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WCIT 2004 – Only a few months from now!

Athens hosts the 14th Congress on IT next May

If all eyes will be turned to Athens, in August 2004, because of the Summer Olympics, in May the eyes of the ICT community will be focused on the same city, which will host the 14th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT). The organization of the Congress was awarded to SEPE (the Federation of Hellenic Information Technology & Communications Enterprises) by the World Information Technology & Services Alliance (WITSA), three years ago.

WCIT is regarded as the most important biennial event in the industry and many people describe it as the “Davos” of the ICT Community. It draws hundreds of specialists and huge publicity (the organizers are expecting approximately 2,000 delegates as well as 300 media people). WCIT attendees are leaders in the ICT business (CEOs and high-standing executives), key decision-makers from government, academia and international research institutions, as well as venture capitalists and business consultants. The 2004 Congress – being the “European” Congress of this decade, because of the rotating system adopted by WITSA, a few years ago – will focus on the most important, cutting edge issues in Information technology, Telecommunications and e-government. The main subject of the Congress could be no less than… “The future is now”.

Preparations for the WCIT 2004 are proceeding well -something the steering committee of WITSA, that visited Athens in May, didn’t fail to point out- and have already sparked great interest in the ICT community. An impressive number of CEOs of prominent ICT companies have already confirmed their presence at the Congress and the organizing committee is in the final stage of negotiations with many others, expected to take part in panels and round table discussions. Participation of Technology Ministers from major emerging markets, including China, India and Russia, as well as representatives from US and Japan, is also anticipated. The president of the Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee, Mrs. Yanna Angelopoulos-Daskalakis has also confirmed her participation as a keynote speaker in a common event, which will take place in the Olympic campus and focus on the subject of the benefits technology brings to the Olympic cities.

There will be panels and sessions dealing with the “hot” topic of “How IT leads the way to big changes in our lives”, offering an in-depth look into the synergies between the converging technologies of IT and Communications. Also, on how the governments around the world may best exploit the latest products and services (e-solutions), in order to offer better living standards to their citizens, in a world that is constantly changing, getting networked very fast. The role of “IT as the locomotive of the world economy” will be the focal point of another round of sessions and speeches, where consulting firms, market research companies and distinguished analysts will examine the latest hot-topics and trends, while members of academia and researchers will offer their perspective on ICT evolution and the way it influences all other sciences. Finally, the ICT industry will be examined vs. the human being in the context of its environment, exploring the possible ways to secure our future.

Another quite important feature of WCIT 2004 is the Business Forum, that will take place just before the main Congress, on 17th and 18th of May, 2004, offering to the participants the chance for high-level networking and exploitation of business opportunities. The first day will be devoted to business development opportunities in the private sector, while the second will be devoted to e-government issues and will culminate in a ministerial roundtable. The Greek minister of Interior, Public Administration & Decentralization, Mr. Kostas Skandalidis, whose ministry is the official Pinnacle Sponsor of WCIT 2004, invited during the ministerial meeting in Rhodes, last June, his colleagues from all 25 EU member-states to participate in this roundtable, in order to examine the situation in Europe and even agree on a pending decision about the establishment of progress criteria on national e-government issues.

The Greek Minister of Interior, Public Administration & Decentralization, Kostas Skandalidis (2nd to the left), pledged the ministry's full support to the World Congress on IT, that will be hosted in Athens, in May 2004. With him on the panel were WITSA President, Harris Miller, then Chairman of SEPE, Athanasios Pouliadis, WCIT 2004 CEO, Dimos Vatikiotis, and Press Office Mgr., Yannis Rizopoulos

Moreover, in order to enrich and enhance in a quite innovative way the most important biannual event of the ICT industry, the organizing committee has undertaken the initiative to organize a one-day Scientific Forum, that will run in parallel to the Business Forum and will investigate the challenges and perspectives of cutting-edge technology. This Forum would include keynote speeches and presentations on a specific sector to be revealed soon. It would consist of a plenary session and one or two panels (alternatively, workshops) and ideally could attract researchers and scientists from various disciplines (ICT, Physics, Astronomy, Meteorology, Chemistry, Biology etc.) coming from Europe, United States and Asia/Pacific, who will focus on various applications. This Forum will also provide a “golden opportunity” for the Greek scientific community to present its initiatives in national, peripheral and international level.

It should be noted that the efforts of WCIT organizers in order to organize a highly successful Congress are fully supported by the mayor of Athens, Mrs. Dora Bakoyannis, who has pledged to actively participate in the preparations for this great event. The mayor has already appointed a senior member of her staff as a link between the organizers and herself, in order to facilitate the procedures and iron-out any problems that may occur.

Mrs. Bakoyannis, who dreams of Athens as a unique city that combines the ancient spirit with modern, high-level infrastructure, particularly in Telecommunications and IT, regards the hosting of WCIT, next May, as an event of major significance, both in symbolic and practical terms.

Special attention has been given to the publicity regarding WCIT 2004, as promoting an international congress on a global scale and providing information about it, is more than crucial to its success. The Athens Congress boasts having one of the most complete promotion programs ever designed in Greece, on any subject, complemented with pre-Congress events – in fact, such an event will be held in Athens, next month, focused on e-government issues. Through this program, the Congress presence at an international level, in the most important events of the global ICT industry, will be continuous and considerable. The Congress Internet site (www.worldcongress2004.org), which offers a selection of nine languages and contains a lot of useful information, also plays a crucial role in the promotion effort, while WCIT Press Office regularly publishes newsletters with the Congress’ latest news.

WCIT 2004 is being supported financially by an innovative sponsorship scheme. Under the terms of co-operation with its international media partners, the top sponsors – that is, just a handful of large, multinational companies with global sales – will enjoy special privileges and benefit from a concrete marketing program that will run world-wide from now to May 2004, over and above the “usual” sponsor packages.

WCIT 2004 and CNN have already reached an agreement, which names CNN as the official broadcasting sponsor of the Athens’ Congress. According to the terms of this agreement, CNN will offer airtime as well as space in its popular website for the promotion of WCIT and its major sponsors. Similar packages are still under negotiation with the International Herald Tribune, Financial Times and Business Week.

It should be noted that the main program of WCIT 2004, which will be held in the brand-new and state of the art Congress Center of the Athens Music Hall (Megaron), will be complemented by a bevy of very interesting and specially organized for the participants events, that will allow them a quite privileged insight into some Greek marvels, old and brand new alike. Among them, a brilliant cultural performance at the Roman (2nd c. AD) Herodes Atticus Odeion situated just beneath the Parthenon, a guided tour around the modern facilities, where the Athens Olympics will take place only three months later, a golf tournament and a regatta in the Saronic Gulf.

The Antikythera Mechanism: the First “Computer” in History (80 B.C)

The Antikythera Mechanism, an astronomical measurement instrument, was brought up by Greek fishermen, in 1901, in the Greek sea of Antikythera. For several years scientists argued about the actual use of this mechanism.

In 1975, the British specialist in ancient timer mechanisms, Derek de Solla Price, in cooperation with the Greek nuclear physicist, Mr. Karakalos, published a report characterizing it as the most complicated mechanism that has ever been manufactured, until 2000 A.D. They argued that the mechanism was an astronomical instrument of high precision, which recorded the moving of the Sun in relation to the Earth and the Moon. According to the same research, it is very possible that the mechanism, the first “computer” in history, was constructed by the school of Poseidon, in Rhodes. Nowhere else in earth has a similar mechanism been found and its scientific and historical value is tremendous.

The Antikythera Mechanism is displayed among the treasures of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Derek de Solla Price, Gears from the Greeks: The Antikythera Mechanism – A Calendar Computer. In Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, New Series, vol. 64, part 7, 1974.

For more information, please contact:
Giannis Rizopoulos: JRizopoulos@cnc.gr

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