(Original RTF published at Webbit 04 --- Interviews of B.Reiter)
1.How and why the FreeGIS project is born?
We wanted to provide an overview of the available Free Software for GIS.
In 1999 my colleques Frank Koormann and Dr. Jan-Oliver Wagner were researchers at the Institute of Environmental Systems Research Institute
We worked with GIS and geographic data for several years then and permanently fought with unsatisfactory proprietary tools. Even more problematic for Europe was the availability of geographic data. Allover the Internet we did not find a site dedicated to freedom concerning GIS and geographic data. Well, so we created one.
October 1999 we founded a Free Software company called Intevation (www.intevation.net). Among other things Intevation was one of the first companies offering service for Free GIS Software. We kept maintaining the FreeGIS side on company time since then. Free Software is about the freedom of the users and we always wanted to be honest with our fellow researchers, users and our customers.
2. How the FreeGIS can be applicated in the fields of business and Public Administration, and in which others fields can it be applicated?
The number of applications for Free Software in geographic data processing is endless. Basically all GIS needs could be satisfied using Free Software. Some components already are widely deployed and other would still need to be developed. There is a lot of diversity. The FreeGIS website only provides and overview about the components.
Depending on your needs and expertise, you can download the software yourself, ask a friend or even contract professionals to teach you or create a compley solution.
In addition to uses for business and public administrations, there are private users, education and research. GIS can be applied almost anyware as 80% of all data is estimated to have a spatial component.
3. Which developments or possible applications do you see in the future?
The trend towards Free Software will hit the GIS market. Research and education might discover FreeGIS first, but business will follow. Especially when utilising the new standards of the Open GIS Consortium for web mapping, databases or data transport formats. Free GIS implementations are leading in this field.
4. Are there similar projects? What can FreeGIS give more than the others projects?
As far as the overview about Free Software for geographic processing goes, I believe www.freegis.org is unique. You will find other initiatives in our link collection.
FreeGIS is focussed and most complete. In addition we have a lot of experience in evaluating projects regarding their licensing status.
If you find other sites about the topic or unlisted projects, let us know...
5. Which are the advantages and the disadvantages of using FreeGIS?
Using Free Software in GIS will give you the same principal advantages as in other fields. The freedoms you and society gets when using the software are most important. Software has become a cultural asset. Secondly studies report a significant lower cost of operation for IT in the mid term when running Free Software.
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