How Open is Revolutionizing Science

Matthew Hanson

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The FOSS4G community is much more than OS Software. The community, while small globally, has had, and continues to have an outsized impact on science using geospatial data. This impact starts with Open Ideas: the community fosters the free-flow exchange of ideas that lead to Open Standards for interoperability, Open Data for democratizing data access, and Open Source Software for the use and analysis of data.

Science fields wishing to leverage remote sensing data has historically suffered from several challenges. Archives of remote sensing data can be large, and finding just the desired pieces of data can be time consuming, as every dataset is accessed in different ways. The data then often requires pre-processing and reformatting: reprojection, clipping, assembling time series, or even some more complex operations. Lastly, processing and analyzing these large datasets can take massive computing resources, making large scale studies difficult, if not impossible. The impact of all this on Open Science (the movement to make science more accessible on all levels) is clear - complex custom-made tools required for each dataset does not support making science more accessible.

Now, the culmination of several advances in Open Standards, Open Data, and Open Source, along with cloud computing, are helping realize Open Science. And FOSS4G has been here all along, where many of these advances started as Open Ideas.