Takeshi Utsumi, Ph.D., P.E.
3.1 Transcultural, globalwide initiative
7.1 Proposed Administrative Centers and Satellite Hubs in Developed Co
The dawn of the twenty-first century comes with digital revolution and economic globalization with New Economy. We are moving towards a global knowledge society where information, skills and competencies become the driving forces of social and economic development. It is this confluence of social, economic, and technological forces that create both opportunities and challenges for global society as a whole. The challenges associated with this transformation can no longer be solved with traditional educational paradigms. Old bag does no longer work for new wine.
The Internet will be the main telecommunication media of tomorrow, as rapidly creating new opportunities for establishing international distance learning and global healthcare/telemedicine programs. In this age, effective learning requires upgraded multimedia educational materials that can best be distributed using broadband Internet applications. Although the opportunities for international distance learning are great and with creativity flowering almost everywhere the Internet reaches, the global digital divide is also becoming a new dividing line between connectivity haves and connectivity have-nots. The use of global distance learning and telemedicine must be efficient and cost-effective, enabling educational institutions that will allow us to foster global citizenship and achieve "education and healthcare for all" at anytime and anywhere.
We hold a highly successful International Workshop and Conference on "Emerging Global Electronic Distance Learning (EGEDL/99)" in August, 1999 at the University of Tampere in Finland, and discussed with delegates from 14 nations on practical ways to harness the emerging technological evolution in the major regions of the globe to provide affordable, global distance learning across national and cultural boundaries. We formed a Global University System (GUS) with group activities in the regions of the Asia/Pacific, North, Central and South Americas, Europe and Africa to establish distance learning pilot projects. Each of those regional groups are now planning to formalize the pilot projects which will foster the establishment of GUS in their respective regions with the use of advanced global broadband wireless and satellite Internet which is to be financed by the Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF).
The digital revolution and economic globalization are taking us into a new era. We are moving towards a global knowledge society where information, skills and competencies become the driving forces of social and economic development. It is this confluence of social, economic, and technological forces that create both opportunities and challenges for society as a whole. The challenges associated with this transformation can no longer be solved with traditional educational paradigms. The Internet, with its rapidly expanding and improving infrastructure, will be the main telecommunication media of tomorrow. It has been extended to most countries, albeit with slow-to-medium speed. The advancement of videoconferencing, telephony, broadband Internet, World Wide Web, and other communication and information technologies is rapidly creating new opportunities for establishing international distance learning and global healthcare/telemedicine programs. In this age, effective learning requires upgraded multimedia educational materials that can best be distributed using broadband Internet applications. The use of these applications for global distance learning and telemedicine must be efficient and cost-effective, enabling educational institutions that will allow us to foster global citizenship and achieve "education and healthcare for all" at anytime and anywhere.
Research and deployment of a broadband Internet backbone such as vBNS and Abeline are expanding high-speed Internet access to higher education and healthcare institutions throughout the United States and beyond. This technology provides increased band-width to university researchers requiring the ability to manipulate large quantities of data and graphic images, as well as simultaneous audio, video, and data transmission for high-quality telemedicine applications. In addition, this technology holds great promise for improving multimedia distance learning capability, especially in rural and isolated areas in many developing countries that are not well served by commercial network providers. The enhanced distance learning capabilities of broadband Internet are only beginning to be explored and offer an immediate benefit to the populations served by these networks.
In spite of its exciting promise and economical advantage, distance education technology has difficulty reaching those who need it most, particularly in rural area of the U.S. and in less developed countries. Although the opportunities for international distance learning are great, challenges to effectively utilizing this opportunity include technical and administrative infrastructure problems, language barriers, cultural differences, political unrest, costs, skills, and appropriate matches between needs and educational resources, and lack of collaborative partners for establishing successful pilot programs. With creativity flowering almost everywhere the Internet reaches, the global digital divide is also becoming a new dividing line between connectivity haves and connectivity have-nots. Those with access to Internet connectivity have access to a growing portion of humanitys knowledge base. Those without access are condemned to fall further behind in the increasingly knowledge-based global economy.
The Global University System (GUS) (TM) seeks to establish distance learning pilot projects using broadband Internet technology that can be disseminated as "best practices" examples for the further development and deployment of effective international distance learning partnerships in order to enhance the teaching/learning capabilities.
The GLObal Systems Analysis and Simulation Association in the U.S.A. (GLOSAS/USA) is a publicly supported, non-profit, educational service organization and is a consortium of organizations dedicated to the use of evolving telecommunications and information technologies to further advance world peace through global communications. GLOSAS fosters science and technology based economic development to improve the quality of life.
Over the past quarter century GLOSAS/USA played a major pioneering role in extending U.S. data communication networks to other countries and deregulating Japanese telecommunication policies for the use of e-mail (thanks to a help from the Late Commerce Secretary Malcom Baldridge). This triggered the de-monopolization and privatization of Japanese telecommunications industries. This movement has later been emulated in many other countries (now over 300 million e-mail users around the world). This effort was to establish later a Globally Collaborative Environmental Peace Gaming with globally distributed computer simulation system through global neural computer network (a term coined by Utsumi in 1981 and used by Vice President Al Gore in his speech). His effort helped extending American and other countries' university courses to under-served developing countries and the conduct of innovative distance teaching trials with "Global Lecture Hall (GLH)" videoconferences using hybrid delivery technologies.
During the second decade of GLOSAS activities from 1986, Utsumi realized that text oriented e-mail was not enough for distance learning, especially in engineering and medical education which requires graphics, images and full-color, full-motion video. He then organized and conducted a series of videoconferences what came to be called the "Global Lecture Hall (GLH)" (TM). It originated at university campuses in the U.S., Italy, Brazil and Hungary, and spanned the globe. It employed inexpensive media accessible to less developed countries. This type of event was characterized by the involvement of participants at many sites, using several media to facilitate interactions among them. Participants in several countries could hear, talk, and see each other while using affordable methods for developing countries. Our GLH has now been well established as an annual event.
We hold a highly successful International Workshop and Conference on "Emerging Global Electronic Distance Learning (EGEDL/99)" from August 9th to 13th, 1999 at the University of Tampere in Finland -- see <http://www.uta.fi/EGEDL> for the compilation of the conference materials. This EGEDL was thanks to generous support by Alprint, the British Council, Finnair, Finnish Broadcasting Company, Foundation for The Support of The United Nations (FSUN), Japanese Medical Society of America, Ministry of Education Finland, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), PictureTel, Sonera, Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute, United States Information Agency (USIA), United States National Science Foundation, and the Information and Development Program (infoDev) administered by the World Bank.
This event brought together approximately 60 education professionals, decision-makers and leaders in distance learning and telemedicine from 14 nations. They discussed practical ways to harness the emerging technological evolution of advanced global broadband wireless and satellite Internet in the major regions of the globe to provide affordable, global distance learning across national and cultural boundaries.
The conference goals were to:
The original objectives of this event were fulfilled. They were to:
We formed a Global University System (GUS) with group activities of prominent members in the major regions of the Asia/Pacific, North, Central and South Americas, Europe and Africa (see PART II in the Final Report of this workshop at the above mentioned web site). Each of those regional groups are now planning to hold mini-workshops to prepare for their large workshop similar to our Tampere event in the near future in order to formalize the pilot projects listed in the PART II. The pilot projects are to foster the establishment of GUS in their respective regions with the use of broadband wireless and satellite Internet. Included in the establishment are the information infrastructure, the physical network of ground stations and satellites, content, and the institutionalization of the GUS which is to be financed by the Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF).
The conference chairman, Dr. Tapio Varis of the University of Tampere, a former rector of the United Nations University of Peace in Costa Rica, accepted to be the Acting President of a newly formed GUS to lead the effort to seek funding and carry out the projects. Dr. Marco Antonio Dias, former director of Higher Education of UNESCO, also kindly accepted to serve as the Vice President for Administration of the GUS. Dr. Takeshi Utsumi became the President Emeritus and Vice President for Technology and Coordinations.
Issues of information infrastructure and content of the proposed GUS were examined in depth. The GUS will establish pilot projects that can be disseminated as "best practices" examples for the further development and deployment of effective international distance learning partnerships.
In order to support this GUS, the establishments of global private virtual network with broadband Internet and of the Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF) were also discussed at this event.
In addition, GUS will foster the development of distance learning and telemedicine pilot projects using broadband Internet technology in order to enhance their teaching/learning capabilities. The GUS will also facilitate connectivity among current distance learning efforts around the world and will provide support and guidance to selected pilot projects intended to serve as models for adoption around the world.
Deployment of wireless broadband Internet on a global scale, training of facilitators, development of advanced courseware, administration of delivery systems, etc. require huge investments. These can only be made by the private sector and national governments with some support from multilateral agencies and the collaboration of overseas development assistance agencies of major Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in the case of training and content development. For this purpose, the conference worked on a proposal for a Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF) to finance the needed telecommunications capacity for education and health applications in developing countries. The GSTF is the emulation of the Universal Service Fund of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and which will be a pool of the Overseas Development Assistant (ODA) funds of G7 countries in the magnitude of several billion dollars for ten years. The creation of the GSTF is to be made by the International Coalition for Global Information Infrastructure (GII) in Education and Healthcare (hereinafter the Coalition).
This was further discussed at a meeting held at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Washington on 20 December 1999, and a revised version of the plan was presented at the Founders Conference of the [Arthur C.] Clarke Institute for Telecommunications and Information (CITI) at INTELSAT headquarters in Washington on 5 February 2000.
The philosophies and principles of the GUS are set forth in the following eight propositions.
The highest priority of the GUS is to launch a transcultural, globalwide initiative (using modern techniques of communication) to promote the kinds of global education that will advance peace, justice, understanding, and human wisdom. The GUS seeks to encourage a sense of transnational identity, a feeling of global community which is necessary for the survival, creative growth and constructive transformation of our species. Indeed, the survival of our globe itself may depend on such transformation. All those who participate in the GUS will share a firm commitment to the goals set forth, and pledge to pursue them with ongoing vigor. In asking members to affirm and support our agreed-upon aims, we follow the charter of the United Nations. However a lesson may also be learned from disappointments encountered in the UN experience. Bearing these in mind, we shall address the task of implementing the stated goals; bridging the gap between principle and practice, long-range plans and short-term actions, and dreams for the future and present realities.
The GUS has no intention of dictating morality to its participants. It will encourage free and open dialog among those with differing opinions and outlooks. But, in view of the challenges confronting humankind at this critical juncture in its history, it behooves us to demonstrate moral leadership in the various activities we undertake. The GUS will not enter into partnership with any applicant planning to use its power for objectives such as the waging of war or the oppression of its citizens. A policy of the GUS is to offer courses, programs, or practices that are compatible with the interests of global understanding and accord. Moreover, the GUS intends to show moral leadership in a positive manner by promoting curricula and activities, such as peace gaming and global village meetings, that will facilitate global harmony directly. The GUS hopes to play an active and meaningful role in addressing the manifold difficulties facing humankind -- war, pollution, disease, hunger -- by fostering an attitude of trust, empathy and compassion, a sense of solidarity and global identity.
In a world now fragmented by hosts of competing special interests, a globe endangered by the tribal rivalries of the nation-states, we affirm our university as a place where teaching and thinking are given free reign to be truly ecological -- to address problems and crises global in scope. If the "zero sum game" is no longer winnable, if the globe is shrinking to the point where a crisis anywhere is a crisis everywhere, we require the latitude to think globally, bound neither by the motives of profit nor power. In short, the GUS espouses academic freedom as an essential value. We trust that those who support us will pledge to uphold this cherished principle.
The GUS will place an emphasis on quality in all its programs and courses of instruction. It will draw its curriculum from known centers of learning around the world and seek to identify new centers of excellence and creative scholarship. The undertakings of the GUS will include the most up-to-date research and methods, the most recent developments and insights in its various fields of study, and will be supported and enhanced by the latest advances in communication technology. To respond to the immediate needs of its students, the GUS will offer culturally relevant educational experiences not readily available in local institutions, perhaps not available through any other means but an electronic university that is interactive in nature and global in scope.
At the same time, the GUS will remain cognizant of the collective needs of the globe. Recognizing that the welter of newly generated information and technologies can itself constitute a significant problem for humankind as a whole, the GUS will seek to temper the fragmentizing effects of contemporary innovation. The GUS will encourage curricula in which the latest facts and newest techniques are grounded and integrated with the wisdom of our oldest traditions, holistic and ecological approaches found at the core of every native culture on the globe. Accordingly, the GUS will define a "quality education" as one which promotes an integration of the social, economic, political, and spiritual insights of East and West, North and South, masculine and feminine -- encompassing the wisdom of the past, the richness of cultural diversity and the transformative potentialities of the present and future. An education of high quality must give students the most powerful tools of thought accessible to them; it must give them the fullest and clearest version of the facts; and it must interpret the facts, as analyzed by the tools, in accordance with the best-articulated system of values available. The GUS will exhibit respect for freedom and dignity by giving many cultures the opportunity to express themselves in their own best terms.
The GUS partnership of universities, businesses, governmental, nongovernmental, and community organizations will be guided by, and remain fully responsive to, the felt needs and stated aspirations of students, workers and individual citizens around the globe. The GUS will search for ways to make it possible for persons of any means in any region of the world to have the opportunity to obtain the highest quality education, as they define it. We dedicate ourselves to the promotion of literacy and lifelong learning, so that global economic equity and employment flexibility may be achieved. Moreover, we pledge our educational resources to the advancement of scholarship and creative growth on a globalwide basis.
The GUS will work diligently to help make it possible for researchers in significant fields of study to collaborate across national boundaries, engaging in joint research projects facilitated by computer, telecommunication and information technologies. A rich new interplay of disciplines and schools of thought is possible through such electronic cooperation and interchange. By bringing many minds together through computer networking and conferencing, our "collective intelligence" can be brought to bear in exploring fresh approaches to global issues.
But the global problems to be addressed include widespread human suffering: physical, emotional and spiritual anguish, and distress. This suggests that exchanges between and among researchers, faculty and students must be more than intellectual. An affective component seems required. Through intercultural transactions in the arts and humanities, through more intimate interpersonal exchanges, the heart must be engaged as well as the mind. If compassion, trust and empathy are to be fostered, if a sense of global solidarity is to be attained, we must be willing to share our feelings as well as our ideas.
The GUS endorses the precept of unrestricted access to all information and educational resources at its disposal. To advance this goal, it will sponsor a space-station library system that will be open to any educational institution, group, network or individual anywhere in the world. The GUS will facilitate the free exchange of ideas and insights around the globe and then strive to maintain openness at every level of its own operations.
The GUS is committed to the goal of counteracting the depersonalizing effects of mass technology. But rather than limiting itself to the aim of meeting the purely personal needs of its participants, its primary aim is transpersonal -- it seeks to encourage a sharing of minds and hearts across personal, disciplinary, scientific and cultural barriers. Entailed here is an exploratory process of dialog and compassionate exchange that should lead neither to cultural homogenization nor cultural fragmentation, but to a dynamic synthesis of unity and diversity, a transcultural unity-in-difference.
Globalization is the world phenomenon in the 21st Century in every facets of industry, commerce, economy, culture, etc., thanks to rapid advancement of transportation, telecommunication, computer and information technologies. It is vital necessity to build global citizenship for world peace. Education and healthcare are basic needs, fundamental for human development. The missions of GUS are then;
In recognition of the wide range of critical problems currently facing humankind, the goal of the GUS is to expand and improve the global learning opportunities and wellness environment for people in the global knowledge society where everybody shares the global responsibility. The GUS is directing itself, particularly in developing countries, by enabling these countries to:
The GUS will coordinate and facilitate national and international regional systems which will support and complement the traditional educational and healthcare institutions by using conventional methods in tandem with advanced electronic media to further this goal. The GUS seeks open, egalitarian and culturally transparent methods to achieve improved learning and healthcare worldwide, cooperating closely with people around the world.
In order to further the goals and objectives, the GUS will be engaged in;
The "satellite hubs" as well as administrative centers in the above mentioned regions would allow for more concentrated and efficient area efforts that would be overseen by the main administrative center of the GUS Headquarters. The hubs and administration centers could possibly be as follows. This is a natural separation by languages, culture and geography.
American parties have substantial experience to contribute to this project regarding the exchange of educational, vocational, and medical information and knowledge with counterparts around the world. The U.S. educational service is now becoming a sought-after export commodity. This will then hopefully become educational exchange among countries in the near future, i.e., "the 21st century version of the Fulbright exchange program."
It is essential for American colleagues to participate in this project from the initial stages. American participants will be instrumental in providing experience and demonstrations using broadband Internet access for education and access to information, and it will be critical to include American colleagues in the initial technical and content project design.
Global broadband Internet deployment will require the establishment of hub stations which will be linked through the use of geostationary satellites and broadband terrestrial cables. The basic web of interconnectivity would emerge from each regional satellite hub and would be more manageable than from a single source which covers the entire globe. For example, the University of Tennessee/Knoxville is expected to be the major satellite hub in North America for the Central/Caribbean/South America operations. Each region would, of course, have direct interconnectivity with other regions but would be able to concentrate the initial efforts of their region. The initial effort being the assessment of connectivity among the regional satellite hubs and all of the prospective subsidiary wireless (or not) stations of their constituent members.
Once the basic connectivity infrastructure is determined and resolved in each region, the connectivity among the home satellite hubs of regions would be all that remained to be done by the terrestrial broadband Internet lines. All of the regional infrastructures and groups would be coordinated and administered by the GUS Headquarters in Finland.
Since the regional satellite hubs are all interconnected and also connected to the Global University Administrative hub, separation is primarily needed so that one regional hub would not face an overwhelming amount of work and, additionally, the time and travel cost factors do come into play as well as the culture and language issues.
Each satellite hub would have a systems person assigned as an infrastructure specialist to oversee the connectivity.
Each Administration Center would be able to perform functions such as course registration, tuition payments and other student services related paperwork. This would prevent any single entity from being overwhelmed.
Each regional Administrative Center would also perform an assessment of on-line programming (in their region) which could be accessed from the region's satellite hub.
The student information stored in each Administrative Center's database would of course be made available to the main administrative center of the GUS Headquarters as well as to other administrative centers.
The Internet will be the main telecommunication media of tomorrow. It has been extended to most countries, albeit with slow-to-medium speed in most developing countries, and even in large parts of the developed world. But the full potential for achieving revolutionary advances in education and healthcare in developing countries cannot be realized with the currently available information delivery infrastructure and at currently prevailing market prices.
Improved distance education requires much better ways of presenting information and of enabling learners to interact with facilitators to enable the learners to process that information into personal knowledge.
At present most electronic distance learning takes place rather limited programming and delivery modes. Much of the instructional programming is limited to text and simple graphics delivered over the web and/or through e-mail and its derivatives (electronic fora, bulletin boards, chat rooms). On the other, there is room-based or desktop-based videoconferencing, usually with relatively small groups involved and low production values so far as the video and audio are concerned. Both techniques allow significant interaction, but the quality of instruction can suffer from the lack of high-quality audio and video.
High-quality instruction is possible by broadcast television, with multi-million dollar production budgets having been deployed to good effect in some countries, for example Annenberg/CBP in the US, BBC/Open University in the UK, and The Roberto Marinho Foundations Telecurso 2000 and Canal Futura in Brazil. But there has been limited interactivity for these programs beyond what is possible by telephone, fax and more recently e mail and its derivatives. Because of these difficulties of interactivity, which is the essential need for effective learning, and of high costs with earth station at established organization, the analog broadcasting type satellite education in the U.S. has now been declined to mere one third of once peak time usage.
Narrow bandwidth and high telecommunications costs limit the use of streaming video and audio on a large scale. Often telecommunications networks get clogged even with heavy net use of more conventional kinds. Many audiences, even in developing countries, are spoiled by commercial television with high production values. Even for educational programming, these audiences do not easily accept jerky movement, small windows, failing connections, and low production values. The quality of tele-lectures, video inserts and the like can only approximate the high production values of commercial television. As for telemedicine, there is a proven need for high-definition moving images, or at least extremely high-resolution still images for many applications. Even with low-cost or free broadband connectivity between nations, the cost and pricing structure of telecommunications in many developing countries keep the cost of access to the Internet at prohibitive levels, and inappropriate policy and regulatory frameworks do not encourage efficient use of those public resources for education and healthcare.
In sum, what is needed is both high quality audio/video delivery and high quality interactivity. A true revolution in distance learning and telemedicine requires high-speed access to the World Wide Web, allowing the flexibility to offer a variety of media. These might include two-way audio, full-motion video-conferencing up to MPEG 2 quality, television quality netcasting, and high-resolution image transfer for telemedicine. Such capabilities require medium to broad bandwidth. Developing countries need broadband Internet via international satellite and fiber-optic cable.
The revolution in education and healthcare in developing countries also requires a more favorable policy environment, not just for telecommunications but also for education and healthcare. A key to bringing down prices to affordable levels is to establish national and international competition or at least flexibility in the provision of telecommunications, education, and healthcare services. Also rapid transfer of knowledge from developed to developing countries needs to be possible.
Each regional satellite hub of the GUS mentioned above will be connected with their counterparts in developed countries with the use of digital satellites across continents and oceans. However, if possible, it is desirable to use optical fiber terrestrial line to avoid time delay (about 0.3 seconds) for the one hop round trip to/from geostationary satellite. This is because more than 0.5 seconds time delay necessitates simplex (or walkie-talkie) type conversation, as prohibiting effective audio conversation which is absolute necessity of videoconferencing.
The each regional satellite hub will then be connected to regional constituent member organizations (elementary and secondary schools, libraries, hospitals, local governmental agencies, etc.) in mid-range (50 to 200 miles) apart from each other with the use of microwave broadband (1.5 to 45 Mbps) Internet networks.
Those organizations will then emanate the broadband Internet service further to similar nearby (up to 25 miles) organizations with wireless spread spectrum broadband (3 to 10 Mbps) Internet networks, which use does not require license in most of countries.
These are the so-called fixed wireless approach with the requirement of the line-of sight. However, this technology can be used only among buildings. The users have to belong to the organizations of the buildings, hence prohibiting the use of the broadband Internet by individual outreach students at their homes. Fortunately, for their use, the so-called mobil wireless units are rapidly appearing in the market, e.g., 96 Kbps or 164 Kbps Internet access with mobil video-phone in Japan. Nokia presented their research goal of 34 Mbps video-phone by 2004 during our Tampere event mentioned above. This is an amazing future, since it can have HDTV, telephony, fax, voice mail, e-mail, web access, videoconferencing, etc., i.e., almost every kind of telecommunication at that speed. Distance learning for anyone, anywhere, and anytime can be realized with it. The only question not discussed in the Nokia presentation was that of who will provide such broadband Internet backbone. The Nokia representatives indicated that they would be willing to work with the GUS organizers toward the goal of establishing global wireless broadband Internet, including even the last mile to users.
This is not only to help local community development, but also assure close cooperation among higher, middle and lower levels of education, e.g., for teacher training, and courseware development, etc. In a sense, the regional satellite hub is to be the major Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the global private (exclusive) virtual network (PVN) for not-for-profit organizations in the region, and the gateway to the outside world.
Deployment of this high-speed Internet for education and health applications in developing countries would be financed with a Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF) for distance learning and telehealth/telemedicine.
Objective steps must be taken to:
Ideally all countries would have access to free or low-cost broadband connectivity and would have the technical capacity to make use of it for improving education and healthcare. This assumes a number of favorable economic outcomes as well as changes in policy and regulatory environments supporting the effective use of these technologies.
This proposal takes a more limited objective: to make available sufficient broad bandwidth at free or highly reduced cost to enable a significant number of developing countries to undertake major new initiatives in distance learning and telemedicine. The GSTF would support distance learning and telehealth programming only through the provision of broad bandwidth, without making any judgments about the content to be purveyed by specific projects. This content could be in any language and from any source, subject only to the telecommunications, education, and healthcare policy conditionality.
While more than 200 universities in the US now have 45 Mbps Internet and more than a half of elementary schools have 1.5 Mbps Internet, the Leland program of USAID provides only 128 Kbps Internet to two dozen African countries, and the international linkage of Ukraine is at only 1.5 Mbps. The University of the South Pacific in Fiji needs to pay $7500 per month for 64 Kbps lease line to New Zealand. Their USPNet provides a dozen nearby islands with satellite Internet at 64 Kbps and at 128 Kbps to 4 islands among them. The University of Rondonia in Brazil has only a 56 Kbps leased line for thousands of students. Its professors simply gave up the use of the Internet. The required investments for the needed broadband distance learning and healthcare are currently beyond the resources available to most education and health institutions in developing countries, and indeed to the countries themselves in most cases.
The proposed GSTF might be modeled on the Universal Service Fund of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which provides for discounts of 20-90% on a variety of telecommunications services and equipment for schools and libraries. The GSTF especially aims to ease the congestion of the international Internet lines across continents and oceans, for which no organizations have currently being taken care of.
Ideally, funding would be sufficient to eliminate the telecommunications cost for qualified education and healthcare applications. A second solution might be a subsidized International E Rate akin to the E-Rate now benefiting schools in the United States. A third option could be to begin with free bandwidth, but raise it toward (expected to be declining) market prices in gradual steps using the International E-Rate model.
A good example is the aforementioned USPNet of the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, which received several million dollars from the governments of Japan, Australia and New Zealand for earth stations and other necessary equipment, and free use of INTELSAT satellite channels.
Two separate contribution funds or sources would be established, an in-kind bandwidth transmission source and a financial assistance source. The Coalition ideally would include a broad coalition of commercial and governmental sources. These might include key international organizations such as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and International Labor Organization (ILO). The Coalition would also include international development banks, bilateral aid agencies, foundations, and companies contributing to the GSTF as well as organizations contributing education and healthcare knowledge. The GSTF could be administered in a variety of ways, but it must have well organized, credible and financially scrupulous entity of significant international standing in charge in the disbursement of funds.
The proposed GSTF would be financed from a variety of public and private sources, which could include:
The GSTFs bandwidth source might be allocated through a variety of means that might even include an auction process to organizers of distance learning and telemedicine projects in qualifying countries. The cash source might be used for grants to fund access to bandwidth for such projects, with rules favoring poorer countries and end beneficiaries, assuring a certain geographical distribution of benefits between regions, and so forth. Grants might also favor international knowledge sharing. All grants would be made through open competitive process. These are only some preliminary ideas. The details, including the establishment of a pilot version of the GSTF to test operational principles, need to be worked out during the next stage in proposal development.
This activity is now being adopted by the newly established [Arthur C.] Clarke Institute of Telecommunications and Information (CITI) and coordinated through GLOSAS/USA and the GUS. The GSTF will, however, eventually be an independent entity and be operationalized under the auspices of international organizations including INTELSAT, UNESCO, ITU, WHO, ILO, and the World Bank Group, with active participation by working groups to be convened by these organizations. These working groups would include representatives of other interested organizations, such as foundations, other NGOs, private companies involved in telecommunications, other private companies interested in distance learning and telehealth/telemedicine, bilateral aid agencies, regional development banks, and the like.
The basic idea is to mobilize both financial resources, and under-utilized broad (Internet 2 level) bandwidth on both satellite transponders and land lines (especially submarine optic fiber cables) which would be made available for use by distance learning and telehealth/telemedicine projects in qualifying developing countries. There is also a need to set up a credible, reliable, and competent structure to administer the allocation of both the financial resources (which can be used to purchase bandwidth), as well as the in-kind donations of underused bandwidth which would be solicited from its owners.
International institutions with the relevant mandates (ITU, UNESCO, WHO, and ILO, etc.) are being asked to convene the working groups on policy conditionality for a country to qualify for GSTF resources, and global institutions such as INTELSAT and the World Bank Group are proposed as conveners of the working group on operational questions. Either of these institutions could house and administer the funding mechanism, or it could be delegated to third parties or a new entity. That decision would emerge from the recommendations of the working groups. The project proposal proponents are currently contacting the international institutions referred to above to verify their interest in convening the working groups.
In the discussion group at the CITI Founders' conference on February 5, 2000, it was noted that finding and getting commitment of a respected and "nationally neutral" entity for implementation of this project would be most desirable.
Establishing the GSTF requires a critical mass of global support for these new organizations. Creation of a preliminary coalition of participants to support the bandwidth source as well as the financial aid source would be critical to the initial testing of this concept. The ability to mobilize financial and in-kind resources for the GSTF depends on the credibility of the membership of the coalition. That credibility would be furthered by early support from such key international entities as commercial satellite and fiber optic service providers, multi national businesses, national governmental aid agencies, foundations, and agencies of the United Nations such as the ITU, UNESCO, WHO, ILO, the World Bank Group (including the International Finance Corporation), and the regional development banks (African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Inter-American Development Bank). No legitimate agency of standing would be excluded from participating.
To that end, the working group recommends that:
It is hoped that providers of satellite or fiber optic system capacity would be willing to join in further working group discussions to shape the framework for the pilot version of the GSTF for distance learning and telehealth/telemedicine.
During the aforementioned Tampere event, the attendees formulated specific pilot projects focussed on six major regions of the world to reduce the growing digital divide between information rich and information poor populations. These prospective projects are being developed for (1) the Asia-Pacific region (with the Philippines as its first target, and with sub-regions of Malaysia and South Pacific), (2) North America (for indigenous peoples in the states of Arizona and Montana and in Calgary in Canada), (3) Central America, (4) South America (mainly for Amazon basin in initial stage), (5) Europe (firstly with Ukraine and with Pakistan and Egypt later), and (6) Africa -- see PART II in the Final Report of the Tampere event at <http://www.uta.fi/EGEDL>.
The pilot projects outlined in detail at the conclusion of the conference have been identified from grassroots needs and capabilities. Yet they connect to a global vision of the potential for the use of the web in distance learning to reach out to institutions and people who are ready to use it right now. The projects are tailored to local and regional needs and capacities, but they will also learn from each other.
There is a high level of momentum to propel us forward as a result of excellent Tampere conference. The challenge now is to remain focussed on what can be done both to crystallize the structure that has evolved out of Tampere, and to secure the resources to move ahead with the pilot projects that have been identified, along with key people who have agreed to assist and enable them to move forward.
Each of these regional groups are now preparing to hold a mini-workshop to bring together decision-makers from underserved countries and leaders in distance learning and telemedicine to discuss practical solutions for the implementation of affordable global electronic distance learning and telehealth/telemedicine across national boundaries and to establish partnerships for pilot projects.
The main objective of mini-workshops (2 to 3 days) is to prepare for the full workshops with major funding (4 to 5 days in similar scale as our Tampere event) where the proposed pilot projects with feasibility study, action plan, administrative structure, etc. will be formalized by the participating members in their regions. The pilot projects are deployments of distance learning and telemedicine with the use of current narrowband Internet and of broadband Internet later when available.
The purposes of the mini-workshops are;
It is important to note that these workshops are not a one-time experience. Post-conference work in project technical design, required advanced multimedia curriculum, collaborative opportunities for course delivery and joint proposal writing will ensue and will be required of conference participants. Proposals will be prepared and submitted to appropriate funding agencies.
The Tampere meeting was a study in contrasts, and clearly showed the enormous gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots". On the one hand, some of the players have tremendous resources with which to deploy broadband wireless technology; on the other hand, some must operate on a shoestring budget, and even lack adequate basic wireline services as a starting point. A major challenge will be to identify technology which will be appropriate (in terms of start-up and operating costs, maintainability by local people, etc.) in the "have not" situations.
Thanks to our highly successful event with extraordinary supports and cooperations of many funding sources, such as the World Bank, the US National Science Foundation, and colleagues around the world, substantial momentum for our Global Initiative is now building up to have follow-up workshops and conferences to forge ahead the establishment of the GUS with global broadband Internet and Global Service Trust Fund (GSTF) by multilateral collaborations.
The author express his sincere thanks to Dr. Peter Knight of Knight & Moore in Washington, D.C. for his excellent contribution to the GSTF project. The author also greatly appreciates extraordinary cooperation made by the attendees of the Tampere event and his listserve members for this GUS project.
Takeshi Utsumi, Ph.D., P.E., is Chairman of the GLObal Systems Analysis and Simulation Association in the USA (GLOSAS/USA). He is the 1994 Laureate of Lord Perry Award for the Excellence in Distance Education. His public service has included political work for the deregulation of global telecommunications and the use of e-mail through ARPANET, Telenet and the Internet; working to extend American university courses to the Third World; the conduct of innovative distance teaching trials with "Global Lecture Hall(GLH)" multipoint-to multipoint multimedia interactive videoconferences using hybrid technologies; and lectures, consultation and research in process control, management science, systems science and engineering at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, M.I.T. and many universities, governmental agencies and large firms in Japan and other countries.
Highlights among his more than 150 related scientific papers and books are presentations at the Summer Computer Simulation Conferences (which he created and named) and the Society for Computer Simulation International. He is a member of various scientific and professional groups, including the Chemists Club (New York, NY); Columbia University Seminar on Computers, Man and Society (New York, NY); Fulbright Association (Washington, D.C.); International Center for Integrative Studies (ICIS) (New York, NY); and the Society of Satellite Professionals International (Washington, D.C.).
He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Polytechnic University in New York and his M.S. in Ch.E. from Montana State University, after studying at the University of Nebraska under a Fulbright scholarship. His professional experience in simulation and optimization of petrochemical and refinery processes was gained at Mitsubishi Research Institute, Tokyo; Stone & Webster Engineering Corp., Boston; Mobil Oil Corporation and Shell Chemical Company, New York; and Asahi Chemical Industry, Inc., Tokyo.
Officers of Global University System
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