The President's Page
It has been a great honor and privilege for me to serve as the President of IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc) in 2022–2023. The IEEE ComSoc is a global professional organization that has been creating cutting-edge communications and networking technologies through its high-quality publications, premier conferences, technology standards, educational activities, and membership development. As the president, I have enjoyed working with our volunteers, supporting staff, and members to make IEEE ComSoc stronger and to better serve our community. We have identified the following goals in our strategic plan:
- Increase membership benefits and satisfaction.
- Recognize the achievements and contributions of our members.
- Provide strong mentorship to our junior members and get them involved in technical activities to benefit their career progression and professional development.
- Promote diversity and inclusion in our leadership and volunteer positions, and tackle the under-representation of various geographical regions in our membership base.
- Enhance the ComSoc’s leading role in telecommunications by promoting the excellence of our periodicals, conferences, and online content.
- Develop new programs for emerging technologies while encouraging participation from all stakeholders, especially junior researchers and engineers.
- Intensify industry participation in our diverse technical activities, standards, and practices, as well as in local chapters for networking.
- Enhance governance accountability and transparency.
- Gain a stronger position within IEEE by enhancing cooperation with other societies and councils.
- Develop cost effective strategies to improve ComSoc finance performance and reduce service cost to our members, while increasing service quality and varieties.
In this President’s Page, we highlight our accomplishments in Membership Development and Global Activities and Conferences.
The Member and Global Activities (MGA) Council, chaired by Vice President Ana Garcia Armada, is in charge of IEEE ComSoc global activities and programs related to members, Chapters, and membership development. The four pillars of the MGA strategy during 2022–2023 are:
- New services and membership value
- Promotion and enhancement of diversity
- More member services and benefits via the Year of the Chapter award
- Improvement of member satisfaction, membership, and retention rates
For each of the pillars, great effort has been made on a careful analysis of available data, identifying strengths to potentiate and weaknesses to overcome. The developed activities and results are summarized as follows.
New Services and Value for ComSoc Members
- We offer up to two additional free subscriptions to a journal or magazine of their choice to ComSoc members, to be selected at the time of renewal.
- A new mentoring program has been started, with an initial session at ICC 2023 and joint work with Chapters to launch local pilots.
- To strengthen the value to industry members, an industry column has been launched in IEEE Communications Magazine. Further, we have been formalizing our support to 5G/6G Summits.
- The communication strategy with ComSoc members has been refined, with the creation of an MGA Newsletter, launched on September 20th of 2023.
Actions for Diversity Promotion and Enhancement
- WICE and YP activities in both flagship and smaller conferences have been promoting the visibility of, and providing training and networking to, young professionals and women in ComSoc. After a period of inactivity, the support for childcare at conferences has been relaunched.
- A series of 50 videos highlighting Women in Communications Engineering has been created and is being advertised in ComSoc social networks.
- New programs addressing the digital divide have been created: Internet for All, with 6 projects selected in 2023 and a collaboration with IEEE Smart Village.
- The agreements with Sister Societies have been renewed and activities with them are being pursued. These societies have a strong regional basis and are important for some of our members.
- New programs specific to students have been launched. The Student Tech Leadership conference took place in Austin in April 2022 and several Student Leadership tracks are being planned for November 2023. A Student Recruitment Event was initiated at ICC 2023 with a plan to continue in the future.
- We have increased the support to ComSoc Chapters, improving their training, funding, and recognition.
- The procedures to fund a Distinguished Lecturer Tour have been simplified and moved outside the chapter funding.
- We have started to provide funding to ComSoc Student Branch Chapters, so that they can leverage and promote their ComSoc membership with activities for their members. A Student Branch resource center has been created online to help them fulfill their mission.
- A Chapter communication community is being created through a WhatsApp group, and we continue to look for other options.
- A Sister Chapters pilot program has been launched to create relationships between chapters that can help each other achieve their goals.
Besides all these initiatives, we have increased our presence at events where ComSoc may be relevant. It includes IEEE HKN — the honor society of IEEE — and other student events. We have reinforced our efforts with several campaigns by email, at conferences, and on social networks.
We are pleased to report that the number of ComSoc members has increased during 2022-2023. At the end of September 2023, we had 30,357 ComSoc Members, representing an 8.23% increase over that in September 2022. The recently launched survey of ComSoc members shows that their satisfaction with ComSoc and the perceived value of their membership have improved.
For Conferences, led by Vice President Nelson Fonseca, we have created new activities of interest specifically for our industry members, introduced permanent activities oriented toward students, improved the financial return and assurance of high technical standards, and developed new strategies for hybrid and remote conference platforms to effectively engage attendees and facilitate information exchanges in the post-pandemic era.
First, as the world moved out of the state of emergency from the COVID-19 pandemic, ComSoc conferences have gradually returned to the in-person mode. While fourteen conferences were held in hybrid mode and eight in virtual mode in 2022, only five conferences were in hybrid mode and all others are in-person in 2023. Although the pandemic slightly impacted the number of paper submissions to our conferences, the number of submissions to our flagship conferences has exceeded the numbers before 2019. For example, IEEE Globecom 2023 had over 3,200 submissions.
Despite many challenges, ComSoc has innovated its conference portfolio and programs to bring attendees the best possible experience and networking opportunities. One of the landmarks in ComSoc services is the creation of the Conference Travel Program to support conference attendees financially. Priority is given to those in countries with a low GDP per capita. This new program has been exceptionally well received by ComSoc members and has been supporting many members.
Second, we have created new conferences for various purposes, to address recent developments in communications and networking technologies, to serve members in different regions of the world, and to provide services for those with travel impediments. One of the new conferences is the IEEE International Conference on Machine Learning in Communications and Networking (ICMLCN) that aims to promote fundamental and applied research on machine learning (ML) for designing and analyzing communication systems and networks, developing communication protocols to support ML services, and advancing distributed ML over communication networks. The first edition will be held in Stockholm (Sweden) in 2024. Another new event is the Hong Kong 6G Wireless Summit, which is the first of a series of events targeting 6G wireless access and connectivity for an intelligent and sustainable world. It promotes significant and innovative research contributions to artificial intelligence and communication networks. ComSoc regional conferences aim to bring conference services to different regions of the globe, especially to the regions where members may face difficulties attending other ComSoc conferences for various reasons. In line with that, the IEEE Middle East Conference on Communications and Networking has been created to serve members in the Middle East. Moreover, numerous members still face barriers to attending ComSoc conferences in person. To address the issue, ComSoc launched in 2023 an entire virtual conference, the IEEE Virtual Communications Conference. The conference achieved its goal and was well accepted by the community, as demonstrated by the number of paper submissions received.
Last, we have made several advances and improvements to existing events. Diversity statements have been incorporated in all our conference Policies and Procedures. An industry track has been created in all conferences in the portfolio. We have initiated a plan for enriching the program of our flagship conferences with new activities of interest, such as career panels and invited speakers.
All in all, we have been working diligently to bring the best services to our members and conference attendees, and we have received enthusiastic and positive feedback from our community! I would like to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers, supporting staff, and all our members for your dedication, support, and contribution for the betterment of our community. Thank you!