Report on DebConf 20 bids
In early January, Nattie and I visited the two likely DebConf 20 bid
cities  (Lisbon, Portugal and Haifa, Israel), to check on the status
of the bids, and do some reconnaissance of the venues.
There was also a preliminary bid from India, but no city has been
proposed, and there hasn't been any activity on the bid since August
2018, so we've assumed they aren't ready for DebConf 20.
The bids are going to be discussed this week by the committee .
The trip was quite brief, only a couple of days in each city. And it was
directly after New Year, so many people in Lisbon were still on
holiday. But we got a good feeling for the venues, and bids. We looked
at the proposed venues, accommodation, and nearby attractions. We helped
the bid teams to answer the questions in the Location Check List ,
meeting with venue representatives to get details. This check list was
a little out of date, so we also updated it.
Here's a brief summary of what we saw.
Check List: https://wiki.debian.org/DebConf/20/Bids/Lisbon/CheckList
We met with José Calhariz, the main representative for the Lisbon bid,
and his colleague João Silva  to have a look around potential
conference facilities at the Técnico (IST) in Lisbon. The Técnico is
situated on top of a hill, overlooking the Alameda, and is easily
reached by public transport. However, accessibility is somewhat of a
concern: in the main auditoriums, wheelchair accessibility was not
immediately evident. The potential hacklabs appeared at first glance to
be accessible. Furthermore, there are plans to inquire further into
accessibility through groups on campus dedicated to such matters.
The proposed model for a DebConf in Lisbon would be very much a "city"
DebConf in the style of New York or Portland, where the attendees would
have the opportunity to get to know the city in which the conference is
held. There was the possibility of investigating the university's other
campus, some way outside Lisbon proper and not easily reached by public
transport, but we didn't take it this time. In the case of a repeated
candidacy by Lisbon, we would be interested in exploring this
possibility as well, although it would substantially change the type of
DebConf on offer.
Since there are no dormitories available at the Técnico, accommodation
would have to be external. The university has contacts with nearby
hotels, from past events. João Silva very kindly arranged a meeting for
us with a representative of the InterContinetal group, parent of the
nearby Holiday Inn hotel. It should be possible to make a block booking
for us, although distributed over multiple hotels. We also have a
contact with a more economical hotel, but I'm not sure whether anything
has come of that yet.
The bid has the support of the IT department of the University. We
expect the venue to have some cost, although the university may be a
partial sponsor for this.
Check List: https://wiki.debian.org/DebConf/20/Bids/Haifa/CheckList
We met with Tzafrir Cohen, the Haifa bid's main proponent, along with
several others, including a representative from the city. On the first
day, we were shown various venues near the port of Haifa. These
included the customs hall of the cruise ship port (a very interesting
building, but very high-security and only one space we'd use for talks),
an art school with a fabulous rooftop terrace (perhaps suitable for a
party, but not really what we had in mind for talks), and the future
site of the robotics lab  (beautiful, but realistically too small).
On the second day, we checked out the main campus of Haifa University,
and met several members of the staff of the Caesarea Rothschild
Institute . Effectively, two options were presented to us, a "city"
DebConf, with talk venues based in the city near the port, and a
"campus" DebConf, with talks and accommodation based all in one place.
Accommodation for a "city" DebConf in Haifa would have to take place in
small hotels near the port, of which there are several, and of which we
visited one. Accommodation for a "campus" DebConf would take place at
the University's dorms, which are located about 500m from the proposed
talk rooms and hacklabs. Overall, the preference for Haifa seems to be
to bid for a "campus" DebConf.
Both the City of Haifa and the University of Haifa are extremely keen to
host us, and it is heartening to be met with such enthusiasm. The
conference has been approved by both the mayoral and university
There would be a cost to the university venue, both accommodation and
conference venue, although the university may be a sponsor for the
We took many photographs at both venues, but we haven't sorted through
them, yet. Some contain students in class, and other areas that we
shouldn't be sharing photographs of. So, we've left it to the bid teams
to select some photographs to include in their bid pages, and you can
see some of them, there. We probably have more detailed pictures of
many areas, that we can share with the selection committee, to answer
This trip was funded by Debian, thanks!
Stefano and Nattie
+1 415 683 3272