IEEE GHTC 2020 Conference Report

By on December 6th, 2020 in Conferences

Due to the unprecedented circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 10th IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC 2020) was held as an online conference from 29 October – 01 November 2020.

IEEE GHTC brings together stakeholders from around the world sharing a common interest in addressing Societal Challenges at home and abroad. Supporting achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), IEEE GHTC provides a platform for practitioners and researchers, technologists and engineers, as well as policy makers and funding institutions to share knowledge and experiences, build capacity and facilitate relationship building. There were over 300 registered participants from 22 countries.

The Program incorporated Workshops, Plenaries, Panels and three parallel tracks over 4 days incorporating 24 sessions focused on Health (SDG 3), Energy (SDG 7), Water and Sanitation (SDG 6), Connectivity, Agriculture (SDG 2), Disaster Mitigation and Quality Education (SDG 4). Over 120 papers were accepted following blind peer review with presenters from North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.

Plenary Speakers included:

  • 2020 IEEE President Toshio Fukuda;
  • President-Elect Kathy Land;
  • Melissa Sassi, IBM and Chair of IEEE’s Digital Intelligence Working Group.

Plenary panels focused on Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of IEEE GHTC, “Technology-enabled climb up the demand-driven energy ladder: Interoperability, Growth, All-access” and “IEEE HAC COVID Response”.

IEEE EPICs organised a special interest session on “Empowering Students to Solve Local Community Problems” and IEEE USA organised a special interest session on “Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering“.

GHTC’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Panel included volunteers involved in its establishment (Paul Kostek, Keith Moore, Mike Andrews, Ed Perkins), sharing insights into how it originated and how it has evolved over the past ten years. This was followed by a panel of past IEEE/IEEE-USA Presidents (Roberto de Marca, IEEE President & CEO, 2014; Russ Lefevre, IEEE-USA President, 2008; Lew Terman, IEEE President & CEO, 2008; John Vig, IEEE President & CEO, 2009) focused on sharing insight on “IEEE’s Role in Humanitarian Technology and Sustainable Development”.

IEEE GHTC 2020 incorporated a Student Poster Competition with Awards going to “Decreasing Water Usage and Increasing Income for Vietnam Small Farmers: Modeling Plant Stress with Handheld Infrared Thermometers” by Katie Pascavis of Arizona State University (Judges Award and People’s Choice Award) and “A Review on Image-Based Wildfire Detection Systems” by Jordan Johnston of Sonoma State University (Technical Award).

Track Chairs moderated thematic sessions. All presentations were uploaded by authors as pre-recorded .mp4 files, which were played by the session moderators followed by live questions and answers. The sessions went very well with a high level of discussion. Unconference sessions were designed into the conference structure to facilitate thematic focused discussion and knowledge exchange in each parallel track, as well as during virtual coffee and lunch breaks. This proved to be very effective.

The IEEE GHTC 2020 Proceedings will be published in IEEE Xplore in the coming weeks. A selection of videos from the Program will be published in

IEEE GHTC 2020 was Financial Co-Sponsored by IEEE Region 6, Seattle Section and SSIT, with IEEE-USA, Consumer Electronic Society, EMBS, MTT, Power and Energy and Smart Village as Technical Co-Sponsors. Patrons included IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC), IEEE Seattle Section, Joe Decuir and Jan Carl Diehl.

SSIT Volunteers involved in the organisation of IEEE GHTC 2020 included: Prof. Paul M Cunningham (Conference Chair), Miriam Cunningham (Health Track Chair), Lew Terman (Reviewer and Advisor), Jay Pearlman (VP Conferences Liaison with SSIT)