WITSA singles out high-speed access

 MONTREAL – At the close of its World Congress on Information Technology here Wednesday, the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) http://www.witsa.org unveiled its fourth Digital Society Action Plan, or what the conference’s program chair, Anthony D. Williams, referred to as the Montreal Declaration.

The plan from the alliance, a group representing IT vendors through country associations, is not a weighty tome, nor a particularly controversial one.

It applauds the rapid pace of technological innovation and the opportunities its authors say that creates. It points to the
importance of good public policy in continuing that change, and renews WITSA’s commitment to working with policymakers to promote such policy.

“WITSA is pleased to see that most of the world’s governments, businesses, society and citizens are now aware of, and recognize, the significant transformational impact of (information and communications technologies) and other digital technologies,” says the declaration.

Finally, the action plan emphasizes the importance of high-speed communications. “We have to have reasonably priced access to high-speed communication, because our members tell us it just underpins everything,” said John Higgins, chairman of WITSA’s Global Policy Action and Trade Committee and director general of Digital Europe, in introducing the plan.

“All this depends on the foundation layer – Internet access – enabled through open, light and transparent governance, and investment in infrastructure and connectivity, encouraged by a competitive and supportive business environment,” the document continues.

“WITSA commits to work with all governments, stakeholder organizations and business leaders to develop ways and means for these technologies, their application and benefits to be available to all. WITSA will support its members to collaborate and fund innovative projects that enable and improve access.”

“Good public policy is absolutely critical to delivering the promise of the digital age,” Higgins said.

To that end, WITSA has released a number of other policy documents, on issues such as the importance of cybersecurity, a plan for encouraging a thriving technology industry, and, just this week, a paper on internet governance that argues against an expanded role for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in overseeing the internet.

As interesting as the document itself was the process that went into both producing the manifesto and defining the agenda for the three-day conference. Williams said WITSA collaborated with IBM, using the company’s online “jam” platform https://www.collaborationjam.com/, to conduct its World Tech Jam, which involved about 11,000 participants from 84 countries.

“There is a huge community externally, not in this room here, engaged in the issues that we’ve been talking about,” Williams said.

Collaborating under the guidance of “dozens and dozens” of moderators,the jam participants came up with ideas about the influence of digital technology on health care, government, education and other areas. Sessions at the Montreal conference addressed all these and other topics.

WITSA said the Montreal Declaration builds on its three previous such documents: the Bermuda Declaration in 2009, the Amsterdam Declaration of 2010, and the Guadalajara Declaration of 2011.
Canada’s WITSA board representative is Karna Gupta, CEO of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC).

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