Presenting at conferences is exciting. Sometimes I travel far and meet interesting new people. Like last November, when I visited the IWA conference in Brisbane, Australia. There IWA asked me to repeat my presentation in a webinar. A webinar; is that the modern word for seminar, or is it the old word for vlogging? Let’s call it ‘interactive vlogging’.
200 people watched speakers from 3 continents
Anyway, last week I presented a webinar for the IWA network on the subject that I have been working on for a long time now: emerging contaminants. What are these compounds? Can we measure them all? Should we worry? And what can do about it? All these questions pop in people’s heads, also in mine. So, not knowing what a webinar would look like exactly, I took the chance to present this subject for IWA. Webinars are new to their network too. But IWA and especially organizer Diana Guio (IWA) did well: in reaction to their announcement, almost 300 people had pre-registered from 55+ countries. I was excited!
So here I was, sitting behind my PC in the Netherlands, while the webinar was hosted by Stuart Khan from the other side of the planet, in Australia. He started introducing me and the other speakers who were in South-Africa and Austria, and mentioned that we were all there “with a low carbon footprint”. He was so right! We had 4 speakers from 3 continents and almost 200 people watching.
To start off, I presented a bit of history and showed the scientific literature, an “epistemology of how chemicals emerge”; going from science to policy, and sometimes back and forth. Then we paused for some Questions and Answers (Q&A). Over 190 people were watching, and we received interesting questions on nanomaterial and regulations. Topic 2 was on the huge power of the analytical tools of today. In topic 3 Bettina Genthe from South Africa talked about how she has identified compounds of emerging concern in her region. In South Africa, especially after severe droughts, people started water re-use concepts. And with these concepts, one should think twice on what compounds may enter the water and how to avoid cycling contaminants of concern. For example, in S-Africa, especially HIV and repellents are compounds of concern. Many viewers must have been keen on understanding this part, as water reuse concepts are more and more developed in various parts of the world. In all, we had to stop after almost an hour, without touching on the final part we had planned: abatement options. This part will be dealt with in a sequel to this webinar. In the end, Maria Fürhacker from the IWA specialist group highlighted the next IWA conference Micropol & Ecohazard Conference (17 – 20 September 2017).
You can watch the recording of the webinar
So one moment there was a little community of 200 persons together on the same subject, the next moment… it was all gone. No coffee break, no drinks, nothing a conference would have. Luckily, the Q&A section was moved to IWA and I got some emails to answer. And even better, the broadcast can be viewed on Vimeo.
I hope some of you will find it interesting to watch. Even if it is only to see how I tried to ignore the emergency phone for the Dutch water sector. It was ringing during the webinar as I never expected that call right at that moment during the 24/7 shift… Fortunately, it was someone calling a wrong number. No emerging issues that day, but who knows what will be found in our waters next.