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Brussels calling: tackling societal problems with technology

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In the midst of the vacation season, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the future Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy for the European Union. The intent is to gather broad input, so the next Information Society Commissioner can shape his or her strategy and launch a rejuvenated “i2010” Action Plan next year – see http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eeurope/i2010/pc_post-i2010/index_en.htm

Why is this particular consultation important? Because Information Society in Europe is at a strategic inflection point. There is now a critical mass of equipped and skilled “Information Citizens” in the European Information Society. As the Commission’s Digital Competitiveness Report from a few weeks ago indicates, since 2008 the majority of all Europeans are active broadband Internet users.

This critical mass of “Information Citizens” presents a huge opportunity for public policy: It is now possible to enlist the European Information Society to help in solving pressing public policy problems through the use of ICTs. For example, putting intelligence into the electric grids and houses through “smart metering” presents a tremendous opportunity for energy savings, but it will only have the necessary scale to be effective if a critical mass of citizens is able to regulate their own energy usage from their PC or smart phone.

The Information Society action plans of the European Commission during the past decade – the eEurope Action Plan and i2010 Action Plan - focused on providing access to ICTs for European citizens, governments and businesses by setting regulatory frameworks for supply of networks, stimulating demand for services and ensuring skills for various segments of population. That was necessary, and successful. Building on that base, the focus can now be shifted to tackling big problems with ICTs. Deadline for inputs is 9 October.

So, this was the debut of Intel’s Brussels based Global Public Policy office in the blogosphere. As Intel has a global footprint and a significant presence in Europe, our European staff will be joining our Washington, D.C. colleagues on the Intel Policy Blog to share their thoughts on European public policy.