Re: [802SEC] Electronic Participation in Interim Meetings
Electronic participation has not been used in the general case for a number of reasons: mostly effectiveness and cost. But I have seen attempts at using it in task group meetings or other standards meetings on occasion.
In addition to 802.18, I have noticed that the site for the January 802.20 interim says "A dial in link will be available." Mark can correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that that won't be for attendance credit, quorum or voting. Given that, it doesn't raise as much concern but the question of whether it will be effective for the people on the dial-in remains.
Here are some of my concerns with using electronic participation as a replacement for in person attendance:
Whenever it is used with a large local meeting, people on dial-up have difficulty hearing speakers - especially during discussion/debate periods. It is difficult for the remote people to break in to ask a question or make a comment. And there is a cost of arranging for the telecon phones in each effected meeting room - the cases I know of were mostly board room type situations so a regular speaker phone would suffice. In the attempts I've seen at using it during a larger meeting (i.e. 30 or more), it was pretty worthless. The people dialed in often couldn't hear the discussion intelligibly and had a very difficult time participating.
I don't know of any case where attendance credit to establish or retain voting membership was granted to dial in people. It hasn't been an issue in the cases that I know of because the meeting or the dial in portion of the meeting was too short to be used for that purpose anyway. I also don't know of any cases where it was used for a working group meeting with working group votes.
The main cases where it has been used effectively, it has been for a brief topic that required input from specialists who couldn't justify travel cost/time to be there for that topic. I.e. in 802.3 it has been used for maintenance meetings to allow experts on maintenance topic for a finished project contribute to the discussion. Because these folks were not involved in current projects, it didn't make sense to ask them to travel for a 30 minute or hour discussion. This was a task force meeting so there was no issue of working group voting, quorum rules, etc. And because it was short, there was no issue of attendance credit. And the meeting was boardroom size (generally less than 10 people) so a speaker phone worked fine.
For effectiveness in a larger meeting (if that is possible at all), a more sophisticated set up would be needed - e.g. received voices sent into the speaker system, in room mikes driving the phone signal and getting everyone to use the mikes rather than speak from the floor, on line conference software that has a hand raising system for the folks on the phone with a moderator run the queue for local and electronic folks.
In the limited cases where it has been used, the extra cost was usually picked up by an individual or company that offered to sponsor the call so that the meeting fees didn't bear the expense. The type of set up above would presumably involve more cost.
Issues that would have to be settled for more general use:
Can folks on dial-in vote?
Can folks on dial-in earn attendance credit?
How do those on dial-in share meeting cost - do they pay a registration fee?
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