State of the Map 2020/Call for venues/CapeTown

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SotM logo from 2009
OpenStreetMap global conference, 3 - 5 July 2020, Cape Town, South Africa

Bid for SotM 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa

indiebio says: I am currently working on combining the joy of gaming, the beauty of information visualisation and the rigour of urban metabolism studies to better understand urban resource flows at an everyday level. A physical map forms the basis of this, which is why OpenStreetMap is so very important. For example, this demo of A-frame using OpenStreetMap: [1]
This talk given at the recent Debian conference explains more about what I am trying to do: The metaverse, gaming and the metabolism of cities
The best way to learn and get connected is to organise a conference, so I decided a few months ago to organise a Information Design conference. It would have to be across disciplines, with art alongside science and engineering and stuff, similar to Eyeo Festival: "Eyeo brings together artists, creative coders, data visualizers, open source instigators & makers for an extraordinary festival." The SotM conference could work instead, or in parallel, or some mash up of both... My team and I organised the Debian conference in Cape Town in 2016, and I was the main organiser of TEDxCapeTown in 2011 - 2013. I am not familiar with the format of the SotM, if it's fancy like TEDx or modest like DebConf, but can make it work either way.

Weaker points in our bid

  • The Southern tip of Africa takes long to get to, increased budget required for sponsoring travel.
  • Because of Cape Town's well developed tourism drive, it isn't as cheap as one would expect Africa to be.
  • July is in our winter. While only mildly unpleasant, it does result in significantly less variety of available activities.
  • Public Transport exists, but isn't as well developed as many European & American cities. The bus system is new, and doesn't cover the whole city, yet.


Interested people please add yourself here, your contact email, your preferred roles, what you can contribute, your connection to OpenStreetMap and why you are keen - what you would like to see.

  • Brandon Côté (contact on telegram) maintaining the group chat on telegram: @sotm2020. And willing to help with other social media-related tasks and remote tasks (am not able to attend in person).
  • Bernelle Verster (indiebio; Have experience in organising large conferences. Learnt of OpenStreetMap through the Cape Linux User Group (CLUG). Now wanting to use it to build a game and visualise urban resource flows. Organising a conference is the best way to figure out what is possible and who to speak to.
  • Admire Nyakudya (Kartoza; I have experience in helping out in the organisation of FOSS4G 2018 in Tanzani where I was involved in organizing volunteers for their day to day activities. I have extensive knowledge of Open Source GIS and have done extensive QGIS training where the main data source has been OSM which has been accessed through the various plugins and the OSM API.
  • Michael Graaf (michaelgraaf) has conference org experience and is well connected in the wikisphere (e.g. board member of Wikimedia-ZA); found Bernelle's presentation at CLUG inspiring.
  • Geoffrey Kateregga ( - I have experience from being the lead in organizing State of the Map Africa 2017 in Kampala, Uganda. Was on the organizing committee for FOSS4G 2018 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and I am currently on the organizing committee for State of the Map Africa 2019 due to take place in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. I am interested in helping out as I would like to see State of the Map global come to Africa for the very first time. I can help on outreach as well as scholarships.
  • Edson Nicolai (niced) - I am based in Luanda, have some experience with JOSM, use mostly web-based OSMID, have mapped and added metadata in different Angolan cities. Covered some regions in Zambia and Namibia too. Still have lots to learn, willing to help with what I can. Maybe this will be a great opportunity to take mapping more seriously in Angola, seeing as there are almost no standards here as of yet.
  • Craig Allan ( - experienced mapper on OSM. OSMF member. Resourceful. Good at logistics. Have been personally responsible for several conferences at the hundred and fifty delegates scale, a team member organising a mass event of 500k people and personally organised plenty of small training events. But, in Durban, not Cape Town.
  • Sicelo A. Mhlongo - Based in eSwatini (Swaziland) and willing to assist with tasks that can be performed remotely. Volunteered at DebConf in the video team, and have done some basic mapping with OSM.
  • Kyle Robbertze - I have experience managing video and sound for DebConf (16 through 19). I organised the audio and video equipment used at DebConf16. I can help with organising coverage of the event in terms of recording and streaming talks.
  • Yusuf Suleiman - Experienced mapper, excel at programing and coordination. Served as program committee for Creative Commons and State of the map Africa. I can help with programs and communication.
  • Graham Inggs (ginggs) said he's keen to help.
  • Enock Seth Nyamador, (Enock4seth) - FOSS4G 2018 LOC, OSMF member, OSM Africa and SOTM Africa support, Software Freedom Day (Ghana), Linux Accra User Group.
  • Reuben Honigwachs - Happy to volunteer with basic conf orga tasks.
  • Samuel Darkwah Manu ( - I am based in Ghana. I co-founded Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology YouthMappers. Participant of Open Cities Africa (Accra) project. I'm ready to volunteer for this proposal in whatever way possible.
  • Mats’eliso Thobei Tshedy - popularly known as “Lesotho Mapping Queen”. Winner of the 2018 Greatness in Mapping Award. She is an avid writer, trainer, and mapper. Ready to contribute on any roles.
  • Rexford Ayeh Nyarko,(Rexfordnyrk) - Lead Developer - Innoverex , opensource and OSM entusiast. Software Freedom Day(Ghana), Linux Accra User Group, AODC 2017.
  • Aaron Young (vespax) - - OSM contributor and graduate of University of Cape Town. Travel to Cape Town annually for multiple months at a time.

Support from local institutions

  • South African Geomatics Institute (SAGI) has a small GIS membership base, but we will always support any geomatics activity inclusive of OSM.
  • YouthMappers Chapter at the University of Pretoria (via Serena Coetzee) offers support.
  • GISSA supports the proposal to host the SotM 2020 Conference in Cape Town in 2020.

Keeping in touch


The proposed venue is the University of Cape Town's Rondebosch (main) campus (UCT), which we also used for DebConf16; the bid page has extensive information. The preferred option for this event is the University of Cape Town's Rondebosch Upper Campus, Snape building, block B4 on the campus map. Leslie Social Sciences have larger venues for plenary sessions, in block C3.

The new Snape Teaching studio venue block has venues that seat about 110 people each and looks modern. The teaching studios are designed for group work, as can be seen by the extra width of every second row. Ideally these venues will be used, with level 1 and 2 potentially available if required. These venues are next to an open plaza, and neighbouring the New Engineering Building which hosts a large foyer with tables for working or meetings. Snape TS3A: 60 small meeting room, eats and tables are movable, only central plugpoints. Snape TS3B: 130, each seat has own plugpoint Snape TS3C: 130, each seat has own plugpoint Snape TS4A: small meeting room, seats about 20 people, desks can be moved. Snape TS4B: 110, each seat has own plugpoint Snape TS4C: 110, each seat has own plugpoint

2016 prices for venues was in the region of R3000 (USD 200) per venue per day, and these rates were reduced by 50% with a letter of support from the Engineering Faculty. DebConf was held in the Menzies building, which was a modest, older block with a common hallway and several venues. Both these options offer good hallway space and comfortable spaces for breakout sessions. UCT has residence accommodation and great internet. We have a staff member on the team to facilitate internet, and a member of the DebConf team with experience on video and livestreaming.
The only bad thing about UCT as a venue was that wheelchair access from the accommodation to the lecture halls was occasionally a challenge because of the steep slope. Once there wheelchair access is sufficient.


UCT caterers have cheap, decent quality meals, and should be below R200 per person for lunch and two coffee breaks with snacks. In 2016 the lunches amounted to R60 per person, for example. (ZAR200 is approx 13 USD) 300 people catering budget is about 4000 USD.

External caterer quotes are pending.

Costs for Venue and Catering

Conservative estimates based on the DebConf16 expenses are listed. A quote has been obtained but needs to be interrogated, and fees reductions are possible with letters of support of academic staff at the university. The final report for DebConf16 wiki (not final info) gives more info, but this was for a two week conference including all meals and accommodation.

200 attendees 300 attendees 400 attendees
Cost of venue per day Cost of catering per day Total cost
20 000 40 000 60 000(4000)
20 000 60 000 80 000(5200)
20 000 80 000 100 000(6500)

All prices are conservative estimates in ZAR(USD) and include taxes.


Cape Town, also known as "The Mother City", is Africa's southern most city with a population of nearly 4 million people. It's technologically developed with a Mediterranean climate and many natural attractions throughout the city and in the greater Western Cape province. It's the second-most populous city in South Africa after Johannesburg.

  • Cape Town is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city and a premium conference and tourism location. As such it has a lot to offer, with many tourist-friendly activities outside the conference.
  • English is nearly universally spoken and understood as either first or second language. We also have a sizable international resident population and eleven official local languages.
  • The Free Software community in Southern Africa is largely centred on Cape Town. It's home to many related businesses, and start-up initiatives such as SiliconCape.
  • Cape Town has excellent internet infrastructure.
  • The touristic areas are very LGBT friendly.
  • The touristic areas have excellent medical and travel support.
  • The touristic areas are reasonably safe, as can be expected from any big city. Petty theft is a challenge.


  • Cape Town has public transport but it does not function as well as it should. More about public transport on the DebConf16 bid page
  • Many nationalities are exempt from requiring a visa to enter South Africa, citizens of these countries may visit South Africa for up to 90 days (or in some cases 30 days) without a visa.

This includes most of Western Europe, USA, and Canada. Visa details on the DebConf16 bid page

  • TODO: update the 2016 info and include here directly

Conference structure


Proposed dates: Friday 3 July 2020 to Sunday 5 July 2020 (both days inclusive).

Other options include a time slot in the University of Cape Town vacation times to have access to venues:

  • 10 June to 12 July 2020 (preferred) or
  • 22 August to 30 August 2020

Following the planning guidelines


  • Cartography / visualization
  • Data collection / creation
  • Data use / analysis
  • Education / documentation
  • Humanitarian
  • Intro to OSM
  • Local community / diversity
  • Organization / legal
  • Technical / IT operations
  • Transport / planning
  • GIS
  • Games
  • Virtual reality
  • Linking with Urban Metabolism
  • Other


The team has experience with DebConf and feel strongly about inclusivity. Meals are planned to accommodate all known requirements, and child-care will be arranged if requested. Any issues to consider pre event, please let us know!

Social event

Social events are important but informal is maybe better.

Hack Day/s

A favourite of DebConf, on which we're currently modelling this event on, is the week long DebCamp. Having space to informally settle in and work on things together is very useful. We'll try to make that space available.

Remote participation

Video streaming and exploring other ways of including people participating while not physically present is becoming ever more important (for example because of budget, time constraints and ethical decisions against flying).

Other special features of the venue

Are there any other special features of the venue that we should consider?

Brand Activation

A form of marketing that could also build a library of beautiful images to inspire. Brand activation is a term that can be adapted to mean 'the art of driving action through brand interaction and experiences. In simple terms, the key aim of these sorts of campaigns is to get people to act. It’s about bringing brands ideas / platforms to life via experiences and forming long-term emotional connections. For OSM linked to SotM it can mean an activation to drive action with OpenStreetMap through interaction and experiences by people not conventionally involved in OSM, to help form an emotional connection to OSM that will promote it's growth as an open source, better, more beautiful alternative to other mapping softwares.

Three potential strategies:

  1. Papercraft, see for example the letter activation campaign for TEDxCapeTown 2012, where people were encouraged to submit artistic designs for each letter of the event theme 'Amazing people, crazy places'. The theme, perhaps something like flows or visualising resources, in keeping with the urban metabolism visualisation, should be broad enough to allow wide interpretation, for example the 'flow' of gravity in typographic maps, illustrated in the letter 'E' during the TEDxCapeTown campaign.
    Other examples of papercraft ideas is Canon's Creative Park which could complement serious games e.g. Play The City and the puzzle game LuminoCity
  2. Redesign a metabolic flow analysis (MFA), for example Sanitation Flow Diagrams (SFD). How can we bring beautiful design and geographical context to challenges like sanitation service delivery?
  3. Using JOSM in games.

While OSM members are more than welcome to participate directly, the activation is aimed at creatives, who take inspiration from OSM and is then technically assisted by the OSM community to create artwork (functional or otherwise).

Geospatial art

Examples of geospatial art that could inspire brand activation. For SotM this will obviously have to use OSM as basis.