IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC), Rome, Italy, 2023

By Marco Ajmone Marsan - IEEE ICC 2023 General Co-Chair and Marco Luise - IEEE ICC 2023 General Co-Chair

As the readers of Communications Magazine well know, the IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) stands the oldest, largest and most significant international conference in the field of telecommunications. ICC, together with GLOBECOM, is the “flagship” event of the IEEE Communications Society.

This year, ICC reached its 58thannual edition, and for the first time ever has come to Italy, heralding the activity of a large and well-structured community working in the diverse fields of communication theory and technologies in Academia, in research Institutions, in companies. ICC 2023 took place from May 28 to June 01, in Rome, the historic capital of Italy.

Plenary session in the huge auditorium of La Nuvola

The bid to host the conference was submitted in 2017, and at that time the Organizing Committee started planning for a “normal” edition of the conference, with the few changes necessary to adapt to the Italian environment, as well as to allow attendees to enjoy their trip to Rome — no one could guess what the future had in stock for all of us, i.e., the COVID-19 pandemic. Once conference organization entered its truly active phase, i.e., after the start of 2020, the Organizing Committee that we had the pleasure to coordinate had to plan and revise, and re-plan and revise again, considering all of the possible hypotheses and all of the possible combinations in terms of virtual, mixed, or in-presence format of the event. This also meant looking for spaces of variable capacities to accommodate different numbers of in-presence attendees. Finally, it became clear that, after some virtual and hybrid conference editions, ICC 2023 would have been the first post-pandemic instance ofthe ICC/GLOBECOM series with a completely in-person program, and we set our target to 2000 in-presence attendees.

Ultimately, we welcomed in Rome almost 2500 attendees, who could directly interact with colleagues, participate in a vibrant technical program, and enjoy the very many attractions of the city, with its world-famous museums, landmark architecture, Italian-style fashion and cuisine. The ICC 2023 attendees had an opportunity to visit some of the most iconic locations in the world: the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s Square, Piazza Navona, just to mention a few of the town’s jewels.

Returning to the normality of an in-person conference was a long-awaited opportunity for attendees to meet old friends and discuss face-to-face ongoing research projects, plan future collaborations, share ideas and information, and contribute to accelerate innovation by spreading the latest research results on communications and networking around the world.

The ICC 2023 Technical Program Committee set up an outstanding scientific program comprising over one thousand papers organized in thirteen Symposia, over three hundred contributions collected in twenty-four Workshops, and thirty-four Tutorial presentations, topped by nine keynote speeches by leading industry experts, by world class academics, and by the 2023 IEEE Eric E. Sumner award recipient. In addition to scientific presentations, ICC 2023 also featured a robust Industrial program, with key experts from leading companies presenting and debating the latest technological advances. More on the technical content of the conference can be found in the dedicated Conference Column Report in this same issue of the Magazine.

The conference’s focal point was “Sustainable Communications for Renaissance,” drawing inspiration from the historical Renaissance of Arts that unfolded during the 15th and 16thcenturies in Italy, witnessing significant advancements in science and art, with visionary thinkers like Leonardo Da Vinci. ICC 2023 reflected on the post-pandemic era, considering the pivotal role of telecommunications in enabling people to carry on their activities remotely during lockdown periods, but also in paving the way towards new habits and ways of living, working, and teaching that will remain with us after returning to normality — a very strong indication of the unrivaled significance of telecommunications in shaping the world’s future.

Rome provided the ICC community an exceptional conference location: the La Nuvola (“The Cloud”) conference center, one of the most iconic buildings in the entire city of Rome. Inaugurated in 2016, this masterpiece by architect Massimiliano Fuksas is an exceptional work of art, featuring innovative structural solutions, an eco-friendly approach, and the use of technologically advanced materials — the ideal venue for a conference that placed technology and sustainability at its core! The scientific and industrial sessions were complemented by a lively, large exhibition area with over 30 booths by companies, publishers, research initiatives, showcasing their latest technologies and activities.

Attendees enjoying the welcome cocktail and the wonderful view of Roma from the hill garden of the magnificent Villa Miani before the banquet.

Organizing an event as complex as ICC is not a feat that can be accomplished by single albeit active persons — what actually matters is building and motivating an efficient team of dedicated organizers. The Organizing Committee of ICC 2023 was top-grade: we just mention here our Vice-Chair Luca Sanguinetti, our distinguished Technical Co-Chairs, Meixia Tao and Michele Zorzi, and our Industrial Forum & Exhibition Chair Roberto Sabella, only because we cannot mention all of the many persons that actively contributed to the organization and success of the event — just a special thanks goes to our ComSoc project manager Melissa Torres. We acknowledge the tremendous effort of our TPC Chairs to manage the huge task of reviewing about 2,500 submitted papers, as well as of our Finance Chair, Web Chairs and Publication Chairs, who brought their professionalism into the loop. We wish to also mention the competenceof the company First Class Events and Conferences, the ICC 2023 PCO, that very effectively supported us along all the steps of the conference organization.

But, the core of a conference is made by of all paper authors, keynote speakers, presenters, paper reviewers, session chairs, and volunteers, whose contributions and commitment ensured that the quality of this edition met the highest ComSoc standards. The precious support received by all the patrons (Huawei, Intel, Keysight, Qualcomm, TII, ZTE, Ericsson, NEC, Leonardo, Barilla, SensorID), as well as by the exhibitors, was an invaluable contribution to the conference organization and to the creation of the “ICC flavor” that all the 2433 registered visitors were able to appreciate.

ICC2023 has also honored the achievements of IEEE and IEEE Communications Society members with a number of awards presented during a dedicated ceremony. In addition to the conference Best Paper Awards, the Society’s major paper awards recognized outstanding and original papers published in IEEE ComSoc journals and magazines, that essentially enlarged the field of communications engineering. They opened new lines of research, envisioned bold approaches to communication, and formulated new problems to solve. The outstanding contribution of distinguished researchers to the advancement of the community’s activities was also acknowledged. Awards recipients discovered, extended, or complemented technological advancements in education, industry, research, and service.

The participants to ICC 2023 enjoyed a superb program of social events, culminated into the conference banquet at the magnificent “Villa Miani”. The garden of the Villa hosted a welcoming cocktail on a hill overlooking the whole town and the dome of S. Peter’s church at sunset: a view that the 900 attendees and their guests will surely remember.

Organizing the conference required a lot of work and a lot of patience, but … we are flattered when people we meet around the world tell us how much they enjoyed coming to Rome for ICC 2023.

Presenting papers at an Interactive Session in the Exhibit Hall.