angelos Tzotsos, our Scientific and Technical Coordinator took the floor, and presented all technologies, standards and open source software which are developed, extended and integrated by PublicaMundi. Angelos stressed the fact that the PublicaMundi originates from active members of the open source and open data communities, working under the open knowledge principles. Our architecture rather impressed the audience, both for its completeness, but also for its versatility. Most participants identified a piece of software they already use, but also discovered new open source software that suits their needs!

After this round of introductions we had our break-out sessions. Our participants were divided into two teams, developers and data publishers. It was great to see that developers were the majority!

One of the many one-to-one sessions with data publishers

The data publishers were treated to a focused demonstration and training session of our data publishing workflow: starting from creating their publishing organization, assigning users, and then creating metadata step-by-step. The feedback we received was quite interesting and useful. Publishers requested automatic validation of INSPIRE-compatible metadata, automation (where possible) in creating metadata based on the actual data, and automatic harvesting from any data repositories and spatial databases they have in place. These features were all planned (some also implemented in our lab), but it was nice to affirm our original goal-setting.

Developers undergoing a crash course on PublicaMundi technologies

Angelos using Lenna to demonstrate a basic rasdaman scenario

The developersunderwent a barrage of technical demonstrations, code snippets and use cases. We kicked things off with our Mapping API, moved on with our proposed Data API and its syntax, and went under the hood to show how these combine and abstract the open OGC services, databases, analysis engines and map servers. It was really exhausting for everyone, since we covered all technical aspects of how PublicaMundi works, but the whole experience was extremely rewarding. Besides specialized technical feedback, there was a consensus from our developers: KISS-it even more! So we plan on making our APIs even easier to use even for developers that only know what coordinates are.

After the break-out sessions ended everyone got back together to have an open discussion. Developers were exchanging ideas with data publishers, stating their needs and difficulties. Data publishers explained that their work (as-is) is quite difficult, since they lack the tools and workflows to improve the way they publish open geospatial data. And both of them turned to us for solutions. Well, we will certainly do our best!

Closing the event, Spiros welcomed everyone to participate as early testers in the upcoming invitational beta of PublicaMundi. It seems that not only will we have many beta testers, but also currently unpublished open geospatial data to use! We renewed our appointment after the summer (so more GeoDataCamps will be organized due to increased interest) and then wandered theAthens Technopolis and its 13th Jazz Festival for some good tunes, a cold beer, and (the compulsory) souvlaki.

A big thank you goes to everyone that participated in GeoDataCamp and honored us with their presence and feedback! Also, our sincere appreciation goes to InnovAthens and the helpful staff, for their warm welcome and incredible facilities. We will certainly be back!

All the presentations of the PublicaMundi GeoDataCamp are available here.

As always, if you have any comments, suggestions, ideas, or want to join us, just drop us a line.