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Speaker Interview: Paul Ramsey

Location - the universal foreign key. Past, present and future of spatial data in PostgreSQL   Wednesday 09:45   New York

Twitter: @pwramsey Blog: GitHub: pramsey LinkedIn: paul-ramsey Company website:

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

I’m a Executive Geospatial Engineer at Crunchy Data, a resident of Victoria, British Columbia, and have a professional history as a GIS consultant and spatial software programmer.

How do you engage with the PostgreSQL Community?

As a core developer of the PostGIS project, I’ve been an observer and occasional participant in the PostgreSQL community for a long time. I’ve contributed some small patches to postgres_fdw, and built a few small extensions, like the “http” extension and “ogr_fdw” extension.

Have you enjoyed previous or FOSDEM conferences, either as attendee or as speaker?

I have never been to an “EU” version of a PostgreSQL conference, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the audience is like and the hearing what the attendees have to say.

What will your talk be about, exactly? Why this topic?

I will be talking about geospatial computing in general, how it is useful, and what kinds of problems people commonly solve with it. The power of combining data using geographical reasoning is something that people can understand pretty quickly with the right visual pictures, but without knowing it’s an option they don’t necessarily reach for the tools that are available. With PostGIS installed, PostgreSQL turns into an extremely powerful tool for geospatial analysis: all the power of custom GIS software exposed as standard SQL logic.

What is the audience for your talk?

I hope that everyone, from managers to programmers will get a little something from my talk. It’s got broad information about capabilities that anyone can understand, and it’s got some examples of SQL for the hands-on practitioners.

What existing knowledge should the attendee have?

The more SQL and PostgreSQL experience they have, the more of the talk they’ll understand, but there’s no reason that anyone with a little database knowledge can’t enjoy it.

What is the one feature in PostgreSQL 11 which you like most?

More and better parallelism. PostGIS users increasingly use long-running analytical queries, and the more those can be farmed out to multiple processes, the better their experience will be. This is all part-and-parcel of PostGIS taking over workloads that used to be the domain of specialized GIS software.

Which other talk at this year’s conference would you like to see?

It might sound a little self-referential, but Stephen Frost’s “Review of Patch Reviewing” is interesting to me, because I want to become more involved in the core PostgreSQL community, and patch review is a great gateway to understanding more about the core.