Which country do we wish for 2015?

Last November 2014, in the Smart City Expo, Mr. Jordi Puigneró, General Director of Telecommunications and Information Society and i2CAT’s President, announced publicly for the first time after many years, a digital strategy for Catalonia. It's called SmartCAT.

We enter into the era smart. Smart cities, regions, countries, planets. Once the stage of information and connectivity processing has been deployed, ICT enter into the next stage: adding intelligence on information and networks. “Smart” means adding knowledge, innovation, and creativity on the data and information packets from the digital society. “Smart” involves a transformation of basic economic and social sectors as cities and territory, health, industry and culture adding value, I mean, knowledge.

2015, therefore, will be to Catalonia the first year of the Smart Region. There are many open expectations for this new stage of ICT innovation that has a global dimension. We have a great opportunity before us.

In 1991, a country called Estonia, which has the size of Catalonia but located on the other side of our continent, became independent. And it was lucky to be born just when the Internet began its global expansion to the public. Other countries also born during these years, but it was Estonia who took advantage of this unique opportunity. The new government announced on February 21, 1996 the Tiigrihüpe program, based on a strong investment in a universal digital infrastructure, creating digital public services and digitization of the educational system. Today Estonia is the world leader in digital public services.

The phase that opens now is different. The KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, are not achieving universal access, digital literacy or online public services. Now the challenges are more difficult: they are to add services of knowledge, innovation and creativity on this infrastructure and do it in a collaborative, open and inclusive way. Now is the time to build smart countries, so smart that they understand that they must also be socially innovative and inclusive. Countries who understand that the educational challenge now is to get a new kind of literacy: a universal literacy in innovation. It is time to build a country where everyone can learn to innovate, where everyone can participate in a collaboratory, in an open innovation environment.

Catalonia has before it a very good opportunity, as Estonia had in the 90s, with a fundamental difference. Nobody knows yet that it can be a smart country. Technologies for this new stage still have not been invented. They are being created now. We are inventing them now. A Smart Region strategy is a strategy of innovation. We have no longer enough with the e-government. We need innovative governments, innovative companies, innovative economies, and innovative cultures. The Americans invented the information and communication technologies, including the Internet. Now Europe and Catalonia have the opportunity to invent smart technologies, knowledge, innovation and creativity technologies, and apply them to their cities, regions, health systems, education, and to our industrial systems. This is the country we want for 2015. And if we work on it, we have the chance to get it.

i2cat Foundation wishes you a good and creative 2015!

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