Cablegate: High Tech Public Diplomacy in Helsinki
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHHE #0185 1201350
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291350Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4265
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS HELSINKI 000185
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECPS TSPL KPAO FI
SUBJECT: HIGH TECH PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN HELSINKI
1. (U) Working in a high tech country provides
opportunities to explore innovative public diplomacy
avenues for outreach to a tech savvy crowd. Working
closely with the Public Affairs Section, the Economic
Section recently created a "geocache" in downtown
Helsinki to encourage people to visit the American
Resource Center (ARC) located in the Finnish National
Library. Geocaching is a popular treasure hunt hobby
in which participants use GPS (Global Positioning
System) receivers to hide and seek "geocache"
containers around the world. This "techno-treasure
hunt" includes over 500,000 "caches" worldwide and
some 5,000 caches in Finland. Visitors to the
Embassy Helsinki's geocache (The Statue of Liberty in
Helsinki - GC1A3PW) receive an information packet
about GPS technology and learn about the other unique
services the American Resource Center offers.
2. (U) When creating the Embassy's geocache, our
objectives were to:
A. Advertise the ARC and promote the services the
ARC provides. The ARC is a unique section in the
Finnish National Library; however, it is enough off
the beaten path that patrons generally don't "bump
into it" which in many ways made it an ideal geocache
site and provided Embassy Helsinki with a unique way
to increase traffic to it.
B. Reinforce the unparalleled investment the United
States Government has made to provide realtime
navigation worldwide for free. This is especially
timely as the EU's Galileo system has recently been
approved by the various EU institutions, in theory
paving the way for an on time completion in 2013.
However, many believe the EU will ultimately charge
subscriptions for at least some of Galileo's
services, effectively ensuring GPS remains the most
popular navigation service in the future.
C. Connect with the large tech savvy population in
Finland in a creative way.
D. Provide official information on how GPS functions
to clear up misconceptions, such as rumors about GPS
being "turned off" or reengaging the "selective
availability" feature that distorted the accuracy of
GPS signals for civilian users prior to May 1, 2000.
Last fall the Department of Defense announced that
future GPSIII satellites will not feature selective
availability, effectively making this policy
permanent in the future. Unfortunately, these rumors
have provided fodder for proponents of Galileo, the
EU's own future satellite navigation system.
3. (U) Initial feedback from visitors to our geocache
has been positive; with many expressing appreciation
for introducing them to the American Resource Center.
One visitor expressed, "Thank you for introducing us
to this place. It was my first visit to the library
and left a very positive impression. Who knows, maybe
I'll come back some day?"
4. (U) With so many GPS devices in Finland, including
many on mobile phones, geocaching is an innovative
way for Embassy Helsinki to reach out to the tech-
savvy public. Additionally, since geocaching is
free, this effort was a no-cost means for doing
public diplomacy. You can visit the Embassy's
Background on GPS
5. (U) GPS is a U.S. space-based radio navigation
system that provides reliable positioning,
navigation, and timing services to civilian users on
a continuous worldwide basis free of charge.
Following several years of negotiations, the U.S. and
the EU signed an agreement in 2004 establishing
interoperability between GPS and Galileo, the EU's
own future navigation network. Set to be operational
no earlier than 2013, Galileo has been delayed
several times due to cost overruns and political
positioning by EU member states. Hence, for the near
future GPS navigation is the only game in town.