By Vanessa Salvia
It won’t surprise anyone that many in-person events for late 2020 and into 2021, as far as we can foresee, will either be cancelled or will shift to a virtual platform. The realities of gathering thousands of people indoors along with the international nature of many events makes people reluctant to attend in person. Not to mention, the pandemic presents challenges for people hosting the events to figure out how to provide for safe social distancing for the events that are in person.
It’s hard to say how long this trend will last, so making the most of the new virtual environment is a wise course of action. ICF Builder magazine is in the process of shifting its annual ICF Builder Awards to an online event that will be livestreamed. That event has historically been held at World of Concrete in Las Vegas.
On September 28, World of Concrete announced that the 2021 event will be postponed from January 18 through January 21, 2021 to June 8 through June 10, 2021,with education taking place June 7-10. Their statement said, “As you know, January was becoming less appealing with the issues surrounding COVID not dissipating as quickly as we all had hoped.” They went on to say that they were able to successfully work with the Las Vegas Convention Center to secure the dates for an in-person event in June.
Shortly after this announcement, WOC’s senior marketing manager emailed a notification that stated, “After discussions with key stakeholders and feedback from industry-leading concrete and masonry associations, World of Concrete made the proactive decision to reschedule WOC 2021 from January to June. The decision to move the dates back several months was not easily reached; however, we felt it was the right choice for all involved.”
Jackie James, WOC’s group director, said, “This is the first time in our 46-year history we have been faced with circumstances that have caused us to reschedule the event. We feel the new June dates will provide everyone with the necessary time to plan effectively, and allows us to reimagine WOC for a different time of the year. Moving the event from Winter to late Spring this year will allow for additional outdoor activities everyone can enjoy in the great city of Las Vegas, including top-notch exhibits, new product demos, and exciting spectator events.”
Keep checking the World of Concrete site, worldofconcrete.com, for ongoing updates. Registration for WOC 2021 will open online in early 2021.
The ICF Builder Awards are changing to reflect the current environment as well. New in 2021 is a People’s Choice award, which will allow you to vote for your favorite projects between December 28, 2020, and January 8, 2021. Voting will take place at icfmag.com. All winners will be announced on January 20, 2021 via YouTube Live at 7 p.m. MST.
The National Ready Mix Concrete Association shifted its event, the Global Concrete Summit, to an online platform. This year, the NRMCA and Grey Matters, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, will collaborate on the first-ever Global Concrete Summit. Grey Matters is a professional group serving the concrete industry through four business units: Grey Matters General Trading, Grey Matters Consultancy, Grey Matters Training Services & Grey Matters Trading and Consultancy.
The NRMCA typically hosts an international conference on concrete technology and sustainability in the United States, South America, and the Middle East, but this marks the first time the conference will be hosted as a virtual event. This year’s event is an offshoot of in-person events the NRMCA has held since 2006 in the United States, the Concrete Technology Forum and the International Concrete Sustainability Conference. Those events were focused on concrete technology and in particular, how it relates to sustainable development. At the same time, it was held in the Middle East from 2010 to 2019, and also in Central and South America. The virtual platform is not much different than the webinars the NRMCA was already successfully hosting.
“It was necessary for us to go online this year,” says Lionel Lemay, executive vice president of structures and sustainability for the NRMCA. “With COVID, we knew we weren’t going to have it in person. We were already having success with our webinars so once the stay-at-home happened, we immediately took all of our presentations that we typically did as face-to-face lunch-and-learns and everything else and put it online.”
Hundreds of people were already attending webinars, so the technology didn’t seem foreign. The virtual platform allows them to shift the scheduling, so that rather than two straight days of eight-hour days, attendees can view presentations and meet up with people over a two-week period. Presentations will be recorded for later access.
“That alleviates some of the scheduling problems of a typical conference with many things scheduled concurrently,” Lemay says. “People have more chances to see what they want to see.”
Lemay says the goal of the conference is an exchange of ideas focused on innovative technologies between design professionals, practitioners, concrete producers, and suppliers of concrete related products and construction materials, admixtures, or other related services, and researchers. “Our goal is for them all to exchange ideas through this conference,” Lemay says. “The researchers are looking for long-term solutions, but design professionals and contractors and product manufacturers want solutions today so it’s a way to bring those sectors together.”
Attendance is not much different than a typical webinar. Once attendees are registered, they’ll receive a link to download the software platform, VirBela. Once downloaded, attendees start by creating the avatar that represents them in the virtual world. The virtual is like being inside a video game, and attendees can walk around, interact with people through voice or chat bubbles, and even enter private seating areas where they can talk within a protected area. When the presentation starts, the information will be on the screen as in a typical webinar.
“Once you sit down, it will be like you’re in an auditorium, with your attention focused on the screen and whatever is being presented,” Lemay says. “The fun part is the part in between when you can walk around and say hi to people.”
Global Concrete Summit
ICF Builder Awards
Stay tuned to our Twitter channel at @ICFBuilderMag for up-to-date info on the 2021 awards ceremony.
View the 2020 ICF Builder Award winners here: