tirsdag den 26. august 2008

Sarfarissoq – 'Where the current gets strong'

Last week I had the pleasure to participate in a major conference in Nuuk, Greenland focusing on the future use of IT. Until now the external communication lines into and out of Greenland has been via a satellite with low bandwidth and high costs as a consequence. Later this year TeleGreeland will open 2 brand new high speed sea cables from Nuuk to Halifax and from Qaqortoq to Reykjavik and from there to Scotland. This corresponds to a 60.000 times increase in capacity.

Along the coast of Greenland the radio chain capacity is being increased, so that within a few months every tiny village in Greenland will have similar capacity as Europe and US.

To celebrate this and to open up the eyes for the many possibilities that are now within reach, I participated in the planning and execution of a 3 day conference in Nuuk’s beautiful conference Centre, Katuaq, attracted more than 350 participants from all areas of the Greenland society: The home rule departments which. Municipalities, Health Care and hospital centre, education and university, trade organizations, Media industry. And as the conference also had an exhibition arranged by the InnovationLab from Aarhus, also a lot of schoolchildren visited this to play with the IT Dinosaurs, looking at and trying the new ways of learning, the 3D printers and IBM’s medical ‘hub’ – a Google like interface integrating Medical records, X-ray pictures etc . by pointing on a 3 D model of the human body.

The list of speakers included Flemming Jensen, well known entertainer and former teacher in Greenland. Preben Mejer – A journey into the Future, John Patrick, former IBM Executive and Internet director, Lars Toft from Ericsson on wireless broadband – and then on the second day a split into 5 streams:

e-Trade with Per Rasmussen and from IBM Anders Sabra, demonstrating websphere portal and commerce, e-Home with Birger Hauge from Digimark and Flemming Jensen, e-Government with the CIO from Reykjavik, Hjortur Gretarsson and myself, e-Ducation with Christina Brodersen from Aarhus and e-Health with Peter Lundkvist from IBM Acure.

The break-out sessions attracted even more participants than the first day, also because part of the sessions took place at the University, at the Hospital and at the Greenland Radio TV, KNR.

At the summing up session, the recommendations from the speakers were:

- eTrade: Need for public-private partnership to set up portal to make Greenland visible.

- e-Home: Completely new possibilities with IP TV

- e-Ducation: Low hanging fruits are language teaching, distance learning to teachers and then to pupils to expand and secure quality in education regardless of distance

- e-Citizen and e-Government: Citizen centric portal, speed up digital identity program and use of social networking

- e-Health: Accelerate program for telemedicine, increase network between professionals, patients and relatives, focus on prevention and treatment on chronic diseases for people living in their own homes.

On the 3rd day we had a special session for the public sector and top industry leaders. Hjortur from Reykjavik addressed the need for Governance in IT in the public sector, stressing the need for a Change Management committee to control operations, a SW Application committee consisting of the top line managers to decide which new projects should start, Identity Management and focus on security standards (ISO 27001/DS484) as well as a light-weight Prince2 Project Management model.

I presented the IBM Government 2020 model as a tool for prioritizing strategies in Greenland and as practical framework for top managers in Public Sector to identify barriers, opportunities and then select IT strategies.

Finally John Strand, the Tele Analyst, commented on the risc of introducing open competition in a market with only 56.000 inhabitants. The result of opening up for competition could very soon lead to a situation where broadband usage in Nuuk became cheaper but where the cost for the small villages would rise. Also the discussion on pricing structure – flat rate versus a controlled volume-based pricing was discussed. The conclusion from John was that as long as TeleGreenland was owned by the public, it would be up to Government to subsidize specific sectors, such as education, and not a decision that Tele should make.

Finally we visited the impressive videoconferencing centre that TeleGreenland has built up based on the Norwegian Company Tandberg. Even at a price of 1.5 Mio DKR pr. Room, this solution could accommodate easily 6 -10 persons having a video conference and saving travel costs and time. In a country that covers an area from Nordcap to mid Sahara and with harsh weather conditions, this seem like a gift – especially if you combine it with all the goodies in a collaboration suite like the Lotus solution.

At the end of the conference, John Patrick’s wise advise was remembered: ‘Make great plans but take baby steps’

The conference was a great success – and the prime organizers, the CEO of TeleGreenland, Brian Buus Pedersen. The CEO for Kompetencekompagniet, Jesper Kreiner and TeleGreenland’s market development manager Anders Læsøe , had good reasons to be very satisfied with the outcome.

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