Oman supports the UN - World Summit Award 2009
Oman is a landing destination of the prestigious World Summit Award Road show and Digital Oman brings you an update on this global award as well its role in bridging the digital divide by encouraging good digital content and quality applications online.
The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, linked Information and Communication Technology (ICT) with human development and called on Member States to build a global “inclusive, people-centred and development-oriented information society” through the sharing of information and knowledge. In line with this mission an International digital content competition was organised under the title ‘World Summit Awards’ (WSA).
WSA is a worldwide initiative run by a non-profit group to select and promote the world's best e-Content and innovative ICT applications. WSA was started in 2003 in the framework of the United Nations' World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) as a contribution of the Austrian Government to make a global effort to bridge the digital divide and close the content gap. Over 100 countries are actively involved in this award and around 700 nominations were made for the WSA 2007.
The WSA has been held every two years in 2003, 2005 and 2007 and the current session of the WSA 2009 is on. The two-year duration permits holding content-focused national and international conferences with exhibitions and the WSA road shows to promote the winning entries wider.
The activities of WSA and its global networking are coordinated by the WSA Office at the International Center for New Media (ICNM). ICNM is an independent non-profit organisation chartered in Austria. It aims to promote innovation and creativity in multimedia and Internet by means of best practice selection and showcasing. ICNM projects are supported by the public funding and private sector sponsorship and include the EUROPRIX Multimedia Awards and the Austrian State Prize for Multimedia & e-Business.
In preparation for public sector entries for this award, a two-day workshop on eContent was organised by the Information Technology Authority’s (ITA). This was conducted by Mr. Jak Boumans, Deputy Chair of the Board of Directors - World Summit Award. One of the sessions included private sector experts where wining entries for the WSA 2007 were showcased and the selection criteria were presented. The winning WSA entries can be viewed online at http://www.wsis-award.org/winners/winners.wbp. Efforts for recognising excellence in harnessing IT at the national level are underway and they are lead by Fatma Al Riyami, Quality Specialist at ITA.
WSA works to strengthen entrepreneurship within content industries and to bring about economic and cultural development through the creative use of ICTs. It supports the UN Millennium Development Goals of ending poverty, hunger and disease, saving the environment and giving a fair share to women. Projects that support these UN goals are considered more favourably.
WSA is an invitation project and a global activity for all who share the understanding of the crucial importance of excellent e-Content creation within the information society. Partners in over 160 UN member states are actively involved in WSA. Currently
Focus on Content
The award focuses on quality digital content as the proliferation of Information and Communication Technologies has an economic and social impact worldwide. Digital technologies enable pictures, text and multimedia data are sent and received faster, more target-orientated, anywhere around the globe.
At the same time, there is need to recognise good contents and quality applications out of the information tsunami online. This quality ensures that they can be reached effortlessly and have a profound impact on larger sections of the community. So the award recognises of those who design and develop quality content with creative imagination and sound technical know how. A focus on technology at the expense of content clearly results in content gap which also increases the digital divide between those who can benefit from online content/services and those cannot.
e-Content products or ICT applications enter into the WSA through national level e-content contests. The national winners can then be nominated for the international WSA in the eight categories that have established based on the social impact in every-day life of world citizen. People from everywhere and every walk of life must have affordable access to quality e-Contents and applications in Health, politics, business, science, education, culture, and entertainment to improve their knowledge as well as life style.
The official categories for nominations are as follows:
e-Government & Institutions (content or applications providing public administration related services)
e-Health & Environment (client-centric solutions for health care where stakeholders collaborate, utilising ICT)
e-Learning & Education (Serving the needs of learners to acquire knowledge and skills for a complex and globalizing world)
e-Entertainment & Games (digitized entertainment products and services with interactive platforms)
e-Culture & Heritage (content or applications that preserve or present cultural heritage using technology)
e-Science & Technology (solutions that foster global collaboration in key areas of science)
e-Business & Commerce (content or applications that support optimization of business processes, creation of new business models in e-commerce and m-commerce, business to business, business to consumers, internet security and other related areas )
e-Inclusion & Participation (solutions that support integration of the global information society; bringing least developed countries / communities into the knowledge society or reducing ‘digital divides’ between technology-empowered and technology-excluded communities)
Currently the fourth World Summit Award is open for registrations until January 15, 2009. Nominations must be made through a national focal point and they cannot be entered by the content owners directly through the WSA website.
After finalising the registrations and validating them during January and February, a 7-day expert jury meeting will be held. This jury panel will evaluate all nominated projects and filter their final selection of the top five WSA winners in each category and so at this stage about 40 entries will be considered. In exceptional cases this jury can select projects in any category to be recognised as WSA Special Mentions and Jury Distinctions.
In June 2009, a WSA Conference showcasing the cultural diversity and creativity in e-Content will be held with the final nominees. A grand gala award ceremony following this will award the final winners of each category.
The award considers only real products and not drafts, demonstrations or unfinished projects. A product can enter the competition only in one category and the producer nominating it must the copyright of all pictures, sounds, contents etc. related to the production of his project. All software used must be licensed.
The interface of the products can be in any of the United Nations official languages. All producer and project information must however be in English. In case of multiple submissions by the same organisation, company or team, each product requires a separate registration.
All products to take part in the WSA selection process must be sent by mail by the producers / national experts / contest organisers to the WSA Office in Salzburg, Austria, and arrive no later than 31 January 2009.
With Oman being one of the top 5 winners of the e-Inclusion category in the WSA 2007 for the ‘Higher Education Admission System’ (http://www.heac.gov.om/heac_en/), we hope to have many more laurels for the country’s effort in harnessing technology through its projects in e-government, education, health, culture and eInclusion categories at the forthcoming WSA 2009. For more details visit http://www.wsis-award.org/.