In this blogseries, we give the floor to our employees, to share their views on specific topics. In this post, Gaëlle and Cedric share their experience after the FOSS4G Belgium 2018 conference.

foss4G belgium 2018 opening by dirk frigneThe FOSS4G conference was held in Brussels on the 25th of October. Even with the “Indian summer” coming to an end in Belgium, there were still plenty of hot topics to be found in the beautiful Brussels Environment building. We sent two of our youngest employees, Gaëlle and Cedric, to represent Merkator at this undoubtedly interesting conference.

The conference started with the latest news from OSGeo and OpenStreetMap, followed by a keynote speech from Dirk Frigne, founder of OSGeo, who compared the open source community to a natural ecosystem; with a habitat, organisms and a need for energy.

Focus on the process, not the tool

To conclude the introduction, Bart Boute addressed the main issues municipalities in Belgium struggle with today in terms of GIS and the use of spatial data in their main processes. Clearly, there is no need for yet another GIS solution, there is a need to support processes. That message resonates with how we are developing Eagle. Eagle is not a GIS tool, but it uses GIS to streamline the process, using numerous OpenSource components. It was great to see that EAGLE already provides solutions to some of these issues, but there is still so much more left to endeavour.

Visualisation with a new dimension

After the first coffee break, during which we mingled with our friends from the NGI and Geo Solutions, there was a presentation on how complex features can be displayed with OpenLayers. These new developments enable us to display complex data with nested attributes on a map, giving the visualization of spatial data on the web an interesting new dimension. It was also amazing to see the improvements that have been made to OpenStreetMap this past year, proving that crowd-sourcing often provides very useful data to the consumer. Furthermore, an OpenStreetMap-based solution to changes in street names and addresses caused by the current wave of municipality fusions was presented.

ERP vs GIS

To conclude, Julien Collaer presented an implementation of geospatial data in the Odoo ERP. Today, most businesses use custom management plugins on top of their GIS to handle their geospatial processes. Standardisation is far away here. In this presentation, however, the opposite was proposed. This way, businesses in the future will be able to manage geospatial processes inside of the open source Odoo ERP. However, when being asked if this module will ever be able to handle utility and telecom network planning, Julien explained that current solutions for geospatial asset management are still miles ahead and that there is no need to develop another one for the Odoo ERP.

To finish off an inspirational day of presentations and networking, Dirk Frigne closed off a successful edition of FOSS4G Belgium by saying it might turn into a two-day event next year. We hope it does!