The Salish Sea’s premier science conference concluded last month in Seattle, and judging strictly by the numbers, it was one of the most successful in conference history.
The 2014 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, or #SSEC14 as it came to be known in various social media, featured several significant firsts. It was the largest in its history, with more than 1200 attendees. Overall, there were 450 science talks, 150 posters, eight discussion panels and numerous featured speakers, proving that the region’s scientists aren’t shy or standing idle.
It was also the first time the conference had its own mobile app, giving attendees the option of going paperless. The Puget Sound Institute provided the app with funding from the Puget Sound Partnership, and a survey by the SSEC (n=400) showed that nearly half of the respondents used it, strongly suggesting that future conferences will also go this route.
In fact, conference-goers turned out to be a fairly digitally savvy group. A separate poll by the Encyclopedia of Puget Sound (n=62) showed that more than 83% of all respondents rated the Web as their most important or second most important source for retrieving scientific information, rating it as either a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. Those numbers are likely skewed considering it was a web-based survey, but there was one surprising note. Despite their high reliance on the Web, survey participants didn’t think much of social media. Almost 80% of the respondents said they “don’t use” Twitter.
Other survey results from the SSEC:
- Respondents were generally favorable in their opinion of the conference format, the mix of science and policy at the event, the relevance of content to ecosystem recovery and management (4 out of 5 average rating).
- The aspect of the conference most commonly noted as “best” was the diversity of topics and presenters, followed by networking opportunities, learning opportunities, and the quality of presentations.
- The aspect of the conference most commonly noted as “least favorite” was the structure of the lunchtime activities, followed by length of oral presentations (too short), and the amount of time for networking and discussion (not enough).
- Survey demographics: 20% non-profit, 8% tribe/first nation, 14% local government, 14% state/provincial government, 14% federal government, 11% private sector, 24% academic. And according to registration figures, 12.5% of attendees were from Canada, 85.5% from USA, 0.3% from other countries and 1.6% came from parts unknown.
(Results of the SSEC survey are based upon a ~33% response rate out of a total of ~1200 conference participants.)
See you at SSEC16 in Vancouver.