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NCGIS 2017 Recap

A big thanks to the North Carolina 2017 organizers for a great event. I appreciated the chance to meet so many mapping professionals (always a shock for a technologist such as myself).

As this was the 30th anniversary of NCGIS, the conference is held every two years, there was a bit of a celebration on tap. Featuring cake, and unexpectedly a fashion show of orphaned technology that was cutting edge over the last three decades. Starting out with push pin maps, and a pizza cutter shaped map measuring tool, fading through early GPS systems and ruggedized portable computers, and ending on a high note with google glass and some of our more recent misadventures.


Anthony Calamito and myself had a chance to speak on “An Overview Of Open Source Licensing” as a part of a session on “Spatial Law”. This is a difficult topic to dig into, we covered how policy can enable use of open source, the practical mechanics of respecting an open source license, using Boundless Desktop and Boundless Suite to provide practical examples of questions that arise.

Understanding Open Source via slideshare

Joining us in the “Spatial Law” session was Shannon Tufts intimidating all those present with a presentation on “GIS Data Disclaimers”. The session was closed out with Wake County offering an update two years into their open data initiative. We use their sample data for some of our boundless training courses, in part because they have done a very clear job of licensing their data and focusing on automation to ensure the data their sharing is up to date.

I would also like to call out to a few presentations I enjoyed during the conference:

Tobin Bradley with Vector Tiles and the Future of Web Maps
Tobin Bradley with Vector Tiles and the Future of Web Maps

Tobin Bradley is a dynamic speaker from Mecklenburg County talk about “Vector Tiles and the Future of Web Maps” (slides) . As you can imagine this is a topic we are excited about here at Boundless, and it was great to see this excitement hitting a GIS conference.

Ralph Dell exploring MapBox Style
Ralph Dell exploring MapBox Style

In the same series Ralph Dell provided one of the nicest introductions to mapbox styles I have seen. Seeing this technology presented by a GIS professional, and what features generated enthusiasm in the room, was encouraging as we introduce support for this standard in our Boundless products.

Stephen Mather and open Drone Map
Stephen Mather and open Drone Map

I was also inspired by a session on drone mapping, starting off a talk on marine science and conservation. David Johnson started with automated seal counting, and ended with some amazing pictures of ship grave yards gradually being colonized and turned into islands along the coast.


Next up was the beloved Open Drone Map project, with Stephen Mather showing off an increasingly impressive open source project. The project now has a web UI making it more accessible to casual users. I was also unaware of its use in the Red Cross Portable OpenStreetMap Server project


The session concluded with a local company exploring drone use in a commercial context, presenting a very detailed “as built” survey done with manually flown collection pattern (to capture a staggering amount of surface detail).

Boundless at NCGIS

The primary focus of a regional conference is a chance to catch up with existing customers and reach out to new ones. Thank you to everyone who stopped by the Boundless booth to talk with Ian Isaacs, Anthony Calamito and myself – it was great to talk about what is in store for 2017, and get feedback on how open source is enabling your organization.

This event was a great chance to talk with local education institutions about the work Boundless is doing for open source academic outreach. The local Raleigh area has a running start in this respect with Helena Mitasova (from OSGeo and GeoForAll) working at North Carolina State University.


We look forward to the next NCGIS in 2019. If you would like to meet boundless in person look for us next at CalGIS / locationcon May 22-15 2017 Oakland CA.

Jody Garnett

Jody Garnett

Training Specialist

Jody looks after our open source projects as a community lead here at Boundless. As a member of the engineering team he provides technical leadership and develops Boundless’ training program. He is a member of the Project Steering Committee for GeoServer and GeoTools. Jody is a board member of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation, and on the steering committee for LocationTech.