A Message from the 2021 Technical Activities Vice President

Dear Colleagues,

As I begin my term as IEEE Technical Activities Vice President, I reflect upon the many ways IEEE Societies and Technical Councils have adapted their activities in the past year to meet the occasion of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around this time, in 2020, IEEE was just beginning to understand how the health crisis would impact the way we conduct business and interact with our volunteers and members. Within a very brief period of time, members, volunteers, and staff were tasked with transposing entire portfolios of planned activities to a new virtual landscape. We were asked to successfully meet the current needs of our constituents, while also addressing the challenges of a global pandemic. Our resilience and energy to adapt was tested, as we were forced to “think outside the box” – and, in many cases, out of our comfort zones.

IEEE and IEEE Technical Activities met this challenge head-on, and I would like to acknowledge the successful efforts across IEEE, and especially in our Societies and Technical Councils. This dynamic, in a way, mirrors the approach we need to take each day as we work together as an organization to “advance technology for the benefit of humanity.”

Technology, and the needs of our members, are constantly evolving. And while we are beginning to see some signs of a return to normalcy, I challenge us to continue to embody the flexibility, adaptation, and collaboration that have been demonstrated over the past year. By learning from our ability to shift quickly, scale efficiently, and adapt significantly, we will be better prepared to meet new challenges as they arise, attract a more diverse group of members, and reach technologists on a significantly larger scale globally. It is IEEE’s ability to adapt that will ultimately engage existing and potential members, and we must remain forward-thinking and collaborative to ensure that IEEE is well-positioned for a successful future.

In Technical Activities, cross-disciplinary collaboration drives success. Our Societies and Technical Councils must work together to address emerging technologies, identify future sources of new products and services, and tap into segments with whom we’ve not historically engaged. They must be ahead of the curve and proactively identify future trends and technology roadmaps, while staying rooted in the foundational principles of their respective fields of interest.

To bring visibility to the exceptional work of IEEE Societies and Technical Councils, I will be sharing major accomplishments from them that embody the spirit defined above. At present, I would like to highlight two examples: how IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) has strengthened industry relationships via their corporate engagement program and how IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc) has worked to reduce the digital divide.

IEEE Power & Energy Society Strengthens Relationship with Industry Partners

One of PES’ primary strategies in 2020, while continually looking for ways to engage with new members, was to develop a strong liaison with industry. PES made notable progress throughout the year by expanding activities provided to the PES Corporate Engagement Program participants to include five organizations, with plans to offer the partnership beyond North America.

By participating in the PES Corporate Engagement Program, companies gain access to a host of “collaboration benefits,” such as access to the PES Resource Center, participation in cooperation initiatives with regulatory and government entities, networking opportunities with industry leaders, online training around topics of interest, and company-facing education around guides and standards development. A full list of collaboration benefits can be found here. In 2020, multiple professional development online events were offered to program participants. Close to 400 people participated.  The final materials were made available in the PES Resource Center.

The Corporate Engagement Program has yielded benefits beyond what it offers to companies. PES members from Corporate Engagement Program participants were key contributors to the “Sharing Knowledge on Electrical Energy Industry’s First Response to COVID-19” white paper released in May 2020. The paper drew upon input from global energy industry stakeholders. It was made available free via the PES Resource Center and has been downloaded close to 1,000 times since its release. This quick action to share knowledge on the industry’s first response has helped ensure the reliable and safe distribution of electricity to communities worldwide.  

IEEE Communications Society Works to Reduce the Digital Divide

ComSoc has recently engaged in efforts to reduce the digital divide, which has been widening in the past decade, creating economic and informational inequities, but which has become especially pronounced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This gulf denies disadvantaged populations access to timely and useful data on the internet as they are unable or less able to obtain digital information, work from home, access remote learning, receive health care services, schedule online appointments, or learn and share skills.

This divide, which has been increasing, has been greatly amplified and accelerated by the pandemic, which induced heavy reliance on remote learning, tele-work, e-commerce, banking, and medical consultation. As we strive as a society to return to some normalcy, the divide prohibits those who have difficulty using the internet and/or devices (due to economic, age, disability, and other factors) from accessing valuable information such as the ability to schedule vaccination appointments.

ComSoc is currently exploring efforts to reduce the disparities and equalize opportunities – which will require creating and introducing new infrastructure, financing, policy, regulations, and education on how to use the medium. This is a much larger effort than simply giving computers and network services to people without access; there is a sociological aspect that must be addressed, and in order to foster this dialogue, ComSoc is creating opportunities to raise visibility.

As such, ComSoc hosted a workshop in October 2020 at which a major topic was the need for underserved communities to have sufficient bandwidth access to participate in the digital economy and live a lifestyle that enables digital aptitude.

ComSoc is also planning an October 2021 hybrid workshop with a focus on global reach and regional promotion. The goal of the workshop is to produce a set of recommendations that influences public and private efforts to drive digital inclusion around the globe and address it from the technical, economic, and social aspects including policies legislations, public and private financing, with the intention of creating a sustainable effort giving the sociological aspects of the problem the proper emphasis. ComSoc welcomes all interested IEEE entities to participate. More on this subject will be shared in a future TA Technical Community Spotlight issue.

Throughout the rest of my tenure as Vice President, Technical Activities, I will charge Society and Technical Council leadership to approach their work with the same tenacity that fueled their ambition at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and that these Societies have demonstrated. I extend an open invitation to all TA Societies and Technical Councils to send me impactful accomplishments of your organization so that I can highlight your accomplishments in future Spotlight articles. I encourage the rest of IEEE to join me and look forward to seeing how we can create new opportunities together.

Roger U. Fujii

2021 Vice President, IEEE Technical Activities

Comments

  • Dear VP Fujii,
    I enjoyed reading your message.
    I have a small suggestion moving forward. In addition to all TA organizational units amazing contributions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, how about consolidating in one place IEEE Members contributions to all aspects of controlling the virus?

    I have a recent paper that might be added to the list, Philippine Science Letters Vol 1(2) 69-79 2021(cruz et al 2021)

  • Given the global warming emergency, I hope IEEE will minimize the carbon footprint of its technical activities by continuing to use virtual conferences rather than returning to physical conferences as the pandemic winds down.
    Going further, I hope IEEE going forward will increase emphasis on carbon footprint reduction, with special emphasis on prompt and significant reduction of personal carbon footprint.

    Greatly under-promoted is the call-to-action to promptly and significantly reduce our personal carbon footprint.The planet desperately needs prompt and significant reduce our personal carbon footprint to bridge the gap while we work on long-term technology and infrastructure to end the global warming emergency.

    I suggest IEEE use its immense power as one of the planet’s leading technical societies to lead in the promotion and implementation of the “Less Now, More Later” message, which I explain below. For example, besides simply speaking out to promote the message, implement “GreenBetween” (no heating or cooling between 55°F and 85°F) in all facilities of IEEE. As one of the planet’s leading technical societies, you can make progress in the battle against the global warming emergency as only a handful of humankind can. Please step up to the challenge.

    What follows is the call-to-action that I use to promote prompt and significant reduction of personal carbon footprint.

    Personal Carbon Footprint Reduction – A Call to Action

    This is a call to action for you to join with others who are combating global warming by promptly reducing their personal carbon footprint.

    Why is a prompt reduction of our personal carbon footprint important? “Prompt” is important to minimize global warming and to minimize the risk of global warming positive feedback cycles while we work on the technology and infrastructure for long-term reductions in carbon footprint. For a good discussion of global warming positive feedback cycles see https://climaterealityproject.org/blog/how-feedback-loops-are-making-climate-crisis-worse. “Our” is important because, to the extent we are living the typical USA lifestyle, our personal carbon footprint is a significant part of the global warming problem. How significant is the carbon footprint of our typical USA lifestyle? Consider the following:
    Carbon Dioxide Emissions (tons/person/year)
    3 = sustainable average = the maximum non-damaging level
    4.5 = global average = causing the global warming crisis
    17.5 = USA average = a biggest offender among many big offenders

    The call to action has three parts. The first part is to do less heating and cooling of the interior of our buildings. The second part is to not only do less heating and less cooling, but also to do less driving, less flying, less meat-eating, less procreation (2 children max). The third part, already included in the details of the first two parts, but of such importance as to be stated separately for emphasis, is to actively promote the call to action within your circle of influence – may the call spread like a virus.

    Of the multiple ways for us to promptly reduce our carbon footprint, one of the most significant is less heating and less cooling of the interior of our buildings. Be a carbon-footprint-reduction hero by advocating less heating and cooling until we have sufficient green energy to meet all energy consumption demands, including energy consumption for unrestrained heating/cooling. Be a carbon-footprint-reduction hero in the GreenBetween movement, which I’ll now describe in a bit more detail.

    GreenBetween 55°F to 85°F (13°C to 30°C). Go green between 55°F to 85°F. No heating or cooling between 55°F to 85°F. Don’t heat the interior of your buildings above 55°F/13°C. Don’t cool the interior of your buildings below 85°F/30°C. Dress warmer or cooler as needed to accommodate this extended temperature range within the interior of your buildings. Do it yourself. Promote it to others. GreenBetween could easily be the most significant action against global warming you take in your lifetime. Visit https://greenbetween.home.blog/ for details.

    Join with others who have already gone GreenBetween. Here are some examples from Seattle, Washington. The heating carbon footprint was reduced by about 5 tons per year for a small one-story house with an insulated ceiling and mostly single-pane windows, and by about 8 tons per year for a large two-story fully-insulated house with double-pane windows.

    The second part of the call to action is to tenaciously spread the Less Now, More Later message. Less Now, More Later is the bigger picture, of which GreenBetween is a major element.. “Less Now” will achieve the near-term carbon footprint reduction needed to minimize global warming and to minimize the risk of global warming positive feedback cycles while we work on the technology and infrastructure for long-term reductions in carbon footprint. Those of us currently living the “More” lifestyle need to promptly embrace the “Less” lifestyle – less heating and less cooling (GreenBetween), less driving, less flying, less meat-eating, less procreation (2 children max). Future sufficient green technology and infrastructure will allow gradual resumption of the “More” lifestyle for “More Later”.

    Join with others who are already living the Less Now, More Later lifestyle. For example, observe the folks who are driving less. Observe the folks walking rather than driving, perhaps carrying bags of groceries, or pushing a stroller carrying one or two small children and bags of groceries. Observe the folks bicycling rather than driving, perhaps with bags of groceries, or towing a trailer carrying a child, library books, and groceries.

    We live in unique times. Science has exposed that humankind is releasing an enormous amount of greenhouse gases, increasingly causing global warming that puts at risk the future of our planet. We are called upon to make a critical life-changing choice. Are we going to promptly reduce our personal carbon footprint to be part of the solution? Or, are we going to continue with a high-carbon-footprint lifestyle to be part of the problem? What will be our legacy? What will be your legacy? Join with those of us who are promptly reducing our personal carbon footprint.

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