• IGF Nairobi: Mapping Internet Governance

last modified October 4, 2011 by tomlowenhaupt

The U.N.'s Internet Governance Forum (IGF) met in Nairobi, Kenya from September 26-30, 2011 to explore a range of Internet issues. Connecting.nyc Inc. participated on a Mapping Internet Governance panel. This page presents and reports on that presentation and its evolution.

The Sixth Meeting of the IGF


The Mapping Internet Governance panel met in Nairobi at 9 AM on September 28th.

Cities Moving Toward TLDs
Bold = Global Cities.
  • Athens
  • Basel
  • Barcelona
  • Berlin
  • Bordeaux
  • Budapest
  • Hamburg
  • London
  • Madrid
  • Melbourne
  • Miami
  • Moscow
  • Naples
  • New York
  • Ottawa
  • Paris
  • Quebec
  • Rome
  • Venice  


Measuring the Success of a City-TLD

While entering the text of the Nairobi presentation at left, its author noticed that the measures of a city-TLD's success lacked detail. The following begins to remedy that by providing detail on success indicators.

        • # city businesses on the TLD
        • # government services using the TLD
        • # smart portals
        • % civic organizations using the TLD
        • % improvement in digital literacy
        • % properties (block and lots) using their city domain name
        • % public transportation resources with active domain names 
        • % streets with active domain names

Measuring Success moved to new page.

























To develop an effective strategy for an Internet endeavor you need a good deal of information about the various issues related to your area of concern and about the complex landscape of Internet governance institutions and fora. The "Mapping Internet Governance" workshop explored the need for a "Map" containing such information and what is desired regarding the structure and content of such a Map. Connecting.nyc Inc.'s Thomas Lowenhaupt participated on the panel, via remote, presenting a paper on the creation of a map for city-TLDs (see below). Also on the panel were:

  • Andrea Glorioso: Coordinator of the Internet Governance team at the European Commission - Directorate-General Information Society and Media [EU].
  • Jeremy Malcolm: Consumers International, Kuala Lumpur Office for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East 
  • Sheba Mohammid: ICT Policy Specialist in Trinidad and Tobago, focusing on Digital Inclusion in Small Island Developing States.
  • Bitange Ndemo: Permanent Secretary in The Ministry for Information And Communications, Republic of Kenya
  • Douglas Onyango: CTO, Lake Victoria IT & Bio-tech Park (LAVIT), Kampala (Uganda); AfriNIC, IANA, EA-IGF, ISOC.
  • David Souter: Managing Director, ict Development Associates; author of http://www.apc.org/en/pubs/books/mapping-internet-public-policy ; Visiting Professor in Communications Management, Business School, University of Strathclyde; Visiting Senior Fellow, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics; Associate of the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

The formal notice of the panel’s formation and additional details are available for review.

The Presentation

Introductory Remarks

Let me note at the start that I deeply regret that I was not able to join my fellow panelists around the table in Nairobi. And I've long desired to visit Nairobi and regret that circumstances did not allow that dream to come true.

My presentation will be short. Last year at our City-TLD Governance and Best Practices workshop at IGF Vilnius, we had a Remote Participant whose most excellent material was not matched by the the communication channel. So my presentation will be short and then I'll sit back and absorb what my most accomplished fellow panelists have to say.

Setting the Baseline

Today, more than 1/2 the world's population lives in urban areas. That is expected to rise to 75% by mid-century. With the ICANN having approved a new TLD process, more than 20 cities have already expressed an interest in acquiring Top Level Domains. Thirteen of those are Global Cities. Global cities are the engines of growth for their countries, the gateways to the resources of their regions, and important nodes on the global economic system. More than 25% of these Global Cities have expressed an interest in a TLD. (See sidebar.)

But those cities are ill prepared to effectively develop their TLDs. How could they be, the process itself is unclear. For example,

  • Page 2-18 of the Application Guidebook says a city must consult its nation-state as to the level of government and administrative agencies responsible for the filing letters of support or non-objection. Those processes have not been established here nor elsewhere to my knowledge.

  • The role of the IANA has not been finalized. The NTIA has proposed that a “proof of consensus” be filed with applications for city TLDs. While we support that requirement, the details have not been spelled out.

  • And most significantly by far, What are these TLD's to be used for? There has been no baseline study on how city-TLDs are to be used to facilitate the economic and civic growth of cities. I don't mean to diminish the work done by the small not-for-profit that I operate. But the immense impact of the Net on cities necessitates a careful review of a broad set of domains – by anthropologists, cognitive scientists, economists, engineers, political scientists, and more. The study should not be limited to today's technology but should explore those on the horizon, Handles as well a Domain names. We've advanced the benefits of such a study and have been speaking to a variety of entities, including ISOC, about funding such a baseline effort. If anyone here is interested, please contact me.

What are the consequence of being ill prepared?

Entities that traditionally sell domain names as their business are leading cities into the traditional “the-more-names-sold-the-better” business model. We suggest that a more appropriate model for cities might be the level of improvement in children's education, in residents efficiently provided health care, with the increased number of local communication channels, on how well the digital divide has been reduced, etc. These are the measurements that count for cities, not the number of domain names sold. (See Sidebar - Measuring Success.)

    What's to be done?

    When I learned of this workshop's formation I requested of Norbert Bollow that I be allowed to serve on it. We'd made some progress in New York on devising a plan for local governance, a multi-stakeholder structure of sorts. And thinking the global situation was becoming settled, I requested a position of this panel. But with the IANA, IBSA, Code of Conduct, the EU and other interventions, I'm not nearly as confident as back then.

    But the ICANN process marches on.

    We must move toward the creation of a governance map for cities. To do so I suggest the following steps:

    1. Complete the Baseline Study.

    2. Amongst its recommendations should be the creation of an entity that facilitates the development of city-TLDs as public interest resources. An entity to create standards and share best practices. The Paris Understanding, a document put together in response to the ICANN's adopting a New TLD program in 2008, is a good starting point.

    3. Finally, after completing the baseline study and with cities having organizing themselves, cities must decide on a how best to align their needs with the Internet's governance processes – with ICANN and or elsewhere.

    Cities are where most of us live. They are a key part of the bottom-up governance process. Let's make sure they have an effective role in the Internet processes that affect their operation.

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