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					          Third Meeting of Asia Pacific Information Network (APIN)
             Co-organised by the National Library of Malaysia &
                             UNESCO Bangkok
                26-28 February 2007, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

                      COUNTRY REPORT ON
        INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT)

                                  THAILAND

                             Ms. Praditta Siripan
                               Director, TIAC




The ICT infrastructure 2004 – 2006
Executive summary


    ICT development in Thailand has grown more in the public access to
computers, Internet and mobile phones. ICT indicators show slow progress
because the number of access to fixed line telephones for the country is still
below the expected level. The increased bandwidth has been double for the
past few years. The government has been able to provide e-services for
people who live in Bangkok and big cities. But the aim to launch the first smart
card in 2006 failed because of the political change that caused the delay to
some ICT projects. A positive sign for Thailand is seen from the 10 th National
Plan on Social and Economic Development that focused on sufficiency
economy, and budget for lifelong education as well as to establish knowledge-
based society was allocated for all government departments. Thailand still
aims at being the ASEAN Hub of ICT by confirming to be an open market and
will continue fair trade among international partners. Thailand is studying the
possibility of using Open Source Software in order to lessen a burden from
tremendous amount of spending on imported software. In terms of knowledge
sharing among APIN member countries, Thailand is willing to share our
knowledge on open access basis despite the different languages. Thailand
looks for joint research projects on machine translation and multi-language
thesaurus and taxonomy to use as tools for storage and retrieval of multiple
databases.



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Major ICT development since the last APIN session in China 2004
                                                 2004      2005     2006     2007
   -   Telephones
       Fixed line capacity/100 people            13.6      14.0
       Fixed lines in operation/100 people       10.7      11.3
   -   Mobiles
       Users/100 people                          36.7       51.3
   -   Computers                                  1.9 m.    2.6m.
   -   Internet
       Internet users                             7.0 m.   7.1m.    8.5m.
       Users/100 people                          11.9      12.0
       International Bandwidth (mbps)            2398                7515    12,255
        Domestic                                                    28720    68,710
   -   MICT budge(million baht)                  2,361      5,021    5,041


Special ICT problems, constraints and/or challenges encountered


    The ICT development problems have reflected Thailand national
development and competitiveness since 2004. The problems still exist in 2006
to 2007. The surveys from 3 institutions (IMD, WEF. and A.T.Kearny) showed
Thailand’s serious weak points as internal economy, infrastructure in
education, science and technology, international investment and Total Factor
Productivity (TFP). Also, Thailand ICT indicators are relatively low, especially
a number of the public access to telephones.


Human resources development in ICT continued to be serious problems. The
10th National Economic and Social Development Plan aimed that Thailand
becomes knowledge and learning society focusing on preservation of local
wisdom as well as from universal knowledge. It was stated that the country
had faced with the global economic and social changes, and the country has
performed relatively low in terms of science, technology, and industrial
innovation. Therefore investment in knowledge resources acquisition from
western countries was necessary.
So far Thailand faced with unsuccessful educational plan, and at present data
showed that        although the    opportunity for         education has     increased


THAILAND COUNTRY REPORT
                                             2
continuously but not yet able to reach the international standard. In 2005
average learning years was 8.5 years which was below accepted standard.
The quality of educational proficiency was lower than 50% passing grades in
4 subjects: Thai language, English, mathematics and science. Statistics on
population who finished compulsory education showed literacy rates in
Thailand in 2005 to be 98.5% for population age 15-24, and 93.51% for
population from 15 years and older. Statistics was higher in 2005 than 5 years
ago. Only 60% of graduates from compulsory education or grade 6 are literate
in functional reading/writing and in mathematics. About 26% of the population
is ICT literate. And 2006 data on labor’s skill showed that the actual ICT score
is 2.02 from the expected score of 3.57. There is no current data on digital
and media literacy although 2005 data on people’s spending on media and
telecommunications equipments was 4.1% while people spent 2.4% out of
total spending. There is no data on spending for books and newspapers. The
government emphasizes on opening wider access for the public to continue
lifelong education, though the communication media has not adequately been
supported nor facilitated. Only 20% of the villages throughout the country
have access to community learning centers. Every thousand people have
access to 1 computer, and 116.7 people within a thousand have access to
Internet.
    Employment skills - Thailand workforce still lacks both quality and quantity.
Although the in 2005, a number of workers who finished primary education,
was increased from 36.5 % in 2002 to 39.8 %. A number was still insufficient
to meet the industry need of the country. The target of the 10 th National Plan
is to encourage young people to enter vocational education, to set up parental
networks, in order to help in social development services and to encourage
the graduates to return to work in their hometowns. Lifelong learning will be
promoted to all citizens along with distance and e-learning for employment
skills development and to increase higher literacy rates. The 10 th National
Plan aimed at providing lifelong learning especially for workforce who had
been deprived from formal education. A number is approximately 14 million in
2006, and this means 20% of total population and represented 32.2 of
population within a range of 15-59 years of age.




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Challenges - ICT for development (ICT4D) policy

The 10th National Economic and Social Development Plan B.E.2550-2554
(2007-2011) stated that the country needs to implement ICT for overall
system of knowledge management, to build local knowledge, to apply
technology appropriately in order to strengthen the strong points from Thai
wisdom and integrate with national culture. A focus on the use of intellectual
property, and licensing of products and services to gain added values to the
economic growth were included in the national policy. The policy also pointed
the problems from the rapid change of ICT to Thai society that has serious
impact of public access to information that has influence upon lifestyle of
young generation. The government takes action to consider preventive
measures concerning intellectual maturity of young generation as well less
educated population who may be led to inappropriate social behavior. The
10th National Plan mentioned the investment in ICT for the development of
lifelong education especially in providing more computers for schools in the
communities, and in creating contents needed for improving people’s ability in
critical thinking as well as to provide current statistical data on economic and
natural resources.
    ICT strategy is set to increase investment in building ICT infrastructure for
enabling Thailand to the e-society. The government supports the investment
in e-government for example e-health systems, and e-services for
government at all levels both for public and private sectors. The government
will create more opportunity for the people in all sectors especially for people
living in remote areas in the rural provinces to have access to public services
in telecommunications and in educational sectors. The government will invest
in database development in GIS, biodiversity and local wisdom.


Need for bilateral or regional collaboration within ICT
    “December 26, 2004, 7.58 am. A thirty- foot- high wall of water – a
tsunami – slams into the famed resort islands off Thailand’s southern coast. In
one tragic moment, thousands of lives are lost, and thousands more are
missing.




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    In the race to identify victims and assist survivors, Thailand’s government
hit its own wall. Responding agencies and non-governmental groups are
unable to share information vital to the rescue effort. Each use different data
and document formats. Relief is slowed, coordination is complicated. The
need for common, open standards for disaster management was never more
stark or compelling. The Royal Government of Thailand responded by
creating a common website for registering missing persons and making open
files format in particular an immediate national priority.”
    The need for information and knowledge sharing among the region has
been issues of discussion for a long time. Problems were mentioned from
language to intellectual property right and ICT.       Today, the advanced ICT
technologies and widespread Internet access have brought technical
resolutions to the problems. Yet there has not really successful projects that
are able to integrate information from various geographical locations for a
single search, and can be used immediately.
    Institutional Repository for APIN countries is needed to materialize
knowledge sharing among the network. An example of DSpace Repository
initiated by MIT is practical. It has enabled the global knowledge communities
to open their research resources and publications for public access.


Prospect of ICT projects at present


E-government
    The government by Ministry of ICT created the Government Contact
Center: GCC which is the e-citizen service. Available services are free
Internet for fixed-line telephone subscribers, pre-paid card for wireless
Internet, and IT security service to business. And from March 2007, MICT and
TOT – Telephone Organization of Thailand, will start a free one stop on-line
service to all government links called GCC 1111 - Government Contact
Center. The center provides central telephone and online services for e-
application forms, e-taxation, and e-channel for public requests or appeals by
e-mail to www.1111.go.th , Post Office 1111, Public Counter Service 111 at
the Government House and to Hotline telephone 1111.




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    Ministry of ICT has cooperated with Cat Telecom and TOT and 6
universities to set up a First Stop Service Consortium. The service will provide
a network of 274 government agencies to be able share services and
information. The project is expected to reduce cost of communication and
improve the government e-services. The public will be able to access
information about educational and employment opportunities, as well
healthcare system operated at different units in different provinces.


E-citizen
    A website serves Bangkok people of different age groups by providing
access to government information services. Information is customized for the
life cycle needs of four groups: infant, adolescent, adult, and senior citizen.
Examples of public service provided are from how to access free telephone
services, to information about service of Port Authority Commodity
Warehouses, as well as traffic rules and regulations. Business people can
also find information about online payment for example TOT service for online
money order that facilitated payment systems, and without need to open a
bank account. Also there is information about laws necessary for business
start-up. For example, someone who is setting up a drinking water business
will find information about basic investment, sanitary laws as well as pricing
and distribution channels. This website is a result of contribution from all
government departments, so there is information on crime prevention,
healthcare service and need to know laws as well as claims from health
insurance, revenue, taxation, recreation, and public parks. E-services online is
available from this e-citizen single point access.
    ICT in education: e-learning for the young and the old. Thai society is
going to have more old people than the young generation as a result from a
better health system and birth control measures. The national education
agenda now focuses on lifelong and informal education. ICT projects on e-
learning have been placed top priority on budget allocation by the
government. Within 2007, Thailand expected that community learning centers
and public libraries in the provinces and down to village level will have at least
one computer and Internet access. The southern provinces will be the first
priority to benefit from the plan.


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    ICT laws on Computer Crime and Data Protection are being revised and
modernized to meet the changed situation and problems. The government is
keen to set up legal measures to handle digital documents and digital
signatures. The issue of paperless office has been discussed in terms of legal
actions as well as in terms of standards for storage and retrieval of
information.
    National Center for Disaster Warning Systems was established after the
Tsunami in 2004. Thailand has experienced several other natural disasters,
flood and forest fires, landslides and earthquakes and epidemic diseases that
harm the whole region such as HIV Aids and SAR as well as the Avian Flu.
The National Center for Disaster Warning Systems will integrate different
databases for use in monitoring and for the case of emergency. There is
cooperation to set up a system such as grid computing network between
government research centers and private sectors such as IBM and Oracle.
Countries in Asia-Pacific and Europe and America will have greater
opportunity to share expensive computing facilities and data needed to
perform good research. New medicine and treatments can be invented and ill
patients can be cured and live healthy lives.


Recommendation on decisions to be taken during APIN session


1. More active communication among member countries to keep updated
    about the activities: meetings and seminars
2. Initiate APIN knowledge repository, for example following a DSpace (MIT
    model). This is for knowledge sharing. A follow up from a workshop in
    Bangalore may be revitalized
3. APIN should focus on needed areas such as ICT human resource
    development for library, and information services, knowledge management
    for libraries, and appropriate technology for digital libraries
4. Proposed annual action plan responding to APIN policy on Information for
    All and may be as well on roadmap toward a knowledge society




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