2021 OSGeo UN Committee Educational Challenge

Proposals are invited for developing open geospatial educational material for two challenges with a prize money of USD 3,000 each, sponsored by OSGeo.

Winners will be guided by mentors from the UN Open GIS Initiative and OSGeo to ensure that the material meets the requirements of the target audience. Winning material should be published on the OSGeo Wiki site.

The challenge supports the objectives of the OSGeo UN Committee, i.e. promoting the development and use of open source software that meets UN needs and supports the aims of the UN.

In the last few years, the Committee has mainly worked on the UN Open GIS Initiative, a project  “... to identify and develop an Open Source GIS bundle that meets the requirements of UN operations, taking full advantage of the expertise of mission partners (partner nations, technology contributing countries, international organizations, academia, NGOs, private sector). The strategic approach shall be developed with best and shared principles, standards and ownership, in a prioritized manner that addresses capability gaps and needs without duplicating efforts of other Member States or entities. The UN Open GIS Initiative strategy shall collaboratively and cooperatively develop, validate, assess, migrate, and implement sound technical capabilities with all the appropriate documentation and training that in the end provides a united effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of utilizing Open Source GIS around the world.

The challenge is also a career development opportunity for early career scientists and practitioners in the open geospatial industry.

Challenge 1: Training on Satellite Data Analysis and Machine Learning with QGIS (Satellite_QGIS)

Satellite imagery is becoming fundamental in all processing workflows related to generating geospatial information due to the growing availability of many open data sources (for instance the Copernicus/Landsat products). The aim of this challenge is to prepare a tutorial about the new functionalities made available in the QGIS platform, extended by its plugins for processing satellite data. Among all the core and dedicated raster and satellite processing functionalities, QGIS supports various machine learning ones that were recently developed. The training material has to provide exercises based also on these machine learning and satellite data processing tools. The training material is meant as an advanced one and therefore basic QGIS procedures are not required to be explained.

Requirements: To be considered for the Satellite_QGIS challenge, applicants have to:

  • Demonstrate experience in using QGIS
  • Demonstrate experience in Satellite Data Processing
  • Demonstrate experience in using QGIS plugins and expanding QGIS with Image Processing functionalities (e.g.: SCP, dzetsaka, GEE Timeseries Explorer, Google Earth Engine Data Catalog, PolSAR tools, ENMAP-Box3, DeepLearning Tools, FORCE4Q, SAGA interface etc.)

For applying to this challenge, you have to submit a proposal to create a new tutorial with guided exercises related to the topic of the challenge. Keep in mind that it is a tutorial that can be used to teach oneself, therefore extensive details are important. The tutorial must be developed in Sphinx.

Target audience: QGIS and Earth Observation users.

Mentors: Maria A. Brovelli (Politecnico di Milano); Cristina Vrinceanu (University of Nottingham); Cung Thang (UN); Zhongxin Chen (UN FAO).

Challenge 2: Workshop material for pgRouting

The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) involve many topics, including no hunger, clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth. All 17 goals are worth mentioning, and all are equally important. OSGeo, as an organization of open source projects for geospatial, indirectly provides tools for people around the world to search for a decent work in a geospatial context. pgRouting is growing faster than the development of the official workshop material. pgRouting is not only useful for routing cars and other vehicles on roads, it can also be used to analyse river flows, the connectivity of an electricity network or to determine where to add a new street to connect two unconnected locations. The aim of this challenge is to expand the pgRouting workshop to cover at least three UN SDGs.

Requirements: To be considered for the pgRouting challenge, applicants have to:

  • Demonstrate experience using PostgreSQL, PostGIS and pgRouting
  • Demonstrate that the complete workshop for FOSS4G Bucharest was practiced and understood.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the OpenStreetMap tags, and the relation with osm2pgrouting to be able to obtain information other than streets
  • Demonstrate research skills by finding information about the following:
    • the UN SDGs
    • the pgRouting’s Bucharest workshop
    • the pgRouting’s documentation pages
    • the pgRouting workshop repository

Instructions for how and where evidence of the above have to be demonstrated is available at https://github.com/pgRouting/pgrouting/wiki/UN-challenge-2021.

For applying to this challenge, you have to submit a proposal to expand the pgRouting workshop for Bucharest to include the following:

  • A link to a page with evidence that you completed the pgRouting application requirements at https://github.com/pgRouting/pgrouting/wiki/UN-challenge-2021.
  • Learning objectives involving three SDGs and a proposed example to use pgRouting for  each SDG.
    • Each example should be added in the form of a chapter(s) and it will work with fixed data, i.e. it will not depend on data provided in OSGeoLive.
    • If the solution for an example involves more than one function, it can be broken into several chapters.
  • Explain how a new target objective for the “advanced” sections will be provided, to understand that pgRouting can help in applications other than “routing cars or vehicles”, to foment social awareness and in particular, to focus on the UN SDGs.

Keep in mind that this tutorial or workshop can be used to teach oneself, therefore details are important. Also remember that pgRouting provides results in tables in the database, and people expect to visualize what they are doing. QGIS can be used for a quick visualization. The tutorial must be developed in Sphinx, and you will also have to use github.

Target audience: The pgRouting workshop is aimed at a target audience of people who have some knowledge of PostGIS and PostgreSQL, and want to teach themselves how to use pgRouting.

Mentors: Vicky Vergara (pgRouting), Rajat Shinde (pgRouting), Timur Obukhov (UN) and Serena Coetzee (University of Pretoria)


Proposals (in English) must be submitted in the 2021 UN OSGeo Challenge Application Form (ODT in ZIP file or PDF) and emailed to un.osgeo@gmail.com. You can submit proposals for more than one challenge. However, one proposal should be for one challenge only. Only proposals by individuals will be accepted (no proposals by teams).

Examples of educational material developed by winners of previous challenges can be found on the OSGeo wiki site, for example, a tutorial to show how one can use QGIS and OpenStreetMap to calculate the Rural Access Index for Tabora county in Tanzania [1] and training material for using QField to collect geospatial data in the field [2].


Criteria for evaluation:

  1. Proposer is an OSGeo Charter Member: 10 (max)
  2. Proposer’s documented experience in education and training: 20 (max)
  3. Proposer’s age (20 if <= 40 years old; 0 if >40 years old): 20 (max)
  4. Experience with respect to what is proposed by the specific challenge: 10 (max)
  5. Proposal: 40 (max)

Proposals will be evaluated by the OSGeo UN Committee Educational Challenge Judging Panel comprising representatives from OSGeo and UN Open GIS. The proposal will be shortlisted and its content reviewed only if the sum of the first four criteria is at least 25. Evaluation criteria for the content include the suitability of the proposed material for the target audience and requirements, feasibility of the proposal, as well as the gender, relevant experience, qualifications and language proficiency of the proposer.

Important dates

  • 14 April 2021: Announcement of the OSGeo Educational Challenge
  • 14 June 2021: Deadline for submission of proposals
  • 30 June 2021: Deadline extension for submission of proposals
  • 12 July 2021: Announcement of the winners
  • 14 July 2021: Winners receive first third (USD 1,000) of the prize money
  • 13 September 2021: Submission of educational material by the winners
  • 18 October 2021: Evaluation of the educational material by mentors

Subsequent to a positive evaluation, winners receive the remaining prize money (USD 2,000). Prize money will be transferred in one of two ways:

  1. Winners provide their IBAN/Swift info and OSGeo deposits the money directly into their bank account via Wire Transfer.
  2. Winners provide their PayPal info and OSGeo transfers the money into their PayPal account.

Winners Announcement

The UN OSGeo Committee is happy to announce the winners of the OSGeo UN Challenge 2021:

Challenge 1: Machine Learning with Earth Observation data: Case studies with Semantic Segmentation and Regression (Patrick Happ)

Challenge 2: Achieving SDG with pgRouting: a unique perspective (Swapnil Joshi).

Congratulations and good work to them!



Any queries can be addressed to un.osgeo@gmail.com.

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