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40th IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing

Fresh from its G20 success, Brisbane continues to shine in the meetings spotlight, recently hosting the 40th IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP).

The meeting attended by more than 1780 delegates was held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition (BCEC) from April 19 to 24 and was managed by professional conference organiser Arinex.

The BCEC bid for and won the meeting in 2009, with Arinex appointed PCO in 2011 in conjunction with the Texas-based CMS.

ICASSP is the world’s largest and most comprehensive technical conference focused on signal processing and its applications. Australia is one of the foremost countries in the world for its expertise in signal processing, with three areas in which Australia’s leadership featured at ICASSP including over-the-horizon radar, cochlear implants and in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The Jindalee over-the-horizon radar is regarded as a marvel of technology.  It uses the ionosphere to “bend” signals so that they can cover great distances. 

Cochlear implants have transformed the lives of so many hearing-impaired people around the world.  The secret is to process audio signals arriving at the ear into electrical signals that stimulate the nerves directly.  Australian technology in this area is recognised as the world’s best.

The whereabouts of MH370 is consistently a top news item globally.  The massive search of the southern Indian Ocean is being guided by the work of Australian scientists.  Their tracking results have been obtained by novel processing of satellite signals received from MH370 during its final hours.

The organising committee for the meeting included 18 IEEE Signal Processing Society committee members, six Arinex staff, and five staff from CMS.

The purpose of the conference was to provide a fantastic opportunity for delegates to network with like-minded professionals from around the world.

To ensure that happened, PCO Arinex was responsible for creation and management of the ICASSP website, and marketing activity including promotion at other related events around the world, an  e-marketing campaign, and collateral development. Arinex also managed keynote speaker arrangements, coordination of more than 50 administrative meetings, management of the conference dinner, management of the budget, and sponsorship and exhibition sales.

A total of 53 Signal Processing Society (SPS) administrative meetings were held concurrently with the conference. These meetings were held at the BCEC and Rydges South Bank, and ranged from breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings. Arinex managed the venue, catering and AV requirements for these meetings in consultation with three staff members from IEEE SPS.

Challenging times

Like many international meetings, there were plenty of challenges for the Arinex team.

One of the major ones was forecasting the approximate number of delegates and any special dietary requirements in advance in order to confirm the requirements with the venues. A significant number of last minute changes were also managed in the two weeks leading up to the start of the conference, as well as onsite.

For the exhibition, Arinex designed a sponsorship hierarchy in consultation with the committee with the mission to achieve and pass the target of $100,000. This included the introduction of the Opal Sponsorship to make ICASSP 2015, unique to Australia.

The result saw exceeding the patronage target by $86,000 and a 143 per cent achievement of the exhibition target.

The other major challenge was working with another PCO based in the U.S. which managed the program and the registrations.

If the biggest challenge was the failure to capture accompanying person’s dietary requirements through the registration system Arinex overcame this issue by adding more resources to properly cater to requests and otherwise had a positive working relationship with their newly acquired international colleagues…

The biggest technical requirement of the conference was to ensure high capacity Wi-Fi access for the duration of the conference. This was achieved by providing a dedicated network to ICASSP attendees, with the result being zero outages during the length of the meeting.

The budget was relatively small for a conference of this size and it was not known until three weeks out from the conference whether the required target would be achieved. This meant many delegate experience enhancements were made very last minute. Two weeks out from the conference Arinex organised branded whiteboard markers for satchels, zinc sticks, a program at a glance hand out, and enhanced signage onsite.   Sometimes it is the little things that matter.

A total of 817 posters were presented during 11 different sessions, which ran from Tuesday, April 21 to Friday, April 24, 2015. The posters were displayed in Great Hall 3 & 4, and arranged into eight different areas (referred to as Poster Area A – H), categorised by theme.

Each poster area occupied an aisle between two poster boards, with posters displayed on each side. A3 signage at the end of each aisle listed the poster sessions for each Poster Area throughout the four days, with an additional A4 sign attached to each poster board, which listed each poster to appear on that board throughout the conference.

Getting the logistics of this right was a major challenge: from the size of the poster boards, to the size of the signage. Communication with the poster presenters needed to be streamlined to ensure all presenters knew what to prepare.

Special touches

The conference logo was made with an Australian gumtree leaf and banksia flower. Fortunately the time of year meant that these flowers were in season. Arinex arranged two bouquets for the registration desk and florals for the Welcome Reception.

A resounding success

The conference exceeded the expectations of the clients, with higher than anticipated delegate numbers and sponsorship and exhibition achievements.

An ongoing legacy of the conference was the School of ICASSP which featured speakers from around the world discussing some of the biggest advances in signal processing over the last decade. The program will continue in Shanghai where ICASSP is due to be held in 2016.

 

“Since Arinex was the ingredient that was different to previous ICASSPs, I think it’s fair to attribute the organisational flair to Arinex,” Associate Professor Clarkson said.

“Onsite management was the standout feature of Arinex service. I think all the delegates appreciated how smoothly everything ran [with] no detail overlooked.”

 

Associate Professor Vaughan Clarkson

ICASSP 2015 Co-Chair

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