International Summer School “Geo-computation using free and open source software” – Matera 2019 – Program

Matera: 3rd – 7th June, 2019

Course programme

The International Summer School on Geocomputation using free and open source software is an immersive 5-day experience opening new horizons in the use of the outstanding power of Linux and the command line approach for processing geospatial data.

Jumpstart with R, Grass, Python, Gdal/Ogr library and linux operating system.

We will guide newbies who have never used a command line terminal to a stage where they will be able to understand and use very advanced open source data processing routines. Our focus is to give you the tools and competencies to continue developing your skills independently. This self-learning approach allows participants to continue progressing and improving in an ever-evolving technology environment.


Course requirements:

The Summer School is aimed at students who are currently at a masters or doctoral level, as well as researchers and professionals with an interest in spatio-temporal data analysis and modelling. We also accept candidates from undergraduate students. Summer School participants should have basic computer skills and a strong desire to learn command line tools to process data. We expect participants to have a specific interest in geographical data analyses, and prior experience in the use of Geographic Information Systems will be helpful. Participants need to bring their own laptops with a minimum of 4GB RAM and 30GB free disk space.

Academic program:

The Summer School provides students with the opportunity to develop crucial skills required for advanced spatial data processing. Throughout the week students will focus on developing fundamental and independent-learning skills in advanced data processing – a field that is continuously evolving with the availability of increasingly complex data and ongoing technological advances. Many different, complementary and sometimes overlapping tools will be presented to provide an overview of the existing arena of open source softwares available for spatial data processing. We demostrate their strengths, weaknesses and specificities for different objectives of data processing (ex.: modelling, data filtering, queries, GIS analyses, graphics or reporting) and data types. Specifically, we guide students to practice using software and tools, to aid in climbing the steep learning curve that is generally experienced in new approaches to data analysis via a programming command line approach. Broadly, we focus our training on helping students to develop independent learning skills and to find online help, solutions and strategies in order to fix bugs and independently progress with complex data processing problems.

The Academic Programme is divided into 3 main areas of study:

Lectures: (15min to 1h each) Students will take part in a series of lectures introducing basics functioning of tools, theoretical aspects or background information needed for a better understanding of concepts to be successively applied in data processing.

Hands on Tutorials: Students will be guided during hands on sessions where trainers will perform data analyses on real case study datasets, so that students will follow the same procedure using their laptops. During tutorials students are guided by two trainers, one for the demonstrations and one to supervise the students’ work and to support with individual coding.

Hands on Exercise: In addition to tutorials and lectures, students are encouraged to embark on their independent projects during exercise sessions. Specific tasks will be set allowing to reinforce the newly learned data processing capacity presented in lectures and practically, learned during the tutorial sessions. Such exercise sessions equip students with the confidence and skills to become independent learners and to effectively engage with the demands of advanced spatial-data processing.

According to the number of participants and to their pre-existing knowledge in programming more or less topics can be addressed according to students’ needs. The exercises and examples are cross disciplinary: forestry, landscape planning, predictive modelling and species distribution, mapping, nature conservation, computational social science and other spatially related fields of study. Furthermore, these case studies are template procedures and could be applied to different thematic applications and disciplines.

Learning objectives

Our Summer School will enable students to further develop and enhance their spatio-temporal data processing skills. Most importantly it will allow them to start using professionally a fully functional open source operating system including all required software toolkits. With continuous practice during the week students will get familiar with a command line approach and focus on developing specific areas, including:

  • Developing a broad knowledge of existing tools and be able to judge the most appropriate one for their needs and which have more potential for their future learning.
  • Building confidence with the use of several command line utilities for spatial data processing and with Linux operating system.
  • Developing data processing skills and knowing more on data type, data modelling and data processing techniques.
  • Encouraging independent learning, critical thinking and effective data processing.

Summer School certification

At the end of the Summer School, attendees will receive a course certificate subject to successful completion of the course. For university students, course credit approval will be at the discretion of the concerned university.

Time table: (7h teaching/day)

  • 9:00 – 10:45   morning session 1         1h45
  • 10:45 – 11:05  coffee break
  • 11:05 – 12:50  morning session 2        1h45        
  • 12:50 – 14:00  Lunch
  • 14:00 – 15:45  afternoon session 1        1h45
  • 15:45 – 16:00  break
  • 16:00 – 17:45  afternoon session 2        1h45

Course programme

  • Day 1: OSGeo-live operating system /  Linux bash programming
  • Day 2: AWK – Gnuplot – Gdal/OGR geospatial libraries
  • Day 3:  Geocomputation and modelling. R environment for statistics and graphics. QGIS and GRASS Geographic Information Systems.
  • Day 4: Hands on spatial ecology applications: Hydrological modelling;  species distributions models; remote sensing images analyses; spatio-temporal statistics in forestry with SpatiaLite.
  • Day 5: Spatial data processing with Python; Working on students needs

Preliminary course programme

University of Basilicata fellowships

Three students from the University of Basilicata will be able to attend the course free of the summer school fees. An awards committee from the University of Basilicata will select best candidates and we encourage students to apply ASAP. This call is closing 31.3.2018. During your registration please specify that you are a student from the University of Basilicata on the form to be filled.

Refund policy

A written request for registration cancellation must be e-mailed to If registration cancellation is requested before 1 May 2019, you will receive a refund of the registration fee after deducting a processing fee of GBP 100. If a cancellation request is submitted after 1 May 2019, Spatial-Ecology will retain 60% of the fee paid, unless a candidate from the waiting list is able to replace the withdrawing candidate; in which case, only the processing fee of GBP 100 will be levied.