IEEE International Black Sea Conference on Communications and Networking (IEEE BlackSeaCom), Istanbul, Turkey, 2023

By Mehmet Ulema - USA and Sema Oktug - Turkey

The IEEE Black Sea Communications and Networking (IEEE BlackSeaCom) series of conferences are held in the countries surrounding the Black Sea. The 11th edition of the IEEE BlackSeaCom series was held in beautiful Istanbul, Turkiye on 4-7 July 2023 ( The General Co-Chairs were Sema Oktug of Istanbul Technical University, Turkiye; Taner Arsan of Kadir Has University, Turkiye; and Burak Kantarci of the University of Ottawa, Canada. It was hosted by Kadir Has University, a well-known private university in Turkiye with a great campus by the Golden Horn.

The theme of the conference was “Immersive Bridging of Continents in the Era of Hyperconnectivity.” It was an appropriate theme for a conference in Istanbul, which is situated in both Europe and Asia.

Unfortunately, while the organization of the conference was going on, a devastating earthquake on February 6, 2023, in southern Turkiye, caused the loss of more than 50,000 lives, as well as thousands of injuries and the displacement of the entire region of more than 10 large cities and many thousands of small towns and villages. More than 40 million people were impacted in this region in Turkiye and its neighbors. Despite this unfortunate event, the work on the organization of the conferences continued without significant impact on the program.

Work on the conference organization started seven months in advance. 10 meetings were held regularly with the participation of the members of the Organizing Committee. Past conference experiences and IEEE practices were conveyed by Alex Gelman and Mehmet Ulema of the Steering Committee, Tina Gaerlan, and Bruce Worthman of the IEEE Communications Society. Publicizing the conference, collecting papers, evaluation of them by the TPC members, deciding on the accepted papers and formation of the program, invitation of the keynote speakers, collecting the tutorial/workshop proposals, deciding on the panels, finding sponsors, deciding on the venue and many other steps of the conference organization were done by the distinguished chairs, co-chairs of the organizing committee. We are grateful to all OC members and TPC members who did their job meticulously.

The social program started with a Welcome Reception on the first day. It was held at Rezan Has Museum, which is on the campus of Kadir Has University. The structure of the museum was built on the city walls from the Byzantium era and the exhibition containing Urartian artifacts impressed the participants.

At Istanbul Technical University ARI Teknopark Incubation Center (ITU SEED)

On the second day, the social program started in the afternoon with a visit to Istanbul Technical University (ITU) ARI Teknopark, established to leverage technology production in Turkiye. ITU ARI Teknopark Incubation Center (ITU Seed), in 2023 has been awarded as the “Best Incubation Center in the World” on a prestigious list announced by Sweden-based UBI Global. The visit began with a welcoming talk by the Teknopark director Prof. Attila Dikbas. Then the activities and the programs of ITU ARI Teknopark were introduced. Two ITU SEED companies gave information about their projects. The participants had a chance to visit the ITU SEED work space and chat with the young entrepreneurs supported. ITU ARI Teknopark’s visit ended with a cocktail accompanied by a violin-cello-flute trio performance.

Sur Fish Restaurant — Halic, one of the best restaurants in Istanbul, was chosen for the Banquet. The event was accompanied by flute-violin-accordion trio music. During the banquet, a song contest was held as a tradition of the IEEE BlackSeaCom conference series.

The participants had a great time watching the entertaining performances. The performance of the accompanying trio was also superb. Using applause intensity as a metric, the jury had no difficulty in choosing the winner. The winner’s prize, as every year, was to attend the next IEEE BlackSeaCom without paying the registration fee.

The social events were finalized with the Organizing Committee dinner at Galata Port-Istanbul.

The cocktail at ITU ARI Teknopark. Alex Gelman at right.

We should mention that Local Co-Chairs Gokhan Secinti of Istanbul Technical University, Yalcin Sadi of Kadir Has University, and Sponsor Chair Tolga Ovatman of Istanbul Technical University spent a lot of time for the local issues and for raising support. Our Web Chair Elif Ak of Istanbul Technical University contributed greatly to keeping the website, which was the main guide of the participants, always up to date. We should not forget the graduate students from ITU and Kadir Has University working at the registration desk.

The conference was supported by Kadir Has University, and Istanbul Technical University — School of Computer and Informatics. We would like to thank our patrons IEEE Public Safety Technology Initiative and Istanbul Technical University ARI Teknokent for the generous support of the conference.