NEW DELHI — Dec. 6, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. greeted nearly 200 delegates at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum (GLF) Asia today with good news about the digital divide: Ongoing public-private partnerships are narrowing the gap of economic opportunity and helping build knowledge-based economies in underserved countries and regions.
Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, opened the second-annual event in New Delhi, by announcing the debut of a worldwide network of Microsoft® Innovation Centers (MICs), facilities designed to foster strong, self-sustaining local software industries. In addition, Elliott announced that the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) will join the Security Cooperation Program (SCP). The program provides a structured way for governments and Microsoft to engage in cooperative security activities in the areas of computer incident response, mitigation of malicious attacks and collaborative educational activities to enhance computing safety and increase IT security awareness for a broad audience including government employees, students and the general public.
Elliott’s keynote also highlighted how the collaborative efforts by Microsoft, local governments and other organizations have produced new training and educational programs. These efforts are further enabling digital literacy and access to localized and other technology, as well as expanding government involvement in technology-related security.
Speaking prior to the event, Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect, said, “We have a greater chance of accelerating social and economic development if we work collaboratively. Our shared goal is to help remove barriers to digital inclusion and enable people around the world to realize the full potential of technology — through education and skills development programs, community access, and the preservation of cultural and language diversity.”
During the two-day forum, government, academia and industry leaders from around the Asia Pacific and other regions will explore how they can use information and communication technology (ICT) to help their industries and organizations remain competitive in an increasingly connected, technology-driven world.
“GLF Asia is an important forum to encourage dialogue between leaders throughout Asia Pacific in an effort to address our most pressing challenges,” said Mr. Dayanidhi Maran, India’s Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology. “We are pleased that Microsoft is working with governments to build partnerships to address the tremendous social and economic challenges we all face.”
Working Together to Build Opportunities
At the first GLF Asia, in Singapore in 2004, Microsoft pledged to work more closely with governments and development organizations to extend the social benefits of technology to underserved communities. Elliott highlighted progress in the following areas:
Technology training and access. Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential (UP) program now funds more than 500 technology training and other projects in 95 countries to aid the progress and development of the global work force. For example, Microsoft today announced an additional investment of $8.2 million (U.S.) in the Asia Pacific region. Since Microsoft launched UP in 2003, the company has donated more than $126 million (U.S.) in cash and software and distributed more than 3,500 copies of ICT curriculum to community technology learning centers in 95 countries.
Educational opportunities. Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program now works with educators from 101 countries, serving more than 10.2 million students and 932,000 schoolteachers worldwide. In India alone, more than 44,000 teachers have been trained as part of Project Shiksha, a partnership with many states throughout India to provide free basic technology training to teachers of state-funded schools. For example, in January, Microsoft and the Asia Pacific Innovative Teachers organization will launch a portal for educators throughout the region to share educational content and resources.
Language compatibility. Expanded development of language interface packs (LIPS) allow native speakers in North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East to use Microsoft Windows® and Microsoft Office. For example, the addition last month of new LIP packs for Indic languages Bengali, Kannada and Malayalam brings the total number of LIPS for Windows to 31 and for Office to 21. Plans to introduce LIPS for Maori, the native language of New Zealand, and Nepali were announced last week.
Security and public safety. Cooperative projects and information sharing by Microsoft and governments worldwide increase awareness and improve response to threats to national security and public safety. For example, more than 1,100 law enforcement officials from 93 countries — including Hong Kong in 2004 and Cambodia, New Zealand and Malaysia in recent months, with future trainings planned for 2006 — have attended training to halt the proliferation of online child predation. Sponsored by Microsoft, the training is presented in collaboration with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and Interpol.
Public sector productivity and organizational effectiveness. Throughout its history, Microsoft has been at the forefront of developing technology and implementing public sector e-Government solutions. Microsoft is committed to helping governments develop strong, sustainable IT infrastructures that deliver ease of use, value through innovative technology, a clear road map for future development, and access to source code to improve security and implementation. For example, a joint effort announced last month between Microsoft and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, along with a $500,000 (U.S.) donation by Microsoft, will support development of an information management portal and enhance collaboration among APEC members.
“By coming together to identify the needs of different regions and creative ways to address them, governments, educators and the technology industry are creating opportunities for communities worldwide,” Elliott said. “But there’s still a great deal of work to do. We are committed to extending our resources and investments and working with public and private partners in every region of the world to help not only narrow the digital divide, but to close it.”
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