EGU Townhall 2016

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Ramp Up

Information for the OSGeo Board

Title of the event

[EGU Townhall Session: OSGeo: Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in the Geosciences]

Type of event

Townhalls are "networking events" hosted at the European Geosiences Union (EGU) General Assembly (GA) for up to 350 people.

EGU-wording: "Townhall Meetings are meetings open for all participants in the conference at which new initiatives or decisions are announced to a larger audience following an open discussion on the matter raised."

Townhalls are hosted in the evening following the conclusion of all scientific tracks. The events last one hour and usually have presentations / announcements taking up the first 20 minutes, to allow for an open discussion among the attendees. During this phase, refreshments are provided to ensure a lively and convivial atmosphere.

Expected Audience Size

80 - 100 people

Audience: Topical Background

Free Open Source Software from OSGeo projects affects most if not all EGU Divisions. Currently FOSS (OSGeo projects + R, GMT, etc.) is particularly strong in the Hydrology, Atmospheric Sciences, Earth and Space Sience Informatics and Tectonics Divisions.

Attendees are expected from the following fields (Academia, Research and Industry).

  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Biogeosciences
  • Climate: Past, Present & Future
  • Cryospheric Sciences
  • Earth Magnetism & Rock Physics
  • Energy, Resources and the Environment
  • Earth and Space Science Informatics
  • Geodesy
  • Geodynamics
  • Geosciences Instrumentation and Data Systems
  • Geomorphology
  • Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Petrology & Volcanology
  • Hydrological Sciences
  • Natural Hazards
  • Nonlinear Processes in Geosciences
  • Ocean Sciences
  • Planetary and Solar System Sciences
  • Seismology
  • Stratigraphy, Sedimentology and Palaeontology
  • Soil System Sciences
  • Solar-Terrestrial Sciences
  • Tectonics and Structural Geology
Audience: Professional Level
  • Doctorate Students, PostDocs, Researchers, Activists, Leaders, Visionaries, Decision Makers, Funding Agencies

  • EGU GA location at the Vienna International Conference Centre, Austria
  • Townhall location: The townhall will be hosted in a dedicated lecture hall on the conference premises. Room capacity: Most likely up to 150 people.
  • Preliminary date and time: April 19/20 (Tuesday/Wednesday) 2016 , 19:00 - 20:00 hours. The date will be synchronized with the FOSS-themend topical sessions (Hydrology and Earth and Space Science Informatics) and the OSGeo Training Course which is prepared by members of the OpenGeoScience Committee.
Relevance for OSGeo

how will our participation help OSGeo

  • Continuation and expansion of the "topical bridge head" established within EGU by the first two OSGeo Townhalls in 2014 and 2015.
  • Raise awareness at and reach-out to the European geoscience community by hosting a dedicated public OSGeo event at the largest European geoscience conference.
  • Reach out to young scientists starting their careers.
  • Meeting place for people already active in OSGeo ("meta-BoF") as a large number of people congregates every year at the EGU GA.
  • Reach out to decision makers/elders/scientific activists within the EGU Divisions.
  • Culmination of the "FOSS day" at the EGU GA: The organizers are urged to to schedule all FOSS / OSGeo - related events on the same day. This will ensure we have a large audience and niceties such as "FOSS flashmobs" can be arranged for poster sessions. The "FOSS day" could and should be finished off with the OSGeo townhall, as a "multiplier/bring them all together" event.
  • Peaceful und friendly coexistence: Propiertary platforms including Microsoft, Google and ESRI are also staging dedicated events during EGU GA.
  • Awareness on the decision maker level: Significance of OSGeo within the emerging Data Science / Open Science debate ("-> OSGeo-tailored research programmes ?")
  • Venue rental: none
  • Catering: 2000 USD [Learned/Report for 2015] [required]
  • Promotional material: 200 USD (Posters/flyers announcing the event) [required]

Total requested budget: 2200 USD

Proposed Payment Method
  • No seed money required
  • All expenses (ca. 2000 USD) can be charged on the OSGeo Credit Card (as in 2014 and 2015) after the event.
Support by OSGeo
  • Finacial support
  • Use of Logos
  • Volunteers: Preparation phase, event hosting, presentations during the event (-> OpenGeoScience Committee).


  • 2016-03-02: EGU Programme will become available online
  • 2016-04-16: GOAL: All potential guests have been informed ahead of time.
  • 2016-04-16: GOAL: Advertising material is ready. TODO: Update Steampunk Poster. TODO: new "official" poster for EGU use needed (based on Steampunk Design ?)
  • 2016-04-18: EGU begins: TODO: Personal invites @ the conference booths. TODO: Hang flyers / posters, etc.
  • 2016-04-19 19:00 - 20:00 hours: Townhall !
Action items
  • Request giveaways (flyers, etc) from FOSSGIS/FOSS4G 2016 organizers to be sent to Vienna: Requested 20160408
  • Done: Send invitation emails to potentials and mailing lists (Discuss / GeoForAll / FOSSGIS-Talk / ICA_OSGEO-LABS / OpenGeoscinces / Live Demo / EDU_DISCUSS / EGU-ESSI / AGU-ESSI)
  • Done: Set up Townhall Programme
  • Done: Update Townhall Flyers, print them
  • Done: Get stationary (scotch tape, etc)
  • Peter Löwe (OSGeo Intro)
  • Jens Klump (CSIRO Lead Scientist)
  • Edzer Pebesma (Uni Münster IFGI)
  • Raffaele Albano (Young Scientist Leader in Natural Hazards) [will arrive later]
  • Alessandro Frigeri (tbc) (FOSS in extraplanetary research)
Allocated Budget

2016-01: Budget approved by Board via E-Mail list (no objections): 2000 EUR for catering, 200 EUR for advertising material, etc.


2016-02-16: Quotation requested from Caterer (Motto group), based on last years experience (70 pax, cold beverages, crisps (mandatory)) for 1600 EUR.


The following expenses occurred:

- Catering: 1560,76 EUR / 1697 USD (paid via the OSGeo credit card.) - Posters/Flyers: 26,63 EUR / 28,97 USD (paid by PL) - Stationary (tacks/pins, scotch tape, sticky stuff): ca. 40 EUR (paid by PL)

Synchronisation with other OSGeo activities
Short Courses

POC: Micha Silver

2015-03: Short courses withdrawn due to lack of travel funding for organizers.

Young Scientist Events

C2: Raffaele Albano (

  • Young Scientist Splinter Meeting schduled for Tuesday morning: Townhall will be advertised there.
EGU sessions with likely relevance for FOSS

Names of conveners have been included for those session run by well known OSGeo persons ('the usual suspects')

GI0.3/EOS13/AS4.33/BG1.13/CL5.01/CR2.5/EMRP4.11/ERE1.11/GMPV8.7/HS11.8/NH9.15 Application of Open-Source Microcontroller-Based Kits in Geosciences and Education

EOS14: Learning geosciences in the digital era: Apps, videos and digital mapping

SC38/HS11.47 ECS:Hydroinformatics for hydrology: introduction to data science including data assimilation

SC43:Standards-Based Services for Big Spatio-Temporal Data

SC51:Machine Learning of Environmental Data. Foundations and Case Studies

SC59:How to build tools for spatial-temporal modelling with R and ArcGIS

SMP13:EarthServer: the Global Datacube Federation Convener: Peter Baumann

SMP26:r.avaflow - Progress and remaining challenges Convener: Martin Mergili

SMP32:Advancing netCDF-CF (public)

SMP56:Progress in Space Sciences Fostered by the European Commission

IE1.2/TS7.3/GD7.3/GM1.9/NP3.6:Mind the Gap! Techniques to overcome multi-scale issues in geological and geomorphic processes (co-organized)

ESSI1.3:Earth system and space science applications on current and emerging high performance computing architectures

NP4.5/ESSI1.5: Big data and machine learning in geosciences Convener: Mikhail Kanevski | Co-Conveners: Reik Donner , Philip Brown , Karsten Steinhaeuser , Nicolas Brodu , Rosa Lasaponara , Nicolas Younan , Kwo-Sen Kuo , Peter Baumann , Morris Riedel , Sandro Fiore

GI3.2/EMRP4.18/ESSI1.7/NH8.6:Sensing techniques, geophysical methods, sensor network architectures and data analysis methods for critical and transport infrastructures monitoring and diagnostics

GI3.3/ESSI1.9 Media:From Artefact to Historical Site : Geoscience and Non-Invasive Methods for the Study and Conservation of Cultural Heritage

ESSI2.4:International cross-project collaboration and interoperability of data management systems

ESSI2.5:Metadata, Data Models, and Semantics

ESSI2.6/GI1.6:20 years of persistent identifiers - where do we go next? (co-organized)

ESSI2.7:The Networks of Earth Observation, its coordination and their infrastructures to enhance international geoscience information access, provision and use

SSS12.18/ESSI2.9/GM2.6/HS11.41/NH6.5 Media:Unmanned Aerial Systems: Platforms, Sensors and Applications in the Geosciences (co-organized)

ESSI3.1:Innovative Evaluation and Prediction for Large Earth Science Datasets

ESSI3.3:Earth science on Cloud, HPC and Grid

ESSI3.4:Open Access to Research Data and Public Sector Information towards Open Science Convener: Lorenzo Bigagli | Co-Conveners: Berit Arheimer , José Miguel Rubio Iglesias , Stefano Nativi , Martin Hammitzsch , Bernadette Fritzsch

ESSI3.5/GI1.5:Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) for Geoinformatics and Geosciences Convener: Jens Klump | Co-Conveners: Dominik E. Reusser , Peter Löwe , Markus Neteler , Edzer Pebesma

ESSI3.8/GI3.9 Media:Citizen-empowered science and crowdsourcing in the geosciences. Uncertainty and user perception.

ESSI4.3/GI1.2:3D Point Clouds in Geosciences: Capturing, Analysis and Visualization

SSS11.4/ESSI4.6/HS11.39/NH9.13:Information in earth sciences: visualization techniques and communication of uncertainty

G1.3:High-Precision GNSS Algorithms and Applications in Geosciences

PS1.2/GI0.2:Instrument Design and Development

GI1.1/EMRP4.17/SSS12.22:Applications of Data, Methods and Models in Geosciences

ESSI4.3/GI1.2:3D Point Clouds in Geosciences: Capturing, Analysis and Visualization

GM2.1/GI3.7/NH3.17/SSS12.26:Frontiers in Geomorphometry and Earth Surface Dynamics: Possibilities, Limitations and Perspectives

TS7.1/GM2.3/GMPV1.5/SSP1.2:Digital mapping in the 21st century: share your experience!

HS1.3/SSS12.30:Self-made sensors and unintended use of measurement equipment

HS2.3.3:Innovative sensing techniques and data analysis approaches to increase (eco)hydrological process understanding

HS3.1:Hydroinformatics: computational intelligence, uncertainty, systems analysis, optimisation, data science, and data-driven modelling of social-hydrologic systems

HS3.2/NH1.26:Spatio-temporal and/or geostatistical analysis of hydrological events, extremes, and related hazards

NP1.1:Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive models and Data Inversion In Geosciences

NP4.1:Time Series Analysis in the Geosciences - Concepts, Methods and Applications

AS4.20/OS4.4:Recent Developments in Numerical Earth System Modeling

TS7.2/PS9.5:3D digital geological models: from terrestrial outcrops to planetary surfaces

SSS12.11/GM2.4:Learning from spatial data: representation, inference and modelling in earth and soil sciences

TS7.4/GD8.4/GMPV8.13:Analogue and numerical modeling of tectonic processes

Presentation slides

Presentation slides archived in Zenodo (citeable by DOI)


- Prior to the Townhall (TH) event, flyers and posters were distributed all over the venue (see pictures below)

- The TH was held on Tuesday April 14 2016.

- Catering worked out well again. The caterer charged two-thirds of the estimated total ahead of the event, the remainder was charged afterwards. Total catering expenses: 1560 EUR

- Competition: Several Townhalls were scheduled in parallel, some of them well known for superior catering (-> IODP TH) which drew droves of thirsty scientists. It would have been preferable if the OSGeo TH would have been staged on Thursday night (less competition).

- Of the attendees, 37 persons gave their E-Mail adresses: Attendees came from Uni Muenster, Germany; INAF, Italy; CSIRO, Australia; U of Southhampton, Great Britain; U of Haifa, Israel; ISRIC; GFZ, Germany; U of Pecs, Hungary; U of Saragozza; UNZAR, Spain; U of Valparaiso, Chile; U of Perugia, Italy; U Oxford, Great Britain; U Insbruck, Austria; IMCESSBRAS, Russia; U of Columbia, USA; CDV Transport Research Centre; U of Oslo; ESRI, USA; U of Wagenigen, NL; U of Utrecht, NL; U of Nairobi, Kenia; TROPOS, Germany; U of Paris, France; NCKU, Taiwan; SFU, Canada; RTH, Germany; CNR, Italy;CIMA, Italy; LPGN

- Presentations were given by Edzer Pebesma, Jens Klump, Alessandro Frigeri, Raffaele Albano and [Löwe]

- TBD: Upload presentations ?

Lessons learned

- Once the application for an OSGeo TH for 2017 has been placed, it is very easy to include additional people as co-conveners. This should be completed before the EGU programme is finalized. It will not work on the very last minute or one week before the conference. Being a co-convener could help OSGeo persons to apply for funding to attend the EGU GA. Further, being a (co-)convener enables the person to attend the invitation-only convener-party on Friday evening (complementary food & beverages).

- 2016 was the third year that the "Hellboy/Steampunk" poster was reused. The design has become dated. Since the TH has become established, for 2017 a more formal approach for guerilla marketing at EGU GA should be used. Suggestion: Creation of A6-sized invitation flyers, to be circulated & handed out before the event. Examples could be the TH flyers by Oxford University Encyclopedias (Link) or ENVRI.

- EGU GA 2016 was attended by 13,650 scientists, of which 25% were students and 53% early career scientists Source. This makes it a great opportunity to reach out the people early in their career. There dedicated Early Career Scientist Representatives in each EGU Division which conduct dedicated sessions for Early Career Scientists. It should be attempted to reach more out to these groups. Raffaele Albano, being the ECS representative in NH seized the opportunity and included statements about Open Science / FOSS in his ECS event the next day after the OSGeo TH.

- Additional short courses should be considered. Point of contact @ EGU is Laura Roberts (

- Regarding noteworthy OSGeo-related announcements, Barbara Ferreira, EGU Media and Communications Manager, should be contacted:

- Lowlight: While many OSGeo persons attended EGU, increasing the amount of networking between the sessions, short courses, townhall etc. would be a low hanging fruit. At the moment there is little to no common understanding regarding the significance of OSGeo for EGU (and AGU). It is still considered good scientific practice to stage short courses on add-on modules for OSGeo projects, which exclusively focus on the scientific implication, without mentioning OSGeo or considering to share the new code with the OSGeo community. For 2017, an early shout out to potential EGU attendees (possibly via the Open Geoscience Committee) might help to overcome this "diaspora" at EGU.

- Opportunity: From 2017 on, the OSGeo Open Geoscience Committee will be able to allocate funding on an annual base, which could be used to fund Townhall events. This would eliminate the need to appraoch the OSGeo board with funding requests.

- Opportunity: The option for a OSGeo-funded "price for FOSS code" was discusses with the Hans Thybo, EGU President. This would be easier to achieve than a "EGU Medal for FOSS code" - they're trying to reduce the number of such medal-events.

- Todo 4 TH 2017: Announce the _Divisions_ of the presenters ! In 2016 we had ESSI, Hydro, Planetary Sciences and NH.


OSGeo Townhall poster on the EGU crowdmapping/announcement board
EGU crowdmapping/announcement board
EGU crowdmapping/announcement board
Catering by MOTTO group
"Hellboy" TH poster
Enter the TH
Edzer Pebesma presenting
Jens Klump presenting
Alessandro Frigeri presenting
Raffaele Albano presenting
Reach out to early carreer scientists

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