Council has decided to run the 2021 edition of the XXIV Congress digitally only, and to organise a physical meeting in 2022. It was also decided to postpone the General Assembly and the hand-over of all officer positions until June 2022, and to shift the ISPRS meeting cycle by two years. This means that the next Symposia are now planned to take place in 2024, and the Congress following the one in 2022 will be organised in 2026.
ISPRS Congress edition 2021 digital only, physical meeting shifted to 2022
Considering the current pandemic situation worldwide, the restrictions to travel and cross borders in the short term, and then the health risks for the members of our community, the ISPRS Council, after a long deliberation, has made the difficult decision to run the 2021
edition of the XXIV Congress digitally only (online) on the planned dates in July, 2021 and a primarily in-person meeting in June 2022.
This 2021 edition of the XXIV Congress will have all the features of a classical ISPRS Congress except for the General Assembly which will be postponed to the 2022 edition of the XXIV Congress, to be held from June 6-10, 2022. This 2021 edition will feature the classical Congress program, including scientific tracks and sessions, plenary sessions with exciting keynote speakers, a forum track to discuss hot topics for our community (the role of geo in pandemics, earth resource and climate change monitoring, smart cities and autonomous navigation, etc.). The 2021 edition will also involve a technology track for the industry to present their latest innovations, and an exhibition to meet with sponsors and exhibitors.
All papers submitted in 2021 that successfully pass the peer review process will be published in the Proceedings (Annals and Archives) of the 2021 edition of the XXIV Congress. If authors agree, the videos of the oral presentations of the papers will be made
available on the ISPRS media library together with the presentations of the 2020 edition, allowing a stronger dissemination of scientific contributions in the geospatial community.
All registered participants of the XXIV Congress will have the possibility to participate, and present their scientific contributions in both events with the same registration.
Newly registered participants will have the choice to participate only in the 2021 edition or to register for an attractive bundle for the 2021 and 2022 editions.
We all deeply regret that we will not be able to meet and network physically in 2021 but we do believe that the current vaccination programs with lifted travel restrictions will allow us to meet physically again in 2022. We are also convinced that both events will be successful and serve the geospatial community at large. We thank you for supporting ISPRS, particularly through these difficult times!
C. Heipke, ISPRS President & N. Paparoditis, ISPRS Congress Director
in this note we want to give you some background information on the decision of Council to run the 2021 edition of the Congress digitally only, and to move the physical Congress to 2022, which implies that the whole ISPRS cycle will be shifted by two years (the next Symposia will be held in 2024 and the next Congress in 2026). We hope that this additional information will make our rationale more transparent.
The decision was based on the following arguments:
- While we do not know what will happen in 2022, it has become clear in recent weeks, that very few people, indeed, will go to Nice this summer. In addition to travel restrictions, many are not willing to travel without being vaccinated. For many potential participants, vaccination will not happen before summer or autumn this year.
- As a result, the 2021 meeting would have been mostly digital in any case. Thus, the real question was not the character of the 2021 meeting, but when (a) the next Congress and (b) the next General Assembly should be held.
- We can now hope to have a Congress in 2022, six years after the Prague Congress. Given that this year’s meeting is only digital, the alternative would have been one in 2024 only. We believe that not having a Congress for a total of 8 years is rather risky, because by then the community might have substantially disintegrated. The way for ISPRS to remain relevant is to do something important and to remain visible. Bigger meetings are a means to do so.
- We believe it would be very difficult, indeed, to staff a new set of Commissions, working groups etc., when running a digital-only meeting. In addition, the new TCPs would have only had one year to prepare for a 2022 Symposia. Therefore, we believe a
shift of the ISPRS meeting cycle is the better solution.
- As a face-to-face General Assembly is much easier to organise, in particular on a global scale, where time zones need to be taken into account and internet access possibilities vary widely across the globe, not to mention transparent, secure and fast voting. With the 2022 Congress in the calendar, we therefore opted to shift the General Assembly to 2022, also.
- There is also a financial side: it is true, of course, that a digital meeting does not come for free. Nevertheless, it is much less costly than a hybrid meeting. Note, that contracts have been signed to rent the Congress Centre and many other facilities, and there is legally no way to cancel those contracts from our side. How would we explain to our members that we accepted a very significant financial loss (six digits in €) without even trying to limit the deficit by organizing a Congress at that very Congress Centre with a hopefully balanced budget in 2022?
- Finally, our French hosts started planning the organisation of the Congress more than 10 years ago. Despite the pandemic, they are still very motivated to organise a physical meeting and to welcome the world to their country, although they have shouldered an extreme additional amount of work by agreeing to also organise the digital meetings in 2020 and 2021. In this situation, Council feels that we cannot say “thanks for the work – tough luck with the pandemic” and then ignore the deficit, and move on to another destination. Which signal would ISPRS send to the rest of its members and the community at large? Council believes that during these times, we all need to show solidarity with respect to each other – the Congress organisers need and deserve the support of the whole community.
To Council, these were the reasons to take the decision to have a face-to-face Congress in Nice in 2022. We also determined that this will be the last change in schedule, so should there be no improvement as far as the pandemic goes over the next 12 months, there will not be any additional change of dates. In concert with this decision, the whole meeting sequence will be shifted by two years, so we will have symposia in 2024 and the next Congress in 2026.
We hope that after reading these lines you have perhaps a little more sympathy for this decision, and we trust that you will stay committed to ISPRS and its aims.
All the best and thanks for your support of ISPRS.