|Topic:||Igniting innovation: the power of conversation at ITU Telecom World 2013|
|Author:||Dr Hamadoun I. Touré|
|Organisation:||International Telecommunications Union (ITU)|
Hamadoun Touré is Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) since January 2007. Dr Touré previously served as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) from 1998-2006.
Dr Touré holds a PhD from the University of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics of Moscow.
ITU Telecom World 2013, held this year from 19 -22 November in Bangkok, Thailand, is a platform for networking, debate, innovation showcasing and knowledge exchange for the global ICT community. The event brings together the right people, the right knowledge and the right innovative thinking to prepare and empower the world for what is coming next.
Throughout the course of human history, technology and innovation have spurred each other on in a virtuous cycle driving development and socio-economic progress. Human ingenuity, the application of creativity to existing technology, has brought enormous benefits in a series of paradigm shifts such as those introduced by agriculture or writing, tools or navigation, money or the steam engine. The dramatic transformation of the last century took us from travelling at the speed of a horse to the speed of light, bringing us to the dawn of the current digital age.
And what an age it is. The pace of change in information and communication technologies (ICTs) is breathtaking, far beyond anyone’s expectations – and irredeemably altering the way we communicate, do business, work, live and play. The only certainty we have is that more change is to come. As technology becomes more widespread and accessible, in particular through fixed and mobile broadband Internet, innovation becomes increasingly both a global and a local phenomenon. The focus of innovation is no longer based on the concept of the individual experimenting alone, or teams collaborating in the laboratory: it is to be found in open, global networks. Developers the world over have the power to innovate, to tweak, invent, re-invent and change our lives.
ITU Telecom World
Exploring how this happens, how we can stimulate innovation in a fair and equitable manner, in what directions innovation may take us, where current innovation hotspots are to be found and what the implications for the wider ICT industry are – these are some of the key issues up for debate at ITU Telecom World 2013. This annual event, held this year from 19-22 November in Bangkok, Thailand, is a platform for networking, debate, innovation showcasing and knowledge exchange for the global ICT community.
ITU Telecom events are organized by the International Telecommunication Union, the lead United Nations agency for ICTs, giving them a unique reach. Attending ITU Telecom World 2013 will be representatives of public and private sector at the highest level, from heads of state, ministers and regulators to industry CEOs, consultants, academics and NGOs. These are the decision makers, policy shapers and thought leaders of the ICT sector. This is a powerful gathering of leaders, coming together to explore innovative solutions, strategies and ideas, network, share best practices and experiences.
The theme of this year’s event recognizes the radical transformation of the ICT industry, and of our world, investigating ‘Embracing Change in a Digital World’ from the perspective of technology, policy and business. Five critical areas of change will be examined: changes in the way we communicate, changing business models, new industry dynamics, new technologies, and new approaches to regulation and standardization. These are concrete issues with the power to make a real impact, addressing innovation in the sector ecosystem, in technology and its application, in regulatory bodies, markets and models.
Debates will centre on interactive panel sessions and ministerial round tables, visionary keynote speeches and workshops, moderated by expert speakers, all influential leaders in their respective fields. Beyond the debates, networking spaces and events are carefully constructed to facilitate the meeting of minds that inspires new thinking and new partnerships. Collaboration is a key driving force behind successful innovation. Collaboration and innovation arise from the conversations at ITU Telecom World 2013, whether within debate sessions, on the show floor or over an informal coffee.
The show floor is where concrete examples of innovation in action, of how ICTs can be applied to benefit the citizens of the world, are showcased. National Pavilions and Industry Showcases highlight technologies, products and services from around the globe, be they Japan jostling up against Ghana, Intel or Microsoft. The InnovationSpace Lab explores the future in action through hands-on demonstrations of cutting-edge applications as diverse as robotics, body area networks or thought-controlled gaming.
Young innovators competition
One of the highlights of ITU Telecom World 2013 is the Young Innovators Competition, now in its third edition. The competition invites young people from anywhere in the world aged between 18 and 26 to submit innovative ICT-based solutions to developmental challenges. These challenges range from improving employment opportunities for young people to reducing food and water wastage, from improving road safety to inspiring the creation of local digital content. To date, entries have come from over 40 countries, including, for the first time, Afghanistan and Trinidad and Tobago. This is innovation applied to specific socio-economic goals – and this is local innovation going global.
The ten competition finalists will attend ITU Telecom World 2013 in Bangkok, taking part in workshops and pitching sessions, enjoying mentoring from sector experts, networking with the event’s influential audience and receiving seed funding of up to US$10,000 per project. Last year’s winners will also be present, demonstrating the progress one year on of projects ranging from a platform for free speech, which can be accessed simply by calling a hotline in India or a device to monitor cattle disease in Latin America to a mobile marketplace empowering craftswomen in Africa. ITU Telecom is thus building an international community of talented young social technopreneurs with truly inspirational ideas and applications. The contacts between youth and leaders in debates, mentoring, pitching and informal networking are of great value to both sides, and a further example of the power of conversation in driving innovation and development.
Innovation, harnessing technology for human development, has always driven society forward. The pace, potential and impact of that innovation is unprecedented right now. We are on the brink of a singularity, where the impact of technological change will be so profound that human life will be irreversibly transformed. Exactly what that near future will bring, we cannot know. But we can certainly be ready to make the most of the opportunities it offers. ITU Telecom is in a privileged and powerful position. It is able to bring together the right people, the right knowledge and the right innovative thinking to prepare and empower the world for what is coming next. ITU Telecom World 2013 is the springboard to this debate, to understanding and making a difference. Driving innovation in technology for the benefit of humanity: this is a crucial part of the one conversation that matters at ITU Telecom World 2013.
For more details on the event visit www.world2013.itu.int