Boundless Launches Open-Source GIS Ecosystem


New York-based Boundless, a provider of geospatial services has launched what it calls the world’s first open GIS ecosystem. The offering extends the capabilities of Boundless GIS, a subscription GIS service and Boundless Desktop, the company’s full-featured desktop GIS system.

Boundless is a newer entrant into the geospatial market, competing against heavyweights like Esri. But, the company has backing from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital arm, as well as other private investors, providing a cash infusion that has elevated the company rapidly.

With its new open-source platform, Boundless is aiming at clients that need scalability and want to avoid expensive licensing agreements. “We all know that the “where” in business and government is becoming more and more important,” explains Boundless Chief Evangelist Anthony Calamito in an interview with CivSource. “Google has made geospatial ordinary in the sense that people now feel comfortable pulling up mapping applications to improve decision making.  As a result, we’ve seen a significant growth in the demand for geo-enabled services which provide mapping data.”

Calamito says the new ecosystem is a response to that demand. Boundless runs on an open-source platform that is license-free and cloud-based. Boundless Connect is designed to provide an educational and support platform with tutorials for setting up services as well as an application marketplace to extend the platform’s capabilities. Connect works with Boundless GIS, which is basically straight up geospatial software based on QGIS, offering all of the features mapping users have come to expect. By avoiding licensing agreements, Boundless says it can work around a lot of procurement problems at the government level and get into organizations rapidly. Users will pay for support and can pay for applications in the marketplace, but those additions are typically within discretionary spending limits.

The company already has a government client roster that includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Port of Seattle; Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, and TriMet.

“What we’ve seen from clients is that they have had a hard time scaling their GIS capabilities without a penalty,” adds Boundless CEO Andy Dearing. “If you’ve got a terabyte of images that you need to be able to analyze over the course of four days and then scale back down, it’s very hard to do that with many of the current systems. You can’t get a four-day license with traditional GIS services. We wanted to create something that can handle those needs, is cloud ready and doesn’t require a lot of technical expertise.”

Both Dearing and Calamito envision a use case where clients can use Boundless in addition to other GIS services but without yet another procurement relationship. The company is squarely focused on being able to take in the rapidly growing amount of images from things like IoT projects, drones, security cameras and a whole range of other sources seamlessly, without resource limits.

“Within the ecosystem, we expect that users will build a community of shared information and solutions that governments or any user can tap to expand their GIS abilities,” says Calamito. “We feel like being open-source gives our users the potential to get over a lot of the challenges that are on proprietary systems.”

The offering is available to all audiences as of today.