CNN looks ahead to the United Nations’ World Summit on the Information Society, which takes place in Geneva December 10-12, and talks to Nitin Desai, the planner-in-chief.
Desai says the Summit aims to achieve two fundamental things. First, the U.N. wants to formulate a set of policy goals for technology that the world’s countries will agree upon.
Just as one example, Desai suggests we might agree to connect all the world’s schools to the Internet by some specific date. Companies, governments (both donors and recipients), and NGOs would then begin working together toward this goal. Other goals might include timetables for getting citizens access to government information, or goals for e-health programs in developing countries.
Another big part of this event will be what he calls a “policy trade show,” which highlights successful applications and systems that can aid development. Here are two examples of the kinds of initiatives Desai hopes to highlight:
In India peasants in several states can now access land records online. While farmers usually have to take a lengthy, often multi-day trip to a local government center, now local entrepreneurs oversee kiosks where the farmers can look up the information they need to make a transaction or research a deed.
The mayor of Seoul, South Korea has put municipal contracts online for all to see. Now if you have a beef about a local road project that’s disrupting your neighborhood you can learn not only the name of the contractor, but who in government approved the deal.
“It’s harder to get people to throw away their computer every year,” he notes. “Now the opportunity is to get technology into geographies where it has not penetrated, and also to sell it into new areas of application.” He’s thinking specifically about new uses for tech in health, education, and government.
The goal should be 1:1 computing – one family, one computer; one employee, one computer; one business, one server. All of this at between USD 10-15 per person/family per month. To make this happen, one needs server-centric computing, thin clients, open-source software with remote management of the IT infrastructure.