Home  |   About  |   Energy  |   Politics  |   Software  |   Music

17 July 2018

Message to FOSS4G-Europe 2018

This is a message sent to the plenary of the FOSS4G-Europe 2018 conference. This conference took shape largely from my initiative and I was part of the Local Organisation Committee. Click on the logo for the conference web site.

Dear all,

The history of this conference dates back to August of 2016, when the international FOSS4G was held in Bonn. Seven Portuguese attendants gathered in that conference, most of which are OSGeo charter members. However, only one of those actually lived in Portugal at the time. The financial crisis sent many professionals abroad and our community seemed particularly affected.

Slowly the idea formed in the back of my mind: why not turn the issue on its head and bring FOSS4G to Portugal? As the conference moved on from presentations to code sprint, me and Jorge Gustavo were left as the last Portuguese at the BaseCamp in Bonn. The discussion started: while the international conference would possibly be too much for the modest OSGeo-Portugal, the European edition looked feasible. And with the international conference taking place outside of Europe in 2018, there seemed to be a nice gap for OSGeo-Portugal to fill in.

Fresh out of the conference, I would send a message defying the portuguese OSGeo chapter into the project. There were many positive replies, from which a new OSGeo-Portugal board took shape. Jorge Gustavo had already been president of OSGeo-Portugal, and being one of those left in the country, naturally took the lead. Months later the team would apply to organise FOSS4G-Europe in Guimarães.

This team would have also a rehearsal in 2017, organising the local chapter conference in November. At the time I was moving to another job and another country and could not attend, but the feedback was very positive. The foundations were in place for more ambitious endeavours.

Soon after the work on FOSSG4-Europe started. I took responsibility of tasks that could be handled from abroad, like the Academic Track or managing the programme. Back in Portugal the local team got on with the logistics, the website and the institutional contacts. A functioning organisation machine was in place.

I committed many evenings and weekends to this conference, gathering a good number of worries to tackle. But I knew that once I would get to Guimarães, reviewing my friends and learning what is new in our software and community, it would all be worth it.

But such is life. The past few weeks I have battled an health condition that ultimately prevented me from travelling to Portugal. Personally it is a great disillusion, but all in all, the goals I devised in August of 2016 have largely been met: the cream of FOSS4G has came to Portugal.

And what a nice conference it looks set to be. With a vast host of workshops and presentations covering multiple aspects of FOSS4G and the different ways in which it is being applied. One aspect that greatly satisfies me is the geographic diversity of this conference. Even smaller countries are represented, like Luxembourg, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia or Croatia, and some further out places like Roumania or Turkey. This truly is a European conference.

In this conference we are also trying new approaches to bring the industry closer together and closer to OSGeo. We hope to foster successful partnerships and set a template for the engagement of small and medium enterprises for future conferences. In FOSS4G companies are first and foremost partners, not necessarily competitors.

Finally, a word to all those that contributed to the organisation of this conference. The OSGeo board, OSGeo-Europe, the invited speakers, all our sponsors, the reviewers, the staff volunteers, and of course, the indefatigable Local Organising Committee: Joana, Pedro, Rui, Jorge, Pedro, Jacinto. Thank you all for making this dream come true.

I wish you enjoy the conference in full. Especially for those that attending a FOSS4G conference for the first time: make the most out of it, do not hesitate engaging other people with your questions, suggestions and remarks. Deepen your network and by doing so help strengthening OSGeo and FOSS4G.

With the warmest regards,

Luís