A Short Guide for Writing OSGeo Local Chapter Annual Report Items

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Every year the OSGeo assembles an annual report. The report provides readers with a summary of OSGeo activities for the previous year. An important part of the annual report is the report items submitted by each OSGeo local chapter.

The purpose of this guide is to help you write a better annual report item for your local chapter. In the guide we examine the typical sections that make up a chapter’s annual report item, and offer suggestions of how to improve the content of these sections. We also offer some example content for each typical section.

Typical Sections

A chapter’s annual report item usually has these five (5) typical sections:

  1. Chapter accomplishments.
  2. Events.
  3. Member activities.
  4. Outlook.
  5. Opportunities to help.

Typical Section #1: Chapter Accomplishments

In this section of the annual report item you list the chapter’s accomplishments for the past year. You can include a brief mention of events hosted or sponsored by the chapter here, but details about the events should go in the events section of the annual report item. Accomplishments by individual members of the chapter shouldn’t go in this section. Instead, put them in the section on member activities.

Here is an excerpt of an example chapter accomplishments section:

“The California Chapter established the Open Geospatial Data Award. This is an award given to a public agency or other organization within California in recognition of their efforts to promote open and easy access to geospatial data.

The Chapter also volunteered to set up a web mapping application of the Friends of the Mokelumne River non-profit organization. The web mapping application was built using the OSGeo project OpenLayers and other open source software. Chapter members will continue to provide technical support for the web mapping application to the Friends of the Mokelumne River.”

Typical Section #2: Chapter Events

Your local chapter may sponsor, host, or participate in events like workshops or conferences. In this section of the report you should provide details for each of these events. The details for each event should include the following:

  1. The date of the event.
  2. The location where the event was held.
  3. The host of the event.
  4. The sponsors of the event.
  5. A basic summary of the event program, and any highlights.

For each talk or presentation at the event, you should provide the following details:

  1. The speaker’s name.
  2. The speaker’s organization.
  3. The title of the talk.
  4. A brief summary of the talk.

Events often feature activities like code sprints, cartography sprints, or mapping parties. For each of the activities held at the event you should provide the following details:

  1. The event coordinator.
  2. The event tasks or accomplishments.
  3. The event participants.

Here is an excerpt of an example chapter events section:

“The California Chapter held its annual meeting on Saturday, October 16, 2012. The meeting was hosted by Jeff Hobbs of the San Jose Water Company. The meeting was held at the San Jose Water Company offices in San Jose. The meeting featured four (4) talks by chapter members.

The first talk was provided by Frank Wammerdam of Google. His topic was global OSGeo activities. The talk provided a good summary of the work being accomplished by OSGeo all around the world. Frank also offered insights on how OSGeo works as an organization.

The second talk was provided by Alex Mandel of University California Davis. Alex provided a demonstration of compareamap.org, a web site he created to help developers compare web mapping APIs.

The third talk was provided by Ragi Burhum. Ragi demonstrated the use of Node.js and web sockets for “real-time” geospatial applications.

The final talk was given by Landon Blake of Redefined Horizons. He discussed the application of OpenJUMP to sanitary sewer network management. His talk included a discussion on the basics of network topology and its application to sanitary sewer networks. He also discussed tools his company plans on developing for network topology management, survey data integration, and LIDAR processing in OpenJUMP.

The event concluded with a brainstorming and planning session for future chapter activities. This sessions was led by Brian Hamlin. The results of the planning session included a list of events at which the chapter would like to have a presence in 2013. It also included a decision to move forward with the Open Geospatial Data Award. During the session plans were also made to hold a hack-a-thon at the Hacker Dojo in January.”

Typical Section #3: Member Activities

Your chapter likely has members that participate in OSGeo software projects, committees, or that promote open source geospatial software through other efforts. In this section of your chapter’s annual report item you can summarize and highlight these activities of individual chapter members.

Here is an excerpt of an example member activities section:

“Landon Blake continued his work as the volunteer editor of the OSGeo Journal. In the past year he worked with the Journal Team to publish Volume 11 of the OSGeo Journal. Landon also gave several talks on open source GIS throughout the past year. This included a 2 hour talk at the California Land Surveyors Association Santa Clara Chapter GIS Workshop that was held on Friday, November 2 entitled “GIS Basics for Land Surveyors (With OpenJUMP). The talk concluded with a hands-on demonstration of the use of OpenJUMP for basic vector GIS operations. His talks also included a presentation entitled “The Demise of NGS Survey Control and What It Means for Your GIS” at the GIS Day event held at University of California Berkeley.”

Typical Section #4: Chapter Outlook

This section of your chapter’s annual report item will be an outlook for chapter activities and goals for the coming year. This outlook may include the following elements:

  1. Events the chapter has planned for the next year.
  2. Activities the chapter has planned for the next year.
  3. Goals the chapter would like to accomplish in the next year.

You should try to be as specific as you can when describing the elements of your chapter outlook. This is bad:

“The chapter would like to increase its membership next year.”

This is much better:

“The chapter has appointed Landon Blake as its membership chairman. He will be working to increase chapter membership next year. His efforts will include reaching out though e-mail and personal visits to software companies and organizations that manage geospatial data. He is currently assembling a list of these organizations for his membership outreach activities next year.”

Here is an excerpt of an example chapter events section:

“The California Chapter has two (2) major events planned for next year. A hack-a-thon is scheduled for January 19th at the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, California. Participants will be working on an open source Python library for raster data processing. The Chapter’s annual meeting has been scheduled for the fall and the Chapter is currently seeking a host for the meeting.

The chapter also plans on awarding its first Open Geospatial Data Award next year. The Award Selection Committee members have been selected, and the chapter is currently seeking nominations for 2013.”

Typical Section #5: Opportunities to Help

You can reach out to volunteers and potential chapter members in this final section of your chapter’s annual report item. To do this you need to be specific about the help your chapter needs. Don’t do this:

“The chapter welcomes help from all volunteers.”

Instead, do this:

“The chapter is looking for Python programmers to assist with the hack-a-thon scheduled for January 19th. Interested volunteers can contact Landon Blake for more details. The Award Selection Committee is also looking for chapter members to help review nominations the chapter has received for the 2013 Open Geospatial Data Award. There are 18 nomination applications that will need to be reviewed before the end of March, 2013.”

A Note On Graphics

It is a challenge to find visually appealing and appropriate graphics for the Journal. You can help the Journal Team with this challenge by providing images with your annual report item. Photographs of chapter events or chapter activities are greatly appreciated by the Journal Team. Please include them in your annual report item submission.