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TAC’s First Online Conference: 2020 TAC Conference & Exhibition Wrap Up

Thursday, November 12, 2020

As with most things this year, the 2020 Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Conference & Exhibition was a new and different experience. From September 21 to October 8, delegates from across Canada gathered online to discuss and learn about the Journey to Safer Roads.

The event saw large attendance with a total of 1129 registered delegates, 50 Corporate Partners and an average of 65 attendees at each session. The Conference offered a full program of 85 sessions across 16 tracks, highlighting about 300 presenters and 3 Featured Events; all of which was accessed through an online event portal.

There were three Featured Events at the conference this year; two of which focused on the theme of road safety and the progress made during the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020), while the other shared responses and lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic. Setting the tone for the conference, the sessions that followed each explored different transportation-related areas ranging from geometric design, soils and materials, transportation planning, and many more.

Attendees were also encouraged to network with other delegates and the Corporate Partners while logged in to the Conference Event Portal. Although there were opportunities to chat by text and video, this aspect of the event was more challenging. Many attendees and Partners did use the Conference hashtag “#TACconf” in their social media posts as a way to bring together TAC’s community online. It was also fun to see that a few dedicated individuals we were able to share their talents via a YouTube-hosted edition of the 4th Annual TAC Conference Jam session!

 

The recordings of the Conference technical sessions are now available online until March 2021 to those already registered and others wanting to purchase access. The recordings of the Partner Demo Sessions and the three Featured Events are also being shared free on our website.  

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2020 TAC Conference & Exhibition. Without the involvement and continued support of many TAC volunteers who organized the sessions, the presenters, the interest of those who attended, and the Corporate Partners, there wouldn’t have been a Conference in 2020.

Delegate Survey Highlights

Following the event, we surveyed delegates about their experience. Key messages and feedback from the 130+ survey respondents included the following. 

  • Overall: On average, delegates rated their overall experience a 7/10 with 83% stating that their experience was what they expected, better or much better than they expected.
  • Schedule: 42% of delegates felt neutral about the length of the event whereas 58% of delegates felt that the event was long or very long. As is typical with online conferences, many who offered comments acknowledged the difficulty of balancing their conference participation with their ongoing work demands.
  • Registration and Fees: 59% of delegates felt that the value for money of the registration fee was good or excellent, while 34% of delegates felt neutral about it. Only 8% of delegates felt that the value for money of the registration fee was poor.
  • Networking: Many delegates expressed that they had difficulty engaging with other delegates and the Corporate Partners. There were many comments expressing the challenge of virtual networking and an increased sense of “online burnout”.

This feedback, as well as other results from the delegate, Corporate Partner and presenter surveys, will be used to inform the planning of TAC’s future events, particularly those held online.  

At this time, it’s unclear whether next year’s Conference will be held in-person or delivered virtually. TAC’s leadership is considering the factors influencing this decision, and expects to share the 2021 TAC Conference plans early next year. Details regarding the Call for Submissions for authors and presenters will be posted soon on www.tac-atc.ca.