The IEEE Humanitarian Activities Global Summit Supports IEEE Volunteers Empowering Communities Through Technology

December 14, 2021 by ekurzawa
Filed in: Virtual & Hybrid Event Case Studies Tag: Case Studies

IEEE Volunteers around the world are using their technical superpowers for good and making a difference in their local communities with the help of the IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee (HAC). This past November, IEEE HAC gathered IEEE members, leaders from IEEE entities, and representatives from external partners at the inaugural IEEE HAC Global Summit. The goals of the virtual event were to demonstrate HAC’s global reach, showcase grassroots projects, and engage in meaningful discussions on how technology can address local challenges. 

The HAC offers resources to help IEEE Volunteers enact local change through humanitarian technology and sustainable development activities. One of the initiatives under the umbrella of the HAC is the IEEE Special Interest Group on Humanitarian Technology (IEEE SIGHT). SIGHT Groups around the world partner with local organizations to leverage technology for sustainable development projects within their communities. 

IEEE HAC 2021-2022 Global Chair, Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan led the committee in planning and delivering the Summit. The MCE Digital Events Team stepped in to provide enhanced production and live-day support services for the virtual event which was hosted on the Engagez platform.

Keynotes, panels, a virtual exhibit/poster session, a virtual networking session, and a fireside chat with HAC/SIGHT leaders all contributed to a dynamic program. The day before the event, the organizers held an interactive icebreaker session to help participants get to know one another and be ready to dive right into the full-day program.

IEEE President Susan K. Land offered a keynote on the power of IEEE Volunteers to change lives, providing examples of the reach and global engagement of the Institute. Additional keynote speakers Mr. Houlin Zhao, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General; Dr. Paola Vega Castillo, Minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications, Costa Rica; Dr. Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google; and Ms. Iana Aranda, President, Engineering for Change weighed in on the role of technologists in meeting sustainable development goals. 

Dr. Karen Panetta, IEEE HAC Projects Chair, moderated a panel session discussing the creative technical solutions IEEE Volunteers developed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Another panel examined the role of humanitarian activities as a catalyst for engaging students, young professionals, and women in engineering careers.

During a special session, presenters discussed how representation magnifies and strengthens the work of the HAC. Presenters spoke on critical issues like engaging women leaders in policy-making and the role of African technologists in achieving UN sustainable development goals. Industry leaders also shared their perspectives on the importance of women leaders in humanitarian technology efforts. 

A networking session enabled participants from all over the world to support one another and discuss their projects. New ideas, insights, and peer-to-peer sharing made this a productive session that is sure to fuel the success of future efforts. 

Participants connected with HAC and SIGHT leaders during an intimate Fireside Chat. The option to submit questions in advance enabled more participants to join the conversation. Leaders shared their project journeys and offered advice to participants looking to start projects or enhance projects already in flight.

The HAC Global Summit served as a vital platform for advancing the work of the HAC and identifying critical areas of need. Global Chair, Sampathkumar Veeraraghavan shared, “It was incredible coming together for the first time and seeing all of the ways IEEE Volunteers are making a difference in their local communities. Having a global forum for sharing progress and discussing challenges is beneficial to the work of both HAC and SIGHT to inspire, connect, and engage IEEE members in the IEEE humanitarian technology and sustainable development  programs.” 

The organizers hope to capture and sustain the momentum from the inaugural event with future initiatives and iterations.

Learn more about the IEEE HAC Global Summit