ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao yesterday announced the 18 winners of the WSIS Prizes 2016 at the WSIS High-Level Opening Segment, which was held at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG).

The WSIS Prizes 2016 contest provides a platform to identify and showcase success stories across the 11 WSIS Action Lines defined in the Geneva Plan of Action.

The awards are conferred through an open online voting process, which this year engaged over 245,000 stakeholders from around the world. A total of 311 projects were nominated for the 2016 contest, a significant increase on the number of nominated submissions in 2015, reflecting both the prestigious nature of the award and the growing importance of ICTs in national development strategies.

In line with the inclusive, multi-stakeholder character of the WSIS Process, the prizes recognize the outstanding achievements of a wide range of organisations in strengthening implementation of the vision and targets set by the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 (Phase 1) and 2005 (Phase 2).

“ITU and its WSIS partners strongly believe in the critical importance of ICTs in achieving the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

“The WSIS Prizes recognise all players in the effort to improve global connectivity, from governments and global ICT companies to grassroots NGOs leading innovative ICT-oriented projects at the local level. All of these stakeholders are equally vital to the success of the WSIS Process.”

WSIS Project Prize winners include government departments, international organizations, private sector companies, NGOs and academia. An innovation in the WSIS Prizes contest this year is the nomination of 70 ‘WSIS Prize Champions’.

This new award category recognises outstanding projects that were among the most-voted entries and which also received the best reviews by the members of the Expert Group.

Of these 70, 18 winners were selected to receive the coveted WSIS Prize, with the remaining projects to be celebrated at a special event to be held on Wednesday 4 May entitled: Implementing Best Practices and Addressing Challenges: Meet the Winners and Champions.

This year’s 18 winners are:

Action Line C1 The role of government and all stakeholders in the promotion of ICTs for development
Winner: Fostering integration of Argentine Academia in the activities of ITU, Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones (ENACOM), Argentina
Action Line C2 Information and communication infrastructure
Winner: Data Centres for Government Agencies, National Information Technologies JSC, Kazakhstan
Action Line C3 Access to information and knowledge
Winner: Connected Homes, Presidential Social Council, Costa Rica
Action Line C4 Capacity building
Winner: Smart Online SMEs (S.O.S.) by Thaitrade.com, Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), Thailand
Action Line C5 Building confidence & security in the use of ICTs
Winner: Certification Programme for Better ICT Services, Office of Electronic Communications, Poland
Action Line C6 Enabling environment
Winner: Life Long Learning and Employment for People with Disabilities, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Egypt
Action Line C7 E-government
Winner: e-National Judicial System, Ministry of Justice of Turkey, Turkey
Action Line C7 E-business
Winner: ATTA’A System, Atta’a for Helping Charity Organizations, Saudi Arabia
Action Line C7 E-learning
Winner: MexicoX-Platform of Massive Open Online Course (MOOCS), National Digital Strategy, Mexico
Action Line C7 E-health
Winner: Informatization of the Public Health System, SOFTEL, Cuba
Action Line C7 E-employment
Winner: Technology for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurs, and Economic Development Project, Information and Communications Technology Office, Philippines
Action Line C7 E-environment
Winner: Asia Pacific Green Data Center Farm, Green Data Center LLP, Malaysia
Action Line C7 E-agriculture
Winner: Harmonized Information of Agriculture, Revenue and Irrigation for a Transformation Agenda – Precision Technology for Agriculture, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, India
Action Line C7 E-science
Winner: R-package to compute confidence intervals for heritability, reliability, and heterogeneity, Ilia Vekua Institute of Applied Mathematics (VIAM) of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU), Georgia
Action Line C8 Cultural diversity & identity, linguistic diversity
Winner: Connectivity is Productivity, Bridge Africa, United States of America
Action Line C9 Media
Winner: Youth Women in Community Media and Journalism – the beginning of a new era in rural broadcasting journalism, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication, Bangladesh
Action Line C10 Ethical dimensions of the Information Society
Winner: EmpoderaLive, Cibervoluntarios Foundation, Spain
Action Line C11 International & regional cooperation
Winner: ICT Development in Arab Region, ICT Development in Arab Region, United Arab Emirates

Background
WSIS Project Prizes is an international contest developed in response to requests from WSIS stakeholders to create an effective mechanism to evaluate and recognise individuals, governments, civil society, local, regional and international agencies, research institutions and private sector companies for outstanding success in implementing development-oriented strategies that leverage the power of ICTs.

The WSIS Project Prizes contest is an integral part of the WSIS stocktaking process.

The contest was held for the first time in 2012, and rapidly gained attention and popularity within the ICT for Development (ICT4D) community.