SKAO Communications & Outreach Department

December is always a great opportunity to look back at the achievements from the past12 months. One again, this year was another exciting one for the SKAO Comms Team, demonstrating the breadth of activities undertaken by the team as well as the importance forthe communications function to be at the core of the Project’s programme. We will report here on the most relevant activities of the last few months, and encourage you to see previous contributions to get a flavour of the initiatives we developed and implemented earlier in the year.

The SKAO Comms team has been heavily involved in the organisation of our annual engineering meeting and our science conference. Both meetings were very successful and ran very smoothly, largely due to the great support received from the LOC members and the excellent work performed by the Events Organising Committees. We ran surveys after the 2 conferences to gauge the delegates impressions about the meetings, and the feedback received was generally very positive. We’d like to thank all those who did take the time to complete the surveys. Many comments were very constructive and will allow us to raise the bar even higher in the future, for the benefit of our community.


On the conference front, we reported on the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) conference at length in the previous issue, and used it to demonstrate the huge impact one can have by embedding communication atthe core of the Project’s overarching programme. In October, another critical conference in the SKA agenda, namely the International Conference on Research Infrastructures (ICRI), was held in Cape Town, South Africa. Our colleagues fromthe South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) were the hosts of the event, and made sure the SKA was heavily featured in the programme. There were a number of plenary talks given by the SKA leadership and the SKAO Comms team also organised informal presentations at the SKA booth to allow SKA partners to promote their activities. We also received the visit of the South African Science Minister Ms Naledi Pandor and the European CommissionDirector-General for Research and Innovation Mr. Robert-Jan Smits as we were engaging with students at the SKA booth (see photo below).


The different initiatives listed above were of course a great opportunity to reinforce our relationship and engage further with key stakeholders of ours, that is policy- and decision-makers, government representatives, industry, the engineering community and the science community. Very fruitful discussions with these different groups should shortly turn into various concrete actions, including the visual documentation and promotion of key science and engineering results or milestones across the partnership. In particular, we’ve also discussed with relevant stakeholders a number of initiatives to increase the level of engagement of the Science Working Groups in communications activities. The SWGs will now report regularly on the main research and results in their fields in this SKA eNews publication, with a view of showcasing the vitality and enthusiasm of the science community in the ‘Towards the SKA’ era. The science undertaken within the SWGs will also feature in the 2017 SKA calendar, that many of you will have the pleasure to browse in the next few weeks.


Another project we’d like to report on is one that has been developed by the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre team, in which the SKAO Comms team and many SKA engineers have put a lot of effort into. The 1-year project, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, has been completed and one of the deliverables was the production of a hands-on kit to explain the engineering behind the SKA. This great kit is now available for outreach activities and e-resources can be supplied on demand to the international community. Get in touch with the SKAO communications team for more details regarding the kit.

Last but not least, we’d like to end on a wonderful note. Our recently produced trailer video has won the European Excellence Award in Public Relations in the category Corporate Film & Video. These awards take place every year for each region of the globe and recognise outstanding achievements in our industry (communication and public relations). We are of course very proud of having received such an award, andwe’d like to share it with all our colleagues at SKAO and partners around the world who contributed to it and transmitted their passion in such a wonderful way.

We wish you all a brilliant festive season and look forward to new exciting SKA adventures in 2017.

Report provided by William Garnier, Director of Communications, Outreach & Education