World Information Society Day Declared

The United Nations declared May 17 as World Information Society Day, in recognition of the International Telecommunications Union as the UN agency for telecommunications and information and communication technologies.

Among the activities and developments marking the event is the establishment of a new website to monitor progress on building the information society, organizers describe.

The date, 17 May, long recognized as World Telecommunication Day, marks the establishment of ITU in 1865, one year after Samuel Morse sent his first public telegraph message.

Endorsed by the UN General Assembly, World Information Society Day focuses global attention annually on reaching the enormous benefits of the digital revolution in information and communication technologies to all the world’s inhabitants.

World Information Society Day is dedicated this year to making available the benefits of the digital revolution to young people everywhere.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) recognized the young as the future workforce and the earliest adopters of ICT, and called for their empowerment as key contributors to building an inclusive Information Society.

World leaders stated their commitment at the Summit in Tunis to actively engage youth in innovative ICT-based development programmes and widen opportunities for them.

In his message on World Information Society Day, focusing this year on the theme ‘Connecting the Young’, UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon said in a release, “Young people are among the most prolific and knowledgeable users of ICT. I urge policy-makers and industry leaders to put their minds together and to work cooperatively with children and youth to produce suitable technologies, applications and services to facilitate access to information and communication technologies.” He added that young people with access to ICT often surge ahead in their quest for knowledge, and find it possible to “leapfrog” communication barriers with considerable ease.

“In an increasingly networked world, the young are not only the beneficiaries but often the driving force behind the latest innovations and practices,” Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General, said in his message. “The key to achieving the development aspirations of the world’s inhabitants lies in investing in the future generation, especially by improving access to communication among today’s children and enhancing their capacities.”

This year, ITU focuses on integrating youth issues into the development of information and communication technologies and services as a means of offering the young more opportunities and better choice of options for the future. ITU’s youth programme active since 2003 lays strong emphasis on capacity building, education and work experience in ICT. The Youth Education Scheme “YES” extends scholarships to future leaders in telecommunication and related fields, mainly from least developed and developing countries.

Princess of Qatar launches campaign to support ITU youth initiative
HRH Sheikha Al-Mayassa Bint Hamad Al-Thani, Princess of Qatar and Chair of the Reach out to Asia initiative will launch a campaign along with ITU to secure CHF 2 Million to support 250 new scholarships in addition to creating 1000 new internship opportunities within the next three years, by 2010. “I am very pleased to launch this campaign together with ITU and to promote access to ICT education and work opportunities for young people,” Sheikha Al-Mayassa said in a release. “It is essential that governments, industry, international organizations and civil society come together to help youth around the world participate in the social and economic development of their communities by leveraging the potential of education and information and communication technologies.”

ITU’s youth programmes are supported by Member States as well as the private sector, including ALCATEL-Lucent and Thales Communications (France), ANACOM (Portugal), National Telecommunication Institute (Egypt), NOKIA Corporation (Finland) and Vodafone (U.K).
ITU World Information Society Award announced
The highlight of the global event marking the World Day will be the presentation of the ITU World Information Society Award. H.E. Dr Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, First Lady of the Dominican Republic, Ms Mitchell Baker, on behalf of Mozilla Corporation of the United States, and Professor Mark Krivocheev of the Russian Federation are the 2007 laureates.

Last year’s laureates were H.E. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Professor Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director of Grameen bank, who subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize. The ITU World Information Society Award honours those who have made a significant personal contribution towards building the information society. Personal achievement may take the form of social accomplishment, mobilization of public opinion, or a key technical innovation.
Dr Cedeño de Fernández has contributed to making technological services available to inhabitants of the most impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic, empowering them to become a part of the development process and contribute towards the social, cultural and economic advancement of the country. 135 Community Technology Centres provide telecommunication and ICT services, focusing on programmes that include women and young girls.
The Mozilla Corporation is a global community and public benefit organization dedicated to improving the Internet experience for people everywhere. Its mission is to develop world-class, open source, fully standards-compliant Internet technologies and applications. Its software is available for download free of charge and anyone can have access to the source code and may modify it and redistribute it subject to the Mozilla public license. Ms Mitchell Baker, described as the Chief Lizard Wrangler at Mozilla, seeks to integrate open source development techniques with the world of commercial software development.

Professor Mark Krivocheev receives a lifetime award for his work in developing subjective assessments of the quality of television pictures, in particular high–definition television (HDTV). Following the adoption of the Recommendations on HDTV by the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR) at ITU, Prof Krivocheev received worldwide acclaim and was accorded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de Mérite of France.

A number of steps related to the implementation of the action lines of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) will be taken in a cluster of events in Geneva, 14-25 May 2007.
In order to evaluate progress on WSIS implementation at the national level, ITU has solicited inputs through a dedicated website to provide visibility for country initiatives and best practices while facilitating collaborative efforts to move forward. A number of countries have already submitted their contributions.