On August 3 and 4, 2016, we had our third SC17 planning meeting in the SC17 conference city, Denver, Colorado. In Germany, we would call this August meeting “mountain party” (“Bergfest”) , as we reached now the halftime in our three year quest to organize the SC17 conference, and after 18 months of steep, hard, up-hill work to reach the summit, the second half of the trip should be easier and down-hill. Of course, the future will show whether it is really down-hill 😉 It is also the last (face-to-face) planning meeting this year before the SC16 conference in Salt Lake City in November, however the organizing committee will continue to meet in monthly tele-conferences.
Meeting attendance was again higher than past meetings: 31 attendees compared to 22 and 12, so beyond the top-level Executive Committee much more of the next level Committee Chairs (mainly from Infrastructure and Local Arrangements) and of our contractors (like Exhibition Management, Meeting Management, or Web Design) attended.
Like in the last meeting we mainly discussed the progress the teams accomplished the past three months and the next steps ahead of us. Most of the work done at this point is actually working on contracts: After we had finalized in 2015 all the contracts with hotels for our attendees and exhibitors for the conference in November 2017 (almost two dozen of them!), in 2016 the work concentrates on the contracts with hotels for the five planning meetings in 2017 (January, March, June, August, and October), the SCinet meeting also in October, the January meeting (“turnover”) in 2018, the final Convention Center contract, and, last-but-not-least, renewals or even competitive bids for our contractors. Luckily we get a lot of support here from professionals working for ACM and IEEE, the SC conference sponsors! The second focus point is the communication team, which has to get our first version of the SC17 website live and public by November 17, the Thursday of this year’s conference. The same day, a short (2 minutes) SC17 preview video will be shown for the first time. The production of this video is especially exciting as we hired a producer which won already 9(!) Emmy awards, so you see how serious we take this task 😉
After the meeting, a smaller group of us used the opportunity being in our conference city touring more possible locations for our two big evening events: the Sunday Exhibitor and Thursday Tech Program Networking Events. The locations must be able to host a couple of thousand attendees and you can imagine that even in a big city like Denver, there are not too many of those. In addition, they should be close to the Convention Center and conference hotels, and finally, they must be available for us on the two very specific dates (because these are already set). I can report that we found fabulous locations for both events, but of course I cannot tell you yet, as it would ruin the surprise (and, of course, we have not finalized the contracts(!) with them yet 🙂
This visit allowed me also to test the new Denver tram line which connects Denver airport to downtown Union station. Worked like a charm! A one-way trip is US$ 9 and there is a train every 15 minutes. The ride takes about 40 minutes. The best part is that this makes the trip to the airport much more reliable, because before that it depended very much on the traffic in and around Denver.