Kartdagarna is a popular get-together within the Swedish GIS and mapping community. Pauliina and Sanna decided to check what is happening in our neighbouring country. There were some things we found interesting: what drove us to go there in the first place was a rumour that the Swedish dance a lot in their GIS events. Of course we had to go and see for ourselves!
First of all, it was so nice to see people. It had been two years of Covid and practically no live events, so the main best thing was that you could chat and see similar minded people. So for all people arranging GIS events at the moment: leave a good chunk of time for coffee breaks and discussion, they are the best part. Kartdagarna delivered this, so thank you! (During the coffee breaks Sanna learned e.g. that mosquitoes are a huge problem in some parts of Sweden, even bigger than in Finland.)
So how open Sweden is?
Open data and open source GIS tools are the core elements of Gispo. Usually they go hand in hand and we wanted to know where Sweden stands at the moment in the openness scale.
We were very happy to meet many FOSS4G users at the conference. Many organisations had hybrid models – so also proprietary GIS software was used together with open source, which is quite common in Finland, too.
Quite a few GIS companies in Sweden were also using open source somewhere there in the background. They did not necessarily market that as an asset, rather just as one of the toolsets they use. Thus many of the Swedish GIS companies are part of QGIS User Group which is great – hope they also contribute! We should really start creating our own user group in Finland, too.
One of the most peculiar things for us was that open data culture was still evolving in Sweden. From the Nordic countries Finland and Norway boast a vast amount of open data sources, but in Sweden there are organisations like municipalities who still very much rely on revenue on data sold to their users. This might be one of the reasons that there weren’t many visualisation examples or GIS analysis examples showcased in the presentations. But there was a lot of enthusiasm around open data, so it might be a matter of time that data will flow fluently in Sweden also.
State of GIS?
But what about the presentations and state of GIS in Sweden overall? In the session there was quite a lot of discussion about metadata issues, INSPIRE, land use planning data models, efforts to correct the property borders, field data collection, point clouds etc. so pretty much the same things as we are discussing in Finland. And Pauliina got really interested in using R for GIS, so maybe we shall have a R course pretty soon in Gispo.
By far the coolest (literally) example was the keynote by Martin Jakobbson from the University of Stockholm, describing their icy travels to map the fjords of Greenland. GIS and mapping have a lot to offer for climate change detection and also prevention.
And dancing? Yes! We got to dance!
Stor tack till Kartografiska Sällskapet!