For the first time in 26 years, and with very little time to prepare, INTERGEO 2020 went all-digital – and still managed to deliver an impressive package
Berlin’s main conference venue lay silent; the queues were strangely absent; the flags and banners remained in storage; no exhibition booths heaved with eager visitors. And with no bratwurst or foaming tankards on offer, Europe’s premier geospatial expo was, this year, a very different affair for obvious reasons.
Even so, it managed to deliver an impressive virtual programme over three days in mid-October, with 228 exhibitors, nearly 3,000 products presented, more than 400 conference speakers, plus video links to a host of supporting events. And with ‘live’ music, courtesy of Ireland’s Séan Treacy Band on the second evening, it seemed almost like business as usual.
The task of creating a secure and functional meeting place in the shortest possible time was a real organisational and technical challenge. Yet the final tally of some 330,000 digital interactions by more than 12,000 participants in 153 countries exceeded expectations says Christoph Hinte of expo organisers Hinte Messe (pictured right). “We succeeded in establishing a stable digital platform that generated a vast volume of interaction. Together with all partners we ensured that the geo-community with its great thematic relevance can also meet in pandemic times”.
That sentiment was echoed by Hansjörg Kutterer (pictured right), president of conference hosts, the DVW (German Society for Geodesy, Geoinformation and Land Management): “We can look back on a promising digital premiere of INTERGEO. Pleasing visitor numbers and a significantly stronger international participation in INTERGEO.digital are impressive proof of this. We are delighted with the well-functioning interplay between speakers, listeners, administration, and technology. Our goals in terms of content were more than achieved.”
The main conference sessions, as well as additional presentations delivered via three dedicated technology platforms (Geoinnovations, Smart City Solutions and Interaerial Solutions) attracted an average of 370 visits per event, and discussion panels, talks and presentations were in high demand throughout. The platform-independent alfaview video conferencing solution was adopted across the conference and trade fair, providing high quality and stability for up to 500 participants simultaneously in each virtual room.
Exhibitors seemed content that the event passed off successfully: “This new format is a challenge for all of us – and we took it!” says Michael Degen, Partner Business Consultant DACH at Autodesk. He added “We would now call our visitors ‘digital consumers’ as the acceptance and usage of digital content was higher than expected vs. the direct contact via digital tools. We are looking forward to a detailed follow-up and the possible outcome, being quite optimistic”.
Thomas Harring, President Hexagon Geosystems, concurred: “It is great to see how the whole team has evolved in this new world. The feedback from my team and the customers is very positive. They told me that they have had very good conversations and our presentations were frequently visited.”
Ronald Bisio, responsible for Global Surveying and Geospatial Business at Trimble, was pleased with the number of international contacts, old and new. “My team told me, that we had contacts even from New Mexico. They most probably wouldn’t have had the chance to visit us otherwise. And they were very happy to participate.“
Next year’s INTERGEO is scheduled to be held in Hannover from 21-23 September, more details of which will soon be available at https://www.intergeo.de/