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Report: U.S. ranked No. 4 for networked readiness

The United States moved up several notches this year in the World Economic Forum's Networked Readiness Index, which examines how well information and communication technologies are being leveraged.

In an increasingly networked world, the United States moved up several notches in its global rankings this year, according to the 2007-2008 Global Information Technology Report released Wednesday by the World Economic Forum.

The United States, based on a Networked Readiness Index that examines information and communication technologies and whether they're being leveraged by individuals, businesses and government to improve competitiveness and development of a region, moved into fourth place from seventh last year, according to the report. That's not too bad, considering there were 127 countries included in the report.

Key metrics taken into consideration included population, gross domestic product per capita, Internet users and Internet bandwidth, as viewed through three categories: environment, network readiness, and usage.

The U.S. ranked fifth out of the 127 countries regarding environment. Within that category the U.S. captured the No. 1 spot for venture capital availability and shared top ranking for utility patents.

The United States' ranking for network readiness landed at No. 7, in part helped by the top rating for university-industry research collaboration.

And on the usage front, the U.S. ranked No. 9. That performance was aided by the top ranking on the E-Participation Index, which evaluates the usefulness and willingness of government Web sites to provide online information, tools, and services to users.

Nordic countries came in strong on the Networked Readiness Index. Denmark was the top dog on the index for the second consecutive year, while Sweden captured the No. 2 spot, Finland sixth place, Iceland eighth, and Norway 10th.

According to the report, "Not only are the number of interconnections amongst individuals, businesses and governments increasing, but there is also increased recognition of connectivity as a key component of public infrastructure in general."

For example, in North America, a city typically has at least 45 percent of its municipal employees using mobile technologies, the report states. As a result, a number of cities in the U.S. and Canada are setting up wireless networks.

As they say, every little bit helps. Maybe next year the U.S. can shoot for the No. 1 spot on the index...