Saturday, April 05, 2008

Opening of ACT 2020 Summit

Greetings from the ACT 2020 Summit, which is on Saturday 5 April 2008 at the National Convention Centre (NCC), in Canberra. By a curious coincidence, in 1996 I wrote a 2020 scenario as part of an ACT Government project about Canberra, including the NCC.

The theme of the day is "Innovation: for a city state whose core natural asset is its people". Lynette Glendinning, from PALM Consulting Group is managing the complex process which which has working groups and facilitated plenary discussion. The idea is participants split into groups to discuss one to and will then consider what comes out in a later session.

The mechanics of the complex process took up quite a bit of time and I was more than a little confused. I was supposed to have a number on my badge which indicated which group to join. There was no number, but the group on the digital economy was under subscribed so I thought I will go there.

The audience at this stage is very enthusiastic and applauded the introductions from the Chief Minister and others. However, I am not sure that this enthusiasm will extend throughout the day. The idea of having 350 people in one room working on one thing does not make a lot of sense.

At 10:30am We moved from the theater room into one with a flat floor. There were 12 square tables. with about 18 people around each. The setup of the room reminded me of MIT's TEAL room, minus the technology. The noise level was a little high for comfort and the light level a bit low. The session started with the facilitator introducing themselves, the rapitor (note taker) and people introduced themselves around the able. It turned out that many of the people around the table were from the ANU and from other universities. But we also have Brand Hoff, founder of Tower Software and Senator Lundy, as well as the head of AARnet.

The discussion got a bit bogged down on open source versus proprietary software (we had been through this at the Open 2020 Summit on Thursday). "Cloud Computing" also got a mention. We then got back to the issue, assuming we had broadband in Canberra, what could we do with it. One use is to replace travel.

The link with Asia came up with sport being a way to connect. Infrastructure was also an issue, with rail links to Canberra (I proposed a hybrid one). Also the need for a new convention center (I proposed the one at the ANU could be combined with an educational and decision support center). Tourism was also an issue and other services sector. One idea support for local entrepreneurial activity. "Canberra e-City, the Hub of Australia" was suggested. The need for city economic planning was mentioned.

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