[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]
The purpose of the session was to provide an overview of the experiences and challenges of the Islamic Republic of Iran when it comes to the information society and the WSIS Action Lines. The session offered an insight into the utilisation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in different areas, such as agriculture, education, health, research, and education. The moderator, Dr Hadi Shahriar Shahhoseini, vice chancellor for international affairs at the Iran University of Science and Technology, opened the session by reminding the audience that the Iran country workshop has been run every year at the WSIS Forum.
Dr Alireza Reisi, deputy minister, Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MoHE), talked about the structure of the health system and the electronic health record programme in Iran. He stated that the first support for the health plan started with the Iranian government. The objectives were to provide access to essential health services to all, the revision to service packages according to age groups, and mental health - including the so-called ‘surveillance system’ for early detection and diagnostics. He underlined that the early warning system has proved to be successful. Currently up to 90% of Iranians have been registered in the ‘Integrated public health system’. As for the challenges of the programme, he mentioned that at present it is only in the governmental sector and not in the private sector, and there is a lack of IT infrastructure in some areas of the country.
Dr Seyad Morteza Moosavian, Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, spoke about two projects focused on local digital content development in Iran. Both projects are in keeping with Action Lines 6, 7, and 19, as well as the Action Lines on sustainable development and economics. Moosavian said that both projects play a significant role in empowering information society and achieving goals in the Islamic Republic of Iran. One project aimed at obliging providers of information society services, including website owners and administrators, to anonymise the data they retain in cyberspace. A second project aims to empower and enable citizens to gain competitiveness, knowledge, and skills with new media and technologies. The Ministry’s goal is to achieve upgrading of the literacy, education and cultural building of the country.
Dr Rahman Issazazadeh Nesheli, Ministry of Education, emphasised that almost every 10 years there is a major change in IT education in Iran. Since they are learning from their experience they are looking into taking a step towards the information society by developing digital content, promoting digital education for children, providing broadband, and using the Internet of Things (IoT), up to 2030. The main focus of IT education is on IT infrastructure, capacity building and empowerment of human resources, and integration of IT management. As for the future, the teaching and learning process is likely to evolve with virtual reality technology, to such an extent that, ‘IT could begin as early as kindergarten'.
Mr Keyvan Keshavarz, Ministry of Agriculture, gave some facts and figures stating that Iran has a population of 18.8 million, out of which 28% is rural and 72% in urban areas, underlined by the fact that 18.3% of the total population is in agriculture. He continued by saying that e-agriculture and e-government have been transformed around the globe as well as in Iran. In order to optimise the tasks ahead, he sees the use of e-services as crucial.
Dr Mohammad Khansari, ICT Research Institute (ITRC), showed the chart of a survey from 2016 and 2017 in which 800 companies took part, among which 140 are active in the IoT. He said that business models and strategies based on consumer needs are required. The survey showed the expected growth in upcoming years to be in the areas of energy, smart cities, health care, and agriculture. As for the challenges, Khansari mentioned lack of rules and laws, the need for a national strategy, increased demand, a decreasing market for SMEs, lack of communication standards in these areas, and the need for skilled human resources. Currently there is no official programme or curriculum available in Iran.
By Aida Mahmutović