Introductory Remarks by Session Chair
United Institute of Physics of the Earth, Russian Academy of Sciences
This session focuses on new initiatives in developing countries. In addition to the projects highlighted by the speakers, there are several other projects that have been developed within CODATA, in collaboration with the Earth Data Network for Education and Scientific Exchange (EDNES), to transfer and promote new technologies to developing nations. These three projects are being conducted in countries of the former Soviet Union, which are now commonly referred to as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
In 1996, thanks to UNESCO, the STACCIS project (Support for Telematics Applications Cooperation with the CIS) was initiated. The goal of this project was to promote and adopt European-developed informatics technologies in seven CIS countries. The source of funding is continuing through the European Commission. The STACCIS project is quite successful; it received the highest grade at the European Commission evaluation in 1999. This initiative was extended and three projects were submitted and accepted by the European Commission.
Of those three the first project is Telesol,1 a collaboration between the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and EDNES, with the active participation of CODATA. Telesol promotes telework collaboration in business and research between the European Union and Central Asian, Caucasian, and Slavic countries of the CIS. A similar project is Telebalt,2 which uses teleworking as a tool for information society technologies in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The third project, WISTCIS,3 focuses on new methods for promoting information society technologies in the CIS.
In all three projects the main tools are conferences and training workshops in which the new technological products are brought to a country and local participants are taught how to use the products in the most efficient way. Another important tool is representation on the Web, and the different types of portals and Web sites that are equipped with modern tools, such as virtual presence system tool kits and collaborative browsing tool kits.
These activities are focused on open access to data, specifically research on environmental matters. Similar projects could be formed and submitted to relevant funding agencies for other parts of the world, such as Asia, Africa, or South America. These activities are quite useful in promoting modern technologies that deal with data.