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Conference Design

Post Conference Analysis

I have compiled the lists of all participants and done the calculations and the numbers are impressive. You can read a full journal article where, together with Shane Orchard, I report on the conference and the amazing carbon emission reduction, minimal energy intensity, huge cost savings, increased participation and the feedback from the world's first networked e-conference.  Yes, it has been verified, it was a world first.  Some of the key figures are:

Number of Participants           250    (176 from outside Christchurch)

Participant Cost Savings         $146,882 NZD

Carbon Emission Reduction     85,000 tonnes

Flight Time Saved                  428 hours

Participation Increased           284%

The Technology

The Signs of Change national e-conference will use video-conferencing technology to link conference sites.  All but one of the conference venues has high definition video-conference equipment (HD323) that allows simultaneous video and audio transmission of both the presenter and their presentation (e.g. a powerpoint slide show).

The conference design is being overseen by the Director of the Advanced Video Collaboration Centre (AVCC).  The AVCC is a national non-profit centre dedicated to facilitating, enhancing and encouraging the use of popular video collaboration technologies in all aspects across New Zealand's universities and Crown research institutes.  AVCC is co-funded by the Ministry of Research Science & Technology  and the University of Canterbury.  With this initial startup funding, AVCC has been able to provide the growing video collaboration community with the latest information and support.  

The Signs of Change conference will utilise the new KAREN 'video bridge'.  (KAREN stands for Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network). This 'bridge' provides high speed connections between video conference venues.

Signs of Change will be the first time the 'bridge' has been used for a large-scale public video-conference.  We are pioneering! 

The conference will be moderated by an AV technician at the Christchurch venue.  Each venue will have an AV technician and an MC who, together, will ensure that the presentations transmitted from that site run on smoothly. If any problems arise, the moderator in Christchurch can coordinate a rapid response.   

The Presentations

All of the speakers are from New Zealand, speaking about what is happening here.  We have some "Keynote" speakers who talk for a bit longer about general topics.  We have many more speakers who give short, 10 minute reports, about what they are doing. The sessions originate in one of the venues and are broadcast to the other venues. 

The Discussion

Because we are using the vieo technology, we will hold questions to the end of each session.  Because there are 5 venues, we will get questions electronically from the different locations.  You will be given sticky notes that you can write questions or comments on.  You can hand these to runners who will type the questions into the electronic message board.  The Discussion Master at the presentation venue will ask the questions to the assembled speakers at the end of the session. 

Participants can also write genera ideas and comments on the sticky notes and post them on the discussion board in the common area for others to read. 

The Output

We would like to have a national statement come out of the conference.  We will start with a statement idea which is being discussed on the Pre-Conference Blog. Participants will post comments and suggestions about the statement at the venues, and we will arrive at a virtual consensus about the statement.

The Footprint

The conference will run on sustainability principles as much as possible.  At each venue, we will strive to minimise waste, capture recyclables, and re-use where appropriate.  In this spirit, please bring your own pen, notepaper and bag.  Name badges will be supplied to make it easier for conversations to start; you can keep these if you want to, and we'll collect the rest at the end of the conference for re-use.

See the venue page for further details on initiatives at the venue you will attend.

Research on the conference will capture information about the travel avoided by using a video-conference format. 

The Extras

There are lots of great ideas for sustainability in circulation.  At Signs of Change, we offer the opportunity for conference participants to bring along handouts and samples for display.  (To avoid waste, we ask that you take any 'leftovers' away with you at the end.)  If you wish to sell goods at the conference, please contact us first ( as there are some restrictions on what we may do in the venues being used. 


Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

                                                                                                            Margaret Mead


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