NCSU GeoForAll Lab

Open source

at NCSU Center for Geospatial Analytics

Vaclav Petras, Helena Mitasova, Anna Petrasova, Payam Tabrizian, ...

The basics

  • Python
  • R
  • PostgreSQL

Why open?

  • 80% of developers used open source in past 12 months1
  • quality, flexibility, interoperability, no vendor lock-in, customization2
  • no license fees guaranteed
  • facilitates collaboration, including international collaboration
  • direct involvement in development
  • open science
  1. 2014 survey by Forrester Research (presented at All Things Open 2014)
  2. PCWorld: 10 Reasons Open Source Is Good for Business

Open source

  • code
  • development model
  • user freedoms
  • community
  • not only software is open (data, material)


  • Global network of academic research and education laboratories and government/industry partners
  • Making geospatial education and opportunities accessible to all
    • Create research and teaching opportunities in open geospatial science
    • Build global open access teaching and research infrastructure
    • Establish collaborations between academia, government and industry around open geospatial science and education


over 100 labs globaly in 2017

Google Summer of Code

  • Google student stipend program for open source development
  • OSGeo serves as umbrella organization for OSGeo and guest projects
    • contributing to GRASS GIS, QGIS, gvSIG, pgRouting, OpenStreetMap, ...
  • 2 students from CGA in 2014, 2 students from CGA in 2017
  • mentoring students in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017


r.futures - urban-rural landscape patterns simulation

published as a set of GRASS GIS addon modules

Sudden Oak Death Model

r.spread.sod - simulation of disease spread

published as a GRASS GIS addon module

Tangible Landscape

A tangible user interface for geospatial modeling

uses GRASS GIS, Blender, and other open source software

Contributions to GRASS GIS

  • optimizations, user interface, documentation, maintenance
    • e.g. optimization of landscape indices calculation, raster digitizer, data catalog, point cloud processing features
  • return of investment (continuously developed since 80s)

Open science course

Tools for open geospatial science

  • research focus with extension to industry
  • topics: advanced writing tools, revision control systems, command line, interactive notebooks, publishing source code
  • software: Linux, Docker, Jupyter, QGIS, GRASS GIS, GDAL