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Update on ICANN Public Meeting Innovation

At a special meeting of the ICANN Board on Thursday 14 January, the Board decided that ICANN70 will be the fourth Public Meeting to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to Thursday’s Board meeting, ICANN org staff presented the Board with an initial report on the findings from the community engagement process to further innovate ICANN org’s support for virtual Public Meetings, and what lessons we can apply to future in-person Public Meetings.

During this consultation process, we received consistent feedback that improvements to participation features and services for virtual meetings should be prioritized separately from changes to the overall meeting strategy. More time and community consultation are needed to establish strategic changes that will be applicable to future in-person meetings.

With Board and community input, we are implementing several actions and improvements for ICANN70 that directly result from our dialogue to date with the community:

  • A majority of community groups prefer to do concentrated work over a reduced number of days for virtual meetings. In response, we have modified the length of ICANN70 to four days (22-25 March 2021).
  • The time zone for virtual meetings will be rotated among the five ICANN regions. The upcoming ICANN70 Community Forum will be held in the Cancún, Mexico, time zone (UTC -5). Plenaries and networking activities will continue to be a priority, and will be scheduled at varying times to improve opportunities from different time zones.  
  • We have heard the request to further enhance existing language services, such as interpretation and real-time transcription.
    • For ICANN70, we are testing better integration between Zoom and the interpretation platform, which will likely eliminate the need for a second device.
    • We are also testing live real-time transcription in English within the Zoom platform.
  • Access for the entirety of our community remains a priority. We plan to expand our limited YouTube live streaming pilot from ICANN69, live-streaming more key ICANN70 sessions on YouTube for attendees with limited bandwidth.

We will provide more details on these innovations soon.

Other enhancements to ICANN’s virtual platform for meetings are being tried and tested for the virtual ICANN70. We look forward to continuing consultation with community leaders about the evolution of future meetings. We will continue to share updates as our efforts progress.

Public Meetings are key to our multistakeholder model. While the ICANN ecosystem continues with virtual meetings, the org is committed to making the community’s meeting experience as easy, secure, engaging, and valuable as possible to support your important contributions to ICANN’s mission. 

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