Synopsis of FOSS4GNA 2016

May 30, 2016 | FOSS4G, OSGEO

I am seriously slacking on my 2016 FOSS4GNA report. Perhaps today I will get caught up.

I’ve been on conference committees before – but nothing quite this large and complicated. To be completely 100% honest I don’t deal with committee work well. Committees work at a slow steady pace and I’m more sporadic. It’s something I came to realize a few years ago and after finally “seeing the light” as it were I removed myself off every committee/board I was on. Since I was part of the group attempting to get this conference South – I was asked and I served on it. You can go the website and read about all the board members. Andrea Ross served as the producer and Rob Emanuele served as the program committee chair and Sarah Cordivano was the community chair. If you had to point at three people and go “how did this happen?” – there are your three. They did an excellent job. You can always look back and go “What would I have done differently?” and probably that answer would  have been “Don’t put Randy on the committee”.

It’s a lot of work. Especially when you fight hard to get the conference into North Carolina and then the Transgender Bathroom Bill becomes a thing. If you had told me a year ago I would be concerned about who pees where I would have said you were insane. I even had to have a sit down talk with my mom who was horrified men would be in women’s bathrooms (as she put it) and So I had to paint the issue with my very wide gray brush. At the end it was “I never thought about it like that so yeah this is pretty mean spirited”.

Everyone did well – there were discussions ranging from “How do we get people there that need scholarships?” to “What do we do for Socials?” to “Do we really have to discard all these submissions – they are good submissions”.

Anyway – A summary is making the rounds on several listserves and since I said I would discuss the conference more:

  • The conference ran from May 2-5, at the Raleigh Convention Center, in Raleigh North Carolina. The code sprint & unconference ran May 6 & 7 at Red Hat’s headquarters, a few blocks from the convention center. A Tour of the NCSU OSGeo Research and Education lab took place on May 6th.
  • The conference featured 1 day of workshops, 3 days of sessions, a code sprint, an unconference, and social events every night. There were 93 full length (35 minute) sessions, 36 short length (15 minute) sessions, 10 workshops, and 3 keynotes. This represented an increase in full length. The rooms were generally always near full or slightly overflowing for particularly popular talks, despite them being big rooms.
  • The conference grew by 33% . There were 558 attendees. This level of increase is very positive, when so many other conferences are in decline.
  • Like 2015’s team, 50% of the 2016 committee were women. Also like 2015, a significant proportion of speakers and attendees were women (in the 30% range), which is great to see.
  • 23 people were at the conference who wouldn’t have otherwise been without the financial support we gave them.
  • From the attendee survey, people were clearly thrilled about the conference… 99% positive feedback. (n=102). The one negative response said they were disappointed there was no lunch served. We’re not sure how they missed it! The venue, the strong program, and the positive & supportive atmosphere were the things people commented (positively) on most.
  • People loved the keynotes, and especially Tamar Cohen’s entitled Extreme Mapping.
  • The video recordings of sessions are being uploaded to Youtube, with dozens up, and more each day.
  • 90% of sponsors rated the value excellent. 10% rated it very good. The layout of the conference was especially appreciated as it meant plenty of traffic for sponsors at all times.

So there you have it – a summary by the numbers. That should gear you up for 2017 Boston .


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