This first blog is to say "Hi & welcome!", and provide some introductory background.
As a long time QGIS user and contributor (since v0.2!) I'm pleased and excited to see how QGIS has taken off, globally, nationally and within NIWA.
Within New Zealand, we have CRI's, central government agencies, environmental consultancies, NGO's, and councils now using QGIS, generally as a core part of the institutional IT strategy, and often as part of an integrated GIS suite, combined with other applications. We also have Digital Mapping Solutions active in New Zealand, supporting QGIS as part of their software suite, providing training, software development and commercial support, as part of their Intramap application.
Within NIWA, QGIS is not just a GIS tool used by staff, it is a core component of NIWA's wider Open Data strategy (see NIWA Quantum Map home page). Releasing environmental data for re-use is a largely pointless exercise if potential users do not have access to tools to allow them to effectively work with these data, and the spatial nature of virtually all environmental data means that a GIS tool is the one to use for much of the hydrometric, water quality, fisheries, climate and oceans data data NIWA manages and is making available. NIWA is actively providing, promoting, supporting and enhancing QGIS as a part of its information delivery strategy, so users are not required to purchase (often expensive) commercial software to use NIWA's (or anyone else's) environmental data.
Focusing on the NIWA QGIS User Group, after the very successful QGIS training workshop hosted at NIWA and run by DMSin July, one of the main question I was asked by attendees was: "How do they build on what they learned, and start using QGIS with their data?" Here is the answer!
The plan is for brief meetings in Wellington when there is interest, or a topic, question or demonstration involving QGIS at NIWA, where it can be discussed, answered or presented. Other sites can VC in if anyone wants, and non-NIWA Wellingtonians who are interested can come along too.