DebConf 2024 rescue bid for Birmingham, England

?Checklist.

Because of the situation with DebConf24, this is not a full and complete bid. It is an example of what we *could* do and are actively exploring. We're confident that the conference could be realised in the ways we describe on this page.

Birmingham

The UK's most populous city after the capital, London. Birmingham city centre (OpenStreetMap) is extremely well-connected domestically and internationally, but remains small and compact. Within the vicinity of the three main rail stations - New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street - everything we would need for a full conference is reachable on foot.

The city is safe and friendly with a long tradition of welcoming people from all cultures.

Birmingham has the advantages of connectivity, convenience and safety without the high cost implications of the capital or the academic cities. It would make a good compromise for a rescue bid where we have lots of options to explore yet avoid risking the viability of the conference as a whole.

Summary:

Venues

The city's International Convention Centre, Central Library, Birmingham Conference and Events Centre and similar spaces could be self-contained talk and hack space, with one of the nearby hotels as main accommodation. Further afield, smaller hotels/B&Bs can be easily found with good daily connections to the city centre.

Aston University or University of Birmingham are also viable locations - they are further outside the city centre but easily reached with local train and bus services. We are assuming that academic support will be hard to obtain at this short notice, so we are exploring all options for a conference in July, August or early September.

Venue data gathering

Sample venue: BCEC

Birmingham Conference and Events Centre has its own building with facilities spread across 3 floors. It has 24 meeting spaces ranging from 6-seat board rooms to large auditoriums. All the larger spaces are equipped with presentation facilities and the smaller ones can be used cabaret-style for hack space.

Subject to availability, we would envisage something like:

BCEC is a couple of minutes walk from New Street station and adjacent to one hotel with others in easy reach.

Fallback cities

We have identified Manchester, Nottingham and Southampton as fallback cities containing good options with or without academic support.

Weather

An English Summer would likely be fine and dry, with temperatures in the 20-25 degC range.

Transport

We anticipate the main conference locations being within walking distance of rail stations.

Air

For international visitors, Birmingham International Airport (IATA: BHX) has frequent budget-friendly flights to and from Europe and beyond. Long haul arrivals can come directly (e.g. Emirates, Air India etc) or via Amsterdam (KLM) and Paris (Air France). A mainline rail station is connected to the airport for direct connections to the city centre.

Other good options include the London group of airports (IATA: LON / LHR / STN / LTN / LGW / LCY), Manchester (IATA: MAN), East Midlands (IATA: EMA) and then a train or coach trip to the city. See also: Train.

(Take care not to fly to Birmingham, Alabama by mistake!)

Train

Birmingham has three key mainline stations: New Street, Snow Hill and Moor Street. Most national connections will be to New Street in the heart of the city centre.

International travellers have a 10 minute walk or short underground connection from London St Pancras (the Eurostar terminus) to London Euston, where direct trains run to New Street.

Birmingham_&_West_Mids_Passenger_Railway_Map.jpeg (Sagredo/G-13114 CC-BY-SA 3.0 original)

Drive

Birmingham has motorway links towards the compass points: M42 around the city, M5 / M40 / M6 / M1 for national links. The city centre does have emissions restrictions but they are not onerous (link to checker).

There is a coach station in the city centre (National Express services).

Visa policy

EU nationals may visit the UK for short trips to conferences without a visa. You must travel with a passport, an identity card is no longer sufficient (unless you have pre-settled status).

Visitors from other countries typically require a Standard Visitor visa which lasts up to 6 months. This costs £115 and the earliest application date is three months prior to travel.

A Visa Waiver system is planned for the UK border but it is not clear whether this will be in operation by the time of the conference.

Accessibility

The UK has strong accessibility legislation and most buildings are adapted. All public transport companies are expected to accommodate vision, hearing and physical movement disabilities. Some heritage buildings are exempted from making unreasonable adjustments, but most have made whatever adjustments are possible. We don't anticipate accessibility to be a major issue for attendees.

Customs

TBC

Free time / day trips

The city centre has a huge variety of free time activities and its connectivity means even leisure trips to further afield are straightforward.

Example day trip ideas include:

We would work with the local tourist office and event planners on 5-6 options for attendees to choose from.

Team

We expect this core team to grow as news of this late bid spreads. The UK has quite a number of experienced Developers and other people who have expressed interest in hosting DebConf with various commitment levels. We are realistic about the need to effectively spread responsibilities in order to complete the planning in time for the conference.

Name

Debian/Free software experiences

DebConf or Event organizing experiences

Planned participation level

?JonathanWiltshire

DD

Helped with past ?DebConfs. Experience organising other events at smaller scales. Ex-stage manager. Decision maker.

Reduced; most local team member; advisory and planning until nearer the time

KyleRobbertze

DD

Helped organise previous DebConf, core video team, organised OSM online and a variety of local conferences/events

somewhat remote from Birmingham (in UK terms)

AndySimpkins

DD

Helped with past ?DebConfs. Experience organising other events.

Active; location is < 2hrs away from home, so can attend *planned* meetings if needed, evenings / weekends otherwise

Akash Santhosh

Contributor

Local Team DebConf23, actively learning from VideoTeam. Experience in organising academic and professional tech events.

Active; location is 2hrs away from current house, might move to London