“Our conference organizing committee just decided to switch our physical conference to online. But the conference is supposed to start in three weeks, and none of us have ever even been to a virtual conference, much less put one on! Where do we start??”
In March 2020, an ACM Presidential Task Force was formed to provide quick advice to conference organizers suddenly facing the need to move their conference online in light of the social distancing recommendations and global restrictions on travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We provide concrete advice for events of all sizes. We discuss the tasks required of organizers, specific platforms that can be used and financial considerations. We collect examples of conferences that have gone virtual and lessons learned from their experiences.
As both heavy users of these technologies and researchers responsible for developing them, the ACM community is especially well-positioned to offer advice that we hope will be helpful to other groups dealing with the same problems.
ACM also hosts a discussion forum for conference organizers to share experiences and discuss issues among themselves. It can be found at https://virtualconf.acm.org. To join, you need an ACM Web account; these can be obtained for free from https://accounts.acm.org – ACM membership is not required.
ACM Presidential Task Force on What Conferences Can Do to Replace Face-to-Face Meetings
- Crista Videira Lopes, University of California, Irvine, USA
Task Force Co-Chair
- Jeanna Matthews, Clarkson University, USA
Task Force Co-Chair, Member of ACM Council, Former SGB Chair
- Benjamin Pierce, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Task Force Executive Editor, SIGPLAN Vice Chair,
chair of SIGPLAN ad hoc committee on climate change
- Task Force Members
- Blair MacIntyre, Georgia Tech, USA
Chaired IEEE VR 2020
- Gary Olson, University of California, Irvine, USA
Former SIGCHI Treasurer; Chair of CSCW Steering Committee,
Chaired CHI, CSCW, DIS, and many non-ACM Conferences
- Rob Lindeman, University of Canterbury, NZ
Chaired IEEE VR 2010
- Francois Guimbretiere, Cornell University, USA
Chaired UIST 2019
- Srinivasan Keshav, University of Cambridge, UK
Former SIGCOMM Chair
- Vicki Hanson, (ACM CEO, Former ACM President)
- Pat Ryan, ACM COO
- Donna Cappo, ACM Director of SIG Services
- Contact the Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org
ACM's US Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) has released a Statement on Security and Privacy Principles for Virtual Meetings in light of changes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Statement urges virtual conferencing platform designers, hosts, and users to adopt eight key security and privacy principles that are intended to greatly heighten the privacy and security not only of conference participants, but also of any transmitted or stored data. The Statement draws on an expanded document, Security and Privacy Principles for Virtual Meetings.