State of the Map 2009/Organisation/Evaluation

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Evaluation for SOTM09 - what did we do really well, and where is room for improvement?

Programme / Schedule

  • Program too full - We had to cut some talks short and in general it would be good to have more time to slot in presentations of ideas / discussions that come up during the conference.
  • Schedule lacked any detailed information about talks - with multiple tracks some sort of abstract/description is needed
  • The timetable for a multi-track schedule needs to be presented in a side-by-side multi-column format
  • The schedule was available far too late - as I recall there was no schedule information available when early bird closed, never mind when booking opened and it is hard for people to decide to sign up without knowing what is going to be happening
  • Have a meet and greet session where people looking for someone can ask those to identify themselves.
  • Restrict "our product is great, please buy it" talks to the business day (ahem, Cartotype)
  • More practical activities? (hack session, mapping expedition etc.)
  • Encourage more static displays, particularly from individual countries - these could potentially replace some of the 'State of Monrovia'-type talks


  • Put a city map in the event folders!
    • Yes, some more practical info would have been good: also a sheet with venue address, contact details for organisers, details for dinner / pub meetups, maybe some recommendations for sightseeing. A leaflet or something from the local tourist board would also help.
  • Use two computers to reduce setup time between lightning talks?
    • The most lightning talks has meen served from the venue presentation pc...
  • The lighting on stage could have been better; a spot light on the speaker would be a good idea
  • The venue presentation PC had only Powerpoint on it. (A PDF Viewer was there, OpenOffice was installed during the event.) Best would be to have a Mac with PPT, Keynote and OpenOffice.
  • The reception area got quite hot during breaks.
  • Internet connectivity could still have been better - probably allow for 1 device per attendee - some have two, others none
    • Maybe only one DHCP Server with bigger range, one SSID and only one password.
  • The schedule slipped frequently, making it difficult to move from room to room to see the talks you wanted. A "Now starting in the State Room" display on the screen would have been useful (though thanks NickB for twittering/IRCing)
    • PA announcement possibility in reception area would have been good.
    • SMS service?
    • Or dedicate someone in each room to send twitter updates.
  • The venue was run very professionally and was well staffed, allowing the team to focus on the conference itself, this was great.


  • We should consolidate some of the knowledge / experience gained on the wiki (contacts, time needed to get certain things done, prices, sponsor leads)
  • At least one of the local team should be on next year's team in an advisory capacity.

Organizer's Brainstorm


  • Venue - conf rooms close to the lobby and canteen. Professional staff, catering, audio, display
  • Big screen size was great
  • Lightning talks worked - have more next year
  • Amsterdam!
    • Good transport (local and national)
    • Bars
    • Fun city / tourist things to do
  • Dinner
  • Poems at dinner worked well
  • Splash screens worked well (maybe too fast though)
  • Twitter worked
  • Streaming photos worked
  • Catering worked well - local food was great (though too many people in the lobby on Friday)
  • People from lots of different countries
  • The idea of having an IRC/Twitter name works well, but it got in the way of the persons real name
  • Friday worked - the idea was good, but it needs refining
  • People like community presentations (esp at the weekends)
  • Twitter wall
  • Live streaming video
  • Dedicated people to look after video (2 video cams recording, one streaming, 5 people working on AV)
  • Eventibrite


  • Took a long time to get people back into the rooms
  • Schedules slipped and were often not in time
  • Noise from people moving between the venues
  • 15 mins is too short. 20 mins should be the min talk length
  • Morning break should be 45 mins. Lunch should be 1.5 hours
  • Technical problems with presentations - have one computer with OO, PPT, Keynote on and run all presentations from that computer.
  • Give presenters time to test their presentations before
  • Would be good to havea speaker's room
  • No Good vegetarian selection at dinner
  • Beers were expensive at restaurnt
  • Splash screens were too fast
  • WiFi
  • Schedule available too late (was available 2-3 weeks before)
  • Having the schedule in a google calendar
  • Too much flipping between different views on the streaming video
  • Video downloads took (still taking) a long time to appear online. Share workload of video editing somehow?


  • Have a pre conference briefing for speakers - time limits, look over presenteers
  • Have a briefing for delegates that shows them good places to visit for different budgets
  • Produce a paper map to be sent out to delegates
  • Consider getting a PA system for dinner, if there are more people
  • Get one person from this year's local committee as an advisor on next year's committee
  • Have different tracks - eg a technical track, social track, applications, newbies
  • Have the splash screen in-between other screens
  • Check about visa issues 2 months before the conf date
  • Would be nice to have a national flag on delegates badges
  • Getting time to test videos + other setups the day before the conference works
  • Session chairs should review all talks 2 weeks before the conf
  • Give clear boundaries and guidance to speakers to avoid product pitches
  • Encourage more displays - from sponsors, from countries
  • Have a poster display area
  • Provide a template for a poster
  • Someone should be responbsible for the website from a content perspective - interviews, news, blog posts