I had a dream once – I was walking along a river in China and then an audible alarm emitting from my mobile phone got my attention. When I looked at the screen, surprisingly, a symbol with a red border showing rising water and a human figure running uphill towards shelter, was displaying. Later I realized, being illiterate in Mandarin, a text message would have done me no good. However, the symbol made perfect sense. It was an immediate threat of a sudden-onset flash flood (possibly caused by a damn burst).
LIRNEasia Senior Research Fellow, Payal Malik, recently spoke the 2011 WSIS Forum, entitled, ‘Measuring the ICT sector for policy analysis‘ held on the 17th of May in Geneva. The session aimed to provide a brief overview of recent activities of the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development, including a progress report on e-government indicators. It also looked at the emerging issues to be included in its work agenda to advance ICT measurement. Payal presented her research on ICT Statistics in India for Policy Analysis. This research was carried out by Orbicom, UQAM, Montreal and funded by IDRC.
I had the opportunity attend the discussion by Tim Berners-Lee and Gordon Brown in Geneva, speak on the “future of the web“, a public lecture hosted by the Université de Genève, April 06, 2011. The two discussants didn’t have anything new to share; they were talking the same language of tapping in to the untapped through mobile phones; nothing new to LIRNEasia (see our Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid studies). The WWW Foundation has realized the reach of the mobile phone to deliver the web to those 80% that have not yet been exposed. What we were more eager to hear was the defense on the claim that the “web is dead, long live the internet“. In defense – “No the web isn’t dead” with the success story pointing to the Wikipedia.
At the “multi-year expert meeting” on services, development and trade: the regulatory and institutional dimension, organized by UNCTAD in Geneva, there was rich discussion on the increasing importance of regulation in an environment in which services trade is assuming greater importance. As attention shifts to services trade (for example, the most important element of the proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and Sri Lanka, is the services chapter), there is of necessity a need to start looking at regulatory restrictions on services trade. Tariffs do not apply to services, so the only barriers are opaque, arbitrary and discriminatory regulatory provisions. This has been well recognized in telecom, with the reference paper on regulation being one of the key contributions to liberalization made by the GATS. The issue being raised at the UNCTAD meeting was whether there was value in exploring the regulatory aspects of trade in other infrastructure services.
Helani Galpaya is attending the 2008 Global Event on Measuring the Information Society in Geneva, Switzerland on 27 – 29 May. She is acting as a Facilitator in a session on Advancing the ICT Agenda . The Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative to improve the availability and quality of ICT data and indicators, particularly in developing countries. It provides an open framework for coordinating ongoing and future activities, and for developing a coherent and structured approach to advancing the development of ICT indicators globally. George Sciadas of StatsCanada also made a presentation at this event.
Will authorities be able to use this satellite system to ensure that hazard information gets to the vulnerable in a timely and accurate manner? Detection technology is available but it is up to governments to not only use it but find the means to convey the message to vulnerable communities. “A global satellite system should come on line next decade, potentially saving billions of dollars and thousands of lives by boosting preparedness for natural disasters, a top scientist said on Wednesday. Monitoring changes in climate, the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) should also help health officials prevent epidemics and guard against man-made environmental damage, said Jose Achache, head of the group behind the project. “I’m an optimistic guy.
Our friend and colleague from TVEAP, Nalaka Gunawardene, writes from Geneva: Message to aid workers: Go mobile — or get lost! « Moving Images, Moving People! It might be that aid workers are all frustrated computer geeks…because all their talk was about collaborative and networking software, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the use of really high resolution (read: oh-so-sexy) satellite imagery, and the latest analytical tools — all requiring high levels of skill and personal computers with loads of processing power. But no mobile phones! This was too much to let pass, so I raised the question: did you guys even consider this near ubiquitous, mass scale technology and its applications in crisis and disaster situations?
U.N. Agency Gives Boost to WiMax – New York Times The United Nations telecommunications agency in Geneva gave the upstart technology called WiMax a vote of approval, providing a sizable victory for Intel and something of a defeat for competing technologies from Qualcomm and Ericsson. The International Telecommunication Union’s radio assembly agreed late Thursday to include WiMax, a wireless technology that allows Internet and other data connections across much broader areas than Wi-Fi, as part of what is called the third-generation family of mobile standards. That endorsement opens the way for many of the union’s member countries to devote a part of the public radio spectrum to WiMax, and receivers for it could be built into laptop computers, phones, music players and other portable devices.
Looks like international law is being made as we speak. According to the UN, basic human rights are violated when countries cut off Internet access. Burma is not the first. King Gyanendra of Nepal cut off everything in his palace coup. If cutting off Internet is a violation of human rights, what is cutting off phone service to entire regions like Jaffna?
Readers of this website will know that from 2005 we have been pushing hard for action to reduce the risks of disasters and to better prepare people to save their lives. Starting from an effort to get government to create a national early warning system, we shifted to community-based disaster preparedness work at the last mile in association with Sarvodaya. It is heartening to see the risk reduction focus gaining acceptance worldwide: News & Broadcast – Global Gathering Seeks to Reduce Disaster Risk Nations and institutions are looking for other ways to protect an estimated 3.4 billion people living in areas prone to at least one natural hazard, such as flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes. A Global Hotspots Analysis conducted by the World Bank and Columbia University estimates 105 million people are exposed to three or more natural hazards.
Rohan Samarajiva and Divakar Goswami, chaired sessions at the first Telecom World event , ITU Telecom World 2006, to be held in Asia, in Hong Kong SAR, 3-8 December 2006. This event, held once in four years, is normally held in Geneva. It was moved to Hong Kong to recognize the leading role of the Asia Pacific in the ICT sector today (see Figure 1).Samarajiva and Goswami were the only persons from Sri Lanka featured in the program of the Forum at Telecom World. Figure 1: Goswami, lead researcher on LIRNEasia’s Indonesia ICT sector and regulatory performance study, chaired a session that included keynote presentations by Dr Sofyan Djalil, the Indonesian Minister of ICTs.