Chapter 1 Open source software and data

This chapter introduces the open concept, what is the added value of using open source technologies, and how it can be implemented in different use-cases.

According to the definition of the Open Knowledge Foundation,9 “Knowledge is open if anyone is free to access, use, modify, and share it-subject, at most, to measures that preserve provenance and openness.” Openness in regards to information technologies is comprised of the following components:

  • Open source software - free and open collaborative software development.
  • Open data - freely accessible, distributed, and usable data.
  • Open hardware - physical products and systems designed to employ publicly shared information.
  • Open standards - specifications for hardware, software, or data developed in a transparent process.

In this guide, we will use open source software and open data in the geospatial context.
Open source geospatial software includes a broad range of libraries, tools, applications, and platforms developed and released under open standards. The most known software ecosystem for geospatial software is the Open Source Geospatial Foundation’s (OSGeo)10 that supplies essential libraries and validated software packages for geospatial analysis and visualizations. A popular software project from OSGeo is QGIS Desktop which will be presented in the next part of this chapter.
Open geospatial data includes information that is collected collaboratively and publicly available online. This can be in by either paid or unpaid crowdsourcing, public participation for data collection, etc. The most widely known example of a global open geospatial dataset collaboratively maintained through a global community of contributors is OpenStreetMap (OSM),11 which will be presented later on in the chapter.

Next, we will go over the open source software and data used for implementing the steps in this guide.

  1. Open Knowledge Foundation. The Open Definition. Retrieved August 2021, from↩︎

  2. Homepage - OSGeo. Retrieved August 2021, from↩︎

  3. OpenStreetMap. Retrieved August 2021, from↩︎