When writing my report on the State of the Map conference in Heidelberg this year i complained not having any data on the visitors yet. We now have some numbers and i would like to add the missing illustration and commentary on those.
Might be a bit difficult to read – i grouped the numbers by continent – Europe in yellow/orange, America in blue, Asia/Pacific in green and Africa/Middle East in red. I was a bit surpried by the large number of visitors from Germany – but if you keep in mind that this includes all the local helpers it might not be so surprising after all.
I prepared a second illustration with estimates for the carbon dioxide emissions generated from travel to and from the conference alone. This is a very conservative rough estimate. So don’t give too much on the exact numbers, neither individually nor in sum. I am pretty sure the actual emissions are not lower but they could definitely be much higher.
Why am i showing this? First of all to show that a conference like SotM is a resource intensive endeavor. Second: To show that to reduce the environmental footprint of an event like this it is very beneficial to hold it close to where the majority of event visitors come from. Europeans this year have accounted for more than 2/3 of the conference visitors – yet they have probably contributed less than ten percent of the total CO2 emissions due to travel of the whole conference. On a per person level this conference – with an estimated < 600kg CO2 per visitor for travel - probably fares pretty well. And third: To illustrate that for the OSM community to be sustainable in the long term we will have to put a lot more effort into improving our ability to communicate and cooperate globally without the need to necessarily meet in person. We need to put a lot more energy into ensuring that we come to a point where physical presence at an OSM conference becomes truly optional and where you can productively contribute to such events - both actively and passively - at the distance.