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Geographical information systems (GIS) practitioners worldwide enjoy a growing array of free and open source software (FOSS) options. This software has expanded the accessibility of GIS in economically developing countries while fostering local technical expertise. This article reviews FOSS GIS uptake and advocacy in South America, especially how it relates to a climate of political friendliness toward FOSS in the region. The use or absence of FOSS GIS is assessed in public-facing web maps in South America, first at the national government level, and then at the provincial level using Argentina as a country of study. Local technical support groups and software development initiatives surrounding FOSS GIS in South America are then summarized. Finally, three case studies are presented of notable efforts to build FOSS GIS technical communities at the local level: the FOSSGIS Brasil online magazine, the Geoinquietos Argentina professional network, and the FOSS.4GIS.GOV conference in Brazil. A study of the leaders, dynamics, and practices of these groups can inform others in similar circumstances around the world who are trying to promote FOSS GIS adoption, development, skills, and services.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Geographical Information Science on September 18, 2019, available online:


International Journal of Geographical Information Science


© 2019 Taylor & Francis