STRATEGIC PLANNING AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE
More than 350 local governments, politicians and IT experts from 20 countries gathered in the European Parliament on 22 and 23 October 1998 in Brussels to discuss strategic planning for the Information Society.
At the centre of this conferrence organised by the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) in the framework of its information society committee (ELANET) stood the idea that information society projects need to relate to a wider policy context and a more long term strategic development vision for the municipality, a geographic area or whole region.
In his keynote address, Mr Verrue, Director General of DG XIII, European Commisssion, stressed the key role that local and regional authorities have to play in the development of the IS:
The position of the local and regional authorities in our structured societies makes them the administration level closest to the citizen. They represent the entry point of the citizen in the administration. Their influence on the citizen's perception of the advantages of the Information Society is determinant.
Their unique overview of the societal structure existing within their boundaries make them play a very important catalytic role addressing sectors of the population that the market itself will either not address or be slower to address.
The size of their needs for applications and services makes them a major client of service providers and applications developers. The public administrations demand for services and advanced applications will generate a huge Information Society market for the private companies. The competitiveness of Europe in the global economy depends on the competitiveness of its municipalities and regions.
Their democratic accountability generates very specific technical, organisational and even regulatory requirements for the Information Society. The conclusions of the conference brought out that a strategic approach for the development of the Information Society in the public administrations needed:
Information Society projects should not stand alone and turning to "white elephant". It is important to see the deployment of the Information Society as part of an overall strategy for building on the strenghs and weaknesses of the specific town, city, area or region and creating new forms of partnership.