Arnhem, Gelderland (NL), 6 November 2014
Most of the services and companies we know will disappear in a few years and without much notice. Our society is in transition, the exponential growth of technology and the information society mean that businesses need to adapt for their survival – and in a way, so do regional authorities. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) control the market of the XXI century economy, and impact the expectations of our citizens. Today, in the framework of the Assembly of European Regions’ (AER) autumn plenary session, our politicians and civil servants tried to figure out how regions can adjust to be more citizens-oriented and reform their own structures and policies in the information society.
A new renaissance
From smartphones to voice command apps and tablets, streaming TV, but also biomedicine, domotica or big datas: new technologies constantly alter our lifestyle in ways we could not have imagined a few years ago. Martijn Aalander, a professional “life-hacker” and people’s connector, brought us a few examples of current new devices that will continue to revolutionise our society.
Graphene is pure carbon in the form of a very thin, nearly transparent sheet, no more than one atom thick. Santhakumar Kannapan, from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea, discovered that we can use graphene as a supercapacitor for electric vehicles or smartphone batteries. We will be able to charge our smartphones in two seconds! And 16 seconds for an electric vehicle.
In the field of health, we have the Scanadu Scout. This device will be on the market in two years and will provide us with daily access to valuable data about our body.
But the revolution does not stop at new gadgets, much can be done by regions to tap into the potential that technology and information have to offer. To improve the lives of citizens, regions should not only focus on the technology itself but to the problems that need solutions. ICTs represent a window of opportunity to solve the biggest problem of any administration: the lack of subsidiarity. Technology should be used in a more « citizens-oriented way » underlined Hugo Verheul, expert on government and the use of information and communication technology. He gave the example of passports in the Nederlands. Today, instead of going to the city hall, you can receive your passport at home as if it were an Amazon delevery.
ICTs are fundamental for economic growth. European regions have to be up-to-date on the latest ICT developments. Their future depends on it. This is why AER strongly supports active training in our regions and pledges for a good use of European funds to that effect.
Political debate on regional public television
Linked to this morning’s debate on ICTs, AER also organised a debate on the future challenges for regional broadcasters and the implications for regional public authorities. Slavisa Grujic, Vice-President of the AP Vojvodina (SRB) and Chantal Teunissen, from Omropep, exchanged their views on this issue. In addition to facing severe cutback, regional public televisions also face new competitors offering programmes on-demand, such as Netflix.
Netflix is a paid-for, on-demand Internet streaming provider offering television shows and movies online as well as on televisions in HD format to viewers in different countries around the world. Today, they have more than 200 millions subscribers. These platforms meet the viewer demands (I.e. the TV series House of Cards). Experts expect the TV landscape to radically change in a few years as a result of these now platforms. AER is currently working on a political report on the future of public television to be released in March 2015.
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