Impressions from a night out with the GeoRabble

What happens when you get a few like minded people together, talk about an opportunity and do something about it?

Answer: Amazing things.

The GeoRabble call went out and the geo community responded with enthusiasm, laughter an open mind and the general consensus was a call for more. In a packed room on the 2nd floor of the Occidental Hotel during a downpour, the inaugural GeoRabble Meetup was held. The night was a celebration, a chance to make new friends, catch up with old ones and embrace the every expanding community of geo users.

Speakers, the fuel to the evening had dedicated their time, passion and energy to tell their stories of working with geo in all its form.

Delivering an exceptional online map experience for a new generation of users, where complexity is hidden and simplicity deepens the engagement was a core theme from Steven Lead from Ajilion. Steven focused on his work in conjunction with NSW Land and Property Management Authority and their Atlas of NSW and the lessons learnt from outside the comfort zone of old school geo.

Monique Potts from ABC’s Innovation team gave an excellent history of the use of Ushahidi as a platform for gathering crowd sourced emergency information. Some interesting challenges to overcome when balancing authoritative news with crowd sourced data. No question in Monique’s mind that Ushahidi will play a vital role at the ABC, but a focus for the team, will be to improve usability, scalability and robustness of the system to deal with the complexity of user input.

Behind the firewall in large enterprises there is a vigorous dialogue happening between GIS and IT teams about how the geo enablement of the business should occur. According to Francisco Urbina’s presentation this is symptomatic of the shift from a pure big G i.e. all about the Map focus by organisation towards a little g big IS or gIS where the information system and business process consumes geographic knowledge in a seamless and automated way but not always with the map first. This shift is also a massive opportunity for the geo community to become a critical component of their organisations and it is already happening.

Chris Broadfoot from Google delivered an excellent story on his competition entry, Next Bus – real time bus arrival times during the apps4nsw hackfest. Exposing his code to the users and how the data was prepared, services consumed and the way a user can exploit live bus arrival times was a treat. In many ways frustrating for all public transport users that we are so close to a real ‘service’ from the Government that would make all our lives easier. Some key messages though for the Government – provide complete data sets and reliable, scalable live services.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then Peter Bayley from Open Earth is stuffing the entire contents of left over stock from bankrupt Borders book sellers into an image and makes it accessible via a browser.

Finally Brett Madsen focused on the fun element of GeoRabble and gave us a twisting turning presentation that made us laugh as he took us the world of Mr Men.

The Pizza sustenance during the break was made possible thanks to the generosity of EBR and Spatial Source. Thanks guys!

Big shout out to our presenters, the Rabble that helped out on the night and most importantly you our brilliant community. GeoRabble is for you and start thinking about telling your stories for the next meetup coming soon.

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