Hosting a Meeting

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Hosting an ESIP Meeting

The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners is a unique consortium of more than 110 organizations that collect, interpret and develop applications for Earth observation information. Included in the ESIP network are NASA, NOAA and USGS data centers, research universities, government research laboratories, supercomputing facilities, education resource providers, information technology innovators, nonprofit organizations and commercial enterprises.

Why do We Meet?

  • ESIP meetings are a blend of networking, collaboration, learning and discussion.
  • Attendees range from federal officials from our sponsoring agencies as well as other interested officials, tech developers both commercial and non-commercial, members and other stakeholders in the work of ESIP.
  • The meetings provide opportunities for ESIP Federation members and friends to share knowledge, learn about new technologies, advance community projects and network with colleagues from across the community.

What are the goals of a meeting?

  • Building relationships with agencies and organizations to become strategic partners.
  • Provide knowledge exchange among technical (and non-technical) partners on latest software, services, tools, standards and architectures.
  • Tackle community problem(s)/projects within specific ESIP sub communities (e.g. Air Quality, Water, Semantic Web, Decision Support)
  • Potential white papers from some tracks
  • Summary of meeting activities, outputs and outcomes that will allow future action items and collaborations.

What is needed to be a host location?

Host locations provide a compelling suite of resources that will enhance a meeting.

  • Nearby agencies that are interested in ESIP
  • Major universities or other institutions that are resources for speakers, etc.
  • Nearby potential partners that wish to be involved with ESIP’s work.
  • Excellent facilities (see below)

The location needs to be easily accessible.

  • Regular flights in and out of the airport and it needs to be close enough to get people to their return flights in a timely manner.
  • Housing accommodations need to be varied. If the hosting locale is at a university, dormitories can be used but are generally not preferred by all of our members. Ideal dormitory accomodations are newer facilities, a large number of single room options and clean, modern and nearby bathroom facilities.
  • Dormitories should also be very close to the meeting venue and have very accesible parking nearby.
  • There needs to be a variety of lodging options such as hotels, inns or B&Bs from which to choose by attendees.
  • Costs for these options also need to be reasonable.
  • ESIP does not provide evening meals for attendees as part of the meeting. The host site needs to have enough variety of restaurants and nightlife for after hours.

Planning for the Meeting

Planning for the next ESIP meeting begins shortly after the previous meeting is over. Our ad hoc planning committee, Visioneers, will begin to have initial, twice monthly telecons to put together the agenda and go over logistics for the event.

  • Callers to the telecon include ESIP staff, the chair of the Visioneers committee, hosts of the meeting and interested participants who wish to contribute to the planning of the overall content of the meeting.
  • Various personnel from the host site are regular callers, as needed. This could include the support staff for logistics, the host coordinator who actively plans the theme and speaker possibilities and outside individuals who may help with events such as the teacher workshops.

As the structure takes shape, the calls eventually dwindle down to a monthly basis. They generally will be finished as a group one to two months before the event when the agenda is finalized and the registration process is underway. However, ESIP staff will be in continual contact with the host location to help with questions, fill out contracts and other details that come up during the planning processs.

Meeting Spaces

An ESIP meeting is a blend of Plenary sessions that frame discussions through the week and ongoing thematic tracks for members such as Air Quality, Water, Decision Support, Interoperability etc. There are generally five of these sessions that will run for all or part of the meeting time. They are split into discrete timeblocks of 90 to 120 minutes and groups will choose to use all or part of these blocks during the course of the week.

  • These sessions will require their own space that can accommodate upwards of 40 people.
  • Rooms will need to be large enough to accommodate the maximum number of participants. The rooms will need LCD projectors, speaker phones for remote call-ins and internet capability.
  • The main meeting space will need to accommodate 150-200 people comfortably.

For our summer meetings, we often host outside workshops such as teacher training, and these individuals are invited to sit in on the plenary speaker sessions. There can be as many as 50 additional people in attendance for a plenary speaker.

  • The meeting will have an ongoing registration space that can accommodate up to 4 people working at one time.
  • The registration space will be ongoing throughout the meeting as an information area and student helpers are welcome for all or part of the meeting.
  • The space needs to be large enough for room behind the table to store supplies as well as room in the front for attendees to mill about as their registration materials are handed out to them.

Additional Workshops

  • For summer meetings, we have begun the tradition of hosting workshops for teachers, supported by our sponsor, NOAA.
  • For this workshop, there is a need for two or more computer labs that can host 25-30 participants comfortably.

IT requirements

  • It is essential that there be a reliable, wireless connection that has the bandwidth to handle a majority of the attendees at one point or another checking email, downloading meeting documents, etc. There can be as many as two thirds of attendees at one time being online.
  • Many of our members can often not attend every meeting but, nevertheless may be interested in participating remotely.
  • There needs to be a capability of having a virtual meeting including speaker phones in meeting rooms and internet connections for speakers and remote participation.
  • ESIP uses GoToMeeting software as its’ interface and we have begun the research into adding video capability. This is not a requirement at this point but would be ideal if this was an option.
  • ESIP staff will work with local representatives to ensure that enough ports are open over which technical content can be delivered.


Meetings provide two meals for attendees, a continental breakfast at the least, and lunch for all of the meeting days. The last day is usually a box lunch since the meeting ends in early afternoon. Lunch style varies from sit down to buffet. In the summer, since we generally have the meetings at or near a university, the meals tend to be more informal.

Poster Session and Reception

One of the highlights of the meeting is a chance to see the work of other members and groups that have an active interest in the work of the ESIP Federation. The number of posters and accompanying demonstrations require adequate space. They can range in size from a five meter, inflatable planetarium dome to a modest laptop on a table in front of a poster display board. Historically, there are 20-30 of these posters and demonstrations but there have been as many as 60.

  • The space needs to accommodate them comfortably as well as have room for other participants to walk around and have space to see them all.
  • Poster size will be close to a standard 4 feet long by 3 feet tall. Some presenters will have posters that they have made exclusively for this event, others will be using ones that they have created for other meetings such as AGU. The display boards need to be large to accommodate this size and ideally, two per board.
  • There is a social reception that occurs with this event. It involves light Hors d'oeuvres and drinks. The design of the reception depends on the available space. It can be woven directly into the poster session area which is ideal or it can be adjacent to the space depending on the layout of the area and the needs of the caterers.
  • The area should be a balance between being comfortable enough to engage viewers and to have the food and beverages near enough that it doesn’t take people away from the posters themselves.
  • The session occurs on the evening of the first full day of the meeting. This initial networking opportunity sets the tone of the meeting and offers a relaxed forum for collaboration and networking.

Final Tips

  • Often many of our members will stay after the meeting for an extra day or two. As the meeting is planned, there is often a list of optional side trips and attractions that members will access if they are planning on adding time to their stay.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected.
  • Attendee numbers aren’t finalized until the last few days before the meeting. Plan for maximum numbers and have the flexibility to accommodate more last minute attendees.

If all of the above guidelines are met in a reasonable fashion, the meeting will be fine, even if there is a shortage of chairs, the food isn’t quite right or the internet isn’t as quick as what might be in the office. Our members come to the meeting to network, find collaborations and just meet face to face rather than always over the phone. The small problems you fret over most likely won’t be noticed.

Finally, for host representatives who are not familiar with ESIP, please look over our website,, which will give you a sense of our organization and might help with your planning. If you have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to contact ESIP staff as noted below.

Thank you for your interest in hosting an ESIP Federation meeting.

Contact Information

We truly appreciate the work that you will undertake to put together and ESIP meeting. Beyond the Visioneers calls there are two points of contact:

Carol B. Meyer Executive Director Foundation for Earth Science 919-870-7140 (phone) 919-870-7141 (fax)

Brian Rogan Director of Communication and Partnership Foundation for Earth Science 15 Beecher Place Newton, MA 02459 617 467 4348 phone 508 397 7119 cell