Observations from Laina Raveendran Greene on the APEC TEL 33 meeting in Calgary Canada
It was indeed an interesting experience attending APEC TEL 33 in Calgary, Canada has been away from the APEC scene since 2002. My days as Secretary General of Asia Pacific Internet Association during 1997-1999, took me there on a regular basis. After that, I was primarily involved in the APEC SME group until 2002.
There was so much going on at the same time it was hard to keep up. I understood how smaller delegations would have felt. The first two days alone there were 2-3 workshops happening in parallel that it was hard to take advantage of the sessions. There were regulators roundtables, industry roundtables, and other workshops all happening in parallel. I participated and spoke at the workshop on spam, and the industry roundtable on IP NGN. As the plenary and working groups began, there were further overlaps which made it very hard to keep up with all the issues. While there were attempts to bring in users through the e-inclusion workshops, there was not as much a mechanism to include their viewpoints.Otherwise, bigger users were represented by INTUG. There were some vendors, service providers and some industry organizations such as TIA around but more could be done to get their inputs into the process in an organized manner.
What struck me in the working groups, was the overlap in projects between and sometimes within the working groups. Some projects to me seemed outdated or sometimes “non-issues, ” but because APEC TEL culture is a collaborative one, these projects slipped through with little or no discussion at times. There were also many researchers and consultants who have come to understand how to tap into APEC TEL monies, who were very active, but not necessarily the most informed.
What was encouraging was to see APEC TEL be very aware of these dysfunctions, and in Calgary, they adopted a new structure for APEC TEL and economies were reminded to follow clear procedures for submitting projects, workshop, etc. o allow for other delegations to consult experts to allow them to offer informed input. APEC TEL now has 3 working groups: Liberalisation; ICT Development; and Security and Prosperity. This structure should streamline their work. The next meeting is scheduled to be in New Zealand either in October.
Overall, the Canadians did a great job hosting APEC TEL and thanks to their efforts, delegates were exposed to many SMEs with interesting hardware, software, and applications. As a networking and information exchange organization, APEC TEL is the place to be involved. Given how diverse the membership base of APEC TEL is, its collaborative and friendly working methodology makes it a unique experience indeed.