mundialis: Shaping OS Remote Sensing

mundialis: Shaping OS Remote Sensing

Introducing mundialis, a company at the forefront of FOSS businesses, blending free geodata and open-source software in remote sensing. mundialis is known for its commitment to generating spatial information and developing tailored FOSS solutions. We spoke with Markus Neteler, Co-Founder & Senior Consultant, about mundialis’ open source journey and community involvement.

Can you share the genesis of mundialis and what initially drew you into the geospatial realm? What was the first geospatial project that set the path for your future endeavors?

My interest in geospatial analysis began during my geography studies, where I discovered the power of GIS in addressing environmental issues. Engaging with the open-source community further fueled my passion and introduced me to innovative tools and collaboration opportunities.

mundialis, founded in Bonn, Germany in 2015, stemmed from a desire to leverage open-source software and scientific methods for broader geospatial projects. We utilize Earth observation data to develop cutting-edge GIS and EO analysis methods, incorporating AI and ML. My early involvement with the GRASS GIS project during university laid the foundation for mundialis, driven by the community’s importance and the potential of open-source software.

What is mundialis’s core offering and how does it differentiate itself?

Our primary focus is on custom geospatial solutions tailored to diverse client needs, ranging from remote sensing data processing to specialized land use mapping. What sets us apart is our strong commitment to open-source principles and sustainability. We leverage robust open-source software like GRASS GIS, integrated with cutting-edge techniques in remote sensing and geoinformatics. Our cloud-based processing platform, actinia, enables scalable and distributed geographic data processing. Our expertise in analyzing and processing big data from satellite imagery, powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, allows us to address complex challenges in environmental monitoring, agriculture, and urban planning.

How does mundialis’s business model support open source and the geospatial community?

mundialis combines geospatial analysis with a commitment to open source and community engagement, fostering innovation and sustainable tech development. We offer customized open source solutions across sectors such as environmental monitoring and urban planning, including:

  • Delivering bespoke geospatial solutions of high quality.
  • Contributing to open source geospatial software development and collaboration.
  • Sharing knowledge through workshops and conferences.

What developments can we expect from mundialis?

mundialis is advancing cloud-based geospatial analytics with AI and machine learning for precise environmental insights, vital for monitoring, sustainable agriculture, and urban planning. Our use of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) enables tasks like detecting sealed surfaces and individual trees in urban areas. We’re also exploring neural networks and transformer models for time series analysis, such as predicting El Niño events from sea surface temperatures. Our future products will be open-source, fostering industry collaboration and adoption of our advancements.

Over the next five years, what are mundialis’s ambitions for growth, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Over the next five years, mundialis aims to:

Support the EU Green Deal by contributing to climate, environment, and sustainable finance sectors, including projects like ecosystem restoration in sub-Saharan Africa’s Great Green Wall.

Lead technology innovation through research and development in AI, machine learning, and big data analytics for geospatial data, ensuring we offer cutting-edge solutions.

Deepen engagement with the open-source community, enhancing our market position and fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and sustainability within our company and the wider community.

What changes do you foresee in the competitive landscape of your key markets in the next half-decade?

In the upcoming five years, our key markets are poised for significant transformation fueled by technological innovation, growing environmental awareness, and the momentum of the open-source movement.

Technological Innovation: Rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and cloud computing will fundamentally reshape geospatial data analysis, creating a demand for specialized solutions capable of enabling complex data analysis.

Growing Environmental Awareness: Increasing concerns regarding climate change and biodiversity loss will elevate the importance of sustainable solutions. This shift will lead to a surge in demand for geospatial solutions tailored to environmental monitoring, sustainable urban planning, and efficient resource management.

The Dynamics of the Open Source Movement: The continued expansion of the open-source movement will drive the development of innovative geospatial solutions. As open-source software gains wider acceptance in the business world, it will accelerate innovation and lower barriers to entry for new players, fostering a highly competitive market where adaptability and the rapid integration of new technologies will be essential for success.

The leadership team at mundialis brings diverse expertise and experiences that shape the company’s direction.

Markus Eichhorn, CEO, possesses a strong background in business development and geomarketing. With a Geoinformatics degree from the University of Muenster, Markus has led numerous large projects and provides consultancy on geodata utilization.

Elisabeth Panzenboeck (PhD) contributes her extensive experience in satellite mission operations and space weather from her tenure at the German Aerospace Centre as Lead Project Manager at mundialis.

Hinrich Paulsen, co-founder and Senior Consultant, focuses on business development and Earth Sustainability Monitoring projects.

As co-founder and Senior Consultant, I bring over 25 years of experience in open-source GIS software development, specializing in GIS, remote sensing, and disease mapping. My contributions to OSGeo and FOSS4G underscore my commitment to advancing geospatial technology.

Can you discuss mundialis’s involvement with the GRASS GIS/OSGeo community and the benefits of such engagement?

At mundialis, our commitment to open source is ingrained in our core identity, demonstrated through our active involvement in the GRASS GIS/OSGeo community. We contribute to the development of GRASS GIS and actinia, continually enhancing features and ensuring their relevance. Our engagement extends to participation in events, contributions to mailing lists, and software reviews, strengthening our presence in the geospatial realm and fostering valuable connections and collaborations within the industry.

What social benefits have stemmed from mundialis’s use of FOSS/Linux?

Our embrace of FOSS and Linux propels social advancements alongside technological progress. Leveraging these open-source solutions democratizes technology, making advanced geospatial tools accessible and modifiable for all, especially benefiting NGOs, educational entities, and startups in developing regions. This practice aligns with our sustainability goals, optimizing resource use and minimizing e-waste.

How does the adoption of FOSS/Linux contribute to mundialis’s environmental sustainability efforts?

Linux and FOSS enhance energy efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions. Opting for Linux extends hardware lifespan and minimizes environmental impact. Our cloud-based geodata analysis allocates computing resources efficiently, reducing waste. FOSS’s open standards promote system interoperability, minimizing environmental footprint without specialized solutions.

Looking back, what are some of the pivotal projects that mundialis has undertaken, and what impact have they had?

mundialis has contributed to significant geospatial analysis and satellite data projects:

GreenUr: Developed a QGIS plugin for the WHO to analyze urban green spaces’ impact on human health.
Fiber Optic Cable Planning: Utilized AI for spatial analysis to plan fiber optic infrastructure in urban areas.
INCORA Project: Used Copernicus satellite data for land cover classifications, aiding decision-making on climate change and biodiversity.
HERMOSA Project: Established a platform for ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation monitoring and reporting.

About Max Roveri:

Massimiliano "Max" Roveri is a writer, blogger, editor and social media manager. He started writing on the internet in the late '90s and he went back to the digital media in 2009. Since 2014 he lives in Ireland and, since 2015, he has been part of the LPI Italy team. He is professionally involved in cultural mediation projects, with an event management side, and in education projects as a professional and as a volunteer as well.  With a background in humanities and philosophy, he loves to address the ethical and social aspects of Open Source, with an approach that nods to Gregory Bateson and Robert M. Pirsig. Photo: uphostudio

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