FOSS4G2020 Q&A Halifax
Questions Mark I.:
- What is the mission of your respective FOSS4G?
In terms of our mission for FOSS4G-HFX 2020, it is essentially “community” or more specifically “the world is one family”; to engage all of the OSGeo family of its local chapters, OSGeo sponsors & partners, service providers, projects, users, developers, students, young professionals, teachers, researchers, decision makers, and bring that world community together in Halifax, and help plant that seed locally in Atlantic Canada, to share the FOSS4G spirit to new potential users, developers, and leaders at the event. We have strategically assembled a local committee with vast OSGeo experience, who have boots-on-the-ground experience at the OSGeo community level, both locally, across North and South America, and internationally. We also hopefully plan on expanding the mission more thoroughly in the full proposal stage.
- What is your commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and ensuring that FOSS4G 2020 is as inclusive and as diverse as possible?
In terms of inclusivity, diversity, and ensuring that FOSS4G 2020 is as inclusive and as diverse as possible, the FOSS4G-HFX team realizes the importance of this, and realize that there are many parts of a FOSS4G event that must be inclusive and diverse, right from the chairs of the event, the local team, the selected program and keynotes, even to the choice of venue, its prices, the event’s social program, and the local customs in the city/country. Part of the strength of our local committee team is that several of our team attended your FOSS4G-Dar es Salaam event in person to experience your & Msilikale’s wonderful diverse event, and have travelled to diverse FOSS4G global & regional events all over the world since year 2004. We are working very hard as a team to make sure that all aspects of FOSS4G-HFX 2020 are truly open and welcome to all in the geospatial community. We plan on expanding this for the full proposal stage hopefully as well.
Questions Steven F.:
- your proposed dates are 14-19 September. These dates overlap with the start of the jewish festivals on the evening of the 18th which may prevent some potential delegates from attending. Is there any potential to change?
Thank you for mentioning that Jewish festivals for Rosh Hashana begin on the evening of the 18th. We have a backup date reserved with the Nova Centre venue for 31 August to 5 September, so it is possible to change our dates. When we were looking at possible venues about 6 months ago, our vision was to leverage a mid-September date to additionally allow for university students and pre-university students to be involved, but also because the local weather is best in mid-September (a lot less rain, bringing beautiful fall/autumn colours and sunshine to the Atlantic Canada region). We the FOSS4G-HFX team will continue to analyze our dates closely. For the record, using our initially proposed dates, the 19th (Saturday) would be the community sprint. We will try to be accommodating as possible.
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?
We have strategically included an energetic OSGeo member on our FOSS4G-HFX team from Mexico, Vicky Vergara, and during a few of our local committee meetings over the past few months she has reminded us again and again that what may seem to be an acceptable price or plan for one community, is far from affordable in the other parts of the world; if our mission indeed involves getting all of the world family together, leaving out those who cannot afford the event’s expenses fails to meet our team’s goals. At one of our recent local committee meetings we spoke about ideas to encourage this participation, credit here to Jérôme with an idea from the OSGeo Ottawa chapter, as well as an idea from Dmitry from the OpenStreetMap community.
We have also been working as a team to try to get as many accurate known cost estimates as we can, in order to give a better financial picture of our actual budget, so we can experiment with different scenarios to encourage more participation; last week we began working on another quote from a third audio/visual company. As you said, this is not easy. But we can try to be as prepared as possible.
We can also try to go as local committee members to as many FOSS4G global and regional events all around the world, to talk to OSGeo local chapter members from areas of the world that might not be able to afford the event, and listen, and do more listening, and take that information back to the FOSS4G-HFX team for discussion & planning.
We have also begun to engage local potential sponsors, and to compile industry-wide contacts for this. All of this has to be in motion now, as our FOSS4G-HFX team realizes that the possible winner of this bid has only 6 months to prepare before registration would begin for FOSS4G-2020 (ok it is about 7 months, but it is still soon).
We look forward to hopefully explaining our plans more in the final proposal stage. We are committed to do everything we can to make FOSS4G-HFX open to all OSGeo family members, from all over the world. One family.
Questions Paul R.:
- Conference centers are lovely but they usually take it out of your hide one way or another. In your estimates have you already included the costs of in-house AV, or wifi, or catering? Sometimes the rooms are cheap but the other necessities... not so much.
The Nova Centre does not require us to use the in-house audio/visual company (only if ”rigging” is required), so after we received the in-house quote, we also have been working with 2 outside audio/visual companies for additional quotes. Last week we began working on the third quote, in the hopes that we can get as competitive a quote as possible.
In terms of wifi, Destination Halifax has assured us on the recent success of hosting 2,900 attendees at the Nova Centre this past May, but the FOSS4G-HFX team has been to so many global FOSS4G events that we know that FOSS4G brings a surprisingly high demand on wifi (IP addresses. bandwidth); we have therefore budgeted for an increase in bandwidth, and also possibly leveraging a custom network for the event.
In terms of catering, we did receive the full menu package from the Nova Centre, and we have budgeted for food&beverage for 5 days of early morning refreshments and light snacks, morning break, lunch, and afternoon break.
The FOSS4G-HFX team is very excited at the chance of showcasing this wonderful venue, its views, and the vibrant city of Halifax and its glorious harbour.
Question Jonathan M:
- Have you given any thoughts to ensuring your conference is sustainable\green\environmentally friendly?
Members of the FOSS4G-HFX team recently returned from FOSS4G events in Tanzania, as well as Brazil, and it is very interesting to us to see how different local committees from around the world handle sustainability and environmentally friendliness for an event (you can imagine the hosts of the FOSS4G-Brazil event being focused on this, as their agency is tasked with protecting the Amazon rainforest). We are compiling ideas and discussing ways to follow the lead of these events, and also make some changes/improvements. To answer the question directly: the FOSS4G-HFX team is committed to being environmentally friendly in every aspect of the event, throughout the whole lifecycle of the event.
Question Jonathan M:
- Does your venue have any sustainability initiatives\credentials etc?
The province of Nova Scotia produces the least waste per capita and has the highest waste diversion rate in Canada. We are therefore very proud to show our many initiatives locally, starting with the brand new venue the Nova Centre, in the vibrant downtown of Halifax. The venue has many initiatives, including:
- received highest standard of green for a building, a LEED Gold building (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
- water bottle refill stations in each room and throughout venue
- digital screens at entrance to each room (reducing generating physical signs)
- Use of a revolutionary Food Waste Disposal System: a self-contained, continual feed, organic waste disposal system designed to convert food waste into water.
- catered food has local menu items that are organic, fairly traded, seasonal and not processed, helping to reduce the carbon footprint and support our local economy
- Meals and snacks are presented on either porcelain or compostable dishware.
- venue regularly donates unused food items to the local food bank (we’ve already requested this with venue)
- and others! We'll explain more hopefully in next stage
- but maybe pictures help more; back in June we had our walk-through of the new Nova Centre (also attended by the in-house A/V lead, so we got to ask many technical questions as well) (link blocked by wiki)
Question Jonathan M:
- Does your host city have good public transport, including between the venue/events/likely-accommodation/airport?
Great news is that just last year a new direct bus line, part of the Halifax transit system, was added from the international airport to downtown Halifax (to Scotia Square, which is literally beside the venue, and within walking distance to major hotels and hostels). The bus only makes one stop on the way, and costs only 2.60 USD. Locally it is called the “MetroX” airport bus.
The FOSS4G-HFX team have been discussing transportation for several months now, and we have several ideas to help the OSGeo family easily arrive and get settled. We are famous in Canada for our maritime hospitality for a reason, and taking care to ensure a relaxing and stress-free arrival and departure and getting around, is part of who we are here.
Question Jonathan M:
- Is the host city reasonably reachable by something other than flying?
We are excited and thrilled to outline other modes of transportation for the OSGeo family, hopefully in the full proposal stage. We can answer now an enthusiastic YES.
- Highlight the contributions (code contributions, documentation, outreach etc.) that the chair/co-chair have made to FOSS4G communities
- How have the chair/co-chairs been involved in promotion/governance (Charter Membership, involvement in Committees etc.) of OSGeo foundation.
- 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).