Community Buliding Essay

This essay has a total of 9678 words and 56 pages.

Community Buliding

Building Online Communities of Practice



Foreword


Information and communication technologies are developing at a breath-taking pace. They
repre-sent the foundation of the coming Information Society which will establish
completely new struc-tures in economy and society. This process is chiefly characterised
by the globalisation of com-munication and of all activities linked to it.


National frontiers are losing their significance. We are becoming global players, and
services and goods can be produced in any part of the world. At the same time there is no
aspect of human life and no group in society which is not affected by the new information
networks and their potential for growth, wealth-creation and prosperity.


In order to exploit this potential we urgently need international cooperation at all
levels and on all factors which impede the full development of the Information Society.


In view of this challenge the German government has always placed great emphasis on global
cooperation. This was reflected in its active role in the Global Information Society
initiative taken by the G 7 Heads of State and Government at the summit meeting in Naples
in July 1994 and at the subsequent Ministerial meeting in Brussels in 1995 which launched
eleven pilot projects for the Global Information Society.


I am delighted to present the final report on this work to the public on the occasion of
the Co-logne G 8 summit meeting, which is being held under the German presidency.


The pilot projects are an impressive demonstration of the potential of the Information
Society in many areas, such as commerce, culture, education, the environment, health and
public administra-tion. They have led to the establishment of new structures of
cooperation which will remain effec-tive even after the end of the pilot phase. The
involvement of a growing number of Non-G 8 countries, including developing countries, was
one of the most encouraging aspects of the pro-jects, as was the participation of
representatives from industry and research.


With an enhanced exchange of information and experience the work has raised awareness of
po-tential applications and of policy requirements. The projects have also yielded more
tangible re-sults like memoranda of understanding and have given an impetus for
standardisation and the de-velopment of new goods and services.


This was done without any new institution or new funding: the process relied on the
goodwill and the commitment of the participants.


I hope that the global cooperation to which the pilot projects have contributed, can be further developed and extended.



Dr. Werner Müller
Federal Minister of Economics and Technology
Germany
June 1999
Contents



Foreword by Dr. Werner Müller,
Federal Minister of Economics and Technology

page 1
Final report on the G 8 Global Information Society Pilot Projects


page 4
Annex: Project Reports
Global Inventory Project page 12
Global Interoperability for Broadband Networks page 15
Transcultural Education and Training for Language Learning

page 19
Electronic Libraries page 23
Multimedia Access To World Cultural Heritage page 28
Environment and Natural Resources Management page 32
Global Emergency Management Information Network Initiative

page 35
Global Healthcare Applications page 38
Government On-line page 44
Global Marketplace for Small and Medium Enterprises page 48
Maritime Information Society page 51

The G 8 Global Information Society Pilot Projects

Final Report


The information society is developing at a rapid pace. It is changing the way business is
done in the private and public sectors and is having real impact on the lives of citizens.
The Global Infor-mation Society initiative taken by the G7 Heads of State and Government
at its summit meeting in Naples in July 1994 and the subsequent Ministerial meeting in
Brussels in 1995 with the launching of eleven pilot projects has catalysed thinking and
action for the information society in areas such as commerce, culture, education, the
environment, health and public administration. It has encou-raged public and private
sectors to work together and has led to new common platforms and net-works for
cooperation, involving industrialised and developing countries. It has stimulated the
creation of markets for new products and services. A number of techni-cal and other
obstacles have been identified related to the implementation of practical applica-tions.
In some cases work will continue through collaboration in appropriate international fora.


This final report reviews achievements and future pro-spects.


1. Terms of reference

The pilot projects had a number of key objectives. They were set up to

 support the goal of international consensus on common principles governing the
need of ac-cess to networks and applications and their interoperability;


 establish the groundwork for productive forms of cooperation among G7 partners in
order to create a critical mass to address this global issue;


 create an opportunity for information exchange leading towards the further
development of the information society;


 identify and select projects of an exemplary nature having tangible and clearly
under-standable social, economic and cultural benefits which demonstrate to the public the
po-ten-tial of the information society;


 identify obstacles related to the implementation of practical applications
serving the creation of a global information society;


 help to create markets for new products and services, where appropriate.

Several guiding principles were agreed for selecting and implementing the project themes in-cluding:

 adding value for the development of the information society;

 being relevant to the citizen;

 stimulating cooperation;

 encouraging open access and

 bringing in other countries.

In particular, the pilot projects should not create new bureaucracies or institutions, and
should be financed by existing programmes.



2. The pilot projects - Highlights of results

Global Inventory Project (GIP)

Implemented as an infrastructure of decentralised national inventories, the Global
Inventory Project has established a single access point for information on approximately
4000 projects and studies on the development of the global information society. Many sites
all over the world are accessible on a multilingual basis, and interest in this inventory
is still growing.


Global Interoperability of Broadband Networks (GIBN)

This project has accelerated the development of globally interconnected and interoperable
broadband information infrastructure, essential to the global information society of the
21st century. It demonstrated a series of advanced broadband applications, raised the
general awa-reness of their potential and contributed to the development and deployment of
advanced tech-nology, products, services and networks.


Transcultural Education and Training for Language Learning (Tel*Lingua)

The project aimed to give producers, teachers, trainers and citizens a single ac-cess
point to re-sources and experiences for language and transcultural lear-ning through an
international net-work of servers. An operational prototype was set up and helped to lay
the ground for several virtual language servers. These services follow similar structures
in different languages.


Electronic Libraries: Bibliotheca Universalis

This cultural project has coordinated part of the digitization programmes of the
participating libraries through an agreed theme for document digitization "Exchanges
between people". It also led to the establishment of a formal agreement to pursue this
co-operation on organisatio-nal and technical aspects.


Multimedia Access to World Cultural Heritage

The project has coordinated the combined experience gained by each country in the field of
methodological and technological standards thus enhan-cing the international multilanguage
he-ritage with specific projects such as the Multilingual Thesau-rus of Religious Objects
of the Roman Catholic Church.


Environment and Natural Resources Management (ENRM)

The project created the necessary tools for establishing a "virtual library" of
environmental and natural resources mana-gement using international standards for
networked information, dis-co-very and retrieval. It reached an international consensus on
a Global Environmental Infor-ma-tion Locator Service for climate change, biological
diversity and other resources.


Global Emergency Management Information Network Initiative (GEMINI)

GEMINI covered through demonstration projects and conferences the areas of net-works,
communication, support functions and specific hazards with the aim of taking advan-tage of
in-formation society tools to help in emergency management on a global scale. The project
has been instrumental in laying the ground for a follow-up initiative to develop a Global
Disaster Information Network.


Global Healthcare Applications (GHAP)

Subprojects demonstrated how medical databases, images, health cards and computer based
training material can be used internationally, and how remote second opinions in the
diagnosis and treatment of cancer and heart disea-ses can be achieved. The project
contributed to the set-ting of global standards.


Government On-Line (GOL)

The project focused on ways of providing on-line services to citizens. Collaboration in 32
key subject areas has resulted in shared approaches, identified best practices, and given
added im-petus on the development of new policies and actions around the world.


Global Marketplace for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME)

Concentrating on increased competitiveness and participation in global trade for smaller
com-panies, the project set up an international business information network on the Web.
It success-fully catalysed a common vision of electronic commerce policy development
around the world, supported some thirty international testbeds and published a best
practice guide for SMEs.


Maritime Information Society (MARIS)

MARIS supported applications of information technologies in the maritime sector - creating
synergies and new solutions for the benefit of maritime industries. The project actively
contri-buted to standardisation in the field and established global and regional maritime
information and collaboration networks.


A detailed description of all projects and their results can be found in the Annex.


3. Assessment

The G8 pilot projects succeeded in giving strong impetus to

- an enhanced exchange of information, experience and expertise in the various project
areas on a global level reaching far beyond the G8 countries

- the establishment of strong cooperative links between various partners in the world
leading to a substantial number of concrete projects and initiatives

- demonstrating the potential and raising the awareness of information society applications
- promoting cultural diversity and demonstrating the importance and feasibility of multilingual applications
- the worldwide establishment of physical infrastructures and applications as well as of co-operation networks
- identifying barriers regarding the implementation of applications and ways to overcoming them
- the development of new products and services.

The work has contributed substantially to the promotion of standards in infor-mation
networks and has given inputs to digitise information resources and promote their
dissemination.


Operative cooperation structures were established which will be kept alive after the end of the pilot project phase.

The pilot projects have given an important input to policy development and have led to inter-national agreements.

In line with the Ministerial decision in Brussels in 1995, the pilot projects were
implemented without the creation of new bureaucracies or institutions, and were financed
by existing pro-grammes.



4. Conclusions and Perspectives

The G8 Global Information Society pilot projects have successfully demonstrated the
potential of the Global Information Society in areas such as commerce, culture, education,
the environ-ment, health and public administration.


They have stimulated cooperation of various actors in G8 and Non-G8 countries thus
foste-ring a common vision and direction of information society applications.


This growing involvement of Non-G8 countries including developing countries was one of the
most en-couraging achievements and reflects the global character of the new information
society.


The pilot projects will have a lasting effect through the establishment of cooperative
structures and the continuation of various joint projects and initiatives, the generation
of various inputs for discussion and negotiation in national and international fora, and
the support of knowledge and technology transfer to third countries including developing
countries. The continuation of these efforts should be encouraged in the appropriate
national and international frameworks.


Annex

Theme 1: Global Inventory Project (GIP)
Theme 2: Global Interoperability for Broadband Networks (GIBN)
Theme 3: Transcultural Education and Training for Language Learning (Tel*Lingua)
Theme 4: Electronic Libraries (Bibliotheca Universalis)
Theme 5: Multimedia Access To World Cultural Heritage
Theme 6: Environment and Natural Resources Management (ENRM)
Theme 7: Global Emergency Management Information Network Ini-tiative (GEMINI)
Theme 8: Global Healthcare Applications (GHAP)
Theme 9: Government On-line (GOL)
Theme 10: Global Marketplace for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME)
Theme 11: Maritime Information Society (MARIS)


Global Inventory Project (GIP)
G8 Pilot Project Theme 1
Final Report

1. Purpose and Objectives of the Pilot Project
The purpose of the Global Inventory Project (GIP) was to provide a one stop facility on
the World Wide Web by linking distributed national and international inventories of
projects, studies and other activities relevant to the promotion and the further
development of knowledge and un-derstanding of the Global Information Society.

The objectives of the Global Inventory Project were set as the following:
1 To act as an international point of reference that will assist in the promotion of the Infor-mation Society,
2 To establish a network for the free exchange of information about national and
interna-tional initiatives relating to the Information Society (electronic forum),

3 To promote and gain understanding of the impact of the Information Society activity
on the economy, industry and society as a whole,

4 To foster international alliance building and multinational projects and investments.
The Global Inventory Project was launched in 1995 as a G7 Information Society pilot
project, un-der the leadership of the European Commission (chair) and Japan (co-chair).

2. Accomplishments
The members of the G8-GIP Steering Committee agreed that the pilot service has reached the
objectives and expectations: it provides a single multilingual window to a large number of
projects related to the Information Society providing clear interfaces and ways to welcome
further contri-butions and partners. Its success was achieved by a cooperative effort of
the participating G8 and non-G8 countries.

The resulting Global Inventory is accessible at http://www.gip.int. Its original and
transferable solutions add value to similar initiatives carried out by other countries. It
is of interest and of use to businesses, in particular SMEs; it illustrates innovative
information technologies and best prac-tices; it is significant from an educational and
training point of view; and it fosters research and development geared towards the
advancement of the Information Society.

The Global Inventory is a real working system, using advanced state-of-the-art technology.
It uses standard World Wide Web browsers, making it easily accessible. The GIP is designed
to be a de-centralised inventory; participating countries use their own national servers
for their national in-ventories, although the GIP server is also available as an offshore
host. Each inventory is a self-contained unit with indexing and search capabilities. All
indexes are combined on the GIP host to create a global master search index of all
national entries based on a multilingual keyword search. Data entry is based on a common
Minimum Data Set. The central server is hosted by ISAC (Information Society Activity
Centre) of the European Commission, to which the individual, na-tional inventories are
linked.

The Global Inventory makes information accessible to all in several languages. At the
moment, Arabic, French, German, Italian, English, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese are
supported.

An ,electronic forum" provides an opportunity for the creation of partnership, and for
sharing of experiences. This constitutes opportunities for creating alliances for the
development of Informa-tion Society applications.

The number of GIP database entries, including national inventory links, off-shore links,
NGO links and a number of R&D and other programm-based links, totals currently 3.760
entries and the number of GIP website customer hits amounts to 14.000 hits per day in
February 1999. Approxi-mately eighty-five country domains contacted the GIP servers.

The visibility of the GIP has been promoted by all partners in several international
conferences. Special GIP Awareness days were organised, leading to an increase of
customers. Technical sup-port as well as public relations materials were provided. In this
way, the GIP has envolved beyond its G8 boundaries and now welcomes the participation of
all countries, international institutions, non-governmental organizations, initiatives of
the private sector etc., having interest in developing a strategy towards the deployment
of the Global Information Society and wishing to share in this experience.

The participating countries include the original G7 countries (Canada, Germany, France,
Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States), and also the Republic of Korea, Switzerland,
Egypt, Po-land, as well as South Africa. Other entities include the European Commission,
Global Bange-mann Challenge, AGIP (African Global Inventory Project) and PICTA
(Partnership for ICT in Africa), The World Bank, and the Internet Fiesta initiative.

All partners have contributed to the success of the GIP. Its achievements and its impact are:
 The coordination of physically distributed inventories through a simple and
robust data struc-ture and a simple management structure (GIP Steering Committee),

 The integration of various independently developed databases, expanding out of
the initial ker-nel of the few founding IS inventories,

 The provision of a multilingual interface, easily extensible to new language interfaces,
 The rapid and efficient handling of initiatives through an off-shore service,
 The potential of the software to monitor the development of the Global
Information So-ciety and to provide on-line services (catalogue, newsletter, posted
requests, forum, etc).

The GIP has had a positive impact on implementing the G7 initial goal to demonstrate the
poten-tial of the Global Information Society and to promote its deployment. It is a true
example of in-ternationalization of efforts.

The Global Inventory Project has had an enormous success in attracting, through its
national in-ventories, a lot of individual sites of various sectors, also in countries
outside the G8 area. It al-lows to identify Information Society related activities
world-wide, in many national languages. This led to a strong interest, and the number of
visitors to the GIP site has enormously increased, confirming the usefulness of the Global
Inventory Project, and the need for such an inventory.

3. Conclusions and Perspectives
The Global Inventory has the potential to become an important global reference point for
the Global Information Society. Relevant information can be exchanged world-wide. The end
of the pilot phase is now the opportunity to define its definite operational structure.

A number of proposals concerning further development of the GIP as a service have been
made. For instance, the content should be increased to achieve more added value, editing
should be given more attention, and the multilingual functionality should be further
promoted. However, only a strong international multilateral commitment to invest in the
service would lead to success.

ISAC, the Information Society Activity Centre of the European Commission, will run the
main GIP server up to the end of 1999 with internal resources. The national inventories of
the partners will be maintained in the same way. The G8 partners are establishing a plan
for the continued ser-vice of the GIP, depending on the commitment and the willingness of
the partners to its con-tinua-tion. This might include a clear definition of the mission
of the GIP for the future, its opera-tional structure, and the benefits to users, like
citizens, government or industry. Part of the plan will be the further extension of the
GIP to countries outside the G8 environment.

In late 1999, a workshop will be arranged to review the role, the achievements and the
impact of the GIP, and to pave the way for its continuation.



Further information: http://www.gip.int
Ulrich Boes
European Commission
DGXIII IS2
Ulrich.Boes@dg13.cec.be

Global Interoperability for Broadband Networks (GIBN)
G8 Pilot Project Theme 2
Final Report

1. Purpose and Objectives of the Pilot Project
Ministers at the G7 Conference on the Information Society in 1995 agreed on the need to
pro-mote the interconnection of national broadband networks and testbeds for research and
education at the international and global levels. The GIBN project was considered by many
as essential to accelerate the deployment of enabling broadband infrastructures for
leading-edge global research and education, as well as economic, social and cultural
development - the focus of many of the 10 other pilot project themes launched at the same
time.


The fundamental objective of Global Interoperability for Broadband Networks was to improve
the general level of interconnectivity and interoperability amongst existing and planned
high speed networks and testbeds for research and education world-wide. This was to be
accom-plished by promoting the establishment of improved international broadband
connections that would support flexibility of configuration and testing of protocols and
applications, first among the three main geographic areas of the G7 countries: North
America, Europe and Japan.


The goals for achieving this objective included:

- the identification of shortfalls so that those responsible may take appropriate actions;
- the provision of means for intercontinental testing of broadband applications while un-der development; and
- the active promotion of stable interconnections amongst the various advanced net-works.

A GIBN Steering Committee was formed to oversee the implementation of the project. The
Committee was represented by senior government officials of the G7, and subsequently G8,
part-ners, including the European Commission. Representative of other national, regional
and interna-tional organizations were often invited to participate in Steering Committee
meetings and other activities that it organized. These include:


- government entities funding national broadband infrastructures for research and
educa-tion, and also supporting advanced communications research;

- representatives of national advanced networks for research and education, usually non-profit entities;
- representatives of regional and international organizations concerned with the
intercon-nection of advanced research networks and testbeds; and

- telecommunications carriers who supply broadband connectivity on a commercial or colla-borative basis.
2. Accomplishments
It was clear from the beginning that the development of broadband networks and
applications was confronted with a ,chicken and egg" kind of problem, between the demand
of broadband services and availability of broadband international networks. The problem
was tackled through two ap-proaches.


The first task was to demonstrate the potential and stimulate the demand. Initially, there
were hardly in existence transcontinental networks to support broadband applications. With
the support of a number of international carriers, several trans-Atlantic and
trans-Pacific submarine fibre-optic cable and satellite links were made available for
fixed durations. This permitted a selected number of applications with high visibility and
potential, involving two or more continents to be carried out. The durations of the
application trials and demonstrations varied from several months to a year.


In total, 18 demonstrations, experiments and trials were carried out involving two or more
countries across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They concerned a wide range of
applications, including:


a) tele-medicine in treatment of cancer, neurology and coronary heart disease,
collaborative microsurgery, and cardiovascular health network;

b) tele-education, such as trans-oceanic virtual classroom and summer school;
c) collaborative simulation and visualisation in industrial design;
d) remote collaboration in high-performance computational research, specifically in high energy and nuclear physics;
e) distributed studio production in film making;
f) remote high-definition video post-production;
g) HDTV interoperability experiment; and
h) collaborative development of advanced research networks and global computing infrastructure.

All of these applications were successfully carried out with a great deal gained in terms
of technical and operational feasibility and in some cases economic viability of such
advanced, next-generation applications and services. Several applications, e.g. the
satellite-based high definition video post-production and collaborative simulation and
visualisation in aircraft design, broke new grounds in terms of scope and speed.


The other major task of GIBN was to facilitate the interconnection of existing or planned
na-tional broadband research networks and testbeds in the G8 and other countries via
interconti-nental broadband links, with a view to creating a permanent global broadband
infrastructure for research and education. As several national and regional broadband
research networks and testbeds had already existed before the inception of GIBN, the
challenge was to link these net-works across the oceans. It was envisaged that with the
establishment of a global broadband infrastructure, new and innovative application trials
and experiments could be carried out in much greater number, collaboratively
internationally.


The task, however, was much more complex, since in addition to practical and financial
aspects of interconnection, policy issues involved in trans-oceanic interconnectivity and
interoperability of national and regional networks, such as cost-sharing of
intercontinental links, transit traffic, acceptable use or user policy etc., also had to
be addressed.


As a result of this work, directly or indirectly, a number of permanent or quasi-permanent
operational broadband interconnections across the Atlantic and the Pacific have been
established, involving non-G8 as well as G8 countries.


The problem of interconnection and transit has been tackled in different ways in Europe,
North America, and the Asia Pacific. In Europe, the interconnectivity has been facilitated
through shared, free-transit backbone infrastructure TEN-155, to which all the European
NRN's are contributing and are connected.


In the Asia Pacific Region, several initiatives to provide interconnectivity and
interoperability among the research networks and tesbeds have been promoted in cooperation
with a group of networks, namely AIII, APII testbeds, MAFFIN, RWCP, SINET, TRANSPAC,
SingAREN, and WIDE, which formed a consortium of not-for-profit organization named
Asia-Pacific Advanced Network (APAN).


In North America, a transit access point, named STAR-TAP, was established in Chicago. It
was widely connected to from various national and regional networks. In addition to the
high-speed networks of the U.S. (e.g. vBNS, DREN, ESNet and NREN), other national research
and educational networks connected, or soon to be connected, to STAR-TAP include those of
Ca-nada (CAnet-2), Singapore (SingaREN), Taiwan (TANet), Russia (MirNET), the
Asian-Pacific Advanced Network consortium (APAN), the Nordic countries (NORDUnet), the
Ne-therlands (SURFnet), France (RENATER), and Israel. However, Germany, Italy and the UK
NRN's have not yet connected to STAR-TAP, due to AUP and other problems, which are
expected to be re-solved in the near future.


It is expected that other transit access points will be established in other regions of
the world, as well as in other parts of North America, in the future.


Policy issues such as cost-sharing and acceptable use or user policy, which are essential
to full global interoperability, have also been addressed. A comparative study of
Acceptable Use(r) Po-licies is currently underway under the leadership of Japan. However,
it was found that international consensus on these issues will require more time to build
than that available during the term of GIBN as a pilot project. It is expected that the
resolution of such issues will be further pursued through existing international
organizations.


In addition to the above, GIBN has organized a series of high profile demonstrations at
major international conferences, as well as workshops. These events have contributed
greatly to raising the general awareness of the potential of advanced information
technologies and services.

3. Conclusions and Perspectives
The GIBN Pilot Project has accomplished its goals and objectives as set forth by the G7
Minis-ters at their Brussels Conference in February 1995. Working cooperatively together,
the G8 partners have undertaken joint projects, trials, demonstrations, activities and
other initiatives to facilitate and accelerate the development of interconnected and
interoperable advanced global information infrastructure. With the support and cooperation
of the private sector and interna-tional organizations, a series of trans-Atlantic and
trans-Pacific broadband applications were successfully carried out, raising the awareness
of the potential of advanced information net-works and services. More importantly, as a
result of the GIBN efforts, directly and indirectly, a solid foundation for an
interconnected and interoperable global broadband infrastructure was laid, with an
increasing number of national and regional advanced research and education networks and
testbeds having been connected, and promising and innovative new services being carried
out.
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