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Sultanate of Oman Celebrates the World Telecommunication & Information Society Day 2010 - Better City, Better Life with ICTs
Source: http://www.ita.gov.om/ITAPortal/MediaCenter/NewsDetail.aspx?NID=314
Source Date: Monday, May 17, 2010
Focus: Public Institutions
Country: Oman (Sultanate of)
Created: May 17, 2010

The World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) 2010 was celebrated yesterday, 17 May 2010, with an event held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in the Afrah Ballroom. Organized in cooperation with the Information Technology Authority (ITA), the Muscat Municipality, the Ministry of Transport & Communications, and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), the celebration was held under the patronage of HE Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Harthy, Minister of Civil Services. HE Mohammed bin Nasser Al Khasibi, Secretary General Ministry of National Economy, and Dr. Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA, and other high-level government officials were also in attendance.

This year’s World Telecommunication & Information Society Day was held under the theme – Better City, Better Life with ICTs. ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) provide solutions to many of the problems facing cities. Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA, offered a welcoming speech to acknowledge the celebration. In his speech he had this to say, “It is a happy occasion to meet with you for the celebration of World Telecommunication & Information Society Day which the Sultanate joins in celebrating with the rest of the world. We recognize the great importance of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) that have become, as His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said has said, ‘…the wheel of development in the Third Millennium.’ His Majesty has given his utmost support in creating a national strategy to build a skilled Digital Oman Society and eGovernment, in order to take advantage of the latest scientific and knowledge achievements of the era to enhance the blessed march of the Renaissance.”

Many important and effective ICT applications currently exist in government institutions and many projects and solutions designed to provide better eServices for society have been implemented. Some of these projects have achieved honorable results at the international level. Most recently, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Manpower were both recipients of the prestigious 2010 United Nations Public Service Awards (UNPSA). The Ministry of Health was a first-place winner with the ‘Al Shifa Health Information Management System’ in the category of ‘Advancing Knowledge Management in Government’. And the Ministry of Manpower finished second in the ‘Improving the Delivery of Public Services’ category with its ‘Manpower Registration System’.

This year’s celebration of the WTIS Day falls under the attention-grabbing theme – ‘Better City, Better Life with ICTs’. This is affirmation of the tremendous potential offered by ICTs to improve life in all aspects. It is clear that major cities in countries around the world are facing many challenges such as traffic congestion, pollution of all kinds, population density, in addition to the ensuring requirements for keeping populations safe and secure. Thus the search for solutions has fostered the global trend to develop innovative and effective solutions offered by information communication technology to deal with these challenges. Offering support for innovation and fostering both creativity and creators in the field of information technology communications has become essential.

Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi also commented, “With the continuing quest to promote community awareness of the opportunities and benefits to be derived from successful use of information systems and software in all areas of life, perhaps the great developments already achieved worldwide are testament that the IT & telecommunications sector has become a mainstay for the economies of the 21st century. One of the main goals of today’s global celebration is to emphasize that the importance of ICT as an economic resource is at least as important as the development of a country’s natural resources. Thus, it is the need for all countries of the world to share in the development and utilization of ICTs and use them best possible way, so that its benefits permeate all social groups and classes and become an important means of building better cities, and a better life for all.”

Following Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi’s welcoming speech, there was a video message by Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU (International Telecommunications Union) – Secretary General. In his message, Dr. Touré said, “For many city dwellers, it is nearly impossible to imagine life without ICTs. From television to mobile phones and the Internet, ICTs have reshaped the world, helping billions of people to live, work, and play in the most creative ways. ICTs present innovative ways of managing our cities – ‘smart’ buildings, intelligent traffic management, new efficiencies in energy consumption and waste management, and not least exchanging information and knowledge while communicating on the move.” He added, “By tapping into the huge potential of ICTs to improve the lives of people and by providing affordable and equitable access to information and knowledge to empower everyone to achieve their aspirations, administrations can contribute towards meeting the rising expectations of an ever-growing population in the world’s cities.”

After the speeches were delivered, there was a short film shown in which the many practical applications of using ICTs in Oman were outlined. Also on the agenda were a number of creative yet very functional student and presentations. There was a presentation by one of the regional winning teams in Microsoft’s premier technology competition, Imagine Cup 2010, recently held in the UAE. Students aged 16 and over were invited to compete the event in which students use technology to create innovative solutions that can change the world. This student team, comprised of students from Sultan Qaboos University & Middle East College of Technology, had an outstanding finish in the international category of Software Design, with their project called ‘Show me the traffic’, and in the process earned the right to go to Warsaw, Poland, to compete in the Imagine Cup 2010 world finals. The ‘Show me the Traffic’ project is designed to alert and inform drivers on the roads via SMS to potential traffic jams, in an effort to redirect traffic to alternate routes.

Another original presentation was by a group of students from Al Zahra Al Soqtria School from the Al Sharqiya region in Oman. Their project, titled ‘Safe City’, has already won accolades across the GCC region, having taken 1st place at a competition in Kuwait. This winning project was created to draw attention to four key situations where safety could be improved upon using ICTs. Two of their innovative ideas for example, include initializing a quick safety belt release system within 7 seconds following an accident and developing a robotic red flag arm for signaling vehicle problems. It is projects like these that give proof that the youth of Oman are eager to put their creative skills to good use providing solutions to today’s problems.

Phase I of Muscat-i was officially launched during the WTIS Day 2010 event. Users can access the site and view different types of locations (governmental places, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.) from different angles, even zooming in for a closer look. People can use the website to check out a multitude of interesting places in Oman, and view them based on the ratings by other visitors in order to decide which place to visit. Muscat-i has been developed by the Innovation & Support Centre development team at ITA using the latest Microsoft Development technologies available in the market. Phase I of the web site is currently only available in English, and only contains information about the Al Qurm area in Muscat. Users can access Muscat-i from a computer (http://dev.isc.gov.om/muscati/Default.aspx) or it is also available in a mobile edition ((http://dev.isc.gov.om/mobile/). Muscat-i Phase II will be available in Arabic and will cover more areas in Muscat.

Later, WTIS Day 2010 participants were recognized and presented with a certificate of participation awarded to them individually by HE Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Harthy, the chief guest of the day’s event. After which was a tour of the WTIS Day 2010 standing exhibition by government officials.
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