Finnish Congress Heroes: IEEE MMSP Tampere

Credits: Markus Hyvärinen


The IEEE 23rd International Workshop on Multimedia Signal Processing in Tampere

We spoke with Atanas Gotchev, General Chair in IEEE MMSP 2021 who is also a Professor of Signal Processing in the Tampere University about organizing a hybrid congress, Tampere as a congress destination and much more.
Credits: Markus Hyvärinen

What was the aim of the congress?

The IEEE MMSP conference aimed to bring together researchers and practitioners from academia and industry, passionate about multimedia signal processing, to share their knowledge, exchange ideas, explore future research directions and network.

The IEEE was organised as a hybrid event. We were thinking that it would be a success if we get 50 to 60 participants in person. The final number was well over that. We wanted both the in-person and virtual participants to get proper scientific feedback from their peers. I think this was achieved.

Atanas Gotchev, General Chair, IEEE MMSP 2021 Professor, Signal Processing, Tampere University
Credits: Markus Hyvärinen

What is it like to organise a hybrid congress?

Organising hybrid events, in practice, means organising two events. One is the physical meeting at the conference venue and the other is the virtual one.

The biggest challenge was to synchronise the two venues and make the event equally beneficial for the two groups of participants. Another challenge was that we were unsure if we could even have the on-site event due to the dynamics of the pandemic. There was a moment in August when we were seriously considering reverting to fully virtual only. We had to be brave and continue with the hybrid concept, and it eventually paid off.

How did you become the event organiser? What is Tampere like for hosting a congress?

I have been organising conferences for many years. I have been part of big EU research programmes where event organising has always been part of the activities. I’m also an active member of the IEEE Signal Processing Society and its Multimedia Signal Processing Technical Committee which organises the IEEE MMSP workshop series.

We were able to promote Tampere as a congress centre of proper size – the services and infrastructure are excellent. Tampere has quite lively nightlife, so you can organise diverse social programs. The city conveys a message of Nordic calmness and closeness to nature, being located between two lakes. We formed an Organizing Committee and prepared a bid for Tampere. We won against Paris and Montpellier.

Credits: Markus Hyvärinen

What actions did you take for health safety?

We were in contact with the local health authorities to understand the actual restrictions. As it is an international conference owned by an international organisation, we decided to be proactive and require green passes for the on-site participants (fully vaccinated, recent PCR test or recovered from the illness). This was communicated beforehand and was well appreciated by the participants. Use of masks was recommended and disinfectants were readily available in the lobby and conference room. The hotel safety measures were also clear and well communicated.

What was included in the congress program?

We had to gather new expertise and invent new forms of interaction. We ran a hybrid event: oral presentations were given on the main stage and streamed over the virtual platform; poster sessions were given by remote presenters on the virtual platform and were accessible to the on-site participants through multimedia booths. We had two keynote speakers and one interdisciplinary panel with participants in Tampere, Espoo, Helsinki and Miami. We also had a grand challenge from China. The best paper, runner-up and best student paper were awarded.

The congress venue was conveniently on the shore of Pyhäjärvi, one of the big lakes around the Tampere, so the conference gala dinner was on a boat cruise.

Having international congresses is important because we need to disseminate scientific results. Most important of all, the participants were very satisfied and very happy to resume in-person conference meetings after a year and a half off.

The IEEE 23rd International Workshop on Multimedia Signal Processing

Date: October 6-8, 2021

• Organiser: Tampere University
• Format: Hybrid, Scandic Rosendahl, Tampere
• Participants: over 200


• 240 000 residents
• Tampere University and Tampere University of Applied Sciences
• 20 000 companies