We had a successful event
PRESS RELEASE : Guyanese demonstrate Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) solutions
A very successful seminar was held to celebrate Software Freedom Day during which presenters demonstrated active working solutions using FOSS software, including FOSS GIS software.
“How many people use Firefox?” Deon Thomas asked the group of people from different backgrounds who gathered on 19 September, 2014 at Herdmanston Lodge to talk about free and open source software. The Firefox web browser is one of the most commonly used free and open source software (FOSS) applications.
Free and Open Source Software refers to software which is widely available using licenses which allow free redistribution, reuse and modifications, unlike some commercially available applications. Most of the software is available free of cost and includes a range of applications like Libre Office for word processing and other productivity uses, the Linux operating system, VLC media player, and others. The use of Free and Open Source Software avoids copyright infringements. Governments around the world have adopted Free and Open Source software . Most recently, the Italian Ministry of Defense announced it was moving to use LibreOffice
Donielle Dundas, a lecturer at the Unviersity of Guyana Berbice Campus, believes that FOSS is a solution to the problem of limited IT resources in schools since the cost of licenses is removed . “There can be no education without sharing” and that is what FOSS encourages without any violations of the licenses. She conducted a research project with Lenandlar Singh on how FOSS could be used in Guyana's schools. The results are available at http://jiped.ub.ro/index.php/arhive/1548 . Her view was endorsed by a lecturer in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences who teaches Georgraphic Information Systems (GIS) and who is gradually moving to QGIS as the software for teaching. QGIS is free and open source.
"It is the responsibility of the IT personnel to determine, with the input of the users, the maturity of the solutions available” said Naseem Nasir as he discussed his project “A Practical Application of QGIS In A Study Of House Lot Utilization”. He was speaking in reference to the slow adoption of opensource software and is of the opinion that the reason for the slow adoption is that there exists a significant lack of IT departments playing a meaningful role in the business planning and direction of organisations. Naseem Nasir is a GIS specialist. He used QGIS and Libre Office to show that there are low cost options for Government agencies to help with administering state resources, including land.
Roxroy Bollers uses the Open Data Kit (ODK) as a solution to achieve fast and consistent data
collection. ODK Collect is an application which allows persons using mobile phones to collect data once they have the appropriate forms downloaded to their mobile phones. One of his projects was part of the community monitoring, reporting and verification (CMRV) of forest resources in Gunns Village in Kanashen, some 500km from Georgetown. The participants at the event talked about the potential for quick data collection in the health sector and for the population census and in other projects. One UG student in Forestry is using the ODK as part of her final year research project. One utility company is also using FOSS GIS and ODK software.
Donald Singh is part of the collaborative project in the national resources sector (GLSC, GGMC, GFC and EPA) that has created Guyana's Geoserver Portal at http://www.geoserver.ggmc.gov.gy/. This portal provides geospatial data and services for citizens. The portal has road, drainage, administrative, mining, forestry and samples of various layers from agencies. The intention is to allow agencies and individuals to add geospatial data they may wish to share or make available to third party applications, such as Google Earth or even display it as a live map on their own website. The data is owned and managed based on the security settings set by the person uploading the data, but uses the Open Data Model. The portal is built using free and open source software. Many of the persons who were in the gathering were surprised that such a portal had been formed.
Lance Hinds, the CEO of Brainstreet Group who sponsored the event facilitated a short discussion on the urgent need for an enabling environment to encourage IT as an economic sector, and to leverage the use of IT especially in the public sector.
“This event showed that Guyanese are working on IT solutions to different problems” said one of the persons who attended. “There is a belief that Guyanese do not have the skills or the capacity and we have to do more to show, through use of FOSS and other tools, that we have the skills right here to develop solutions using the tools which are available”. The seminar clearly demonstrated this.
Presentations are available from the blog at http://churchroadman.blogspot.com/2015/09/it-in-education-house-lot-utilization.html
Software Freedom Day 2015
Come learn about the potential of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Guyana!
Date : Saturday September 19 2015
Time : 130pm
Venue : Herdmanston Lodge, Queenstown, Georgetown, Guyana.
Presentations and discussions are :-
- "Introducing FOSS into Education in Guyana" by Donielle Dundas
- "Data Collection using Open Source Technology" by Roxroy Bollers
"A Practical Application of QGIS in a study of House Lot Utilisation" by Naseem Nasir, Vijay Datadin, Roxroy Bollers and Haimwant Persaud
"FOSS, ICT and the future of Guyana" facilitated by Lance Hinds