What is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day?
World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is an awareness day where the use of the Internet, and other ICTs, in the workplace are discussed, identifying how they can bring societies and economies opportunities. According to the United Nations, the date for this particular awareness day was decided in 1969 because of the fact that “17th May marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union,” and this then formed the first “World Information Society Day”. World Telecommunication and Information Society Day merges two awareness days, World Information Society Day and “World Telecommunication Day”, with the latter formed in November 2005.
The first World Telecommunication and Information Society Day was celebrated in May 2006. This was after the “United Nations General Assembly” accepted the “World Summit on the Information Society[’s]” argument that World Information Society Day should also focus on the importance of ICTs, as well as other discussions on a wide range of issues relating to information society.
Internationally, the aim of the awareness day is to stimulate reflections and exchanges of ideas, debate various themes with all partners in society, form a report reflecting on the national discussions and feedback to the International Telecommunication Union.
How did World Telecommunication and Information Society Day accelerate digital transformation during the pandemic?
During the covid-19 pandemic, businesses mostly went online, working from home, using digital technologies to make virtual offices; this resulted in an increase in the use of ICTs. According to the United Nations, during the pandemic, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day “brought to the fore the startling digital inequalities between and within countries.” All United Nations “stepped up and engaged in activities that have proven essential in saving lives and sustaining economies”, each demonstrating remarkable resilience in the face of a challenging two years. Following on from this, the United Nations also stated that “the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgency of accelerating digital transformation and advancing the goals and targets of the Connect 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind.” They believe that World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is a great platform to promote this digital change from.
In 2021, World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, provided the International Telecommunication Union with the opportunity to push for digital transformation; they did this by “promoting national strategies on ICT development, [and developing] smart policies to encourage investments, cooperation, and partnership.” In 2021, the theme of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day was “Accelerating Digital Transformation in Challenging Times”. Throughout the year, there were national, regional and international initiatives to accelerate digital transformation; there was even a virtual event, which was “[aimed] to highlight the need for enhanced cooperation on information and communication technologies (ICTs) and telecommunication, both between countries and across different sectors.”