The International Conference on Communications (ICC) is one of 1,000 conferences hosted each year by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). The IEEE Communications Society has 45,000 members and the ICC is a flagship conference of the society, representing one of the largest global gatherings of researchers and industry professionals in the field. The Sydney conference was no exception and attracted more than 1,500 delegates from around the globe to discuss the latest advances in this vibrant and constantly evolving field.
Under the theme of ‘Communications: Centrepoint of the Digital Economy’, ICC2014 marked the first of the series being held in Australia. A diverse range of topics from fifth generation (5G) wireless technology, the Internet of Things, home networking and signal processing were featured at the conference.
Sydney was confirmed as host city for ICC2014 in 2010 with Professor Farzad Safaei, Director at the ICT Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, appointed as General Chair. Professor Safaei said that for five full days experts, representing nearly every industrial nation, convened to showcase their newest research, services and applications in an environment dedicated to learning and expanding global communications knowledge.
Outcomes and measurable impacts
Historically, the conference attracts some 1,000 delegates from 35 countries. Geographically close to 75 per cent of the world’s population and home to 250 spoken languages, Sydney proved to be a global meeting point between East and West drawing over 1,500 delegates from 71 countries.
China represented the largest delegation for ICC2014 with 277 confirmed delegates in attendance.
The US and Australia followed with 237 and 236 delegates, respectively. By region, Asia represented the majority share with Europe, North America and Australia and New Zealand following behind.
Also, for the majority of delegates from the 71 countries represented this was their first Australian visit.
ICC2014 consisted of 12 symposia, 13 workshops, 20 tutorials as well as industry and business panels and an exhibition, which was supported by 18 industry suppliers. Over 2,600 technical and workshop papers were submitted from 72 countries and the program presented cutting-edge advances of both the scientific and industrial developments in communications engineering. The program championed new applications and solutions that will create a new era of wireless communications globally.
“Everyone involved – from the organising committee, the international IEEE Communications Society to all those who joined us for the five-day conference, deemed the ICC2014 an amazing success,” said Professor Safaei. “Attendance numbers reached far beyond forecasted and many elements, that are quite unique to Sydney, can be attributed to this remarkable achievement.
“Such reasons include the attraction of Sydney and Australia to delegates; its close proximity to Asia and being in a similar time zone; our scientific program; and the robust industry participation in conference forums.”
The State of New South Wales (NSW) is home to the country’s largest ICT industry, with over 60 per cent of Australia’s ICT regional headquarters and operation centres. Sydney, the State’s capital, is Australia’s digital headquarters. Meeting in Sydney offered delegates the chance to network with global players such as Microsoft, Google, IBM, Salesforce, Amazon Web Services and Oracle, who have all chosen Sydney for their Asia Pacific offices.
The ICT Research Institute, where Professor Safaei is Director, is one of the longest running and largest university-based research institutes in the field of ICT in Australia and is recognised as a Centre of Excellence in Telecommunications by the NSW Government. The timing to host the conference was right with Australia recently embarking on the largest infrastructure investment in the country’s history – the A$43 billion National Broadband Network roll out. The NSW IEEE Chapter was also extremely active and drove the desire to host the ICC.
“This is an exciting time for the global ICT sector, where new research and breakthroughs are defining the way we connect as a global community,” said BESydney CEO, Lyn Lewis-Smith. “Outcomes from this Sydney conference may define how we communicate in the future.”
Partnering for success
The city’s convention bureau, Business Events Sydney (BESydney), worked with Professor Safaei, ICC2014 General Chair and the bureau’s ambassador, to bring the conference in Sydney to life.
The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre at Darling Harbour was originally selected as the venue when Sydney won the bid, however, with the redevelopment of this facility starting at the end of 2014, BESydney worked with its network of strategic partners to find an innovative solution.
No single central business district property was able to accommodate the conference alone so this provided an opportunity for Sydney’s venues and suppliers to showcase their flexibility and ability to collaborate. Hilton Sydney, which offered the larger of spaces, hosted the conference component of ICC2014 while the committee meetings and technical components held at Sheraton on the Park. Delegates enjoyed the short walk between the hotels, giving them the chance to take in their surroundings and refresh their minds for the next session.
The exhibition space was located in the ballroom lobby of the Hilton Sydney and was in close proximity to the technical sessions, coffee breaks and poster session area to ensure a high attendance.
BESydney also opened doors to government, business, academia and industry. The bureau has particularly close and successful working relationships with the NSW Government and the City of Sydney, who both recognise the value of international conferences, and how events can drive international collaboration, knowledge exchange, skilled migration, and trade and investment. For ICC2014, this resulted in the Australian Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull MP, opening the conference, and the conference gaining support from the then Minister for Resources & Energy and Minister for Tourism, The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP.
The conference’s patrons included academic support from the ICT Research Institute, University of Wollongong, University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney; government support from NSW Trade & Investment; and the private sector with IEEE Cloud Computing, iSEE, Wiley and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Australia. It was also supported by the Australian Computer Society and BESydney.
“Working with BESydney was critical for the success of our bid,” said Professor Safaei. “Their contribution at the initial stages to do the research on IEEE bid requirements, provide appropriate letters of support from the various city officials, and produce an indicative budget were invaluable.
“Helping prepare the bid document and the presence of a BESydney representative during the bid presentation made a positive impact on the committee, demonstrating that there was significant support behind the committee beyond what academic institutions can provide.”
In 2017, IEEE will return to Sydney for its IEEE Semiannual Vehicular Technology Conference at the International Convention Centre Sydney. The conference will endeavour to continue the collaborative efforts between international and local talent to create a better future.
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