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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 19, 2008
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Toward an Information Society
November 19, 2008   
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For almost a month, the southern city of Katowice hosted the First Silesian Information Society Days, a string of events designed to promote new technology in many areas of life. The project, held from Sept. 29 to Oct. 24, marked yet another step toward turning the Upper Silesia region into a major center of knowledge and innovation.

After the event began, the authorities of Katowice announced a plan to establish a technology park in the city. They said the facility would benefit from the region's powerful scientific and academic base and its high concentration of industries, business centers and companies making use of advanced technology.

"Building bridges between science and business is currently the most important task tied with the rise of new technologies," Janusz Trawka, Ph.D., chairman of the Upper Silesian division of the Polish IT Society, said at a conference opening the event. The Polish IT Society was the main organizer of the Silesian Information Society Days, aided by the Regional Chamber of Commerce in Katowice, the Silesian Information Society Center, and several private businesses.

The Silesian project started Sept. 29 and continued through Oct. 24, comprising 12 events ranging from scientific conferences to business picnics. A number of foreign guests came to share their experience and know-how during the event.

Computer science for education and business

The Silesian Information Society Days started with a conference entitled "Project Management for Innovative Companies: The Road to Success, from Ideas to Global Business." The conference turned out to be one of the most popular events of the entire project. It was also the first in a planned series of conferences dedicated to the development of human resources in Silesia for global IT projects.

Attended by more than 50 people, the conference was co-organized by DisplayLink, a U.S. company active in the hi-tech sector. The conference was part of the company's launch campaign on the Silesian market. DisplayLink plans to open a regional office for software development in Katowice.

The conference was dominated by the issue of efficient ties between the academic and business communities in Silesia. Participants rated system solutions in this area as well as the managerial skills of IT engineers in Silesia.

Several major questions were asked. First, what can be done to take full advantage of the capabilities of Silesia's programming engineers? Second, how can investors' expectations be met by vesting managerial powers in the engineers? Third, how can Silesia embrace the ideals of efficient collaboration between science and business in the hi-tech sector? Finally, how can research and development become the prevalent practice in the region?

Conference speakers included computer scientists, university-of-technology employees, and outstanding managers, such as Quentin Stafford-Fraser, the inventor of the webcam.

"In this diversified group, we were fully agreed in our assessment of how science influences the work of enterprises," said Mariusz Tomaka, an executive who represents DisplayLink in Poland. "Silesian programmers are highly valued for their skills, but in order to become specialists sought after by the largest global corporations, they need to undergo further training to enable them to manage complex IT projects," Tomaka said. "In a way, engineers who are programmers and managers in one epitomize the ideals of efficient research and development."

Talking shop with music in the background

Another event, the Second Business Picnic: Building an e-Economy, lasted two days, combining lectures and debates with casual meetings and discussions with music in the background.

The event, held under the auspices of Prof. Jerzy Buzek, a former prime minister of Poland, now a member of the European Parliament, was hosted by the Marcho³t Club of Independent Creative Associations in Katowice.

The business picnic was the second in a series of events under the common title of "The Legend of Silesia: From Euro 2008 to Euro 2012." The series highlights remarkable individuals in Silesia province who have set up successful companies and are ready to share their experience with others.

The first business picnic took place last July and was devoted to ties between business and culture. The topics of the second event included Innovative e-Economy, e-Power Engineering, Mobile e-Payments, e-Media, and e-Training.

Among topics discussed in greatest detail were the advantages of LED illumination, which, thanks to its low energy consumption, has gained popularity on the global market for lighting equipment. Another topic was the model of a banking system in which cell phones could be used to perform all operations on bank accounts. Participants also discussed issues such as urban space management through the use of innovative parking systems, such as multi-level parking garages, underground parking lots, and combinations of the two. A considerable part of the debate was devoted to new learning and training systems employing the internet. These systems are widely known as e-learning.

Electronic signatures and more

Computer Science in Administration, yet another two-day event organized as part of the Silesian Information Society Days project, was held for the fourth time this year by the Upper Silesian division of the Polish IT Society, together with the Foundation for the Development of Local Democracy, and the Local Government Education Center. The lecturers were from various institutions and organizations across Poland and included academic workers, officials from the central administration, the interior ministry in particular, local government workers, producers, service providers, and independent experts, who gave lectures on technological problems.

For the first time this year, the event was held as a discussion panel combined with a scientific session. The main topics included computerization in public administration, modern information technology systems, data security, electronic signatures, and a range of legal and economic issues, including EU funds.

The issue of the electronic signature was discussed in length, with a special seminar entitled "The Electronic Circulation of Documents in the Context of Electronic Signatures and the Electronic Registry Box." The participants were shown how electronic documents are circulated in the public administration and businesses. The seminar comprised a theoretical section with a brief introduction to the legal aspects of obtaining and using e-signatures, and a comprehensive workshop section during which the participants found out about the functioning of e-signatures, e-statements, e-lawsuits, and e-documents. The seminar was hosted by the Regional Chamber of Commerce in Katowice. A training session entitled "EU Funds for Your Company" was also held as an interactive workshop making use of internet connections.

Remote medicine getting closer

One of the highlights of the First Silesian Information Society Days was a conference entitled "E-Health: The Present and the Future." It featured two groups of participants, the general public and healthcare professionals.

Anyone interested could take part in a general presentation of information technologies applied in healthcare, mainly in image diagnostics in hospitals. Participants learned about the physical foundations of modern image diagnostics and new labor organization methods such as teleradiology, electronic patient records, and the significance of IT in the work of modern hospitals from the point of view of patients.

The other part of the conference was intended for healthcare professionals, though it was also open to anyone with a special interest in the subject. This section took the form of a panel discussion by experts, who focused on topics such as modern IT in hospitals and new medical technologies. Although the speakers agreed that online medical services were still at an early stage of development, they noted that the use of modern technologies was beginning to transform many medical specializations. Participants concluded that the prospects of remote medicine-offered by the transfer of medical information and medical services via modern data transmission channels-were virtually unlimited.

Public safety and e-security

One of the most frequently discussed topics at the Silesian project was public safety and the role of local governments and police forces in guaranteeing safety in cities. The topic was tackled at the First International Conference "Together for Safety in the Region: Strategies, Safety Programs, Theory and Practice." The conference consisted of two discussion panels, a European one and another for local governments, during which members of the European Forum for Urban Safety from France, Belgium and Germany exchanged their experience with mayors and community administrators in Silesia province.

The conference agenda also featured presentations and discussions divided into two themes, "Science for Safety" and "Technology for Safety." The participants discussed topics such as visual monitoring in metropolitan areas and means of public transportation, lighting systems, alarm systems, and the use of fiber optics.

The Computer Science and Material Science Department of the University of Silesia hosted a conference entitled "E-Security and Reality" to mark the launch of the sixth round of the Security and Data Protection postgraduate program at the school. The conference was accompanied by the launch of a publication with materials from the Fourth Congress on the Protection of Classified and Business Information.

Ewa Dereñ
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