500 people attended the conference in Lausanne

The energy and enthusiasm of the Free and Open Source
Software for Geoinformatics (FOSS4G) Conference continues to
grow. This year over 500 attendees made their way to
Lausanne, Switzerland from September 12-15th to participate
in this annual international event.

The conference began with a day and a half of more
than 25 hands-on workshops. They covered web mapping,
desktop applications, 3D visualization, and much more. As in
years past, these workshops were completely sold-out due to
their popularity.

Plenary sessions and over 120 presentations made up
the remainder of the formal event. During the Sponsor
Presentations, several of the FOSS4G sponsors introduced
their companies and explained their involvement in Open
Source. It was encouraging to see that the sponsors invested
in the conference not merely for promotion, but because they
are keenly interested in the success of the ideas
represented at FOSS4G.

The birds-of-a-feather (BOF) sessions were an
informal way for communities to meet, discuss, plan and even
do some programming. Topics included: promoting open access
to geospatial data, developing international user groups,
planning new programming projects, debating details of APIs
and more.

The final afternoon consisted of plenary talks and a
discussion panel where several community members shared
observations of the past and offered future predictions.
James Westervelt shared some early history of the GRASS GIS
project in a unique way, by presenting recent thoughts from
many of the original programmers and users of decades past.

We also heard from the Director of Swisstopo, the
Federal Office of Topography, about their National Geodata
Initiative. He described their efforts to make geodata more
affordable and highlighted several parallels between their
data management efforts and open source development.

The capstone of the conference was the presentation
of the second annual Sol Katz award. This annual award
recognizes the important contributions of an open source
community member. This year it was awarded to Markus Neteler
from the Center for Scientific and Technological Research
(ITC-irst, Italy) recognizing his instrumental work on the
GRASS GIS project. Markus“ hard work and commitment brought
GRASS GIS back onto the radar for those needing powerful
analytical and visualization tools. Anyone who has worked
with Markus knows that the award was well deserved. His
enthusiasm, commitment to open source and enjoyable
personality have been an encouragement to the broader open
source community.

The conference, including great social events, could
not have happened without an incredible amount of volunteer
energy and resources from many organizations. An event of
this size and stature had dozens of people working behind
the scenes, months in advance, including local organizers,
sponsors, an international committee, university staff and
more.? Special thanks to Camptocamp, the University of
Lausanne, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)
and the University of Applied Sciences, Western Switzerland
for their critical role in leading and hosting the event.

The conference also required substantial funding from
generous sponsors. Thank you to all who helped organize,
fund and attend the event – it was a great cross-pollinating
experience and will remain the highlight of the year for
many of us.

FOSS4G was also an important venue for the Open
Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo). With generous
sponsorship support and planning from Autodesk, OSGeo
volunteers were able to introduce the foundation to hundreds
of attendees in a professional manner. The booth was a focal
point for learning more about the foundation and how to get
involved. There were also several OSGeo-related
presentations during the conference to help inform
attendees. Thank you volunteers, speakers and Autodesk staff
for making our presence at FOSS4G such a success.

Some videos and photos from the conference are
available on the FOSS4G website (www.foss4g2006.org) under
Souvenirs. Workshop and presentation slides are also
available from the conference timetables.

The 2007 event will be organized by OSGeo. The foundation will be soliciting proposals from local communities who
would like to host the event. The location is yet to be determined and will depend on proposals received.
Watch the foundation discussion mailing list for more information.

The Open Source Geospatial Foundation, or OSGeo, is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support and promote
the collaborative development of open geospatial technologies and data. The Foundation provides financial, organizational
and legal support to the broader open source geospatial community. It also serves as an independent legal entity to which
community members can contribute code, funding and other resources, secure in the knowledge that their contributions will be maintained for public benefit.

OSGeo also serves as an outreach and advocacy organization for the open source geospatial community,
and provides a common forum and shared infrastructure for improving cross-project collaboration. The Foundation&apo;s projects are all
freely available and usable under an OSI-certified open source license.