FOSS4G 2017 Competition Committee

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FOSS4G 2017 Competition Committee

This committee is dedicated to organising competitive events in the FOSS4G 2017 social program. We are at the moment primarily engaged in organising the Map Gallery, which includes submissions from children and adults, as well as the Iron Mapping competition.


All discussions and planning happen through the FOSS4G 2017 mailing list (subscribe)

Committee Members

  1. Heather Hillers
  2. Keith Jenkins
  3. Paul Wickman
  4. Jeff McKenna
  5. Diana Sinton
  6. your name here

Map Gallery

The Map Gallery is a open map competition that has been held at various FOSS4G conferences over the years and has always been well received. The Map Gallery will accept digital submissions of maps from adults and from children. Awards will be given for various categories of our choosing. Submissions will be publicly screened in a dedicated space through the duration of the event.

Submission: Conference goers can submit maps digitally through the conference web site. The Map Gallery will be advertised in the conference submission form, on the web site, on OSGeo user forums and on Twitter.

Awards and Recognition:

Various Award Categories will be selected by the committee. Conference goers can vote online for their favourite submissions. Winners will be announced at the closing ceremony. There will be an immaterial awards, such as Ivan Sanchez' voice on your answering machine. For children's categories a small material award might be considered. Each submission will have a guestbook on the online website, so that the map makers can get feedback on their submissions and communicate with the viewers.

Task List for 2017

  1. Get notes on Map Gallery from Nottingham and Portland, if they exist.
  2. Write Call for submissions Content for FOSS4G 2017 Web Site, Registration site, for Twitter, for user groups
  3. Create Submission Site FOSS4G 2017 Home Page (copy from Portland or Nottingham)
  4. Get space at Conference Venue sufficient for a large display, preferably wall space in the foyer or kiosk area.
  5. Organise materials and hardware for display (large screen)
  6. Come up with list of categories
  7. Organize immaterial prizes
  8. Also organise some sort of recognition (a pin or a certificate) for each children's submission
  9. organise an announcement at opening session
  10. organise an announcement and prizes at closing session

Notes from Previous Map Galleries' Lessons Learned

Opening up the map: map gallery Nottingham
General overview

[Nottingham Map Gallery]

The map gallery was organised by Kenneth Field, Rollo Home and Barry Rowlingson.

Early discussions explored a range of possibilities for the map gallery. A traditional model comprising poster sized printed maps was not encouraged due to the logistical issues required to manage a potentially large number of maps. The lack of a large display space and boards also meant creating a physical map gallery could have proven problematic. Similarly, initial ideas to create a book comprising the best of the submitted work was decided against due to the unknown variables that might have made such a project unworkable. These include the unknown number of entries, unknown quality of entries, unknown size, format and design of entries.

As an alternative, we decided to make the map gallery entirely digital. Entries were invited in two forms, namely static maps submitted as PDFs or URLs pointing to live web maps. This catered for those who work in the print medium but who could supply a PDF instead of a physical map. It also allowed us to showcase modern mapping using cutting edge web tools. The intent here was to encourage not only 'cartographers' but anyone who made maps using whatever tools. The requirement was for some aspect of the workflow to incorporate Open Source (data, software etc) but the work did not have to be made entirely from open source projects. this, we felt, encouraged people to use the right tool for the right job.

The map gallery was open to all - not just attendees. It seemed odd to limit a publicly visible, virtual map gallery to just attendees. We received over 70 entries and many from non-attendees who therefore participated in the conference in a virtual sense. This brought considerable value to the gallery itself.

The map gallery was built to be an interactive web page with thumbnails that users could click to go to the live map or view the PDF. We also had a few videos submitted which we were able to accommodate. A number of competition categories were created to focus on certain map and design features. Entrants were invited to select their preferred category of entry should they have one.

The gallery went live just prior to the conference and generated a good amount of traffic throughout. It provided a really good showcase for the sort of work being produced by the community. See Opening up the Map

For the gallery to work in the physical setting of the conference itself we required display capabilities. Three large plasma screens on stands were used as well as the loan of the iPad 'wall' from UCL CASA. We built a 6 minute video of entries to run in a loop on the plasma screens and including web URLs encouraging people to visit the site and vote for their favorite map. The iPad wall was configured to loop through entries across 16 iPad screens in a matrix. The displays took very little space but became a focal point.

Prizes (engraved globes) were donated by the International Cartographic Association and the gallery itself was supported by the British Cartographic Society. This brought a sense of importance and collaboration to the event...maps were judged by a team led by Kenneth Field comprising members of the ICA Commission on Map Design. The map categories, then, were judged by acknowledged and respected cartographers. Categories were judged the week before the event. This left only the 'People's Choice award as voted for by people visiting the web site and voting.

There were some truly terrific maps entered. Some great work won awards. We got picked up by Wired magazine who promoted the gallery during the event.

what worked

In general the whole map gallery worked terrifically well and despite it being experimental in some senses it came together technically and physically

The work Barry Rowlingson put in to build the online and configure the iPad wall should not be underestimated. His efforts were key to the success and demonstrate the need for people with Barry's expertise and commitment in this type of endeavor.

There was very little on-site maintenance required for the gallery. All of the work had been done beforehand.

We received many plaudits from people regarding the approach and quality of the gallery. This convinces me that future galleries should look at this model to build on for their own. Paper maps are not dead...but paper-based map galleries may very well be!

what didn't work

The experimental nature of the ideas still had the potential to explode in our faces right up to the event. With hindsight, we could have done more to build and test different approaches earlier to have a greater sense of confidence in the approach. We were somewhat lucky the way it all turned out. I wouldn't want to do it that way again...but that said, now we know it works!

It was unfortunate that many of the entrants who had been at the conference were not present by the time the prizes were awarded in the closing session.

what we would do differently

nail the technical aspects earlier in the process to give us more confidence of it coming together.


Seoul Map Gallery 2015


Portland Map Gallery 2014

FOSS4G 2016 BE

[Foss4G Calls For Maps ]

Iron Mapper

Back in 2012, Diana Sinton organized an "Iron Mapper" event at Cornell University. Inspired by "Iron Chefs", participants were tasked with creating a map within 60 minutes. Each map had to use a specific dataset (the "secret ingredient") that was revealed at the start of the event. Some other datasets were provided, but participants were also allowed to download and use any other data they wanted to use. At the end, each person showed their map, and described what they did (maybe 1 minute each?) and then we all voted on our favorites, and a couple prizes were awarded to the winners. It was great to see the variety of maps that were produced, and also what could be accomplished in a short amount of time. This could be a fun addition to FOSS4G, and the resulting maps could possibly be funneled into a larger Map Gallery, or it could just be a stand-alone event.

The Utah Geographic Information Council has held an "Iron Cartographer" competition for at least the last two years, in which features two top cartographers who compete head-to-head. Thanks to Michael Terner, who witnessed those events and mentioned it to Guido Stein, who tweeted about it and got the ball rolling...

FOSS4G twist is that all the work must be done in QGIS (or the open tool of their choice?)

Task List for 2017

  1. Organize a room/space for the event
  2. Create/publish the rules
  3. Pick the "secret ingredient" dataset
  4. Find Master of Ceremonies
  5. Someone to manage the submissions
  6. Someone to organize the voting - is there a panel of judges or does the public vote (phone app?)
  7. Someone to run around excitedly asking questions during the event (floor reporter from the real Iron Chef)

Point / Counterpoint Debate (points, get it? HA!)

A friendly debate between two folks on some particularly thorny issue in GIS? Something along the lines of the NPR show, "intelligence squared" This could be set up as a twist on the longer panel sessions. In this regard I’d like to see it end with a “clear” winner of the debate (gauging audience opinion before/after the debate).

At Bonn there were interesting back-to-back talks by Vlad Agofonkin and Ivan Sanchez on vector tiles and "what the trend means" that had the same effect: two bright minds with different perspectives (although there was no back-and-forth).

There was a great unplanned debate at a FOSS4G Europe between Ivan and Peter Baumann on stage, on a thorny issue, but after they hugged, and it was fascinating to hear and see, the passion, the knowledge, it was exactly what the industry was wondering at the time, really on topic. I can think of some great thorny issues, that would definitely be entertaining to hear. Getting the 2 right people might be tricky though.

Task List for 2017

  1. A room/space: perhaps this is just a twist on a panel discussion with audience participation?
  2. A topic (or two?)
  3. Moderator
  4. Audience voting process (phone app?)

Benchmark Challenge

Reviving performance benchmark challenges. I believe they said that MapServer and GeoServer used to be lined up next to one another to see relative performance in a formal setting. Would some of this nature still be relevant in today’s ecosystem? What software tools would be tested? What performance metrics?

Task List for 2017

  1. A room/space: it is live testing or just presentation of benchmark results?
  2. What is being compared?