As the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic and the world began to go into lockdown, the organisers of 2nd 6G Wireless Summit 2020 decided to transform the leading global 6G event to a virtual one – in less than five days. Sharing of 6G visions, research results and challenges could be realised virtually, the organising team in the Finnish 6G Flagship programme concluded.
Attending a virtual event, the more than 400 registered participants could stay safe in their homes or offices while having online access to a total of 161 presentations: 7 keynotes, 37 invited presentations including 20 recorded videos and 10 slide presentations with audio, 75 technical papers including 29 recorded videos and 45 slide presentations with audio, and 42 posters. In addition, the presented papers would gain a wide global audience even before their publication in IEEE Xplore.
The virtual event was launched in the morning of 17 March 2020, as originally planned for the physical event. “It was made possible by a seven-member team including students, technical staff and myself as technical programme committee chair,” said Nandana Rajatheva. “We worked nearly around the clock in a highly time-constrained scenario as we also wanted to ensure a high-quality outcome.”
Until now, very few major events organised with technical support by IEEE – world’s largest technical professional organisation – have taken place online. “We have received positive feedback from different parts of the world stating that this was truly a landmark achievement leading the world towards other similar events realised virtually,” Rajatheva said.
The turnout left no questions about the timeliness of the discussed topics as 610 experts from 42 countries explored the online material. The website tool and browsers caused some challenges, for sure, but the statistics demonstrate a strong participation. Each presentation also has its own discussion forum and there are also general forums. All registered participants were able to create topics, raise questions and answer them. In six days, by 22 March, experts had written as many as 414 posts in 87 topics.
At the same time, the entire 2nd 6G Wireless Summit 2020 website, including both public and protected content, has attracted 18 683 page views in 3 694 sessions since 17 March with an average session duration of 8 minutes 28 seconds.
Patrons of the 2nd 6G Wireless Summit were Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE, Keysight Technologies, Nokia Bell Labs, Rohde&Schwarz, Virginia Diodes, InterDigital and Wipro. All patrons were very active in different programme roles, contributing to keynotes, invited talks as well as Q&A sessions. The patrons also extended their thanks to organising the event successfully. However, one disadvantage with the virtual event realisation were the live exhibitions, which unfortunately had to be cancelled. “Exhibition materials in high quantities already arrived in Levi, but we sadly had to return them all back to their origins,” said Tuomo Hänninen who was in charge of organising the exhibitions.
Although the virtual space at 6gsummit.com/virtual-event could hardly compete with the winter wonderland in Levi, Lapland, it came with other benefits. Participation was flexible and attendees could focus more intensively on their specific topics of interest. The pre-recorded video presentations provided more insights than mere slides and papers in Proceedings ever could. Last, but not least, the online forum gave even the more silent attendees a voice by providing equal opportunities for in-depth conversation while also producing more elaborated exchange of ideas than speedy Q&As in regular conference sessions.
An absolute highlight at the event were the live Q&As by all seven keynote speakers in the discussion forum which defied the restrictions of time zones. The live Q&A sessions attracted a lot of attention and provided the virtual summit attendees an opportunity to directly interact with the leading experts. Although the full proceedings and discussion forum will remain in the unique use of registered experts and paper authors for a full year, the wider research community can also start benefitting of the Summit’s outcomes. Videos of keynote presentations are openly published on the event website.
Work on essential 6G research topics continues in twelve 6G white paper groups led by 6G Flagship experts. Final draft White Papers will be published already at the end of April 2020 and final polished White Papers in June 2020.
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University of Oulu.