Assessment framework for in-person vs online IETF 108 meeting

This is the assessment framework that will be used to make a decision on whether the in-person IETF 108 Madrid meeting can go ahead, or it will be replaced by an online meeting.

Key Info

Purpose and Principles

The framework is based on the following assumptions and principles:

  1. Given the current conditions in Spain and around the world, the framework is based on the assumption that these conditions would have to significantly improve for the in-person meeting to be held.
  2. We want an assessment framework that, as much as possible, uses independent, trusted data to enable an objective assessment.  However, as this is an entirely novel situation, high quality data sources are not yet available and so there will be, by necessity, a significant degree of subjective judgement in our assessment.
  3. In the absence of specific community guidance the assessment criteria we have chosen are based on the venue selection criteria specified in RFC 8718, both the mandatory criteria of section 3.1 and the important criteria of section 3.2.1 “Venue City Criteria”, which we believe make up the most relevant and recent advice from the community that can be applied in these circumstances.

Key Criteria

CRITERION:  The venue continues to meet mandatory criteria.

If any of the mandatory venue selection criteria from section 3.1 of RFC 8178 cannot be met then the in-person meeting will not go ahead. Those criteria relate to the physical facility (space, access, network).

In addition, if any of the following conditions are not met at the venue then the in-person meeting will not go ahead:

  • Any prohibitions on mass gatherings are only for events of more than 1250 people, which is our rough estimate for the number of expected participants.
  • There are enough restaurants within the vicinity of the meeting hotels operating at sufficient capacity to serve our expected number of participants.
  • Local medical facilities capable of treating COVID-19 have sufficient capacity.
  • Other similar international meetings (conferences) are confirmed as going ahead before or at the same time as our planned meeting.

CRITERION:  Economic, safety, and health risks associated with this Venue are acceptable.

When considering our data sources we want to use both local sources and independent sources to ensure any possible bias is minimised. Our primary local sources will be the official Madrid Tourism COVID-19 site and our local contacts and if either indicates that any form of local emergency conditions still prevail then the in-person meeting will not go ahead.  

The selection of independent sources is more problematic and we have chosen to use the US CDC and their travel advisory for Spain, which must be below Warning Level 3 (avoid nonessential travel) or the in-person meeting will not go ahead.  While recognising that the choice of a single US source may be contentious, we believe this is the best choice because all of our contracts have a force majeure clause that specifically lists the US CDC.

In addition, if air travel in and of itself is regarded as medium/high health risk as assessed by the WHO then the in-person meeting cannot be held.

CRITERION:  Travel barriers to entry, including visa requirements, are likely to be such that an overwhelming majority of participants who wish to do so can attend.  The term "travel barriers" is to be read broadly [...] in the context of whether a successful meeting can be had.

Assessment of this criteria has two parts to it.  The first is a definition of what are unacceptable travel barriers and the second is deciding how to apply the “overwhelming majority” test.  Unacceptable travel barriers come in two forms, those that would preclude an in-person meeting entirely and those that will be counted on a per-country basis for an “overwhelming majority” test (as explained below):

Unacceptable travel barriers that would preclude an in-person meeting are:

  • Spanish borders closed to visitors
  • Any form of quarantine on arrival in Spain
  • Any form of self-isolation requirement on arrival in Spain
  • Any new form of health-related travel restriction imposed by Spain or the EU that is inherently discriminatory in nature.

Unacceptable travel barriers that will be counted on a per-country basis are:

  • Any form of quarantine on return.
  • Any form of self-isolation requirement on return of more than 24 hours unless consistent with general self-isolation requirements
  • Government travel bans in either direction

A requirement to prove COVID-19 immunity, vaccination or similar will be acceptable provided it is not inherently discriminatory, though calculating the impact of that is likely to be problematic.

In order to assess this criteria, in particular the “overwhelming majority” requirement, and the criteria below, we will use a similar methodology.  Using our records of attendance at recent European IETF meetings (as far back as IETF 96 Berlin) we will develop an expected distribution of participants by country (i.e. how many participants we would typically expect from each country).  If we judge that more than 20% of expected participants cannot attend, based on this country distribution, then the in-person meeting will not go ahead.

Using the definitions above of unacceptable travel barriers, we will sum the percentages derived above from each country that is judged as having unacceptable barriers and if that figure is greater than 20% then the in-person meeting will not go ahead.

CRITERION:  Travel to the Venue is acceptable based on cost, time, and burden for participants traveling from multiple regions.  It is anticipated that the burden borne will generally be shared over the course of multiple years.

Using the same basic methodology as the criteria above, for this criteria we will aim to assess flight availability for each country to get to Madrid and if there is insufficient availability for the number of expected participants between the two countries or the fares are significantly above normal then we will work on the assumption that the burden of travel for people from that country is not acceptable.

We will then sum the expected percentages of participants from each country that is judged as having unacceptable travel burdens and if that figure is greater than 20% then the in-person meeting will not go ahead.

Second Round of Assessment

We note that there is the possibility that the result of this assessment is that an in-person meeting can go ahead but corporate travel bans remain in place and/or many people are unwilling to travel and/or the situation appears to worsen, in which case we will engage in a subsequent process to establish the viability of an in-person meeting, as we did for IETF 107.

Process and Dates

On or about 11 May 2020 the IETF Executive Director will produce a draft report using the assessment framework set out below with a recommendation on whether or not an in-person meeting can be held.  This draft report will be confidential and distribution restricted to the IESG, IRTF Chair, IAB Chair, LLC, Secretariat and meeting host primary contact.  

On 12 May 2020 the IESG, IRTF Chair, IAB Chair, LLC and Secretariat will meet to discuss the draft report and any changes that need to be made. The objective will be to get consensus on the report’s recommendation among the IESG, the IRTF Chair, the IAB Chair, the LLC Board, and the IETF Executive Director.

By 14 May 2020 the IETF Executive Director will produce a final report.  At this stage the final report will be confidential and distribution restricted to the IESG, IRTF Chair, IAB Chair, LLC, Secretariat and meeting host primary contact.

On 14 May 2020 the LLC Board will meet and officially sign off the recommendation.  The LLC will then officially inform the IESG of its recommendation.

On 15 May 2020 the decision will be announced and the final report made public.