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1904labs and Bayer Crop Science Develop Open-Source, Geospatial Mapping Software to Help Business & Community Solve Real-World Problems

1904labs and Bayer Crop Science Develop Open-Source, Geospatial Mapping Software to Help Business & Community Solve Real-World Problems

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1904labs, a digital transformation consulting firm, and Bayer Crop Science, a division of German life sciences company Bayer AG, jointly released a new geospatial mapping framework to the open source community. The framework, ol-kit, is a free, easy-to-use, map component toolkit built with React and OpenLayers and is compatible with many popular open source tools in the geospatial community.


Geospatial technology has captured the attention of the public eye in the current crisis with maps being created to track COVID-19 cases, essential supplies, and more. However, many existing mapping frameworks are costly or not robust enough to meet these crucial challenges. While geospatial tools are some of the most expensive and complex software, ol-kit gives anyone these comprehensive capabilities at no cost.


Bayer and 1904labs started working on this mapping framework four years ago. Internally, the ol-kit is a backbone for many of Bayer’s applications for managing fields, research experiments, monitoring yields, and more. These applications gather a huge amount of data. Without the interactive map, driven by ol-kit, it would be impossible to interpret the data.


“This is an important piece of functionality from which small businesses, governments, and community organizations would see tremendous benefit. Contributing to the open source community wasn’t something that our group had done before, but it was well worth the effort, and I can’t wait to see how ol-kit is used,” Shaun Diltz, Principal Product Manager  at Bayer Crop Science.


With open source software, its core code is available for anyone to view, change, or use in their own way free of charge. Typically more cost effective than proprietary software, open source software also benefits from community collaboration to make it better, more secure, and stable.


Robin Carnahan, Fellow at Georgetown University, and previous director of the state and local practice at the federal General Services Administration’s tech consultancy team, 18F, said, “It’s great to see a big international enterprise and a small business collaborating to create something really valuable for the larger community - and to make it freely available to them. That’s the power of open source.” 


As the use of location plays an ever-increasing role in our global economy, open sourcing ol-kit will enable small business and community organizations alike to leverage its geospatial capabilities to study and solve critical challenges that they previously may not have been able to afford to tackle. During the pandemic, smaller municipalities with minimal IT budgets can use ol-kit’s fully customizable toolkit to analyze patterns within their communities to better contain the virus. It can also be applied to provide helpful insights and chart trends in areas like census tracking, election mapping, and combating natural disasters such as wildfires.




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