News Archive

San Diego Supercomputer Center Hosts International Meeting in Support of Middle East Peace Process

Sponsored by U.S. Department of Commerce and State Department

Published 03/27/1998

For more information, contact:
Amy Finley, San Diego Supercomputer Center
619-822-0924 (voice), (619) 534-5113 (FAX)

With support from the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Department of Commerce, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) is hosting an international conference and training workshop in support of the Middle East peace process on the campus of the University of California, San Diego.

Visitors from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine are at SDSC March 26 through March 31, learning how to use the Internet in commerce -- both within their own countries and across international borders. Since international borders in that part of the world are often closed to the the movement of people and goods, information-based businesses offer the best opportunity to bypass the uncertainties imposed by unpredictable political events.

The purpose also is to set up an Web-based database for business contacts -- company profiles, business guides, rules and regulations of Middle Eastern countries, lists of contact people, information from local chambers of commerce, and related information.

The organizers of the program hope that their efforts will lead to "privatizing the peace process" in the Middle East -- that what they're doing will reinforce the economic benefits of cooperation. The State Department is behind the effort as one of the few recent bits of good news from that area. "It's a tangible example of people successfully working together toward a common goal," Marc Siegel, Executive Director of the International Technology and Trade Network (ITTN) said today.

Marc Siegel and MENA-Peacenet ( organized the conference, with the cooperation of Paul Thanos, Senior International Trade Specialist at the US Department of Commerce. MENA-PeaceNet (Middle East/North Africa Information Exchange Network) is funded through the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

With a $75,000 grant from the Department of Commerce, SDSC is training the visitors to set up Web sites and databases. SDSC also will serve as the Web host for the master database. When they return to their home countries, the participants will set up mirror sites for the master database. The conference participants all have technical backgrounds in addition to government and private business interests.

In addition to learning about the latest computer networking techniques, the twelve attendees from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza will also learn about building business contacts in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and the United States. "If people have an economic stake, then they'll be more interested in the peace process," said Siegel, noting that business is expected to play a major role in PeaceNet

"What you have is a privatization of the peace process - a ground-up approach to helping people of warring factions to know each other professionally," Siegel explained. "Together, they can go to the government and say, 'Hey, we can work with each other,' and push to have the political barriers removed."

The San Diego Supercomputer Center became involved when political events prevented the conference from being held in Amman, Jordan, last September. The organizers contacted the Internet Society in search of a politically neutral host; they recommended SDSC. The fact that SDSC has extremely tight computer security will help ensure that the database is as safe as possible from the predations of computer vandals (who might have any number of reasons to sabotage the project).

Marc Siegel also was aware of SDSC's "inter-governmental organizational skills" as demonstrated by our leadership of the San Diego Bay Project (, a consortium of more than thirty public (Federal, State, and local government), private, and non-profit organizations that is using information technology to assist public policy decision-making in monitoring and regulating collective use of San Diego Bay.

Marc Siegel and Paul Thanos can be reached through Tuesday, March 31, at 619-534-5194 or Paul Thanos can be reached after the conference in Washington, D.C., at 202-482-1860 or Thanos and the MENA-PeaceNet visitors are staying at the Marriott Hotel (619-587-1414)

The technical contact at SDSC on the database effort is Mike Vildibill, at 619-534-5074,

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) is a research unit of the University of California, San Diego. SDSC is sponsored by the National Science Foundation through the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure and by other federal agencies, the State and University of California, and private organizations. For additional information about SDSC, see and, or contact Ann Redelfs, SDSC, 619-534-5032,

Related Web links:


WIRED NEWS -- 27.Mar.98 " Peace Effort Grows From a Database" by Kristi Coale

Backgrounder on


Sponsored by the United States Department of Commerce Technology and International Trade Administrations

What will the ITTN do?

  • The ITTN program will build a network of on-line tools and off-line organizations, in Emerging Economy Regions and the United States, to facilitate electronic information sharing.
  • A strong focus of this information system is to bring newer, better, safer, cheaper technologies to marketplace by encouraging partnering in technology development and commercialization between the participating countries.
  • Establishes a suite of functions which will help businesses and organizations locate information, people and web sites by serving as an index, locator and "one-stop-shop" to facilitate investment and joint ventures between Emerging Economy Regions and American public and private sector organizations.
  • The ITTN is intended to level the playing field between large and small companies, by being easy to use (even with low cost equipment), accessible to novice and infrequent computer users, and self maintaining with continuous (password protected) updating.
  • The ITTN serves as a "road map" to available resources, as well as establishes databases profiling public and private sector companies and organizations involved in trade and commerce. It provides partnering, matchmaking and market opportunity notification systems.
  • Enables organizations in Emerging Economy Regions and U.S. to use the standardized ITTN database format and avoid having to spend their resources developing a separate system.
  • Provides an umbrella to supporting communication and exchange of information between businesses, academia, researchers, assistance providers and public servants to promote sustainable economic growth and stability.

Goals of the ITTN

  • Support cooperation, information sharing, leveraging of resources and avoid duplication among a network of business assistance, standards, customs, environmental regulation, research and development and educational organizations in the Emerging Economy Regions and U.S.
  • Help businesses, academia, researchers, assistance providers and public servants identify and access relevant trade and commerce information on the Internet.
  • Provide a standardized database platform for identifying commercial, joint venture and partnering opportunities.
  • Provide business guides, background material, market and partnering opportunities, information on laws, regulations, customs procedures, and forms needed for international trade and commerce.
  • Promote the use of affiliated web sites and databases within the ITTN organizational network.
  • Highlight new information about ITTN organizations' programs and web sites.
  • Provide training for participating organizations on electronic information exchange and effective use of electronic information resources to improve business, trade and technology opportunities.
  • Promote the use of databases and electronic information systems within U.S. and Emerging Economy business communities.

Promoting Peace, Cooperation, and Economic Development

1. The ITTN network fosters cooperation between countries in Emerging Economy Regions.

2. By exploiting the non-threatening platform of the Internet, the ITTN provides a neutral forum to establish person-to-person and business contacts.

3. Avenues of dialogue and economic cooperation and interdependence are established between countries in regions of conflict.

4. The ITTN provides a common ground for addressing issues of regional concern in areas where political barriers have prevented joint solutions to shared problems.

5. Meetings and interactions between ITTN Organizations will provide opportunities for colleagues from different countries to share information and experiences, as well as seek further avenues of regional cooperation and harmonization.

Creating a Public/Private Partnership to Foster Peace and Stability

6. The ITTN seeks to "privatize" the peace process in regions of conflict and instability.

7. Using the economic power of the private sector to improve the well-being of people, the ITTN seeks to create a catalyst for political support of regional peace processes.

8. The ITTN is a collaborative effort between the governmental and business sectors to give people in Emerging Economies an economic stake in peace, cooperation and development.

9. The ITTN provides an efficient and non-bureaucratic means of facilitating cooperation between organizations and peoples of different regions.

10. Establishing a public/private partnership maximizes flexibility in pursuing avenues towards peace by fostering innovative approaches which would not be possible by the public and private sectors alone.

Opening New Markets

11. Regions of Emerging Economies are areas for establishing new markets for the private sector.

12. Promoting regional stability and development increases the appeal of foreign investment by opening regional markets of scale, rather than smaller country-based markets.

13. Developing a private and public sector business assistance network knowledgeable in database and electronic business applications provides the skilled personnel needed to introduce and train businesses in Emerging Economies with efficiently using these tools.

14. Exploiting database and electronic information system development in Emerging Economies is a key to rapidly opening these markets to international marketplace.

The Information Technology (IT) Community Can Help Make It Work

15. Active participation by the leaders of the private sector, such as the IT Community, makes provides the economic impetus needed to facilitate regional peace and stability.

16. The electronics, software and information technology industries can lead the way by exploiting the most precious resource of Emerging Economies, the human and intellectual resources.

17. The IT Community is the recognized leader in innovative approaches. Working with the business assistance organizations in Emerging Economies, the IT Community and the ITTN can quickly and efficiently bring businesses into the modern information age.

18. The IT Community can establish itself as a leader in "privatizing" the peace process in regions of conflict by participating in this unique approach to promoting world peace by facilitating communication and economic cooperation between peoples in these regions.

For more information, contact: