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The Warsaw Voice » Business » July 30, 2008
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Talking Tech in Zako
July 30, 2008   
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The 12th Cities on the Internet Conference was held in the southern mountain resort of Zakopane June 25-27, attracting central, regional and local authorities, firms from the information technology (IT) sector, and European Commission officials. This year, the conference focused on the use of information technology for both regional and national development. Other topics included the development and financing of an information society and ways of putting European Union funds to a good use.

A panel discussion on the first day of the conference was dedicated to problems related to health, including the application of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the benefit of patients.

Tomasz Białobłocki of Telekomunikacja Polska company spoke about legal barriers to introducing new IT technology. Other participants agreed that the practical application of the latest technologies should be preceded by a comprehensive reform of Poland's health service sector.

The second day of the conference was dedicated to so-called e-integration. Katarzyna Bałucka-Dębska of the European Commission's Information Society and Media Directorate-General said that the fact that some Europeans remain excluded from the information society may lead to tangible financial losses for EU countries, estimated at 35-85 billion euros over the next five years. Broadband internet access is a precondition for electronic integration, Bałucka-Dębska said.

Marzena ¦liz, an advisor to the head of the Polish Office of Electronic Communications (UKE), said that by the year's end the office would allocate radio frequencies to internet service providers to enable the launch of the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) wireless broadband system in Poland.

The issue of internet access was also discussed in the evening at a meeting attended by Witold Drożdż, Polish deputy minister of internal affairs and administration. The main topic of the meeting was a strategy for the development of an information society in Poland. Drożdż said that the strategy, currently being drafted, would span a period until 2013. He also announced that Polish voters would be able to vote online during future elections. However, first it is necessary to provide people with internet access, preferably broadband, in their homes, Drożdż said.

The Polish IT market was worth zl.24 billion last year, according to data collected by the Computerworld trade weekly. While public administration accounted for only about zl.2-3 billion of that figure, its role is expected to increase in the coming years, Computerworld says, due to factors such as zl.14 billion in European Union funding that Poland's central and local governments may obtain for ICT projects. The only problem is how to put this money to a good use, Computerworld wrote.

Meanwhile, Janusz Turczynowicz of Polkomtel said that the technological gap separating Poland from other European countries is paradoxically working to this country's advantage. It offers Poland an opportunity to skip some less advanced and imperfect technology used and eventually dumped by other countries in the past.
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