Core Components to Regional Transformation using FOSS for NEO

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Wed, 05/30/2007 - 08:21.

Can't contain the excitement on this emerging evolution.  Why not celebrate a bit as we finally gain real traction after years of socially-conscious and sometimes stigmatizing suffering we starving artist-technologists know well. I feel we are ready for a RealNEO Rennaissance!


I'll wear my technologist cap for just a bit and comment on one of the portions of this discussion I anxiously anticipate - FOSS (Free Open Source Software) and its transformative potential for our region.  Having an important dialogue with business partner Norm Roulet, Bill Callahan of Cleveland Digital Vision,  Bruce Perens of Seattle's Sourcelabs and his lovely Marketing Director Athena Diamantis recently at the Juniper Grille confirmed and validated the ideas I presented and first helped initiate many moons ago at the Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Center.  FOSS GIS (Geographic Information Systems) became a core component of discussion and to me represents the best opportunity to, along with FOSS SNA (Social Network Analysis) help change the world.   Link on the Recent table Round:


At that time I facilitated the union of some of our most talented GIS minds to potentially polarize around a core idea - that it is through synergistic collaboration that we, as a region, can drive successful open-source outcomes here in NEO.  That initial meeting included Phillip Williams, who shares an IT history with me as fellow technologists working for Alcan Aluminum Corporation as Analysts for several years in our past lives.  That experience helped me better understand the business intersection with web technology and the importance tools like Java, Oracle, and RDBMS manipulation can have to help drive successful systems integration.  Training end users around the nation and attending training in lavish locales like Chicago, Las Vegas, and less than lavish ones like Greensboro and Oswego enriched many a memory.   Our team had great times as technology travellers.


But lest I digress, back to business - FOSS discussion ensued over a year ago between folks and friends from Ensafe, Inc, Sean Burkholder from CUDC, Norm Roulet of REALNEO,  and of course our resident OS-GIS guru, Jon Cline.  At this meeting we formulated the basis for the patchwork quilt FOSS solution to help us drive grassroots community uplift and development - notes to be attached soon.  These FOSS tools include front-end apps GRASS and UDIG driving against a database synergistic with MySQL called POSTGIS.


But more important to our strategy will be the collaborative, transparent approach we take to data collection, manipulation, layering, and analysis as analysts. If we mirror the principles imbedded in FOSS infrastructure we should evolve in a nice parallel as collaborative FOSS executors.  A 2K or more per license for ESRI GIS it beehooves us to rapidly recoup cost returns and savings by utilizing Free Open Source Software solutions driven by our thought leadership and creative potential.  Cross Cutting through and across silos of siloed data to layer lead data with demographically relevant data will be key - multiple axes in multiple dimensions will produce interesting 3D geometrics, no doubt. is an excellent website dedicated to driving grassroots GIS uplift of communities and if we integrate smart FOSS Social Network Analysis solutions that reach beyond the proprietary mold of excellent out-of-box solutions like Valdis Krebs' Inflow we could really derive an exciting integration of FOSS -SNA and FOSS -GIS.  The OSGEO Foundation might be receptive to the transformative strategy to map toxicities, areas of economic concern and opportunity, and demographics on children and the lactating ladies who nurse them.  Those succeptible to toxicity and retardation need to be protected from such damaging detriments.


We have such a rich repository of data when we carefully consider the county and city census data, poll data, property maps, pollution points, and so on. Environmental Health Watch, GCLAC, CCOAL, and the City of Cleveland Dept of Public Health all house harvests of data that could be creatively collected and collaboratively calculated and assessed for relevance to solving problems and uplifting underprivileged neighborhoods.  I hope this first and subsequent Open Houses will help us do just that.


On the hardware and infrastructure side of things we will be able to house the region's finest Center for Open Source Excellence at the Star Complex - I've personally donated my SONY VAIO Media Desktop for initiation of this work and at 2.2 GHZ with a high end 20 inch screen it should suffice to start.


I look forward to building in FOSS -OS theoretical underpinnings and understandings gleaned from great reads like the user guide and administration guide.  Our discussion Friday should focus on the most specific strategies our synergistic team should prioritize on for data collection and analysis, I think.  Gaps in data could be filled by our very own polling, surveying, and GPS-handheld driven data collection efforts.  I for one am in on all levels - what a great Action Research project to publish someday! - especially under the guidance and tutelage of great friends, mentors, and colleagues like Professors Hilary Bradbury,  David Cooperrider, Sandy Pidirit, and Peter Whitehouse of my alma mater, Case Western's Weatherhead School of Management.


We need to invite representatives from FOSS thought leading organizations locally and identify FOSS first movers in the academic world like our own Derek Arnold and Jon Cline - grassroots identification of such talents has already been initiated by yours truly - we have 25 universities regionally and there is so much homegrown talent here we could create a magnet-base to attract the world's best and brightest here.  Then we can develop Drupal and other (Plone?) FOSS modules and innovations that make others take note globally.  Our East Cleveland Center could become a school like none other, inspiring those incubated in our Star incubator spaces.  Dream Big and Execute!  It only makes sense to demonstrate FOSS technology by using it to faciliate the collaboration - so a virtual system (FOSS portal) like a Drupal COIL (like REALNEO) could be a great way to synergize the relevant organic groups across FOSS segments - hardware, software, database, and community development all developmentally advancing.


Finally, with enough activity like that detailed above we could have great FOSS conferences select Cleveland for their next iteration - so DrupalCon could follow recently held hackers convention Notacon and pick C-town as the place to congregate and innovate. Heavy hitters like Bruce have already agreed to help us drive this and speak to the masses.


  Let's bring together the brightest we have so Cleveland can become a true mirror site of repute, where the world clicks to download the most innovative FOSS GIS solutions yet!  Drupal, Google and Yahoo will come, if we build it and do so right.