Wikimania 2007 Taipei :: a Globe in Accord
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This page is part of the Proceedings of Wikimania 2007 (Index of presentations)

Free, open source geospatial mapping tools and use in Wikimedia projects

Author Kate
Track Technical Infrastructure
License GNU Free Documentation License (details)
About the author
Kate is an editor (Aude) on English Wikipedia, who joined the project in 2004-2005. On Wikipedia, she devotes time to article writing, covering criminology, criminal justice, geography, history, architecture, and urban planning topics, and has created many maps for the project. She also has technical knowledge of MediaWiki, having installed and customized it for projects outside Wikipedia. Aude is a geographer, and GIS professional in Washington, D.C., working with crime mapping and GIS in law enforcement. She has ten years of experience with GIS, including open source GIS, mapping, and spatial analysis tools, as well as web development.
Recent years have seen drastic increase in general public interest in mapping, with popularization of Google Maps and Google Earth. These tools are free to use, but not free in the sense of free, open source content that Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects use. Fortunately, there have also been great strides in development of free, open source geospatial and mapping tools. This presentation will provide a survey of what tools are available now for desktop GIS, as well as web mapping, and custom application development. Another key ingredient for creating maps and developing geospatial applications is data. Many public domain GIS data sources are available to make use of, though they primarily come from the United States federal government which puts "works of federal employees" into the public domain. Copyright issues pertaining to use of data from other governments will be discussed, with some countries using possibly wiki-compatible licenses and others more restrictive.

Current efforts at combining mapping with Wikipedia will also be discussed, as well as limitations in these approaches. With limits in developer resources on MediaWiki, progressing forward to the next level with integrating geospatial and web mapping capabities may happen very slowly. First steps forward would be to allow Wikimedians to upload GIS source data files along with the static png or svg maps that are uploaded. Standard, interoperable formats have been developed in recent years, as well as tools to convert GIS data among formats, that could potentially be integrated to allow this to happen on Wikimedia Commons or somewhere else within Wikimedia projects.

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