2016 GeoRodeo Recap and Highlights

The 4th Annual GeoRodeo, Texas’s one-day roundup of GeoDevelopers, took place last week in Austin, Texas. Speakers from around the country, and from our own backyard, shared their knowledge with over 200 attendees. Topics ranged from open data, to open-source technologies, to civic map hacking for the good of communities and their citizens.

We're sharing some key takeaways from each talk as well as aggregated tweets from throughout the day that include images and links to some of the resources that our speakers shared.

Keynote - Waldo Jaquith from U.S. Open Data

Keynote, Waldo Jaquith, Director of U.S. Open Data, began his talk with a promise not to sell anything. But he did sell us on the concept of digital open data. By definition, according to Jaquith, open data is defined by the following:

  • Accessible by the public
  • Readable by software
  • No cost associated with obtaining
  • Reusable and redistributable without restriction

Waldo further added that open data is not where you might expect it to be. Open data can be found in the transportation industry through airlines and shipping companies. Just Ask Siri, “what’s flying over me now?”. And open data can be found from public sector entities like the National Weather Services or the United States Census Bureau.

Waldo is passionate about data and all it’s possibilities to serve the greater good. He is a champion of open everything. He told us how he paid $450 for Virginia business license data and used open-source software to discern discrepancies in the business license database of a small Virginia town. The town recouped thousands in revenue and Jaquith fulfilled his civic duty. He then posted the business license data for anyone to download - for free.

Waldo shared a photo of the cake he sent Virginia officials that read, "Happy 2nd Anniversary of me buying your data and giving it away for free!"

Other Code Wranglers

Andy Dearing, Boundless

Andy Dearing, CEO of Boundless, spoke on about the basics of adopting and implementing open-source technology using Gartner’s Hype Cycle. Dearing’s message was clear - educate, plan, strategize, and by all means, take your time migrating to your new system. Hey Andy! Thanks for this tip - geogig.org.

John Gravois, Esri

Shoeless John Gravois, self-proclaimed Developer Evangelist and Esri employee, explained the capabilities and limitations of Esri’s SDKs and APIs. His talk included an overview of Esri’s GitHub account dedicated to open source projects, including integration with Leaflet.

Stuart Lynn, CartoDB

Next up was Stuart Lynn, a Map Scientist with CartoDB, who delivered visual eye candy using the power of CartoDB and data available through their newly released Data Observatory. Stuart’s message was that CartoDB makes it easy to analyze data with a simple drag and drop of a spreadsheet containing any kind of location information for map display. Stuart also introduced CartoDB’s newest release Crankshaft, a Spatial Analysis extension for PostgreSQL.

Mateo Clarke, Open Austin

Mateo Clarke, Brigade Captain and Chair of Open Austin, boldly called out the Dallas Metroplex for not having a volunteer brigade in their area. Mateo challenged members of the audience from Dallas to start a volunteer brigade, associated with Code for America, dedicated to using civic data for the betterment of citizen experience.

Mateo shared “tattle tale” projects that expose things like code violations or park spaces that need attention, as well as helpful applications that point citizens to construction permits on a map around Austin. Mateo is passionate about open data and made his case known through a campaign we can all support - “Liberate Appraisal Data!” Thanks, Mateo. You are definitely among the growing class of Civic Heroes.

View Mateo's Presentation Slides

John Clary, City of Austin

John Clary, Senior Analyst with the City of Austin, offered up building a quick open source web mapping project using data and code supplied through GitHub. Giving a quick lesson during a presentation was John’s way of saying, “you can do it!”. And indeed he made it look incredibly easy and practical. Another Civic Hero to follow!

Calvin Metcalf, AppGeo

Calvin Metcalf with AppGeo told us about how he built a simple, but effective clone of drivetexas.org as an emergency backup in case the main site stops working under heavy load. He walked us through the architecture of this backup application, which is mostly built on open source tools running on Amazon Web Services.

Ben Guhin, City of Austin

Ben Guhin, City of Austin's Chief Innovation Officer, shared his thoughts on aesthetically pleasing web design. Ben is charged with bringing innovative and creative thinkers to the City of Austin to help manage city programs through the use of technology. Ben also shared his web design principle values:

  • Accessibility
  • Inclusive Design
  • Universal Design
  • How to Reach Everyone
  • The Right Thing to Do

Ben also pointed us to the Mobile Content Mandate, which provides more principles that address the responsbility designers and developers have to users, especially on mobile devices, which are rapidly becoming the primary way people engage with digital content.

Lightning Talks - the Brave, the Bold, and the Speedy!

  • Seth Myers, Comptroller’s Office - Open Data and Compliance
  • Josh Vernon, USAA - Web Sockets and how they can be used with geospatial data
  • Tim Whitaker, UT-CRWR- Forecasting River Flooding, a National Water Model goes Live
  • Brad Walker, Setld.com - FME/Esri partner offering geospatial data, maps and GIS services.
  • Kara Manton, AppGeo - Developed pipeline and dedicated appliance for the Texas Google Imagery Service
  • Megan Brown, GIS Volunteer Initiative - a “Match.com”-like service, partnering skilled GIS Developers with non-profit organizations. Volunteer time is tax-deductible.

Thank you again to everyone who attended, spoke, sponsored and helped make another GeoRodeo go off without a hitch. We hope to see many of you at the Texas GIS Forum in the fall and of course, back for the round-up next year, at the 2017 GeoRodeo.

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