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World Telecommunication and Information Society Day: Better city, better life with ICTs
Istanbul, Turkey 17 May 2010
Honourable Fellow Speakers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to have been invited to speak to you today at this celebration of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day which marks the establishment of ITU on 17 May, 1865. So in effect today is also ITU’s 145th birthday.

Some of you may also know that it also marks 144 years of Turkey’s membership of ITU. Turkey was one of the first members of the organization and has continued to play a strong and active role to this day. Indeed since 2002 Turkey has been an active member of ITU’s Council, the organ that oversees ITU’s management between Plenipotentiary Conferences.

And of course we are very grateful to Turkey for having hosted three ITU world conferences in recent years: The World Radiocommunication Conference in 2000, The World Telecommunication Development Conference in 2002, both here in Istanbul, and the last ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya in 2006. I had the pleasure of participating in all three conferences, although it is the latter which holds the fondest memories for me… as it was there that I was elected!

In 1865 all international communication was by telegraph. ITU was established to ensure the international interoperability of the revolutionary technology. These days we take for granted instantaneous voice or video connection from one side of the globe to the other.

And, while we are still in awe of the power of the Internet, it has become part of our lives, thanks largely to the ITU’s standards which remain today the foundation of international communications.

The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day recognises what we now take for granted.

It brings attention to the potential of information and communication technologies (ICT) in meeting the development and economic aspirations of societies and on the importance of the Internet as a global resource.

This year’s theme “Better City, Better Life with ICT”, is in keeping with the overarching theme — Better City, Better Life — of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China where the global ceremony commemorating the occasion of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is being held today, and where our Secretary-General is speaking. I bring you his and my other fellow elected officials, very best wishes for this celebration here in Istanbul.

On this occasion I am proud to announce the presentation of the 2010 World Telecommunication and Information Society Award to three eminent personalities who have contributed to the ongoing digital revolution and have shown remarkable dedication to promoting ICTs as a means of providing a better life for all.

• Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak;
• Chairman and CEO of China Mobile Mr Wang Jianzhou;
• and Mr Robert Kahn, one of the early pioneers of the Internet,

These three eminent laureates will receive their awards today in Shanghai.

ICTs enrich our lives in so many ways.

ITU is at the forefront of the development for many of these technologies and without ITU global standards the citizens of the world would not have the opportunity to benefit from the economic and social advantages of the information society.

And with UN Habitat estimating that in the first part of the 21st century up to 70 per cent of the world’s population will reside in urban areas, we need to focus on ways that these technologies can help improve urban environments.

A collaborative, sustainable approach to all aspects of urbanization is needed, which is why ITU is proud to say that it is a partner in the World Urban Campaign… which aims to enable and empower urban citizens with the necessary tools for better city life.

ICTs can help manage smart buildings that power themselves and then feed energy back into the electricity grid, a smart grid providing a much more efficient method of distributing electricity.

Earlier this month ITU launched a Focus Group on Smart Grids that will fast track global standards for the network to link electricity companies, homes and businesses.

Our home networking technology standard will provide links to smart electricity meters, feeding information that reduces waste and saves green house gas emissions.

Intelligent transport systems can clear our cities of debilitating pollutants and traffic jams. For example, vehicles can be directed to reserved parking slots without adding to gridlock by driving around and around trying to find a space. Intelligent transport systems can also be applied to public transport, to respond more efficiently to customer needs.

ITU is also active here with an annual workshop… the Fully Networked Car@Geneva Motor Show.

Access to broadband for ALL will help to create a level playing field of opportunities for the urban under privileged.

Sensor networks and artificial intelligence will become embedded into the physical environment of our cities. Cloud computing offers to power many of these applications and I am also pleased to announce that ITU has recently launched another Focus Group here to examine how to bring greater interoperability to the various emerging cloud solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen

Recently ITU has created an international Broadband Commission co-chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Carlos Slim Helú, Honorary Lifetime Chairman of Grupo Carso.

ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova are vice-chairs with a number of influential and important people from the ICT world and beyond joining as commissioners.

The Commission has the full support of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. It will report to the 2010 Millennium Development Goals Summit in September.

The Commission is backing a campaign to encourage all nations to create A National Broadband Vision.

In the 21st century, a broadband network is a basic national infrastructure – just like transport, energy and water networks.

Build broadband networks and everything else will follow:
  • The ability to control and use energy more efficiently.
  • The ability to manage healthcare in poor, ageing or isolated populations.
  • The ability to deliver the best possible education to future generations.
  • The ability to take better care of our environment.
  • The ability to streamline transport networks.
  • And, crucially, the ability to help meet the Millennium Development Goals.
With so much at stake, principles for sustainability need to be combined with a growing need for ICT connectivity in urban environments.

International consensus on standards for climate change mitigation and adaption, energy saving, environmentally friendly technology, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission accounting and verification, will provide a firm foundation for designers, architects, engineers, developers and government authorities to create sustainable cities.

This is why our work on energy efficient standards and a common methodology for estimating the impact of ICTs on green house gas emissions is critical.

ITU will remain at the forefront of developing these standards and working with our members – the world’s governments and ICT companies – and other partners to ensure that as our population becomes more urban, the role of ICTs in the sustainable development of our cities is both recognised and utilised.

We look forward to Turkey’s continued support to this endeavour.

Thank you once again for your invitation to take part in this event, which I am sure will help galvanise stakeholders in Turkey to bring a better life to Turkey’s cities through the application of ICTs.

Thank you for your attention.


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Updated : 2010-05-18