Memories From a Historic, Hybrid, Distributed ICASSP

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Memories From a Historic, Hybrid, Distributed ICASSP

By: 
Athina Petropulu

This past May marked the beginning of our return to face-to-face events after almost three years of pandemic-forced virtual-only interactions. The first attempt was the 2022 ICASSP!

Planning for large international events in the era of postpandemic uncertainty is not an easy undertaking. Of course, signal processing is all about dealing with uncertainty—and who would be better at planning than IEEE Signal Processing Society (SPS) people? Indeed, volunteers and staff, under the leadership of Vice President-Conferences Ana Isabel Pérez-Neira, came up with a novel and robust solution, namely, a distributed, hybrid ICASSP. It would have a virtual part and a live part. To minimize travel and travel-induced anxiety, the live part was to occur in two different locations, namely, Singapore and Shenzhen, China. The virtual part and the Singapore parts were completed with great success last May. The China part will happen when COVID-related restrictions in China allow.

I was among the fortunate ones who attended the live ICASSP component in Singapore. The conference was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center of the magnificent landmark hotel Marina Bay Sands. The program included plenaries by high-profile academics and industry people, panels on cutting-edge topics, tutorials, some oral paper presentations by in-person attendees, exhibits, the awards ceremony, and several networking and social events. It also included, for the first time, an entrepreneurship forum and education-oriented short courses.

The talks were excellent and thought provoking, and the panel discussions created great audience engagement. The presentation stage was better than anything I have seen at a conference, organized to perfection by a professional stage crew. Beautiful, vibrant, and high-tech Singapore offered a great backdrop for the organized social events.

There were more than 3,000 registrants, of whom 750 attended live in Singapore. The physical attendees—their excitement at getting together after more than two years of isolation clearly palpable—remained engaged until the very last minute. Several of the ICASSP regulars were missed, but a new, enthusiastic, and full-of-promise audience emerged; 40% of the attendees attended ICASSP for the first time! We hope that these people will decide to make the SPS their professional home.

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