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SFSU hosts digital sister city launch

November 30, 2005

Photo of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom listening to representatives from one of the city's digital sister cities at the SFSU eventSFSU hosted a Nov. 22 teleconference to launch the San Francisco's Digital Sister Cities Initiative. The event linked government officials, educators and digital industry representatives from Canada, Ireland, India, Macedonia, Mexico and Singapore to discuss the future of collaboration via high-speed networks.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom facilitated the event and communicated with his international counterparts via six screens in the August Coppola Theater.

"The globalization of the economy is well under way, and San Francisco is at the epicenter of new ideas and technological advances," Newsom said to an audience that included SFSU faculty, staff and students and representatives from the Mayor's Digital Media Advisory Council. "As innovators, we need to be proactive and be the first city to reach out and demonstrate that we can work with anyone, anywhere, at a moment's notice."

Also addressing the teleconference were: David Miller, mayor of Toronto; Jose Trinidad Padilla Lopez, president of University of Guadalajara; Noel Dempsey, Ireland's minister of communications; Trifun Kostovski, mayor of Skopje, Macedonia; and Thomas Lin, director of digital games and entertainment at Infocomm Development Authority in Singapore. Each gave a perspective of his country's plans and desire for a relationship that would foster international cooperation and industrial growth.

Jeff Fino, cofounder of Bay Area animation studio Wildbrain and chair of the Mayor's Digital Media Advisory Council, emphasized that the Sister Cities Initiative places San Francisco in a pioneering position to collaborate internationally without the intrusion of time-consuming travel. "We need to signal to our neighbors that we are eager to work together for the mutual benefit of our companies," he said.

Such Bay Area companies as Lucas Film are already creating products via high-speed networks.

"Staff at Lucas Animation Singapore work hand-in hand with the team at Letterman Digital Arts Center as well as those based at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County," said Cliff Plumer, chief technology officer at Lucas Film. "We are leveraging the technology we have here to making the international integration and communication seamless and efficient."

The SFSU-based Institute for Next Generation Internet (INGI), a charter member of the Mayor's Digital Advisory Council, arranged the event. INGI was founded earlier this year to create partnerships with other educational institutions as well as government agencies, major corporations, small businesses and community organizations with the goal of improving education, employment opportunities and economic development through use of high-speed networks.

"Technology and next generation networks are transforming the nature of the economy around the globe," INGI Director Joaquin Alvarado said. "The Digital Sister Cities Initiative will help make the transition for cities more meaningful -- economically, socially and culturally."

Gail Whitaker, dean of SFSU's College of Extended Learning and associate vice president of academic program development, was pleased the mayor chose SFSU as the place to launch the initiative. "This reflects our firm partnership with city hall in setting global standards for using technology as a catalyst for economic development," she said.

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified November 30, 2005 by University Communications