[OSGeo-Discuss] Costly FOSS4Gs

Jeff McKenna jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com
Sun Oct 15 19:00:20 PDT 2017

Hi Ravi,

Great question, and an important topic for Charter members.  I know 
there was a recent spreadsheet of relative costs (I was shown it 
post-FOSS4G Boston), but that doesn't answer your question at all, as 
your question is asking for our own opinions.

As you know, I have attended and help organize many FOSS4G events, 
local, regional, and international, which gives me a good perspective to 
analyze this.  In fact on Friday I'll leave for FOSS4G-State-of-the-Map 
Argentina, which has a full registration cost of 20 USD (yes you read 
that correct, not including workshop cost).  FOSS4G-Europe (I've 
attended most of them) is consistently very affordable, and geared for 
students.  Your FOSS4G-India is also geared for students.  FOSS4G-Japan 
events (Kyoto.Kansai is happening now) is usually held at university 
campuses or affordable venues.  FOSS4G-Asia events are always geared for 
students, and are very affordable.  FOSS4G-Russia events are very 
affordable (attendees must buy or bring their own lunches, and have no 
problem with that). Our international FOSS4G's are not affordable 
however, because the venue costs are so high (usually large conference 
center venues, the only venue that can hold such a high number of 
attendees usually, which has strict rules about food catering, and high 
costs for those) that the only way we can break even is to charge 
attendees a higher registration fee.

As I wrote in my manifesto, the original vision of FOSS4G by OSGeo was 
to plant a seed in a new community - this was my vision as I managed the 
selection process all those years.

Now fast forward to 2017, and what is OSGeo's vision of FOSS4G?  Let's 
be honest, there are now many different factors involved today, than 
back in 2005/2006.  We have such a strong academic, private, public 
sector community in OSGeo today that all have different needs and 
representation.  FOSS4G-Boston, at a strikingly gorgeous venue along the 
Boston waterfront, was heavily attended by industry - as you likely 
heard, it was an overwhelming success.  The harsh reality was that most 
of the core that attended FOSS4G-Europe a few weeks before could not 
afford FOSS4G-Boston (and it's downtown hotels etc).  But that is not a 
knock against the Boston event - as that spreadsheet shows, the relative 
costs haven't changed much, it has always been an expensive event.

So how do we have both, a core event where we can all afford to attend, 
and at the same time have a bigger event that is needed by all academic, 
private, public sectors?  Well, this in my opinion is where our 
local/regional FOSS4G's play a very important role.

If I am elected to the Board, I would like to help bring the spotlight 
to these smaller FOSS4G events, and help introduce some funding to help 
these smaller events run by local chapters (recently I've tried 
assisting several smaller events around the world to get funding from 
the OSGeo Board, and I can tell you that it is very difficult for the 
smaller event organizers to see through the red tape currently in 
place).  I feel that we can do better as a foundation to help these 
smaller FOSS4G events grow and shine.  This is my focus.  (we do have 
Code Sprint funding available, but I'd like to put on the table for 
discussion a "FOSS4G Regional Event Funding" process, to the OSGeo 
Board, in the form of a grant/gift, nothing to do with "profit 
sharing").  This would of course depend on the upcoming budget for the 
foundation.  But that is one idea that I have.

In terms of reducing the cost of the international event, that is much 
more difficult.  I know Ravi, that breaks our OSGeo heart reading this, 
and it hurts writing that, but each year the local committee does their 
best to keep costs as low as possible, given the venue demands (Boston, 
the 2018 team, and the 2019 bidders all must keep cost under 
consideration).  And the OSGeo Conference Committee is tasked with 
keeping an eye on this as well.

I haven't solved anything, but I tried to give you my thoughts on your 
good question. I can tell you that I am very concerned about FOSS4G 
costs, and will do my best to represent your great interests, if elected 
:)  I will also try to analyze this analysis spreadsheet more closely, 
when I see it again (it was only shown to be in a dark bar ha, not the 
best setting).

Good night here Ravi!  Great question.  -jeff

Wishing good luck to all the great candidates this year.  You are all 
rock stars in my mind.

On 2017-10-15 8:44 PM, Ravi Kumar wrote:
> Question  (would be Board).  'Do you agree that FOSS4G is turning out to 
> be a hangout for those who can afford it'.. costs (of participation) are
> so high that many might not afford.. If selected to the board HOW do you 
> wish to correct this..
> Ravi Kumar

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