Mathieu Bossaert - TAB Application - 2020-09-01

Mathieu Bossaert (@mathieubossaert)

Mathieu Bossaert

What contributions (e.g., issue triage, tech support, documentation, bug fixes) have you made to the ODK community?
I tried to support users on the forum, to help on issues I faced before and things I know.

I collaborated to French translation of Central's frontend (With Hélène AND Ahmadou Dicko)

I gave courses for French Biodiversity Office (Previously ATEN) : 4 sessions / 40 people approx, with my colleague Rémy Clément, aboiut how to create a form to collect species data and retrieve it into a PostGIS database.

I spent some time this spring to share a detailed showcase article about our general purpose form, with the kind reviews of Hélène and Gareth : ODK to collect species and habitats localities, as pressure and threats to ecosystems - #3 by Florian_May

I get involved on features discussions, like last autumn about "Refinements to Repeat Group Navigation, and get an interview about that with Callum
I am also involved in "Geo" discussions
I did a transposition of Gareth's showcase article (that export ODK geo fields to kml) to WKT export in order to facilitate ODK data usage into QGIS : ODK geoshape/geotrace/geopoint to WKT

I am a beta tester of odk collect.

Since 2015 I did some talks about ODK to different public (geomaticians, CNRS database managers, students, research institute)

How do you believe your contributions have benefited ODK?
With the course, I think we increased the number of french users in nature conservation community but not only.

I also think that talks and form sharing showed how easy it is to create a high level field tool, with easy data integration to GIS and general databases.

The examples and help given on the forum also encourage people to use the solution.

What do you believe the top priorities for ODK are?
GEO features are really functional and perspectives are great to add more interaction between geo objects and collected data.

Longitudinal data collection : I think it does fit the needs we have in nature conservation and ecology to be able to come back to an ancient data, state of object, in order to actualize it and monitor its evolution

Collected data integration in a more complex historical (Geo) information system. Things can be easilly done with ETL tools such as Kettle or Talend Open Studio but PostgreSQL is a really good ETL too :wink: . I will investigate SQL querying facilities over Central in the favor of PostgresSQL xml processing improvements.

I also ask myself about French translation of ODK documentation...

How will you help the ODK community accomplish those priorities?
I'll try to consolidate, expose and explain needs from my colleagues (I mean people working on Nature conservation and Ecology)

All our thematic are linked to those 3 priorities (Geo, longitudinal data collection, data integration). As I am trying to do it since I am involved in the forum, I'll participate to discussions about the needs and implementation possibilities and scenarios and test the work done. It is really motivating to discuss things, test it and use it in new forms. End users do appreciate the way the community considers their needs.

I would also like to encourage French users to be more active over the forum. It could more constructive than having a lot of discussion on the French side, synthesis and expose by myself on the forum.

Translating Central was also a great experience this summer, I would be glad to translate again

How many hours a week can you commit to participating on the TSC?
2 hours seems to be a reasonable average. ##

What other mobile data collection projects, social good projects, or open source projects are you involved with?
I am a member of since 10 years, a french geo-informatics forum, where I am one of the QGIS and PostgreSQL forum's moderators.

I co-animate the geomatician group of the "Conservatoires d'Espaces Naturels"'s network (25 people)

About social goods, I am involved as an employee in a French Nature Conservation NGO since 2003 and I am involved as a volunteer in a Collaborative carpentry, which shares good modern machines and workshop to wood workers.

Please share any links to public resources (e.g., resume, blog, Github) that help support your application.
The site I started as a personal notebook became a place where I share some work ( and more recently We will try to bring up such a site for the whole CEN federation. A lot of very interesting things are done by my colleagues in the different CEN but they are not shared enough :frowning:

The gitlab pages of the courses we gave to nature conservation geomatician :

Here are the different links to talks I gave about ODK :


Hi @mathieubossaert :wave:
If you have less than 10 seconds to convince a colleague/student that ODK is great, what would you tell them about it?

(also, if you're looking to do more French translation the OpenDroneMap documentation needs some help :wink: )


Hi @danbjoseph,

If the colleague/student is a field expert, I'll focus on collect.
If your field protocol's logical is clear and well described in your head or in a document, it is easy to create a phone form, that respects closely your protocol, works offline, embeds a map. It will guarantee your input with domain constraints and input controls, and make your data consolidated and usable as soon as you'll be back at the office, even in a GIS or statistical software software.
And the time you used to spend before to digitize you paper data will be available to spend more time on the field, for data analysis or to translate OpenDroneMap documentation :slight_smile:

If the colleague/student I have to convince is a "geomatician" or a database administrator, I will insist on how ODK is easy to integrate to an existing information system, because of PostgreSQL facilities and API. As I am a PostgreSQL user I could give him examples and resources about it.
And as far as I am not yet an API user I will encourage him to read the doc, use the tools and ask questions on the forum.

For both profiles I will tell how the community (developers and users) is welcoming, attentive and helpful.


Respectfully, that's a long 10 seconds - unless you talk much more quickly than me :slight_smile:

To be fair 10 seconds is not a great opportunity to convince someone of the power of ODK (no disrespect @danbjoseph) - I wouldn't, for example, try to do it on twitter!

But if you'd asked me to do that (and I'm glad I got off lightly!), I would suggest:

It's easy, quick and flexible; you can ditch paper (oh so good in our Scottish climate!) and save time overall (even taking into account the learning curve at first). And it's free at the point of use (also good in a Scottish climate!) needing no special equipment to get set up.

I'd point them towards the showcase too, especially @mathieubossaert's relevant post: ODK to collect species and habitats localities, as pressure and threats to ecosystems :slight_smile:


Yes it's true I speak too fast, but in French only, especially when the subject interests me ... In English my speed is more normal ! But you're right, it's 10 long seconds :slight_smile:

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And your English is better than mine - I've been practising for a long time. I would struggle to convince anyone in another language (I have 'studied' Spanish on and off for the past 20+ years, but still could not meaningfully discourse at such a high level), so I am glad you took my jest well.

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Thank you @seewhy ! For me it is easier to write in English than to speak.
Scottish holidays are far away now :sleepy:

Ah, we were meant to be in our camper van in France right now :sob: You will be welcome to come and practice your English as soon as you are allowed without quarantine. That's a serious invite, by the way.

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Hi @mathieubossaert,

Thanks for the detailed application.

In your opinion what is going so well in the ODK community and what areas need improvements? (if any)

Hi @dicksonsamwel,

Thanks for the question. I always encourage people to interact with ODK's community because of its exemplar capacity to imply users and their needs in the definition of the tools.
From my experience, i think that ODK community is particular in the ways that each question you ask or the remark you do is always capitalized and attached to a developpement discussion. How your thoughts are considered in the ODK "core" community (I mean project leaders, developpers and TAB/TSC) !
This is more due to the core team than to each member of the community who ask a question, but as a result it really encourage general community members to participate, and to elaborate the future features of the tool.
Another thing, really appriciate when you arrive into the community is how it welcomes you and helps you from beginers questions to more experts/tricky ones, from all continent, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Even if it is already really great to benefit such a community, I think as it was pointed on different TAB Application (Odil Qurbon - TAB Application - 2020-09-01 and Chrissy h Roberts - TAB Application - 2020-09-01), that we could engage two things :

  • translating the documentation (at least some beginers part) would help people who do not read English well, and to board the ODK train !
  • sharing "real life" forms in a standardized way and in a dedicated place, would be another big help and a great way to capitalize a lot of individual efforts. In a second time, it could be the same for more collected data managment work (data flow managment, SQL or API queries).

PostgreSQL work relative to ODK I forgot to mention :


OK. So 3 of the candidates share the same idea/goal. Why should I choose you as a candidate instead of the 2 others? :slight_smile:

Good morning Aurelio,

Thanks for your question.

I am not the person who will tell you "I am the one you need". I do not have the technical/dev skills or large field campaign background @Odil and @chrissyhroberts have. So from my point of view we are not challengers and will probably not focus on same aspects in the TAB. So maybe we should be considered as partner with different skills and particularities who want to help the team.

I have now some experience about spreading ODK and tools I make use of, with the courses we gave during 3 years to approx 40 French geomaticians (National parks, botanic conservatories, nature conservancy NGO, public bodies in charge of nature managment) about how to create a complex form from start and how to get data into their own information system for mapping and data analysis. During those five trainings we integrated trainees remarks and made some evolution to adapt their needs.

Since I start to be a full time geomatican in the NGO that employes me I started to share quite precisely my work. For my own usage at the beginning but I started to get good returns and thanks from my professional community, as it was a good help for newcomers on tools we use. In 2007 I shared our recent use of PotgreSQL and PostGIS when MS Access and Mapinfo were still the norm. At the end of the forum, all participant were asked about their needs in term of IT tools. PostgreSQL/PostGIS got the majority :slight_smile: and entered into the catalog a year later.
I like to explain and show how to use tool, in order to ask computers do the work they can do, and free some time to colleagues for field inventory or data analysis.

A lot of "geomagicians" working in those thematics are like me in charge of the whole process, from database and ODK servers installations, form definition, to data delivery to the team as soon as colleagues, back to the office, have sent their finalized forms.

I think this transverse / "only one geomatician" point of view is important in discussion as it concern a lot of structures, maybe particularly in Nature conservation and "agroecology" are growing thematics. Our french NGO network, employs 1000 people approx, "only" 30 are in charge of the "IT". As a TAB member I would like to participate to discussions with the point of view of a geomatician, who have generals skills in informatics and specialized ones in data management and ecology, making use of ODK tools, in a medium scale NGO context.

Nature conservation and "agroecology" are rising thematics. I am sure ODK will be more and more used and could become, in favor of coming features and roadmap discussions, a major entrance for field data in databases.

As for other thematics, complete real examples, from designing a simple form to data mining, could really increase ODK spread. I believe in this tool, I want it to be more widely used in my thematics, I will focus on that "form sharing" and documentation if it is a direction followed by the TAB.

I really hope that public or private bodies will soon prefer to invest in a generic tool, open source, rather than build a new tool from scratch, build a little community, maintain it. Sometimes they do not have the choice because what they want can't be achieved with existing tool, sometime they could but they don't.
This could by achieve by showing how ODK met the needs. I started here and will continue soon.

And finally If you really want to compare us, I think you miss a French accent from a northern French living in South of France :slight_smile:


Hi @mathieubossaert! Thanks for the application! Another woodworker! @martijnr is also into it and I dabble myself...

I'll ask you the same question I asked Chrissy about longitudinal data collection, as it's on my mind a lot right now! @LN, @Xiphware, and I recently had a conversation about restarting the effort around longitudinal. We noted that adding longitudinal functionality represents a major shift in the conceptual model of ODK. This is daunting to get right—to pivot the app in this major way without it losing its identity. It is tempting to do too much and lose the simplicity that makes ODK great, but also risky to keep things too simple in a way that ends up being too restrictive.

I'm curious if you have a concrete vision for how longitudinal functionality could be done "the ODK way". :slight_smile:

Hi @tomsmyth,

We are now generalizing the definition of sample places on the natural sites we manage in the long term (sometimes for the next 30 years for sites we do not own). Those places will be followed over the years or decades, in order to evaluate our conservation actions and improve it. It is that context that we are interested in "longitudinal data collection".

Our "need" is I think less complicated than for other thematics with big samples of people to follow.

In term of usage I imagine we could first compare the data we are collecting at the moment to the previous one :

  • The most explicit example I have in mind is the one I exposed to Adam last year : Case management a/k/a longitudinal data collection : what were the species we inventory last time, in order to create a first list to check... what was the extend of this habitat on the ground (from a geo point of view).
  • what was the coverage of the plant in this sample
  • Another one concerns farmers who self evaluate their practices regarding water quality and biodiversity conservation. What was the value of the collected indicators on the same parcell one year ago.

As a "do-it-yourselfer" (in fact I am better blacksmith than woodworker but I really enjoy by the collaborative carpentry project so I also make some wood things....) I did imagine in the past to generate media csv files to upload to Collect from Aggregate's PostgreSQL database with cron tasks, then synchronize media files on the phone using sync tools.
External data functions would help to interact with those references values.
I plan to test such a first step this autumn to alert colleagues about salt marshes water level managment. The planned value varies every week or month and is define in the managment plan. The technicians want to be aware of the planned water level and to be alerted when the observed water level is not conform. They also want to know what was the water level at the same place last time to detect a possible problem.
The easy thing in that case is that the list of places already exists and do not evolve as the field sessions are done, so I can identify in a permanent way the followed entities.

I can "easily" imagine it for such a limited, non generic need.
As an "end-user" I also easily imagine application of longitudinal data collection capabilities combined to geo capabilities. And how it could help my colleagues in their field mission...

But I do confess it is harder for me to imagine a way to generalize it for more complex use cases, keeping things as simple as possible.
How to clearly identify followed entities and for each one, the previously input values for its different properties ? How to organize the data ? How to propagate it over the phones fleet ?

I understand and share your worry about how to keep ODK simple and in the same time make it evolve to allow more complex workflows.