After six days of networking, workshops and discussions of the latest developments in the IT industry, the annual Global Public Policy Summit in Guadalajara officially closed with the signing of the Guadalajara Declaration.
“The summit heard how governments are using good public policy to create and foster a thriving digital technology industry that creates jobs in their country,” reads the declaration. “Our hosts in Guadalajara demonstrated how they have achieved this.”
The event brought together people from all over the world, some from very different IT backgrounds, with the topic of, “Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age: e-Inclusion in an i-Society.”
Jalisco Governor Emilio Gonzalez told the opening session that Guadalajara was the perfect location for the event due to its strong IT cluster.
“Today there are 90,000 employees in the sector, as well as 600 companies,” said Gonzalez. “It started as a strategy to generate jobs, but quickly became a source of pride and challenges. Now it is a motor for change.”
Octavio Pargo, President of the Western Mexico chapter of the country´s IT industry chamber (CANIETI), said that hosting people from over 50 countries for the event could have positive repercussions for Guadalajara´s IT industry.
“We have been fighting for six years to bring the event because we have a very important ecosystem and technology cluster,” he said. “We wanted to show that to the world.”
Pargo added that he believed the event was extremely well received by foreign visitors, right after the success of the Pan American Games, and predicted a big future for Jalisco´s IT sector.
“We have been growing in double digits for the last four or five years, more than 5,000 people per year and we are continuing that trend and I think this is just the start,” he said.
The Global Public Policy Summit highlighted a number of issues relating to the challenges of the digital age, including how IT could be used to promote sustainable economic growth, Internet privacy and even one session in which 50 local Mexican schoolchildren got up onstage and explained the ways they use the Internet and the changes they would like to see in the future.
The schoolchildren, from higher income families, questioned about the role of the internet in their lives unanimously agreed that internet should be free, so other less fortunate members of society could benefit.
They also raised the point that they often have greater knowledge than their teachers about IT issues, pointing to the need to boost the teaching of IT in schools around the world.
A session entitled “Protecting Infrastructure and Information” discussed the need to be pro-active in combatting breaches in privacy and internet security and not taking the laissez-faire approach to the issue.
Egyptian Nizar Zakka described the importance of social networks in the recent Egyptian Revolution and the role of his organization, the Union of Arab ICT Organizations, in promoting internet use throughout the country.
A key theme throughout the conference was the forging of public-private partnerships to facilitate the reduction of the digital divide, “because we are an information society and information is still being limited,” as Pargo said.
According to a Mexico Internet Association (AMIPCI) report from February 2011, only 27.6 percent of Mexicans have access to the internet in their homes, something CANIETI has been pushing the government to help improve.
At the conference´s closing ceremony, the president of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA), Dan Khoo declared the Guadalajara event the best in the history of Global Public Policy Summits.