January 14, 2018

Since 2009, Bangladesh has been diligently pursuing a technology-led vision named “Digital Bangladesh”. “Digital Bangladesh” will be a vision that would bring technology closer to everyone’s life. One of the most significant stakeholders who must align their mindsets with this vision is the future torchbearers of the nation – today’s youth. And hence, with the goal of creating a platform where youth and modern-day technology would intertwine, “Digital World 2017” came into being. It is by far the largest ICT Expo of Bangladesh that hosts IT industry, Government, Academia, professionals, industry leaders, innovative products and services to showcase their wonders, applications and the massive economic potential of the Information and Communications technology (ICT) industry.

Digital World 2017 is the 5th event held in its category by the ICT Division of the Government of Bangladesh. Inaugurated in 2011 as “e-Asia 2011”, the ICT Division has successfully continued to host such events every consecutive year. The event eventually got renamed to “Digital World” in 2012 and kept on gaining massive popularity as the years passed.

The event implemented a massive promotional campaign before its inauguration. It took to social media and uploaded a series of short, interesting promotional videos inviting everyone to attend this one-of-a-kind symposium. There was also a theme song in which numerous reputed artist gave their voices. From digital billboards all across the major cities to massive social media engagement campaigns, this event was about to transcend all the records of the past.

This year’s Digital World was held on 6-9th December at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, the Honorable Prime Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh graced the event with her presence and inaugurated it. With this year’s theme as “Ready for Tomorrow”, Digital World 2017 has surpassed everyone’s expectations.

Digital World 2017 comprised of multiple events and conferences. With more than 400 exhibitors from both home and abroad (with the likes of Google, Nuans, Motorola, Qualcomm) and about 5 lakh visitors, the colossal event had something for everyone. There were more than 300 stalls and pavilions where companies displayed various electronic gadgets for sale. This was surely a treat for all the tech-savvy customers as they gathered in large numbers to grab the latest devices. And apart from all the product showcasing, there were also booths from various ministries from the Government of Bangladesh where the e-services were displayed. There were booths from ICT Division, the Road Transport and Highways Division and many more – all showcasing various e-services that helped bring the Government’s services to the citizens’ doorsteps. These interactions not only created amusement and cheerfulness but also helped ordinary citizens to comprehend how everyday technology is helping to shape their lives in every aspect.

The ICT Career Camp was also a very popular event headlined in Digital World 2017. With more than 6 lakh freelancers working in the country, this segment of the event facilitated the creation of a network with the local and regional/global IT-ITES industry leaders, professionals, entrepreneurs and youths with a view to sharing their experiences and best practices. With the construction of hi-tech parks and software parks built in various cities across the nation, this event garnered massive interest among the youth. Leveraging ICT for Growth, Employment and Governance (LICT) Project, Bangladesh Association of Call Centre and Outsourcing (BACCO) and Facebook have jointly organized ICT Career Camp at Digital World 2017. With the tagline “Digital Bangladesh-e amra durbar”, the main objective of this segment was to encourage today’s youth to build their career in the ICT sector. There were several companies who offered on-spot recruitments as well. Apart from the involvement of the top CEO’s of the nation’s biggest ICT companies, the 3-hour long ICT Career Camp was also graced with the presence of esteemed keynote speakers such as Kushagra Sagar and Rajit Arora from the world’s largest social networking platform – Facebook.








Other conferences included the Developers Conference and the Ministerial Conference. This year’s Ministerial Conference focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (also dubbed as 4IR). With the advent of autonomous robots, IoT, Big Data Analytics and Augmented Reality we are surely witnessing the rise of the new digital industrial technology known as “Industry 4.0”. And this was the topic of discussion; with brainstorming and presenting ways by which we can align our industries with this revolutionary change and grow as a nation. The dire need of Government-to-Government collaboration in order to adopt successful working models, enhancing knowledge sharing and facilitating policy shifts were also brought into light. With the presence of various partner organizations including Boston Consulting Group, the Ministerial Conference brought together global thought leaders, technology evangelists and industry veterans to discuss the disruptive technologies and also define the dilemmas as well as the probable solutions. The Developer’s Conference proved to be equally interesting. With developers playing one of the most crucial roles in developing software and apps, a separate event to address their needs and opportunities was more than necessary. Representatives of ICT companies, international ICT associations and local software development firms presented their tricks and tips of the trade. Government departments and agencies showcased their successful ICT-based projects and campaigns. This conference also served as a networking session for the massive number of talented developers from all across the country. 

One of the biggest attractions of Digital World this year was none other than the humanoid robot named “Sophia”. Sophia has gained popularity all over the world earlier this year when Saudi Arabia declared it as one of their citizens; sparking both interest and controversy at the same time. But her presence in this Digital World 2017 was welcomed by the warm and hospitable hearts of all Bangladeshis. The ordinary townsfolk had been talking about her months before the conference took place and the day has finally come. It was Dr. David Hanson who initiated this segment of the event. Dr. David Hanson is the founder and executive officer of Hanson Robotics; the company that has been behind the creation of this spectacular humanoid robot named Sophia. He approached the podium and greeted the massive amount of conference attendees present. He talked about our impending future and how artificially intelligent robots can help shape our everyday lives. He articulated the fact that how these machines are capable of replicating many of our actions and can thus be used to increase efficiency in several human-led industries. His speech was concluded with a sincere invitation towards everyone to create a positive world where there will be a significant presence of such intelligent machines. It was then time for Sophia to delight the crowd with her presence. With the entire hall overflowing with an excessive crowd, curious pairs of more than 5000 eyes were about to witness sheer technological perfection as Sophia took the stage. Adorned with a yellow traditional jamdani, the crowd applauded and underwent massive uproar as Sophia approached the center-stage. Her robotic eyes scanned the entire crowd and analyzed her whereabouts. When the program’s host asked her where she was, she replied in a very calm and composed tone, “I am right now in Dhaka, the capital of the beautiful country named Bangladesh”. Another cheerful applaud followed by the crowd. Sophia even had a conversation with the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and mentioned that she has long revered the great leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and that she was delighted to meet the daughter of such a revolutionary leader. She even got to meet the Honorable ICT Minister of the country Mr. Zunaed Ahmed Palak; they went on to talk about the possibilities of creating robots like her in Bangladesh as well and how immensely pleased Sophia would be if our fellow Bangladeshis can create a robot of her kind. Sophia then had some light-hearted moments with the program host. The two continued to have an engaging conversation; from light-hearted questions to serious ones. The robot answered them all with utmost perfection. When ironically asked about the importance of artificial intelligence to her, she replied quite inquisitively, “The best scenario will be a partnership between the creativity of humans and the labor of robots – working together in synergy to create a better tomorrow”. Sophia’s presence in Digital World 2017 has surely been one of its major attractions and one can easily understand how much this has helped to inspire the developers and robotics enthusiasts of the country.

This massive technology symposium also consisted of a Gaming Zone where teens and kids could play games and have a good time. And apart from the display of Sophia, there was also a separate Innovation and Robotics Zone where local robot-maestros unveiled their own robots and the amazing things that these wonder devices are capable of. Startup Bangladesh was a “must-not-miss” event for the technology entrepreneurs of the country. Several technology-based startups displayed their business models, shared their insights and discussed how their business is helping to transcend the entire innovation ecosystem of the nation. Top players of the global technology scene like Emanuel Breiter, Shin Satake, Axel Angeli and even our country’s very own Tina Jabeen were present apart from many others. There was also a Mobile Innovation Zone where people from all around the world and Bangladesh showcased their innovation in mobile fields, such as application, mobile gaming and home automation by mobile and so on. In order to further enlighten the citizens about the massive potential that our local ICT sector possesses, a Made-In-Bangladesh Product Showcase platform was also set. New products and services resulting from homegrown initiatives were brought in front of the public eyes for showcasing.

With the launch of Bangabandhu Satellite – 1 as well as the smartcard system and even the construction of the world’s 5th largest 4-tier data center right here in Bangladesh, there is no doubt of the immense potential that our country possesses in terms of ICT and technological advancement. Bangladesh has come a long way ever since its independence and such a massive tech-event like Digital World 2017 clearly portrays the fact that the revolution has already begun. The sheer vision of Digital Bangladesh has already set to establish its existence in our very core. May such events and spectacular initiatives like Digital World 2017 inspire young Bangladeshis to become the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk of tomorrow.

The photos in this article are collected from www.digitalworld.org.bd

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