Public Lab Wiki documentation

GSOC 2012

2 | 16 | | #773

Planning page for 2012 Google Summer of Code

Mentor apps applications process opens: Feb 27 Mentor apps due: March 9

Project ideas:

See our GSoC ideas page! Want to expand this list? See example project ideas list:

Mentor app info

  • Describe your organization.

The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (PLOTS) is a community which develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. By democratizing inexpensive and accessible “Do-It-Yourself” techniques, Public Laboratory creates a collaborative network of practitioners who actively re-imagine the human relationship with the environment.

The core PLOTS program is focused on “civic science” in which we research open source hardware and software tools and methods to generate knowledge and share data about community environmental health. Our goal is to increase the ability of underserved communities to identify, redress, remediate, and create awareness and accountability around environmental concerns. PLOTS achieves this by providing online and offline training, education and support, and by focusing on locally-relevant outcomes that emphasize human capacity and understanding.

  • Why is your organization applying to participate in Google Summer of Code 2012? What do you hope to gain by participating?

We have several active and new open source software projects and an active community, and GSOC would be a great way to bring some of these tools closer to maturity, and a great way to reach out to new coders and strengthen our contributor community.

  • Did your organization participate in past Google Summer of Codes? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and challenges of your participation.


  • If your organization has not previously participated in Google Summer of Code, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?


  • What Open Source Initiative approved license(s) does your project use?

MapKnitter, Clashifier, and Spectral Workbench are GPLv3. Infrared-visible-video-kit is MIT licensed.

  • What is the URL for your Ideas page?

  • What is the main development mailing list for your organization?

  • What is the main IRC channel for your organization?

We use Campfire:

  • Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now.

  • Who will be your backup organization administrator?

Stewart Long (

  • What criteria did you use to select your mentors for this year's program? Please be as specific as possible.

Our mentors are part of the Public Laboratory core web team and are active contributors to the projects listed on the ideas page. Some have specific formal training in remote sensing image processing, data collection, or georectification. Others represent user groups who help to strategically plan new features and directions for the software. Mentors volunteer for their positions and will be approved by consensus of the developers in the respective software projects.

  • What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?

We have weekly phone meetings on Fridays which we will be asking the students to attend, and we require students to post updates by blog, tweet, or email (list). We also have workspace in some cities for those interested in working in the same space as other PLOTS contributors. We find that most students have trouble if they're not sure what to do next -- therefore we will have brainstorming support sessions weekly to help students identify, understand, and innovate solutions to their challenges. Students will also be able to use the GitHub issue tracker to stay focused on project milestones within that system. GitHub will syndicate updates to the project students, and facilitate discussion on each project issue.

  • What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?

Several mentors are staff members in the nonprofit arm of PLOTS, and check in twice per week. Others will be asked to participate in weekly calls. We also have backup mentors available for most projects and will have periodic mentor round-table discussions by email.

  • What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program?

We are reaching out primarily through our existing networks to recruit students, and in the past have required students working with the project to post either to the mailing list or on our website with weekly updates. We also have in-person events where contributors mix and discuss their work; this helps to build a strong developer community and we will encourage students to take part. Often encouraging students to present their work to the community or to the public (in talks, blog posts, or videos) encourages them to take ownership of their work and to take pride in it, building longer-term commitment to projects.

  • Are you a new organization who has a Googler or other organization to vouch for you? If so, please list their name(s) here.

We hope so! We've heard from:

Christiaan Adams Mano Marks

  • Are you an established or larger organization who would like to vouch for a new organization applying this year? If so, please list their name(s) here.

We should ask some folks. Jeff has emailed people from: