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Strategic and Business Planning -
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Strategic Planning for Information Technology and Telecommunications:

Exploiting Global Information Exchange in the 1990s and Beyond.


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Preface

This page describes some of the background for strategic planning for information technology and telecommunications: exploiting global information exchange in the 1990s and beyond. It originally looked at questions from a civic government point of view; but it applies to individuals and institutions of all sorts.

It anticipates a planning process for the community as a whole. It contemplates advancing the understanding that this is a survival issue for all individuals and all institutions, and assisting with the question: "how do we encourage the community to be excited about becoming "wired" for the Information Age before it is too late?"

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Strategic Planning for Information
Technology and Telecommunications:

Exploiting Global Information Exchange in the 1990s and Beyond.

 

Background and Context

As very significant amounts of data and information are increasingly being developed and exchanged by individuals, businesses and governments, a strategic view of its importance is becoming necessary. Both the amount of data and the speed with which it can be moved have the potential to overtake those who are not now preparing to participate in and exploit its use. As we switched from an agricultural society to an industrialized society, we had somewhere between 100 and 200 years. In this century alone (and mainly in the last half) we have seen infrastructure and technology developments which have profoundly affected our circumstances.
  1. the National proliferation of conventional and nuclear electric power and telephone services,
  2. the emergence of network broadcast radio and television services, and
  3. the internal combustion engine, the automobile and the Interstate highway system, to name only a few.
Other technologies (all developed in the last 50 years) have revolutionized our ways of thinking and living. The jet engine, supersonic flight, rocket propulsion, space travel and satellites come to mind, along with the defeat of many communicable diseases, the use of ultrasound, heart surgery and organ transplants. The development of the transistor, the microwave oven, digital watches and calculators, lasers and, of course, the advent of nuclear armament have also occurred during that time. The office copier, facsimile machine and the cellular telephone come to mind in communications; credit cards, automatic teller machines and electronic data interchange come to mind in the conduct of commerce. But the development of the general-purpose stored-program computer may have been the most significant development of the period.

As the 21st century dawns, fundamental structural changes are becoming apparent in the way business is conducted in the developed world, in the workings of their markets and economies, and in society generally. These changes (and their unexpected boost to productivity) are attributable to the digitization and rapid, widespread creation, manipulation and exchange of knowledge, information and transactions. Together with increasing speeds and decreasing costs, they produce disruptive (sometimes near chaotic) changes in the value chains and business models in which we operate. This occurs because these are new tools for thinking, not just new tools for production (as we might view the electric motor, or mass production, for example). These new thinking tools can be applied to all of commerce, to all of recreation, to all of learning, indeed to all of life and society. This scope substantially exceeds any measure of the scope of the industrial revolution.

In February, 2000, the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy (BRIE) posted among their publications, "Tools for Thought: What is New and Important About the E-conomy?" by Stephen S. Cohen, J. Bradford DeLong and John Zysman. In this excellent, though longish paper, Cohen et al make some interesting points:

A much abbreviated version of this paper (only 8 pp) is also available with "An E-conomy?" as the title. Other papers on the new economy by Brad DeLong are also posted.

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The Computer as a Communication Device

In large part because of the computer's development, the switch from an industrialized society to an information society is now well underway, even though the very first computers were only unveiled a scant 50 years ago. Barely 25 years ago in 1970, there were only about 50,000 computers in existence world-wide. In 1990, after a remarkable period of growth, 50,000 computers were being sold every business day. And in 1995, that same number of computers were being manufactured and sold on average every 10 hours of each day of the year. The advent of the Personal Computer (PC) reduced the cost of computing power to some fraction of what it had been in the prior 35 years. When IBM picked a non- proprietary processor for their PC in 1980, the cost of computing took another precipitous plunge. Today costs continue to decline, even as processing speeds continue to increase.

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Information Age Computer Networks

Although many have thought of the computer mainly as an arithmetic engine or as a data transaction processor, its role as a communication device in accessing and moving data has now surpassed both of them in its importance to humanity (see Note 15 on speeds of networked PCs). This instantaneous world-wide movement of, and easy access to these very large volumes of data, together have informed and democratized human society in unprecedented ways. These abilities have been variously characterized as "Inter-networking", the "Information Revolution," the "Information Superhighway," the "Digital Revolution," the foundation of the "Information Society" and so on. There is no universal definition of the Information Age, but it contains the following components:
  1. Instantaneous global exchange of large amounts of information (text, images and sounds).
  2. Provision of services through application of this exchanged information (either by collecting information, adding to it, distributing it, or a combination), such as news services, online chat and gaming groups, weblogs (blogs), social networking sites, and many others.
    1. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has posted a report Social networking sites and our lives (pdf): How people’s trust, personal relationships, and civic and political involvement are connected to their use of social networking sites and other technologies (June 2011). The report, authored by Keith N. Hampton and Lauren Sessions Goulet of University of Pennsylvania and Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell, of the Pew Internet Project, seek to answer questions "about the social impact of widespread use of social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, and Twitter. Do these technologies isolate people and truncate their relationships? Or are there benefits associated with being connected to others in this way? The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project decided to examine SNS in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement." The Summary of findings is only three pages, and is a quick, informative read.
  3. A natural tendency among users to copy and re-distribute, often without context, confirmation or attribution, sometimes with less-than-friendly intent, and virtually never with notification to originators.
  4. The use of a variety of so-called carriers: copper wire, coaxial cable, microwaves, radio frequencies, satellite transponders, optical fibers.
  5. The use of a large variety of devices: print media, broadcasting, cable TV, library archives, desk-top computers and printers, telephones, facsimile machines, scanners, cameras, compact disks, pagers, cellular phones, electronic data interchange, mobile telecommunications, the Internet, wide-area and local-area computer networks, electronic bulletin boards, e-mail, mailing lists, newsgroups, on-line forums, conferences and chat lines, weblogs or blogs, social networking sites, bulk file transfers, and the World-Wide Web with Internet- enabled wireless devices of all sorts.
The Information Age also has the following attributes (each amplified below):
  1. Communities or Associations of Interest,
  2. Intellectual interaction,
  3. High speed of operation, providing interactive immediacy,
  4. Rapidly falling costs along with rapidly evolving changes,
  5. No discernible central management or coordination, and
  6. The potential to revolutionize like nothing else we have ever seen or read about in history.
Global communities of interest [Note 13] have been assembled through use of mailing lists, electronic bulletin boards, Internet Newsgroups, blogs, social networking sites, and  through other on-line forums, chat groups and gaming sites. Traditional communities of proximity are augmented by these communities of interest, where hobbies, medical conditions, professions, athletic and sporting events, automobiles, movie and video heroes, gossip, social and political commentary, and virtually any other interest are discussed and debated with world-wide perspective and participation. A posting in an Internet Newsgroup, or social networking site, for example, may be read by tens or even hundreds of thousands of individuals from among the 100 million or so Internet subscribers, sometimes within a few hours. These communities of interest are formed substantially without regard to geographic proximity or political boundaries. And in the foreseeable future, if costs continue to decline and accessibility continues to expand, the only limits will be the levels of interest themselves. The associations thus formed are without precedent for humankind, and promise great potential for cooperative problem-solving, skill exchange and unified action. Communities of interest may be long- term or short-term as associations are formed to meet particular needs, and dissolved when no longer pertinent. Dynamic or roving communities of interest are formed around systems like Third Voice (now gone) and Google, which enable subscribers to post chat notes, or spawn spontaneous chat groups based on common websites visited. The point here is that traditional communities, formed by proximity to employment, will become communities of choice as increasing numbers of people relocate near centers of recreational, family or creative interest rather than near centers of employment. Increasingly, telecommuting will be an enabler favoring both desirable employment options and desirable living locations.

The exchange of e-mail messages, participation in blogs and social networking sites, use of gaming sites, mailing lists, bulletin boards and newsgroups, and the browsing of information on the World-Wide Web stimulates intellectual interaction unlike any that humankind has seen to date. Print and broadcast media have traditionally provided a degree of one-to-many intellectual transfer, but very little interactivity. Because of their large and relatively heterogeneous audiences, and because of the financial requirement to please larger and larger audiences, only relatively low levels of intellectual sophistication have been reached (witness reality TV). There are also many, who, by nature are not skilled participators in traditional social interaction. Some of these will emerge as significant participators or even leaders in these associations of intellectual interaction. When these abilities for intellectual interaction are carried out in communities of interest which are very specialized (but can contain a great many of those like-minded people from across the globe) the potential for creativity and problem solution rises substantially above what is otherwise attainable. In the foreseeable future, it may be possible to form a community of virtually all the persons on the planet who share a common intellectual interest. Global learning and understanding could be profoundly affected by the debates, conclusions and actions of such a community.

The speed with which communication can be exchanged using electronic media is also very significant. By some measures (even among those who correspond regularly using traditional media), communication increases when e-mail is available. In the professions, clear evidence exists to indicate that when a response to an electronic mail query can be in hand within minutes of the query being posed, problem-solving is enhanced considerably. It also results in more frequent exchange of views between its practitioners, presumably because of its convenience. Thus, when information is published, it can contain more current content along with the results of greater collaboration and evidence of a more comprehensive world-wide view. Learning and understanding are significantly improved for everyone under such circumstances.

There is a caveat to this speed attribute, however. There is no shortage of technologies whose benefits can be gained as soon as (or whenever) the technologies are adopted. In the case of the Information Revolution, however, there is a significant strategic competitive component that will be seized by those who take advantage of it first. Those who seize it later will have advantage of those competitive components which have not already been monopolized by others. An information society requires the ability to handle large quantities of information in many work assignments. Widespread use of information will therefore become an important factor in retaining economic growth and employment levels. In government, we need to be cognizant of the significant impairment of our citizens which will result if our constituency is kept out or left out of this revolution. Our schools, in particular, need to be aware of the significant competitive advantage that can be seized by graduates who have gained the skills and who are familiar with the tools and techniques of the Information Age. At a time when an increasing proportion of the world's enterprises can be conducted at the end of a suitable phone line anywhere in the world, governments at all levels need to adopt policies that put their constituencies in a position to compete with anybody, anywhere in the world, at any time.

The relatively small costs of improving information infrastructure (less costly than roads or utility infrastructure) make it attractive financially, especially when considered in terms of its considerable benefits. The rapidly falling costs and rapidly evolving changes of the Information Age also add urgency to the need for action. Not many of the elements of cost in government services are declining. We need to take advantage of these areas where costs are declining in order to contain overall costs of service delivery. In spite of these promises, most government budgets are very constrained. Allocations may still need to be moved from other less productive or more costly uses to those with greater promise. We also need to take full advantage of world-wide inter-networking to seek out and obtain the best ideas and the most imaginative innovations of our counterparts from all over the world. We will only be able to cope with and take advantage of the increasing pace of change (and the increasing discontinuities of these changes) if we use the very best available ideas from the most forward- thinking persons in every aspect of our work. We will need to adopt a deliberate, well-informed strategic integration of telecommunications policy with other policies and strategies in order to be sure we gain an equitable balance of its considerable benefits (both for the delivery of government services, and for the work, education and recreation of those in the community).

The global exchanges of ideas (which the Internet and other world-wide communication means are providing) are substantially spontaneous and without any central management or coordination. It is a virtual "free-for-all" in the best (and worst) sense. It is vaguely reminiscent of our capital markets, only without the benefits of much slower growth and years of regulation. As one anxious observer is reported to have said (somewhat aghast), "everybody does just as they please!"

Traditionally, we are familiar with systems in which a few authoritative information providers and their editors confirm and challenge and verify (and often catalog) before publication. The free expression modes of the Information Age have none of these in the same degree of predictability or reliability. Some of the persons who have provided these services traditionally (and whose reputations we know) will surely continue as Information Age providers, others will no doubt emerge. But many, many others are inexperienced, unknowing or just plain inept. Their contribution is and will increasingly be there too. The credible incompetents have always been a major threat in information exchange; but now (with the anonymity of the network) their discovery may be even more elusive. And fraudulent information will abound, sometimes skillfully woven into an otherwise credible context. In this milieu the skill to analyze and to independently evaluate and verify information will be essential. Good catalogs of the currently published information stocks, for example, are reasonably complete. In the free creation and publication arena of the Information Age, such catalogs are only now just beginning to emerge. Because of the explosive growth rates, however, cataloging techniques will need to be improved and speeded up substantially in order to keep abreast of increasing publication rates.

Librarians and others with these cataloging skills and disciplines will be in great demand to provide structure and order to this flood of information. Critical evaluation and analysis of the credibility of informaiton sources will become increasingly important. Until the Librarians and others are able to keep the catalogs up to date, individual experience, ability to search, knowledge of reliable sources and know- how in analysis and verification will be required by every participant. In this effort, there is no substitute for the experience of learning-by-doing; and in order to gain that experience, we need to start at once (if only to be effective and comfortable in keeping abreast of developments in our fields of greatest interest).

The Information Age is sweeping upon us like a tidal wave (whether we are prepared or not). Its potential to revolutionize ways of working, thinking, learning and living can hardly be over-stated. Its essence is not merely the connection (the ability to access and contribute to information flows); it is not even the new associations, contacts and interest groups that are formed. It is the broadened understanding of a more global point of view, the products of the analysis, assimilation and integration of more information, and the addition of this increased understanding to the information which is passed on that is the strategically important outcome of being connected to the Information Superhighway. It is this adding of value to the information flows, and the associated teaching and learning, which will position us to exploit global information exchange and collaboration in the 1990s and beyond.

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What does it mean to Municipal Government?

Miles, R. Fidelman, in his paper: "Life in the Fastlane: a Municipal Roadmap for the Information Superhighway" [Note 1], points out that "a hundred years ago, lack of a railroad stop condemned many towns to a lingering death. Thirty years ago, Interstate interchanges helped many communities to prosper, while those on back roads stagnated. Now the information superhighway is coming." He then asks: "Will your town be ready?" The U.S. National Information Infrastructure Agenda for Action promises "a seamless web of communications networks, computers, databases and consumer electronics that will change forever the way people live, work and interact with each other." The Internet today consists of some 25,000 networks linked together in a "telephone system for computers" that links commercial, government and academic networks. Federal, provincial/state and even some local governments disseminate information routinely over the Internet. Our challenge now is to build electronic city streets to link homes, libraries, schools, hospitals and businesses, and to provide these information services everywhere.

 Properly connected, these networks portend great promise for municipal governments, including at least the following.

The City of San Diego adopted in late 1994 a Telecommunications Policy [Note 2] that used the model from the League of California Cities. That policy recognized: Its objectives included improved administrative efficiency in service delivery, reduced budget deficits, improved democratic governance, improved equity in delivery of government services to citizens with low and moderate incomes, and those with limited mobility, reducing air pollution, traffic congestion and energy consumption through telecommuting, distance learning, etc., encouraging economic development, and ensuring affordable universal access and ability to contribute for all citizens.

The Policy included provisions:

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Universal Guiding Democratic Principles

Fundamental democratic principles guide government policy at all levels. Here the fundamental democratic right is to communicate freely with others: in the community, the state, the nation and the world. Government's role is to assure these fundamental democratic rights in freely elected democratic countries.
  1. Universal ability to access the information (at an affordable price). As the Internet is developed and expanded, care must be exercised at every turn to assure that economically disadvantaged and rural citizens are not excluded from access to these information flows purely because costs exceed their means, or distances are inconvenient.

  2. .
  3. Universal ability to contribute new information, ideas and debate. As discussion extends to world-wide constituencies, every individual has a potential contribution to make to the welfare of the whole. Individuals suffer from a lack of information; and society suffers from the imbalance in participation if some groups are preferred over others. Governments have an obligation to adopt policies and practices which mitigate effectively against these exclusions.
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National Strategy Initiatives

The following examples highlight what credible national governments are saying about their policies and associated objectives, their assessment of the urgency for action and their response to this challenging opportunity. These excerpts are by no means exhaustive. Rather, they are based on one or two recent comprehensive reports on information strategies in each selected country. Only the most significant points are excerpted here; and many such points are left out in cases where that point is adequately made in the report of another national government. Emphasis has been added where appropriate to the aims of this planning process. The "Notes and Bibliography" section below contains links to the reports cited.

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Canada

The Canadian Treasury Board has posted "Strategic Directions for Information Management and Information Technology: Enabling 21st Century Service to Canadians," and other information management reports. The 1999 Strategic Directions report describes "a new vision for its relationship with Canadians, characterized as citizen-centred government. It is a vision that recognizes the different ways that people interact with their government: as taxpayers who expect value and results; as clients who expect accessible, quality services; and as citizens who participate in the democratic process." The Treasury Board's Chief Information Officer Branch (CIOB) at their Government On-line website, also posts "Government On-line: Serving Canadians in a Digital World." Earlier, the Canada's Minister of Industry, in "The Canadian Information Highway" [Note 3] indicated that "a new knowledge-based economy that is emerging in Canada requires a new advanced infrastructure -- the electronic highway." Additional excerpts follow.

 "Building on existing and planned communications networks," he continued, "this infrastructure will become a 'network of networks,' linking Canadian homes, businesses, governments, and institutions to a wide range of interactive services from entertainment, education, cultural products and social services to data banks, computers, electronic commerce, banking and business services."

 The report goes on to indicate that the enabling effects of the information highway will be felt in all industry sectors and regions of Canada.

The information highway initiative is essential for Canada's success in a new global economy in which value, jobs and wealth are based on the creation, movement and application of information.

 The Canadian government proposes three objectives to be pursued by the national information strategy:

Four principles are advanced to guide the development and implementation of the strategy: "If Canada is to succeed in a global economy based on the creation, movement, storage, retrieval and application of information, our communications networks must be knitted into a seamless and powerful information infrastructure serving all Canadians. If Canada does not match the efforts of its competitors in accelerating infrastructure development, opportunities for network, product and service development (and the resulting economic growth and new jobs) will be seized by firms [and individuals] in other countries."

 "Public policy has long sought to ensure that all Canadians, regardless of their income or place of residence, along with schools, universities, hospitals and research institutions, have access to basic telephone services. Universal access has been supported through cross-subsidies from long-distance to local services. In a competitive environment, prices move toward the cost of providing services, and there will be increased pressure to reduce or eliminate cross-subsidies. As new and enhanced services are introduced, the widest possible customer base will be increasingly necessary for the viability of electronic delivery of commercial and essential public services. The information highway system will play a critical role in employment, economic and social well-being, and the exercise of democratic values and citizenship. Without appropriate public policies, we run the risk of creating classes of information "haves" and "have-nots," with potentially serious downstream implications."

 "In the information society, success in school, the workplace, and everyday life will depend on learning new and more efficient ways to rapidly access a variety of information- and knowledge-based resources. The information highway will stimulate the development of an enormous range of education, training and lifelong learning applications that will provide access to courses, libraries, museums, specialized databases and other people, regardless of location. Users will need to understand how to access and use the information highway effectively if they are to derive the full benefit of these services."

 "The Canadian information highway can only be achieved collaboratively through the informed participation of all stakeholders and the coordinated investment of our collective resources."

See also: The Treasury Board of Canada, which has posted a "Common Look and Feel (CLF)" initiative with a substantial "Accessibility" section. This section points out that "Some Canadians rely on assistive technologies such as text readers, audio players and voice activated devices to overcome the barriers presented by standard technologies. Others may be limited by their own technology. But old browsers, non-standard operating systems, slow connections, small screens or text-only screens should not stand in the way of obtaining information that is available to others." The Government of Canada Internet Guide contains helpful sections for departments planning and setting up an Internet presence. The guide contains lots of rationale and general principles which would apply to any Internet website. Their "Universal Accessibility" section states "It is every Canadian's right to receive government information or service in a form that can be used, and it is the Government of Canada's obligation to provide it." The Treasury Board's "Government On-line" page provides links to components of their connectivity initiative. Their "Results for Canadians: A Management Framework for the Government of Canada" paper (Table of Contents only) provides additional insight. Through multiple e-government initiatives, Canada is striving to become the world's most wired government."

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Australia

A National Information Services Council report [Note 4] proclaims "as we move rapidly into the 'Information Age,' ... it is vitally important for Australia's continuing development as an equitable society that we ensure that all Australians can access and make productive use of information services." Excerpts from the report follow.

 The report recommends that government access provisions be governed by principles of:

"The age of information began with the development of the printing press. The public library established the principle of a common stock of information, held in common, for all citizens to use freely, creatively and productively, and was our first example of 'universal reach.' In public broadcasting and in public libraries, we recognized the right to access; in electronic communication we recognize the right to communicate. Barriers for women will need to be reconciled in circumstances where new interactive technologies are dominated by males."

 The principal roles of government in terms of access are:

"Fundamental rights that need to be addressed are a right to access information and a right to communicate. The major value of electronic networks is their capacity to accelerate the pace at which individuals, communities and enterprises can exchange ideas and create linkages which are crucial to innovation and prosperity. For a truly national network we need to involve all levels of government and the community in a partnership. A range of matters needs balanced policy and legislation including competition, consumer protection, Privacy rights, security and protection of intellectual property rights." [See also Note 11 below for a list of other copyright/intellectual property resources prepared by Kevin Savetz.]

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United States

The U.S. Web-based Education Commission has issued its December 2000 report, "The Power of the Internet for Learning: Moving from Promise to Practice" (Table of Contents; Foreword and Executive Summary). The commission made significant recommendations to the President and congress, including the following: "The question is no longer if the Internet can be used to transform learning in new and powerful ways. The Commission has found that it can. Nor is the question should we invest the time, the energy, and the money necessary to fulfill its promise in defining and shaping new learning opportunity. The Commission believes that we should. We all have a role to play. It is time we collectively move the power of the Internet for learning from promise to practice."
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The National Telecommunications and Information Administration report "Connecting the Nation" [Note 5] identified fundamental principles to guide the initiative:

  1. Promoting private sector investment.
  2. Providing and protecting competition [The significance here is that it will not be done via utility monopolies as it was for telephone, electric power, etc.; nor will it be done by quasi-monopolies as it was for TV networks; nor will it be done by governments, as it was for the Interstate highway system. Rather, it will be done by business investment, with help and regulation by government.]
  3. Extending universal access and ability to contribute to all at affordable prices (and avoiding creation of information "haves" and "have nots").
  4. Balancing open network information exchange with rights to privacy.
  5. Protecting intellectual property rights. [See also Note 11 below for a list of other copyright/intellectual property resources prepared by Kevin Savetz.]
  6. Acting as a catalyst to promote technological innovation and new applications.
  7. Promoting seamless, interactive, user-driven operation of National Information Infrastructure.
  8. Ensuring information security and network reliability.
  9. Improving management of the radio frequency spectrum.
  10. Coordinating with other levels of government and with other national governments.
  11. Providing access to and distribution of government information; and
  12. Encouraging flexibility and responsive government action.
"We are moving from an Industrial Age built on gears and sweat to an Information Age demanding skills and learning and flexibility. The workforce of the 21st century will need to be familiar with information technologies, adept at information gathering, and comfortable with the manipulation and interpretation of data. As the transition to a knowledge-based economy accelerates, America's children must have access to communications and information technologies in the classroom. Without these tools, American children will lack the necessary computer skills to compete in the 21st Century. Educational institutions, therefore will need to be equipped with information technologies and communications networks." Only this arrangement allows the students to develop problem solving approaches and skills which integrate these processes and techniques from the earliest problem-solving ages.

 "Powerful and revolutionary technological and economic forces are driving a transformation of our economy and our lives as the rigors of competition increasingly supplant a system of regulated monopolies." The most dominant forces are:

"Other indications that the transition to an information-intensive economy is underway can be seen in how businesses are using information technologies to provide new services and/or reinvent themselves through telecommuting and electronic commerce initiatives. In 1990 there were an estimated 2 million telecommuters in the United States. That number increased to 7.8 million by 1994. By the year 2001, there will be an estimated 30 million telecommuters. The growth in the use of electronic mail is another example. In 1985, there were only 300,000 registered electronic mail users. In 1993 an estimated 12 million Americans regularly used electronic mail and related on-line services. Today, the number of electronic mail users is estimated to be more than 27 million."

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Europe (the Bangemann report)

In its Brussels meeting of December 1993, the European Council requested that a report be prepared by a group of prominent persons on the specific measures to be taken into consideration by the Community and the Members States for information infrastructures. On the basis of this report, a program identifying precise procedures for action and the necessary means will be defined. The following excerpts were taken from the Bangemann report [Note 6] which responded (May 1994) to the Council's request. [NOTE: See also a report of subsequent developments as Europe's cities rise to the Bangemann challenge, and Britain proposes a wholesale shift to on-line services, at Note 6 below.]

 This Report urges the European Union to put its faith in market mechanisms as the motive power to carry us into the Information Age. This means that actions must be taken at the European level and by Member States to strike down entrenched positions which put Europe at a competitive disadvantage:

"In addition to its specific recommendations, the Group proposes an Action Plan of concrete initiatives based on a partnership between the private and public sectors to carry Europe forward into the information society."

 "The information society has the potential to improve the quality of life of Europe's citizens, the efficiency of our social and economic organization and to reinforce cohesion. The main risk lies in the creation of a two-tier society of "haves" and "have-nots," in which only a part of the population has access to the new technology, is comfortable using it and can fully enjoy its benefits. There is a danger that individuals will reject the new information culture and its instruments."

"Why the urgency? Because competitive suppliers of networks and services from outside Europe are increasingly active in our markets. Tide waits for no man, and this is a revolutionary tide, sweeping through economic and social life. We must press on. At least we do not have the usual European worry about catching up. In some areas we are well placed, in others we do need to do more - but this is also true for the rest of the world's trading nations."

 "The Group is convinced that technological progress and the evolution of the market mean that Europe must make a break from policies based on principles which belong to a time before the advent of the information revolution. The key issue for the emergence of new markets is the need for a new regulatory environment allowing full competition. This will be a prerequisite for mobilizing the private capital necessary for innovation, growth and development."

 The report's recommendations include the following broad subject areas:

"While there is a great deal of information that is in the public domain, there is also information containing added value which is proprietary and needs protection via the enforcement of intellectual property rights." [See also Note 11 below for a list of other copyright/intellectual property resources prepared by Kevin Savetz.]
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Denmark

A national government report: From Vision to Action - Info-Society 2000: Statement to Parliament on "Info-Society 2000" and IT Political Action Plan 1995, Ministry of Research and Information Technology, Denmark, March 1995.[Note 7]. Excerpts from the report follow.

"A revolution is in progress: a world-wide short-circuit of time, space, people and processes."

"This is a very precise description of the enormous impact on social life that we are witnessing at the moment: ever more sophisticated telecommunications make the world shrink. At the same time, computers become available at still cheaper prices and with their rapidly increasing capacity create entirely new potentials of information and working processes. With the fusion of the telecommunications and computer technologies this impact becomes increasingly powerful."

 "What this really means is that geographic distance tends to loose its importance altogether. Many production processes are made dramatically more efficient. Entirely new requirements to the qualifications of employees are often the consequence of these trends. The basic conditions of cultural development and education are radically changed."

 "In the global perspective, the Info-Society is certainly becoming a reality that we cannot dismiss. The only question is how we will respond to it."

 "The Primary and Lower Secondary School System calls for Ambitious Action. The development towards the Info-Society carries an inherent risk of creating a two-tier society of winners and losers as far as IT is concerned. The winners are those with a higher education who are able to master the new technology, who know the possibilities of the Info-Society and are able to learn and to develop the qualifications necessary to cope with the jobs of the future."

 "Denmark should act now. Denmark is not the only country with a conscious and proactive attitude to the challenges of the Info-Society. On the contrary, a remarkable interest and a high level of awareness are rapidly gathering momentum in other countries as well."

 "The USA was first with the Clinton-Gore plan of "The Information Super-Highway" and is leading today both technologically and in the development of the world-wide Internet. In Asia, Japan will be launching a large-scale project and Singapore has advanced plans for the introduction of a major project which contains some of the surveillance features, however, that we do not want in our society."

 "In Europe, the Info-Society was really put on the agenda with the publication of the Bangemann Report last year and with the discussions of it at the meeting of Heads of State and Heads of Government last June. Among European countries, Sweden is far advanced with preparations of large-scale initiatives. But Denmark is certainly not disqualified from this international company, at least not if we act now."

 The following are the Government's political guidelines for efforts in individual areas in 1995. [Policy elements for each area are listed with Note 7 in the Notes and Bibliography section, below.]

  1. The Electronic Service Network of the Public Sector
  2. Utilization of Data and Protection of Personal Data
  3. Security
  4. A Better Health Service Providing Faster Treatments
  5. The "Global Village" of Research
  6. New Ways In The Educational System
  7. Cultural Network Denmark
  8. The Mass Media Through New Channels
  9. Disabled Persons in the Information Society
  10. IT - a Means to Improve Traffic Management
  11. Network of Companies
  12. The World's Best And Cheapest Telecom Services
  13. Open Network of Society
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The Netherlands

A report of the national government of The Netherlands - Information Superhighway: From Metaphor To Action [Note 8] asks: "The 'information superhighway' - what does this actually mean?"

"Some common features of the information superhighway can be mentioned. They not only relate to the networks, but also to participation in communications and the presentation of services. Four key words describe the concept: wideband, widely accessible, multimedia and interactive. An exciting interchange is developing between information technology (IT) data storage and natural human communications, with potentially far-reaching effects on society and culture."

"The US presidential team Clinton and Gore have led captains of industry in the US, and also government leaders in Japan and Europe, in a drive to translate this insight into joint action. In its analysis of the European position in the worldwide trend towards an information society, the Bangemann Group outlined a picture of constraints, but also of opportunities (June 1994). The plan also considers social and cultural aspects of the developments. It has since been discussed at various European Council meetings."

"Partly on the basis of analyses prepared for the Dutch position [at the time of the Bangemann report], the Cabinet agreed when it took office (in its Coalition Agreement) that an extra national drive is needed, in addition to the joint European policy efforts, because of the considerable importance of these developments for the creation of new economic activities and high tech employment. The development of the information superhighway also carries social and cultural significance."

There are three important aspects in the public domain for which the government holds special responsibility.

"The Netherlands must strengthen its position as the 'Gateway to Europe' by also using information as a source of high-tech economic activity. This involves knowledge-intensive business activity distinguished by high growth figures and value added in key Dutch sectors. In view of the technology base in this country, together with the skilled labor force and the traditional strength in process-based logistical and financial services, the Netherlands is in a good starting position. Our country will, however, need to put its shoulder to the wheel, as the worldwide race is very fast and calls for exceptional efforts."

The government envisages undertaking the following tasks:

"A distinguishing feature of the current wave of innovations is the integration of telephone, computer and audio-visual media in open information networks. The information and communications market is changing from a supply-driven to a demand-driven market. The prime factor is not the supply of information or telecommunications. The starting point of the information process lies increasingly with the needs of the information consumer."

 "The roots of the information business have traditionally lain in information carriers such as paper, gramophone records, film, photographs, drawings etc. Important properties such as originality and authenticity have been defined in this way. However, electronic recording, processing and information exchange eliminate this basis. The distinction between copies and the original vanishes, and the authenticity or origin of reports is hard to determine. Here lies a key function of the information business: providing access and payment for use. Security and encoding technology play a critical role in this function." [See also Note 11 below for a list of other copyright/intellectual property resources prepared by Kevin Savetz.]

 "Information appears in different forms in the economy. Data provide the raw material or support for production processes. But information can also be an end product, and can be marketed through both physical carriers and electronic networks. In a sense, information is like money: it plays an intermediate role in economic processes and between players, allowing for important spin-off effects. One spin-off for the Netherlands has been productivity gains from mobile communications, which will reach something in the order of NLG 20 billion per year by the year 2000. The introduction of a second operator for the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) alone will generate NLG 6 billion per year in efficiency gains in 2004, and more than NLG 1 billion in value added in the mobile communications sector. Employment growth is estimated at 4,000 jobs. Seen in this light, the Internet information products and processes are just a primitive forerunner of the future worldwide electronic information market. Systems and contracts must be created for payment for information services."

 "The information superhighway is inconceivable without first-class network facilities. In fact, the telecom network is the 'asphalt' of the information superhighway. This technological base is largely present in the Netherlands, but the advanced networks and technology segment is trailing the world leaders and even a number of European countries."

"The information superhighway will ultimately have sweeping social effects, and will consequently constantly raise dilemmas. For example, the availability of information will become increasingly important for the functioning of society. Electronic information systems appear to be relatively widely used by graduates, while use by women is clearly lagging. This threatens to create a gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' in the information society. The education system, where use of computers is taking off to a fairly large extent, must therefore gain experience now with the new opportunities afforded by the information superhighway."

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Summary

As the European Bangemann report and the Danish strategy paper indicate, the Information Age is sweeping over us like a tidal wave. Tide waits for no man; and this is a revolutionary tide sweeping through economic and social life. It will touch us all, one way or the other. Its speed is much faster than previous revolutions we have read about or experienced. Because the competitive prizes will go to the swift and agile, we need to assist our citizens in every way and to make fundamental changes to the body of policy and regulation that will enable our citizens to best position themselves in order to exploit the opportunities this revolution will bring. In this effort we need to be guided by important, fundamental conditions.


See Also: The Internet Society (about), which, at their INET99 Conference in June 1999 (welcome page), hosted a session in the Social, Legal and Regulatory track entitled "Why Should a Government Invest in the Internet? The Experience of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Spain." This candid proceedings paper "analyzes the economic and social benefits derived from the presence of public administrations on the Internet. The study ... quantifies, in monetary terms, the public savings generated by a government agency that uses the Internet. In addition, the work attempts to value, in terms of utility or satisfaction, the new services received by taxpayers." Their Conclusions indicate that the on-line services provided a more "fluid relationship between public administrations and taxpayers," eliminated many bureaucratic barriers, reduced costs for both taxpayers and government, and improved social satisfaction. Other Proceedings papers from the conference, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Spain website is also available (the latter in Spanish).

See Also: The Treasury Board's Chief Information Officer Branch (CIOB), which, at their Government On-line website, posts "Government On-line: Serving Canadians in a Digital World." In that report, the "Benefits to Canadians" section points out that "through venues such as the Canadian E-Business Opportunities Roundtable, the business community has encouraged government to show leadership in electronic service delivery to spur the growth of electronic commerce. All sectors need to take action if Canada is to capture its fair share of the global e- marketplace. Acting as a model user of technology and promoting connectivity among citizens, the government has a key role to play. Getting Government On-Line is an important part of the federal strategy to accelerate Canada's participation in the digital economy." In addition, the "Do Canadians Want Electronic Service Delivery?" section indicates that "as Canadians go on-line, they expect governments to do the same. This message has come through clearly and consistently in consultations on the information highway with a variety of clients, and in research on service delivery preferences. A majority of Canadians - individuals and businesses - support the move to electronic service delivery, and the appetite for electronic government is rapidly increasing."

See Also: The Connecting Canadians initiative, "a federal government vision and plan to make Canada the most connected country in the world. In an increasingly competitive and knowledge-based global economy, Canada can benefit by becoming a world leader in the development and use of advanced information and communications technologies."

See also: The British initiative, "Modern Regulation for a Modern World," a 2000 communications white paper describing the combination of regulation for public broadcasting, telephone and Internet technologies in a new Office of Communications (Executive Summary).

In essence, they propose:

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Guiding Principles

From the above and from other sources will emerge a number of guiding principles that could be approved for guidance. Principles are big and broad; whereas policy objectives (below) are similar, but narrower and more specific.

Some guiding principles might be:

  1. Assuring universal access and ability to contribute for all  citizens.
  2. Cooperative efforts between schools, libraries, hospitals, city/county/provincial governments, and businesses to secure advantages of scale, shared leased lines, etc., for residents and businesses.
  3. Concentration of effort by educators, to make global information exchange and collaboration fundamental parts of problem-solving for students starting in the earliest grades (and including education of all citizens concerning their information technology rights).
  4. Significant enhancement of adult-learning opportunities as training and experience in the new way of thinking, and in development of new skills and processes for tomorrow's globally competitive markets (both for jobs, and for products and services).
  5. Improvement in the management and operation of government services:
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Policy Objectives

From the planning process will emerge a number of policy objectives that are reasonable. For information, many of the following are excerpted (with some re-ordering) from a plan adopted by the City of San Diego [Note 2] which may be helpful as examples. See also the City of Sunnyvale, California's Draft Telecommunications Policy. This document is very comprehensive, and has an Executive Summary which contains a Telecommunications Policy Outcomes Statement and a Summary of their Goals and Objectives.
  1. Ensure Affordable Universal Access and Ability to Contribute for All Citizens.
  2. Improve Democratic Governance.
  3. Ensure Delivery of Government Services (especially to low and moderate income constituents and to those with limited mobility).
  4. Encourage Economic Development
  5. Improve Administrative Efficiency
  6. Reduce Budget Deficits
  7. Reduce air pollution, traffic congestion and energy consumption while accommodating growth.
  8. Balance the aims of open government and individual rights to privacy and intellectual property ownership. [See also Note 11 below for a list of other copyright/intellectual property resources prepared by Kevin Savetz.]
  9. Maintain public ownership of publicly-generated information stocks, archives and data bases. [The Association of Public Data Users [cookies (cookie caution)] provides a forum for discussion of public data and its management].
  10. Encourage open standards of interconnection and interoperability of networks and systems.
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Notes and Bibliography

This section contains specific references to papers cited in this report. In addition, Note 9 contains other Civic, State or National policy papers on Information Technology and Telecommunications which were not cited directly. [Note 99] contains some miscellaneous notes related to Telecommunications Strategic Planning. These items may be useful during the planning processes.

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Note 1: Miles R. Fidelman, Director, U.S. Center for Civic Networking , "Life in the Fastlane: a Municipal Roadmap for the Information Superhighway."

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Note 2: City of San Diego, Council Policy Number 900-13 (Telecommunications), adopted 3 October 1994.

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Note 3: The Canadian Treasury Board has posted "Strategic Directions for Information Management and Information Technology: Enabling 21st Century Service to Canadians," and other information management reports. The 1999 Strategic Directions report describes "a new vision for its relationship with Canadians, characterized as citizen-centred government. It is a vision that recognizes the different ways that people interact with their government: as taxpayers who expect value and results; as clients who expect accessible, quality services; and as citizens who participate in the democratic process." The Treasury Board's Chief Information Officer Branch (CIOB) at their Government On-line website, also posts "Government On-line: Serving Canadians in a Digital World." John Manley, Minister of Industry, posted "The Canadian Information Highway: Building Canada's Information and Communications Infrastructure - Providing new dimensions for learning, creativity and entrepreneurship " in April 1994. Other Canadian Information Highway papers are also available.

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Note 4: The National Library of Australia lists Government Policy and the Information Highway containing extensive links to policy papers from Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Note 5: The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration report "Connecting the Nation: classrooms, libraries and health care organizations in the Information Age," Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications, U.S. Department of Commerce, June 1995. See also Note 9 for links to the U.S. National Information Infrastructure (NII) and to the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) papers. Note 9 also contains links to the report "Networking for a Reinvented Government: U.S. Federal Telecommunications Requirements and Industry Technology Assessment."

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Note 6: Report of Martin Bangemann and others to the request of the European Council that a report be prepared by a group of prominent persons on the specific measures to be taken into consideration by the European Community and the Member States for information infrastructures.

*** Note 6a (added Dec 96): See also an article "Europe's Cities are Joining the Information Age" which reports how, by late 1996, European cities were rising to the "Bangeman Challenge." This is an outstanding report of achievement in European cities. They are finding co-operative, Information Age solutions to challenges in citizen access to information, in citizen interaction with government, in distance learning, in health care and in business.

 *** Note 6a1 (added June 97): See also an article "Europeans Challenge Japan and North America" which reports an expansion of the Bangemann Challenge to the "Global Bangemann Challenge."

 *** Note 6b (added Jan 97): See also an article "UK Govt Proposes to go Completely On-line" which reports how, by November of 1996, the U.K. government was proposing a wholesale change to on-line service delivery of government services. An extremely well-written "green paper" describes the background, strategies, and implementation plans for the general reader.

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Note 7: From Vision to Action - Info-Society 2000: Statement to Parliament on "Info-Society 2000" and IT Political Action Plan 1995, Ministry of Research and Information Technology, Denmark, March 1995.

 The following are the Danish Government's political guidelines for efforts in individual areas (along with the most important policies) to be achieved in 1995. These are excerpted from the above report. ... [Or jump directly to Note 8.]

  1. The Electronic Service Network of the Public Sector
  2. Utilization of Data and Protection of Personal Data
  3. Security
  4. A Better Health Service Providing Faster Treatments
  5. The "Global Village" of Research
  6. New Ways In The Educational System
  7. Cultural Network Denmark
  8. The Mass Media Through New Channels
  9. Disabled Persons in the Information Society
  10. IT - a Means to Improve Traffic Management
  11. Network of Companies
  12. The World's Best And Cheapest Telecom Services
  13. Open Network of Society
The Danish report "The Information Welfare Society" points out that "clearly there will be as many information societies as there are societies. All countries should not try to charge down a single path emulating the perceived leaders in technological development at any moment in time. Rather each society will want to use the new technology and service opportunities to serve its particular priority needs and values, and so help to shape its future."

..... Jump up to the top of Note 7.

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Note 8: A report of the national government of The Netherlands - Information Superhighway: From Metaphor To Action.
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Note 9: Other significant Civic, State or National policy papers on Information Technology and Telecommunications include the following:
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Note 10: City Computer Network Study: Strategic Direction for an Enterprise-wide Network Infrastructure. Developed in consultation with Integra Analytic Systems Consulting Corp., Suite 507, 10160-116th Street, Edmonton, T5K 1V9, Tel: 780+496-9856, Fax: 780+488-1291, Mark Huemmert, Consultant.
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Note 11: Kevin Savetz has prepared a page entitled "Savetz's Unofficial Intenet Public Domain Index," where he also lists "Other Copyright/Intellectual Property Resources." This section contains links to the U.S. copyright office, a copyright FAQ, and "10 big myths about copyright explained," etc.
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Note 12: IBM sponsors a series of white papers entitled "Living in the Information Society." IBM indicates that "in the future, we will expand the site to make this the best forum on the Web for research and dialogue about the impact of technology on society."

White paper topics include the following:

All of these papers can be read on-line, or downloaded as PDF documents.

The website is at:

and the descriptions concerning participation, downloading, etc., are at:
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Note 14: See also the benefits of participation in the Information Revolution (with particular emphasis on government participation).
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Note 15: PC network performs benchmark 1 terabyte sort in under an hour. Recently, a world record of two and half hours for the same sort was established by a shared-memory supercomputer. Sorting is the commercial computing world's benchmark defining the speeds required for manipulating very large amounts of data quickly. In November, 1998, a cluster of Compaq PCs did the job in a mere 50 minutes. An article "The Power of the Plebeian" in "The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing" has the details, along with links to relevant news releases, etc.
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Note 99: Some miscellaneous notes related to Telecommunications Strategic Planning. These items may be useful during the planning processes.
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Sources of Related Information

See also: The Government of Alberta's "Connecting for the Future" their "strategy for information and technology management," released 26 Oct 2000. An Executive Summary is on-line as a nine-page .PDF document.
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This report prepared by Chet Meek and others. We acknowledge the able assistance of many who contributed good ideas and made suggestions. We welcome the further comments and suggestions of any who are willing to give us their views. E-mail and other contact information may be found below.
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