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WCIT 2010: Tech can improve life for Europeans

The World Congress in Information Technology closed with a call for governments to to use ICT to protect the environment and boost quality of life for Europeans - possibly by ordering more beer in for the World Cup.

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Technology must be used to help protect the environment, boost the economy, and improve quality of life for Europeans - even if that means developing smart refrigerators that automatically orders beer when it starts to run low.

That's the view laid out at the 17th World Congress in Information Technology, which came to a close in Amsterdam yesterday with a clink of a glass and a clean hand-off to Canada's Minister of Industry Tony Clement whose country will host the biannual technology summit in 2012 in Montreal.

Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Maria van der Hoeven unveiled the Declaration of Amsterdam at the final session, calling on governments and industry to stimulate sustainable economic development, improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gasses, and significantly improve the quality of life for citizens through the use of ICT.

"We are in this together: business, government and NGOs," said van der Hoeven, urging the delegates to fulfill the goals by 2012.

On the policy front, the declaration specifically urged governments to consider introducing the universal right to internet access, and to develop a charter of citizens' and consumers' rights and responsibilities in the digital environment by 2012.

The declaration also called on the ICT industry to improve its energy efficiency by an average of two per cent per year between now and 2020, and on governments to reduce the carbon footprint of public services by 30 per cent in the same timeframe.

Spanish MEP Dr. Pilar del Castillo Vera, who chairs the Board of Governors of the European Internet Foundation, urged both governments and industry to respect the privacy and dignity of citizens and consumers.

"The digital agenda in Europe should guarantee the right of individuals to be forgotten," she said.

Ron de Mos, Managing Director Business Markets at Dutch telecom giant KPN, urged policy makers and business leaders not to waste "the opportunity of a good crisis" and to work toward improving daily life for citizens and consumers.

He later mused that in the future, ICT innovation will touch everyone's life, offering the hypothetical example of KPN handling orders from a refrigerator that automatically replenishes a dwindling supply of beer during World Cup season.

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