GIS, Geodata, and Science

Markus Neteler

I am Markus Neteler (PhD), co-founder and senior consultant at mundialis GmbH & Co. KG based in Bonn, Germany.

I received my MSc in Physical Geography and Landscape Ecology from the University of Hannover, Germany, in 1999. After graduation, I worked for two years as a researcher and teaching associate at the Institute of Geography. My career then took me to FBK-irst (formerly ITC-irst), where I worked as a researcher from 2001 to 2007, and to the Centro di Ecologia Alpina from 2005 to 2007. From 2008 to 2016, I was head of the GIS and Remote Sensing Unit (former website) at the Fondazione Edmund Mach in Trento, Italy. In 2015, I co-founded mundialis, a company in Bonn, Germany, specialized in the analysis of remote sensing data and the processing of large volumes of geospatial data using cloud-based processing.

My main interests are remote sensing for environmental risk assessment and Free Software GIS development. I have authored and co-authored two books on the open source geographic information system GRASS and numerous scientific papers on GIS applications. I am a founding member of both the FOSSGIS e.V. (formerly GRASS Anwender-Vereinigung e.V.) and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo), and served as an OSGeo board member from 2006 to 2011. From 1998 to 2020 I coordinated the GRASS GIS project and continue to support it as the release manager.

In 2006 I received the Sol Katz Award for Geospatial Free and Open Source Software (GFOSS). I received my Doctor of Natural Science (Dr. rer. nat.) in Physical Geography in 2010. More recently, in 2022, I received the Life Achievement Award 2022 from the OpenGeoHub Foundation.

Contact me at: neteler AT mundialis DOT de

Never stop learning!

Over the decades, I’ve had the privilege of being deeply involved with the GRASS GIS project, an endeavor that has been both challenging and rewarding. As a student at the University of Hannover, I started using GRASS GIS in the early 1990s. At that time, before the WWW existed, GRASS GIS was one of the very few open source GIS projects. The idea of open source was still known only by a small group of mostly academics, and the potential it held for the GIS community was immense.

Warming up

As I delved deeper into the project, I realized the potential of GRASS GIS. It was not only a tool for spatial analysis, but also a platform for innovation and education. My contributions began in the mid-1990s with writing documentation, first in German, then in English. Later it culminated in the “GRASS GIS Book” with three editions.

Together with a first small group of developers we worked in 1997 on a Linux port of the GRASS GIS source code.

Growing GRASS

One of the biggest challenges we faced was ensuring the sustainability of the project. Being open source, GRASS GIS relied heavily on the contributions of volunteers. Balancing quality, innovation, and resource availability was a constant struggle. However, the dedication and passion of the community never ceased to amaze me, and it was this collective effort that kept the project moving forward. In 1998 I started the first “European GRASS GIS” web pages at the University of Hannover.

Community Building

Building a community around GRASS GIS was another area I focused on. A strong community is the backbone of any open source project. By organizing conferences, participating in forums, and collaborating with other open source projects, the groundwork was laid for the creation of OSGeo in 2006. As a co-founder, I have witnessed and contributed to its growth from a small group of enthusiasts to a global community. OSGeo has been instrumental in providing a platform for collaboration, education, and promotion of open source geospatial software. These interactions were not only about sharing knowledge, but especially about learning from others. My role in OSGeo has been multifaceted, from organizational to technical contributions, and I have always strived to foster a welcoming and inclusive community.

Looking back and looking forward

Looking back, I am proud of what we have accomplished with GRASS GIS. It has become a robust, reliable and powerful tool used by professionals and enthusiasts around the world. The journey has been full of challenges, but each challenge has been an opportunity to learn and grow. For the past 25 years I have been deeply involved in the Open Source GIS community. I have been the release manager of GRASS GIS since 1997 and a founding member of several related associations (GFOSS in Italy and FOSSGIS e.V. in Germany). In OSGeo I was a member of the OSGeo board of directors for several years (2006-2011).

  • GRASS GIS Project Steering Committee chair (2012-2020) and release manager
  • OSGeo charter member; Former OSGeo Board member (2006-2011)
  • My software contributions on GitHub and GitLab

As I look to the future, I am excited by the possibilities. The world of GIS is constantly evolving, and so is GRASS GIS and related software projects. My hope is that it will continue to be a tool that not only serves the needs of its users, but also inspires innovation and collaboration in the field of GIS. My commitment to open source and OSGeo remains strong. I look forward to continuing to contribute, learn, and grow with this vibrant community.


Researcher IDs

Open source GIS development

  • GRASS GIS Project Steering Committee chair
  • OSGeo charter member; former OSGeo Board of Directors member (2006-2011)


As time permits, I love to do OSM mapping using the StreetComplete  app, an OpenStreetMap surveyor app

Publications and teaching


Open Source community contributions

Selected research projects

  • H2020/BESTMAP (agriculture, 2019-2023, grant agreement 817501)
  • EU CEF/Geo-Harmonizer (geospatial data harmonization, 2019-2022, grant agreement 2018-EU-IA-0095)
  • H2020/MOOD (infectious diseases, 2020-2024, grant agreement 874850)
  • H2020/openEO (A Common, Open Source Interface between Earth Observation Data Infrastructures and Front-End Applications, 2017-2020, grant agreement 776242)
  • LExEM: Laboratory of Excellence for Epidemiology and Modeling. Facing the introduction and spread of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) into the territory of the Autonomous Province of Trento – LExEM (2013-2016)
  • GIS analysis and development and Remote Sensing
  • EDENext EU/FP7 (Biology and control of vector-borne infections in Europe, 2011-2014)
  • EuroWestNile EU/FP7 (Improving the knowledge of the biology, ecology and epidemiology of the West Nile virus in Europe, 2011-2014)
  • RasterVet project (2009-2012)
  • GFOSS-TN3 project (2011-2012)
  • RISKTIGER: 3 years project on tiger mosquito risk assessment in Trentino, Italy (2007-2010)
  • ACE-SAP Biodiversity Project (2008-2011)
  • EDEN EU IP/FP6 (Emerging Diseases in a changing European Environment, an Integrated Project of the European Commission in FP6, 2004-2010)

Selected business projects


Fun stuff