ISOC Around the World: Thinking globally, Acting Locally
By the millennium, more than 3 billion people--more than half the world's population--were living in urban areas. The sustainable economic and social development of cities and towns has become a major global issue. As the level of government closest to the people, local authorities are in the best position to understand both the changing requirements of their citizens and the opportunities presented by new information tech-nologies and the Internet. As the complex problems of urban governance become more pressing, the challenges may be tackled more effectively through partnerships with the private sector, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations, such as ISOC, educational institutions, and citizens.
Just as the Internet transformed communication and scientific research in the past decade, it is now changing commerce, education, and social exchange around the world. This transformation is having a profound impact on corporations large and small, government al and nongovernmental organizations, business professionals, educators, and ordinary citizens. The Internet is changing the lives of citizens throughout the world, offering opportunities to work more closely with people everywhere and to share experiences and learning.
In the information age, the majority of the world's people have yet to gain access to--let alone benefit from--the most basic telecommunications infrastructures. In order to achieve sustainable economic growth, developing countries must have access to technological progress. In this regard, the Internet Society plays a significant role in educating institutions, governments, and individuals around the world through its conferences, tutorials, network training workshops, and other programs. ISOC's Network Training Workshops for developing countries help individuals in developing nations implement their Internet infrastructures and train eminently qualified Internet leaders in those regions. In this context, the Arab Towns Organization (ATO) and the Internet Society have agreed to cooperate in a joint program aimed at implementing a network of Sustainable Internet Training Centers (SITS) in the Middle East. The centers, designed to help advance the development of the Internet and related infrastructure in the Middle East, will remain in place year-round--focusing on training trainers--and will be available for use by the general public when not in use as a training center. The courses will be available to municipal and government employees as well as citizens.
Arab Towns Organization, www.ato.net
The Arab Towns Organization is a regional nongovernmental organization specializing in municipal and town affairs in the Arab world. It is nonpolitical, has no ideological affiliations, and does not interfere in the political affairs of any country. Established in 1967, it is headquartered in Kuwait City.
The goals of ATO include encouraging cooperation and exchange of expertise among Arab towns, raising the standard of municipal services and utilities in Arab towns, preservation of the character and heritage of Arab towns, development and modernization of municipal and local government institutions and legislation, and providing financial loans for member towns to assist them in implementing their developmental projects.
To fully serve its mission, ATO has created two institutions: the Arab Towns Development Fund (ATDF), which specializes in financing municipal projects of member towns through medium-term soft loans, and the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI), which is based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a scientific and educational body of ATO supervising the training courses.
SITC also works in partnership with ISOC chapters around the world.
From Tunis to Hanoi, to Bamako, to Bhubaneswar, the Internet Society's regional training workshops bring the expertise of Internet professionals to countries and regions around the world in the early stages of Internet infrastructure development.
Jacques Guidon, previously with INRIA and currently with the University of Nantes in France, was instrumental in launching the regional workshop after INET'96 and has continued to drive their success. Since that time, many have benefited from the training provided by these workshops. These individuals have played a significant role in the development of the Internet in those countries with Internet connections of under five years.
Much more than just a portable version of NTW, these workshops are designed to train professionals on the configuration, maintenance, and management of information networks.
The workshops reinforce information infrastructures on the ground and facilitate the effective transfer of technology. They are structured to ensure that the efforts will be self-sustaining--that motivated individuals and groups remain not only to train new Internet professionals but also to carry on the work through various forms such an ISOC chapter or development and maintenance of a local Web site.
Sponsored by the Internet Society and the European Union, the Internet Fiesta is an annual international celebration designed to increase access to the Internet and promote its use worldwide.
The third annual Internet Fiesta will be held March 2-4, 2001. During these three days, Internet services and solutions offered by citizens, companies, and governments will be featured on the Internet and in villages, streets, shops and cafes.
In the past, more than 1,000 events in over 35 countries have offered a wide range of innovative activities in developing countries.
For more information, visit the Internet Fiesta international site at www.internet-fiesta.org/.
Examples of Activities in Developing Countries during the Most Recent Internet Fiesta
Papua New Guinea
The University of Papua New Guinea and the National Association of NGOs offered a joint training program on Web development.
Republic of Korea
A film, image, and sound gallery explored creative image communication through the Internet.
A cyberfestival featured performers, music, and free access to 200 PCs with Internet connections.
Sounds and images of Club Rio Carnaval were broadcast live.
Active involvement of ISOC members at the local, national, and regional levels through participation in chapters is one of the most effective ways the Internet Society carries out its mission in developing countries.
ISOC chapters enable people to become more personally involved in the future of the Internet and how the Internet will affect their area.
A chapter brings more focus to local and regional issues and offers the ability to generate stronger input on global issues to the ISOC Secretariat.
Chapters also provide a way of networking more closely with other Internet-oriented people in a local/regional area. There is also the opportunity to set up programs and activities that are meaningful to people and their compatriots.
The majority of current ISOC chapters and those in formation are located in the developing world.
ISOC Chapters in Developing Countries/Countries with Economies in Transition
Egypt, Arab Republic of Gabon
Gambia, Republic of The
Korea, Republic of
Tatarstan, Russian Federation
Chapters in Formation
Georgia, Republic of
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
Internet Society Geneva 2000 Roundtable
As part of the Geneva 2000 event held in conjunction with the follow-up conference to the World Summit on Social Development, held in Geneva during June 2000, the Internet Society hosted a round-table discussion called "The Internet and Social Development World-wide: The Internet Is for Everyone." (www.isoc.org/geneva2000)
ISOC and China Association for Science and Technology Professional Exchange Program
In June 2000, ISOC sponsored a delegation to the People's Republic of China, comprising representatives of government, business, and education. (www.isoc.org/china2000/)