New Orleans-Based APEC Canceled After First Presumptive COVID-19 Case Announced in Louisiana
Less than a week before the event was scheduled to take place, APEC organizers have chosen to cancel the power-focused conference in the interest of health and safety.
Yesterday, the CDC announced that the first presumptive case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has been reported in Louisiana. Within 24 hours, organizers of the Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) released a statement that the event was now officially canceled.
US reported cases of coronavirus as of March 10, 2020. Image from the Centers for Disease Control
A Continuing Domino Effect for Industry Events
APEC is merely the most recent casualty of the virus when it comes to conferences. COVID-19 has already impacted several conferences, including reduced attendance at embedded world (Munich, Germany) and the complete cancellation of Mobile World Congress (Barcelona, Spain).
Globally, major events in other fields have also been canceled. This week, South by Southwest (SXSW)—a massive conference and music festival that covers marketing, culture, and technology—was canceled amid concerns for public health and safety. It's worth noting that the City of Austin, the host city for the event, made the final call to cancel rather than the SXSW organizers.
Events in Asia have obviously been among the hardest-hit, though several have postponed rather than pursuing full cancellation. CES Asia is the most recent to be officially postponed as of yesterday, delaying their mid-June window to an as-yet-unannounced future date. electronica China, originally slated to occur in March, has rather optimistically set a new date of July 2020.
Screenshot of electronica China's announcement to postpone their event until July. Image used courtesy of electronica China
How many other events will be nixed or altered over the coming months is yet to be seen. On March 8th, German Health Minister Jens Spahn recommended that German events with over 1,000 attendees be canceled. This would affect conferences such as PCIM Europe in Nuremberg (May), Hannover Messe in Hannover (which was already postponed from March to July), and even electronica held in Munich (November), which may all be in question as the virus spreads.
In the US, ATX East, set to occur in June in New York, has made no public comment about the virus. Sensors Expo in San Jose has released a statement promising diligent monitoring of the viral outbreak. AAC will give updates on whether they follow APEC's cautious example.
The Move Towards Digital Events
Conferences provide an important platform for engineers and companies to promote new products, connect with industry partners, and keep up with emerging technologies and skills. In the interest of keeping the industry as close to normal functioning as possible, many event organizers are looking to adapt.
APEC is just one example of an event that has turned to digital representation.
According to the APEC website, the organizers are developing a "virtual conference" that will aim to offer some of the primary benefits of the event but in digital form.
As the virus continues to affect the industry's operations, including electronics manufacturing and supply chains, perhaps in-person conferences will fall out of favor for the time being.
Were you scheduled to attend APEC? Share your experiences with the cancellation in the comments below.