FOSS4G Handbook

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This FOSS4G Handbook aims to provide guidance to future FOSS4G and FOSS4G related events, based upon the collective wisdom gained during prior events. It is a continuous work in progress and is a guide rather than a rulebook. Feel free to modify any aspect. If in doubt, ask the community what they think. This event is designed for the OSGeo community. We encourage all FOSS4G organizers to contribute to and enhance this Handbook.

About FOSS4G

Free and Open Source for Geospatial (FOSS4G) conferences refer to a series of events which provides presentations, workshops, and networking opportunities based around Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial.

FOSS4G includes one annual global event which rotates around the world, as well as a number of regional events which follow similar principles.

See Also
FOSS4G History
FOSS4G Metrics

Editing this document

This FOSS4G Handbook aims to be concise, so that it is easy to read and follow. We also aim to collaboratively edit and continuously build this document based upon our collective experience running conferences. As such, we will need to continuously update and delete old text as new ideas come to hand.

The process to follow in updating this wiki is:

  • Feel free to make trivial tweaks to grammar and syntax.
  • If you would like to introduce a new idea, maybe add a new section, or improve an old section:
    • Raise your suggestion on the OSGeo Conference email list.
    • Once a rough consensus has been reached on the list, you may then update the Handbook with the collective wisdom of the list.
    • If writing a new section, consider starting the section with: Draft, awaiting review
    • After updating your text, notify the list again to give others the opportunity to review and tweak.

Section Writing Guide

Draft, awaiting review

The first sentence(s) of a section should describe the meaning of the heading. Eg, if this section is on "Birds of a Feather", then the first sentence should start with: Birds of a Feather sessions refer to semi-formal gatherings of like minded delegates to discuss a topic of interest.

International FOSS4G: [Mandatory, Recommended, Optional, Not Relevant]
Regional FOSS4G: [Mandatory, Recommended, Optional, Not Relevant]
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: [Mandatory, Recommended, Optional, Not Relevant]

Following paragraphs provide specific details. They might hyperlink to more details from an external Lessons Learned type doc. It will likely cover some of the following topics:

  • Key success factors
  • Things that can go wrong, with optional brief examples
  • List of considerations and why choose one consideration over another
  • List of steps to follow
  • Organizations or people to contact to coordinate with
  • Links to external documents, such as a Google Docs spreadsheet
See Also

Preparing FOSS4G RFP

Draft, awaiting review

Selection of the international FOSS4G venue, involves two stages, a "Letter of Intent" (LOI) followed by a full "Request for Proposal" (RFQ). Only cities which attract two or more committee member votes from the LOI move onto the RFQ.

International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Optional
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Usually Not Relevant

The process for preparing an RFP for the annual FOSS4G is:

  • Copy the previous year's FOSS4G RFP directory to the next year, as per:
  • Choose a set of dates for submission deadlines and review periods and very very carefully go through the document making sure they are all reflected in the right places.
  • Get in touch with the conference_dev and teams from previous year or two and get their feedback on the process for RFP changes
  • Do a quick search of the conference_dev archives and see if there's other RFP process / info concerns to be addressed (like Board Face ot Face Meeting, OSGeo Annual Gathering, other requirements that are assumed but not articulated)
  • Update doc appropriately
  • Stub out Wiki pages using the skeletons from previous years and the dates you already put into the doc
  • Get someone to review your changes
  • Announce
See Also

Lessons Learned

Draft, awaiting review

It is highly valuable to future conferences to collect the wisdom gained from prior conferences.

International FOSS4G: StronglyRecommended
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional

In FOSS4G 2009 (Sydney, Australia), we wrote down our Lessons Learned throughout the planning period, while ideas were still fresh. The FOSS4G 2013 (Nottingham, UK) LOC came together after the conference to brainstorm their lessons learned.

In 2020 after the cancellation of the global FOSS4G in Calgary and the European FOSS4G in Valmiera, the OSGeo:UK chapter hosted a global one day online event. Their lessons learnt from this first online FOSS4G are here

If you are looking for lessons learned on online events, check FOSS4G 2021 Lessons Learned.

  • [FOSS4G Conference Reports] provides the attendance, sponsorship and financial reports for each FOSS4G. This is a valuable resource for anyone considering submitting a proposal for a FOSS4G events
See Also


Press Releases

Draft, awaiting review

You should send out public announcements about your conference, especially around conference milestones.

International FOSS4G: Required
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Recommended

Make regular use the OSGeo News feed:

  • initial announcement
  • Call for Papers
  • Start of registration, end of early booking approaching
  • Program published
  • etc.

Publish an official press release for the initial announcement of the conference and when the program is stable and published. Coordinate this with high level sponsors i.e. let them know when it will happen so that they can react accordingly! Get a quote form the highest available sponsor.

You will likely want to collaboratively edit press releases in a wiki page. The wiki then becomes an archive which can be handed down to future events.

Work out where you will send your announcements. It should include:

See Also


  • FOSS4G runs the [FOSS4G twitter account]
  • The account will be passed to the new LOC each year after the conference
  • Use #FOSS4G or #FOSS4G201x in your tweets (maybe also #FOSS4G?????????????)
  • [Tweetdeck] can be used to get a better overview about tweets, notifications, retweets...
  • [Buffer] can be used to define tweets in advance and let them be posted at a defined time
  • NodeXL shows you the tweet statistics in a graph


FOSS4G runs a flickr group called FOSS4G. You can provide images from FOSS4G conferences to this group. You can get a member of this group and share your photos. If you run the next FOSS4G conference you can ask to become an admin to change the configuration (ask Steven Feldman or Astrid Emde)

Event Listings

Draft, awaiting review

The event should be added to event listings.

International FOSS4G: [Mandatory]
Regional FOSS4G: [Recommended]
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: [Recommended]

Relevant Lists include:

See Also

FOSS4G Branding

Draft, awaiting review

FOSS4G is the acronym used to describe events which are predominantly about "Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial".

International FOSS4G: [Mandatory]
Regional FOSS4G: [Mandatory]
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: [Mandatory]

FOSS4G is not registered as a trademark but has a long tradition of being used in the context of Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial. The domain was originally registered by Venkatesh Raghavan (Venka) who later graciously donated it to OSGeo - under the condition that using the name should stay open to anybody who does something reasonably related to Free and Open Source Geospatial.

A FOSS4G event can be the main international FOSS4G conference, as well as a regional event such as FOSS4G-North America. It can also be a local FOSS4G seminar drawing from one city, a FOSS4G stream in a bigger conference, a workshop or a code sprint. The number of participants can vary from ten people (code sprint) up to 1000+ people (global FOSS4G).

Use of the name "FOSS4G" is managed by the OSGeo Conference Committee. As a courtesy, events which wish to make use of the "FOSS4G" name should request permission to do so from the conference committee. Permission will be granted if the event being described is predominantly (say >90%) about Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial and promotes OSGeo.

See Also

OSGeo Branding

Draft, awaiting review

FOSS4G events should suitably acknowledge the OSGeo foundation in promotion material. This would typically include:

  • the OSGeo logo being included on the website with words similar to "presented by OSGeo" and a link back to the OSGeo web site.
  • presentation(s) by organisers (and others) should reference OSGeo

For larger events e.g. the annual international event and any event receiving OSGeo financial assistance, there should be an OSGeo booth of reasonable size and prominence provided at no charge to the foundation

International FOSS4G: [Mandatory]
Regional FOSS4G: [Mandatory]
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: [Recommended]

OSgeo Ribbon
OSgeo Ribbon.

The FOSS4G logo for the international conference has to include elements of the OSGeo / FOSS4G "ribbon" as can be seen in all previous conference logos:, and should also include themes for the location of the current event.

International FOSS4G: [Mandatory]
Regional FOSS4G: [Optional]
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: [Not Applicable]

FOSS4G 2013 used a competition to design the logo. FOSS4G 2011 used crowdspring and were very pleased with the way it worked.

Start on the logo asap as you need it for other early stage documents like the sponsorship prospectus.

City and Date Selection

International FOSS4G Rotation

The International FOSS4G event rotates around the world, and cities compete to be selected to host the event, as described in the RFP process.

International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Not Relevant
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Not Relevant

The regions FOSS4G rotates through are:

  • Europe
  • North America
  • Rest of world

This is caveatted by the OSGeo Conference committee feeling confident that the proposed city/region will attract the majority of the international FOSS4G audience.

So our rotation policy is:

  1. Strong preference is given to the region which hasn't had FOSS4G for 2 years
  2. We next consider the region which had FOSS4G 2 years ago
  3. Only as a last resort would we consider a region which had FOSS4G last year

Prior International FOSS4G event locations have been:

  • 2023: Prizren, Kosovo
  • 2022: Firenze, Italy
  • 2021: Online - Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 2020: Calgary, Alberta, Canada (cancelled)
  • 2019: Bucharest, Romania
  • 2018: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa
  • 2017: Boston, MA, USA
  • 2016: Bonn, Germany
  • 2015: Seoul, South Korea
  • 2014: Portland, Oregon, USA
  • 2013: Nottingham, United Kingdom
  • 2012: Beijing, China (cancelled)
  • 2011: Denver, United States
  • 2010: Barcelona, Spain
  • 2009: Sydney, Australia
  • 2008: Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2007: Victoria, Canada
  • 2006: Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2005: Minneapolis, United States
  • 2004: Bangkok, Thailand
See Also

Selecting locations which align with OSGeo principles

We should select locations where OSGeo principles and Code of Conduct align with the laws and practices of the location where the conference is being held.

International FOSS4G: Recommended
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Not Relevant

At FOSS4G 2018 in Tanzania we discovered that local laws decree that same-sex sexual acts are crimes punishable by the state. This is contrary to the OSGeo Code of Conduct and is something we should try to avoid when selecting future conference venues.

See Also

Regional and Local FOSS4G selection

Draft, awaiting review

Location and date selection of FOSS4G regional and local events should be coordinated with other FOSS4G events.

Regional and Local FOSS4G events are encouraged

International FOSS4G: Not Relevant
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Recommended

There is a tension between supplying sufficient FOSS4G related conferences to meet demand, verses over-supply as multiple conferences potentially compete for the same speakers, sponsors and delegates. FOSS4G History, starting from around 2012 has demonstrated that there is sufficient demand to support both an international conference, as well as multiple regional conferences in the same year. This is in keeping with review of FOSS4G attendee profiles, which show over half of FOSS4G attendees tend to be drawn from the local region. As such, OSGeo is supportive of multiple FOSS4G events being run in a year. However, OSGeo recommends scheduling FOSS4G events such that they don't overlap, and such that there is limited direct competition within regions between events.

Coordination between FOSS4G events is provided via the OSGeo Conference email list. All FOSS4G Conference Organising Committees should:

  • Have at least one representative subscribe the the conference_dev email list.
  • Announce intent of running a FOSS4G conference on the email list, including brief description of proposed event, proposed date(s), location, language, request to use FOSS4G name (if relevant).
  • Network with others within the region. Discuss options of merging potential FOSS4G events and/or ensuring dates and locations don't conflict.
  • Once location and date have been selected, list the event at
  • Also list at OSGeo-Live History if making use of OSGeo-Live DVDs and/or presentation, to ensure DVDs are ready for your conference, and describe breadth of reach of OSGeo-Live to contributors and sponsors.
See Also


All successful events should be planned, and to help with the plan, we have a generic FOSS4G Planning Schedule which can be used as a starting point.

International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Mandatory
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Highly Recommended

When planning an event:

See Also

Infrastructure and archiving

Draft, awaiting review


  • FOSS4G requires the establishment of various infrastructure relevant to a conference. This includes a conference website, registration website, community voting, credit card processing, LOC email list, archiving of these systems for future reference, etc.
  • There may be some opportunity to reuse some of these systems.
  • There should be some way to archive these for reference. In the case of the websites see the year subdomain, i.e.
International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Optional?
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional?

LOC email list

Draft, awaiting review

Much of the organizing and communication for the LOC happens via email. It is easy (and consistent with past practice) to use an OSGeo email list. Archiving happens automatically. There can be a list for both public and private communication, usually named foss4gyyyy and foss4gyyyy-private

International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional/Not Relevant
See Also


Draft, awaiting review


  • This is just a start at the archiving portion. More needs to be added about the requirements for selection, use, etc
  • FOSS4G websites are archived in a basic form at
  • Some website platforms might have export options
  • wget could be an archiving method too, perhaps something along the lines of:
wget --mirror --convert-links --backup-converted --html-extension
  • HTTrack may be the preferred tool
International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Optional?
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional?


Code of Conduct

Draft, awaiting review

Events should reference a Code of Conduct, probably the OSGeo Code of Conduct, but you can choose one of the many other options.

International FOSS4G: Mandatory.
Regional FOSS4G: Highly recommended.
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Recommended if not already covered by the main conference.

Child Friendly Policy

Making a conference child friendly makes it easier for primary care givers (often mothers), the opportunity to present.

International FOSS4G: Optional
Regional FOSS4G: Optional
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional

This requires managing an effective balance between the competing priorities of:

  • High cost of dedicated childcare.
  • Variability and unpredictability of different aged children.
  • Retaining a professional conference environment.
  • Respecting needs of children, parents, and conference participants.
  • Making our conference accessible to a diverse audience, which includes those responsible for children.

FOSS4G Oceania introduced a Child Friendly Policy in 2018 which can be used as inspiration.

See Also

Streaming and archiving presentations and keynotes

Draft, awaiting review

  • Most FOSS4G's since 2011 (needs checking) have recorded presentations and made them available after the event.
  • Since 2014 (needs checking) the proceedings have been live streamed as well as recorded which enables people who are unable to travel to a global FOSS4G to participate online and even ask questions of speakers.
  • Recording and publishing helps to spread knowledge and awareness of OSGeo software


Draft, awaiting review

Videoing presentations extends the reach of conference presentations to a much wider audience, but is logistically challenging, and/or expensive.

International FOSS4G: Strongly Recommended
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional

Videoing is not easy, nor inexpensive. It adds great value to OSGeo in being able to keep the presentations in perpetuity and to use them in a marketing and educational context. Equally, OSGeo has a broader mandate than an LOC to widen the reach of a FOSS4G conference to people who are unable to attend. However, the primary goal of an Organising Committee is to provide the best possible experience for those who attend the event. Hosting a FOSS4G is first and foremost for the visitors to your city and your paying customers and sponsors. Is it fair to have the Organising Committee (or rather, the paying attendees) pay for it?

There are also "scrappy" alternatives to get cheaper, poor quality content. Potentially ask attendees to record with mobile phones are upload to a central source.

As for September 2018, there have been a range of opinions on this topic, and the conference committee is yet to provide clear guidance on a path forward.

See Also


Foss4G runs a vimeo account. Where you can upload 20GB per week. Some conference where uploaded here. A full FOSS4G will produce more than 20GB of material..

  • the account will be passed every year after the conference to the next team
  • FOSS4G Vimeo account
  • Make sure, that you add enough metadata when you publish your video

There is a video landing page which refers to all videos from the last conferences at

An example of a specific landing page for FOSS4G 2016 is managed separately by the LOC or their video team. The code for the landing page is in OSGeo git. You can request access and build your own landing page. FOSS4G 2014 PDX video index is indeed part of the website schedule.




Draft, awaiting review

The OSGeo foundation can be approached to provide financial guarantees for major FOSS4G events.

International FOSS4G: Recommended
Regional FOSS4G: Optional
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Not Relevant

As per our board priorities:

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 advances up front in order to secure a venue and possibly a guarantee to underwrite potential losses or liabilities additional to the advance.

To support and enable these conferences, OSGeo will endevour to retain sufficient capital to offer such guarantees for any FOSS4G event requesting it. August 2015: The Board has been requested to determine the the extent of reserves that it will set aside for this purpose, could be a % or a minimum absolute some or some other formula.

If OSGeo's support is requested, then OSGeo would require a legal body, such as the Local Organising Committee (LOC), or Professional Conference Organisor (PCO), or similar, to enter into an agreement with OSGeo that commits both parties. Cameron Shorter: Noted that legal body need not be the LOC. For FOSS4G 2009, OSGeo signed a contract directly with the PCO.

What follows is a draft set of conditions suggested by Steven Feldman for further comment:

  1. Any FOSS4G seeking OSGeo’s financial backing should provide a financial plan, which includes:
    1. Initial advance(s) required and timing
    2. Potential loss through cancellation at different stages
    3. Potential loss if conference goes ahead but attendance is less than target
    4. Cameron Shorter added: Financial reporting schedule, noting how often reports will be provided, and by who (typically by a PCO).
    5. Cameron Shorter added: Mitigation actions which will be initiated should financial targets not be reached. Eg: If we have not received $XXX funds by YYY date, we will cancel the conference, which will result in loosing $ZZZ.
  2. OSGeo will confirm the maximum level that it will underwrite
  3. OSGeo will need to set aside a reserve to cover the maximum underwritten losses of all FOSS4G events that it is supporting. This will probably limit OSGeo's ability to underwrite multiple events and may require the Conference Committee to select between competing regional events if there are several applications
  4. The Conference Committee will require a member to join the LOC with financial oversight of expenditure, forecasts and risks. This relies on Conference Committee members volunteering for a very high level of effort joining a LOC and keeping close track of finances and the volume of email. - Eli Adam
  5. The Conference Committee will need to continuously review financial risk and may require changes to the financial and operational plans of an event. Likewise requires the Conference Committee to be very engaged and deeply aware of the details of potentially two or more conferences. - Eli Adam
  6. The LOC recognises and understands that OSGeo will not accept unlimited financial liability for their event, any losses exceeding the maximum level underwritten will need to be borne by the LOC or insured locally.
  7. The LOC agrees to remit xx% of any surplus to OSGeo to support future events and other OSGeo activities (I would suggest at least 85% but no doubt this could be a subject for discussion across the community but it should be standard for all events)
  8. OSGeo will need to draft a legal agreement with the LOC that sets out these terms
See Also

FOSS4G nonprofit tax status

Draft, awaiting review

While The OSGeo foundation continues to pursue nonprofit status, partnering with other like-minded qualifying nonprofit organizations to make FOSS4G a tax exempt event may be desirable.

International FOSS4G:
Regional FOSS4G:
FOSS4G stream / Local Event:
This is just a place holder to be filled out later once things are determined, see Also


See Also


Draft, awaiting review

Past FOSS4G metrics are very valuable for planning future FOSS4G events, and should be collected for all events.

International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional

Key questions that we wish to ask of our metrics:

  1. How many people are likely to come from a future FOSS4G event in region X?
  2. In the lead up to FOSS4G how many more people are likely to sign up? Eg: 200 people registered by Early Bird, will we reach our predicted 300 attendees?
  3. In lead up, when do sponsors sign up?
  4. Schedule and workshop planners wish to understand the technical expertise of participants. What is the percentage of OSGeo newbies (requiring "Introduction to ..." presentation/workshop).
  5. Schedule and workshop planners wish to understand which presenters and topics were popular.
  6. When considering whether to sponsor, and how to target spsonsorship messages, FOSS4G sponsors wish to understand the makeup of FOSS4G attendees. In particular, are attendees likely to influence decisions to purchase future software systems.
  7. How much sponsorship should we expect? Where in the world did previous sponsors come from?
  8. What is the most effective way to market FOSS4G? How did people hear about FOSS4G?

Key metrics we wish to collect from attendees:

  1. Registration date
  2. City, State, Country
  3. Sponsor name, amount, sign up date
  4. Information Source: Past attendee,Friend/colleague,E-mail list,Web badge on open source site,Grapevine,Internet Search,Web advertisement,Magazine advertisement
  5. Job Description 1:C-Level Executive,Manager,Consultant,Programmer,Scientist,Educator,Mysterious
  6. Job Responsibility 1: If I Told You I'D Have To Kill You ($1,000,000s),Heaps Of Money ($100,000s),Piles Of Money ($10,000s),Stacks Of Money ($1000s),No Money At All
  7. Reason For Attending: The Technical Networking,The Workshops & Technical Sessions,The Beer,The Sales Networking,Something Else Altogether

Metrics to collect about presentations:

  1. How many people were in the room of each presentation?
  2. Optional: How interesting was the topic?
  3. Optional: How good was the speaker?
See Also

Travel Grants

The travel grant programme is run by FOSs4G's Conference committee. The first TGP was run in 2017, see FOSS4G_Travel_Grant_Programme_2017

This is the old draft, the procedure was based on: Draft FOSS4G Travel Grants

OSGeo Branding

Draft, awaiting review

FOSS4G conferences are expected to promote the OSGeo Foundation at events.

International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Recommeded
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Recommended

There is a symbiotic relationship between the OSGeo Foundation, OSGeo projects and FOSS4G conferences around branding. The Foundation and projects maintain valuable promotional material for FOSS4G conferences, and in return the FOSS4G conferences provides a valuable marketing pipeline.

The extent and nature of OSGeo promotion is dependent upon the size and nature of the event, and availability of volunteers to support the promotional activities. Activities which should be considered are:

  • Include a presentation on an OSGeo topic, often as a keynote. You can find good local presenters at OSGeo_Advocate.
  • Provide a free OSGeo booth or stand. Refer to your OSGeo Local Chapter and/or OSGeo_Advocate list to source volunteer(s) to man the stand. Local Chapters can approach the OSGeo Marketing committee for an Exhibition_Pack.
  • Include an OSGeo logo included in the program and on the conference website.
  • Make use of OSGeo-Live, either handing out a USB or DVD to delegates, using OSGeo-Live Virtual Machine in workshops, making use of the OSGeo-Live presentation, displaying the OSGeo-Live Poster. Options listed here:
See Also

Time Frame


Previous global FOSS4G conferences have had a program similar to the following (regional and local events typically have a similar structure, reduced to match the size of the audience):

  • One to two days of workshops. Workshops are generally 3.5 hour instructional sessions, in a computer lab setting. Workshop instructors provide software, data, and materials in exchange for free conference admission. Attended by 200 to 300 people, depending on facilities.
  • An “ice breaker” event on the evening before the first day. Usually held in a large bar or restaurant, but could be in any venue that allowed for easy mixing and mingling.
  • Three days of Main Conference
    • Opening and closing plenary sessions with all attendees at the start and end. Sometimes additional plenary sessions at the start and/or end of conference days.
    • Approximately five parallel tracks of presentations, with each presentation consisting of a 20-25 minute talk, 5 minutes of Q&A, and 5 minutes of transition time between talks. Attended by 500-900 people, depending on conference attendance.
    • Make the schedule simple. It is far easier to have the lunch break from 12:30 to 14:00 than from 12:20 to 13.50. Try to schedule in no less than half hour slots.
    • A “banquet” event on the evening of the second day. Usually held in a “showcase” venue, examples have included: art museum, castle, harbor cruise, cultural restaurant. This does not have to be a "Gala Dinner" but can be quite informal.
    • [Global FOSS4G only] The Sol Katz Award, presented during the closing plenary session. The award is selected and presented by the Sol Katz committee, the conference organizers need only include 15 minutes in the closing plenary schedule for the presentation.
    • The OSGeo Annual General Meeting. Interested OSGeo members hear from local chapters, the board, and other speakers on the state of OSGeo. It is up to the Local Committee how to place and organize this (maybe exchange ideas with the Board of Directors). This could be made into one of the most central events of the conference. So far it was usually places at either end of the conference and up to 200 people showed up.
    • Birds of a Feather Sessions. Held after the days presentations, groups self-organize to discuss topics of common interest.
    • A lunch time allocated for poster creators to stand next to their posters and talk about them.
  • OSGeo Directors Face-to-Face Meeting. Held before or after the conference, in a board room or meeting room provided by the conference organizers.
International FOSS4G: Recommended
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional
See Also


Draft, awaiting review

Workshops are an valuable component of every FOSS4G conference. They require a lot of preparation for both presenters and conference organizers! As such, be sure to have a dedicated team manage everything around workshops.

Workshops are generally 3.5 hour instructional sessions, in a computer lab setting. Workshop instructors provide software, data, and materials in exchange for free conference admission. Attended by 200 to 300 people, depending on facilities.

International FOSS4G: Mandatory
Regional FOSS4G: Recommended
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional
Workshop Call for Proposal

The Call for Proposal can be aligned with the regular presentation Call for Papers (see below).

Workshop Selection

The workshops selection starts with a Call for Proposal. Anybody can submit a workshop proposal. The selection follows a few clear rules:

  • Graduated OSGeo projects get precedence over incubating projects over others.
  • Each graduated OSGeo project will receive one slot provided there are enough in total. If not first come first serve.
    • Graduated OSGeo projects have to submit a workshop proposal just like anybody else.
    • The Local Organizing Committee can decide to not accept a workshop but has to provide valid reasons to the submitting party. This should not be done on public mailing lists. In case of bitter resentment include the board of directors.
    • If a graduated project does not convincingly confirm their participation slots are filled up by other active projects.
    • Workshop leader/s have to register until x weeks before the conference.
  • Individuals and organizations are encouraged to collaborate on joint workshops.
  • Ideally a few slots should be reserved for workshops that may be not tech related for example for the Education and Data committees.

Final adjudication lies with the LOC!!!

Workshop Venue

The workshop venue requires careful planning! The computer lab systems need to be able to boot from USB. Internet connectivity is a must, both broad and fast. Ports need to be open, besides regular HTTP and HTTPS especially SSH but also "strange" manually configured ports. In general this should not pose a threat to the surrounding network or hardware because we boot from a self contained environment. All the same this must be communicated to the system admins of the host systems so that they are comfortable.

Software Environment

It is recommended to prepare USB memory sticks with the most recent OSGeo Live Environment. Ideally everything should already equipped with workshop specific software and data. This requires some pushing and nudging of the workshop teacher who may in some cases be very hard to get.


Presentations are the heart and soul of the conference and form a large part of the attractiveness. A lot of time and energy will go into making a good program. There are at least as many opinions on how a program should look like as there are people in the community. There is no silver bullet that will solve every problem and insure that everybody will be happy. Therefore it is good practice to make the Program Committee have the last say.

Call for Papers

The Call for Papers typically starts x months before the conference and runs for x weeks. The exact dates depend on local conditions, time of the years, size of the program committee and so on. It should be as late as possible to allow up-to-date information. The program should be published as soon as possible to attract local attendees who will only come if the program is attractive.

The LOC has to expect that more than half of the submissions are submitted within last two days of the CfP and that up to 30% are submitted with the last hours of the call. Relax, there have always been enough submission. Still, many conferences extend the CfP. If the LOC does not plan to extend the CfP it should be very vocal about this.

Submission of papers

Abstracts for talks are usually submitted via an online system. This can be based on the system developed over the past years by OSGeo community members or something new, this is entirely up to the LOC. Successful submission of an abstract should be acknowledged, preferably automatically.

Strategic Talks

The Program Committee should make sure that the program is balanced and that specific topics are not left out. One topic that is easily forgotten is a general introduction to Open Source development, licensing and associated business models. Both the actively voting community and the program committee members are usually deeply involved with Open Source and want to learn about the "bleeding edge" and are bored by annually recurring talks about things well known. But the FOSS4G conference also attracts a large group of "Open Source Newbies" who have no or very little understanding of the Open Source geospatial environment and ecosystem.

Other topics of strategic interest may be geared towards the specific region, remember that typically more than 50% of the attendees come from region where the conference takes place.

Selection and Evaluation of the Presentations

WARNING: The selection process has lead to some unhappiness in the community in past iterations of the conference. The most important take away from related discussions appears to be that the process has to be communicated openly. Having said that it has always been OSGeo policy to give the Local Organizing Committee the final say and fully support its decisions.

Step 1: Community Voting

The selection process has so far been to allow the community (that is anybody) a chance to read the abstracts and make a positive vote:

  • 0 = no interest
  • 1 = medium interest
  • 2 = high interest

Step 2: Program Committee Voting

After community voting the Program Committee goes through the list and checks for duplicates, both in content and also to make sure that presenter / submitting organization are not over represented, skewed. Presentation which miss the point of the conference (for example not related to Free and Open Source and Geo) are usually filtered out reliably. Then the Program Committee votes on

Step 3: Program Compilation

One topic that is easily forgotten is a general introduction to Open Source development, licensing and associated business models (see also "Strategic Talks"). Another topic that might be underrepresented if it is only compiled by involved experts are Use Cases with Open Source. In general the program should cater for the following areas of interest:

  1. Introduction to Open source and the OSGeo Foundation
  2. Business models and the "way of Open Source"
  3. Tech talks
  4. Use cases

Classification of Papers in Sessions

Details about Speakers and Publication of the Program

Academic Track

FOSS4G Notes on Academic Track

Community Sessions

Birds of a Feather Sessions (BoF)

Draft, awaiting review

FOSS4G conferences provide a great opportunity for like minded people to network and brainstorm ideas, and "Birds of a Feather" meetings provide a good forum for this.

Conference organisers can delegate specific timeslots. Breakfasts and dinners are often good for these events.

Typically you create a wiki page for participants to define a "Birds of a Feather" session which are available for participants to choose. The wiki typically includes:

  • Title
  • Proposed topics
  • Timeslot
  • People (people self register by adding their names)

These sessions can also be written on butcher paper or white boards on walls around the conference somewhere.

Sessions can take any structure participants choose to select, but are typically informal and unstructured. A good number of participants for such an event is 4 to 8, which is small enough for all to participate in a conversation without splitting into multiple groups. Bigger does work, but typically requires more structured control of the conversation.

People wishing to set up a Birds of a Feather session should consider inviting specific people they wish to join the event and ensure you get a critical mass.

International FOSS4G: Recommended
Regional FOSS4G: Recommeded
FOSS4G stream / Local Event: Optional


Conference Opening


Keynotes are selected by the LOC and Program Committee at their own discretion. Typically one keynote is given by a high ranking OSGeo officer, for example the president or a board representative and reflects on OSGeo, addresses the community and invites Newbies to join the party.

Closing Session

It is a good habit to have a drawing with prizes (often donated by sponsors) at the end of the conference. It is also a good habit to have a prominent speaker or well known guest close the conference with a keynote. Both will help to have a captivate and keep attendees until the end of the event.


Feedback from attendees is invaluable. Therefore the conference package should include a feedback form (potentially also as an online version?). Returned feedback forms participate in the drawing and can win a prize at the end of the conference.

Social Events

Unofficial start

Social Event

Members' Meeting


  • Event should provide an OSGeo booth - read more at Operate OSGeo Booth
  • Event should include OSGeo Advocate speaker who would present on an aspect of OSGeo
  • The OSGeo advocate(s) are expected to coordinate and man the OSGeo booth
  • The OSGeo Local Chapters are strongly encouraged to hang out at the OSGeo booth


 Draft by Steven Feldman 2019-06 needs further discussion 

It is almost certain that you will need to obtain sponsorship to make your FOSS4G financially viable and affordable for delegates. These tips may help you to generate sponsorship income and to provide a good experience for your sponsors which hopefully will encourage them to sponsor future events.

Get Sponsors on board early

The sooner you have your sponsors on board the better, they provide some financial security for your event, early cash flow to cover your deposits etc and a lot of publicity opportunities to promote the event.

  • Plan your sponsorship tiers, charges, what benefits sponsors get at each level (remember to cost in any free conference passes that you are offering)
  • Prepare a sponsorship brochure or page on your web site as early as you can
  • Delegate at least one member of your LOC to be responsible for liaison with sponsors
  • Make a list of sponsor targets and include the sponsors from the previous 2 or 3 FOSS4Gs
  • Start your sponsorship campaign as early as you can, if your event is running in August or September you should aim to start your campaign in October or November of the previous year.
  • Consider offering an early bird discount on your sponsorship rates (say 10% if you confirm and pay by 28th February)
  • Consider asking for a voluntary donation from sponsors to the Travel Grant programme (e.g. give back their early bird discount) and offer extra recognition for this.
  • Wait to announce sponsors or display their logos on your web site until they have paid their sponsorship invoices

Looking after sponsors

Your relationship with sponsors does not end when you receive their money! That is just the beginning. Consider your sponsors as customers of your FOSS4G and look after them.

  • Designate a member of the team and possibly someone from your PCO to be the point of contact with sponsors
  • Communicate with sponsors regularly giving them updates on speakers, side events etc
  • Look for win win opportunities with sponsors e.g. facilitating new product launches, competitions and other activities
  • If you are running an exhibition space be clear about what facilities you are providing and what the sponsor must do (and by when!)
  • Consider running a Sponsors reception or breakfast as a way of saying thank you to sponsors. Remember to ask any OSGeo board members who will be at the event to participate.

Media Sponsors

Participant Involvement

Privacy Statement

Please consider adding something along the lines of:

 by submitting your email address you consent to us sharing your details 
 for the purpose of keeping you informed of future similar events. You can  
 unsubscribe from these communications at anytime using the unsubscribe links provided.

Visa and invitation letter

Some countries require visa. To ease the immigration formalities to enter the respective host countries, an invitation letter (example) smooth the visa request.


Printed Program


T Shirt


  • OSGeo Live
  • The OSGeo-Live team that provides an image of a collection of over 50 software projects and data and tutorials every 6 months
  • The OSGeo-live team prepares a version before FOSS4G that can be used at the conference in the workshops, at presentation notebooks & and can be given away to the delegates as bootable USB drives. This is a great opportunity to spread OSGeo software and promote OSGeo!
  • The OSGeo-Live team adds OSM data from the region where FOSS4G takes place (e.g. data from Bonn was added in 2016)
  • The OSGeo-live team can add your FOSS4G-Logo or material on the image
  • The OSGeo-Live team will help you with USB and image - please contact them on the mailing list
  • Get information about the OSGeo-Live team here
  • Workshops with OSGeo-Live: trainer can refer to Workshop material [here] (there is a link on the desktop of OSGeo-Live which will open the url)

Location, Directions


Other local information

Internet Access

Most venues do not have enough bandwidth or access points, so consider paying for extra if you can and start early in working with the venue! It can take a lot of planning simply to upgrade the access at the site, even after convincing the venue of the requirements. Be aware that conference venues may be used to large events, but may not realize that "tech-events" have a much larger bandwidth requirement per delegate than other conferences. Delegates are likely to have more than one device, may require non-default ports to be opened (for committing code and so on) and may wish to download large files such as new software during the event.


All ports should be open. This includes the lower levels for SSH, FTP, etc. but also "odd" ports like 6667 and neighboring for IRC, etc.

  • FTP (20 and 21)
  • SSH (22)
  • TELNET (23)
  • SMTP (25)
  • IMAP (143, 456, 465, 587, 993, ++)
  • SSL (443) and HTTP (80)
  • TCP ports 6660–6669, 7000

You may need to work quite hard to convince the conference venue of your requirements, but success or failure with connectivity can make or break an event. Past FOSS4G Local Teams suggested a penalty clause in the contract in the case of WiFi underperformance and an action plan to agree the provision. Apparently this was then never done but it may be an idea to make sure that things work.



On Site: Avoid waste and CO2 footprint

Draft, awaiting review

As an open community, that targets on improving our society, we strongly recommend LOC's to plan, how to avoid waste and offer possibilities to the participants to reduce their CO2 footprint. This includes all levels of material. For instance you can:

  • avoid single way dishes and silverware and other one-way stuff like drinking bottles
  • think about having a non-printed program
  • ask sponsors not to bring too much material and/or only material printed on recycled material in an ecological manner
  • offer a link to a CO2-compensating company, e.g. atmosfair, oeko-fair
  • verify to buy T-Shirts based on fair-trade with ecological backgrounds
  • reduce cooling down by air-conditioners
  • .. (more proposals here)

If possible, inform your attendees about your means to avoid CO2 emission and reduction of waste and ask them to co-ordinate.


survey participants

See Also

Howtos from related conferences: