FOSS4G2020 Q&A Calgary

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Updated Listing of our Local Organizing Committee

Questions Mark I.:

  • What is the mission of your respective FOSS4G?
  • Answer:

Calgary is a hub for geospatial science and technology, and one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurial hotspots, with this in mind, the Calgary mission for the 2020 FOSS4G Conference is “OpenSource for Business”. We believe that the business community can learn a tremendous amount from the Open Source community, and has an incredible opportunity to leverage open source technology and build towards the future. Building on the strong base of geospatial knowledge and expertise we would work to highlight the value of open source technology to private and public enterprise, to grow adoption of the technology, and to encourage geospatial innovation across industries and sectors. Calgary is ideally suited because:

    • The City of Calgary was ranked as “Canada’s Most Mature GIS Program” (source) in a 2018 survey conducted by the Public Sector Digest.
    • 25% of all Canadian geomatics, navigation and global positioning firms are headquartered in Alberta (source)
    • The Geomatics Engineering Program at the University of Calgary was recognized as #2 in world, behind Hong Kong Polytechnic (source)
    • Alberta is a hub of geospatial innovation – since 2009 TECTERRA has engaged with 187 Alberta-based companies including 85 start-ups, investing $45M in 71 industry-led projects and creating $210M of economic impact with over $380M projected by March 2022 (source: TECTERRA)
    • Calgary is the fourth most livable city in the world according to the Economist Magazine (source)

If FOSS4G were hosted in Calgary we would work to knit the business community and the open source community tighter together, so that each can benefit from the opportunity. Alberta is Open for Business and our mission

  • What is your commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and ensuring that FOSS4G 2020 is as inclusive and as diverse as possible?
  • Answer:We recognize that in order to foster inclusivity and diversity while hosting a renowned international event such as FOSS4G that we need to start from the ground level locally. That is why we are engaging our city, our economic development organizations, our tourism bureaus, our institutions and our business community to ensure that every individuals within the Geospatial Community here can have the opportunity to participate and influence the conference. To build on our strong local base, we need to ensure that the program development is rich with presenters, sessions, workshops and social programs that will attract individuals from around the world. We intend to work closely with our local tourism bureau to build out social program not just for delegates but for their families as well to generate additional excitement and draw to our destination.

To that end we will be soliciting sponsorship to ensure that childcare is available to attendees during the conference.

The organizing committee of the Calgary FOSS4G bid welcomes the opportunity to co-locate with an Aboriginal Mapping Network workshop. This partnership would positively encourage the cross-pollination of ideas and technologies across cultures and geographies. The Aboriginal Mapping Network is delivering workshops with a greater focus on FOSS tools, including QGIS because of the ease of adoption for communities. This partnership will positively benefits both events by building a two way relationship between community technology users and developers of the technologies themselves.

Calgary is a diverse and multicultural city and FOSS4G is no different, our conference Code of Conduct will reflect the need to accommodate a wide range of values while still remaining true to the foundations upon which OSGeo is based.

Questions Steven F.:

  • early bird registration will be approximately $650.00 US while regular conference fee would be $800.00 US” there has been a lot of discussion about making FOSS4G more affordable, do you have any thoughts on this?
  • Answer: At this point we have very conservatively estimated available sponsorship dollars while anticipating the high end of costs associated with hosting the conference which has allowed us to meet the past registration numbers attained in Boston in 2017. That being said, we anticipate the ability to secure significantly more sponsorship allowing us to pass additional savings on to delegates. It is also worth mentioning that Alberta is the only province in Canada that only has one sales tax that will allow us to stretch dollars further. As with previous FOSS4G conferences, we will be setting up a travel grant program to ensure that delegates without the financial means are able to attend. Through the travel grant program we will be offering free and reduced registration for qualified persons.

Questions Till A.:

  • I would like to stress the point about costs. In the call we say "We hope to keep cost per participant under $650 USD for the conference (plus workshops).". As former chair I know about the difficulties FOSS4G teams have finding the right price for the conference. But can you tell something on how you are planning to enable people, who can not afford the conference fee and/or accommodation costs, to attend to your conference?
  • Answer: Again as we were working through the preliminary budget for FOSS4G we very conservatively estimated the ability to source sponsorship dollars for this conference. We are confident that by engaging our local community we will have the ability to pass cost savings on to our delegates. We can also confidently say that August is a slower period for the city of Calgary which will give the LOC the ability to negotiate lower guest room rates and venue costs as well as provide an abundance of accessible and cost efficient airfare into the city. Calgary has many post-secondary institutions with on-campus housing. We will be consulting these institutions in order to find affordable accommodation for those who do not wish to stay near the venue.We also hope to far exceed the minimum Travel Grant commitment that would allow for costs associated with travel, accommodation and registration to be supplemented or waived for some attendees.

Questions Eli A.:

  • It seems that the venue might be charging a fee for wifi, is that fee to the attendees or the LOC when renting the venue? "Wifi and hardwired internet will be available to attendees for a fee." In past years, wifi without a fee has been critically important and the wifi has to be able to handle lots of traffic (major project releases that everyone downloads at once) and not block ports for IRC or other non-http(s) protocols. Can you clarify the wifi?
  • Answer:Yes, our venue would indeed charge for wifi as most do. However we have budgeted for this as an additional line item and additional costs will not be passed on to delegates individually. The venue itself has a Cisco network which can expand to up to 55 access points and 200 radio broadcast relays on three separate bandwidths or channels for convention-goers, presenters and exhibitors. We recognize that in order to host a successful FOSS4G Conference that internet is a crucial component so to learn more about venue wireless and hardwired capabilities please visit Calgary Convention Center Digital Connections

Questions Paul R.:

  • While 1000 is a fair guestimate for potential attendance, it's important to note that in the past that kind of figure requires a good deal of local attendance. Are there major Alberta corporate / government users of open source geospatial who are likely to attend, present, sponsor?
  • Answer: The greater Calgary area has a population of over 1.5M as of 2016, with a median age of 36.8 years old. We are young and populous city with a rapidly growing interest in technology. (source)

Calgary has a robust population of both developers and users for geospatial software and we are confident in our ability to attract 1,000+ people. Past GEOAlberta events have audiences of over 300, and past TECNOVATE events have audiences of nearly 500. As stated above, Calgary is ideally suited because:

  • 25% of all Canadian geomatics, navigation and global positioning firms are headquartered in Alberta (source)
  • The Geomatics Engineering Program at the University of Calgary was recognized as #2 in world, behind Hong Kong Polytechnic (source)
  • Alberta is a hub of geospatial innovation – since 2009 TECTERRA has engaged with 187 Alberta-based companies including 85 start-ups, investing $45M in 71 industry-led projects and creating $210M of economic impact with over $380M projected by March 2022 (source: TECTERRA)
  • Calgary is the fourth most livable city in the world according to the Economist Magazine (source)

There are many energy and technology companies who use open source geospatial software like PostgreSQL (and PostGIS), Geoserver, QGIS. Indeed, many of the energy companies in Calgary make use of provincial and federal open data sources like the national hydro network and hydrometric monitoring stations. They would be very interested to learn of the OpenSource standards driving some the the technology they use everyday [1]. Many of TECTERRA’s portfolio companies use FOSS to drive the technology behind their businesses and these companies would attend in order to share with and learn from the open source community. We have already secured sponsorship from Sparkgeo and are actively pursuing other Western Canadian companies and government organizations for sponsorship. The City of Calgary has a diverse open data portal and it is actively being used by the citizens of Calgary to for both personal and professional projects [2]. We expect attendees from outside of the geospatial community to attend the conference as they learn more about the power of open source technologies and open data.


  • Calgary has the highest head office concentration of major cities in Canada - FP500 Database, 2018
  • Calgary has the second highest small business concentration of major cities in Canada – Statistics Canada, 2017
  • Calgary has high deal velocity and large deal size (average deal size estimated at $197 million compared to $99 million in Toronto and $24 million in Vancouver) – The Banker, 2018
  • Calgary ranked #3 of the top 10 large North American Cities of the Future for business friendliness – fDi American Cities of the Future, 2017/2018
  • Calgary had the highest research and development expenditures among its Canadian peers – Deloitte, 2015
  • Calgary files the most patents per capitia in Canada.
  • Calgary ranked 1st in business cost competitiveness in sectors:
    • Drone Manufacturing
    • Research & Development
    • Food & Beverage Processing

Questions Jonathon M:

  • Have you given any though to ensuring your conference is sustainable\green\environmentally friendly?
  • Answer: The city of Calgary itself has earned widespread kudos for its green initiatives. The C-Train system has been entirely wind-powered since 2001. The city’s 700-kilometre network of paved paths and 300 kilometres’ worth of bikeways are the envy of many an urban centre. Calgary is the largest municipal user of renewable electricity in Canada, and local home builders helped to pioneer the Built Green standard. Coupled with the green initiatives that both our venues and hotels have we are confident that we can build on the reputation of our destination hosting environmentally sound events.

Meeting Efficiencies

  • Recycling programs: paper, cardboard, cans and bottles, plastic
  • Water coolers
  • Energy-efficient office machines
  • Low-flow toilets and urinals
  • Using recycled paper

Guest Efficiencies

  • C-Train access: Wind-powered alternative energy
  • Direct hotel connections: Less air pollutant emissions
  • In-house caterers use green practices
  • Environmentally friendly suppliers

  • Does your venue have any sustainability initiatives\credentials etc?
  • Answer: The Calgary TELUS Convention Centre was the first building in Calgary to earn Go Green certification from BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) Canada in 2005, in recognition of responsible environmental practices in building operations. More recently, the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre received BOMA Building Environmental Standards (BESt) Level 3 certification, defined by BOMA as having “energy and environmental performance in mind for several years . . . management in these buildings is usually forward-thinking, with flexibility to pursue environmental initiatives.”

The Calgary TELUS Convention Centre continues to use responsible environmental practices. By buying renewable “green” power, operating extensive recycling programs and using energy-efficient lighting and low-flow toilets and urinals, we’re making good on our mission to provide an eco-friendly facility for the enjoyment of our employees, stakeholders, and the public.

Building Efficiencies

  • 10% renewable “green” power
  • Energy-efficient lighting
  • Recycling programs: building materials, pallets, computers, toner cartridges
  • Proper disposal for unused chemicals and paints
  • “Smart” escalators and air handling units
  • Energy-efficient ice machines with ozone-friendly refrigerants
  • Certified “green” cleaning products
  • Organic-based chemicals for boilers
  • Energy management systems
  • Motion-sensor lighting

  • Does your host city have good public transport, including between the venue/events/likely-accommodation/airport? (note: taxi's are not public transport ;-) )
  • Answer:The venue that we are proposing to host the OsGeo Conference is physically connected to three 4 star properties and within a 10 minute walking distance to over 3000 more hotel rooms. We do not anticipate that delegates will need transportation during their stay in Calgary with the exception of the workshops we intend to host at the University of Calgary. The University is easily accessible from the downtown core via our C-Train system which costs $3.30 per 90 minute one time use. In respects to arrivals and departures from the airport, besides taxis (approx.. $40.00) and Uber (approx. $30.00), delegates would have the ability to take an airport shuttle directly to and from their respective hotel in downtown ($10-$15.00).

  • Is the host city reasonably reachable by something other than flying?
  • Answer: Realistically, due to our location near the Western Coast, any mode of transport besides flying would be arduous and time consuming. Although bus routes via Greyhound are very common within Canada, delegates from outside of the country are encouraged to fly.

Questions Venka:

  • Highlight the contributions (code contributions, documentation, outreach etc.) that the chair/co-chair have made to FOSS4G communities
  • Answer:Through our LOC, we have supported previous FOSS4G conferences with sponsorship money and have contributed both code and documentation with repositories like the STAC validator.

  • How have the chair/co-chairs been involved in promotion/governance (Charter Membership, involvement in Committees etc.) of OSGeo foundation.
  • Answer:Members of the LOC have given presentations on open source technologies at Alberta Geomatics Group events and local post secondary institutions. Our members are actively promoting the OSGeo foundation in order to create a wider community within Alberta.

  • Please elaborate on your local committee member's experience in planning OSGeo events (such as involvement in FOSS4G-global event teams, OSGeo local chapter event planning, or OSGeo code sprints).
  • Answer:While we have not planned OSGeo events in the past, we have planned and executed hackathons and code sprints using open data. Members of out LOC have attended and sponsored FOSS4G events, including the past conference in Tanzania. We are aware of the immense planning that goes into putting on a FOSS4G event and have experience with similar events.