iProA, a non-profit making professional organization founded in 1999, is dedicated to the bridging of digital divide in society, and advancing the art & science and proper application of Internet technology. Over the years, we have accumulated over 2,600 members in different categories. The current membership categories include honorary member, life fellow member, fellow member, life full member, full member, associate member, junior member and affiliated member. We operate under the leadership of 50-member Council. Our activities are managed by over 120 Executive Committee members through over 26 Committees, supported by 10 full time staff. Members of iProA come from a wide spectrum of professions, including experts in areas like innovative design, sales, marketing, infrastructure, e-commerce, consultancy, investment and other Internet-related professional services. Many of our members are CEOs and senior executives from leading information technology enterprises. In the past seven years, iProA and its members participated actively in community services and have gained wide recognition in Hong Kong. Starting from 2004, voting members of iProA, with four years or more of working experience in IT fields are eligible to register as individual voters of the IT Functional Constituency in Legco elections.
To help narrow digital divide in Hong Kong, iProA initiated the “e-Inclusion Campaign” (formerly known as the “Web Care Campaign”). It encourages enterprises to provide barrier-free web sites via a Web Care Award programme. Standardized internet course materials targeted for elderly, women and the disable together with training guide were prepared by the Unified Internet Training Programme (UITP) team. More than 2,000 volunteers have registered and trained to be qualified tutors of UITP and “School Web Care”, and more than 700 free UITP classes have been conducted to train over 10,000 new Internet users since the Campaign was initiated six years ago.
Our efforts in narrowing digital divide have also been well received at the international level. We participated in United Nations’ World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS). We were appointed to the Experts Panel of United Nations’ World Summit Award (WSA) as well as served in the Grand Jury representing Hong Kong and China. We were also appointed as a member of the WSA Board of Directors. The Global Alliance for Bridging the Digital Divide (GABDD) initiated by iProA has also received overwhelming support and participation from 24 countries worldwide. Riding on the success of “Global ICT Summit 2004” held in Hong Kong, iProA co-organized “Global ICT Summit 2005” in Bahrain to explore business opportunities for Hong Kong ICT industry in the Middle East Market.
In 2006, iProA devoted to explore and create the cooperation opportunities in different industries of the various regions, including “The SME Entrepreneur Consortium (SMEEC)”, the first SME consortium in the world that brings together different SME stakeholders, it aims to help SMEs to better understand market opportunities and risks, acquire know-how in financing their businesses, and how to use information and communications technology (ICT) effectively. In the eHealth area, iProA joined hands with the Department of Health, OGCIO, Hospital Authority and Hong Kong Society of Medical Informatics to form an eHealth Consortium, and the eHealth Forum was held in September 2006. To facilitate and promote the use of IT as a complementary tool in the health care industry, thus enhancing the accessibility, quality and effectiveness of health care services in Hong Kong. In the digital content, we jointly convened with the Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited the “Hong Kong Digital Content Alliance” (HKDCA) which is formed by nine content industry-related associations. As part of the “Programme to Promote Legal Download of Digital Content in Hong Kong", the HKDCA will bring the content industry and the IT industry together to address the emerging copyright issues for digital content in Hong Kong. Furthermore, as the Special Cooperation party, iProA co-organized the “China Internet Conference 2006” in Beijing in September; the event strengthened the exchange between the mainland and the industries. “The Hong Kong ICT Awards 2006” with the full support from the Office of the Chief Information Officer, iProA was the organizer of eYouth Award category (previously known as IiTEC) and also co-organized the awards of “Digital Inclusion” and the “eGovernment”. The award presentation ceremony was successfully held on 22 November 2006.
iProA plays an active role in advisory committees and advises the government on IT related policies from the professional perspective. Our Council members participate in the Digital 21 Strategy Advisory Committee, the Personal Data (Privacy) Advisory Committee of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCO), the HKSAR Logistics Development Council; the Chinese Language Interface Advisory Committee of the Office of Chief Information Officer, and a number of committees on the promotion of IT usage of various District Boards.
Since its inception, iProA has joined hands with different organizations such as government departments, public bodies, universities, media and private businesses, and organized hundreds of events in line with our mission. In this process, we encourage business corporations, public organizations as well as individuals to join the growing Internet world as well as participate in social services and strive to bridge digital divide across geographical boundaries. Through successful completion of these events, we expect that more resources will be made available by the government, and all sectors of the society will join in to support the continuous growth of Internet and the IT sector in Hong Kong.