Thursday, September 14, 2017

India

ICEGOV conference

In March 2017, co-chairing the Open Government Track in United Nations's majestic ICEGOV 2017 conference in Delhi, proved to be the core of an inspiring week.

The conference was attended by more than 1,500 participants, with the two-thirds being Indian - surely, the widest local participation in the 10 years of ICEGOV.  Which was coupled by a mostly impressive organisation and coverage.


video


The conference was attended by the Indian Minister of Telecommunications, the Minister of Education and several State Ministers (these belong to the numerous local governments, typically implementing the country and region strategy with the collaboration of a few to a hundred million people), to couple with UN officials, policy experts and technology gurus that passed from the podiums. More than 100 papers were presented in the three days of the conference, while numerous projects and organisations from the region had a booth at the exhibition.  In every lunch or coffee break you could freely eat, have coffee or talk under the huge tent, with one or more of 1,000 people.

Our track on Open goverment, co-chaired with Rony Medaglia from Copenhagen Business School, delivered a few well-selected contributions on open data, service co-design and big-data from policy making.  You may see all the track via the YouTube video 


With co-chairs and authors in Open Government Track
 Conference proceeding are available by ACM digital library.

Digital India 

During the opening ceremony of ICEGOV 2017, one could not miss the 100 seats reserved for the "Digital Champions of India".  Initially empty, they were almost packed when digital champions arrived in groups, after travelling one to one thousand miles, to come from home.

I was impressed, for the a first time
... not by the number but by the average age: less than 20 years old, or at least that was my feeling.
With Digital India Champions

I kept going with the conference, the presentations, the informal discussions with friends and colleagues from several countries.  Then, at lunch time, I was approached by a group of young students, to plan for a short interview with the "Digital India Channel", a project broadcasting all Digital India activities through internet, TV and other media, thus having a studio within the conference.

I was impressed for a second time
... enough to think "now I have a reason to learn more about Digital India"

So, I immediately came in contact with the organisers who prompted me to the proper guy: the KMPG consultant, leading a team that was running some parts of Digital India dissemination.  My demand was simple, I thought, to find 2-3 young digital champions to have a short interview with, so I could write the lines you read now. In a couple of hours, we had a place, three rande-vous  set and almost 10 other people fidgeting around, gathering even more of their colleagues from time to time.


-- The first champion: The literature student



The first was a 21-years young man, studying Sanskrit Literature and Linguistics, who knew how to handle computers, mobiles, internet browsers and the sort. So, he applied to the Digital India - Village Level Entrepreneurship (VLE) programme, under the Education scheme.   After becoming an educator, he managed to educate not less than 600 people in 9 months, in the use of internet technologies, making them capable to handle typical G2C and B2C transactions, and get certified at country - wide exams.  His overall income for nine months (8/2016 - 3/2017) exceeded 300,000 Indian Rupees (when a basic salary in his region is not more than 20,000 per month).

-- The second champion: the team of service providers

This case was larger and more complex: a team of four women, skilled on ICT tasks and systems, created an SME, to provide educational services, in a 50% partnership with the state.  The state giving also 50% of the capital and immediate revenue through the training of individuals and VSE's - SME's in the region.  The training programme ended successfully and now the company provides support services to enterprises related to the use, further exploitation or customisation of government services.  The company is profitable, still retaining the profits, with the consent if its stakeholders- both the state and the four founders.

With Digital Champions at the press center

The realisation of the immense power of education in this digital programme became more clear at the closing of the conference, where we concluded with the presence of Minister of Education.

- "Why is the Minister of Education here, in Digital India", he asked.
- "Only to declare that we are ready to contribute", he said and paused.
- "With an "army" of 100 million students.", he added, congratulating the numerous students in the room.

And, I was impressed for a third time. 

I went on thinking upon the Greek National Digital Policy, the European Commission funded programmes and relevant topics of the "west" ...

Have a look at Digital India programme here.


India

My overall impressions from India, especially (new) Delhi, are currently under organisation and writing. For the moment, I can just share a few of the material, in picture format.









Saturday, August 19, 2017

An Invited Lecture at Stevens Institute, NY

During my US trip, in late April 2017 I had the chance to visit Stevens Institute of Technology, in New York.  My pleasure was double: both because I could deliver a lecture on Entrepreneurship at the Software Engineering class of a leading technical university, and because I was invited by an alumni of University of the Aegean, Dimitris Damopoulos - now Assistant Professor at Stevens.

With Dimitris at the (tight) Stevens entrance
Stevens Institute of Technology is a private university situated in Hoboken, New Jersey, overlooking the Manhattan skyline.   Founded in 1870 by Stevens family (America's First Family of Inventors, who patented steam ferries and railroad track), the university has put technological innovation as the hallmark of its education and research programs ever since. Today, within the university’s three schools and one college, 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment. Among others in its alumni we also find Henry Gantt, the creator of the Gantt Chart, used as a project management tool for giga-projects like the Hoover Dam.

My presentation at the Software Engineering class touched upon issues like supply-chain-driven technology entrepreneurship, open-data based application development and of course the Aegean Startups programme, and seemed to be greatly enjoyed by the multinational audience.  Something the amazed me from my audience was that almost 40% of them seemed to have read "Goedel - Escher - Bach", a book by D. Hofstadter on creativity patterns and more.  The fastest even got University of the Aegean t-shirts as a small reward. I hope we will setup more collaborative lessons and projects between Aegean and Stevens at the coming months.

With a happy class, after the lecture at Stevens

Hoboken is just 20 minutes by bus or ferry from Manhattan, but looks like another world.  Going back to NY centre, leaving the peaceful parks and piers overlooking the opposite coast of Manhattan for Times Square was like going from a village to a space station.  Still, one can go back ...

Hoboken style of life

Manhattan style of life

Friday, August 18, 2017

Visiting CTG at Albany, US


During April - May 2018 I had the pleasure to spend some days at the Center for  Technology in Government (CTG), of the State University New York at Albany, US - one of the leading research centres for electronic government worldwide.

During my stay at CTG, I had the opportunity to work with e-government researchers, lecture on the activities of our Greek Digital Governance Research Centre and discuss common opportunities.

Importantly also, I enjoyed the company and hospitality of all CTG staff. A big hug to Teresa, Ramon, Caroline, Brian, Sylvia and all for your warmth and laughter ... ! 

With CTG staff at Albany 


Where tea cups join ...

Taking part in Student projects screening, with the mayors of Albany and (spell that !) Schenectady 

Albany, the capital of New York State, is one of the oldest British settlements in the area.  A rather isolated place, 3 hours far from the New York hassle and north of a very interesting landscape, around the Hudson river.   With Albany as the centre of my trips, I managed to visit New York, West Point Academy, IBM Watson Labs, and of course drive down the legendary Taconic State Parkway. 

A map showing the southern portion of New York State. Major roads are highlighted in blue. One road running north–south near the east is highlighted in red.
The Taconic State Parkway: connecting upstate NY with New York city, via the woods

Driving down the Taconic State Parkway

Albany itself is not very attracting to the usual tourist, apart from its spectacular city centre: combing the old State Capitol with new skyscrapers (used mainly by NY state administration) provide an interesting skyline.
Albany skyline at night - spectacular uh ? 

The real gem of my sightseeing experiments however was laying down at Hudson river dock: Moored on the Hudson River in Albany, the USS SLATER is the only afloat WW II destroyer, that has undergone an extensive restoration returning the ship to her former glory.  So far so good: another USS on display, with a possibility to jump on board.  But, discussing with Joe, one of the volunteers that take care of the ship, an intriguing story revealed:

USS Slater was one of the four destroyers of the Cannon class (together with USS's  Eldridge, Ebert and Garfield Thomas) that were transferred to the Greek Navy in 1951, renamed to Aetos (Slater), Leon, Ierax and Panthir, respectively.

Under the Greek Navy flag, Aetos - Slater is the ship that was the scenery for the popular Greek movie "Alice in the Navy", starring Aliki Vougiouklaki - the Greek movie star of the '60's.

USS Slater (or Aetos), at early 60's, with Aliki Vougiouklaki on board 
With Joe, outside USS Slate (Aetos)


The other destroyer of the same class (Leon or USS Eldridge) has been the scenery for the so-called Philadelphia Experiment, a rather controversial story of an alleged US Navy experiment on tele-portation. 

Interesting stories, hidden at Hudson river, Albany, US...



Monday, April 3, 2017

The Greek Digital Governance Research Centre

In April 2017 we launched the Greek Digital Governance Research Centre, a multi-discipline collaborative research centre of excellence in Electronic Governance, hosted at the University of the Aegean.  

The launching event was attended by representatives of the academia, the public sector and private enterprises, discussing on the new developments and technological trends in the domain of e-government.

The day opened by a keynote speech from Marijn Janssen, professor at the Technical University Delft, the Netherlands, highlighting the current trends in public administration modernisation from all over the world.  You may see the main issues touched by Marijn in the short interview below:

Marijn and Yannis discuss on future trends in Electronic Government


Short statements about the Greek Digital Research Centre were made by esteemed representatives of the public and private sector (in Greek):



Leonidas Koveos, Ernst & Young 


Harris Tsavdaris, Microsoft


Apostolos Schizas, Ministry of Finance


Dimitris Koryzis, Hellenic Parliament

Currently, the Digital Governance Research Centre has more than 150 members from Greek and international organisations, enterprises and universities, dedicated to electronic government research and practice.  If you are interested in becoming a member please visit http://www.dgrc.gr 


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about Open Government

Delft University of Technology launches Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about Open Government

While governments all over the world aim to become more open and transparent, opening the government is a complex and challenging problem. How can governments become more open and transparent, while simultaneously dealing with various challenges, such as data sensitivity? How can open government data be made available to improve public policy making? Which technologies are available to make governments more open and to use open government data?

We at Delft University of Technology will be teaching a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about Open Government soon. The MOOC starts on April 17, 2016, and will run for 5 weeks. Enrolment for our MOOC is possible now via https://www.edx.org/course/open-government-delftx-og101x. An informative video about the MOOC is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93BzVj_-7vo&feature=youtu.be.

This Open Government MOOC is aimed at university students, professionals, government officials, policy advisors and researchers,  but is open to anyone interested in Open Government. It will help participants grasp the key principles of open government, and answers questions like: 'What are the best practices for opening governments? And how to give citizens access to governmental data to answer their questions?' Most importantly, participants will apply the topics of the course to concrete cases.

What participants will learn:

·       Basic concepts related to Open Government and Open Government Data

·       How to analyze and discuss benefits, barriers and potential negative effects of a particular open government case

·       How to analyze public values and best practices related to open government

·       How to apply the open government principles in various situations

·       To understand potential negative and positive effects Open Government might bring

This MOOC includes lectures by:

·       Prof. Marijn Janssen - Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, Head of ICT section and professor in ICT and governance

·       Dr. Anneke Zuiderwijk - Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, Researcher in Open Data

·       Dr. Bastiaan van Loenen - Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, Associate Professor in geo-information and land development

·       Dr. Tomasz Janowski, United Nations University, Portugal, head of United Nations University, Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance

·       Prof. Keith Jeffery, Cardiff University, United Kingdom, professor in Computer Science & Informatics

·       Dr. Amr Ali Eldin, Leiden University, The Netherlands, senior lecturer in Computer Science and Information Technology

·       Dr. Iryna Susha, Örebro University, Sweden and guest at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, postdoctoral researcher on data collaboratives