W13: Open geospatial tools and methods in environmental modeling and management

organized by Ari Jolma and Ned Horning

in collaboration with

Building a Community Modeling Culture: Open Source Research and Education

organized by Raleigh Hood and Alexey Voinov


Use of geospatial tools and methods have become ubiquitous in environmental science and management. The main reason for this is the increasingly available geospatial data and off-the-shelf GIS with standard functionality. Lately, free and open source geospatial software tools, often based on open standards, have been emerging. Geoinformatics is a new scientific discipline, which studies geospatial problems and computational solutions.

Everyone agrees and demands that their researchers should share methods, data and models more easily within their community and with outsiders. Why then, donŐt cooperative modeling communities arise spontaneously and grow vigorously? Modeling systems and the science behind them have grown out of individual laboratories, often communicating results only after extensive peer review and verification efforts have been completed. While this is laudable from the standpoint of the rigorous scientific method, it is contrary to what is desired to produce an open-source software system as professed by E. Raymond in "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". There are working examples of vigorous community open source projects and examples which are less successful.

Similar issues apply to education. How much of content and interactivity are we willing to share? How can education and research become an open source, shared experience?

This workshop will explore sociological questions of motivation and communication about the development of Community Modeling Systems.


This workshop aims to examine and discuss the openness of geospatial tools and how it could and should be exploited in environmental modeling and management. We want to continue the long discussion on use and linkage of geospatial tools in environmental modeling but also want to expand the scope of the discussion and introduce the community aspect. The various players in the field are often organized into communities and linkages and improved information exchange is needed between them in order to solve complex problems. An emerging interest in the environmental field is the effectiveness and quality of management. A related topic that is in the scope of this workshop is the role ICT, especially geospatial tools, has in this.


By sharing experiences and observations of the growth of modeling communities, we hope to discover successful practices, which may aid the growth of similar groups. Every science domain seems to bring unique characteristics to the issue. We will examine how existing institutions, professional organizations, funding mechanisms, career expectations and promotion paths promote or deter the development of a sharing and open modeling community.

Go To Open Geospatial Tools Workshop Blog

Go To Community Modeling Workshop Blog

Position Papers

A. Jolma, D.P. Ames, N. Horning, M. Neteler, A. Racicot and T. Sutton Free and Open Source Geospatial Tools for Environmental Modeling and Management
Alexey Voinov, Raleigh R. Hood, and John D. Daues Building a Community Modeling and Information Sharing Culture


Marie Eugenie Malzac Batista, Tarciso Silva A Spacial Decision Support System For Performance Evaluation Of Urban Draining Systems
Aaron Racicot
(not attending)
Integrated Open Source GIS systems in the environmental non-profit world
Ari Jolma Free and open source software as a platform for environmental modeling and management
John Daues The Open-Source software development paradigm: Nothing new to scientific research