FOSS4G 2018 Lessons Learned

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Previous Years Lessons Learned

FOSS4G 2018 Lessons Learned

This is to document things that the local committee learned, for the benefit of future FOSS4Gs!!

Unique Dar es Salaam Approaches & Challenges

Conference was run as a set of 3 overlapping, synergistic conferences:

  • FOSS4G
  • Understanding Risk Tanzania

We could have done better in making clear what community attendees represented. For example, HOTOSM had some people use a special coupon; but many registered without the coupon, but we don't know who they were, or how many were represented.

Cash and currency challenges were very different than previous conferences.

  • Had challenges with Pesapal at the outset.
  • Paypal worked well, but many African encouraged us to have another option.
  • The need for large amounts cash for certain venue payments was a reality; and some challenges getting large amounts of cash on demand (i.e., cash machine limitations).


LOC Organization



Travel Grants

Bringing as many people as you can is noble, but need a long lead time. Awardees need a long amount of lead-time to put a big trip together.

Response was overwhelming. Huge number of applicants, so selection was difficult. ~350 applicants in the first round; and, ~700 applicants in the second round for >1,050 total. 132 total grants were awarded and 92 people were able to attend. Most of the round 2 drop outs were due to late notification. Of the first 50 awarded in round 1, only 10 were unable to come, mostly due to not getting any supplemental funding support.

Criteria that reflect conference team priorities are crucial for weeding through such a large number of applications. It's important to state the conference team's priorities in the "call for grant applications" so attendees know what team's goals are. All 1,000+ applications were read, but the top priorities were:

  • Tanzanian based attendees
  • African based attendees
  • Woman attendees

Need to have a single point-person "owning" the TGP and can keep it moving. Need to start as early as possible.

Beneficial to have awardees paid after they arrived at the conference. Avoids hassles of last minute complications and no-shows (e.g., plane tickets paid for and then not used).

Abstract Submissions

Paper selection


Code of Conduct

There was a code of conduct violation. It was handled as per the Code of Conduct process. There are some definite lessons we learned in handling this. Key people involved in managing the CoC, got pulled away from the Gala and conducting the agenda of presentations that were supposed to be given at the Gala.

It would be beneficial to have a CoC training session prior the conference. Key people should know their roles and the process in advance.


There needs to be a security plan. There were some people who attempted to attend the conference "off the street" and we needed a plan on how to deal with this.

Sidebar: in Boston, the venue had a dedicated security team and plan.

Academic Track

It was chosen to use as a platform for managing the process Easychair and everything was smooth and easy.

It was chosen to organize the Academic Track with ISPRS (OSGeo has a MoU with ISPRS) and this gave the possibility of having indexed Proceedings and the presence of two people from the ISPRS Council (Prof. Charles Toth and Prof. Chen Jun). The choice of indexed Proceedings is of greater value for the authors and ensures a good level of the papers.

The choice of having a Scientific Committee ensured a good peer-review process.

Moreover, the Proceedings are open access publications, published under the Creative Common Attribution 3.0 License.

The Proceeding where available more than one month before the start of the Conference, giving the possibility to potential attendees to read not only the abstract but also the complete paper.

The Academic Track was well attended; discussions were fruitful.

Chair Persons of the Academic Track should be selected from the members of the Scientific Committee because this, in general, brings to more interactive/active sessions.

Code Sprint

Other side events