The 9th SIGLibre conference in Girona starts with bad news: no wifi. But that didn’t stop us to talk about geo free stuff.

Almost all the plenary talks touched topis like smart citizens, open data, crowd data, crowd sourcing,… It is quite clear this is an emerging subject that we are going to use more and more. But, is this really a business market or is this just something to research and contribute to the community?

Malcolm Bain – IdLawPartners
“Open core, dual licensing, master subscription, commercial open source product specialists – mucha jerga para hablar de cómo hacer dinero con Open source: Hablemos de sus aspectos legales”

What makes a software free is not the code: it is the license. And that’s what is important. But Malcolm hasn’t come here to talk about licenses or patents, but about business with free software. We need to find the added value for open software so we are able to sell it. The problem is: this added value has nothing to do with FOSS. FOSS is freaky, geeky, sneaky,… How can we mix this two concepts? Where is the value position?

The added value for FOSS based business is the legal part. Open source license grants you access, modify and distribute the source code, so you can “physically” fix the bugs yourself, get a local IT supplier to support you (or support yourself) and share that support across a community. You can also have your own agenda on the versions you use. There is an unlimited license to use your free software on the life cycle you want, you don’t depend on third parties company’s planning.

And most important: you can check the code you are being sold. No seller can cheat you selling software that doesn’t do what it needs to do.

There are many strategies to sell free software:

* Dual License: two types of licenses for the same code: private or free.
* Open Core: free core but extensions are payed.
* Subscription strategy: you sell the technical support only.
* Product specialist: revenues from services (maintenance and consulting).
* Consulting services strategy: pure service model.
* Hosted strategy: Saas, cloud.
* Platform providers: for example, openstack hosting.
* Legal services: consulting legal services.

The free software is an investment on the long run, which is something that capitalists investors usually don’t like. That’s why free software is going to win: because there are no capitalists investors that want to get their interests back.

We live in a world that is designed, built and run by Open Source software. Don’t forget it!

Alberto Labarga – NavarraBioMed
“Periodismo de datos y la visualización de datos abiertos”

Alberto works on health and medical services based on free software and free hardware. As a sidenote: he mentioned that all gis software he knew was free, so it looks like we are doing marketing stuff right. He talked about open data and how to display it. Sometimes we focus too much on technology and not on how our users perceive it. Right now, everyone claims to be doing big data visualization, but very few people has real access to big data databases. So, there is a lot of fuzzy smoke on this topic.

From the crowd data perspective, there are many interesting projects like #adoptaUnSenador or #adoptaUnCorrupto, where spanish government obscured PDFs about incomings and wealth of politicians were crowd-parsed. There are other projects, like @jjelosua’s “España en llamas”, which conflates all data about fires in Spain. As this kind of projects appeared, many tools were also developed to help this type of jobs. Transparency comes hand by hand with this projects, like visualizing budget spent on each public administration.

The biggest problem with opendata right now is that there is a lot of public data still not published. And what is published is usually static or not on a useful format. Spain (and Europe) still have to follow UK on this topic and open more data so more apps and usecases can be developed.

He had an amazing presentation where he presented more usecases I can write on a summary here.

Irene Compte – Exploradora y aventurera tecnológica
“Open Smart cities: mitos y realidades”

Irene did an interactive theatre presentation showing his view about how this smartcity concept started and evolved. She has been working on this topic since the very beginning of the concept and that made her have a very close experience.

Victor Olaya – Boundless
“Algunas ideas sobre música, literatura y mapas”

Closing plenaries, Victor Olaya enphasizes the need to do good maps. We have a lot of technical people working on maps, building maps. But, do they have some studies about it? Are they prepared to present data the best way? We assume that all maps are used the same way all across the world. And that we can use almost the same style for all usecases. All this assumptions only complicates things to the user in the end.

Ed Parsons – Google
“Where is the Cathedral and the Bazaar : some musings on openness, ecosystems and bringing geo to the web”

At the end of the day, as a closing plenary, we had Ed Parsons, from Google, who talked about what is his view on future hits on geospatial. Appart from his insistence on using the word “open” instead of “free” or “libre” (they are difficult non-marketable words, he said), there is a very clear position on Google trying to go further on their attempt to control what people do. “Only if you want, the choice to have a mobile phone is yours”, as he clearly states. But is this true? Can someone live on our society without using mobile phones?

For example, Google is working on backpacks to map inside buildings as their streetview cars map cities. This way, they will have more detailed information about where people are and what they do. They claim it is for offering more detailed services. I don’t doubt it but, where is intimacy going? Will new generations know what is to have a private space where they don’t need to pose? Where they can relax because no-one is watching? Are we coming closer to a 1984 Big Brother based on companies instead of Government? Will that may be even worse, even if the company’s motto is “don’t be evil”?

A lot of questions to answer.