Following the announcement of WHO that Covid-19 is now a pandemic, the Crisis Management Team of ITU decided to suspend all physical meetings at ITU Headquarters in Geneva from 16 March until further notice. Delegates will now have to participate remotely over the Internet using ITU's virtual web-conference platform.
ITU has been a pioneer of Multilingual Interactive Remote Participation (MIRP) which allows Member States to participate in ITU meetings remotely with interpretation in the six official languages. It was first used during the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland which disrupted air traffic in Europe in April 2010.
The current “Interprefy" MIRP platform allows for up to 300 remote participants to participate interactively using any of the six ITU official languages. The screen shows captioning (in English), the main conference screen (normally the document under discussion), and the image of the speaker which gives the experience of being in a single virtual meeting room. Delegates can raise their virtual hand to request the floor. The Chairman gives the speakers the floor assisted if necessary by a moderator. There is also a chat function which allows delegates to make their comments or questions directly to the Chairman, or to coordinate between themselves using the private chat option. An additional 2000 users may also connect to the platform as observers (i.e. they cannot take the floor). This is currently limited to floor only audio.
For remote participation without interpretation commercial tools are being used such as: Zoom; Skype for Business etc. (with PSTN dial available); and Microsoft Teams (Max 250 users who will need to use a web plugin or: https://teams.microsoft.com/downloads#allDevicesSection