[OSGeo-Conf] FOSS4G 2013 questions - Responses from the UK team

Steven Feldman shfeldman at gmail.com
Fri Apr 6 07:38:27 EDT 2012

Peter, Cameron and Gavin

You asked a number of questions of us to which we have tried to respond in the consolidated answers below. Let us know if you have any further questions at this stage.

Best wishes for a happy Easter weekend or Chag Sameach (if that is your thing)

(1) How many (global) FOSS4G events has the proposed conference chair been to, and which ones? And please list the same info for any of your committee members that have been to previous events.

¥	Steven Feldman (chair): I have never attended a global FOSS4G event but I have been to 2 of the last 3 SotM's (Amsterdam and Girona) which I believe have a similar character
¥	Jo Cook: 3 previous FOSS4G's: Lausanne, Victoria and Barcelona
¥	Jeremy Morley: I've not been to FOSS4G. However I went to the Open Source Geospatial '05 conference (OSG'05) (based around the Mapserver conference in Minnesota, one of the predecessors of FOSS4G). I was also involved with Allan Doyle (one of the originators of FOSS4G) in organising a couple of EOGEO events (another predecessor to FOSS4G) in 2000 and 2004.
¥	Barry Rowlingson: Presented at FOSS4G 2007 Victoria
¥	Antony Scott: Barcelona

(2) To the conference chairs: are you willing and able to put in a lot of time to this? Has your employer agreed to give you a reasonable amount of time off from your normal work responsibilities, as you will need this? And in the event that you were not able to continue as conference chair, who would step in to replace you?

¥	SF: I am self employed so am able to plan my workload to enable me to commit the necessary amount of time to make the conference a success backed up by a strong team of people and the AGI's conference organising and logistics expertise. I have chaired the first 3 GeoCommunity events in the UK so have a good understanding of what is needed from a conference chair.
¥	Jeremy Morley has undertaken to be my deputy and would stand in in the event that I was unavailable. Jeremy has chaired 2 GeoCommunity events and has experience in this area from EOGEO, the UK GISRUK research conferences, etc. As an academic he has, broadly, independence in where his efforts lie.
¥	Jo Cook has also got support from her employers to act as a further backstop.

And following on in the same theme as Peter, what human capital are you expecting to draw upon? There is a huge amount of volunteer work required to bring a successful FOSS4G home. Committee participants with a string of big titles are useful for opening doors, but what also makes a huge impact are people who step up and do the hundreds of small tasks required to get things done. I was blessed to have a  handful of these people at FOSS4G 2009, some of whom where not in country. So what I'm looking for in answers are people who already have a track record of doing the hard slog work for similar successful events, or people with a track record of coordinating volunteers for other activities (such as an open source project). Names of "doers" that we'd recognise from osgeo email lists would certainly be helpful.

¥	This conference team has a great deal of experience in running conferences and community events within the UK - 5 GeoCommunity events, 2 OS GIS conferences, 2 W3G events plus a host of smaller events. We understand what is required and will share the main tasks and leadership between us.
¥	Jo Cook and Suchith Anand are well known for their activity within the OSGeo community. They have built a 150-strong local chapter which we will draw on
¥	At the event we will also be able to call on some of the student community at Nottingham to assist in delivering a successful event. Nottingham students include for example PhD students such as Mark Iliffe and Serge Pawlowicz who are active builders of open source geo software.

(3) The core mission of FOSS4G is to be the "meeting of the tribes" of the open source geo development community, which has one set of requirements: it has a very techie focus, people it want to be informal and casual and "non-commercial". Many people, myself included, also see FOSS4G as an opportunity to introduce new people to open source geospatial - to be more of an outreach event, have more introductory level sessions, more non-technical sessions. But to some extent the requirements for this conflict with the core mission of FOSS4G - you risk losing the friendly techie collaborative atmosphere, you risk being seen as "too commercial" etc. Some people in the community would rather see FOSS4G be a strictly developer-focused event.

So to the question ... to what extent do you see your FOSS4G having an outreach function in addition to the core focus on existing open source developers, and how would you address the challenges mentioned here?

¥	We do not believe that creating an environment that supports the technical contributors need conflict with also reaching out to potential users, supporters and contributors. Indeed we would contend that there is little point in building great Free & Open Source Software if we do not evangelise the benefits of the software and the FOSS model to potential users.
¥	The experience of running the local OSGIS event (in its 4th year this September) gives us some experience of arranging suitable lab facilities in the university for OSGeo activities, though mostly focused on demonstration as opposed to code sprints. Jeremy has also been using a Uni lab with OSGeo Live 5.0 on USB to give a postgrad module on GIS web services. Finally, we have also hosted a UK WhereCamp in Autumn 2010, so we're used to informal meetings & developer focussed events.
¥	Running this event back to back with the UK's largest geoevent provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to reach a large number of new potential users and contributors and we hope to extend outreach to interested parties from the wider geo world (in particular the European delegates will be targeted because of the Open Source focus of many national INSPIRE programs).
¥	For the more technical delegates we will provide the space to have informal BOF (Birds of a Feather) meetings, and perhaps a chance to use some of the labs for code sprints. Hopefully we can also schedule some hands on sessions for potential users.
¥	We also have 3 academic organisations represented within our conference team and would seek to build a strong educational thread
¥	The AGI Team and Steven, were responsible for re-inventing AGI GeoCommunity - from being perceived as a Trade Show to a Community event. This community aspect has continued to be a driver for the event with its move to the EMCC last year & Jeremy's chairing.
¥	We hope that some from the OSGeo community will take the opportunity to make contact with a large potential user, supporter & contributor group in the ~500 participants at GeoCommunity.
¥	We are confident that we can produce a balanced event that will appeal to the traditional audience whilst attracting new participants. 

What's your motivation for bidding for FOSS4G? In other words, what's going to drive you to make FOSS4G a success from your (local) perspective? Just a brief paragraph or a few bullets.

Some verbatim responses from the UK bid team
¥	Enjoyment: the thrill of anticipation on day one, and the warm glow of completion after the last session. The feeling of a job well done. A hall full of smiling faces off to fill the world with the greatest open geospatial software.
¥	I want to bring FOSS4G to the UK because it's the best geo-conference I've ever been to and I'm absolutely certain we can throw a really, really good party. In all seriousness, I've been absolutely passionate about doing this ever since Lausanne in 2006. It has been part of my motivation for setting up the UK chapter (in fact it's part of our mission statement).
¥	I've been involved with open source GIS for some time. Back in 2003 while I was at UCL we were funded for a project called ICEDS to illustrate how open source web mapping could allow smaller space agencies to set up interoperable services to serve large raster datasets. ICEDS uses (it's still up at http://ICEDS.ge.ucl.ac.uk ) mapserver to serve full res SRTM of the world & Landsat mosaics of Africa & Europe. mapserver has been exemplary in its stability. I've been excited to see the coming together of projects in OSGeo. Since coming to Nottingham as Deputy Director of CGS, & now Geospatial Science theme leader in NGI to be able to support Suchith in developing OSGIS; our activities in OSM; community mapping in Africa; and open source geo data collection for earthquake damage assessment in the GEM project. I see participating in hosting FOSS4G in Nottingham as a contribution back to a community we've benefited from, and a way to help advance the cause of open geo software in the UK, particularly by linking with my involvement in AGI GeoCommunity. I'd also like to see further recognition of the academic track in FOSS4G as a valued academic exercise.
¥	I can’t write code but I can evangelise, I want to help to grow the profile and usage of OSGeo. I know that we can deliver a conference that will achieve that objective as well as providing an environment for the technical contributors to collaborate and celebrate their successes.
¥	It's a great opportunity to encourage increased contribution and involvement in OSGeo and related projects in the UK and Europe. One thing that strikes me is that interest is high but I feel, especially in the UK, involvement is fairly low. FOSS4G UK would be a fantastic opportunity to change that.
¥	I strongly believe having FOSS4G in UK next year will be an excellent opportunity for building up the OSGeo UK chapter activities to the next level. It will be enable us to strengthen the community and showcase the OSGeo to decision makers in government, industry and academia to get them strongly involved in the process. We have the people and the ability to deliver the biggest FOSS4G success for OSGeo.
¥	The economic climate has created an environment in which people are open to the possibilities of FOSS - there is a willing audience. There is a team in place - we have an excellent team that combines academic, commercial, government, etc.. Working with the recent creation of the UK OSGeo Chapter we're riding a wave of popular support... We've got the resources...with the support of the AGI and GeoCommunity we're able to co-locate this event providing (I suspect) the strongest financial package of all the bids. In short, we've got the perfect storm to produce an exciting event...

A question for clarification for the Nottingham team: Would you package and market FOSS4G and AGI as one event (pretty much like we did with FOSS4G/GISSA in 2008) or will there be any sort of separation / split between the two?

I would refer you to our previous mail response to Paul Ramsey and the Conference mailing list of 3rd April. I have requoted the relevant section below

Our proposal is to run these events as 2 separate events back-to-back in a 6 day period. We envisage that there will be an overlap day for workshops which will attract audience from both communities. 
Registration and branding will be handled separately but we will cross-promote the events to their separate communities to encourage overlapping participation. Registration for the overlapping workshop day will be attributable for each participant to one or other event (e.g. through each event's registration). 
Both registration systems will offer the same dual registration discounts to encourage audience cross-over. 
We feel that separate and distinct marketing will maintain the different messages and appeal of the two events.


Steven Feldman
KnowWhere Consulting

m: +44 (0) 7958 924 101
w:  knowwhere
t:   @StevenFeldman
skype: stevenfeldman2638

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