It is always amazing to connect with like-minded people on topics you are interested in and talk about making it better. That’s what State of The Map has always been to me. And this time, thanks to HOT UnSummit, I got a chance to attend one as a student, and understand the use cases of maps from a very fresh perspective.

After more than 5 years of working in the mapping sector, I decided to pursue my Master’s in Cartography and being a student again, both of the conferences of SoTM and FOSS4G proved to be very beneficial to attend and understand the ways the mapping community are branching out in.

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I have been a part of the SoTM community for a few years now and have got a chance to even present some of the talks on OSM and validation. However, the whole experience at Florence this time was very different and engaging. The first in person conference after COVID, it was fantastic to meet everyone I knew in person and connect on maps and more.

The week at Florence was full of learning and building holistic relationships with people of the mapping community. It was wonderful to see what everyone has been working on, the new updates to tools and plugins, and the development of new tools for better mapping.

There were so many interesting talks this time that I am still catching up on certain talks that I missed during the conference. However, the ones that I did manage to attend and listen were some of the topics I found fascinating. I particularly thought of the talks of:

  1. Mateusz Koneiczny on Usability Testing
  2. Gala and Simona Ciocoiu’s: None, a story of the data that isn’t there
  3. Pedestrian and bike mapping in NYC by Ariel Kadouri
  4. Every Door and the future of POIs by Ilya Zverev
  5. How to kill OSM: Above all change nothing by Florian Lainez
  6. Routing not only for Prams, Null Island: a node in contention as some of the best talks at SoTM.

Also, the youth mappers documentary on crisis mapping and the efforts by the team and the lightning talks by the HOTOSM team on building mapping communities were fantastic. SoTM have always had great talks, this time too they were out of the box!

My experience at FOSS4G was a little overwhelming. It being my first time at FOSS4G, I never knew what to expect and already a week into being Florence and three days of SoTM made FOSS4G a little formidable and immense. However, it certainly was very fruitful. Along with attending the talks, I found the stalls very informative to understand the companies’ progress and the new products being built. The one product that stood out for me was MerginMaps, the application to sync and edit QGIS products on the phone! Mind-blowing. That is one product that I am pretty sure I am going to end up using a lot.

Aside from the magnificent talks and stalls, FOSS4G does know how to throw a party, and it was needed after the gruelling days of consuming and processing so much amount of information. The musical night was a night to remember!

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Both SoTM and FOSS4G has been so immensly helpful this time with new inspirations and ideas stemming from the talks and I certainly hope to use some of these methods and will look forwarding to contacting some of the speakers for more ideas for my Thesis semester the coming year. I had an agenda to meet as many people as possible and gain as much as information that I could, and I am very happy that it was possible. I look forward to coming to SoTM and FOSS4G the coming year and will try and be a part of SoTM Asia this November!

On a final note, what an amazing city Florence was. The experience of Italy, the food, the people and all those museums and architecture were absolutely magnificent. I look forward to visiting Italy again and again and again!!

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Posted below are some of my experiences in pictures, as they speak a thousand words! :) :) Also, check out my insanely short blasts of learning on Twitter for each talk!

Twitter: @bepoorni

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Location: Innere Altstadt, Altstadt, Dresden, Saxony, Germany

Comment from Mateusz Konieczny on 8 September 2022 at 22:37

talks at SoTM

Thanks, it is nice to hear that you liked it!

Comment from Tobi_vibez on 9 September 2022 at 00:55

It was very educative. I have following the conference through your posts on twitter and with the little i have been able to virtually experience, it has been helpful. Thank you.

Comment from pedrito1414 on 9 September 2022 at 06:07

Thanks for sharing, Poorni! Happy you got so much out of your Firenze visit… :D

Comment from mvexel on 12 September 2022 at 22:41

Great to read your impressions, thanks for sharing!

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