FOSS4G 2022 Firenze

4 Minute Read

The engineering team have just got back from a whirlwind of a time at FOSS4G Firenze 2022. Now that we’ve settled back home, we’ve taken the time to reflect on our main takeaways from this fabulous event.

Ac eng 2
Ac eng 2

FOSS4G is the largest event for open geospatial professionals and it is always marked as a significant event in the calendar for Addresscloud. FOSS4G represents the birthplace of the concept for Addresscloud and it is where a lot of the engineering team met each other; our founder and CEO Mark met our CTO Tomas at a drone-building workshop at FOSS4G Seoul in 2015.  Subsequently, Matt and I independently met the team in 2019 at the FOSS4G UK in Edinburgh.

On a personal note, my first FOSS4G was the UK event in Edinburgh.  I absolutely loved that conference; taking place in an impressive venue in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, it was my introduction to a community of geospatial lovers who were eager to share everything they’d been up to.  After an almost 3-year hiatus from in-person conferences, it was a privilege to attend an equally majestic setting and to rekindle that community buzz with FOSS4G Firenze 2022.  Having attended a UK FOSS4G, I thought I knew what to expect from Firenze, but one thing I had underestimated was the scale of this event:

FOSS4G 2022 Firenze Participants (credit to FOSS4G organisers)

With this level of attendance, the atmosphere was absolutely electric; there were an abundance of tracks of talks to attend and plenty of great conversations to be had over coffee and wine.  It was also fantastic for Addresscloud to be able to contribute too; congratulations Mark and Tomas for their brilliant and extremely well-received talks.

It was particularly special to share this event with the whole of engineering team at Addresscloud in person – a big welcome back to Ilaria!  We work remotely most of the time, so it was great to get us all together with a focus on just nerding out.

Being there in force enabled us to divide our attention across several tracks, meaning that we could get a flavour across a broad spectrum of topics.  Here were just some of our takeaways.

For some time, we’ve been using MVTs to power parts of our tile service.  They’ve worked well for us but they can be a bit laborious to make – for example, to host on S3, we need to create a one-to-one pairing between tiles and files/directories.  This was one of the reasons our eyes were drawn to a new cloud-native single-file format for tiles called PMTiles.  It’s still early days for this piece of tech but one to watch - definitely have look at Brandon Liu’s (PMTiles author) great blog post about it. On a related note, Tomas’s talk was about using Amazon API Gateway and S3 to set up a tile service – you can check out the repository that formed the basis on this talk.

For the past couple of years, the acronym “STAC” (Spatio Temporal Asset Catalogue)  has crept up onto radars.  In Firenze, the STAC spec was prevalent in a number of talks – it was really useful to see some concrete examples and to solidify how we could use the specification. At Addresscloud, we’re in the process of rethinking how we organise some of the data that our services back onto. Whilst a lot of our data is in vector format, we still think STAC could fix some of the challenges we’ve been thinking about and we’re excited to see the developments in this space.

We also caught a couple of great talks about that got us buzzing about this framework.  We’re in the process of designing a new application that will aggregate and filter large amounts of property insurance risk data – Mark’s talk was an insight into some of the tech we intend to use for this application.  We’re now thinking that would provide a really great visualisation layer on the front end – Mark couldn’t resist having a dig into using in the couple of days after Firenze.

The next FOSS4G event in our calendar is the UK event on 17th November 2022. It’s taking a hybrid format where keynotes will be streamed online and in-person talks will be available at local hubs across the UK. Tomas and I are helping to host the Leeds hub, and Matt is helping to host down in Bovey Tracey – come along if you can!

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