StateoftheMap Organizing Committee/Minutes/2015/2015-05-29 Meeting

From OpenStreetMap Foundation

SotM WG meeting, with OSMF Board present

Previous minutes: StateoftheMap Organizing Committee/Minutes/2015/2015-05-28 Meeting


May 29th 2015, 20:00 GMT

Meeting called with short-notice to discuss issues holding an OSMF conference nearby(in time and geography) to a OSM US run conference.


  • Rob N (SotM WG, interim lead)
  • Gregory M (SotM WG)
  • Richard W (SotM-WG) - for first half of meeting.
  • Serge W (SotM WG)
  • Henk H (OSMF Board and SotM WG)
  • Paul N (OSMF Board)
  • Dermot (OSMF Board)
  • Frederik R (OSMF Board)
  • Kathleen D (OSMF Board)

Absent Apologies

  • Randy M (SotM-WG)
  • Oliver K (OSMF Board)
  • Kate C (OSMF Board)

Introduction / Current situation

Rob: SotM-WG is happy with all three bids from a technical point of view. This may be seen as good but in the lack of any strategic direction from the board this leads the working group to difficulty in choosing.

Rob:Montreal bid has led to a few potential concerns, differing views on the concerns within the SotM-WG. Dates could clash with SotM US, but us declaring 2016 event fist may give us more strength with SotM US avoiding close overlap but no formal agreement between OSM US and OSMF.

Rob: I want to stress - I do not want members of group to feel they can’t support a bid because of bigger strategical views. (Invites others to share their views)

Listening to the views of SotM members

Richard: The US events affected the selection process for 2015, they could affect selection of 2016 and future events if not rationalised. Henk’s attempts last year didn’t reach a desirable arrangement.

Rob: Why would Montreal cause an issue this year?

Richard: Because as declared last year, two large events in the same area (1)doesn’t serve the larger OSM community well and might (2)divide resources (i.e. limit funds).

Rob: Would first-move advantage help.

Richard: it may, legitimate point to make, but ultimately we don’t know for sure.

Henk: in a difficult position being on both OSMF and SotM-WG. 2015 selection process was knowing there was a selection of the SotM US event based in New York. We have a different situation now as SotM US has not announced anything yet. Difficult in stating my feelings due to inbetween role.

Kathleen: [confirms that Fred is in call] could I nominate Fred to speak to as internal comments has been made. [Clarification that currently focusing on SotM-WG members speaking first]

Serge: I don’t share the concern that the community couldn’t handle two events. Do have a (3)concern about the name and confusion over the name, what event is run by who. Name issue being separate but more important. (4)Paralysis because SotM US *might* run an event that *might* cause issue.

Greg: Wasn’t aware of this being a big issue, but once it’s been an issue aired it is an issue that needs to be discussed and thought out.

View from OSMF Board

Rob: Does the board have concerns about there being two conferences in the year in Northern America?

Fred: (Jumps ahead of the agenda and starts talking about “perfect” world and/or options) We had a quick discussion on the board mailing list. Most agreed we: want to retain our ability to run a conference in America or the US, so it is not the case that we have ceded that area to OSM US.

The OSMF should be supporting regional conferences and requesting local groups contact us to avoid clashes.

We consider SotM to be the OSMF’s brand name and if anyone wants to run one with that name they must have our okay.

This is not something we’ve dealt with before, but it is going to change and end the free-for-all.

If we intend to organise a conf in America we should co-ordinate with OSM US.

In this case, organising a conf in Montreal should be okay and we expect them to be able to work with that and either not have a SotM US 2016 at all or avoid a close-clash.

If Montreal should be the best case, you should not be influenced by the OSM US group doing something.

Fred: (Asks the board members present if they are in agreement - lots of yes’s in reply)

Dermot: I would hope for, there are 2 important aims: serve the community well (draw crowd, suitable comments, affordable); and any funds raised should suitably support the project in some way. Anyone organising an OSM-based conference (named SotM or not) should cooperate and talk, don’t want two groups at odds against each other and nobody being successful enough to support the project and/or avoid being in a loss making (financial) situation.

Past issues & communications with non-OSMF confs

Rob: What are the exact issues, and why you believe they are there in the current situation.

Fred: OSMF Board has been clear in the past not wanting to be involved in local planning. E.g. SotM-EU in Vienna contacted OSMF board and response was go ahead we don’t want to get involved (won’t interfere, won’t fund financially/time). Might not have been wrong at that time, but a decision to be revisited soon as more people will be organising conferences and OSMF’s conf could be sidelined (not something we want to see).

Henk: Clarification, it’s possibly sounding harsh with Vienna. There was a conf run and scheduled, at the last moment they ran low on money and asked us for help. That’s when we said you are able to run a conference but you need to fund it yourself and run it. It wasn’t that we wanted a full hands-off nothing to do with it point.

Fred: Nobody has asked us for support since Vienna.

Henk: Last couple of years we’ve been in contact with OSM US

Richard: Do you mean OSMF Board or OSMF SotM WG?

Henk: Me [acting in both my role as Board member and SotM WG member]

Richard: Recordings of those discussion?

Henk: No. IT’s not just been 2015, it’s been 2013 too. Not to schedule conferences close in time so we’re not competing.

Fred: [involved in SotM-EU last year]. There was a potential collision with SotM US and the US team was very keen with moving out of the way and they even changed some of their plans. They (US) were interested themselves in avoiding conflict.

Kathleen: Thanks for adding that Fred. I was on the OSM US SotM board there was a lot of work to avoid date clashes.

Richard: 2015 there wasn’t an avoision of dates. US seemed to go out of their way to announce the conf days before OSMF did.

Henk: 2015 OSMF was going to organise Autumn and US in Spring, but then New York came up for OSM US in the middle. US didn’t want to go for a joint conf with OSMF which was unstable at the time of planning.

Henk: Also the issue of the OSMF board and working group not being at full strength at the time (recent loss of chairman, lack of members in working group until late)

Deep dive: Why is the concern an issue? Is it really an issue?

Rob: So I want to really push on the matter of “what are the issues”. Question: If there was a conf in USA and in Europe in the same month, would there be an issue and why?

Henk: My issue with that would be with sponsorship with the close dates.

Paul: Depends on the confs. If they were 2 very large events, yes an issue. Each year there are several smaller SotMs around the world.

Fred: With SotM-EU 2014 most of the sponsorship came from Europe at that time. Wouldn’t have been much issue if SotM US had been at similar time. However SotM US were very keen on SotM US not being restricted to North America (they see it as a global event) and that’s why they avoided the date clash. SotM-EU happy to have visitors from outside Europe, but not an aim or focus.

Rob: So two issues are coming through (A) sponsorship. (B) global attendance.

Deep dive: Sponsorship (links with “(2)divide resources” above)

Greg: sponsorship causes issues with very close date. Server donation drives can also cause the same problems.

Henk: Sponsorship is an issue if you combine the two. Conf put in market as global event or regional. It gets (*) confusing “will the real SotM please stand up” and if they’re further apart then it’s easier to sell.

Rob: problem with sponsorship because there aren’t enough companies/relationships?

Henk: No, not a problem at all. [reference to Randy’s email of good income this year]. If you organise a conf close together, companies get (*) confused with the *choice* on what to sponsor.

Paul: Does this need to be discussed with board?

Rob: It’s a strategic issue whether you decide that we need to move away from the “free for all” approach to one of more co-ordination and potentially even brand/trademark matters.

Henk: Next week is SotM US. It gives us a chance to meet and also to talk to the US guys, and have a discussion with them.

(Richard has to leave call 38 minutes in)

Rob: So is the real issue one of that 2 conferences close forces the companies to choose which conf to sponsor rather than just lack of companies?

Henk: my view, yes.

Dermot: it’s tricky to know. It’s an overall package of co-ordination as attendance issues can also exist in that 2 close events makes it (*) confusing for our delegates who have to decide which event(s) to attend. Need to have minimal communication at least, could be further with policies set on the brand name.

Deep Dive: global attendance (links with “(1)serving larger community” above)

Rob: Thanks Demot for binging on to the attendance issue. I’ll ask the same type of quest as I did with sponsors. Do we have too few people willing to attend?

Paul: No. Not an issue with the growing attendance. Not a shortage of interesting speakers either.

Rob: So again the issue is that it forces delegates to choice? [As indicated in the comments above]

Root cause: confusing/choice/the “real” event (links with (1), (2), and (3) above)

Rob: So it sounds like there is a 3rd issue and that this may be the true root cause of the above issues. Issue: (C) Confusion of multiple events/Forcing sponsors & delegates to choose. Linked with the statements marked (*) above.

What would “perfect” look like?

Rob: Coming to a consensus that there is not an issue of sponsorship or attendance but of confusion that multiple close events could/does cause. Earlier in the meeting Fred spoke for the board and highlighted that co-ordination between conference organisers could help. He also stated that OSMF Board want to retain right to organise conferences in the US and retain control of the brand. How would this happen, centralised organisation?

Dermot: Brand needs to be protected. We need to work out who gets to exercise the control over use of the brand, that could be the SotM-WG. More important is the reasons behind it, such as those we’ve discussed on the call.

Fred: Rob asked what would be perfect. I have picture of SotM being the global event, lots of advanced planning. It would be perfect if SotM planning was as early as 2016 seems to be and if in the next few months you are in a position to announce venue/date for SotM international then there is enough time for regional events to be organised without us having to decide on which are allowed and how we are the boss.

Paul: Would be really nice, perhaps not practical to announce it at SotM US.

(ideal that each year we announce SotM 18 months before)

Rob: Is it sufficient to announce early or do we need to organise co-ordination of events?

Paul: that should be enough.

Fred: We can still reserve the right to be more blatant about it and remind people that they are our trademarks. Currently no policy of our trademarks, but they should be coming and likely to include explicit requirement to communicate with OSMF.

Henk: This year we’ve already put out the CfV, so people do expect an announcement sooner now.

Rob: So this (announce the OSMF SotM 18 months ahead) would work to ensure no conflict with our event but remove us [OSMF SotM] from the equation:- where is the coordination between SotM EU and SotM US if there could be a clash (e.g. we announce 18 months ahead, they both try and arrange things in private 12 months ahead and end up clashing)?

Paul: That’s their problem, they could contact us if they can’t resolve it themselves.

Henk: We can facilitate this. Have a calendar that everyone can see, even draft dates for events. Make it transparent and easy to see what people are trying to claim. If there is a problem we notice then we can step in and point out that a planning talk should happen.


Rob: It sounds like an option is forming. I’d like to propose it for us going forward as such: We as the OSMF try to get an announcement for our events 18 months. We then ask other organisers to tell us privately what they are planning, so that if we see dates clashing we can tell groups to talk to each other directly. SotM-WG could take that us their remit. (general agreement from OSMF board)

Rob: Would all the big conferences co-operate with that? Would we need reinforcement needed?

Fred: Yes we will need people to communicate with us if they use the brand, but brand/trademark policy should say that. While we don’t have such a policy we shouldn’t explicitly say it in the context of SotM, just tell people to communicate with us for their own benefit (to avoid conference clashes).

Paul: [agreed]. If they don’t voluntarily communicate then we can think how to step in.

Rob: Serge, Would you feel more comfortable supporting a Canadian bid having had this aired out.

Serge: I was in favour of Montreal despite the concerns, it was others that held back.

Henk: Montreal, is that still linked around WSF?

Rob: Not necessarily, however it’s the second time this issue has come up. Wanted to remove US-Canada issue before proceeding.

Henk: I feel SotM is a conf itself, should not be part of a bigger event.

(discussion left to be handled by SotM-WG meetings)

Actions discussion

Rob: Actions, anyone going to the US able to chat things over with the SotM-US team.

Henk, Dermot, Paul, Kathleen [and Fred?? -Rob] will be there (and almost the full views).

Rob: Could the board discuss this over with them to ensure it’s not just us thinking everything will be fine?

Henk: That can be an action assigned to the OSMF board, and will be arranged internally so we don’t all bombard them.

Fred: OSM US team will be very busy.

Paul: A lot of conf work being done by them, not delegated.

(But agreement that board members will try to grab some time with them)

Other business: branding

Serge: Issue of branding confusion, but Fred has covered it well for now.

Rob: Local chapters just started, and formalising policies surrounding that. One potential is to stipulate that in order to use the brand you have to become a Local Chapter (just putting that out there - not an issue for today)

Paul: Some groups not contacted yet (inc US), as lots of local chapters still being dealt with first and not enough resource to process them all with speed.

Fred: We have very few die-hard conf go-ers that try to attend every OSM conf, most involve it holidays. So many reasons why one conf will do better than another one elsewhere. Don’t worry that people would struggle to go to America twice.

Rob: Would people be upset that there isn’t a conf in their continent.

Fred: Well then something like EU or Baltics might get arranged by/for them.

(OSMF Board thanks SotM-WG with cheers)


  • OSMF SotM WG to include in its remit accepting communication from (potential) conference organisers and co-ordinating tentative/set dates so organisers can be made aware of clashes.
  • OSMF Board member to chat in-person with OSM-US to confirm there are not issues.

Meeting end

Meeting ended at 21:07 GMT