Friday, August 26, 2016

sigcomm 2016 #2 - what worked well

a number of things about Sigcomm 2016 were really smooth, and i''d like to say what those were and why, for future reference

1/ a large number of volunteers did a meet/greet/arrange transport from the airport to the conference venue & hotels site - this was great - even delayed planes had a person with local knowledge 9of language/culture/taxi/etc) and so many panic moments were averted-  for example there were two flights from north america which were disrupted but people still got met - also
several people were severely mis-advised by airlines that their checked bags would go through from the international to the regional flight (this isn't the case in any country in the world that I know of, but united and tam managed to tell people this, despite that security demands passengers and bags are reconciled per flight) - nevertheless, with some local help, bags were retrieved within a day....

2/ the conference venue has a LOT of rooms and is very conveniently laid out so that almost instant access to coffee/lunch areas, and between rooms was very very easy. - the space is pleasant, acoustics are good, audio/visual (mikes/PA/speakers) worked well (including for remote speakers and for Q&A) - there are 6 main rooms next to the catering area, plus the large auditoriam area up one floor, with large bathroom area next to both, too - the groundfloor rooms can be reconfigured to 3 larger rooms - this is necessary as the 5 days of Sigcomm these days include
multiple tutorials and workshops on the monday & friday, plus multiple other events like the student research, the topic preview sessions, mentoriing meetings, and various committtee (sigcomm exec, next year handover)....all rooms were used most the time...

3/ many sponsors attended and several had desks for info for possible employment etc, out in the large catering area...

4/ the conference banquet (tue) and student dinners (wed) were both fantastic events - the former was 8 minutes walk from the conference venue, so people could get bak to hotels at their own leisure - the latter was a bus ride away - coaches whisked us there and back in about a half hour, and that was probably rhe best meal I have ever had at a sigcomm conference. The reception on monday (in the main conference auditorium) was good.

5/ there were a couple of pretty good local restaurants at the venue for people looking for socialising on the other days (including award winners dinner, N2women dinner +  for people arriving early, plus on the thursday nite)

6/ there was fairly seamless interaction between webmasters, and a/v team, so slides, papers, other access (e.g. to printers for boarding passes, for travel info/asking for taxis back to restaurants/airport etc) was all pretty painless

we had a day of wireless outage, which appeared to be on part of the internet not inside the conference venue site, but an engineer did come and fix it that day - this disrupted the live streaming (although we hope the recordings will still have worked and will soon be available via the ACM digital library links)

7/ the remote presentations were remarkably successful - this was because
a) the actual talk was a pre-recorded video, pre-shipped to us, so didn't depend on the net working well in realtime
b) most presenters had prepared lively talks with a super-imposed video of the full standing figure of the speaker, alongside the slide show
c) the talks all had a live Q&A (relying on skype/telephone call out as a backup of the internet was down) so there was little difference in terms of presentation between the remote presentation and local presentations in terms of human experience - indeed, several people commented that almost all the remote presentations were technically higher quality that most of the local ones....

8/ the size of the conference (approx 400 attendees) combined with the local relaxed culture was perhaps responsible for a very friendly atmosphere- I think this meant that it was a really fantastic experience for the (large number of) student attendees, giving many opportunities for mentoring moments and general exchange of ideas....a larger event might need slightly more formally organised mechanisms (certainly, last year's sigcomm in London with 700 attendees was a bit more of a "zoo").

9/ there was a lot of behind the scenes tech used to track all the organisation of things....this is available from the general chairs and other members of the organising committee (OC) on request

10/ the OC all carried out their tasks with incredible efficiency and timeliness. This matters as many of those tasks have dependencies  (e.g. travel grant, visa letters, or tutorial/registration/registration, or PC paper shepherding/web site program) - there are a couple of race conditions, but we had fixes....which requires everyone to be responsive (i.e. very day) and responsible....

thats all for now, folks...

No comments: