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ISSS 2020 Annual Meeting and Conference Update
Posted on Apr 24th, 2020

We would like to update you  about the current status of the annual ISSS meetings for 2020 and 2021.  During these times the safety, health and well-being of our members, associates and families, are paramount.  A Board meeting was held on 2nd April 2020 and, based on the information on COVID-19 in South Africa and internationally provided by the conference committee, board members and past presidents, the decision was made to cancel the physical meeting in Stellenbosch in 2020 due to safety measures and lockdowns.
 
Although the physical conference is cancelled for 2020, we are planning to have papers published from those who had submitted abstracts based on the original call for papers. We are thinking of extending the time for submission of papers and a suitable outlet for publication. A mini meeting is organised to discuss this further and we will communicate with you on the outcome.
 
A second mini meeting of the board is being organised to to explore the Grand Challenge of Water to be facilitated virtually by Gary Smith and Javier Calvo-Amodio to feed into the INCOSE meeting planned in Cape Town. This will be an opportunity for our members to participate in  a collaborative activity. More information to follow.
 
While the decision has been made to cancel the ISSS2020 Stellenbosch meeting in July, it has also provided us with an opportunity to reflect on our progress to date and rethink how we can make more accessible and utilise digital technologies to meet both virtually and face-to-face that started getting momentum since 2014.
Since 2000 the ISSS has been experimenting with digital technologies to connect with its members.  As technologies progressed and adoption increased, we began exploring new ways to engage members during the year and at the annual conference including social media platforms and video recording/streaming to complement the ISSS and journals websites.  In 2014 multiple social media accounts were formalised including You Tube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.  At the ISSS Meeting 2015 Berlin we experimented with inviting limited remote participation during the conference using bluejeans video conferencing service (sponsored by College of Exploration).    At ISSS 2016 Boulder all plenaries were video recorded and offered on DVDs.  In 2016 they were posted on the ISSS ‘You Tube channel (also by the College of Exploration).  At ISSS 2017 Vienna a team of volunteer students and early-career professionals utilised social media channels to stream plenaries on YouTube and report on the plenaries and sessions.   In 2018 we began regular Saturday morning SIG meetings using video conferencing and are continuing to attract members through the persistent efforts by Deeanna Burleson supported by the SIG Chairs.  In the same year a member’s website was also created to share video recordings and photo albums among other features. http://www.myisss.org   All the plenaries from the 2019 conference are posted on the ISSS Vimeo video site.   We now have an opportunity to actively innovate and put into practice new ways of connecting and collaborating using digital means to enable us to meet face-to-face and overcome the boundaries of distance and social isolation.
 
If have suggestions or comments, please do not hesitate to email us at isssdigital@gmail.com.  Your contribution is important to us.
We would like to continue to explore, develop and improve further ways to offer members opportunities to attend meeting virtually, share their work and present papers as well as conduct ISSS business online with you and for you.
 
In the meantime, we want to ask everyone to be safe and help flatten the global efforts to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 spread.  We look forward to meeting face-to-face in 2021.
 
Warm regards,
Shankar Sankaran, Jennifer Makar, Peter Tuddenham, Delia MacNamara
On Behalf of the Board
ISSS
 
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