UNESCO Chair in Communication
Description and Mandate of the Chair
Report of the first three years (January 2001 – 2004)
Fostering Mobile Readiness by pioneering new applications in Europe
In 2003 and, again, in 2004, the Copenhagen chair has facilitated a review and assessment of pioneering attempts to further mobility in Northern Europe’s emerging information society, using ICT applications.
Now, the chair has initiated (encouraged by the European Commission) a project that will enlarge the study to include not only the Baltic Sea Region (in focus for the 2003 and 204 studies), but the whole of the European Union. With partners across Europe, all 25 countries of the Union will be screened for such pioneering new applications of ICT and assessing user-producer relationships that may foster new such applications to the benefit of Europe’s citizens.
Contacts have been taken in the Middle East to include also the Arab countries in an mWatch Mediterranean. Similarly, deliberations have recently taken place in southern Africa to assess also the options for an mWatch Africa, using similar methodologies as in Europe, across the countries in Africa south of the Sahara.
The current project — called mWatch Europe — is to start formally at the end of 2004 and address systematically the strategic issue of mobility on the basis of new information and communications technology (ICT). The focus is strictly put on pioneering, user-driven mobile applications designed and developed for business firms as well as for public agencies, for professionals as well as for ordinary citizens.
Seamless connectivity opens up for qualitative changes in mobility at work, in education and training, for entertainment and leisure, in public health, etc. Seamless connectivity or true mobility in the emerging Information Society may actually come to represent a major shift in the evolution towards a more digitized economy and society in Europe. By identifying, analysing and exposing pioneering mobile applications, the project should improve networking among the designers, developers and early users of inventive mobile applications. By benchmarking such new applications with regard also to actual user needs, the project should help diffuse and implement novel mobile applications at a very early stage in a product cycle.
To address systematically the evolution of mobile applications of ICT all over Europe, and to approach also the regional clustering of ICT-competencies, the project’s objectives include the creation of insights into how new mobile applications are unfolding in Europe. Emphasis will be put on:
1. Benchmarking of pioneering mobile applications, developed by European-based firms and institutions in order to expose good entrepreneurship, to understand superior framework conditions for invention, and to stimulate innovation and related diffusion of novel products and services.
2. Functional interactions among the public and private players that develop and diffuse new mobile applications in Europe, including the involvement of various professional groups and ordinary citizens in the actual development and implementation of mobile applications.
3. Creation and support of a pan-European network of communication and interaction to exchange ideas for new mobile applications, and to foster their further development in the private sector, among public institutions and in civil society at large.
4. The scope and particular strengths of the economic and other forces driving various modes of developing and using new mobile applications among business firms and public institutions across Europe.
The project overall goal is to identify and expose broadly Europe’s most forward-looking and promising developments with regard to new mobile applications across sectors. This should be a real-time activity by focusing on innovative examples of mobile applications as they are being developed and/or just being launched in Europe.
Cooperation is invited. Further details are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing the Digital Divide: New project in the making
In line with the Orbicom work program and in accordance with my earlier proposals to address also the efforts to close the Digital Divide, the Copenhagen Chair has supported a set of attempts in Africa to share information, create new ideas for community user information systems and develop these systems into viable and visible projects to be used by citizens in various countries of Africa as a platform for information sharing, intelligence gathering, and knowledge development. This should be in line of what UNESCO is already attempting by supporting projects and networks in various countries of West Africa.
Most recently, we have supported (from the Copenhagen Business School) a project (to be partially funded also by the European Commission in Brussels) that aims at establishing a regional (Southern African) forum to exploit policy complementarities in the application of ICTs to enhance rural (community level) development and service delivery. The forum will develop activities that would promote mutual benefits and increase access to market opportunities between Southern African rural communities and Europe.
The specific objectives would be:
a. To map Southern African research, development and implementation (RDI) resources and capabilities within the area of ICT;
b. To identify the challenges hindering the achievement of standards, sustainability and interoperability of ICTs for community development, not only in Southern African rural communities but also between them and Europe;
c. To define a regional program that would support the sustainable participation of Southern African countries in IST during FP6; and
d. To benchmark, validate and disseminate research, development and implementation results of ICTs for community development among participating countries and international partners.
In order to achieve the above objectives, it is planned to establish cooperation with other international endeavours in the field of ICTs for development. These include the biennial conference of the International Federation of Information Processing (IFIP) referred to as the World Information Technology Forum (WITFOR). WITFOR focuses on the formation of the ICT-enabled development agenda and aims at assisting developing nations to implement sustainable strategies for the application of ICT. WITFOR 2005 is planned to take place in Botswana in August 2005.
The early results of this project will serve as a major input into the WITFOR agenda.
It is also expected that the work of this forum will benefit from experiences of European partners involved in various activities in eRural, and eEurope as well as similar initiatives by UNESCO, the World Bank and UNDP’s InfoDev programme.
The project is called: Closing the Digital Divide. Information and Communications Technologies for Community Development in Southern Africa.
The coordinating person is Moses Mengu of the Botswana Technology Centre. Email: email@example.com. The partners include institutions in Namibia, South Africa, Italy and Denmark. The work will take place all across southern Africa and involve institutions, firms and individuals across sectors. There will be a set of country studies and a series of workshop.
Jan Annerstedt, Copenhagen