ACM SIGMM Award for Outstanding Technical Contributions to Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications

The 2022 winner of the prestigious ACM Special Interest Group on Multimedia (SIGMM) award for Outstanding Technical Contributions to Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications is Professor Alan Smeaton. The award is given in recognition of his outstanding, pioneering and continued research contributions in the areas of multimedia information analysis and management, and for outstanding and continued service to the multimedia community.

Alan Smeaton is a significant researcher and contributor to the arena of multimedia information analysis and management and is highly deserving of the above award.  The basis for the nomination is his impactful work on benchmarking, the breadth of his contributions in the multimedia area, and his service to the multimedia community.

The first of these, benchmarking, is one which has become fundamental to multimedia and for which our field has taken the lead in showing how collaborative benchmarking can advance scientific discovery.  Alan is one of the co-founders of the TREC activity for text-based information retrieval, hosted by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, more than 30 years ago, in 1990. He was a founder member of the inaugural program committee and conceived, developed, and ran some of the multitude of TREC tasks including information retrieval from Spanish texts and from scanned images of text documents. He then co-founded the TRECVid benchmarking, starting in 2001 and helped secure video content from BBC, Sound and Vision and the Internet Archive and these have become standard datasets used by many. The term “TRECVid” is mentioned on the internet 275,000 times and on Google Scholar a search for TRECVid points to more than 10,000 papers.  Alan has been a task leader in the CLEF campaign, chairing the CLEF event in 2010, he has been a task co-leader for EEG-augmented image search at NTCIR in 2017 and has been a task co-leader at MediaEval for video memorability since 2019.  
While Alan may be known mostly for his contribution to benchmarking, he has made significant contributions to a wide range of other areas in the multimedia field. Multimedia is, by definition, an enabling technology for applications in other areas. Alan’s research contributions are not focused in one or even a small number of areas but have a tremendous span. Alan doesn’t just believe that the multimedia field is defined by a wide range of applications, he proves that in the breadth of his work.

Finally, Alan makes several other community service activities over many years.  His contribution to SIGMM sponsored conferences includes almost the full span of organisation roles including hosting (ICMR), program co-chair (MULTIMEDIA), area co-chair (MULTIMEDIA), etc. Two new SIGMM-sponsored conferences have been introduced while Alan was SIGMM chair Multimedia Asia, now in its fourth year, and the Mile High Video Conference starting in 2021. As SIGMM Chair Alan introduced several initiatives which benefit the community including a centralised student travel scheme, open to those attending any SIGMM conferences. Since the arrival of COVID and while there were no students travelling, this pivoted into a carer award, allowing conference delegates to receive SIGMM funding to allow them to devote their time to attending if they have childcare or other responsibilities which SIGMM can fund.  SIGMM now has an annual call for special funding initiatives which is well supported, evaluated, and the best of them funded, another initiative Alan introduced.  Alan also introduced a SIGMM test-of-time paper award and been a strong proponent of supporting gender diversity activities throughout SIGMM’s activities including the creation and appointment of a Director of Diversity and Outreach and the supporting of diversity events at most of the SIGMM-sponsored conferences.

In summary, Alan Smeaton is a long-serving major contributor to the definition of what makes multimedia who is exceptionally qualified for receiving the prestigious SIGMM Technical Achievement Award.

Many Congratulations to Alan!

Phoebe Chen, SIGMM Vice-Chair
On Behalf of SIGMM Technical Achievement Award Committee
October 16, 2022