Call for Participation and Submission Guidelines


Call for Participation

The State of the Map conference is the annual OpenStreetMap conference run by the OpenStreetMap Foundation. It is organised by the SotM Working Group, a team of volunteers. This year our host venue is the University of Cape Town (UCT).

State of the Map is intended as an opportunity for the OpenStreetMap community to get to know each other, both personally and regarding their work in OpenStreetMap. People who visit the conference take home lots of new ideas for their own OpenStreetMap projects. We want to offer a widespread OpenStreetMap related program that covers all topics relevant to OpenStreetMap. Sharing OpenStreetMap knowledge is the essence of SotM. Apart from the presentations themselves, it is an important aspect of the conference that listeners can interact with the speaker for questions and discussion. We want to offer an atmosphere that boosts vivid discussions, including about controversial topics. We try to solicit contributions from all topics of the OpenStreetMap ecosystem.

We would love to see your submission for one or more of these tracks:

  • OSM Basics
  • Community and Foundation
  • Mapping
  • Cartography
  • Software Development
  • Data Analysis & Data Model
  • User Experiences
  • Art & Creativity

HeidelbergThomas Skowron, CC BY 2.0


Don’t worry too much about the track categories; they help us organise the conference, but if you find it difficult to select the right track for your talk, just choose the one that fits best and we will make adjustments if necessary.

OSM Basics

OSM has grown a lot. Many newcomers have a great thirst for knowledge in areas that may seen uninteresting and basic to others. We reserve a number of slots for talks that help to satisfy this need. It is important that you have real expertise in the subject you want to talk about and have the ability to make it comprehensible. Please note in the submission what approximate level of previous knowledge is required.

Examples for this kind of talk are: Explaining the OSM data model. Education in OSM Editors or cartography tools. Becoming a working group member. Please do not submit talks that require the audience to buy software or service subscriptions, create an account on a business platform, or a platform with user tracking.

Community and Foundation

Do you want to recount your experiences while community building? Or do you want to talk about the vision of OSMF? Or discuss the strategy of the Board? Also reflecting diversity of community or questions of etiquette are suitable for this track. Other topics could be „why become an OSMF member“, working group experiences, …


All about mapping, surveying, data collection, and tagging. Tips and reflections on OSM editors, or new editor features. Reflections on automated mapping, organised editing and imports.


Cartography and data visualisation, rendering raster and vector maps, map styles, CartoCSS, usage of Kosmtik, maps with QGIS, printing maps and more. All your ideas on how to create a map.

Software Development

This track awaits talks by or for developers of applications that make use of OSM data, e.g. OSM editors, (vector) tile servers, geocoding, routing, navigation. Tips and tricks with new PostGIS features, or new features of other tools and applications.

Data Analysis and Data Model

This track is dedicated to OSM data itself. Analysis of OSM data quality. Reflections about enhancing the data model, or discussing the way the OSM data is accessed through the API. Also submissions about deep lerning are welcome in this track.

User Experiences

This track is all about the usage of OSM. Examples are usage in administration and government, public transport or as an education tool in class rooms. You can present citizen projects that are using OSM data to understand and manage their environment. This track also includes the humanitarian and scientific context as well.

Art & Creativity

This track provides a space to present your artistic and creative projects that use OpenStreetMap data or the OpenStreetMap theme to eg. create clothing, jewellery, 3D printed objects, engravings, visualizations, computer or mobile games, virtual worlds, augmented reality, flyers, postcards, etc.

HeidelbergManfred Stock, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Submission Types

We provide the following submission types:

Talk (20 minutes)

Classic talk with 20 minutes for the talk itself and 5 minutes for questions. This is the preferred submission type.

Workshop (60–90 minutes)

We appreciate the submission of workshops, especially since visitors of previous years’ SotMs often told us that they would apreciate the possibility to attend more workshops about about basic OSM topics as well as about innovative technologies. Basic mapping workshops could even happen outdoors. Further topics could be basic OSM editing workshops using JOSM or ID. How to render a map? How to print a map?

We are reserving the term “workshop” for sessions in which the audience is actively involved, for example by following some steps on their own devices. If you are however planning to submit a longer presentation which doesn’t involve hands-on experience, then please use the “extended talk” submission type (see below). Please communicate any requirements an attendee should fulfil in order to attend your proposed workshop regarding technical equipment. Please ensure that your visitors shouldn’t be told to create an account at a business platform or a platform with user tracking. Or if so communicate that in an exposed way in your submission and provide guest accounts for your vistors.

Extended Talk (40 minutes)

An extended talk with 40 minutes for the talk and 15 minutes for questions. In past years we provided such extended talks under the label workshop, which didn‘t fit so well. You should outline why your talk deserves more time.

Panels (60-90 minutes)

Panels are for hot, controversial discussions around OSM community, mapping and data. Topics may cover for example diversity, legal questions or the future of the database. You should outline the format how you intend to organise the discussion and make sure to invite the key players for the discussion. Panels may or may not include the audience. Do what works best for your topic.

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather sessions are informal, spontaneous discussion rounds centered around a specific topic. It is not possible to submit a BoF session in advance. Instead, we will provide a wiki page to organize it shortly before the conference. We plan to provide a lot of space for BoF sessions as this was massively appreciated in past SotMs.


Your submission does not fit into any of these submission types? Please get in touch with the program committee via email before the end of the call for participation.

Rating Criteria

In rating submissions, we will apply the following criteria:

  • OSM as the subject: A submission where OSM is the main subject or an important ingredient will be rated higher than one that is more generic (e.g. a general talk about GIS software).
  • Preference of „open“: A submission about open data and open source software will be preferred over one that deals with proprietary data or proprietary software and closed platforms.
  • Preference of innovation: A submission about something new, or something not discussed at previous conferences, will be preferred over one that discusses more widely known issues (exception: OSM Basics).
  • We are hoping for talks from a multitude of speakers and hence we would prefer accepting a talk from a „new“ speaker over accepting a second talk from someone who has already an accepted talk.
  • We will also try to avoid accepting many talks from members of the same organisation.
  • We prefer talks from members of underrepresented groups.
  • We value transparency. We prefer submissions that disclose affiliations and sponsors of their work.

Sometimes we will make some changes or have suggestions:

  • We might ask if several speakers can merge their talks.
  • We might also ask if a change of format would be possible (for example we might suggest the lightning talk format instead of talk when we find it is not enough content for a complete talk, but an interesting subject)

HeidelbergManfred Stock, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


The conference language of State of the Map is English. All presentations shall be held in English. It is an important aspect of the conference that visitors can interact with the speaker for questions and discussion.

Non-English visitors are welcome to meet in Bird of Feather sessions (BoF). We will provide a wiki page for organizing BoF sessions in languages other than English with English translation.


Video recordings and slides of the lectures will be published under the Creative Commons Attribution International 3.0 or later (CC BY 3.0+) license. If you do not wish your lectures to be published or streamed, please let us know in your submission.

Travel Costs and Visa

State of the Map is a non-commercial event where neither the organisers nor the speakers are being paid. Speakers have to buy a conference ticket just like everyone else. If necessary, we are able to provide limited support for travel costs.

If you need help applying for a visa, e.g. an official invitation to present to the South African embassy, we can provide that. Please be aware that the visa application procedure may take several weeks or even months.

Program Committee

Your submissions will be reviewed by a program committee consisting of OpenStreetMap community members from various parts of the world.

  • Christine Karch (chairwoman SotM Working Group, Germany)
  • Arun Ganesh (mapper and carthographer, India)
  • Benoît Fournier (mapper, France)
  • Bernelle Verster (local team)
  • Gregory Marler (SotM Working Group, United Kingdom)
  • Ilya Zverev (forum moderator, Russia)
  • Jennings Anderson (researcher, United States)
  • Manfred Stock (mapper, Switzerland)
  • Mats’eliso Thobei (mapper, Lesotho and Ireland)
  • Miriam Gonzales (Geochicas, Mexico)
  • Sarah Hoffmann (developer, Germany)
  • Satochi Iida (OSMF Japan, Japan)
  • Sidorela Uku (mapper, Albania)
  • Séverin Menard (EOF, France, French-speaking West-African and Caribbean outreach)

The program committee is aware of possible conflict of interest situations. We try to balance that by having a well balanced composition of the committee. Nevertheless, we have imposed some rules upon ourselves to handle conflict of interest situations:

  • We do not rate submissions from our workmates, clients or relatives.
  • We act carefully and are aware about possible conflicts (especially the situation of horse trading). We act particularly carefully in cases we are related to a sponsor.
  • We communicate to other PC members when we are in a conflict of interest situation.
  • We report any outside attempt of influencing their decisions to the chair of the SotM Working Group.

We hope this detailed “Call for Presentations” helps to increase the transparency of our program selection process. Questions are welcome. You can reach us at the following email address: For questions about visa applications please write to

Timeline and Deadlines

23 February 2020: Deadline talk submissions
26 March 2020: Deadline academic talk submissions
April 2020: Program announcement
3-5 July 2020: State of the Map

Submit your presentation

Please submit your presentation proposal to our submission form.

The SotM 2020 Program Committee, 2 December 2019