April 2020 From the IFAC President

COVID-19, virtual World Congress 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

First of all, I hope with all my heart that this message reaches you, including your family and friends, in good health. With great sadness, however, we have to acknowledge that many people from our systems and control community and their families and friends are already seriously affected by the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the associated disease COVID-19, up to the worst happening. We can already see the immeasurable extent of this crisis, the worst disaster in decades of worldwide impact that mankind has seen. In these tremendously difficult times, the IFAC team and I wholeheartedly wish all the best for you and your loved ones. Our thoughts are with you all.

In these difficult times, we all, including, of course IFAC, should think creatively how to support the society, the systems and control community, and our direct environment. Maybe you have heard about the IFAC ‘Corona Control Community Project (C3P) Web-site’: An initiative with the aim to support and encourage systems and control research activities around COVID-19. The envisioned idea of such an interactive website is to provide a hub for information exchange, to share ideas and to find potential collaboration partners. We initiated this idea as we were impressed by the valuable contributions to fight the pan-demic crisis by our community even in these difficult times. More than 100 colleagues from all over the world reacted to our Call for Volunteers and a small group around Francesco Rossi, Stefan Palis and Murat Korkmaz have been setting up this website which can be reached under https://covid.ifac-control.org.

Our sister organization within IEEE, the Control Systems Society, asked to join the efforts and the whole initiative is now an IFAC-CCS project. Please visit the C3P website, submit your Covid-19/Sars-CoV-2 related work there, announce initiatives and see what oth-ers are doing!

However, we are sure that there are many more initiatives and possibilities through which IFAC can support the community and individuals amidst this crisis. If there is anything that you believe that IFAC or I can do to support the community, please let me know! Many of you and especially the authors of the more than 4300 contributions to the World Congress are probably on tenterhooks about where, when and, above all, how the World Congress takes place. In the past few days it has been decided: The 2020 IFAC World Congress will go fully virtual! And this is not only a drawback: The congress organizers are offering many new and exciting formats that make it worthwhile to attend, and a tremendous amount of CO2 will be saved. Plus, participation in the congress is really cost efficient: Next to not having to bear travel-related expenses, the registration fee is less than 50% of the originally announced fee. Considering all of these factors we hope that even more people will participate in this event. And our promise still stands: This World Congress will be a one of a kind experience!

Let me end this column by once more wishing you all good health for you, your families and friends. And while the world will probably never be the same as before this pandemic, let us try to actively shape this change not by merely reacting to the current challenges but by envisioning a better and more sustainable future.

With the very best wishes from my home office in Stuttgart,

Frank Allgöwer