As the world becomes smaller due to technological innovation, the question of harnessing it becomes an issue worth tackling. Given that some countries need to catch up to the technological advancements of other regions, the pressure to be technologically updated can prove to be a herculean task. That is where the APECTEL comes in.

Last week, delegates from across the world gathered for the APECTEL51, a week-long conference held in Boracay, Philippines. Member economies tackled various aspects concerning the regulation and developments of information & communications technology (ICT) of member economies and to come up with policies and projects that aim to improve interoperability of technology and connectivity within the APEC regions. This was all part of the APEC Summit 2015 thrust of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”.


Helping Hands from Across the World

Members presented the current situation of their ICT efforts in front of the APEC Chair and heads of delegates. Afterwards, the APEC Chair issued the member economies to convene and discuss three different aspects of ICT through specialized steering groups that will report on their meetings before the end of the event. Three groups were created – the Liberalization Steering Group (LSG), Development Steering Group (DSG), and Security and Prosperity Steering Group (SPSG). These groups were tasked to discuss how to create ICT policies and regulations that ensure equal market conditions, the development of innovative and progressive technology and infrastructure, and to promote safe Internet environment for end-users in the APEC regions.


Steering Towards Inclusive Growth

The three steering groups proved to be invaluable during the APECTEL, as each group discussed different aspects of ICT, and what projects the member economies can adopt to their ICT development.

The Liberalization Steering Group (LSG) held a Regulatory Roundtable whichsaw presentations from various economies. Indonesia, for instance, had a presentation regarding Over-the-Top (OTT) applications and services and their impact to licensed network operators and the market. Some regulatory responses on how to handle the fast-growing OTT involve the leveling of the playing field to maintain healthy competition among service providers, and to create a balanced broadband ecosystem and strengthen the ICT sector.The LSG concluded that,

“OTT is an inevitable part of globalization; government should embrace OTT’s players and operators to discover solution of the region. Afterward, government should seek new approach on how they regulate and share equal treatment between operator and industry to create an appropriate policy in supporting healthy competition.”


Developing ICT Innovation

Delegates from the Development Steering Group (DSG) talked at length about the different ICT projects geared towards harnessing ICT to deliver services efficiently. Such projects include the presentation of the deployment of IPV6 by the delegates from Vietnam, and an update regarding the end-user readiness of APEC economies in utilizing IPV6 technology by the APNIC, progress reports about the Extension of the Network of APEC e-Government Research Center for Japan, and the project involving using ICT Applications for people with Special Needs by Japan and Singapore.

The DSG also held workshops, where member economies discussed projects that concern the Internet of Things (IoT) – how the Internet can be incorporated in everyday life. The conclusion of their workshop revealed that, “IoT is creating a revolutionary and global information economy that can benefit governments, businesses and individuals, which will also impact and influence all sectors, promoting the upgrade of the traditional industries.”

They also stated that there are a lot of challenges facing the IoT development in APEC regions, ranging from limited infrastructure, industrial barriers, among others. To address this, regional cooperation should be paramount to help build sustainable and cohesive policy frameworks that mandate cross-border collaboration for all policy, economic, and social initiatives.


Securing the ICT Environment

The Security and Prosperity Steering Group (SPSG) meetings saw the Philippines present a voluntary report defining cybersecurity and how a cybersecurity framework is essential in today’s digital and internet economy. Thailand alsogave an update regarding Security Awareness Raising Activities, from capacity building activities that the ThaiCERT which included local certification, technical security, mobile forensics, and security management training.

Among the SPSG Workshops, the ICT Office was on hand in handling the ICT for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management sessions. During the first session, delegates shared their insights pertaining to using ICT for disaster management; Project NOAH and Project DINA (Disaster Information for Nationwide Awareness) were cited as prime examples of using ICT for Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness.

The second session revolved around Disaster Response and Recovery. Project DINA and Batingaw were cited as instrumental when it comes to public exposition and access of disaster risk reduction and management information materials and disaster preparedness knowledge on what to do before and after the hazards such as earthquake, tsunami, tropical cyclone, landslide, flood volcanic eruption and fire.

Another DRRM tool that the IOC of the DOST-ICTOwas established to consolidate databases related to health and weather and analysis of weather reports. It provides information to other government agencies in sharing the impact analysis and hourly updates during extreme weather disturbances as well as periodic updating of the database concerning location of evacuation centers, health centers, and other institutions involved in disaster response and recovery.

After the SPSG workshops on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, it was concluded that there is a need to rationalize all plans and examine the mandates of agencies responsible for disaster riskreduction and management to ensure that programs converge and synchronize with the overall agenda for national development.


Seeing through Different Eyes

Once the steering groups have finished their respective workshops and sit-downs, they were all able to present reports of their meetings to the delegates. Findings on their reports were the result of a concentrated effort of member economies to provide timely insights which will aid in forming a feasible work and action plan for the upcoming APECTEL projects.


Such is the relevance of APECTEL –knowledge sharing between industry experts of member economies and having a fresh pair of eyes help determine what can be done to fix ICT-related issues. Given that ICT issues vary between APEC regions, seeing how they tackle and work around such hindrances on their end and adopting that mindset in addressing one’s own ICT problems have the potential to yield favorable results. Not only that, but working together builds rapport between member economies, which coincidentally ties in with thrust of the APEC Summit.