2008 Forum on ODR: Envisioning the Future of Online Dispute Resolution

VANCOUVER — Friday, June 27, 2008 — 150 delegates from around the world gathered at the Marriott Victoria Inner Harbour for the 7th Annual International Forum on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). The Smartsettle team enjoyed a brilliant time of engaging dialogue and exploration with colleagues, diplomats and ODR enthusiasts at large.

As posted on the Forum website (www.odrforum2008.org) delegates from “Egypt, Canada, USA, Ireland, China, Hong Kong, East Timor, India, Jordan, Germany, Pakistan, Nigeria, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Trinidad, Korea, Malaysia, Italy, United Kingdom, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Spain, Cameroon, Iran and Japan” participated in presentations and discussion about progress and developments in global ODR initiatives and the future of the industry.

Exchanges by impassioned individuals, many representing hopeful organizations from developing nations, expounded on the increasing need for viable Internet-based online dispute resolution technologies. The preponderance of mobile and wireless networks in these regions, contrasted with more scarcely available land-based Internet and telephone connectivity was viewed as impetus enough for the ODR community to focus much attention on PDA’s and cell phones in the months and years ahead. Smartsettle is grateful to the many panelists who shared of this need and is committed to address this with new development targets.

Vinton Cerf, widely known as Father of the Internet, gave his keynote speech and schooled the audience on the true beginnings of the internet, and indeed of wireless packet transmission, which he and his colleagues first tested over thirty years ago. “Don’t think this is a new thing,” he said, explaining that his team was able to transmit packets of data some 400,000 Miles in a series of hops which formed the earliest working pattern of the broader hybridized network of wired and wireless we now know as the Internet. The van used to carry out such early communication experiments (pictured below) is now in the Smithsonian.


Vinton Cerf delivering keynote, slide of “Radio Packet Van”

Particularly qualified to speak on the possibilities and potential difficulties the industry will face, Dr. Cerf suggested trends to watch for as well as ways the Internet–and general global population–is growing and how ODR will necessarily be used as part of the solution to arising conflicts.

The web-based negotiation system, Smartsettle One, optimized for single-issue cases, made its international debut with a special competition involving the Forum delegates. Two notable aspects of the new system were demonstrated. The first was its simplicity- so easy to use that a 9-year old won a top prize. The second, perhaps most importantly, was a 93% settlement rate among all the negotiations over a period of eight days culminating at the Forum on June 19th when prizes were awarded.


The more sophisticated negotiation platform, Smartsettle Infinity, was also demonstrated by Dr. Ernest Thiessen at the Forum by means of a simulation in a session chaired by Colin Rule of eBay.


Dr. Ernest Thiessen presenting

Smartsettle representatives from BC enjoyed a rich time of interaction and participation at an event that will be talked about for some time ahead.


The Smartsettle family decked out with One to Infinity t-shirts with Frank Fowlie and Ethan Katsh

The Smartsettle team enjoyed a rich time of interaction and participation at this event. The company gained valuable insight into the hopes and needs of the global ODR community and has marked those with new milestones to reach on time to report at next year’s Forum.

For more details about the forum and delegates in attendance, visit www.odrforum2008.org. This article may be updated with additional photographs.

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