Board Meeting 2013-02-26

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This board meeting is a 3 hour meeting scheduled for the 26th of February 2013 at 18.00 UTC. The plan is to use a Google Hangout to conduct this virtual meeting.

Preparation for this Meeting

  • all Board members must have a Google/Gmail account
  • we will use Google Hangout, which has a maximum of 9 video participants
  • test your mic and video camera before



  • [10:20] call to order
  • roll call
    • Cameron Shorter - AU
    • Daneil Morissette - CA
    • Frank Warmerdam - US
    • Jáchym Čepický - CZ
    • Jeff McKenna - CA
    • Michael Gerlek - US
    • Anne Ghisla - IT
    • (Hobu and Matt Wilkie lurked)
  • [10:23] review of minutes from Jan 17
    • motion to approve - 1/Frank, 2/Cameron 2nd, all +1
  • [10:26] on to regular business
  • geotools new contribution agreement
    • motion to approve - 1/Cameron, 2/Jeff, all +1
  • Anne to be GSOC mentor
    • motion to approve - 1/Frank, 2/Daniel, all +1
  • [10:32] open discussion about osgeo priorities
    • mpg: do what osgeo members want to do and will do, and do not try / wring-hands over other things
    • mpg suggests 4 lists: "I+" (where income comes from), "I-" (where income not expected from), "E+" (planned expenses), "E-" (expenses we don't want)
    • I+: conference income primary source
    • E+: expenditure to main & regional conferences
    • mpg: "accept, but not chase" spnsorships
    • cameron: size of risk/income/expense should all be in proportion
    • jeff: small regional conferences are unsure if they can come to OSGeo proper for support - yes, they can - need to make this explicit/in writing
    • cameron: minimum suggested amount in bank - 50-80K?
    • mpg asks: how much return on investment for events?
    • cameron: suggests 1.10x, i.e. $1K investment ideally yields $1.1K return
    • jeff: does this mean each FOSS4G must generate 100K?
    • cameron: worst case scenario to break-even -- get back what we invested
    • cameron: codesprints supported by excess funds, different category from events
    • noted that "codesprint is a pure loss-making activity"
    • all generally in favor of "matching funds" policy
    • noted that these are principles and guidelines, not strict rules
    • jeff: "we're here to support"
    • cameron: we should not be paying for booths
    • frank (on IRC) clarifies: I think the idea is that paying for booth space at tradeshows can be very expensive and not a particularly good use of our funds.
    • jeff: line item for 'advocate travel' -- still valid? -- unsure of who is able to use this, so maybe we should place these funds elsewhere
    • cameron: if they want us, they should pay for us
    • mpg/daniel: distinguish between "advocate" travel and "board business" travel
    • anne: sees a similarity between OSGeo, an umbrella org for local chapters and software projects, and Italian Linux Society: both sometimes need to revisit their goals, because an umbrella org is meant to work on a different level than a local/software-specific group, and it is not always evident what the umbrella organisation tasks are.
    • frank: speaks of our "corporatist" beginnings, via Autodesk, but moving now towards grassroots
    • mpg applauds this sentiment
    • various terms suggested: "cheap", "scrappy", "spunky", "lean", "minimalist"
    • anne notes: would like to see more cooperation among projects and osgeo funding the meetups of osgeo projects' communities - some cooperation takes place during GSoC but not as primary goal
    • mpg wonders aloud what mlucas and pmbatty would say to these discussions
    • aghisla: foss4g barcelona was not appealing for developers, more for presenting technologies and make a great "show" - forgive the term, this feedback has been given by many developers she knows
    • frank: we are not all things to all people
    • jeff: we should provide "an environment in which OSGeo service providers could thrive"
    • cameron: if the service provider effectiveness was important, how come no one has stepped up to fix it?
    • mpg: is SPD a core priority for us?
    • various: go to discuss list, throw a little money at it, have a contest, kill it, ...
    • cameron: livedvd at conferences
    • mpg: support for communities that already exist… or support incubation of new ideas w/o a community yet?
    • jeff: livedvd is important for education/training
    • cameron: livedvd aimed at value to users, which means projects already extant
    • jeff: "osgeo labs"... big success, goes back to an MOU with ICA
    • anne speaks to the value of Suchith's work - and the great momentum in last months - OSGeo should be more vocal on education initiatives, as university environment shows so much interest and willingness to cooperate
    • mpg - points to osgeo labs as model if success -- low $ but high visibility, and no work from board to date
    • frank: "we just have to be supportive", stay out of their way (which is not to imply that we have been in their way)
    • jeff: we are farther than just "…and we support education too" - we must publish/share our OSGeo Labs success
    • discussion turns to local chapters
      • mpg: LCs are low overhead for board, but big impact - another example of how ogee foundation is a win
      • mpg notes half his dev team came out of local chapter, promises to write some stuff about value & benefits of LCs
      • anne: speaks on osgeo journal, asks about value of the local chapter reports, and how to improve communication among local chapters
      • anne: italian chapter was created long before becoming osgeo local chapter and connection is still weak, mostly there is doubt on what italian chapter and OSGeo should share
      • jeff: often during travel am asked "why create a chapter?" - would be nice to have published success stories to point to
      • various: local events, networking, language affiliation, ...
      • cameron: note no need for overhead, funding, etc
      • daniel: local chapter "precursor" can be helped to perceive when it's appropriate to form a formal local chapter
      • anne points to local chapter mailing list to share experiences on how and why to establish local chapters
      • frank points to
    • Q: should the board be paid travel expenses to the annual mtg?
      • mattw: "as an outsider, I think board members should be helped/encouraged to make the annual FOSS4G's, and funded to do so."
      • and what about conference registration expense?
      • frank says this is anti-scrappy
      • straw poll taken (I did not record votes, sorry)
  • all agreed to take rest of issues to mailing list and/or next meeting
  • [1:20] adjourn

Assigned Tasks


Board Priorities

A productive virtual meeting of the OSGeo Board resulted in general consensus over OSGeo's priorities, which in turn should help the OSGeo Board and OSGeo committees when guiding OSGeo into the future.

These principles are:

  • OSGeo should act as a low capital, volunteer focused organisation.
  • OSGeo should focus support on OSGeo communities and initiatives which support themselves.

Current priority areas include:

  • Global, regional and local FOSS4G related events, or events which include a FOSS4G stream.
  • Marketing OSGeo, which is currently focused around OSGeo-Live.
  • Education, which is currently focused around the network of Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Laboratories.
  • Local Chapters, as outreach initiatives are typically driven at the local level.

So lets expand on these:

OSGeo as a low capital, volunteer focused organisation

Should OSGeo act as a high capital or low capital organisation? I.e., should OSGeo dedicate energy to collecting sponsorship and then passing out these funds to worthy OSGeo causes.

While initially it seems attractive to have OSGeo woo sponsors, because we would all love to have more money to throw at worthy OSGeo goals, the reality is that chasing money is hard work. And someone who can chase OSGeo sponsorship is likely conflicted with chasing sponsorship for their particular workplace. So in practice, to be effective in chasing sponsorship, OSGeo will probably need to hire someone specifically for the role. OSGeo would then need to raise at least enough to cover wages, and then quite a bit more if the sponsorship path is to create extra value.

This high capital path is how the Apache foundation is set up, and how LocationTech propose to organise themselves. It is the path that OSGeo started following when founded under the umbrella of Autodesk.

However, over the last seven years, OSGeo has slowly evolved toward a low capital volunteer focused organisation. Our overheads are very low, which means we waste very little of our volunteer labour and capital on the time consuming task of chasing and managing money. Consequently, any money we do receive (from conference windfalls or sponsorship) goes a long way - as it doesn't get eaten up by high overheads. As discussed and agreed by the board, this low capital path is something that is working very well for us, and the path we should continue to follow.

Support initiatives which support themselves

With the thousands of great initiatives and opportunities that OSGeo could get involved in, and limited budget, how should OSGeo set funding priorities? Acknowledging that our volunteer community is blessed with many talented individuals, our most effective way to tap into community potential is to welcome individuals to "help scratch their itch". Extending on this, funding priorities should follow the actions of already has successful communities. (Note the difference between "talk" and "action"). If a task or project is important enough, it will attract volunteers and/or sponsors to make it happen. In practice, this will usually equate to providing co-contributions rather than outright funding.

OSGeo's focus should be on initiatives which are of value to all or most OSGeo projects, and to get best value for our limited budget, OSGeo should target initiatives which have high value with minimal investment.

With that in mind our priorities should be:

  • Cover the costs of running OSGeo: Bank fees, insurance, infrastructure, hosting etc.
  • Support marketing and out reach activities, with a primary focus on our FOSS4G global conference, followed by regional and then local FOSS4G or related events.
  • Educational type activities are a high priority, but likely will be a zero cost activity from OSGeo's perspective.
  • Other initiatives which fit our priorities, as suggested by membership.

Initiatives which probably wouldn't quality:

  • Sponsoring core development of a particular project. (Too expensive, and only supports one project)
  • OSGeo speaker travel expenses, or booth registration costs at a conference. (If conferences/local community feel this is important, they will either: 1. pay for the keynote, 2. make use of local talent, 3. waive fees for our non-profit, 4. find a local sponsor)

Conferences and related events

Conferences are financially risky events. They need to be planned well in advance, and you are never sure how many people will turn up, or whether some global event will have a substantial impact on registrations. Consequently, conferences such as FOSS4G require financial guarantees up front in order to secure a venue. To support and enable these conferences, OSGeo will endevour to retain sufficient capital to offer such guarantees for any FOSS4G event requesting it. If OSGeo's support is requested, then OSGeo would expect these events to budget for a modest profit under conservative estimates, and for OSGeo to retain profits from such events. To date, such profits, while relatively modest, have been OSGeo's primary income source.

Other spatial conferences regularly request an OSGeo involvement, such as providing presenters, workshops, OSGeo-Live DVDs for distribution, or providing a booth. OSGeo facilitates such requests to the level we can achieve with interested volunteers, but typically expects the conference or sponsors to cover expenses.

OSGeo has limited budget set aside for code sprints, which are seen as a valuable forum for giving directly back to development teams. OSGeo will typically expect co-contributions from interested sponsors, and would prefer to support code sprints which are of benefit to multiple projects and communities.


OSGeo is very supportive of educational initiatives which is helping the spread of OSGeo to students across the globe. This is currently focused around the growing network of Open Source Geospatial Research and Education Laboratories within Universities around the world.

This educational initiative is currently progressing well without requiring OSGeo's financial support.

Packaging and Marketing

OSGeo's marketing effort has primarily been focused around the packaging and documentation efforts of OSGeo-Live, and to a lesser extend, osgeo4w. In 2012, OSGeo-Live was used at 45 events without OSGeo's financial support. It has been entirely driven by volunteer labour, with 140 OSGeo-Live volunteers, and printing costs have been covered by local events or sponsors.

In the last couple of years, OSGeo has covered local chapter expenses required to purchase non-consumable items for conference booths (such as a retractable banner).

In moving forward, OSGeo hope to extend marketing reach by providing co-contributions toward printing costs of consumable items at conferences, such as toward OSGeo-Live DVDs.

Local Chapters

Much of OSGeo's marketing initiates are applied at the local level. In many cases, this is best supported through as little as an email list and wiki page. OSGeo also supports local chapters by offering to pay for an Exhibition starter pack for local chapters. Local chapters are also usually the coordinators of conferences and related events, as mentioned above.


OSGeo will continue to welcome sponsorship. Due to OSGeo's low capital model, we are able to make sponsor's contribution provide substantial benefit to the greater OSGeo community. In return, we promote sponsors' logos on our website and through our OSGeo-Live marketing pipeline (which was used at 45 geospatial events around the world in 2012).

However, OSGeo is doesn't plan to either task volunteers with specifically chasing sponsors, or hire someone to chase sponsorship on OSGeo's behalf.