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Asian IT Minister's Summit 2004

Hyderabad Declaration – 2004

We, the Ministers responsible for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the Asian Region, have met in Hyderabad, India, from January 12 – 13, 2004, for the 2nd Asia IT Ministers’ Summit. 

We have taken note of the framework agreed upon at Seoul, subsequent significant developments in ICT (in terms of technology, deployment and impact) both within Asia and globally, the rich range of the methods, strategies and policies being adopted in their deployment and the wealth of experiential knowledge being created in the process. Recognizing the urgent need to undertake definitive and firm steps to spread the benefits of ICT widely and equitably through increased cooperation at a regional level, we reiterate our resolve to work together on initiatives to promote and strengthen ICT in the region, having due consideration for the needs of the less developed countries. With this shared understanding, we adopt this Hyderabad  Declaration.

We, the Ministers responsible for Information and Communications Technology, declare and agree that:

 

1.  Bridging the Digital Divide 

The rapid progress of ICT is continuously opening new opportunities to attain higher levels of development. At the same time, ICT has the potential of accentuating the various divides that exist in societies and economies in the absence of coherent strategies. Free access to economic opportunities is the driving force to bridge the digital divide. Adequate availability of ICT infrastructure, relevant content, affordable applications and the tools that can be used by people with their present levels of literacy will induce the masses to quickly adopt and absorb this technology. Some of these areas require technological intervention and support. Technological support is also required to make affordable communication and access devices and accelerate the deployment of ICT infrastructure. Governments need to identify the right applications in tune with their national priorities, leverage their existing non-IT infrastructure for proliferating ICT, ensure multi sector partnerships, and help evolve sustainable business models that attract non-Government funds, trigger entrepreneurship and generate employment.  

Keeping these dimensions in view and in order that all aspects of ICT deployment and services are addressed within the shortest possible time, we recommend the following actions:

 

a)        The availability of affordable information and communication infrastructure, as well as appropriate content and applications in regional languages, is vital for bridging the Digital Divide.

          We reiterate our commitment to encourage Research and Development, including innovative forms of networking, adaptation of ICT infrastructure, tools and applications that facilitate accessibility of ICT for all and the disadvantaged groups in particular.

b)       Appropriate competencies, including sensitivity to the potential of ICT and the issues relating to thir deployment, are a prerequisite for harnessing the benefits of these technologies. 

         We will endeavor to develop tools and interfaces that help people to contribute to and benefit fully from the Information Society. The tools shall be ones that leap over the barriers of language and literacy and facilitate access, using speech and graphic interfaces.

c)      The Governments are encouraged to undertake at least one large application, such as remote diagnosis and prescription, or eliminating illiteracy through IT, that can be used by a large section of the target population. This would motivate large sections of the Society to use ICT for their benefit. Other mass applications should also be identified. Each Government is encouraged to identify and deploy at least one such application over the next three years.

d)      The availability of affordable software and applications is an important component of an Information-enabled Society. The stakeholders should explore different software models, including the open-source model, to develop applications that best meet their requirements.

e)      Pilot deployment and field trials have been done in many areas to demonstrate the feasibility of using ICT to bridge the digital divide. The replicability of such applications on a large scale would depend on leveraging the existing infrastructure and on sustainable business models.  We  will study the feasibility and practicality of using  the existing infrastructure of communications, post offices, schools, public libraries, entertainment and other such institutions to devise a scalable deployment of ICT services. In addition, sustainable models of Public / Private Partnerships would also be evolved. To maximize the benefit of such initiatives, the local, regional and national needs of education, health and social welfare would be among the areas on which we will focus our efforts.

f)       Wide distribution and sharing of best practices and knowledge, as well as Intellectual Property (IP) protection are important to encourage innovation and creativity. IP laws have to strike a balance between protecting IP creators and facilitating knowledge sharing.

g)      A regular mechanism to review the efforts and share experiences is essential to benefit from each other’s experience. We should institute a mechanism for sharing experience regularly, and use ICT for this purpose.

 

2. Standardization for ICT Development in Asia 

We reiterate the importance of promoting standards of ICT for inter-operability and for optimization of cost and effort in the development of applications. Standardization efforts have to address areas relating to data, metadata and information interchange besides the business processes that underlie the services. We also recognize the need to put in place a system to audit applications so as to promote compliance with the standards.

 

Taking cognizance of these factors, we recommend the adoption of a concerted plan of action, which includes the following components:  

1.      PARTICIPATE in regional standardization activities in order to facilitate the development and deployment of interoperable IT products and services in Asia.   Internationally accepted standards should be adopted as far as possible.

2.      UNDERTAKE regional level discussions on standardization of components and on areas of Information Technology, such as data, metadata, e-governance applications, interchange of data in all forms including text, images and multimedia; along the lines of similar work underway in the international fora.

3.      CONSIDER according special emphasis to language handling capabilities in IT products in view of the wide spectrum of languages being used in the Asian countries.  This should also include technology and interface matters for voice recognition, voice-to-text and text-to-voice applications in local Asian languages for giving a fillip to the spread and multiplication of IT applications among the masses.  Regional collaboration in these areas should also influence the international standards for adoption by International Standards Organizations such as ITU, ISO/IEC.

4.      HARMONIZE the legal and administrative framework for developing trust in      e-commerce transactions across Asian countries, based on UNCITRAL Model Laws. Practical interoperability difficulties in mutual recognition of digital signatures should be sorted out through experimentation and by promoting best practices. For this purpose, appropriate linkages should be established with the Asia PKI Forum.

5.      IDENTIFY for possible adoption, international standards for security and promote the audit of information systems and networks by accredited Information Systems Auditors.  For this purpose, an Asian Institute of IS Auditors could be established to play a proactive role in formulating the standards and for providing accreditation to IS Auditors based on a suitable competency evaluation.

6.      DESIGN time-bound programs for developing expertise in Asian countries in formulating standards for IT products and services and maturity models for information systems audit. If necessary, an institutional framework may be created for ensuring dissemination of knowledge.

7.      ATTEMPT standardization at the process, application, metadata and data levels for deriving maximum benefit out of single submission of information by a citizen and for its reuse across the Government departments at the national level. Standards will have to be developed, keeping in view the special nature of e-governance applications for the masses that require more visual and voice based interface with the e-governance systems.   

 

3. Digitization of Culture

This Summit recognizes the role of culture – that is, the entire spectrum of its heritage, values, practices, ways of life, knowledge systems, languages and artistic expression transmitted through generations - in promoting self-respect in communities and among nations.  We realize the great significance of Asia as a centre of cultural diversity.  Taking into consideration the fact that traditional expressions of culture are getting obscured, diluted and transformed, this Summit proposes to develop an Asia Digital Culture Community for developing regional cooperation, coordinating international collaboration and catalyzing knowledge preservation in member countries.  The preservation of our collective cultures will be enhanced through such activities as

·        Raising awareness among international communities and groups about the value of digital documentation of their culture

·        Adopting an agreed code of ethics for collection, digital documentation and publication of cultural resources

·        Developing local language technologies and on-line transmission capabilities

·        Fostering training in conservation, digitization and dissemination

·        Enabling IPR development for free access and dissemination of cultural resources.

 

4. Construction of Broadband Network Environment in Asia 

We note that broadband network infrastructure as well as IT services, products, applications and content have been deployed rather unevenly across the region. 

Asian countries, which have modest penetration even in respect of narrow band Internet, can benefit from the experiences of the leaders. In this regard, infrastructure, access devices, development of content and applications, supportive Government policy framework and the human resources required to support the knowledge economy will play an important role.  Public – Private partnership can help create the right ecosystem for proliferation of broadband network.  Different technologies for Broadband Infrastructure, wire line and wireless, are growing in different countries and new ones are being added.  These will have to be exploited as appropriate for the situations obtaining in these countries.  

 

In order to achieve this, the following studies need to be undertaken:  

1.       Since many countries in the Asian Region have still not partaken of the benefit and opportunity of ramping up to Broadband, they have a unique opportunity to leapfrog into Broadband Network Deployment to take advantage of the plummeting transport costs, huge pent up demand for internet use and potential for new applications & services.  For this, they already have shining examples within Asia to learn from.  Exchange of Experiences & Best Practices in Broadband Network deployment would be undertaken to leverage this unique opportunity within the Asian Region that would benefit both IT-developed and IT-developing Asian countries.  Towards this purpose, multilateral and bilateral funding must be mobilized to support exchange visits, training, workshops, conferences, etc. 

2.      A study would be taken up to analyze Government Policies  which promote Broadband deployment in various countries with associated growth of application drivers, contents, products, services, supportive IT manpower, R&D and private / public sector investment.  Experiences of Asian countries in this respect should be shared and disseminated through publications, exchange / visits of representatives of industry and administrations. 

3.      Engineering test-beds need to be set up to introduce and deploy next generation infrastructures such as IPv6, 3G/4G and specific applications of common interest to countries of Asian Region. Performance issues must also be addressed, eXchange Points set up in Asian Region and intra-Asian traffic increasingly routed through these.   Associated standardization efforts at the transport, applications and contents level have to be initiated. Participation in Asian fora, such as APNIC, APRICOT needs to be strengthened.   A study on Engineering issues & Pilots in Broadband Network would be undertaken. 

4.       The pace of deployment of applications like e-governance, e-commerce, tele-health,  e-learning must be accelerated as also the creation of content and web enabled applications and transactions.  Killer applications must be identified and pursued to sustain the enthusiasm for Broadband deployment. These constantly demand standards, associated statutory / advisory bodies, such as certifying authorities of digital signatures, Computer Emergency Response Teams and underlying technologies for local languages, e-security and open source.  All these increase the need for new IT manpower skills of varying levels.  Mutual help in these areas among Asian countries is an imperative.  Besides, Broadband brings in its wake a new class of applications in the areas of video, gaming, and entertainment. To analyze these issues, a study on Broadband Application Drivers  & Manpower Development would be undertaken. 

The above studies may be undertaken by the “working level study group” in terms of para 4A of Seoul declaration. The group is requested to finalize the reports in a time bound manner.

 

5.   Internet Affordability, Management and Security

We recognize the key role that a secure, well-managed and affordable Internet Infrastructure will play in taking the Asian community forward in the Information Age. It is necessary to evolve policies, technologies and cooperation mechanisms that are appropriate to local conditions. These initiatives shall address issues relating to technology options for access in the last mile, the cost, availability and quality of access and explore the alternative approaches to creating affordable access. The Internet Infrastructure will have the desired beneficial effect on the masses only if appropriate citizen-centric services are provided through it. We recognize that well-architected e-Government initiatives can play a vital role in promoting the development of the region through the use of ICT. We recognize the need for creating an environment for promoting compliance to international standards on information security.

Taking cognizance of these factors, we recommend the adoption of a concerted plan of action which includes the following components:  

1)     ENCOURAGE the setting up of Community Information Centres (CICs) on pilot basis in some countries in the region. The Government of India shall be willing to share its experience on the establishment of CICs models in the NorthEastern states in India.

2)     IDENTIFY feasible mechanisms for sharing bulk bandwidth among Asian countries to reduce the overall cost of setting up international gateways for each nation.

3)     PROMOTE Internet exchange nodes to encourage data exchange at national and regional  levels.

4)     ATTEMPT to integrate voice, data and video services to build a single unified service for economic viability. Towards this end, new protocols like IPV6 can play an important role.

5)     PROVIDE useful government information and services to citizens through Internet to promote the use of ICT for development.

6)      STUDY the feasibility of establishing a regional Research & Development Center for working on new Internet protocols, management strategies and security issues to help the region leapfrog in Internet infrastructure development through innovative technologies and make them available at an affordable cost.

7)     SECURE the information infrastructure in view of the increased vulnerability of Internet-based systems and their impact on critical infrastructure, such as energy, telecommunication and transportation. In order to achieve this, one of the components is to raise the awareness among the Asian countries on the importance of establishment of National –Computer Emergency  Response Team (N-CERT) as well as the cooperation among Asian N-CERTs.

We note with satisfaction the broad acceptance, support and participation that this forum has secured. It provided a useful opportunity and mechanism to crystallize and articulate common regional concerns, while facilitating the identification of common strategies and approaches by learning from each other in a regional perspective. We expect this forum to expand further and intensify its activities and strengthen the mechanisms that ensure continuity. We appreciate and warmly endorse the offer of Bahrain to host the next Asia IT Ministers’ Summit and assume the responsibility of steering the course of its evolution.  We  also note and accept with thanks the offer of Myanmar to host the Asia IT Ministers’ Summit in 2006 and thus provide continuity to this collective and collaborative effort.

 

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