News in 2015
Evaluation of the 2015 FIG Working Week in Sofia, Bulgaria
A majority of the participants are generally happy with the FIG
Working Week in Sofia, Bulgaria. 90 percent of the respondents of the
post-conference survey indicated that they were overall satisfied.
However, the survey also showed some areas of dissatisfaction, hereunder
obsolete conference facilities; varying scientific level and not so
inspiring lunches. The feedback is highly appreciated, and it will be
taken seriously and will enable FIG to better plan and execute future
Shortly after this year’s FIG Working Week in Sofia, Bulgaria a
post-conference survey was sent to the attendees. The objective of the
post-conference survey was to determine whether the attendees valued the
Working Week; whether it was worth their investment of time and
resources; and whether they would participate in a FIG Conference
again. Further, the survey will enable the organizers to better plan
the forthcoming FIG Conferences so the efforts put into the planning
meet expectations for attendees, speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors.
This evaluation is based on completed questionnaires from 30 percent of
the participants. Despite the relatively low response rate, this
evaluation nonetheless gives an indication of the general impression and
experience with the Working Week. A mistake in the first survey that was
sent out may also have affected the numbers of responses negatively.
50 percent of the respondents come from Europe and 25 percent from
Africa. This correlates well with the characteristic of the attendees at
the Working Week. It is interesting to note that the respondents are
equally divided between academic, public and private sector. This
matches the overall number of participants.
Although it would have been nice with a 100% response rate, 30% still
gives a fairly good indication of the impression of the Working Week.
The background information of interest in the survey is as follows:
|Where do you live?
|In which area of profession do you predominantly
|Have you attended previous FIG Working
90 percent of this year’s participants – or at least the respondents in
the post survey - are overall satisfied with the FIG Working Week in
Sofia, Bulgaria. 50 percent found the Working Week great and fulfilled
their expectations. 43 percent found that the Working Week was
acceptable and had minor weaknesses, but fulfilled their expectations to
a great extent. While 10 percent found the Working Week poor and did
not fulfill the expectations. Some of the areas of dissatisfaction were
obsolete conference facilities; varying scientific level and the
The overall positive feedback does not prevent the organizers from
thinking in new ways that can develop and improve future FIG
conferences. We highly appreciate the feedback - complaints, compliments
and great ideas, which we have received in this post survey. The
comments will be taken seriously and will enable us to better plan and
execute next year’s conference in Christchurch, New Zealand.
What is your overall assessment of the FIG Working Week?
THE TECHNICAL PROGRAMME
Overall, the technical programme was rated very satisfying. Many
emphasized that the conference was inspiring and that the different
sessions, workshop and forums were fruitful and encouraged to
During the Working Week one plenary session was organised each morning.
The plenary sessions were built over the overall focus of FIG Council
for the term and focused on the Surveyors’ Response to Changing the City
Management, to Pro-Growth Land Management and to Global and Regional
Professional and Institutional Reforms.
The plenary sessions were rated according to quality, relevance and
whether the sessions were rewarding. There was general satisfaction with
the plenary sessions, 70 percent of the respondents agreed or strongly
agreed that the plenary sessions were relevant, rewarding and of high
quality, while only 4 percent disagreed. 10 percent did not attend the
How will you rate the following aspects of the technical
The plenary sessions were of high quality (%)
The plenary sessions were relevant (%)
The plenary sessions were rewarding (%)
The plenary sessions are a crucial part of the conference, as they are
to set the overall standard and tone and summarize the core message /
revelation of the conference. Each year the FIG council, FIG office and
the local organisers discuss how the overall theme can be covered from
different angels (including all ten FIG commissions) and who would be
suitable and notable persons, who can make an inspirational, dynamic,
informative and memorable plenary speak.
In the post survey, some of the respondents commented that not all the
plenaries was interesting/relevant and that the presentation skills of
some of the speakers lacking.
“Plenaries need to have good speakers with interesting topics”
“Some of the plenary session speakers did not seem to be very
“…more visionary or strategic topics in plenaries”
Other respondents indicated that the plenary speakers did not cover the
themes of all ten FIG commissions
“I would like to see that the plenary session should have at least
one speaker on the construction sector.”
73 percent indicated in the post survey that the technical sessions were
of high quality / scientific level, relevant and rewarding. The sessions
were dynamic, productive and informative. The following parameters were
How will you rate the following aspects of the technical
The scientific level of the technical sessions (%)
The technical sessions were of high quality (%)
The technical sessions were relevant (%)
The technical session were rewarding (%)
The programme included 320 presentations throughout the three conference
days. The presenters came from 60 countries and had a background from
academia, private practice and government.
“My primary complaint has to do with the quality of papers and
presentations. Many of the topics, while catering to presenters of
various cultures, were not properly curated (i.e. were not at a level of
what you expect at an international conference), and others had very
poor presentation, much to the detriment of the content therein. It
would be a very good idea for FIG to provide some of the attendees with
more resources with which to better present the work they have done.”
FIG strives to offer a balanced program, with presenters with diverse
cultural and professional background. Each paper is given careful and
deliberate consideration and the selected proposals have to fit the
overall theme of the conference. On the other hand, the presenters are
accepted based on their abstract, not on their ability to engage or
communicate through a presentation. Some of the respondents suggest that
“…some speakers need to be educated in speaking into
microphones and using PowerPoint presentations!”
On future conference websites, some general guidelines on presentation
technique will be uploaded.
Further, the session chairs also play a key role in increasing the level
of the technical sessions, and make the session interesting, informative
and educational. The session chair has to lead the session making sure
that the presenters are introduced accordingly; that the timetable is
kept; and that the audience is involved through questions and
“More could be done to better schedule the event, as quite a few 5
minute presentations actually had quite a bit of interesting content,
whereas other 10-15 minute presentations were all fluff. It is
disappointing to see that a lot of good work took a back seat at the
conference for whatever reason, as I think this detracted from the
technical sessions and conference overall. Further to this point, many
chairs were not rigorous enough about enforcing time limits, as more
than a few poor presentations droned on for over half an hour.”
80 percent of the respondents found the sessions were effectively
moderated, while 4 percent disagree. 12 percent neither agreed nor
The comprehensive programme, with 11 parallel sessions resulted in
overlapping sessions which appealed to the same participants. It is a
puzzle to create the technical programme, taking all parameters into
“Some technical sessions / other sessions with similar topics were
scheduled at the same time. Difficult to choose.”
We interpret it positively that it is difficult to choose which sessions
to attend. One of the respondents came with the following solution
“Consider a breakout period for posters and then have special
meetings during this. The Directors General Forum conflicted with
several key technical sessions. By having the DG Forum during a time
slot that is parallel to a poster session, this would avoid conflicts
with any technical sessions.”
Another issue which was addressed in the post survey is “no-shows”;
presenters who do not show up and make their presentation. The FIG
Office tries on-the-spot to update and modify the conference programme,
thus to avoid sessions with very few presenters. The FIG Office will
also encourage the presenters to let us know if they are prevented to
attend the conference so the paper can be removed from the programme.
The Working Week took place at the National Palace of Culture - the very
same place as the FIG Permanent Committee Meeting in 1983, however at
that time under very different conditions. The FIG conferences have
grown in number of participants and presentation, thus the demands of
the venue is different. The conference center opened in 1981; hence the
facilities were brand new and very impressive in 1983. In 2015 many of
the respondents found the session rooms not up-to-date and did not meet
the modern standards for conference facilities. The conditions were
inconvenient and not suitable for the purpose of presentations. The
design of the rooms made it difficult to see the screen with the
PowerPoints; the acoustics were not optimal; the lightning was poor and
the indoor climate was thick.
“A special attention should be paid to the conference venue which
was very obsolete this time. Some of the conference rooms were so badly
designed that it was impossible to hear or see anything (unless you
managed to get to the five seats in the first row).”
By moving the conference from destination to destination, different
standards of the conference facilities will apply. This makes the bids
very important, as it needs to give the decision makers an impression of
the current condition of a property and surroundings. Further, before
each conference representatives from FIG Council and FIG office make a
site visit. A personal site inspection visit is a must to get an idea
whether the conference facilities meet our requirements or how we can
make it work as optimal as possible. This is however sometimes a
The technical facilities were on the other hand very impressive. The
technical staff was very professional; from the guys in the Speakers
Presentation Room to the staff in the session rooms. The technical
equipment was not the most up-to-date, but the technical service and
support was brilliant. Further, the National Palace of Culture offered
free Wi-Fi, this service provided the participants with basic wireless
Internet connection to check email or surf the web at no cost. More
than 70 percent of the respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with
the Wi-Fi onsite.
How would you rate the Internet access onsite? (%)
INTRODUCING A CONFERENCE APP
At this year’s FIG Working Week the organisers introduced a new feature.
The traditional printed technical programme was supplemented with a new
developed application for Smartphones and Tablets.
The statistic for downloads shows that 20 percent of the participants
used the app. Those who downloaded the app also used the features the
app had to offer; checked the technical programme, made favorite
markings of sessions, speakers etc. This means that those who
downloaded the app have been returning users and used it pretty
The survey shows that 59 percent were satisfied or very satisfied with
the conference application. This indicates that the participants value
the initiative, and we will continue to develop and promote the app.
How would you rate the Conference App? (%)
The post survey shows that participants also value the printed
programme. The printed programme will be available at future FIG
Conference for those who do not use the digital option or to use in
addition to the electronic programme. However, with the application, the
organizers have the opportunity to update the programme right up to the
start of the conference, thus get the last-minute changes included.
How would you rate the Programme Book? (%)
The social events were a great success. The Bulgarian organisers had
done a great job to make sure that the Working Week was memorable for
all participants and also managed to showcase the best of
Sofia/Bulgaria. 65-70 percent of the respondents who attended the
Bulgarian Dinner/FIG Foundation Dinner and the Gala Dinner found the
dinners satisfying or very satisfying, while 4-6 percent were
unsatisfied. 25 percent were neither satisfied nor unsatisfied.
How will you rate the following…?
|Bulgarian Dinner/FIG Dinner (%)
|Gala Dinner (%)
The Welcome Reception took place in the National Museum of History,
which is a very spectacular and large venue – a former governmental
residence. Currently it stores and owns over 650,000 objects connected
to the history of Bulgaria. The Welcome Reception was well attended, and
the survey shows that 85 percent of the respondents were satisfied or
very satisfied with the evening. Among other things, the evening gave
the participants the opportunity to meet fellow participants, and the
possibility to walk around in this extraordinary building and see the
exhibition, and in this way learn more about the impressive 1300 year
history of Bulgaria.
How will you rate the Welcome Reception? (%)
The lunches were the most criticized issue in the survey. This year the
lunch consisted of a lunch box containing a sandwich, a small salad and
a piece of fruit but with very limited variety from day to day. It can
be difficult to satisfy everyone's tastes, which span from the Himalayas
to the Andes, Scandinavia to Southeast Asia and Nigeria to New Zealand.
The Lunch offering will vary from destination to destination and will be
based on a local touch but with respect to international differences and
preferences. Lunches therefore will reflect local traditions.
The concept with lunch boxes will be continued, as it gives the
opportunity of lunch meetings; the participants can go outside and
easily manage walking with their lunch. We will however design the lunch
boxes to suit and certainly give a variety of items so the participants
have a variety of choice.
Despite specific areas of dissatisfaction, hereunder the lunches and
conference facilities, this year’s participants - or at least the
respondents in the survey – are generally happy with the Working Week.
The majority of the participants who completed the survey have earlier
attended a FIG Conference. We are pleased that delegates keep coming
back; it is the best indicator of the popularity of the FIG Conference.
We interpret is positively that 95 percent indicate that they will
recommend the FIG Conferences to friends and colleagues.
Would you recommend FIG Conferences to colleagues and friends?
Lastly we would like to thank everyone, who participated in the
post-conference survey. Thank you for your valuable contribution!
27 August 2015