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From IEEE Communications Magazine March 2017

Reaching Out to the World

Harvey Freeman
Harvey Freeman
Doug Zuckerman
Doug Zuckerman

IEEE, and especially ComSoc, offer highly regarded platforms for conferences, publications, education, membership, and other activities aimed at engaging members from industry, academia, and government regardless of where they are on the globe. Over the years, formal processes and organizational structure have evolved to enable best use of this platform, and as a means of reaching out to professionals around the world. However, many of our most successful outreaches have been built upon informal personal relationships, sometimes extending over many years. This month’s President’s Page by one of our past presidents, Doug Zuckerman, shares some examples of how this outreach is being used to achieve ComSoc’s strategic goals, such as strengthening industry engagement.

An active volunteer for more than 30 years, Doug Zuckerman is a past IEEE Division III (Communications Technology) Director, was 2008-2009 President of the IEEE Communications Society, and previously held leadership positions in conferences, publications, and membership development. He received his B.S., M.S., and Eng.Sc.D. degrees from Columbia University, USA, and he is an IEEE Life Fellow. His professional experience, mainly at Bell Labs and Telcordia Technologies, USA, spans the operations, management and engineering of emerging communications technologies, networks, and applications. His work heavily influenced early standards for the management of telecommunications networks. Presently semi-retired, he is still active in standards as a representative to the OpenFog Consortium as a board member. He is also a consulting employee for Vencore Labs. He currently serves on the IEEE Communications Society’s Board of Governors and the IEEE Future Directions Committee.

Building Industry Connections: OpenFog Consortium

In recognition of the growing need for technology architectures and platforms to support IoT, 5G, Artificial Intelligence, and other rapidly evolving paradigm shifts, IEEE had a unique opportunity to come on board early as a participant in the OpenFog Consortium. From the consortium’s website (www.openfogconsortium.org): “The growth in IoT is explosive, impressive – and unsustainable under current architectural approaches. Many IoT deployments face challenges related to latency, network bandwidth, reliability, and security, which cannot be addressed in cloud-only models. Fog computing adds a hierarchy of elements between the cloud and endpoint devices, and between devices and gateways, to meet these challenges in a high performance, open and interoperable way.

“Our work is centered around creating a framework for efficient & reliable networks and intelligent endpoints combined with identifiable, secure, and privacy-friendly information flows between clouds, endpoints and services based on open standard technologies.”

The consortium is a collaborative effort involving industry, academia and non-profit organizations such as IEEE. Its members include companies such as AT&T, Cisco, Schneider Electric, Intel, Microsoft, and Hitachi, and universities such as Princeton. The consortium’s leadership approached ComSoc during 2015, indicating its desire to enter into a win-win relationship with IEEE.

This was formalized through a memorandum of understanding by which ComSoc represents IEEE, including having a seat on the OpenFog Consortium’s Board of Directors. This formed the basis for ComSoc engaging communities across IEEE to proactively pursue conferences, publications, education, and standards activities on fog computing and networking. Some activities fueled by this relationship have included the following:

  • IEEE Communications Magazine Feature Topics on Fog
  • Fog World Congress (FWC 2017) co-spon-sored with the OpenFog Consortium
  • Fog panels and keynotes at ICCE, CCNC, PTC, IM, and OFC
  • Rejuvenated “Emerging Technology Initiative” in ComSoc on Fog Networking
  • Expanded activities by the graduated IEEE Cloud Computing Initiative managed by the IEEE Computer Society
  • Increased collaboration with existing IEEE Initiatives on IoT and 5G
  • Representation of IEEE at an NSF Grand Challenges workshop on Fog research opportunities
  • Exploration of the IEEE Standards Association using the OpenFog Consortium’s architectures and frameworks as the basis for new standards on Fog.

The ongoing collaboration with the OpenFog Consortium is a good example of how ComSoc, and IEEE, can provide value to industry and the creation of new revenue opportunities (such as FWC 2017).

Engaging Industry Councils: Pacific Telecommunications Council

From their website (www.ptc.org), the “Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) is an international community of members from more than 40 countries with a shared vision to promote the development and use of telecommunications and information and communication technologies to enhance the lives of people in the Pacific region.” Nearly 20 years ago, then ComSoc President, Tom Plevyak, initiated a relationship with the Council by holding the Society’s Management Retreat in conjunction with their Pacific Telecommunications Conference in Honolulu. The win-win scenario was that ComSoc would bolster the “technical” strength of their conference, which already featured a very strong “business” presence from industries and enterprises in the Pacific Rim. In turn, PTC would provide an opportunity for ComSoc to move closer to industry and practitioners who formed the backbone of that event. The conference and trade show continues to be held annually in the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu. A side benefit of the longstanding PTC relationship was that it introduced us to the local IEEE member community, including eventual establishment of a ComSoc chapter.

As a long-term result of that first meeting, we have since achieved the following tangible outcomes:

  • Organized NOMS 2000, the first ComSoc event held in Hawaii
  • Organized NOMS 2012 and IEEE GLOBECOM 2009 in Hawaii
  • Established PTC as a ComSoc “Related Society” (includes cross-marketing)
  • Positioned keynotes panels at several PTC events, including most recently PTC ’17
  • Collaborating with PTC and the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society on the 2017 International Microwave Symposium to be held June, 2017, at the Honolulu Convention Center.

A second ComSoc Management Retreat was held in Hawaii in conjunction with PTC 2008, and notably ComSoc also held a highly successful third Retreat there in January 2017. Given ComSoc’s and IEEE’s focus on industry engagement, this Retreat provided a timely opportunity for ComSoc’s leadership to meet with the PTC leadership, observe first hand a successful industry event being held in Hawaii, and make personal contact with exhibitors and attendees who may be interested in contributing to IEEE and ComSoc activities.

Helping IEEE Activities in Developing Regions: RIVF

Much focus in IEEE has been on enabling and supporting technical and professional activities in developing countries and regions. One such region is Southeast Asia. Around 2007, under then Com- Soc President Nim Cheung and VP–Society Relations Roberto Saracco, visits with industry and academic leaders were conducted in Vietnam and Thailand. In addition, Nim had encouraged ComSoc President-Elect Doug Zuckerman to represent the Society at an emerging IEEE conference on Research, Innovation, and Visualization of the Future in Communications and Computing (RIVF), held in Hanoi that year. Though this was the fifth in the series, it was the first time it was branded as an IEEE conference. Significantly, the IEEE ComSoc Communications Chapter was inaugurated at RIVF 2007. Going forward, the IEEE Vietnam Section, ComSoc, and the Computational Intelligence Society have been sponsoring and actively contributing to the organization and technical program for this event. Top IEEE and Society leaders have played a key role, e.g., Roberto deMarca (past IEEE President), Vin Piuri (past IEEE VP– Technical Activities), Barry Perlman (past MTT Society President), and Nim Cheung and Doug Zuckerman (past ComSoc Presidents). Major topic areas covered at the most recent RIVF held in Hanoi in November 2016 were: Computational Intelligence and Big Data Analytics; Communications and Networking; Software Engineering and Information Systems; and Image, Language and Speech Processing. In the most recent RIVF, ComSoc President Harvey Freeman and past president Doug Zuckerman represented our Society, with Harvey giving a keynote and Doug serving as RIVF Conference Chair. Their presence also provided an opportunity to meet with a ComSoc Sister Society (REV) Vice President and to discuss issues and opportunities related to the Ministry of Telecommunications.

A detailed conference history from the conference website (http://rivf2016.tlu.edu.vn/) is the following:

“Started in 2003, RIVF has become a major scientific event for researchers in the field of Computing and Communication Technologies. In the past, the conference series were held at Institut Francophone International, Ha Noi (2003, 2004), Can Tho University (2005), Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (2006), Ha Noi University of Science and Technology (2007), Ho Chi Minh City University of Science (2008), Da Nang University of Technology (2009), Ha Noi National University of Science (2010), Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology (2012), Ha Noi National University of Engineering and Technology (2013), and Can Tho University (2015). Since the 9th edition in 2012, RIVF has been held every 18 months approximately, alternating between the northern half and the southern half of Vietnam.” Historically, it was at RIVF 2007 the IEEE Vietnam Section was formed, and since then RIVF has been an official IEEE conference.”

Some results of this ongoing relationship with colleagues in Vietnam are:

  • Active contribution to growth of IEEE and ComSoc technical and professional activities in Vietnam
  • Goodwill and friendship among global colleagues
  • Recognition of our value to the telecommunications ministry
  • Showcasing ComSoc as a dedicated leader in helping developing countries grow their technical and educational activities
  • Providing opportunities for participation by IEEE cross-Society initiatives on Cloud and Big Data

It should be noted that ComSoc has been similarly active with another important conference in Vietnam, ATC. From the conference website:

“The International Conference on Advanced Technologies for Communications (ATC) is an annual conference series, co-organized by the Radio Electronics Association of Vietnam (REV) and the IEEE Communications Society (IEEE ComSoc). The goal of the series is twofold: to foster an international forum for scientific and technological exchange among Vietnamese and worldwide scientists and engineers in the fields of electronics, communications and related areas, and to gather their high-quality research contributions.”

Actively Contributing to Conference Growth: IEEE COMCAS

Another conference that top IEEE leadership has shown serious interest in is IEEE COMCAS, the IEEE International Conference on Microwaves, Communications, Antennas and Electronic Systems, held every two years in Tel Aviv. This conference, which includes both a high quality technical program and robust industry exhibition, is unique in that it brings together so many related disciplines under a single roof. It provides an opportunity for holistic collaboration across topics covered by the Communications Society, Microwave Theory and Techniques Society, Antennas and Propagation Society, and the Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society. COMCAS is a highly respected global conference that also attracts very strong local participation by the IEEE Israel Section and its Communications, Antennas and Propagation and Microwave Theory and Techniques Chapters, as well as ComSoc’s Israeli Sister Society. For at least a half dozen years, Society leaders have worked closely in organizing this conference and contributing to its sustained growth in terms of papers, attendance, exhibits and revenue.

From the COMCAS 2017 conference website (www.comcas.org):

“IEEE COMCAS 2017 continues the tradition of providing a multidisciplinary forum for the exchange of ideas, research results, and industry experience in the areas of microwaves, communications, antennas, solid state circuits, electromagnetic compatibility, electron devices, radar, electronic systems engineering and Bio-Medical Engineering. It includes a technical program, industry exhibits, and invited talks by international experts in key topical areas.

“The conference will take place on 13-15 November, 2017 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The David Intercontinental Hotel on the Mediterranean sea offers an excellent venue for networking and the candid exchange of ideas.”

Some results of ComSoc’s ongoing relationship with COMCAS are as follows:

  • Current and previous Society leaders have helped organize the event and been prominently featured on the conference program
  • Offered guidance in working with IEEE MCE and IEEE Legal to assure the conference “ownership” stayed with IEEE
  • Helped assure conference surplus was used to support local section/chapter activities in Israel, which in turn resulted in more local patronage for the conference.

Going Forward

This President’s Page has touched on just several examples of the value our past and current leaders can provide in reaching out to the world in support of our Society’s strategic interests. Much of this outreach is informal and based on personal relationships nurtured over many years. Going forward, we need to assure ongoing engagement by the great resource our past leaders provide through their background, experience, and energy. Their passion and dedication, built over many years, is contagious, and ComSoc will continue encouraging their active contributions going forward.