Organization of IEEE Conferences
Conferences are a complex, but also a vital part of what we do at IEEE. No matter which new media of communication we have, we always have the need of physically meeting with colleagues and exchange ideas face to face.
The organizers of these conferences play a very important role among IEEE volunteers, as they make these events possible. It is not an easy task to run a conference, no matter how large or small, and it needs a significant amount of time to make sure that attendees are happy, the technical content is of high quality, and the finances are healthy, all at the same time.
For years, IEEE has organized the Panel of Conference Organizers (POCO) to discuss strategies and educate conference volunteers and potential organizers. This year it is taking place under a new name: IEEE Convene.
While I attend Convene and the IEEE Conferences Committee meeting in Berlin, Germany, I would like to reflect on some issues that are being presented here.
New publication media and novel ways of having conference content available to attendees and the general public are being sought and we should continue in that direction. For example, early access to conference proceedings, open access of conference papers when authors require, accompanying material (multimedia, code, data, etc.). There are very interesting initiatives in this area.
There was an interesting debate on whether to require conferences to acquire carbon offsets, or doing it centrally at IEEE, to compensate the emitted carbon due to conference organization or delegates travel there.
Convene had a whole day devoted to crisis managements in conferences, when we had the opportunity of listening to experiences of handling with crisis from conference organizers, governmental agencies, hotels, etc. Crisis can range from the illness of one attendee to a hurricane or flood, with many cases in between. We were solving cases and learning how to tackle them having persons as the first priority when taking quick and informed decisions.
The second day is focused on legal issues for conference organizers, giving practical advice regarding topics like privacy, which is a hot topic among all IEEE volunteers these days. It is nice to hear about real-life examples and know that there are solutions and guidelines that ensure compliance with laws.
From my own experience I would say that organizing an IEEE conference is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have as volunteer. Conference organizers provide the means for people to meet in person, make new friends, and discuss latest trends and developments in their areas. It is wonderful that we have a community of people involved in conferences to support and learn from each other. Thanks for a great IEEE Convene!