Landmark Geospatial Conference coming to Cape Town

September 2008 News

The Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) ( and the Geographic Information Society of South Africa (GISSA) ( announce the 2008 Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) Conference incorporating GISSA 2008 ( 29 September-3 October, 2008 at Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa.

Around 500 software programmers, Government officials, business people and technology experts will be converging on Cape Town to attend the 2008 international Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial conference. 'Geospatial' describes the combination of spatial (mapping) software and analytical methods that use geographic data. The theme of the conference is 'Open Source Geospatial: an option for developing countries', providing a platform for industry members to explore and debate issues around the application of the technology for developing countries. Ed Parsons, chief of Geospatial Technology at Google, will be the keynote speaker.

Most of those attending the conference use geospatial software to perform a wide variety of tasks. They create and share maps, build online mapping sites, analyse satellite imagery data to calculate flood zones, plan housing and infrastructure developments, support planning for the 2010 World Cup, map archaeological finds and coordinate tsunami relief efforts.

This year’s conference is sponsored by local and international organisations such as Autodesk, Google, Geographic Information Management Systems (GIMS) and the South African State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and will be attended by delegates from over 50 countries. Delegates will be coming to Cape Town to share their expertise and to have a debate about the role of open source software in countries where the cost of proprietary software is taking up substantial portions of their budgets.

Open Source software ( is a form of collaborative programming and knowledge sharing that allows a global community of programmers to pool their efforts and build software systems. The resulting software is often available for free, or at a cost far less than proprietary software. This affects many industries, including computer mapping, otherwise known as geographic information systems (GIS). FOSS4G will be an ideal opportunity for the geospatial industry to kickstart planning and implementation of the South African Government Open Source policy, approved by Cabinet in February 2007 (, including procurement policies and local skills development.

In addition to presentations and hands-on software classes throughout the week, there will be an OpenStreetMap ( mapping party to map Cape Town's streets on Sunday the 28th. An education outreach programme has been developed to assist teachers to learn about GIS as it is now part of the high school geography curriculum. The conference is open to anyone with an interest in mapping and geospatial technology, and special rates are provided for students at tertiary institutions.

The opportunity to host FOSS4G, the premier international FOSS GIS conference, was won in an international bid and South Africa is honoured to be welcoming local and international visitors for an event that is a landmark for South Africa and the continent.

For more information contact Gavin Fleming, Conference chair: Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial 2008 (FOSS4G 2008), incorporating GISSA 2008, +27 (0)11 709 4668,,

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