State of the Map 2012 Tbilisi

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Tbilisi

what it will be?

  • 3 Days of Conference
  • 3 great events - mapping party, geocaching, party
  • cheap flights to Tbilisi
  • super cheap public transport
  • free venue offered by Tbilisi State University - oldest university in Georgia (more than 90 years old)which was just renovated
  • beautiful building
  • boost regional activities in South Caucasus
  • excursion in one of the oldest cities of South Caucasus and mapping party there
  • great Georgian food and drinks


Tbilisi Panorama

Located between the Black and Caspian Seas, Georgia lies at the crossroads between Asia and Europe. Tbilisi is a capital of Georgia for a long long time, before several other cities were enjoying this function, however it is already centuries that Tbilisi is the administrative center of Georgia. Being located in the very center of the whole Caucasus Region, the city served as the cultural, economic and even political center of the region. These conditions made Tbilisi a multicultural and tolerant city which is home for people of diverse ethnic and religious background who still reside together in peace and harmony.

There is an interesting story lying behind the birth of Tbilisi as a urban area. According to an old legend, the present-day territory of Tbilisi was covered by forests as late as 458. One widely accepted variant of the legend of Tbilisi's founding states that King Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Georgia went hunting in the heavily wooded region with a falcon (sometimes the falcon is replaced with either a hawk or other small birds of prey in the legend). The King's falcon allegedly caught or injured a pheasant during the hunt, after which both birds fell into a nearby hot spring and died from burns. King Vakhtang became so impressed with the hot springs that he decided to cut down the forest and build a city on the location. The name Tbilisi derives from the Old Georgian word "Tpili" (თბილი), meaning warm. The name 'Tbili' or 'Tbilisi' ('warm location') was therefore given to the city because of the area's numerous sulphuric hot springs that came out of the ground. (source: wikipedia)

Tbilisi was an important cultural, political and economic centers of the Caucasus region. Located on a crossroad of major trade routes, the city had been occupied at least twenty times by external enemies. Even nowadays, Tbilisi is meant to be the center of the region of South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia).

Mainly, because of its geographic location Tbilisi always was a home for a people of different nationalities. The affect of different ethnic groups can easily be seen in the urban spaces all around Tbilisi. Today the population of the capital city exceeds 1 million people and it has even been at the point of 1.5 million several years ago. Georgia has experienced the ruling of various empires and strong states in previous centuries and was joined to the Soviet Union in the February of 1921.

Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Tbilisi has experienced periods of significant instability and turmoil. After a brief civil war, which the city endured for two weeks from December 1991 to January 1992 Tbilisi became the scene of frequent armed confrontations between various mafia clans and illegal business entrepreneurs. During the Shevardnadze (second president of Georgia) Era (1993–2003), crime and corruption became rampant at most levels of society. Mass protests took place in November 2003 after falsified parliamentary elections forced more than 100,000 people into the streets and concluded with the Rose Revolution. Since 2003, Tbilisi has experienced considerably more stability with decreasing crime rates, an improved economy and a real estate boom. Although, last several years has been also notable for certain negative changes, the city is in the development process and hopes tackle challenges expected in the nearest future. Tbilisi occupies 726 square km of Georgian territory.

Tbilisi is governed by two state entities: Tbilisi City Hall and Tbilisi City Assembly - the executive and legislative parts of the city governance.

Weather

Tbilisi Weather Box From Wikipedia












State of the Map 2012 - Tbilisi

We propose two possible dates for conference: 15-17 July or 10-12 September. The dates are chosen by taking into consideration weather and opportunities of getting the best space for conference.

The importance of this kind of event for Tbilisi, Georgia and whole region of South Caucasus is crucial.

South Caucasus and Tbilisi mostly is becoming more and more active part of the world wide web, as well as various mapping applications and services. While the first edit on the OpenStreetMap of Georgia was made in 2007, today big part of Georgia is covered thanks to group of active volunteers and several organizations that donated and made an import (yes, we know that imports are not the best solutions...) of the data in several areas. Furthermore, OpenStreetMap activities and users are also increasing in Armenia and Azerbaijan and thanks to some of the projects that will be soon launched (like FixMyStreet armenia) mapping will become more active.

State of the Map 2012 Tbilisi will be an event that will increase the awareness and popularity of OSM platform that will be in the end contribution to the community anyway.

Three day conference that will be held in the Tbilisi State University will be an event which will be a place for exchange of experience, mapping parties and fun. It will be a place where Georgian hospitality, traditions and a great cuisine brings together OSM community and mappers from all around the world.

Last but not least this kind of event would be a great contribution to the development of open source idea and approach that is still lacking in the country. Furthermore, it can be a great motivation for the increasing mapping activities related to OSM that is happening now.

Catering

There is a quite big variety of catering services. We have agreed to mix local, traditional food with sort of international food. Prices per person start from 6$ and does not go very high.

We have already contacted two catering service companies and have notified about the opportunity of the conference that might be held in Tbilisi.

Social Events

We propose several events that will bring together community and help them to enjoy the town and the conference days as well:

1) Excursion to Mtskheta & Mapping Party - one of the oldest cities of the country of Georgia (in Kartli province of Eastern Georgia), is located approximately 20 kilometers north of Tbilisi at the confluence of the Aragvi and Kura rivers. The city (population 19,423 as of January 1, 2008) is now the administrative centre of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. Due to its historical significance and numerous ancient monuments, the "Historical Monuments of Mtskheta" became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Remains of towns at this location have been dated to earlier than the year 1000 BC, and Mtskheta was capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia during the 3rd century BC – 5th century AD.

The city of Mtskheta is an attractive tourist area not only for foreigners but locals as well. One of the most important church for Georgian orthdox society is located in Mtskheta.

Mtskheta can be reached in 40 minutes from the Tbilisi State University building that is the conference area. Trip will include up to 1 hour guided tour and 1 hour mapping party. As a result of mapping party Mtskheta town will receive updated map on OpenStreetMap which will be a good use for tourists and local tour agencies.

The end of the mapping party will be followed by traditional Georgian feast in one of the restaurants of Mtskheta with the best Georgian food.

2) Geocaching "Discover the Tbilisi" - Geocaching event will be held on the second day in the old town of Tbilisi. Tips and hints that will be used during the event will be a way of story telling of Tbilisi History and important facts from the development of the city.

Participants of the event will be obliged to collect at least 20 POI during the event.

3) Party at "Cafe Gallery" - Cafe / Bar / Club called Cafe Gallery will host a party for the conference participants to have a pleasant rest after the conference and enjoy chilly night after the warm second day of the conference.

Gallery is one of the most popular place in Tbilisi and outstanding because of the gallery inside cafe. You can find several masterpieces of modern Georgian painters and even buy one if you like. Cafe Gallery is a three floor building, where two floors and a terrace is occupied by them.

The music of Georgian electronic music producer Jorjick will accompany the event with his tracks.

The Conference Venue


The conference will be hosted by Tbilisi State University, which is kindly providing State of the Map conference two conference halls:

  • Conference Hall #1 for 300 and more participants;
  • Conference Hall #1 for 150 and more participants;


Both conference halls are equipped with projector, screen, sound system and wireless internet connection (available in the other parts of university).


The conference will be held in the first (main) building of the university. The building is located in the central area of the city, was built in the beginning of 20th century, which was fully renovated several months ago. The address of the building is Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue #1. The university is providing both conference halls for free without any charges.


The university is situated in the city center and various public buses approach it. Please see next section for the detailed information.

Kursalon Wien

The History of Tbilisi State University

Tbilisi State University (TSU) was founded in 1918 by a western educated famous Georgian historian Ivane Javakhishvili and the group of his followers. It was the first institution of higher educational in Caucasus at that time.


Georgia has an ancient tradition of education the evidence of which are the education centers scattered throughout the world: the School of Philosophy and Rhetoric of Phazisi in Colchis (IV c.); the cultural-enlightenment centers in Palestine (V c.), Syria (VI c.), Greece (X-XV cc.) and Bulgaria (XI c.); Gelati and Iqalto Academies in Georgia (XI-XII cc.); However, because of strained political and economic situation in the middle ages and then joining Russia, there was not a single institution of higher educational Institution.


The opening of the University, on 26 January 1918, was the day commemorated to the memory of Georgian King David the Builder. A church in the TSU garden, named after the King, has been functioning since 5 September 1995. In 1989 the University was named after its founder - Ivane Javakhishvili.


One of the founders of TSU Petre Melikishvili, an eminent chemist, was elected as the first rector. At the start, the university had only one faculty – the faculty of philosophy. In the beginning of 1918 the board of professors and lecturers numbered 18, the student body of the university accounted 369 students and 89 free listeners.

Despite the Communist ideology and censorship, Tbilisi State University managed to maintain enthusiasm, devotion to national ideals, and establishment of scientific centers and raised the prominent members of Georgian intelligentsia.


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the end of the 20th century, a new era started for TSU: Together with Christianity, the historical mission of the country- to grow the sense of national self-consciousness and care for the spiritual ideals was included among the university goals.


Today the number of professors involved in teaching and training is around 3275, including 55 academicians and corresponding members of the academy, 595 professors and doctors, 1246 assistant professors and candidates of sciences. Over 35 thousand students are pursuing their degrees at 8 regional branches of the university. A very important step toward modernization was in 1994 when the university scientific council adopted "The Concepts of University Education”. The document officially introduced new instruction structure at the University that transferred from one level (5 years) study system to two-level system and advanced to integrate in the European educational environment.

Possible Attendees & Partners

Attendees

We assume that interest in the local public that is aware of the OpenStreetMap and is into open source and web 2.0 technologies will be quite high.

The possible local attendees will be from the following groups:

  • GIS experts and Geographers from various GIS companies, organizations, academic institutions and universities;
  • NGO people. People from NGOS working on transparency, government accountability, open information, civil society development, strengthening local democracy etc (for example: Open Society Georgia Foundation, Transparency International, USAID, JumpStart Georgia, CRRC etc);
  • Web developers and designers. More and more well established web developing companies are emerging that use open source technologies and GIS applications. The conference would be an interesting event at least for some of the people from this companies;
  • Bloggers and Facebook users. Georgian blogosphere and facebook "society" is quite active and well informed about OpenStreetMap. Certain bloggers will be definitely interested in the conference;
  • Government representatives. Certain branches of government are very much promoting the use of cutting edge technologies and even open source approach in their work. This conference might be an interesting event for them.
  • Last but not least and in fact most important - local OSM users.

Together with the interest in Georgian public conference event will most likely cause interest in the region of South Caucasus as well. We can clearly say that this kind of getherings is always an interesting point of meeting of active people from Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Partners

Besides the fact that we are sure that there will be several local sponsors of the event, we consider that several local organizations or branches of international NGOs will be willing to contribute to the conference.

One of the most outstanding and prominent web development studio Omedia promised to contribute to the design of the conference attributes, including website, logos etc.

Several members of JumpStart Georgia also expressed interest to get involved as a volunteer in the organizing part of the conference.

We envisage several foundations as a potential partial funding source and a partner for the conference. Majority of foundations working in Georgia have a priority to fund events and projects related to the use of web-technologies, open source and digital mapping applications.

How to do certain things in Tbilisi

How to travel to Tbilisi

During last several years flight to Tbilisi has become a lot cheaper. Part of the companies operating in Georgia have decreased price on tickets and also companies with quite a cheap flight ticket have entered the market. From Central Europe it is up to 4 hours of direct flight to come to Tbilisi, from Eastern Europe it needs from 3 or 2 hours and from Istanbul 2 or even less.

Below there are ticket prices for some major european and non-european cities that have flight connections (direct and transit) with Tbilisi. The price of ticket might change depending on the time person buys ticket. Prices provided below are the cheapest options available.

City Airlines Cost
London Pegasus / AirBaltic 490$
Berlin AirBaltic 315$
Paris AirBaltic 487$
Warsaw AirBaltic 230$
Istanbul Pegasus Airlines 195$
Prague Lufthansa 330$
Riga AirBaltic 235$
Washington Lufthansa 1 410$
Beijing Lufthansa 1 410$
Tokyo Turkish Airlines 1 635$
Helsinki AirBaltic 230$
New York Lufthansa 970$
Stockholm AirBaltic 240$
Cairo Lufthansa 640$
Madrid Lufthansa 330$

There are some other options for the same locations, but I think it is the cheapest ones. The rate might change a bit, but not dramatically. It is advised to get a ticket as early as possible to get more discount. The group booking also reduces the price.

How to travel in Tbilisi

The public transport system in Tbilisi is becoming better and better and more up-to-date technologies are being implemented in this sphere. However, city is still lacking eco-friendly means of transport like tram and trollybus.

Unlike lot of European cities travel inside the city is quite cheap. There are mostly four different ways of doing it:

  • Public Bus;
  • Metro;
  • Taxi;
  • Minibus or so called Marshrutka;
Metro / Subway

The metro of Tbilisi was built in 1960s and has been a major mean of transportation starting from 1970s and especially in 1990s when all the other public transportation system was not effectively functional. Tbilisi Metro covers larger proportion of the city especially suburban areas, however, major projects of expanding the network were ceased after the fall of Communist regime.

You can pay for travelling with Metromoney plastic cards which can be purchased at the Metro stations for 3 GEL (about 1.8 euros). It is strongly advised to buy Metromoney as you can use it for paying in buses and Marshutkas.

Majority of Tbilisi Metro is underground, but there are stations above ground as well, which might remind you the berlin S/U-Bahn system.

Metro is the fastest way of moving in the city, especially from the city centre to suburbs.

Public Bus

Travelling buy bus has become more convenient during last several years. Getting from one point to another costs 50 Georgian Tetri which is like 20 eurocent, second travel on the same day costs 30 Georgian Tetri which is like 12 eurocent and third and any next travel during the same day is 20 Georgian Tetri which is like 7 eurocent. Majority of buses are in quite a good condition, though some of them have problems during summer as ventilation is not always working, however big windows are open.

The bus routes will be soon available online on - www.MapSpot.ge

Taxi

Generally speaking there are a lot of taxis available in Tbilisi. Majority of them are owned by individual drivers and not the taxi companies. Taxi drivers in Tbilisi are great people :) and they always try to talk to you. However, you can hardly find any taxi drive who speaks English, so you should be dependent mostly on our knowledge of Russian or Georgian :)

Avarage distance price (like 5-6 kilometers) in individually owned taxis cost not more than 4-5 Georgian Lari, which is 2 / 2.5 EURO.

Getting from airport to city centre (which are not really close to each other) is also not too expensive - 25-30 Georgian Lari.

Minibus / Marshrutka

So called "Marshrutkas" are one of the most common ways of travelling inside Tbilisi. It is not a literal bus, but a minibus (like Ford Transit) and all of them have their own route. For more than 10 years Marshrutka was a major mean of transport when public transport system did not cover the whole city. It has not lost its significance even nowadays. There are about 120 Marshutka routes through Tbilisi which covers almost all territory of the city. Generally they are used for middle- and long-distance travelling between the center and peripherial areas.

Some part of Marshrutkas have been acquired by private company and have been modernized. You can pay with metromoney in modernized marshutkas, where one travel is 80 Georgian Tetri. Second travel on the same day is 50 Tetri and third and any next one 30.

There are Marshutkas that have not been modernized as well, where you should pay without metromoney.

Marshutka routes (up to 120) will be soon available online on - www.MapSpot.ge

Getting to the Conference Vanue

The conference venue is situated in the one of the most central and prestigious areas of Tbilisi. Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue is just a 15 minutes walk away from the end of main avenue - Shota Rustaveli Avenue. Bus needs 10/15 minutes to get there. It is also not more than 15-20 minutes of bus travel to get to the conference venue from various parts of the city. If the person is travelling directly from the airport it will take 20-25 minutes of taxi drive to reach the university building. It is also convenient to walk to the university. It takes maximum 30-40 minutes from those accommodations to the university building that were listed above.

The university building / conference vanue is 5 kilometers away from the Old Town and 21 kilometers away from Tbilisi International Airport.

Where to stay in Tbilisi

If you have visited Tbilisi in the beginning of 90's, you wouldn't be very lucky person to find convenient and cheap hotel. However, and fortunately that has changed. The boom in accommodation sphere was especially remarkable during last year when more than 10 hostels opened in a year in and close to the city centre.

Hotel Price Per Day Address
Tbilisi Marriot 215$ Shota Rustaveli Avenue[1]
Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel 280$ Rose Revolution square
Citadines Freedom Square Tbilisi 136$ Freedom Square[2]
Betsys Hotel 105$ Polikarpe Kakabadze Street[3]
Holiday Inn Tbilisi 133$ Pekini Street[4]
Vere Palace  ??? Nikoladze Street[5]
Nest Hostel 25-40$ Paulo Iashvili Street[6]
Darchee Hostel 10-30$ Mikheil Zandukeli Street[7]
Boombolley Hostel 10-40$ Shota Rustaveli Avenue[8]
Tbilisi Friends Hostel 10-40$ Ivane Machabeli Street[9]


There are plenty more accommodations both close to the conference vanus (Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue) and in the centre and close to it. Just search for Tbilisi hotels / Tbilisi hostels.

Majority of the hotels are in a quite good conditions, but we would still recommend to choose one of the accommodation options listed above, as we know the people who are either working their or are in charge.

Hostels listed above are owned by various groups of young people, so you will enjoy hanging out with them as well.

  1. main avenue of Tbilisi
  2. beginning of Rustaveli Avenue
  3. on the hill, in the city centre overlooking city.
  4. 20 minutes foot walk from the conference venue
  5. 5 minutes walk from conference vanue
  6. old town. 15 minutes by bus to conference vanue
  7. close to conference vanue. maximum 15 minutes walk.
  8. main avenue of Tbilisi
  9. close to Freedom Square and 15 minutes by bus to conference vanue

Eat, drink and Social Events

Eat

Georgian cuisine refers to the cooking styles and dishes with origins in the nation of Georgia and prepared by Georgian people around the world. The Georgian cuisine is specific to the country, but also contains some influences from other European culinary traditions, as well as those of the surrounding Western Asia. The cuisine offers a variety of dishes with various herbs and spices. Each historical province of Georgia has its own distinct culinary tradition, such as Megrelian, Kakhetian, and Imeretian cuisines. In addition to various meat dishes, Georgian cuisine also offers a variety of vegetarian meals.

The importance of both food and drink to Georgian culture is best observed during a feast, or supra, when a huge assortment of dishes is prepared, always accompanied by large amounts of wine, and dinner can last for hours. In a Georgian feast, the role of the tamada (toastmaster) is an important and honoured position. However, sometimes the feast is turning into complete disorder, but you can

In countries of the former Soviet Union, Georgian food is popular due to the immigration of Georgians to other Soviet republics, in particular Russia. In Russia all major cities have many Georgian restaurants and Russian restaurants often feature Georgian food items on their menu.


Tbilisi is full of various types of restaurants, fast food places and cafes. Certainly, tourists as well as locals have a quite a big variety of menu on choice. The conference place is located very close to several fast food restaurants and dining places, which participants can visit during or after conference. We recommend:

  • Ori Lula: a fast food restaurant (thought sometimes not super fast) offering a wide variety of food. The most popular things are: [1], [2], Mexican roasted potatoes, Ori Lula (kebab). The place is quite cheap and normally you will spend from 5-10$ for a good portion of meal. One of the branches of Ori Lula is in 5 minute walk from university building.
  • Elvis American Diner: ELVIS American Diner (EAD) is a dynamic restaurant chain, implemented in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East. This place is in 5 minute walk distance from university building, where the conference will be held. It is mostly fast food restaurant, which serves thai, mexican, american, italian food. Normally you will spend a bit more here, 10-15$.
  • Entree is a french bakery having chain of restaurants all around Tbilisi, which is expanding every year. One of the Entree bakeries is located close to the university building, up to 5-10 minutes of walk. Entree offers wide variety of sandwiches, bruchettas, delicious cakes and soups. Entree also offers Georgian lobiani and khatchapuri, as well as a dishes with potato, meat and mushroom infill. Entree is a great place for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, though it is not for lunch as well. Depending on your choice you will need to spend 5-15%.
  • Literaturuli is a Georgian chain of cafes. Two of the branches of Literaturuli is very close to the university building. Literaturuli offers various dishes (both Georgian and foreign), as well as good choice of tea, coffee and different alcohol drinks. It will cost you from 5-15$ depending on the portion of the food you want to order. Basically it is not more than 10$.

For more info please click HERE

Drink

Alcoholic drinks from Georgia include Chacha and wine. Georgia is home to many beer brands such as Natakhtari, Kazbegi, Argo, Kasri, and Karva. Lagidze water is a Georgian flavored soda made with a variety of natural syrups, sold bottled or mixed in the glass in a soda fountain Types of mineral water from Georgia are Borjomi, Nabeghlavi, Likani, and Sairme.

Chacha is type of vodka made from grapes. The best chacha is mostly made in village, when family makes chacha for their own use. However, some companies started producing good quality chacha as well. Participants are advised to try at list one shot of it.

Traditional Georgian grape varieties are little known in the West. Now that the wines of Eastern and Central Europe are coming to international awareness, grapes from this region are becoming better known. Although there are nearly 400 to choose from, only 38 varieties are officially grown for commercial viticulture in Georgia - out of them Rkatsiteli and Saperavi are the most popular ones. The quality of bottled wine is improving and perfecting in Georgia.

Georgian beer is meant to be best in South Caucasus. Companies like Argo and Natakhtari produce normal beer.

Hang out

The periods suggested for the conference is a great for hanging out somewhere outside in the streets of Tbilisi, where you can take a walk and wander around the Old Town of Tbilisi or go to Tbilisi lake or some other lakes that are inside Tbilisi and are quite nice place to go.

Besides this Tbilisi has several streets where you can find a lot of action in pubs, bars and clubs... though it is not Berlin, we also have at least some nightlife:

  • Perovskaya Street - place which is very close to the conference location and is full of various Georgian and foreign pubs, clubs, restaurants, bars etc. More and more cheap and affordable points are appearing here.
  • Charden Street - tiny street in the Old Town of Tbilisi. Is full of various bars and restaurants, several clubs are situated close to the place. This is a bit more expensive then Perovskaya, however you also get a chance to walk around the old town.
  • Erekle Meore Street - street in the Old Town, close to charden and some very popular and beautiful sights in the old town. Several restaurants and bars are located on the street. Here you can find more exotic places rather than in the streets listed above.
  • Meidani - Meidani or "square" in Arabic, is also a part of Old Town and situated very close to the Charden Street. Meidani is becoming increasingly popular and more and more restaurants and cafes are opening here. Here you can find French, Georgian, Ossetian places. Meidani is very close sulfur baths and Narikalla Fortress - both are number one tourist attractions.

Social events will be planned in one of the areas listed above. However, participants can go ahead and visit various other places according to their own choice.

Organizing Team

Organizing team consists of four people devoted to GIS and web development in Georgia. Contact person as well as initiator of the Tbilisi bid is user: Davidgogishvili who is an active local mapper and member of Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team.

Local team members work for well-known ngo or state agencies: CRRC, JumpStart Georgia, Civic Agency of Georgia.

The part of stuff of JumpStart Georgia (previously known as Open Maps Caucasus, organization that mapped whole Georgian in 2010 and imported part of the data in OSM) will also be involved in the conference organization activities.

Local team might increase and some more people might contribute to the conference.

References

  1. georgian bread baked with a seasoned bean stuffing
  2. cheese bread, very popular in Georgia