Wednesday 28 March 2012

VI Jornadas de SIG Libre

Last week I was in Girona attending the sixth edition of the Jornadas de SIG Libre. This is an annual event run by SIGTE, an organisation belonging to the University of Girona that is dedicated to geospatial research, training and knowledge transfer. I first came across SIGTE last year when I attended a summer school they run on open GIS software.

The Jornadas consist of workshops and presentations related to open source GIS and the event is aimed principally at the Spanish speaking community. I attended the days dedicated to presentations, and I was happy to see that the majority of presentations were far more focused on the huge variety of practical applications of the software rather than the development of the tools themselves. You can't attend everything, there are parallel sessions so choices have to be made.

The highlights in these events usually come from those who know how to communicate what they are doing. It can be so disappointing to attend a presentation on something that interests you, only to hear someone reading the powerpoint slides that you can already read yourself and not even showing the application they are talking about in action. One example of how to do it came from David Cuartielles of Arduino, who delivered an entertaining and informative presentation on open source hardware. Also impressive was the session on something I already knew a little about, the CartoDB product from Vizzuality. Visually impressive maps produced at lightning speed.

As it was my first time here I spoke to one of the organisers from SIGTE, Lluís Vicens, about how the event compared to previous years. He said that the economic crisis has had some impact in terms of those organisations that might normally send 2-3 people reducing their attendance. On the other hand, this was compensated by an increased number of new attendees. A session analysing attendance at the Jornadas since the first edition highlighted a growing private sector presence and interest. Open GIS is no longer confined to academic or public sector uses.

An unexpected bonus on registration was receiving a copy of the very impressive looking Spanish language book on GIS that can be downloaded from here. In summary, the Jornadas are a well organised event and definitely worth attending, although you need to understand at least some Spanish to benefit from it. Lunch and dinner are included as part of the package, so you get an opportunity to meet other participants outside of the conference sessions. Apart from anything else, Girona is a very pleasant place to spend a few days - at least when it stopped raining.

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