in an electronic form by the year 2002. The most critical factor in achieving these kind of targets, which I believe are realistic and even conservative, is the need to restructure the way government agencies work. It takes time to redesign business processes, to implement a new information architecture and to rearrange internal powers.

Q: Is there something that American cities might learn from what is happening in Europe?

A: Over the past few years we have seen that more and more European cities adopt an open mind about learning lessons from anywhere around the world. Elected officials in Europe believe that there is much to learn from experiences and best practices around the world. They also believe that there is a lot to gain from cooperative action. There are now indications that this openness will eventually extend beyond the present networks of mainly cities in the European countries. First of all, the [admission] to the union of the central and eastern European countries brings in many new cities. And in special issues of development, the European Union is encouraging this perspective with special funds. Secondly, the New Transatlantic Agenda may give rise to cooperation between cities across the Atlantic. We would welcome initiatives in this field.

The main problems here seem to be the lack of resources for U.S. and Canadian cities to build networks like Telecities, and the lack of resources to build transatlantic partnerships of local governments. Finally, there is the Global Bangemann Challenge. Like the G7/G8 global inventory, this is very much about best practices. But in the Global Bangemann Challenge there is a competitive element too, which makes it fun to participate. I would like to encourage American cities to join this challenge.

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More information about these European projects can be found on their Web sites: Infocities, the Telecities Web site, part of the European Digital Cities project, and the Equality Web site.

Blake Harris  |  Editor