MODULE I: INFORMATION POLICIES PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION FEATURES 1.1. INTRODUCTION TO THE CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK This Module supplies the theoretical framework, providing definitions of the main concepts used in this work and identifies the existing data on National Information Society Policies (NISP). It also describes briefly the diverse legal, economic, social, and technological contexts regarding the Information Society, as well as the explicit national, regional, and/or local Information Society policies, either general or specific for given sectors (egovernment, e-inclusion, e-education, e-health, etc.).
Additionally, this Module provides a general outline of the scope of an NISP, together with a description of the successive phases of the construction of an NISP. These phases will be disaggregated into practical implementation steps in Module 2.
1.2. THE ADDED VALUE OF PUBLIC POLICIES IN INFORMATION / KNOWLEDGE SOCIETIES Public policies have an outstanding place in the general process of developing the Information Society, as well as in the general strategy which needs to take into account the contributing general social and market-driven processes.
A public policy is an attempt by the government to address a public issue. The government, whether it is city, state or provincial, or national, develops public policy in terms of laws, regulations, decisions, and actions. Public policies can also be defined as courses of action in which public decision makers’ work on the issues is defined as “public” or “of general interest”. In short, public policies are sets of goals, initiatives, decisions and actions carried out by a government to solve problems that citizens, and the government itself, consider a priority at a given moment. It refers to the governments’ philosophies and main concerns, either as legislations or programs, which represent the governmental responsibility.
If public policies can be defined as the body of principles that underpin the operation of legal systems in each state, NISPs can be defined as a coherent set of public strategies to promote the construction and development of an Information Society oriented to the overall and interrelated social, political, human, and technological development in each society, whose development motor is the production, use and equitable exploitation of knowledge by all social sectors.
Example 9. i2010 - A European Information Society for growth and employment i2010 is an initiative driven by the revision of the Lisbon Strategy and provides a framework outlining broad policy guidelines with the goal of being an integrated policy to encourage knowledge and innovation. It also follows on the eEurope 2002 and programmes that had focused on providing the availability of a widespread broadband access, a secured information infrastructure and greater development of on-line public services and eBusiness applications. ETSI has contributed with specifications, reports and guidelines under these programmes and continues to do so through trying to answer to the EC's ICT Standardization Work programme7.
Source: EC 2005a These public policies are generally based on the assumption that knowledge- based goods and services integrate the central structure of the new economy in which information and knowledge, exchanged and disseminated through ICT-based networks will constitute the main input for societies development.
However, NISPs should always consider the interrelation among diverse policy areas in each country: infrastructures, e-government, education and training, health, legislation, security, and others.
NISPs may constitute key driving forces for national and regional development. Hilbert and Katz (2002) state that "the concept of the ‘Information Society’ and a ‘knowledge-based Digital Economy’ refers to a paradigm, which is profoundly transforming the world at the beginning of this new millennium. New forms of creating and diffusing information through digital technologies mainly drive this transformation. (...) digitized in many different sectors of society, eventually introducing a new form of social and productive organization. This form of ‘digital conduct’ is an increasingly global phenomenon, emerging –on the mainfrom mature industrial societies. The adoption of this technology-based paradigm stays in More information at http://www.etsi.org/WebSite/AboutETSI/RoleinEurope/Publicpolicy.aspx and at http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/ict_psp/library/wp/index_en.htm.
a highly positive relation with the degree of development of a society. However, technology is not only the child of development (as it stems from development), but to a large extent, it is also its father (it is a tool for development)".
The elaboration of a public strategy or policy is often initiated by the State leader (President, Prime Minister, or other), based on his or her vision about the Information Society, or on the work of a governmental organization. As mentioned before, this governmental impulse to prepare an NISP is often triggered by international processes, such as the forums and debates leading to WSIS 2003 and WSIS 2005.
There are other factors that can influence the elaboration and updating of an NISP. Hilbert, Bustos and Ferraz (2005) consider that there are internal factors not subject to political decision, among them the hierarchical level held by the agency or person charged to lead the national strategy.
Example 10. Turkey's case Turkey's case In Turkey’s 2006-2010 Action Plan (ISD, 2006), the actions were planned to start in 2006, be intensified in 2007-2008 to trigger demand rapidly and achieve the targeted economic and social benefits, and finalized in 2009-2010. Expansion of technological infrastructure and competency development programs planned for citizens and enterprises to create the demand would be implemented heavily in the initial years, whereas projects for the delivery of public services electronically based on the principle of citizen-focus would be spread on a longer term. Investments would be made in human resources and standard development efforts in the initial years to develop the IT sector and increase its competitive power in foreign markets in the long run, but it is expected that returns will be obtained in relatively longer term.
The implementation steps and cost analyses in the Program Definition Document prepared in parallel to the actions included in the Action Plan serve only as indicators and will not constitute the sole basis for resource allocation in public investment programs. Agencies and organizations responsible for the actions would prepare the feasibility studies for such actions within the framework of investment program preparation guidelines.
Source: ISD In addition, the design of a national strategy is marked by the thematic priorities with which the issue is approached. A national strategy constitutes the combination of a wide range of thematic concerns. Governments can prioritize thematic areas, or direct a whole national strategy towards one specific issue. As a third internal factor, the working procedures and the special coordination for the participants’ work is considered.
1.2.1. Why do Countries Need Explicit NISPs Many countries, regions, and cities have developed Information Society initiatives and actions without establishing an explicit public policy. Many of these initiatives have been successful, at least in some sectors, such as ICT infrastructures or e-government. In most countries an Information Society is not developed by public policy alone, but largely by market forces where they are strong enough. The question arises: Why do countries need to design explicit NISPs An NISP can be defined as a roadmap, a national, regional, or local plan for the inclusion or appropriation, by governments, institutions, communities and individuals of the benefits derived from the construction of an Information Society. The NISP is a highway, not a harbour. It is a process, a collaborative, open, and permanent construction. In order to travel this highway, it is necessary to envision it, to plan and build it, to make it able to be travelled by all the citizens.
As stated by Hilbert and Katz (2002): “The establishment and implementation of regional, national and local Information Society development strategies are indispensable in order to seize the ‘Digital Opportunity’. ‘Leapfrogging’ development stages is possible (for developing countries); however, it is not an automatic process. Market mechanisms by themselves rather tend to deepen the digital divide between and within societies. To prevent this from happening strong and visionary leadership is required, reducing coordination costs and uncertainty”. Later, these experts add: "The Information Society does not build on a vacuum. The path towards the ‘digital age’ depends heavily on the particular heritage from the ‘industrial age’ setting. In order to understand current and potential future paths that can be taken in the transition toward an Information Society, regional peculiarities (such as the general degree of development in all its dimensions, markets, institutions, educational standards, public policies, culture, etc.) demand careful consideration." (Hilbert and Katz, 2002) The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific – ESCAP (ESCAP, 1999), observes that: "Even when promulgated as distinct policy pronouncements, ICT policies of necessity have to take into account other policy areas, such as education policies, information policies, trade and investment policies, and cultural and linguistic policies. However, the mere establishment of a written national ICT policy has value in itself. At a minimum, it conveys the message that the government is forwardlooking and intends to pursue the utilization of ICT in society. Governments should, of course, aspire to more by putting the policy content into actual practice and becoming a role model in applying ICT in their own administration and services." Example 11. Kerala, India - A consolidated vision Kerala, India - A consolidated vision States within larger countries have also given particular attention to NISPs. In Kerala, India, for example, the Report on “Information Technology Policy, Towards an inclusive Knowledge Society,” from the Department of Information Technology, Government of Kerala (2007) states in its preamble that “The Government has a comprehensive view of ICT as a vehicle for transforming Kerala into a knowledge-based, economically vibrant, democratic and inclusive society. By the term “inclusive,” the Government means that the benefits of the socioeconomic transformation possible through ICT should reach every single citizen of the State. This policy document defines the Government’s vision, mission and strategy for achieving the same.” The Government’s vision is to turn Kerala into a knowledge society with sustainable economic growth, social harmony and high quality of life for all.
Source: Government of Kerala, Countries do not only need to build explicit NISPs; given the particular characteristics of the Information Society, they also need the constant updating of their public policies. The fast pace of technological innovation requires a process of periodical updating and monitoring. Technological convergence, triple play, interactive television on mobile phones, new services to citizens also based on mobile phones, Internet 2.0, traceable devices, and new software are drastically shifting the terms of the debate not only on access to technologies and citizens appropriation of those technologies, but also on access to diversified contents and national capacities to negotiate and achieve certain levels of development.
Explicit public policies functionalities The construction and updating of explicit public policies for the Information Society have the following functions:
1. Compelling public institutions to make a diagnostic of their situation regarding the Information Society, e-readiness, etc., in order to base the public policies on the needs, demands, and aspirations identified.
2. Relating Information Society strategies with overall national policies and strategies 3. Identifying common goals, visions, and missions.
4. Redressing market failures or insufficiencies through legal and regulatory frameworks, and providing access to Information Society tools for social groups or regions that are not profitable for private enterprises.
5. Identifying sectoral goals, and integrating them in a coherent strategy 6. Avoiding dissociated visions of the Information Society 7. Identifying time schedules to implement these goals.
8. Facilitating multisectoral and multistakeholder participation 9. Avoiding duplication of efforts and waste of economic, human, and technological resources 10. Establishing or assigning a lead national agency to be responsible for broad-based coordination and collaboration within the government as well as with other sectors 11. Facilitating the monitoring, assessment, and evaluation of the implemented measures As analyzed in the previous pages, policies and strategies are driven not only by each country’s specific history, social structure and endogenous factors, but also by the influence of the international context and external factors. Internal and external factors, and their endless possible combinations, may vary in the diverse phases of a national strategy. The importance assigned by national governments to an NISP, the hierarchical level of its designers and decision makers, thematic priorities, resources, and working methods, may differ en each phase.
1.2.2. Scopes and Thematic sectors of an NISP An Information or Knowledge Society is not based only on advanced ICT. It includes all media. The WSIS Tunis Agenda (WSIS, 2005b) encourages all governments to give appropriate priority to ICTs, including traditional ICTs such as broadcast radio and television as well as knowledge-printed material in their national development strategies. It is also advisable to consider other technologies such as cellular telephony and interactive television.