Information and Communication Technology for E-Regions

Information and Communication Technology for E-Regions

Koray Velibeyoglu (Izmir Institute of Technology, Turkey) and Tan Yigitcanlar (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch306
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Abstract

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are essential components of the knowledge economy, and have an immense complementary role in innovation, education, knowledge creation, and relations with government, civil society, and business within city regions. The ability to create, distribute, and exploit knowledge has become a major source of competitive advantage, wealth creation, and improvements in the new regional policies. Growing impact of ICTs on the economy and society, rapid application of recent scientific advances in new products and processes, shifting to more knowledge-intensive industry and services, and rising skill requirements have become crucial concepts for urban and regional competitiveness. Therefore, harnessing ICTs for knowledge-based urban development (KBUD) has a significant impact on urban and regional growth (Yigitcanlar, 2005). In this sense, e-region is a novel concept utilizing ICTs for regional development. Since the Helsinki European Council announced Turkey as a candidate for European Union (EU) membership in 1999, the candidacy has accelerated the speed of regional policy enhancements and adoption of the European regional policy standards. These enhancements and adoption include the generation of a new regional spatial division, NUTS-II statistical regions; a new legislation on the establishment of regional development agencies (RDAs); and new orientations in the field of high education, science, and technology within the framework of the EU’s Lisbon Strategy and the Bologna Process. The European standards posed an ambitious new agenda in the development and application of contemporary regional policy in Turkey (Bilen, 2005). In this sense, novel regional policies in Turkey necessarily endeavor to include information society objectives through efficient use of new technologies such as ICTs. Such a development seeks to be based on tangible assets of the region (Friedmann, 2006) as well as the best practices deriving from grounding initiatives on urban and local levels. These assets provide the foundation of an e-region that harnesses regional development in an information society context. With successful implementations, the Marmara region’s local governments in Turkey are setting the benchmark for the country in the implementation of spatial information systems and e-governance, and moving toward an e-region. Therefore, this article aims to shed light on organizational and regional realities of recent practices of ICT applications and their supply instruments based on evidence from selected local government organizations in the Marmara region. This article also exemplifies challenges and opportunities of the region in moving toward an e-region and provides a concise review of different ICT applications and strategies in a broader urban and regional context. The article is organized in three parts. The following section scrutinizes the e-region framework and the role of ICTs in regional development. Then, Marmara’s opportunities and challenges in moving toward an e-region are discussed in the context of ICT applications and their supply instruments based on public-sector projects, policies, and initiatives. Subsequently, the last section discusses conclusions and prospective research.
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Introduction

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are essential components of the knowledge economy, and have an immense complementary role in innovation, education, knowledge creation, and relations with government, civil society, and business within city regions. The ability to create, distribute, and exploit knowledge has become a major source of competitive advantage, wealth creation, and improvements in the new regional policies. Growing impact of ICTs on the economy and society, rapid application of recent scientific advances in new products and processes, shifting to more knowledge-intensive industry and services, and rising skill requirements have become crucial concepts for urban and regional competitiveness. Therefore, harnessing ICTs for knowledge-based urban development (KBUD) has a significant impact on urban and regional growth (Yigitcanlar, 2005). In this sense, e-region is a novel concept utilizing ICTs for regional development.

Since the Helsinki European Council announced Turkey as a candidate for European Union (EU) membership in 1999, the candidacy has accelerated the speed of regional policy enhancements and adoption of the European regional policy standards. These enhancements and adoption include the generation of a new regional spatial division, NUTS-II statistical regions; a new legislation on the establishment of regional development agencies (RDAs); and new orientations in the field of high education, science, and technology within the framework of the EU’s Lisbon Strategy and the Bologna Process. The European standards posed an ambitious new agenda in the development and application of contemporary regional policy in Turkey (Bilen, 2005). In this sense, novel regional policies in Turkey necessarily endeavor to include information society objectives through efficient use of new technologies such as ICTs. Such a development seeks to be based on tangible assets of the region (Friedmann, 2006) as well as the best practices deriving from grounding initiatives on urban and local levels. These assets provide the foundation of an e-region that harnesses regional development in an information society context.

With successful implementations, the Marmara region’s local governments in Turkey are setting the benchmark for the country in the implementation of spatial information systems and e-governance, and moving toward an e-region. Therefore, this article aims to shed light on organizational and regional realities of recent practices of ICT applications and their supply instruments based on evidence from selected local government organizations in the Marmara region. This article also exemplifies challenges and opportunities of the region in moving toward an e-region and provides a concise review of different ICT applications and strategies in a broader urban and regional context.

The article is organized in three parts. The following section scrutinizes the e-region framework and the role of ICTs in regional development. Then, Marmara’s opportunities and challenges in moving toward an e-region are discussed in the context of ICT applications and their supply instruments based on public-sector projects, policies, and initiatives. Subsequently, the last section discusses conclusions and prospective research.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Nomen clature of Territorial Statistical Units: It is a system of the classification of regions across the EU used by the European Commission.

E-Region: It is a set of policy actions to achieve economic and social cohesion and to raise the technological level of regions through the use of ICTs. It covers a wide range of ICT initiatives from the provision of ICT infrastructure to the promotion of new electronic services and innovative ICT applications.

Knowledge-Based Urban Development: This is a knowledge-intensive urban planning and development approach to nourish the transformation and renewal of cities into knowledge cities.

Urban Information Systems: UISs are powerful means for governments in meeting long-term strategic planning and management challenges. They provide a heightened awareness of the interdependency among environmental, social, and economic health and the impact of decisions made by neighboring jurisdictions, government agencies, and private business.

Total Quality Management: TQM is an organization-wide effort to improve quality and make it the responsibility of all employees.

Regional Development Agency: This is a semiautonomous, regionally based body operating at arms length vis-à-vis its sponsoring political authority. It is a multifunctional and integrated agency, the level of which may be determined by the range of policy instruments it uses.

Local E-Government: Local e-government refers to information, services, or transactions that local governments provide online to citizens using the Internet and Web sites.

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