Since April 2014 Z_GIS is the 75th member of ICA-OSGeo labs. It is an important milestone for Z_GIS to be part of the "Geo for All" initiative. Prof. Dr. Josef Strobl also is serving as an Advisory Board member of ICA-OSGeo Labs.
In September 2011, the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) and the International Cartographic Association (ICA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of developing collaboration opportunities on a global basis for academia, industry and government organizations, with a focus on open source geospatial software and open data. The MoU aims to provide expertise and support for the establishment of open source Geospatial Laboratories and Research Centres across the world for supporting development of open-source geospatial software technologies, training and knowledge. Over 75 OS Geospatial Labs have already been established in universities around the world as part of this initiative over two years, aiming at reaching 100 research labs worldwide by September 2014.
The motto of the ICA-OSGeo Lab initiative is "Geo For All". Having free and open GI software and data is key for exploring, adapting and enhancing geospatial algorithms and processing within academic programmes, and for facilitating access to geospatial learning opportunitites for students from economically disadvantaged background worldwide. By 2015, "Geo for All" plans to have 50 OS Geospatial Labs established in universities in Africa alone and they shall be teaching GIS courses to hundreds of students. We also will be starting work on "Train the Trainer" GIS programmes for school teachers internationally.
It is considered important to have OS standards (OGC, ISO TC 211) based solutions to achieve widespread application of geospatial tools at grassroots levels especially in developing countries. OS GIS provides accessibility, low cost sustainable solutions for the use of geospatial technologies for all.