Developing new approaches to hybrid online/in-person events

Challenge Summary:
In the new normal of our post-pandemic world, how can we bring remote collaboration to the next level by combining low-cost tools and methodologies, so that students and teachers everywhere can meet both in person and online, using seamless hybrid solutions? How do we ensure that lessons learned from Covid confinement help organizations to permanently reduce unnecessary travel and shrink greenhouse gas emissions? How do we introduce new kinds of hybrid events that leverage IT tools and infrastructures while creating a minimum of CO2 emissions? Answering these questions is the objective of this hackathon challenge. 

Challenge Hashtags:#TravelLess #CollaborateBetter #IsOnlineGreener #OnlineNotEnRoute #HybridEvents

Challenge Context:
A year ago, at the Climathon in November 2019 in Geneva, University of Geneva launched the challenge of how to help its students and researchers reduce their carbon footprint using new approaches to remote collaboration. Little did the assembled citizens - including hackers, researchers and entrepreneurs - realize that just a few months later, the whole planet would be thrust into a massive experiment in remote collaboration, forced by Covid confinement to rapidly adapt to an online existence. One year on, the University of Geneva and others are making a determined attempt to bring students and teachers back into classrooms and lecture halls. But at the same time, there is a realization that we cannot - and may never - go back to fully in-person teaching. Hybrid solutions are urgently needed to allow those in the classroom to interact effectively with those who - for reasons such as quarantine or travel restrictions - cannot be there. This, then, is our challenge for Climathon 2020: make hybrid online/in-person collaboration work better. 

Challenge Objectives:
Participants are invited to explore different methodologies and solutions for hybrid events addressing some or all of the following challenges:

  • How can we determine if a hybrid event is better or worse than an in-person or fully remote event? 
  • What existing tools and technologies are needed to make hybrid events a success? 
  • How can we use new technologies such as AI, VR and AR to improve hybrid events?
  • How can we reduce the asymmetry in communication between people joining remotely and those that turn up in person?
  • What’s needed for increasing global accessibility to hybrid collaboration, even for regions with limited or restrictive internet access?
  • How can local Geneva businesses that rely on in-person conferences (hospitality, catering, hotels, etc) be encouraged to support a transition online? How can we help them from losing business?

Challenge Potential: 
While this challenge is inspired by the experience of a University, we believe that solutions this challenge will inspire could be widely used in Geneva and beyond. For example, with the current covid restrictions it has become discouraged and  increasingly difficult to organize international gatherings. New kinds of hybrid international events, many organized by UN agencies and NGOs based in Geneva, are becoming more common where we see both offline and online participants in the same event across several cities, countries and continents. Using the momentum and learnings we have gained from Covid-19, how do we ensure that these events go smoothly for both offline and online participants in order to enable people to continue interacting and engaging while reducing the need for unnecessary travel?

Facts and Figures:
In 2015, the Canton of Geneva calculated the emissions created by the mobility of people. In total, 23% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were caused by plane traffic. Moreover, the transportation of people (car, train, boat, public transport) accounted for 10% of the GHG emissions or over 164’492 petrol-powered vehicles on the roads everyday. On average, this means that every citizen has emitted 10.2 tCO2 (in 2012) only by using transportation means in Geneva Canton. 

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