|Autumn 2007, Issue19|
| Asian Ministers Vow to Narrow Digital Divide
ASIA: Asia Beats Europe in Broadband Fibre-to-Home Penetration
South Korea, Asia, Lead World in Global E-Government, Says Brown Study
Data Leaks - Europe Readies New Rules
China's Online Spending to Rise 32% in 2007
A New Official Website of the Beijing Olympics Goes Online
New York City Launches Wireless-Equipped Street Inspectors
Government of Japan Embraces Open Software Standards
¡®FutureSchools@Singapore¡¯ Programme Launched
Indian State to Introduce Law to Regulate E-waste
IRAN: E-Govt Plays Catch Up with E-Society
| World Information Society Day Focuses on the Younger Generation
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Visits ITU
ITU and Singapore Collaborate on Training Programme in ICT Policy and Regulatory Frameworks
AFRICA: India Approves Setting Up of Pan-African E-Network
Project to Improve Telecommunications Access for 250 Million in Africa
ASIA: Turkish Supreme Court Held That Banks Are Sole Responsible for Theft in Electronic Banking
EUROPE: EU to Remove Restrictions on Radio Spectrum
U.K. House of Lords Says Government Must Act Now to Maintain Confidence in the Internet
NORTH AMERICA: Us Mass. Governor Signs ID Theft Prevention Bill
|CHINA: Regulations to Tighten Electronic Pollution Control
China Willing to Push Int'l Co-op for Internet IPR Protection
China Implements Local DTV Standard
China Launches Crackdown on Internet-based Plagiarism
China Launches Another Campaign Against Online Piracy
JAPAN: Stricter Rules Eyed for Net Programming
Japan to Toughen Regulations on Unsolicited E-mails
SOUTH KOREA: Rules to Tighten for Portal Sites
| SINGAPORE: Program to Support Computer Game Development
VIET NAM: Ministry Announces Hi-Tech Scheme to Curb Traffic Troubles Nationwide
| BANGLADESH: ICT Gets 21pc Higher Allocation in National Budget
Government Plans to Set Up a Computer Lab in Each District Immediately
Bangladesh NGO Proposes Revised ICT Budget
BTN Plans to Establish 40,000 Telecentres in Bangladesh 2011
INDIA: President Launched E-Court Project
Tamil Nadu Govt. (India) Plans to Launch E-Governance Tools
SRI LANKA: ICT Project Wins Prestigious I4d Award
| AFGHANISTAN: Roshan Announces Launch of Afghanistan's First Telemedicine Project
IRAQ: Three Mobile Licences Awarded
IRAN: Call for Lower Cellphone Import Tariffs
TURKEY: Telekom Reveals Network Plans
| AUSTRALIA: Gary Nairn launches Australian Government Architecture
Labor¡¯s ¡®Fraudband¡¯ Broadband Plan Exposed
Cabinet Plan Boosts Optus
Broadband Pageant Rules Released
Remote E-health Plan Unveiled
New Pocket Guides Enable Rapid Mastery of IT Governance and U.S. and U.K. Regulatory Frameworks
Global E-Government 5 July
Public Sector IT Is Making Waves
E-Governance Programs to Modernize and Reform Public Services
ASIA-PACIFIC: 3Com Completes Initial Integration of H3C
EUROPE: Belgium Launches Online Crime Service
EU Approves German Online Search-Engine Grant
Gov Trumpets E-Passports Successes
Government Websites Lack Quality
National Audit Office Report: Government on the Internet-Progress in Delivering Information and Services Online
Public Sector Must Embrace IT Innovation
NORTH AMERICA: GAO Reviews Public and Private Sector Data Breaches
America's Top Digital Counties Ranked for Exceptional Use of Technology
Delaware And Michigan Best in E-Government, Says Brown University Study
Citizen Adoption of E-Gov Key to Saving Money
| CHINA: Education Ministry Rebukes Campus Websites for Profiting
China's Law Enforcement Internet Database Set for Completion This Year
Wi-Fi to Boost Hong Kong's Status as Digital City
Shanghai Expo to Go Live Online
Hong Kong Launches New E-govt Portal
Online Contest on Olympics-related Laws, Regulations
JAPAN: Cyber-Abuse and Paying Local Dues
MONGOLIA: "E-Mongolia" Program in Rural Area
New Web Site to Launch Against Corruption
| E-government Goes Fishing in Brunei
MALAYSIA: Web Services Can Upgrade Public Sector Delivery
Easier Access to ePerolehan with New Token
Skali to Upgrade 450 Government Websites
Public Can Just Go to One Government Dept When E-KL Takes Off
Malaysian Government Predicted to Invest in Contact Centres
Faster Treatment for Civil Servants with E-guarantee Letter
PHILIPPINES: IT Project Automates Gov't Employee Records
The Philippines' National Civil Servant Database Rolls-out
SINGAPORE: Government Email, Web Sites Go Down
Singapore Backs Consortium of E-govt Providers
|BANGLADESH: Establish E-governance for Easy Access to Govt Info
Bangladesh Ranks 155 in Global E-government Study
INDIA: AP (India) Govt. to Create Comprehensive Website
President Kalam Asks for Creating E-governance Grid in India
Indian President Calls for E-judiciary
AP Assembly, the First Assembly in India to Get Wi-Fi Network
NRCFOSS, the Indian Govt. Body to Promote Open Source Software
|KAZAKHSTAN: System of Electronic Documents Circulation
Modern Informational Technologies Come to the Remote Regions of the Country
Kazakh President Holds Live Online News Conference
|AUSTRALIA: City Council Adopts Policy Education Compliance Platform
YARN Website to Weave New Threads
Net to Cut Through Red Tape
Crime Database Intelligence Boost
Defence Battles for IT Chief
Search Holds Up Payroll Project
Australians' Medicare Records to Go Online
NEW ZEALAND: New Web Guide Will Help Tourists Travel Sustainably
New Zealand Talks about XML Framework
New Zealand Ministry of Health Launches Health Intelligence Site on Instantatlas
| Telecoms Advances Throw Up New Challenges for Operators, Says OECD
US, China to Conduct Talks on Music Download Rules
FBI, Chinese Officials Pinch Software Pirates
Online Advertising to Become Largest Advertising Segment Surpassing Newspapers
BBB Systems Unveils Advanced E-Commerce Technology
AFRICA: Kenya Invests in ICT Project
EUROPE: EU Launches Public Consultation to Explore Global IT Market
NORTH AMERICA: Canadian Outsourcing Satisfaction Rates Plummet
| CHINA: Nature Publishing Group Launches Website
Chinese IT Firms to Focus on Breakthroughs in Key Softwares
Outsourcing Industry the Next Big Thing
Rise Projected for E-payments
Investment Growth Speeds in China's Electronics IT Industry
JAPAN: Online Cellphone Market Nearing 1 Trillion Yen on the Back of Improved Speeds, Flat Rates
Major Firms Get A 'Second Life' Online
Softbank to Launch Fibre IP Phone Service-Nikkei
Cellphones to Be Used to Register Products
SOUTH KOREA: Google Renews Push in Korean Market
$1 Billion to Help Spread Web Code
KITA Takes Trade Online to Create Global Network
Internet Banking Sees Big Q2 Boost
Digital Exports Climb by More Than $1 Billion
| INDONESIA: Post Offices to Provide Access to Digital World
PHILIPPINES: Business Names Can Now Be Registered Online
SINGAPORE: High in IT Competitiveness But Singapore Lags in R&D Efforts
Firms Should View IT Systems as Strategic Investments
Singapore Extends E-filing System for Companies
VIET NAM: Outlook for Hi-Tech Industrial Parks
| INDIA: Software Firm Launches Insurance Website
Indian City Corporation to Employ E-Governance
India to Set Up One Lakh Broadband Centres by 2008
Intel Signs Up Vendors for Classmate PC in India
SRI LANKA: Dialog Telekom Launches CDMA Fixed Wireless Network
PAKISTAN: Intel Introduces Classmate PCs
IT Industry Size to Be at $10 Billion by 2010
| AFGHANISTAN: Telecom Provides Digital Mobile Phone Services
Afghan Telecom Plans CDMA Network
IRAQ: Asiacell Plans USD300mn Iraqi Expansion
IRAN: Cellphone Capacity to Exceed 6m Sets
10 Companies Keen on 3rd Cellphone Operator Bid
TURKEY: Turkcell Sees 29% Profits Jump
UZBEKISTAN: MTS Shuts AMPS/D-AMPS Network
Telephone Exchanges Digitalized
Sarkor Telecom Increases International Channel Bandwidth to 25 Mbps
Mobile Services Market of Uzbekistan: 1H 2007 Review
| AUSTRALIA: SingTel to Lead Bid for Aussie Network
$600m IT Contract Feast Looms
NSW Streamlines IT Platforms
Policy Changes Will Determine the Future of the Australia Enterprise Outsourcing Market in Government
NEW ZEALAND: Taxpayers to Fund ICT-NZ
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: The Mobile Phone War
| Satellite Communications Deployed for Improved Global Response to Disasters
AFRICA: Microsoft Accelerates Free Access to Journals
Africa: 'Internet in a Box' Brings Information to Developing World
Namibia - Telecom Rolls Out Switch Post-Paid Today
EUROPE: Health IT to Get Investment Boost
Internet Chat Offers New Approach in Mental Health
One More Long-Distance Communications Operator Set in Russian
UK's Digital Divide Getting Worse
E-Patient Records in the United Kingdom
UK University to Deploy E-Learning Solution
SMEs 'Put Off E-Commerce' by Fraud Worries
E-Spending Over ¡ê4bn a Month for First Time
NORTH AMERICA: City Recognized as Technology "Innovation Lab"
|CHINA: More Free Internet Services for Youngsters Sex Education Website Opens in Nanjing China's Rural Unemployed Find Work Through On-line Job System China to Overtake US in Number of Internet Users in 2009 China's Internet Watchdogs Mull Penalties for Anti-addiction Non-compliance China Govt Centre Says 162 Mln Internet Users China's Online Travel Services Ready for Takeoff Internet Bar Business at Crossroad in China JAPAN: Internet Life for Japanese Politician New Cell Phone Services Tap Image-Recognition Technologies Idei Hopes Japan Can Nurture Net Giant NHK to Be First in Japan with Programs on Net Japan to Pursue New Internet Technology SOUTH KOREA: Low-Income to Get Help with Digital Conversion Too Much Spent on IT Facilities No. of Internet Users in Their 40s, 50s Estimated to Have Surged 6 Million Locals Use Digital Broadcasting MONGOLIA: Computers Given Under Program First IT Secondary School to Be Established|
| BRUNEI: Schools to Go Mobile
MALAYSIA: Sarawak Village Libraries to Narrow Digital Divide
Measuring ICT Skills in Schools
Two More ICT Projects to Bridge Rural-urban Divide
Network Plans Put Up at Bus Stands Some Stolen as Soon as They Are Put Up
A Cosmopolitan City in the Making
Women Told to Embrace ICT
Online Service Boost for RHB Bank
PHILIPPINES: National Broadband Network to Save RP Billions, Says DoTC
SINGAPORE: National University Launch ThinkLab
Website Launched to Allow Youths to Learn About Different Cultures
Singapore's Infocomm Sector Grows by Record 20% in 2006
SingTel Launches Internet Protocol TV in Singapore
VIET NAM: Rank 1st in Tech Spending
|BANGLADESH: Meet Focuses on Empowering Poor Through ICTs Bangladesh to Open-up Community Radio INDIA: First Mobile Court Launched Biometric Cards for Indian Slum Dwellers Internet Access Makes Its Way into Indian Heartland Online Admission for Indian Students - HRD Ministry Indian Bank Launches E-Learning Initiative Biometric PAN Cards for Indian Tax Payers India Faces Challenge of Recycling E-waste Indian State to Assist Communities for Radio Stations SRI LANKA: Govt Offers Medical Treatment Through Broadband Link|
|IRAN£ºIran¡¯s IT Ranking 64th TAJIKISTAN: Khujand Airport Terminal Launches Its Website TURKEY: Avea Launches EDGE TV TPE Accepts Applications via Web|
|AUSTRALIA: SA Funds $375m Health IT Plan Australia's US$9.7 Million Reform for Patient Management Systems Bush Subsidies in Broadband Plan Women Positive About IT Careers Rural Web Plan a Money Pit, Says Expert New View on Digital TV Change-Over Women in IT Enters Phase 3 Warning on E-health Expertise School Computers Late for Class Banks Plan on Systems Savings|
| New Online Tool Charts Cyber Security Standards Developments
Five Virtual World Security Worries for Business
Statistics Show Rising Threat from PDF and ZIP Spam
EUROPE: Police - We Want More Info on E-Crime Attacks
|CHINA: To Intensify Campaign Against Online Porn, Illegal Horror Fiction China Opens Anti-spam Website Abuse of 'E-eyes' Will Be Punished Illegal Online Drugstores Warned China Claims to Be Repelling Software Pirates|
|MALAYSIA: New Lab for Open-source Developers|
|INDIA: Faces Yet Another Online Security 'Threat' Indian State to Develop Web Portal to Track Cyber Crime PAKISTAN: IT Sector: 10 Percent Software Piracy Cut May Generate 30,000 Jobs|
|AUSTRALIA: Defence, Microsoft Join Forces to Protect Govt ICT ANZ, Govt in Chip Card Agreement Bill to Push Personal Security NEW ZEALAND: Minister Welcomes Online Dog Re-registration System|
| Workshop on Internet Broadcasting in Nepal, 19-23 June 2007
South Asian Regional Consultation Workshop on ICT4D
International Association of Software Architects Announces First IT Architect Regional Conference, Sept. 13-14
Take Steps to Address Problems of Rural People: GKP South Asia Meeting Told
OECD-Canada Technology Foresight Forum on the Participative Web: Strategies and Policies for the Future
Conference to Shed Light on E-government Vision
AFRICA: Connect Africa Summit to Be Held in Kigali, Rwanda, 29-30 October 2007
Connecting Rural Africa Forum 2007
Colorado Digital Government Summit: A Government Technology Executive Leadership Forum
|CHINA: Dalian Int'l IT Fair Hosts 700 Companies Oracle Opens 'Milestone' Center Boost for Chengdu Software Sector SOUTH KOREA: IT Heavies Arrive for Digital Forum World Summit Will Evaluate Web Rules Korean, Chinese Ministers to Talk IT MONGOLIA: Internet Users to Meet|
| MALAYSIA: ICT Fair for SMEs in Sept
Get Set for Tech.Ed SEA 2007
SINGAPORE: Ministerial Forum Discusses Rise of Empowered Web Users
Singapore Shares ICT Development Experience
VIET NAM: High-tech Investment Piques Interest in Expo
|BANGLADESH: Information Society Watch Group Formed Bangladesh to Join Wikimania 2007 Beginning Aug 3 BDOSDN- Bangladesh Open Source Developers Network - Seminar News INDIA: IT Training for Indian Government Officials PAKISTAN: ITCN Asia Begins Today|
|AZERBAIJAN: 2nd Computer Games Championship Final Stage Set on June 15-17 KAZAKHSTAN: 124 000 Kazakhstanis Were Taught the Computer UZBEKISTAN: "Tech Age Girls" Contest Held at Tashkent University of Information Technologies Training Course ¡°Applying ICTs in the Government and Society¡± Is Held in Tashkent Internet Festival Starts in Uzbekistan Training on Effective Use of Environmental Information System for Uzbekistan|
|NEW ZEALAND: Digital broadcasting to Go Centre|
SEOUL -- Thirty Asian and Middle Eastern nations agreed Tuesday to try to bridge the IT divide between rich and poor countries through shared expertise and joint research projects. Ministers also pressed North Korea to make an early start on scrapping its nuclear program, according to hosts South Korea. The declaration on IT came at the end of the sixth meeting of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), attended by foreign ministers and other minister-level officials or deputies. Members agreed to speed up efforts to establish or improve IT infrastructure. They vowed to "support joint IT study and research projects among member countries while encouraging strong partnership in the IT field both at the government and private levels." The ACD also pledged to tackle the downside of new technology including the use of the Internet for terrorist incitement and recruiting, cyber attacks, online piracy and Internet addiction.
South Korea, one of the world's most wired societies with 70 percent of homes receiving broadband Internet, earlier offered its support. "Korea will not spare efforts to support countries in not only building advanced network infrastructure... but also in introducing e-government services," Information and Communications Minister Rho Jun-Hyong said in an opening speech. Prime Minister Han Duck-Soo said South Korea would organize education programs for IT experts or send Internet youth volunteers abroad. The divide must not translate into "a rift in the economic and social opportunities of our constituents," he said. "The information gap between the haves and the have-nots is more glaring in this age of instant information access and sophisticated communications technology," Han said. At their close-door meetings ministers also agreed that North Korea must denuclearize as promised, according to South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon. "The ministers all agreed that the February 13 agreement should be implemented as early as possible," he told a press conference.
North Korea's promised disarmament under the six-nation pact is stuck because of an impasse over the return of its funds that were frozen in a Macau bank at US instigation. The ACD, the brainchild of Thailand's Thaksin Shinawatra before he became prime minister, was inaugurated in June 2002. Organizers say it is significant as the first and only body covering the entire Asian continent. Critics say the membership is too diverse for it to be meaningful. Prime Minister Han said the ACD should become a regional forum to forge "collective economic strategies" to maintain Asia's competitiveness. "As other regions come together in the spirit of cooperation we cannot afford to be the only continent lacking a regional forum to consolidate our strength to project a unified voice in world affairs." Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram said the ACD should move from "conceptual ideas to concerted action." It should, for example, look at concrete measures to promote alternative energy. ACD members are Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, the Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan are the world leaders in the percentage of homes that receive broadband communications services over direct fiber optic connections, according to a new global ranking of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) market penetration issued jointly by the FTTH Councils of Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. According to this first ever official ranking of FTTH deployments in the world¡¯s economies, 21.2 percent of homes in Hong Kong are wired with FTTH, followed by South Korea at 19.6 percent and Japan at 16.3 percent. Scandinavian countries occupy the next three positions, with Sweden having 7.2 percent of its households connected to FTTH, Denmark at 2.9 percent and Norway at 2.5 percent. Taiwan, Italy, People¡¯s Republic of China, The Netherlands and the United States round out the top 11 economies, with FTTH penetration rates of between 1.4 and 1 percent of households. Only economies with penetration of 1 percent or more were included in the ranking. The three regional FTTH Councils joined together to create this first official global FTTH ranking in order to provide the telecommunications industry, governments and regulators with a unique snapshot of international fiber access penetration. Going forward, the councils will update and re-issue the rankings on an annual basis, as well as work jointly to further refine the research methods in order to provide more in-depth information. Announcing the release of the global ranking at the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific¡¯s Beijing Conference today, Shoichi Hanatani, President of the FTTH Council Asia-Pacific said, ¡°For the first time we have a tool to monitor the transition that is now occurring around the world, from legacy copper loops to powerful new optical fiber access networks.¡±
The global ranking follows the unified definition of FTTH terms announced by the three councils last year, and which has formed the basis for recent market research by each council. For completeness and accuracy the ranking includes both FTTH and FTTB (fiber-to-the-building) figures, while copper-based broadband access technologies (DSL, FTT-Curb, FTT-Node) are not included. ¡°By pooling the data from three regional market studies, the compiled information completes a dedicated resource for global telecommunications professionals to compare industry research from different regions of the world, and open some eyes to the wider FTTH picture,¡± said Joeri Van Bogaert, President of the FTTH Council Europe. ¡°This will be useful in monitoring the success of government and regulatory policy in supporting the historical transition to fiber-based broadband.¡± ¡°With this global ranking, it is now evident which countries are FTTH leaders and which are FTTH laggards,¡± said Joe Savage, President of the FTTH Council North America. ¡°What is most interesting is how the leading economies in FTTH penetration are also those with clear public policies aimed at promoting deployment of next-generation broadband networks as a matter of strategic national importance.¡±
Asian countries continue to dominate international e-government ratings, taking three of the top four spots in a global e-government study undertaken by researchers at Brown University. South Korea earned the top rank, followed by Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, Great Britain and Canada. The study shows that 28 percent of government agencies around the world are offering online services, about the same as in 2006. The seventh annual survey conducted by Darrell M. West, director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University, and a team of researchers evaluates online government Web sites of 198 countries around the globe. The researchers evaluated government Web sites based on two dozen criteria, including disability access, the existence of publications and databases, the presence of privacy policies, security policies, contact information, and the number of online services. Studies of global e-government have been released annually since 2001.
This year's study reviews 1,687 government Web sites in 198 countries during June and July 2007. A variety of different sites were analyzed, including executive, legislative and judicial offices as well as departments and ministries of the government such as health, education, foreign affairs, interior, finance, natural resources, foreign investment, transportation, military, tourism and telecommunication. Researchers found that 96 percent of Web sites have online publications and 80 percent have links to databases. Twenty-nine percent (up from 26 percent in 2006) show privacy policies and 21 percent present security policies (up from 14 percent in 2006). Software provided by the company Watchfire Inc. assesses whether Web sites provide assistance for the vision- or hearing-impaired. According to this software, government Web sites are still lagging on disability access. Only 23 percent of sites provide disability access, the same as last year.
In order to improve electronic government, the report suggests that governments take several steps to reach their full potential in terms of accessibility and effectiveness. The ultimate goal of e-government is to provide citizens with services, information and interactive features. To this end, sites need to be well-designed, easy to navigate, and accessible to a wide variety of users. The researchers suggest the following steps be undertaken: tandardize templates with consistent navigation; have accessibility aids; list when pages are updated; organize pages by user type; create "most popular" lists; have an online services menu; have interactive technical assistance. In addition to analyzing particular features, researchers rated countries for overall e-government performance. By evaluating the two dozen criteria as well as other features, including PDA access, user fees, and foreign language translation, each country was rated on a 0 to 100 point scale.
The European Commission is considering tightening some regulations around when companies have to reveal security leaks - but rules will only cover a small number of companies and won't come into force for years. As part of its review of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communication networks and services, the EC is proposing specific requirements for providers of electronic communications to warn on certain breaches of security and to inform users. The EC said this will help to reinforce business and individual users' trust and confidence in electronic communications.
The proposed rules would cover providers of electronic communications, namely public network operators and ISPs. Private sector organisations such as banks and retailers would not be included. Last month silicon.com launched its Full Disclosure campaign which calls on the UK government to rethink its existing legislation and require all companies and organisations that lose their customers' sensitive data to warn those individuals a leak has taken place. For more details see the grey box. And even the limited proposals from the EC have a long journey ahead of them before they end up in national law: in the autumn the Commission will formally propose to the Council of Ministers and European parliament a revision of the current regulatory framework for electronic communications and services, which will involve amending the five existing directives, including the ePrivacy directive.
The Council and parliament could then take a year or two to complete their 'co-decision' process, so revised directives would only be adopted by them in 2009. After this, the directives must still be incorporated into national law by the national parliaments, before they will become effective. The trade association for UK ISPs, Ispa, said it would not welcome a security breach notification law. "However, if any breach notification regime was implemented in Europe, it should be done in a harmonised manner, be technologically neutral and limited to circumstances in which there was a significant risk of harm from financial fraud," it said in a statement. It added that ISPs currently work in tandem to share information and notify others when a significant security breach has occurred. "The current notification system works on an international basis and it is because of its flexible nature that we can get information in a timely and accurate manner," it said. (by Steve Ranger)
China's fast-expanding Internet population will drive a 32 percent surge in online spending this year, according to a survey released by the Beijing-based Data Center of China Internet (DCCI) on Monday. Total online spending by Chinese Internet users is expected to reach 364 billion yuan (47 billion U.S. dollars) in 2007, up from last year's 276 billion yuan. Netizens spent a monthly average of 186 yuan online in the first half of the year, including on shopping, gaming and other online services. The figure is likely to reach 196 yuan for the whole of 2007, up 15.4 percent from the previous year. China currently has 144 million internet users, second to the United States, said Fu Zhihua, director of the research department of DCCI, adding that with the number of internet users growing by 20 million annually, online spending will continue to increase. The survey also showed online advertising revenues reached 3.3 billion yuan in the first half, as much as for the whole of 2005, and will hit 7.6 billion yuan for the whole year. China's search engine sector, led by Baidu, Google and Yahoo!, recorded revenues of 1.15 billion yuan in the first six months, with the figure for the whole year likely to reach 2.7 billion yuan.
A brand new official website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was launched on Tuesday. The new site is based on a solid foundation of quick Games-time turnaround making use of mature, mainstream technology, an elegant color scheme and tasteful design, and clear and simply organization for ease of use. Since 2001, the official website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games has undergone numerous facelifts, from the modest website used solely for reporting news at the onset gradually evolving into a comprehensive platform for news about the preparation for the Games, society and sports news, as well as for interaction with web users. The volume of official website visitors surpassed 1.3 million visitors the day the official mascots were released. The changes in the official website of the Beijing 2008 reflects the continual progress with the preparations for the Games. The new official website combines insight from the multiple discussions among various groups, including the design team for the new website, professionals from the IOC, professionals from internet project groups, and the contractor Sohu.com Inc. It fully takes into consideration the browsing experience of visitors. From a design angle, the new official website adheres to the Beijing 2008 image and look using green-blue and Chinese scholar tree green as its main colors.
The overall design has perfectly balanced, aesthetically pleasing look, representing a green and humanistic Olympics and possesses lasting representative Chinese characteristics and essence. In terms of content design, the new official website places more emphasis on the visitor's experience as well as service functions. The organization of the website is simple, with a more intuitive layout. The new official website uses page code technology, various media and mature technologies, giving users a whole new reading experience, with a range of interactive products and newly added service functions, thereby adding to the website's level of appeal and service standards. Currently, the official website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is offered in three languages -- Chinese, English, and French. The specific requirements for language group were fully considered in designing every part of the website, from column placement to subject schemes. "The site (new site) is going to be a more complete reflection of what BOCOG has grown into." An expert expressed his optimism about the brand new official website. "I congratulate the (design) team on the work that's been done and know that this will be an important next step to achieving the best Games-time website ever because the entire world will be coming to visit, and I'm sure that it will set every record for visitors to a website that's ever happened during the Olympic Games."
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday launched the Street Conditions Observation Unit (SCOUT), a new team of inspectors in the Mayor's Office of Operations whose mission is to drive every city street once per month and report conditions that negatively impact quality of life to 311. Reports transmitted from the SCOUT inspectors' hand-held devices will enter the 311 system and be routed to the relevant agency for appropriate corrective action -- just as when a New Yorker calls 311. The goal of the SCOUT program is to improve of street-level quality of life in city neighborhoods and to further the responsiveness of city government to quality of life conditions. The SCOUT program will be administered by the Mayor's Office of Operations, which also administers the city's scorecard rating system that recently gave the City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) its highest ever rating for streets that are "acceptably clean," 94.3 percent. At the announcement, held at the Heckscher Playground in Brooklyn, the mayor also welcomed a donation of paint to the Mayor's Paint Program from Benjamin Moore Paints."This new team, equipped with GPS technology, will bring an extra set of eyes to our city streets," said Bloomberg. "Whenever I'm driving through the city and I see a pothole or garbage on the street, I'll pick up the phone and report the problem to 311, just like thousands of citizens do every day. Now we'll deploy a team of veteran city workers to do the same, armed with new technology and their knowledge of quality of life concerns in our city."
SCOUT Inspectors will use GPS-enabled hand-held devices specially programmed to report the conditions they observe. When the SCOUT team is fully operational, 15 inspectors will drive three-wheeled scooters and travel every city street once per month. The same off-the-shelf software used by large corporations will take the reports transmitted from the hand-held devices and enter them into the 311 system as if the relevant information had just been taken from a 311 Call Center representative. For SCOUT inspector reports, information on who made the complaint will remain anonymous.The SCOUT Inspectors will observe and report to 311 conditions including litter or debris on the sidewalk; illegal dumping; overflowing litter baskets; street potholes; graffiti on buildings; missing traffic signs; dangling, or fallen over traffic signs; open fire hydrants; fallen over newspaper boxes; parks property damage; bus shelters damaged; and sidewalk shed ads. These conditions will be reported to the appropriate agency for corrective action, including the Mayor's Community Assistance Unit, Department of Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Buildings and the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The OpenDocument Format Alliance (ODF Alliance), the leading organization advocating for openness and accessibility to government documents and information, today congratulated Japan for adopting a policy under which government ministries and agencies will solicit bids from software vendors whose products support internationally recognized open standards.Previously, government agencies could ask bidders to submit bids based on whether their products offered functions comparable to particular software suites. With the new interoperability framework, which takes effect immediately, the government will give preference to procuring products that adhere to open standards, and which interoperate easily with other software.The new guidelines, available from Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, were designed to be implemented by government ministries and agencies. The interoperability framework also suggests that the guidelines would also be useful for private industry."With its new interoperability framework, Japan is setting an important worldwide example," said Marino Marcich, ODF Alliance managing director. "By giving preference to open software formats such as ODF, it is saying that information should be competitively priced, innovative, and easily available to the widest range of people, now and in the future.
We hail Japan for its diligence and vision."Said Masayuki Hayase, general manager, President's Office, Justsystems Corp.: "The formal launch of the interoperability framework by the Japanese government is an epoch-making initiative for Japan. Securing open-standards-based interoperability is critical to accelerate innovation. The interoperability framework will propel healthy competition and open up more opportunities for small and medium-size companies in Japan."The OpenDocument Format Alliance is an organization of governments, academic institutions, non-government organizations and industry dedicated to educating policymakers, IT administrators and the public on the benefits and opportunities of ODF.
From 2008, five selected schools will work closely with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). The FutureSchools@Singapore programme will focus on innovative teaching approaches that leverage fully on ICT and novel school infrastructure designs to bring about more engaged learning for their students. ICT tools such as immersive virtual environments and educational games will be used to enhance learning. The schools will also harness the capability of ICT to facilitate connectivity, interaction and collaboration, to enable students to learn from others in their school, their community and beyond, as well as to better involve parents in their children¡¯s education. The schools will undertake studies on the impact of ICT use on students¡¯ cognitive, emotional and social development. The learning points, ideas, programmes and technologies from these studies will then be shared with other schools, paving the way for the seamless and pervasive integration of ICT into the curriculum for engaged learning in all schools.
All FutureSchools will be characterised by the implementation of innovative education programmes that leverage on ICT across all levels and subjects. However, the initiative will not see a one-size-fits-all approach. Each FutureSchool will draw up its own programme according to the needs of its students. MOE and IDA will work with the selected schools to enhance and consolidate their plans. They will implement their programmes in phases, starting from 2008, and will reach full-school implementation in up to four years time. To achieve this goal, IDA will facilitate strategic collaboration between the schools and infocomm industry partners. A Call-for-Collaboration to generate an open exchange of ideas and possibilities, and foster greater collaboration among industry partners to meet the needs of FutureSchools@Singapore will be launched on 31 May 2007 via GeBiz.com.
The Karnataka Government proposed to introduce a legislation to regulate the generation of over 7,000 tonne of e-waste annually by the silicon city of Bangalore , State Minister for Forest and Environment C Channigappa informed the Legislative Council today. Replying to Mr Aravinda Limbavali (BJP) during Question Hour, the Minister said hundreds of IT companies which had chosen Bangalore as their base were generating over 6,790 tonne of e-waste annually. He said the Centre was planning to bring a legislation on the lines of international laws to regulate and dispose the e-waste. The state government, however, without waiting for the Centre, proposed to bring legislation in the interest of public health. Mr Channigappa said the State Pollution Control Board permitted three private companies, having expertise, to segregate, recycle and clear the e-waste. ''Many foreign companies have shown interest in this regard,'' he added. Mr Limbavali also brought to the notice of the house that Barium, a chemical agent used in electronic goods including computers, was hazardous to children's health if it entered waterbodies
A leading e-government official in Iran has suggested that government lags the wider population when it comes to conceiving new citizen e-services. ¡°In many advanced countries people do not leave their homes to do their shopping. This is because they are able to make their orders online within the comforts of their homes and receive their orders directly at their door,¡± said Ali Kargozar, Managing Director of the provincial e-government initiative, ¡®Khorassan-e-Razavi¡¯. ¡±Government offices and state organisations should follow suit to offer most of their services online, and this will in turn benefit the people as they will be able to access government services from their homes through the internet.¡± Kargozar explained that the government had been slow to harness the internet as a low-cost and convenient delivery channel for information and services. ¡°If the local government of Razavi Khorassan were to fully digitalise their services online for state offices and organisations, problems of rural management would be solved,¡± he continued, before stressing the need for the government to be equipped with the latest ICT in order to stay ahead of an increasingly digital society.
Geneva, 16 May 2007 ¡ª World Information Society Day, 17 May 2007 is dedicated this year to making available the benefits of the digital revolution to young people everywhere. The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) recognized the young as the future workforce and the earliest adopters of ICT, and called for their empowerment as key contributors to building an inclusive Information Society. World leaders stated their commitment at the Summit in Tunis to actively engage youth in innovative ICT-based development programmes and widen opportunities for them. 17 May marks the establishment of ITU in 1865 and has been celebrated as World Telecommunication Day.In his message on World Information Society Day, focusing this year on the theme ¡®Connecting the Young¡¯, UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon said, "Young people are among the most prolific and knowledgeable users of ICT. I urge policy-makers and industry leaders to put their minds together and to work cooperatively with children and youth to produce suitable technologies, applications and services to facilitate access to information and communication technologies." He added that young people with access to ICT often surge ahead in their quest for knowledge, and find it possible to "leapfrog" communication barriers with considerable ease.
"In an increasingly networked world, the young are not only the beneficiaries but often the driving force behind the latest innovations and practices," Dr Hamadoun Tour¨¦, ITU Secretary-General, said in his message. "The key to achieving the development aspirations of the world¡¯s inhabitants lies in investing in the future generation, especially by improving access to communication among today¡¯s children and enhancing their capacities." This year, ITU focuses on integrating youth issues into the development of information and communication technologies and services as a means of offering the young more opportunities and better choice of options for the future. ITU¡¯s youth programme active since 2003 lays strong emphasis on capacity building, education and work experience in ICT. The Youth Education Scheme "YES" extends scholarships to future leaders in telecommunication and related fields, mainly from least developed and developing countries.
Princess of Qatar launches campaign to support ITU youth initiative HRH Sheikha Al-Mayassa Bint Hamad Al-Thani, Princess of Qatar and Chair of the Reach out to Asia initiative will launch a campaign along with ITU to secure CHF 2 Million to support 250 new scholarships in addition to creating 1000 new internship opportunities within the next three years, by 2010. "I am very pleased to launch this campaign together with ITU and to promote access to ICT education and work opportunities for young people," Sheikha Al-Mayassa said. "It is essential that governments, industry, international organizations and civil society come together to help youth around the world participate in the social and economic development of their communities by leveraging the potential of education and information and communication technologies." ITU¡¯s youth programmes are supported by Member States as well as the private sector, including ALCATEL-Lucent and Thales Communications (France), ANACOM (Portugal), National Telecommunication Institute (Egypt), NOKIA Corporation (Finland) and Vodafone (U.K).
ITU World Information Society Award announced The highlight of the global event marking the World Day will be the presentation of the ITU World Information Society Award. H.E. Dr Margarita Cede?o de Fern¨¢ndez, First Lady of the Dominican Republic, Ms Mitchell Baker, on behalf of Mozilla Corporation of the United States, and Professor Mark Krivocheev of the Russian Federation are the 2007 laureates. Last year¡¯s laureates were H.E. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal and Professor Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director of Grameen bank, who subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize. The ITU World Information Society Award honours those who have made a significant personal contribution towards building the information society. Personal achievement may take the form of social accomplishment, mobilization of public opinion, or a key technical innovation.Dr Cede?o de Fern¨¢ndez has contributed to making technological services available to inhabitants of the most impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic, empowering them to become a part of the development process and contribute towards the social, cultural and economic advancement of the country. 135 Community Technology Centres provide telecommunication and ICT services, focusing on programmes that include women and young girls.
The Mozilla Corporation is a global community and public benefit organization dedicated to improving the Internet experience for people everywhere. Its mission is to develop world-class, open source, fully standards-compliant Internet technologies and applications. Its software is available for download free of charge and anyone can have access to the source code and may modify it and redistribute it subject to the Mozilla public license. Ms Mitchell Baker, described as the Chief Lizard Wrangler at Mozilla, seeks to integrate open source development techniques with the world of commercial software development. Professor Mark Krivocheev receives a lifetime award for his work in developing subjective assessments of the quality of television pictures, in particular high¨Cdefinition television (HDTV). Following the adoption of the Recommendations on HDTV by the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR) at ITU, Prof Krivocheev received worldwide acclaim and was accorded the Chevalier de l¡¯Ordre National de M¨¦rite of France.
Geneva, 9 July 2007 ¡ª UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon visited ITU headquarters on Friday, 6 July during his visit to Geneva in connection with the high-level ECOSOC meeting and the Global Compact Summit. He brought a clear message of support to ITU, which he termed "one of the most powerful organizations in the UN system". The UN Secretary-General emphasized the need for connectivity without which "the whole world would be in darkness" and we would continue to live in a medieval age without the means of communication. He said the work of ITU will act as a catalyst in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015, and pointed to ITU¡¯s work in bridging the digital divide, enhancing cybersecurity and strengthening emergency communications for disaster prevention and relief.
Addressing ITU, Mr Ban Ki-moon called for strong ownership and commitment that would encompass a broader vision. He said ITU is providing the basic groundwork for the international community and should contribute to global agendas such as climate change, which would have long-term implications for the future of humankind. "ITU is one of the very important stakeholders in the area of climate change," said Mr Ban Ki-moon. Dr Hamadoun Tour¨¦, Secretary-General of ITU, welcomed Mr Ban Ki-moon to ITU, hailing it as a historic visit ¡ª the first to ITU by a UN Secretary-General. Appreciating the importance accorded by Mr Ban to the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in world development, Dr Tour¨¦ said that the first priority for ITU is to close the digital divide by 2015, in line with the UN¡¯s Millennium Development Goals. "If ITU does not meet the MDG, then no one else will ¡ª because ICT is a tool for everyone," said Dr Tour¨¦. Applauding the UN Secretary-General¡¯s support for ITU¡¯s mission, Dr Tour¨¦ added, "Together we can help the world to communicate. If we do this, the world will be a better place." Earlier, Dr Tour¨¦ laid out the framework for bridging the digital divide and his vision for achieving cyberpeace. He called for all partners to engage in cybersecurity and for a global approach to emergency communications to enhance disaster preparedness and relief.
UN Secretary-General endorses Connect Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave his full support to the Connect Africa initiative, spearheaded by ITU and the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID). The Connect Africa Summit will take place in Kigali, Rwanda, 29?30 October 2007 under the high patronage of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and the Chairman of the African Union, President John Kufour of Ghana. Mr Ban said that the initiative would help overcome the serious problem of the digital divide, which "is hampering the smooth and balanced development of our international community". Mr Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of the ongoing reform process within the UN system to make it a more efficient and effective organization. "ITU is very well advanced in terms of reforms, but as a UN organization we still need to overcome negative perceptions," said the UN Secretary-General. "We need to have a determined will to change positively." The UN Secretary-General praised ITU for joining hands with other agencies to make a better future. "I hope we will work together to make this world more prosperous, more secure, more harmonious, and more developed through ICT," said Mr Ban Ki-moon.
Geneva, 30 July 2007 ¡ª Senior ICT policy makers and regulators from developing countries are in Singapore to attend a five-day executive programme on information and communication technology (ICT) development, entitled "Enabling Frameworks for ICT Development ¡ª The Singapore Experience". The programme, offered by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), will provide an opportunity for participants from Asia Pacific, Africa and Arab States to study and analyse Singapore¡¯s model as a means to catalyse ICT progress in their own countries. The participating countries include Bhutan, Brunei, Kenya, Kiribati, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Viet Nam. This follows an agreement reached between ITU and IDA in June 2007 to provide a training programme for senior ICT and telecom officials that would foster the development of ICT frameworks in their countries to enable fair, effective and sustainable competition in a multi-operator, multi-network environment.
The Executive Training Programme is one example of action taken to implement the ITU Regional Initiative on Telecommunication/ICT Policy and Regulatory Cooperation in the Asia Pacific Region, which was adopted by the 4th World Telecommunication Development Conference held in Doha, Qatar in 2006. Liberalizing the telecom sector Participants will engage in an interactive learning experience led by practitioners from the IDA and featuring guest speakers from ITU and the ICT industry. They will learn about Singapore¡¯s experience in ICT policy-making and regulating in a fully liberalized, multi-operator telecom sector. This includes covering topics like competition management, licensing frameworks, dispute resolution procedures and interconnection. The five-day programme, the first of a series, will be conducted at Singapore¡¯s e-Government Leadership Centre. The programme aims to train at least 30 participants annually over the next three years.
"We appreciate IDA¡¯s response to ITU¡¯s call for cooperation through this Executive Training Programme," said Mr Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU¡¯s Telecommunication Development Bureau. "Singapore has one of the best regulatory models in the world, an experience which can be shared by other regulators. This is particularly relevant in developing countries, which are coping with a number of current policy and regulatory issues." Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms) of the IDA, Mr Leong Keng Thai said, "Singapore embarked on its ICT development journey 25 years ago, and ICT has contributed greatly to Singapore becoming the confluence of business, culture and advanced infrastructure today. We are truly pleased for this successful collaboration with ITU that allows us to share the Singapore model with developing countries and facilitate their efforts in harnessing ICT for economic and social growth. We look forward to conducting more of such sessions." During their stay, participants will get first-hand experience with Singapore¡¯s recent ICT initiatives, such as Wireless@SG. Wireless@SG is the Singapore Government's wireless broadband programme that aims to extend broadband access to all public places. Since its launch in December 2006, the Wireless@SG network has 3'400 hot spots spread across the island and 428'000 subscribers. It is part of the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure that Singapore is building, which is expected to be completed by 2012 and will also comprise an ultra high-speed wired network.
NEW DELHI, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The Indian government Thursday approved the setting up of a Pan-African e-Network in 53 countries of the African Union (AU) at a cost of 130 million U.S. dollars, a government statement said. The project, which will show India's capability in information technology, health care and education, aims at setting up a demonstration model in each country. "Its successful implementation is expected to enhance India's profile in the region and add a fresh dimension to India's partnership with Africa," the statement said. An India-AU MOU for the Pan-African e-Network was signed in October 2005. Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam, during the inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament held at Johannesburg, South Africa, in September, 2004, had proposed to connect all the 53 nations of the African Union (AU) by a satellite and fiberoptic network. Thereafter, Indian Ministry of External Affairs proceeded with the setting up of the network, now called Pan-African e-Network.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will invest in the East African Submarine Cable System, a landmark fiber-optic cable project that will connect 21 African countries to each other and the rest of the world with high-quality Internet and international communications services. The cable will transform the telecommunications landscape in the region as it improves access for 250 million Africans and substantially reduces costs for consumers and businesses. Construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks, with the EASSy cable fully operational by the beginning of 2009. Consumers along the east coast of Africa typically pay between $200 and $300 a month for Internet access. These prices, some of the world's highest, have an adverse economic impact. Estimates suggest that reducing the price of international communications by 10 percent would benefit consumers here by more than $2.5 billion. As a result of this project, prices for international connectivity will drop by two-thirds at the outset, and the number of subscribers will triple. Because the project gives open access to service providers, prices will fall further as volume and competition increase.
For the first time, Turkish Supreme Court, 11th Circuit held that banks are sole responsible for theft in electronic banking. In this case Plaintiff claimed that defendant bank should indemnify him for his losses arising from theft during the process of electronic banking transactions. In its response, defendant bank alleged that it had no liability because of plaintiff's losses while conducting electronic transactions. Further, the bank claimed, Plaintiff had the duty to protect its password and he was wholly responsible of protecting his entire computer system. Under Turkish Obligation Law art.99, the party who insert a non - liability clause in the agreement for its levis culpa (slight fault) shall not be liable. If the liability arises from performance of work privileged by government, then the judge may deem this clause null and void. In this case, Supreme Court deemed Bank's non - liability clause for its levis culpa null and void according to art. 99 of Turkish Obligation Law and held that The Bank shall be liable for its levis culpa and it has to pay all losses experience by Plaintiff during the aforementioned electronic transactions. Consequently, in this case the Turkish Supreme Court clearly adopted the doctrine of "objective liability" for banks and made it applicable to internet banking thefts.
BRUSSELS, July 25 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission on Wednesday proposed the removal of restrictions on radio spectrum for more advanced wireless services in an attempt to encourage their development. The idea is to open the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) frequencies for advanced mobile data and multimedia services, such as third-generation (3G) services that allow video streaming and fast downloads on a mobile handset. The GSM services will at the same time be preserved. This will increase the number and choice of wireless services available, and will expand their geographic coverage to the benefit of all European Union (EU) citizens, said the commission, the executive body of the EU. The measures will also reduce network deployment costs for EU's wireless communications industry, it added.
"Radio spectrum is a crucial economic resource which must be properly managed across Europe to unlock the potential of our telecoms sector," said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner. "In the EU, we must therefore remove regulatory barriers and facilitate the deployment of mobile communications by allowing new technologies to share spectrum with existing ones." The EU, therefore, needs to repeal the GSM Directive of 1987, which allocates radio frequencies (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) exclusively to GSM services. "This proposal is a concrete step toward a more flexible market-driven approach to spectrum management in Europe. It will increase competition in the use of spectrum bands and enhance accessibility of European citizens to multimedia services," said Reding. The proposed repeal of the GSM Directive requires the formal approval of the European Parliament and EU Council of Ministers. The commission hopes that its proposed measures can be in place by the end of this year.
Today, the U.K. House of Lords Science and Technology Committee highlighted the threat to the future of the Internet posed by cyber crime, and have argued that the government must do more to protect individual Internet users. The committee argue that the laissez-faire attitude taken on Internet security by a range of stakeholders including government, Internet Service Providers, hardware and software manufacturers and others risks undermining public confidence in the Internet and contributes to a "wild west" culture where the end user alone is responsible for ensuring they are protected from criminal attacks online. The Internet, while still a powerful force for good, has increasingly become the playground for criminals. Today's cyber criminals are highly skilled, organized and motivated by financial gain. Individual Internet users are increasingly victimized -- yet instead of acting to protect individuals, or providing incentives for the private sector to act, government continues to insist that individuals are ultimately responsible for their own security. The committee describes this approach as "inefficient and unrealistic."
The House of Lords Committee also recommend that the government should review, as a matter of urgency, their decision to require online frauds to be reported to the banks rather than police in the first instance. Victims of cyber crime should have acknowledgment from law enforcement bodies that a serious crime has taken place. "We are firm believers in the Internet. It is a huge force for good," said Lord Alec Nigel Broers, Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. "But it relies on the confidence of millions of users. At the moment it seems that the Internet is increasingly perceived as a sort of 'wild west,' outside the law. People are said to fear e-crime more than mugging. That needs to change, or else confidence in the Internet could be destroyed. "You can't just rely on individuals to take responsibility for their own security," continued Broers. "They will always be out-foxed by the bad guys. We feel many of the organizations profiting from Internet services now need to take their share of the responsibility. That includes the IT industry and the software vendors, the banks and Internet traders, and the Internet Service Providers."
Responding to one of the fastest growing threats facing Massachusetts consumers today, Governor Deval Patrick has signed into law comprehensive identity theft prevention legislation requiring businesses and governments to notify consumers when their data is lost or stolen and sets standards for the disposal of records containing personal information. The new law also allows consumers to secure credit freezes to prevent new accounts from being fraudulently created in their name. Patrick made this announcement today on his podcast. In the podcast, the governor praised the efforts of the Senate President, the Speaker of the House, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and other partners in the legislature for the successful passage of this bill. "The consequences of identity theft can be devastating and far-reaching for victims," Patrick said. "This law recognizes the new risks facing consumers today and puts a number of critical safeguards in place to help the people of Massachusetts protect their credit and their good names."
The new law requires businesses and government agencies to promptly notify affected consumers if their personal information, including social security and license numbers, have been lost or stolen. It also enables consumers to freeze access to their credit reports to prevent identity thieves from establishing credit in their names and caps the fees to place, lift or remove the freeze at $5. "Consumers should have a set of tools at their disposal when their personal information becomes compromised," said Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Director Daniel C. Crane. "Assuring them that they will be contacted if and when a breach occurs and granting them access to credit freezes will give them more control and help them mitigate the impact of identity theft and fraud."
Under the new law, the Office of Consumer Affairs and the Division of Public Records will set regulations for how businesses and government agencies must protect consumers' information to prevent data breaches. The law also requires documents containing personal information to be burned, pulverized or shredded. An additional provision allows identity theft victims to obtain a copy of their police report from any law enforcement office regardless of where the theft occurred. Consumers need police reports to qualify for a free credit freeze. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft affects 10 million Americans annually and costs individuals and businesses $52 billion a year.
China is expected to issue six more regulations in the second half of 2007 to tighten pollution controls on electronic products, according to the Ministry of Information Industry (MII). The regulations will be issued in response to the European Union's Energy Using Products (EUP) Directive that will officially take effect in August. The EUP Directive includes eco-friendly standards on the design, production, transportation, application, and recycling of electronic products. Without consideration of the new foreign standards, China's exports of electronics could be adversely affected, Huang Jianzhong, an MII official, said on Wednesday. The production of electronic devices has caused pollution from toxic substances including lead, mercury, and chromium, Huang said. The country has issued three regulations governing the maximum allowable level of the hazardous substances in electronic products. Huang noted China will issue a new regulation in August requiring firms to guarantee toxic substances will not leak from the devices. The nation will introduce another five standards on non-lead soldering by the end of the year. The official also said the regulations will help upgrade facilities in the electronic industry.
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi expressed the hope that China wishes to improve the cooperation with other countries and learn from their advanced experience to promote the protection of IPR (intellectual property right) on the Internet. Wu made the remark in a letter congratulating the opening of the 2007 International Copyright Forum opened here on Wednesday. The Chinese government has always paid great attention to the IPR protection work and has achieved great progress in recent years, Wu said in the letter. "Better IPR protection will not only enhance China's international competitiveness as well as economic and technological power, but also help create a sound environment for China's opening up and international exchanges," Wu said. The 2007 International Copyright Forum is the second one co-organized by China's National Copyright Administration and the World Intellectual Property Organization. More than 200 representatives from China, United States, European Union and Japan attend the forum.
China has executed August 1 the first DTV ground transmission standard, which local TV manufacturers deem good for cleansing the color TV market and the development of DTV technology. This is according to a report from ChinaTechNews.com, which noted that the GB20600-2006 standard marks an end to China's use of foreign standards. The first batch of cities to try the service include Olympic game hosting cities Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Qinhuangdao, Qingdao, Shenyang, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Shen Jian, a spokesperson from Skyworth, a color TV manufacturer in China, said the TV market will be better regulated when the standard is put into force and when manufacturers abide by it. On the other hand, Zou Feng of State Administration of Radio, Film and Television expressed to local media that the lack of technical parameters and relevant industrialization will cause the standard to face challenges in its implementation.
The National Copyright Administration (NCA), the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) have jointly launched a nationwide crackdown on plagiarism on the Internet. The anti-plagiarism campaign starts now and lasts through the end of October, according to sources with the NCA. During the coming three months, the government will shut down illegal websites and crack down on all kinds of infringements of copyrights on line, including illegal use of films, music and software on line. The authorities will step up supervision and administration on big websites, particularly those that are mainly engaged in spreading film, music, software and publications. Efforts will be made to study ways to set up an efficient mechanism of supervision on the Internet in accordance with the Law on Copyright. Inspectors will pay special attention to Internet cafes where the owners make profits by illegally downloading lots of films and games to attract visitors. At the end of the campaign, the NCA will select and make public the Top 10 Plagiarism Cases.
Chinese government departments have launched another publicity campaign to demonstrate their efforts to fight online piracy, the National Copyright Administration (NCA) announced on Monday. From August to October, the NCA, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of the Information Industry will combine to crack down on online piracy. The three ministries will work to close illegal websites and punish violators that infringe upon intellectual property rights by distributing pirated movies, music, software, computer games and books through the internet, the NCA statement said. During the campaign, the ministries will investigate internet cafes to punish those who illegally download films and games, and spread them among the public, the statement said. The ministries will also try to establish a long-term supervision mechanism for professional portals engaging in business related to film, music, software and books, the NCA said. Upon the conclusion of the campaign, the top ten online piracy cases will be chosen from the cases they handle during the three-month campaign, according to the NCA.
Chinese law enforcement agencies confiscated 49 million illegal books, periodicals and audio-visual products in the first four months of this year during a crackdown on pornographic and illegal publications. China's top court even stepped up the fight against intellectual piracy by lowering the threshold to prosecute people manufacturing or selling counterfeit intellectual property products. The interpretation issued by the Supreme People's Court in April states that anyone who manufactures 500 or more counterfeit copies (discs) of computer software, music, movies, TV series and other audio-video products can be prosecuted and imprisoned for upto seven years. Fines for convicted counterfeiters were also raised, to range from one to 15 times the illegal earnings, or from 50 to 200 percent of the business turnover.
The content of video programming distributed via the Internet could be regulated as tightly as that of ordinary TV broadcasting if proposals from a communications ministry panel are adopted. In an interim report released Tuesday, the Study Group on an Integral Legal System for Communications and Broadcasting proposed that broadcasting and telecommunications media should be categorized based on the impact they have on society, instead of on types of transmission medium, and come under government scrutiny accordingly. It means online TV service providers that stream programming with the same quality as terrestrial TV broadcasters will be obliged to obey rules that govern the mass media. On the assumption the entities have the same degree of influence as ordinary TV networks, the report said they had to be impartial in their political coverage and be prepared to provide emergency information in case of natural disasters. The communications ministry is seeking to introduce legislation that would regulate all types of media aimed at the general public. Ministry officials said the law would take effect in 2011. Currently, different laws cover terrestrial and satellite TV broadcasters, cable TV companies, online TV companies or radio broadcasters. The study group, chaired by Masao Horibe, professor emeritus at Hitotsubashi University, recommended that those media services be divided into three groups, depending on their impact on society.
One called a special media service group would include terrestrial and satellite TV broadcasters and some online TV companies that are considered to have the same influence on society as ordinary TV broadcasters. The companies in this category would be subject to the tightest regulations, some of which come under provisions of the current Broadcast Law. The other two groups would comprise ordinary media and open telecommunication services. According to the interim report, criteria used to assess media's social impact include the number of viewers and subscribers, accessibility to the services, formats of transmission--in video, voice and data--and compatibility with on-demand services. There are concerns that giving too much discretion to the communications ministry over categorization might result in frequent changes in the grouping of services due to changes in ministers and the government. The category for ordinary media service would include some satellite TV broadcasters, cable TV companies, radio stations, broadcasting services by political parties and religious groups and online TV companies with a modest influence on society. The study group proposed easing regulations in this category of services to encourage entry by diversified services, such as those offering programs with a high degree of expertise or extreme opinion. But they would be obliged to clearly distinguish between programming and paid advertisements as well as offering impartial news reports.
Japan is planning to toughen regulations on unsolicited, bulk e-mails including those for matchmaking services, government officials said Tuesday. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications intends to submit a bill next year that would prohibit the sending of commercial e-mails to people other than those who have agreed in advance to accept them, they said. Officials believe that the new regulation would deter unsolicited e-mails more effectively than the current law, which prohibits the sending of commercial e-mails to people who have indicated they do not wish to receive them. The new law would also crack down harder on violators, who already face penalties of up to 12 months imprisonment and up to 1 million yen in fines, they said. Given the rapid spread of personal computers and mobile phones among the young, a large number of juveniles receive unsolicited e-mails from matchmaking sites, prompting the ministry to consider stricter regulations on spam, the officials said. The ministry will convene a panel of experts next week to consider specific tougher regulations and produce an interim report by the fall as the base for the bill, they said. The panel will also study whether the new law should regulate "phishing," or tricking people into supplying personal data with a view to swindling them, they said. The ministry will also pursue international cooperation in preventing unsolicited e-mails from abroad that Japanese law cannot regulate, the officials said.
The government is seeking to revise telecom laws so that local Internet portals must assume more responsibility for the content that appears on their sites, the Information Ministry said yesterday. Beginning next year, major portals that don¡¯t take measures against pornographic content will have to pay up to 100 million won ($108,307) in fines. Also, if portals wish to stop running a service such as e-mail or instant messaging, they must alert affected users 30 days in advance. If portals meddle with statistics such as the most frequently searched word or phrase or rankings of celebrity fan club Web sites, they will have to pay up to 300 million won in fines. These detailed plans will be included in a draft revision bill regarding telecom and communications laws, which the ministry will present to the National Assembly later this year. ¡°Until now, only the creators and distributors of pornographic material could be held responsible, but in the future, Internet portals will be, too, if they don¡¯t do anything about it,¡± said Yoo Young-hwan, deputy information minister. The Web sites subject to investigation will be those that have more than 100,000 visitors on a daily basis, which applies to about 22 portals and nine user-created content Web sites such as video portals.¡°In the case of additional services offered by portals such as e-mail, users must have time to back up their data, so beginning next year, companies will have to post a 30-day preliminary notice [before cancellation],¡± Yoo added.
The government said that state funds will help those portals by giving them one month¡¯s funding to continue running the service. Yesterday¡¯s announcements are in line with the ministry¡¯s latest actions that require portals to adopt a personal authorization system to protect teens from adult material. Beginning tomorrow, the ministry will host hearings at the Science and Technology Hall in southern Seoul to discuss the revised bill with the public. Some IT specialists, however, are skeptical of what seem like Big Brother-type actions. ¡°The Internet is overflowing with information, and it won¡¯t be easy to block everything,¡± said the president of a local IT firm who wished to remain unnamed.
Singapore said Thursday it is providing up to $350,000 Singapore (US$227,000; €170,600) in funds to boost development in the city-state of casual computer games for the global market. Major casual game publishers such as Seattle-based Big Fish Games Inc., PlayFirst Inc. of San Francisco, and Encore, a subsidiary of New Hope, Minn.-based video game maker Navarre Corp., will advise local teams on their concepts, the Media Development Authority said in a statement. Up to 10 computer development teams with winning proposals will receive S$35,000 (US$22,700; €17,060) each in funding for projects, the statement said. The teams are each expected to produce a playable demo by January. Casual games are simple, one-player puzzles that can be played on desktop computers, gaming consoles, cell phones or hand-held computers. It takes less than a minute to understand the rules, structure and plot. The games often revolve around spelling, trivia, arithmetic or geometry. Singapore's government has been trying to diversify its economy toward the service as well as the arts and media industries, amid competition from lower-cost economies like China and Vietnam.
The Ministry of Transport has proposed a scheme to enhance national traffic safety to 2010 including several key measures to limit the soaring number of traffic accidents. The scheme, preliminarily approved by the Government in its May cabinet meeting, proposes to apply new technology in constructing works to improve traffic safety along national roads; eradicate "blind spots" along the national road network; and limit individual transportation such as motorbikes in big cities in favour of public transit, through both technical and administrative measures. Out-of-date vehicles will also be phased out. The ministry has also set specific targets for transportation infrastructure, improving driver training and increasing public information about traffic safety. Increasing traffic safety education in schools is of great significance, said Minister of Transport Ho Nghia Dung. A resolution on urgent measures to be taken for national traffic safety and to limit traffic jams has also been proposed to the Government for immediate issuance this month, according to the Government Office. Immediate measures will include inceasing public awareness, strict sanction for violators of traffic laws, improvement of traffic control infrastructure, increasing official responsibility, and mobilising community and social organisations in improving traffic safety.
The ministry has also set a target to reduce the number of traffic deaths by 5 to 7 per cent. The first four months of this year saw 5,269 traffic accidents, killing 4,739 and injured 4,105 others. The numbers represented a year-on-year increase of 159 accidents, 342 deaths and 107 injuries. After falling from 2002 to 2005, accidents saw a sharp increase in 2006 ¨C 2007, according to Dung. In April alone, there were 1,242 traffic accidents nationwide, killing 1,127 and injuring 883 others, an annual increase of 6.7 per cent. "On average, each year, 13,000 die in traffic accidents. This is a great catastrophe, seriously affecting the nation¡¯s socio-economic development," Dung stated. Dung also said that, although many measures had been put forward to address the problem, they had remained scattered, unco-ordinated and ineffective.
Finance Adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam has proposed an allocation of Tk 1,899 crore, which is 21 percent higher than that of the revised budget and 2.4 percent of the announced budget, for the development of information and communication technology (ICT) sector in Bangladesh. The government is planning to set up a computer lab in at least one school of each district immediately, he said mentioning that a one-year post-graduate course on ICT has already been introduced in the universities. "The ICT Incubation Centre has been established to enhance the capacity of the local private sector companies. Steps have been taken to make the centre more effective," the advisor in his budget speech pointed out. Infrastructure development work has begun to build a hi-tech park, he said. "The illegal Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business has been stopped. Legal actions were taken against those who were engaged in the illegal VoIP business. The policies for bringing VoIP business under legal framework are going to be finalised soon." ICT products have been identified as one of the priority export products to augment export earnings, Mirza Azizul Islam went on. "Internship allowance is, therefore, being given to create an efficient workforce in the sector." The Finance Adviser proposed a budget on June 7 for the next fiscal year setting his eyes on the current development priorities--tackling inflation, spending on power and infrastructure, expanding the social safety net programme and supporting the agriculture.
Government plans to establish a computer lab in one school of each district immediately. ¡°There is a plan to establish immediately a computer lab in one school of each district,¡± Finance Adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam said in his budget speech. The Finance Adviser proposed a budget on June 7 for the next fiscal year setting his eyes on the current development priorities--tackling inflation, spending on power and infrastructure, expanding the social safety net programme and supporting the agriculture. The telecommunication system has immense importance in disseminating information as well as in disseminating technology. The tele-density per 100 persons in our country has increased from 9 in last fiscal year to 18 now. The illegal business of Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) has been stopped. Legal actions have been taken against those who are engaged in illegal VOIP business. The policies for bringing VOIP business under legal framework are going to be finalised soon. To augment export earnings, IT products have been identified as one of the priority export products. Internship allowance is, therefore, being given to create an efficient workforce in IT sector. The ICT incubation Centre was established to enhance the capacity of the local private sector ICT companies. Steps have been taken to make the centre more effective. Infrastructure development work has begun to build a hi-tech park. I have already mentioned about the creation of an IT Equity Entrepreneurship Fund with Taka 100 crore. There is a plan to establish immediately a computer lab in one school of each district. A one-year post graduate course on IT has also been introduced in the universities. An allocation of Taka one thousand 899 crore, which is 2.4 percent of total budget and 21 percent higher than the revised budget, has been proposed for ICT sector in the next fiscal year.
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) has recommended that there is no reflection of implementation of committed action plan by the Government of Bangladesh towards the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) in the allocation for Information and Communication technology (ICT) sector of the proposed budget of 2007-2008. The strategy had been taken in the PRSP to increase the access to ICT for disadvantaged groups and accordingly telecentres will be established at different places of upazilas to provide all sorts of information such as agriculture, food, education, health etc. and to promote use of ICT in disaster management and risk reduction and increasing capacity of the poor to manage disaster. But no reflection has been seen in the proposed budget. According to the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) Action Plan the Government committed that internet connection will be provided to the students of schools and colleges. But due to lack of allocation in the budget in this regard, the ICT movement will be obstructed, BNNRC recommends to the Government to withdraw all kind of duties and Value Added Taxes (VAT) on computer and accessories, cartage, internet services, camera, mobile phone, SIM card, laminating machine, photocopy machine, and solar home system etc. BNNRC seems that the Government should promote the nation to use open source software instead of pirate software and allocation will be needed in this purpose, so that the whole nation will be stopped from a pirate culture.
It has been observed that budget of the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has been formulated based on some institutions, which impact will not contribute directly to the lives and livelihood of the poor. Otherwise, due to impose of 10% duties on computer and its accessories and also including 15% Value Added Tax (VAT), the price of computer equipment must be increased up to 25%. As a result, the access to ICT of rural people will be hampered very seriously. Finally, the commitment of the Government to the people of the world regarding reducing digital divide will become a nightmare. BNNRC seems that importance should be given on ICT what directly will play role on the lives and livelihood of the poor people during formulating the budget and fund must be allocated accordingly. It should be keeping in mind that access to ICT is not a privilege, it has become a basic human rights and it should be done towards reducing information divide/ knowledge divide between urban and rural. Besides including these in the budget, BNNRC suggests to ensure the permission for Community Radio, to enact Right to Information Act, National Broadcasting Policy, 2003 (Draft) and allocation of 10% phone for income less people of rural area according to Telecom Act, 2001.
The Bangladesh Telecentre Network (BTN), a body promoting ICT, plans to establish 40,000 telecentres across the country by 2011 to enhance the growth of rural economy. "We expect that the utilisation of information communication technology (ICT) will help develop the socio-economic life of the communities at the grassroots," Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, chairman of the BTN, said while speaking at the inaugural session of a workshop at the IDB Bhaban in Dhaka on August 13. There are now about 700 telecentres in Bangladesh, which are providing information on all issues, including business, he said. The UNDP in Dhaka organised the two-day workshop on 'Community-based e-Center (CeC) and Development in Bangladesh'. The workshop was organised aiming to create a comprehensive framework for establishing an effective and sustainable model of CeC' that could provide e-services to grassroots communities. Speaking at the inaugural session, Larry Maramis, deputy country director of UNDP in Dhaka, said Bangladesh has achieved considerable growth in ICT over the years. The establishment of telecentres across the country will help boost the rural economy as access to information will be easier for the rural people, Maramis said.
ICT is playing a big role in changing the livelihood of the rural people, Maramis said adding the CeC project of the UNDP is trying to add a new dimension in this regard. Maramis hoped that the information disseminated through telecentres and by other means would help strengthen the collective social initiatives of the people. Cluster of UNDP, Bangladesh, Asaduzzaman, research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), Mohammed Zainul Abedin, country director of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Tawfiq Elahi Chowdhury, senior policy adviser of the UNDP, Naimuzzaman Mukta, coordinator of CeC team, and Ananya Raihan, executive director of DNet, also spoke in the workshop. Shahiduddin Akbar of Katalyst and Mahud Hasan of DNet made presentations on issues relating to Telecentre and on mobilisation and people's ownership. About 50 participants from 27 NGOs (non-governmental organizations) took part in the two-day workshop.
The President of India, Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam, launched National e-Courts Project for extensive computerisation of courts in New Delhi on July 9, 2007. The project of computerisation of courts has been devised following the Report submitted by the E-Committee on National Policy and Technology in the Indian Judiciary. The project is to be implemented in three phases spread over a period of five years at a cost of Rs. 854 crore. In the first phase, computer rooms and judicial service centres would be set up in all 2500 court complexes. About 15 thousand judicial officers would be provided with laptops. Digital inter-connectivity would be established between all courts from the Taluka level to the Apex Court. The project also aims at creation of e-filling facility in the Supreme Court and High Courts. The first phase also envisages development of comprehensive and integrated customised software application for the entire judicial system with regional language support. In the second phase, it would be possible to provide ICT coverage of judicial processes from filing to execution level and also of all administrative activities. While in third and last phase, It would lead to the creation of Information Gateways between courts and public agencies and departments. The project is expected to lead to complete demystification of the adjudicatory process thereby ensuring transparency, accountability and cost-effectiveness.
Tamil Nadu's (India) Information Technology Department is planning to launch tools of e-Governance in certain sectors of government by December, 2007 year after successful testing of backbone connectivity of the wide area network (WAN). This will enable citizens to access information on land records, transport facilities, encumbrance certificate, municipal services and food and civil supplies any time from any part of the State. The state government has successfully tested the Tamil Nadu State Wide Area Network (TNSWAN), which establishes connectivity up to the taluk-level. The TCS is the operating agency for the network on BOOT basis. While Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) is providing the bandwidth. BSNL links in districts and 204 taluk offices through 700 Point of Presence, the government is ready to provide Voice over Internet Protocol in the first stage, followed by data services and then video streaming, video-conferencing and video-beaming. At the last stage, the government is planning to set up Common Services Centres in rural and urban centres. As per the programme, 5,440 centres will be set up through public-private partnership (PPP). The State will give financial assistance for private players for setting up kiosks.
The Shilpa Sayura project, initiated under the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka's (ICTA) e-Society Development Initiative gained international recognition last week when it won an i4d award at the eINDIA 2007 Conference in New Delhi, India. Shilpa Sayura was among seven ICT-based projects that won i4d Awards, for their contribution in the areas of digital literacy, electronic governance etc. The awards were given out during the valedictory session held on 2nd August, 2007. Central Informatics Organization (CIO), Government of Bahrain, and GDCO, Sudan were amongst the award winners. The project initiated by eFusion (Pvt) Ltd as a community ICT project with the vision to empower rural students with ICT based educational systems is to improve self-learning capacity while enhancing ICTA's Nenasala utilization through participative development. The pilot project, initiated with a grant received from ICTA's e-SDI, aimed to create a digital educ ational content system in the Sinhala Language to be used initially in 20 nenasalas. This was to develop the self-learning capacity of remote, rural students. The content will eventually be deployed across the entire Nenasala network presently numbering 400 and scattered throughout the country.
Telecom Development Company Afghanistan, more popularly known by its brand name Roshan, has launched a telemedicine solution to expand healthcare access and delivery across the country. Using broadband technology, wireless video consultation and digital image transfer, the telemedicine project will provide hospitals in Afghanistan with real-time access to specialist diagnosis, treatment and training expertise from abroad.
Roshan has teamed up with Cisco, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), French Medical Institute for Children (FMIC) and other technology suppliers to launch the project. The first phase of the project has already linked FMIC in Kabul, Afghanistan to AKUH in Karachi Pakistan, enabling access to a broad array of radiology expertise provided by AKUH. Subsequent phases will link major Afghan regional hospitals to the FMIC, which is being developed as an Afghan centre of medical excellence. Eventually, the links can be extended to medical institutions in Europe and North America. The Telemedicine project developed in Afghanistan is also seen as a model for addressing healthcare delivery shortcomings in other developing countries where access to medical diagnosis, treatment and training is limited.
According to Finance Minister Bayan Jabor and quoted by Reuters, the Iraqi government has sold three mobile phone licences for USD3.75 billion to MTC, AsiaCell and Korek Telecom, three operators that already run mobile networks in the country. The two remaining participants in the auction, Turkcell and Orascom, dropped out of the race, with the latter saying that a licence cost of USD1.25 billion and an 18% revenue sharing agreement with the government was too high a price to pay. It is thought that Orascom will seek to sell its Iraqi-based subsidiary: the company had operated in the country via Iraqna under a short-term licence since 2003.
Some 10 million cellphone handsets will be needed for the domestic market in the year to March 2008, an expert predicted. Ebrahim Dorosti told ISNA on Tuesday that the government should determine how many mobile phone handsets can be produced domestically or imported. He recalled that 1.5 million handsets are brought into the country legally in the year to March 2007. He put the number of smuggled mobile handsets at eight million in the same period. Dorosti blamed high mobile phone import tariffs for increased smuggling of the good. The expert warned that if the government refrains from decreasing the rate, handset smuggling would continue to rise. He believed that a reasonable cut in tariff import (15-20 percent) would prevent smuggling. Mobile phone handset tariffs were increased by 56 percent to 60 percent in 2006. Experts believe that the measure has contributed to smuggling. Other analysts opine that by taking the decision, the government showed its support for domestic production. Commerce Minister Massoud Mir Kazemi earlier disclosed that the government is mulling a proposal to cut import duties on cellphone handsets from the current 60 percent to 15 percent. The minister explained that his ministry has suggested a rate of between four and 15 percent.
Local newspaper the Turkish Daily reports that Turk Telecom will roll out an IP network and expand its coverage footprint over the next three years at a cost of USD3.4 billion. It states that the fibre-optic lines to be installed by the telco will increase network capacity by 1,000 times. An additional project aims to provide services such as DSL, VoIP and IPTV for 4.3 million people living in rural parts of the country by November 2008.
The Special Minister of State, Gary Nairn, today launched version one of the Australian Government Architecture (AGA) with the Reference Models publication. ¡°Version one of the Australian Government Architecture is an important milestone in providing a framework for Government to provide better services to citizens and more effectively invest in Government information and communication technologies (ICT) capabilities,¡° Mr Nairn said. ¡°There is an increasing demand by citizens for Government to provide more cohesive services that are easier to find and use, and the Australian Government Architecture Reference Models provide a framework for classifying services provided by Government agencies,¡± Mr Nairn said. The Reference Models provide a consistent framework and language for describing ICT architecture in the Government context. This will aid Government agencies and the private sector in designing ICT architectures that take into full consideration the performance, business, service, technical and data aspects of ICT solutions. The e Government Strategy (released in March 2006) identified the need for a whole of government Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) to meet this demand, providing the ability to improve services to citizens and the efficient use of ICT by government. The Australian Government Architecture Reference Models assist in the development of this SOA.
The Australian Government Architecture Reference Models document has been specifically developed to provide a business oriented focus, and a line-of-sight from Government outcomes through the service delivery to the supporting data and technology. The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) worked with various government agencies to evaluate existing frameworks for federated architectures. The US Government¡¯s Federal Enterprise Architecture Framework was selected as the most appropriate and has been adapted to suit the Australian Government environment. ¡°The Australian Government Architecture will continue to evolve, with the experience of agencies providing valuable feedback into the framework. The next release is scheduled for later this year and will include a significant upgrade to the Business reference models, further enhancing the ability to link ICT investments to the business of Government.¡± Mr Nairn said. In announcing the launch of the Australian Government Architecture, Mr Nairn acknowledged the time and effort contributed by the cross-agency working group involved in its development. ¡°The collaborative spirit in which agencies have worked together to develop this foundational architecture model illustrates the importance placed on the delivery of effective and consistent services to citizens.¡±
With the release of Australia Connected and the Government¡¯s rollout of a new high speed broadband network to 99 per cent of Australians, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Senator Helen Coonan called on Labor to come clean with full and proper detail on their broadband plan. ¡°This is a clear challenge to Mr Rudd and the Labor Party to provide their costings, maps and technical information about their broadband proposal for the full scrutiny of the Australian public,¡± Senator Coonan said. ¡°All details in relation to the Government¡¯s new network is in the public domain and we have publicly provided coverage maps and full technical information unlike Labor who has provided nothing but rhetoric since their media announcement months ago. ¡°Labor claims to have a broadband plan for 98 per cent of Australians but based on any reasonable assessment, their numbers just don¡¯t add up and coverage will only reach around 75 per cent of Australians. ¡°Which means Labor will leave almost three million Australian households and small business without a fast broadband service. ¡°Labor¡¯s flawed proposal is now starting to unravel and Labor¡¯s Shadow Cabinet Minister and Member for Hunter, Mr Joel Fitzgibbon MP has well and truly belled the cat with his comments in a media doorstop in Canberra today
OPTUS will make significant inroads into potentially lucrative broadband markets in Brisbane and Perth, despite the Government's claim that taxpayers would not be used to build networks where the market should fight it out. A small group of maps was released yesterday that the Government insists shows it did not favour 40 Coalition marginal seats during cabinet deliberations this month on the plan to deliver broadband to rural and regional centres. The maps show the Optus and Elders rural and outer-metropolitan broadband proposal, OPEL, will deliver a boost to both Government and Labor seats. But after stressing that taxpayers money would not be used to build networks where there was potential for a market, the maps show OPEL will cover significant parts of the densely populated southeast corner of Queensland and Perth's growing southern suburbs. These are markets dominated by Telstra. Communications Minister Helen Coonan insisted yesterday an embarrassing email that highlighted 40 Coalition seats as a "priority" for cabinet discussions was not proof of political interference in the year-long tender for the initial $600 million - later lifted to $958 million - plan announced on Monday. The Government says the list was not a plan for which electorate would get funding and that maps for all electorates had now been produced.
"After eight months of working on the Government's comprehensive and far-reaching broadband plan -- which is going to ensure that all Australians, regardless of where they live, will be able to access fast broadband - it was able to be announced by the Prime Minister and by me (on Monday)," Senator Coonan told parliament yesterday. "We do not go in for kneejerk reactions; we go in for detailed policy work that involves proper costings, proper coverage maps and proper technical detail to support the policy that we rollout," she told the Senate yesterday. The selection of maps released yesterday shows that large growth areas - such as Kim Beazley's seat of Brand, where former party secretary Gary Gray faces a tough fight - will get a large number of wireless connections and upgraded exchanges to support the new OPEL network. There is also heavy spending in the southeast corner of Queensland, particularly southern Brisbane. The areas include the safe Labor seat of Rankin but spread out to through Liberal-held seats of Blair, Groom and Forde. The Government's plans for broadband were accelerated after Labor announced earlier this year it would use $4.7 billion of taxpayers' money to underwrite a public and private partnership to deliver optic fibre to suburban exchanges, or "nodes", potentially covering 98 per cent of the population.The Government wants the private sector to build the fibre network in the cities and says its plan would reach 99 per cent of Australians.
THE federal Government's broadband beauty pageant could end up having more than one winner, according to competition guidelines released by the judging Expert Taskforce. A set of draft guidelines for national broadband network proposals issued by the Expert Taskforce indicated more than one proposal may be recommended. "An optimal outcome from the assessment process may be achieved by one or a combination of proposals," the draft guidelines say "The Expert Taskforce may therefore decide to recommend to the Australian Government more than one proposal for the roll-out of new high speed broadband network infrastructure covering capital cities and major regional centres. "The Expert Taskforce may therefore request a proponent to revise its proposal so as to achieve , in its view , the best overall outcome." Welcoming the arrival of the draft guidelines, Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan said the government would not specify a technology for the network, putting it at odds with Labor's fibre-to-the-node scheme proposal. "But fibre-to-the-node appears to be the most likely prospect based on the strong interest from industry in a fibre network build," Senator Coonan said in a statement. Senator Coonan announced the taskforce in June as part of the government's "Australia's Connected" initiative, which promised "operating certainty" to private investment willing to provide broadband infrastructure to capital cities and major regional centres. A competitive bid process is part of the program. Comments on the draft guidelines will be accepted up to August 29. Those intending to make bids for the project have been given 17 weeks to lodge applications, with the taskforce allocating itself 12 weeks to assess them.
THE federal Government says a new internet-based health system for remote areas will ensure health issues identified in Aboriginal children are properly followed up. At the Australian Health Summit in Sydney, Health Minister Tony Abbott announced an electronic health record initiative for remote indigenous towns. An investment of $25 million over the next three years would see the Medicare records and health concerns of more Australians dealt with online, Mr Abbott said. Better equipped GPs would be able to receive lab results and X-rays via the internet, as well as sending referrals and writing prescriptions online. However, Mr Abbott admitted the government had not been moving quickly on this issue, because he had urged similar internet streamlining in his maiden speech as health minister in November 2003. The government was also interested in consultations via web cameras, he said today. "(Consulting) electronically provides safer, better, more convenient and more effective health care," Mr Abbott said. The government envisaged medical professionals having a similar relationship to the internet as bankers. "Today I can announce the federal government will fast-track the rollout of shared electronic health records throughout remote parts of the Northern Territory," he said. "This should help to ensure the health issues identified in child health checks are properly followed up." A similar scheme had already been trialled in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory, with 12,000 patients.
Ely, England (PRWEB) July 6, 2007 -- The total reliance of today's businesses on technology, coupled with a climate of ever-growing regulation, has placed IT governance amongst the most pressing issues facing business leaders. Honouring this responsibility demands a clear grasp of IT governance principles and of the precise regulatory and legal requirements of the local jurisdiction. To help UK and US companies meet this challenge, IT Governance Limited has launched three new pocket guides that equip the reader with the essential facts required to take action. These books are the latest in the Practical IT Governance pocket guide series introduced by the leading infosecurity publisher earlier this year.
The IT Governance Pocket Guide provides a clear explanation of how information technology underpins businesses and sets out the requirements and benefits of an IT governance strategy. The book draws on the Calder-Moir IT Governance Framework to provide a 'joined up' account of IT governance that integrates controls right across the organisation. Over 52 pages, the guide addresses issues including Why IT Governance Matters, Strategic & Operational Risk Management and Symptoms of Inadequate IT Governance. Written by international security and governance authority Alan Calder, the book is priced at only ¡ê9.95/€14.79/US$19.92 and can be purchased from http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/products/890. IT Regulatory Compliance in the UK is a helpful introduction to IT regulation and examines current compliance issues for organisations based in, operating in or supplying the United Kingdom. In concise and accessible language, it summarises the infosecurity implications of the Data Protection Act 1998, Freedom of Information Act 2000, FSA Rule Book and a host of other legislation and regulations. Written by Alan Calder, the book is priced at ¡ê9.95/€14.79/US$19.92 and can be purchased from http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/products/892.
The third addition to the series, IT Regulatory Compliance in North America, provides similar guidance to organisations based in or trading with the United States. It neatly summarises the IT governance demands of laws and regulations including Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, GLBA and CAN-SPAM Act. Again written by Alan Calder, the book is priced at ¡ê9.95/€14.79/US$19.92 and can be purchased from http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/products/891.Hard copy and electronic versions of all three books are available for worldwide dispatch or immediate download from the IT Governance website. Alan Calder said: "IT governance is a crucial matter for business leaders to master and these pocket guides provide a succinct overview of the most important topics. In easily digested form, they enable the reader to focus on the key issues relating to their business without needing to wade through reams of superfluous information. In combination with other titles in the series, these latest guides are essential compliance reading for any successful business operating in the UK or USA."
IT Governance Ltd is the one-stop-shop for information security books, tools, training and consultancy. It approaches infosec issues from a non-technology background and talks to management in its own language. Its customer base spans Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia. More information is available at www.itgovernance.co.uk. The Calder-Moir IT Governance Framework is a way of organising IT governance issues and tools to support the board, executives and practitioners. Developed in recognition of the fragmented nature of existing IT governance practice, it places governance tools in the context of a complete process and provides a simple reference point for discussing many aspects of IT direction and performance. It may be accessed without charge at http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/page.framework. Alan Calder is an international authority on information security management. He led the world's first successful implementation of BS 7799, the information security management standard upon which ISO 27001 is based, and wrote the definitive compliance guide for this standard, 'IT Governance: A Manager's Guide to Data Security and BS7799/ISO17799'. The 3rd edition of this book is the basis for the UK Open University's postgraduate course on Information Security. He is a consultant to companies including Cisco. He regularly blogs on IT security issues at http://alancalder.blogspot.com/
UK's digital divide getting worse: The UK's digital divide is deepening, with those who are socially excluded most at risk of digital exclusion. A new study from research firm FreshMinds and the UK online centres -- an organisation that works to provide ICT access to all members of society -- found that 75 percent of people it counts as socially excluded are also on the wrong side of the digital divide. Helen Milner, managing director of UK online centres, said the term 'digital divide' is one that "we've been bandying about for a while, but it's more relevant and more urgent today than at any time in the last 10 years." She added that "technology is opening new doors and new worlds for 61 percent of the population, connecting them to better paid jobs, instant information, new forms of communication and social interaction, community infrastructures, government services, consumer power and convenience. But for a stable 39 percent, those benefits remain firmly out of reach." Milner appealed to MPs and policy-makers to "take ownership of digital inclusion".
Kenya invests in ICT project: The Kenyan government has launched a KES7.8 billion (around EUR85 million) initiative aimed at improving the country's ICT infrastructure and accelerating the rollout of e-government services, reports Kenyan newspaper The Standard. With funding from the World Bank, the Kenya Transparency and Communication Infrastructure Project (KTCIP) plans to address digital divide issues, as well as make government processes more efficient and transparent, over a three-year period commencing in July 2007. Part of the project's budget has been allocated to bumping up broadband and telecoms connectivity for government staff, universities and rural-dwelling citizens. Some KES2.4 billion has been set aside to support e-government initiatives, including the digitisation of processes such as pensions administration, driver's licence registration and company registration, along with the development of SMS services and Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) technologies.
Belgium launches online crime service: Belgian citizens can now report crimes to the police online, according to the European Commission's eGovernment Observatory. Citizens who use the Police-on-Web service can file reports about bicycle theft, shoplifting, vandalism and graffiti -- provided the crimes are not violent or posing an immediate threat. Site users need to have an electronic identity card, available from the country's national portal, before they can log a complaint. Users are then asked to fill in a form with all the necessary information and are given a reference number so they can follow up on police progress on the matter. The police said the service would help them to register complaints faster and to tackle these frequently reported crimes more efficiently. Violent or dangerous crimes that require an immediate response should be reported in the usual way, the police noted.
Bahrain bets on portal to cut costs: Bahrain expects its new e-government portal to help it cut expenses by up to 90 percent, according to a government official. "Bahrain is a small country and we do not have mass production, but we are talking of savings of 90 percent to 95 percent on overhead costs," Mohammed Al Qaed, spokesman for e-Government Services, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Al Qaed said the portal is expected to streamline business within government ministries and agencies and noted that since its launch last month, payment for government services via the internet has grown by 280 percent. The portal, www.e.gov.bh, currently offers 167 online services to citizens, and there are plans to extend electronic payment facilities to a number of municipal, court and customs services. In addition, the government has now enabled site users to pay for services with a debit card; until recently, only credit card holders could avail of the portal's e-payments service.
New Zealand talks about XML framework: The New Zealand government has invited software experts to an open forum to discuss the State Services Commission's proposed XML governance framework, reports M-Net. XML (Extensible Markup Language) enables data to be shared across different systems, especially over the internet, and is key to New Zealand's e-Government Interoperability Framework (NZ e-GIF). This framework aims to improve how government agencies work together electronically and make it easier for citizens to deal with the Government online by encouraging a consistent approach. The forum, scheduled to take place on 25 July, will promote free discussion between the Commission, industry players and software integration professionals on the proposed XML framework, and there will be no commercial advantage for any of the participants, the Commission said. (by Sylvia Leatham)
The past few years have seen the biggest shake-up in the history of public sector IT. Ambitious e-government, shared services, outsourcing and transformation programmes have sought to revolutionise the efficiency and service levels of public sector organisations. And securing the skills to ensure such programmes succeed is having a huge impact on public sector IT recruitment. At the most senior level, there is a strong demand for effective business leaders with experience of driving through successful change and integration programmes. Giles Sumner, public sector business development manager at IT recruiter Computer People, says high levels of commercial and technical competency are required, along with the ability to cope with highly challenging concepts and some of the largest integration projects in the UK. However, with most of the initial e-government projects now complete or nearing completion, job opportunities at technical levels are fewer. Mark Thomas, public sector specialist at IT recruiter www.theitjobboard.com, says the early part of the decade saw a boom in public sector IT recruitment. ¡®Now the various e-government initiatives are, in the main, completed, the pressure is on to demonstrate the value derived from the big IT spend that they necessitated,¡¯ he says.
As a result, Thomas says growth in IT recruitment is only seen in specialist areas such as data warehousing, business intelligence and database work. ¡®Customer relationship management is also a key skill, so SAP skills are in demand. Another growth area is in the education sector, where e-learning has been gathering pace over the past three years,¡¯ he says. With the drive for efficiencies and improved service continuing throughout the public sector, business and soft skills are also becoming increasingly important. Steve Saunders, director of recruitment consultancy STR Technology, says a greater emphasis on customer service within the public sector has driven a move towards best practice, with many organisations now embracing standards and processes such as ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library). ¡®At the same time, users have become more sophisticated, resulting in the need for better-quality support staff. Many organisations are looking for more commercially minded people,¡¯ he says. One of the most in-demand commercial skills is the ability to manage and work with external IT partners, as the outsourcing trend continues apace. Indeed, many people working on public sector IT projects are today employed by private sector IT service providers.
Phil Johnson, of specialist technical recruiter CBSbutler, says there is an ever- increasing trend for public sector organisations to outsource major IT projects. ¡®The private sector is more efficient at it, has the right experience and can usually do it at a much lower cost, which means that the real job opportunities are in the private sector,¡¯ he says. And Johnson says the opportunities to work on high-profile public projects are certainly out there, whoever is doing the hiring. ¡®Whenever a government project is announced, or a policy put forward, IT seems to be at the heart of it. These schemes are massive in scale,¡¯ he says. ¡®The Defence Information Infrastructure, for example, is a ¡ê4bn, 10-year project, and consequently the demand for large numbers of IT bodies for different projects is growing all the time. Skill sets in demand include testers, solution architects and, of course, project managers.¡¯ Steve Somerfield, of IT service provider Steria, agrees that there will be plenty of opportunities. ¡®As the transformational agenda develops, we will see more demand for shared services, more demand for systems that support communities and neighbourhoods, and more demand for systems that can operate across organisational boundaries ¨C for example, across health, local authorities, police and beyond,¡¯ he says. But in the coming years those who find themselves working for outsourcers may have the opportunity to switch ¨C or switch back ¨C to the public sector. Mark Verghese, director of IT recruitment firm Greythorn, says that in the private sector there is a trend towards bringing work back in-house. ¡®If the same happens in the public sector, many specialists working for outsourcers will have to make decisions about where to make their long-term careers,¡¯ he says. (by James Mortleman)
August 23, 2007 National and local governments across the globe have been implementing new strategies based on e-governance in order to modernize public services. South Korea has been a leader in this field along with neighboring Asian nations. It is only fitting then, that a new book claiming to be an authoritative text on the subject has originated from Japan.
E-Governance from IOS Press is a practical resource that presents how both developed and developing countries have designed and implemented e-government strategies. The book¡¯s editor Professor Toshio Obi said that e-governance ¡°is regarded as one of the most important dimensions in the Information Society. Global e-Governance for both public and private sectors is becoming extremely significant in an innovative and seamless world community.¡±
The new book, retailing for US$130, features case studies from across the globe including: Japan¡¯s information technology strategy; implementation of electronic government concepts in Russia; strategy for local e-government in Japan; an assessment of municipal web sites throughout the world; new generation networks in broadband; international strategy for disaster reduction; smart cards; and the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO).
E-Government initiatives to reform public services cover a wide spectrum of social infrastructure including health, education, energy, foreign affairs, interior, finance, natural resources, foreign investment, transportation, militaryhttp://www.gizmag.com/go/4747/, tourism, and telecommunications. Even the humble parking meter has been subjected to technological reform in an effort to improve efficiency and fairness to local parking laws. So far 100 countries have adopted e-government programs and will continue to improve services to citizenry through new technologies.
The 3Com and H3C sales and marketing organisations are now one team with an integrated go-to-market strategy and a broader product portfolio in the region.¡°With this successful integration, we have built a stronger, more experienced team that we believe will enable us to increase our presence and success in the region,¡± said Peter Chai, Vice President & General Manager (Asia Pacific), 3Com Corp. ¡°By combining the two organisations, our customers and partners now have access to a more expansive portfolio of low-cost, high-quality secure, converged networking solutions.¡°Additionally, we intend to fully leverage H3C¡¯s research and development capabilities to help us create new, innovative products and deliver them to the enterprise and service provider markets faster than the competition,¡± added Chai.
Moving forward, 3Com will look to combine systems in the region, as appropriate, in order to streamline processes and promote operational efficiency.As part of the integration, 3Com also announced its new APR management team, led by Peter Chai. Chai has more than 24 years in the telecommunications industry with direct hands-on experience in the entire operations of several recognised global companies. Specifically, his background includes focus on the financial and commercial aspects of running a business, as well as business development, marketing and sales, product development, project management, engineering and network operations. Prior to joining 3Com, he was vice president and country manager for South East Asia BT. ¡°Prior to naming the APR leadership team, we reviewed internal and external candidates to help ensure we found the most qualified and experienced team possible,¡± said Chai. ¡°I am very confident that we now have a team in place that will help us win in both the large enterprise and SMB markets. Throughout this transition, one of the top priorities of this new organisation is to maintain the high level of service and support that both H3C and 3Com customers and partners have come to expect from us.¡±On March 29, 2007, 3Com acquired the remaining 49% of H3C Technologies of China, giving it full 100 per cent ownership.
Belgian citizens can now report crimes to the police online, according to the European Commission's eGovernment Observatory. Citizens who use the Police-on-Web service can file reports about bicycle theft, shoplifting, vandalism and graffiti -- provided the crimes are not violent or posing an immediate threat. Site users need to have an electronic identity card, available from the country's national portal, before they can log a complaint. Users are then asked to fill in a form with all the necessary information and are given a reference number so they can follow up on police progress on the matter. The police said the service would help them to register complaints faster and to tackle these frequently reported crimes more efficiently. Violent or dangerous crimes that require an immediate response should be reported in the usual way, the police noted.
(Associated Press via NewsEdge) The European Union authorized Germany to give $165 million for research on Internet search-engine technologies that could someday challenge US search giant Google. The Theseus research project, the German arm of what the French call Quaero, is aiming to develop the world's most advanced multimedia search engine for the next-generation Internet. It would translate, identify and index images, audio and text. Initially, the German government would pay several "icebreaker" companies, Siemens, SAP, Deutsche Thomson and EMPOLIS, to kick start research. Later, the German funding would be spread out to small and medium businesses for them to build on the earlier research.
France is still discussing a similar subsidy plan with the European Commission, aiming to give $112 million to research led by French video-technology company Thomson. EU regulators said it could allow Germany to subsidize the Theseus project until 2011 because the government grants were made in a way that would prevent giving any one company an unfair advantage over others. The grants also are expected to help industry work more closely with scientists, making the research more efficient. Fragmented European research efforts are one of the reasons blamed for the region lagging behind the US in information technology. European companies in general spend far less on research than those based in other parts of the world, and the EU said the project should help change that.
The government has pointed to the successes of its e-Passports scheme, claiming 4,000 ineligible visa applications have been blocked due to biometric checks. Speaking at a Westminster e-Forum, Stephen Harrison, director of Policy at the Identity and Passport service, said: "Biometric ID is not just about control it's about making life easier for legitimate travelers." Biometric checking enabled immigration authorities to catch out more than 4,000 visa applicants who had sought to withhold information regarding a previous immigration matter. Seven out of 10 of these matches were due to fingerprint data previously collected in the UK from individuals who had attempted to claim asylum before, according to the government. The government's ID cards scheme has not been popular with silicon.com readers and even Conservative Party leader David Cameron pledged to scrap the scheme - and undertake a full-scale review of the ¡ê12.4bn NHS IT upgrade project - if the Tories win the next General Election. (By Gemma Simpson)
The UK government spends ¡ê208 million on websites each year, but many are still text-heavy, a National Audit Office report has found. Despite spending ¡ê208 million on websites each year, government websites remain text heavy and hard to navigate, a National Audit Office (NAO) report has found. Site traffic has risen since the last report in 2002, but quality has improved only slightly, the report found. "Progress has been made by departments and agencies in getting more information on the web," said the head of NAO Sir John Bourn. "When I last reported on this subject in 2002 I reported weaknesses in information across government on the cost and usage of its websites. Today's report highlights that little improvement has been made in these areas." The study found that a third of departments and agencies have little knowledge about how much their online services cost them, and a majority of departments have little information on web traffic.
"Departments need to focus on understanding the cost effectiveness of their websites and who uses them and why, so that they can better meet the needs of citizens," said Bourn. The NAO said the government should improve its research and collect better usage data in order design better websites. The report praised the efforts of Directgov and businesslink, saying they were streamlined, rational services. According to the report, good sites save the government millions a year. The Financial Services Authority said its site saves the regulatory body some ¡ê9 million annually on administrative costs, while the Environment Agency said it cost them ¡ê66,000 a day when their site was down. The report said the government made good progress toward meeting a goal of providing services in electronic form, helped by heavy investment of some ¡ê1 billion in e-government between 2000 and 2005. But it warned against focusing too heavily on web-delivery of services, as some two-fifths of the UK population have no internet access at home. (Posted by Nicole Kobie)
Getting good quality public information and services online has been a great promise by government. But it is a promise yet to be fulfilled. It is disappointing that there has been so little improvement in the quality of government websites since 2002. Departments have poor information on costs, websites are still hard to navigate and citizens have to wade through masses of irrelevant information to find what they need. While initiatives such as Directgov and Businesslink are now seeking to create a more streamlined approach to the government¡¯s delivery of services via the web, in the five years since we last reported we have seen a huge and uncoordinated growth in government websites. When our committee last reported on government on the web we recommended that, in order for departments to increase the number of customers using their websites, they would need to have excellent information on who is using their online services and why. There has been a significant lack of progress in this area. Government has made progress in making a wide range of information available to the public through the internet. But the National Audit Office has found that although internet users rate government websites reasonably well, the quality of those websites has improved only slightly since 2002.
Today¡¯s report to Parliament looked at the progress made by government in delivering services and information online since the NAO last reported in 2002. Government organisations spend some ¡ê208 million on websites each year. Usage of the main government websites has risen over time and some sites are widely and repeatedly used. For example 78 per cent of Jobcentre Plus online service users visited its sites at least once a week. The report found that many government websites tend to be text heavy and off-putting to the user. Internet users told the NAO that some government websites are complex to understand and navigate and information useful to them is often hard to find amongst large amounts of policy material not relevant to them. Government is seeking to improve this situation through radically reducing the number of central government websites. This will be carried out by moving customer-facing online information into two main ¡®supersites¡¯ ¨C Directgov and businesslink.gov.uk. This is designed to provide the public and businesses a simple and clear route to accessing information and performing transactions. The report shows that Directgov content and presentation were appreciated by citizens. This is a promising new initiative but it is an ambitious programme and needs to be carefully managed and kept under regular review. Information on the cost of providing information online and user data also need to be improved. A third of departments and agencies have very little knowledge about how much their online provision of services is costing them. And most departments do not have sufficient information on who is using their sites and how they are being used.
The report highlights the potential for better web-based information: for example to inform choice such as finding schools for children or choosing NHS hospitals for operations. The report concludes that there is scope for departments and agencies to improve value for money in the provision of online services. Among its recommendations, the NAO says that departments should carry out regular research to ensure they are providing services appropriate to the needs of the public and gain better knowledge about how people prefer to access government services. They should also collect and analyse usage data and feed it directly into the design of government websites, maximize the visibility of government websites on search engines and ensure that websites meet accessibility and usability criteria for the people that use them. Directgov and businesslink.gov.uk currently follow these principles and as the website content is converged onto these sites citizens and businesses should be better served. The Cabinet Office needs to ensure the risk management of the ¡®supersite¡¯ strategy by keeping it under regular review. Head of the National Audit Office Sir John Bourn said today: ¡°Progress has been made by departments and agencies in getting more information on the web. When I last reported on this subject in 2002 I reported weaknesses in information across government on the cost and usage of its websites. Today¡¯s report highlights that little improvement has been made in these areas. Departments need to focus on understanding the cost effectiveness of their websites and who uses them and why, so that they can better meet the needs of citizens. I therefore welcome the initiatives of Directgov and businesslink.gov.uk which aim to streamline and rationalize the Government¡¯s web estate and should help to concentrate minds and focus efforts.¡±
Public services absorb 20 per cent of the UK economy, and this figure is likely to grow. We cannot be satisfied with simply creating a productive private sector ¨C we should also be investigating public services as sites of innovation, improved productivity and skills development. Technological advances are becoming perhaps the most important factor in transforming our service sectors. Sadly, however, public services often lag behind businesses in how they use technology to transform contact and connections between users and organisations. We have seen a number of initiatives focused on increasing efficiency and productivity in our public services, most of them concentrating on back-office administrative tasks. There has been relatively little focus on the front end ¨C the interactions between services and people¡¯s lives have been relatively neglected. For example, there are 61 different benefits entitlements forms, the majority of which require the same standard information to be provided. An average citizen will need to prove their identity to government at least 11 times per year. A small business can be faced with more than 20 helplines, and links to more than 25 web sites.
The history of public services has led to departments or agencies focusing on the supply of specific products, rather than taking a citizen- or business-led approach. Departments often focus not on the whole citizen, but on a particular aspect of that citizen. So a single, unemployed parent might be a benefit claimant to one department, a parent to another, a patient to a third and a learner to another. This is profoundly at odds with how people relate to public services. Often they are trying to deal with a task or an event that does not fall neatly within any one part of government. Over the next 10 years, government has an opportunity to provide better public services at a lower cost to taxpayers. The key lies in the way we invest in and deploy new technology, and there are three core elements to achieving this ¨C see box, below. Duplication continues to be a major source of inefficiency. For example, numerous government databases hold the same address information, all requiring separate input. We have multiple identity management systems carrying out the same functions. In HM Revenue & Customs alone, it is estimated that a saving of ¡ê100m per year could result from better record management, eradicating duplication of effort and improving the quality of information. Identity is a personal and sensitive issue. The systems we create for managing identity in government must acknowledge this and respect a person¡¯s right to privacy. However, there are about 300 million contact details in the public sector, which equates to almost five sets of information for every citizen.
We cannot be under any illusions about the scale of the challenge. The Home Office has 20 verification procedures and 25 unique personal numbers. For tax and benefits there are 10 initiatives each using a unique number, and in children¡¯s services there are nine.The true customer contact innovations from technology will emerge only if this is a corporate agenda that cuts across pre-existing government departments, silos, agencies and delivery organisations. The best innovations will be those that use new channels to create genuinely new approaches to service delivery. The development of Web 2.0 is beginning to herald yet another shift, from transactional to interactional web sites, where citizen contributions enable organisations to offer back to them increasingly personalised information and support. The challenge for government is to embrace not only today¡¯s technology, but also tomorrow¡¯s, and to ensure that it deploys that technology in a way that is driven by enhancing the contact between people and services. It is through this enhancement that we stand a chance of achieving our twin aspirations of better and more productive services. (By David Varney)
Breaches of personal information in both the public and private sectors are frequent, but the extent to which they have or will result in identity theft is still unknown, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday. The report examined data breaches within both federal and private organizations and media reports on the compromising of sensitive personal information. They found that breaches have been widespread and vary in size and threat, occurring on the federal, state and local levels, and across a range of institutions. The report was particularly concerned with the link between data breaches and identity theft -- a link difficult to determine because of the hazy nature of most ID thefts. GAO discussed options for notifying consumers about compromised data, saying that notification when the risk for identity theft is greater could provide incentives for both consumers and data collectors to take steps toward prevention.
E-Republic's Center for Digital Government (Center) has completed this year's evaluation of America's most digital county governments. This year's Digital Counties Survey found many counties using information technology in increasingly innovative ways and improving service to their citizens. The 2007 Digital Counties Survey is an annual study by the Center and the National Association of Counties (NACo). To recognize their hard work and innovation of the best governments, the survey's top digital counties will be honored at a national awards ceremony which will coincide with NACo's national conference in Richmond, Va. July 13-17, 2007. In April, thousands of U.S. counties were invited to participate in the 2007 Digital Counties Survey. County officials responded to questions that included more than 100 measurements and data points about online service delivery, infrastructure, architecture and governance models.
The first-place winners in each of the four population categories are: Montgomery County, Maryland (500,000 or more population category); Richland County, South Carolina (250,000-499,999 population); Frederick County, Maryland (150,000-249,999 population); Charles County, Maryland & Nevada County, California (tie). (Less than 150,000 population). "In today's world, technology is essential for effective and efficient government," said NACo Executive Director Larry E. Naake. "County governments realize this and are using technology in new ways to improve the delivery of services to Americans. The Digital Counties Survey illustrates the innovation being pursued by counties across the country." Center Executive Director, Cathilea Robinett, added, "America's counties continue to make astonishing strides each year in their use of technology. In doing so, they greatly improve services to their citizens and make even better use of government's precious resources. Congratulations to all the winners!" This year's survey was underwritten by Hyland Software and GTSI.
A major component to saving money from e-government initiatives is increasing the adoption rate. A new study from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) states that a survey of Texas agencies found that when citizen usage crosses the 30 percent threshold, the state department sees actual cost reductions. ¡°As adoption rates increase, savings can occur in many areas such as more staff time for new projects, a decrease in transportation and postage costs and a greater capacity to manage high case loads,¡± CRS said in its July 23 report, ¡°State E-Government Strategies: Identifying Best Practices and Applications.¡± The Federation of American Scientists first obtained the report. Cost savings have long been held as a major benefit from e-government. But federal and state government agencies have been hard pressed to show the monetary return on investment.
The survey of 38 state respondents also found 55 percent use both return on investment and cost benefit analysis as a performance metric. States also use adoption rates of online services as a performance measure. States usually compare the number of transactions processed online with the total number of transactions processed via the phone, Web and mail, and in person, according to the survey, which was performed between 2005 and 2006 by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. The percentage online is the adoption rate for the service, the report states. ¡°Many states agree that marketing specific services to a targeted constituency is the most efficient and effective form of increasing the adoption rate of online services,¡± the report states. The survey came to other conclusions in addition to adoption rates.
Fifty-two percent of respondents said they see the federal government¡¯s e-government initiatives as only somewhat important. Only 17 percent said they were extremely or very important, while 14 percent said those efforts were not important. In fact, the survey found that 10 out of 30 respondents were not familiar with the federal e-government strategy. ¡°The results suggest that federal e-government formulation and implementation has been important to relatively few states¡¯ e-government planning and execution,¡± CRS said. At the same time, the survey states that the federal government is the second most common funding source for e-government projects. CRS found 26 of 38 respondents reported using federal monies to fund these initiatives.
State agency operating budgets are the most common way to pay for online projects while fee-for-service is the third most used way, CRS reports. ¡°User fees are the simplest way of generating revenue, and with an increasing trend of citizen and business adoption rates, a user-fee-only model arguably could support most e-government transactions,¡± the report states. CRS added that user fees could cause an initial drop in adoption rates. The survey also states that most state implementations are in a similar place as the federal government ¡ª the transaction phase. Some, CRS states, are beginning to the move to the transformative phase where states set up one-stop shopping portals and use their enterprise architecture to develop strategies. ¡°[S]trategies and management at the state level may provide important ¡®lessons learned¡¯ for potential federal e-government initiatives,¡± CRS states. (by Jason Miller)
China's high-profile campaign to clean up online pornography is now reaching into college campuses with the Ministry of Education on Sunday lashing out at some school websites for making money from porn. "We strongly condemn web hosts for making 'unlawful' money by distributing pornographic information," said vice-minister of education Li Weihong. "Student netizens are easily influenced and perverted by such information as they are still in their formative years and do not have a solid hold on their values," Li said. There are 44 million student netizens in China, about one third of the total Internet users in the country, according to Li. The education ministry will open a section on its website for the public to report on campus websites and is drafting a guideline to regulate campus Internet services. On May 16, police authorities in south China's Hainan province banned the website of Qiongzhou Middle School which the police accused of containing large numbers of sexually explicit pictures and links to other pornographic websites.
"Students and their parents have shown great support for the campaign," Li said, "and nearly 100,000 college students from five Chinese provinces have made an online pledge to say no to pornographic websites." Li said real-name registration for those logging on to campus websites may be an effective way to curb the spread of harmful information across campus cyber space. Li also called on college instructors to brush up on their Internet knowledge to "get to know the mentality of today's students from the net". The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and nine other government departments launched a six-month campaign in April to crack down on illegal online activities such as distributing pornographic materials and organizing cyber strip shows. The campaign hopes to purge the web of sexually-explicit images, stories, and audio and video clips. By mid-May, Chinese police had cracked 244 cases and detained 270 suspects involved in online pornography, according to the MPS.
A database of Chinese websites through which law enforcement agencies can track website registrations is expected to be completed in October. Vice Minister of Information Industry Xi Guohua said on Monday the ministry had recorded the basic information of more than 1.6 million websites, including the registers' names, IP address, and domain names. More than 2,000 new websites applied for registration each day and the biggest challenge was updating data and building a search engine that would access basic information as quickly as possible. The database would also blacklist websites involved in illegal online activities, such as pornography and unlicensed online lotteries. Website operators and Internet access providers would both be held responsible for online illegal activities, said Xi. The Ministry of Information Industry suspended almost 3,000 websites for publishing "harmful" information in its 2006 annual inspection. This year the ministry has shut down 900 websites for distributing pornographic material.
Administration envisages substantial cooperation with private sector to boost connectivity and mobility in the former British colony. The Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications and Technology), Rita Lau, has urged the local ICT industry to join with the Government to enhance Hong Kong's status as an advanced digital city. Addressing the opening ceremony of the Government Wi-Fi Programme 'GovWiFi', Lau said building an inclusive and knowledge-based society was one of the action areas identified in the draft 2007 Digital 21 Strategy - the blueprint for future development of ICT in Hong Kong. "We aim to enable citizens and businesses to realise the full potential of the information society, where everyone can create, access, use and share information and knowledge to unleash their potential and enhance their quality of life. "Through Government investment and market force, we will pursue the goal of building Hong Kong into a wireless city and make broadband connectivity including the wireless one available for every citizen," she said. Lau noted that to assist the industry in extending the coverage of the wireless network, the Government offered public facilities such as flyovers and lamp posts at a nominal rent for network operators to install wireless access points.
Under the "GovWiFi", the Government will progressively provide Wi-Fi facilities at about 350 government premises for free use by the public in the next two years. Priority sites will be set up at premises frequented by members of the public by mid-2008, including libraries, public enquiry service centres, community halls/centres, parks and Government buildings. While the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) will oversee the programme, the Government will adopt an outsourcing approach on the installation of Wi-Fi facilities, provision of Wi-Fi services as well as their on-going operations. Lau said the Government had just issued the tender document for the provision of the Government Wi-Fi facilities. "Industry players can participate in this programme as contractors of the Wi-Fi programme. They could also explore new business opportunities by providing more wireless applications, mobile products and supporting services to the citizens," she said. Also officiating at today's ceremony were the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Thomas Chow, and the Government Chief Information Officer, Howard Dickson. Meanwhile, the OGCIO will organise a series of activities to raise public awareness of the programme. Roving exhibitions where visitors can try out the wireless facilities will be held at six government premises starting from today.
The 2010 Shanghai World Expo, China's next global party after the Olympics, will be going live online. "The event will never close," the city's vice-mayor said. The virtual Expo will hit cyberspace on May 1, 2010, the same day as the actual Expo kicks off. It will be the first online World Expo, Yang Xiong, Shanghai's vice-mayor and executive deputy director of the Expo executive committee, said at a press briefing in Beijing. Yang said that because of the size and complexity of the five-month event, the online version will play a major part in helping those attending the Expo get the most out of it as well as provide access for those unable to be there. He noted that the Shanghai Expo seeks to encourage the participation of developing countries with US$100 million in assistance funds available to the 114 nations listed by the United Nations as less developed and underdeveloped nations. The funds for Expo participation will be distributed not in cash but through the signing of contracts. China became the first developing country to host the World Expo when Shanghai won the bid in December 2002 with a "better city, better life" theme. Yang said transportation "is the greatest challenge since the Expo will be held in the center of Shanghai".
Measures to improve transportation include the construction of the city's third railway station, renovation of airports and development of cross-river transportation. Within the inner city, Yang said the improved metro lines will be vital, with a system of 400 km in place by 2010. Only public transport will be allowed in and around the Expo. Another innovative feature of the Expo is the Urban Best Practice Area, which will display outstanding approaches of 30 cities worldwide. According to Yang, this will be the first time cities have been invited to participate in the World Expo independently. The Expo will include the World Expo Museum, a public events center, a performing arts center, the China pavilion, and international and corporate pavilions. China's provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities will share pavilions, while Hong Kong and Macao are authorized to build larger independent pavilions, according to Wang Jinzhen, China's chief delegate to the Bureau of International Exhibitions and the standing deputy-director of the Expo organizing committee's liaison office. A participation plan for Taiwan is being drafted, he said, without further elaboration.
A new Government portal "GovHK" (www.gov.hk) was officially launched this month to provide one-stop government online information and services to the public. Addressing the ceremony, the Acting Financial Secretary, Frederick Ma [pictured], said the launch of GovHK was a new milestone in the development of e-government services in Hong Kong, marking a new citizen-centric approach in public service delivery. "To follow-through the Government's core value of being 'Active, Pragmatic and Always People First', we have designed the content and the features of the new portal from the perspectives of users," Ma said. "Through a user-friendly interface, different information and services are grouped into clusters or subjects for easy access by various user groups - Residents, Business & Trade, Non-Residents and Youth." Developed and managed by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, GovHK adopts a service clustering approach to help the public access frequently-sought Government information and some 1200 e-government services.
These clusters include for example environment, education and training, employment, immigration services and taxes and duties. Following the integration of the Government Information Centre (www.info.gov.hk) into GovHK in May this year, the online Government services currently offered by the ESDlife website will be migrated to GovHK by the expiry of the Government's contract with the operator in January next year. After the full migration, GovHK will become the single entry portal for all government information and services. Meanwhile, the Government conducted a user satisfaction survey after the soft launch of GovHK in September last year. The survey reflected that 87 per cent of the respondents considered it easy to find the information and services they needed in GovHK, while 79 per cent said they would recommend it to others. The Government will continue to improve the content of GovHK having regard to users' feedback.
An online contest on the knowledge of Olympics-related laws and regulations, joined by 100 Chinese websites, will be held from late August to late September this year, according to the Ministry of Justice. The contest mainly aims to promote the public's acquaintance with regulations dedicated to protect the Olympics-related IPR (Intellectual Property Right) and patents as well as other Olympic conventions, so as to ensure a sound environment for the big sports event to be held in Beijing next summer, the ministry said. The involved websites, including famous domestic portals like People's Daily Online, Youth. CN, China Economy Net and Xinhuanet.com, will give online test questions with multiple choices and calculate results of each examinees, it said. The winners will be awarded bonuses and certificates, it added. The contest will be co-sponsored by the ministry, Information Office of the State Council, General Administration of Sport, Beijing organizing committee for the Olympics and national law promotion office.
Reader J wants to know what can be done about harassment by e-mail or regular mail. "I have of course reported the matter to Okayama Police HQ. Is there a department at the NPA in Tokyo technically equipped to deal with cyber-stalking and able to subpoena (the server) in Hong Kong to reveal the abusive mailer and stalker's identity? "There is a special department at the National Police Agency that targets cyber-crime. You can find it at www.npa.go.jp/cyber/english/policy/hightech_prog.htm. There is also an Unauthorized Computer Access Law at www.npa.go.jp/cyber/english/legislation/ucalaw.html. The main NPA Web site is at www.npa.go.jp. You can also call the National Police Agency directly on (03) 3581-4321 and, yes, they do have someone who speaks English. You might also like to consult with a lawyer. Your local "bengoshikai" will be able to find you a lawyer and they will usually provide a consultation for free or for at most a minimal charge. Each bengoshikai, or bar association, will usually have an English-speaking lawyer. Do any readers have any experience of cyber-crime in Japan?
More taxing stuff: Ryan in Hiroshima has heard conflicting stories about what he calls "citizens' tax." "Through the City Office I was told two stories ¡ª which is true? Do I have to pay this tax? What is this tax? Who has to pay it? I am not a citizen, I can't vote, why do I have to pay this tax? None of these questions were answered in Japanese or English, can you help me? "The "tominzei" or "shiminzei" is a tax levied on all residents of a particular ward or town. It is required and is separate from the national tax. The residents' tax pays for local concerns including libraries, swimming pools, public facilities etc. that are only used by local residents. Some good sites to visit for more information are the national tax agency at www.mof.go.jp/english/tax/tax.htm and the Taxes in Japan page at www2.gol.com/users/jpc/Japan/taxes.htm. The tax rate is generally 2 to 3 percent.
In the scope of the sub-program "Internet for every household" of the "E-Mongolia" program implemented by the Government of Mongolia, optical fiber cable has been laid on in Sainshand soum of Dornogobi aimag. The sub-program is jointly carried out by the "WirelessCom" and the "Mongolian Telecommunication" companies. Presently, 24 users have been provided with necessary equipment enabling them to use internet. The "E-Mongolia" program aims to provide 21 aimags with internet services.Ya.Indra
The independent Authority against corruption will launch its web-site against corruption (www.iacc.mn ), which will be available on August 13, 2007. The web-site avails its readers to find information on preventive measures taken by the authority in order to fight against the corruption. Any comments on fighting against the corruption are welcomed. Readers can find information about incomes and wages of the civil servants.
To increase efficiency and reduce paper work, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources has launched its eFisheries online service. The eFisheries project is part of the ministry's initiative to mark 2007 as the year to improve the quality of public service delivery in order to fulfil their role as facilitators of national development, said Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid bin Hj Mohd Jaafar, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources. The Permanent Secretary said that the eFisheries initiative would facilitate the realisation of the Fisheries Department's vision, which is "Sustainable and Competitive Fisheries Contributing Towards A Diversified Economy". The move towards an effective, reliable, and business friendly eFisheries will enable both foreign investors and local entrepreneurs to establish ventures within the countries to get the necessary licences and services from the Fisheries Department.
The eFisheries project of the department of Fisheries started with the development and implementation of the B$248,000 (US$165,000) Network Infrastructure project, which started in the beginning of 2005 and completed in 2006. With the implementation of the project, it has enabled interconnectivity between the department's headquarters and its field stations and branches throughout the country. Following the first phase, the Department of Fisheries proceeded with the implementation of the second phase with the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources. Through the eFisheries, users can apply for and renew fisheries licences, import and export permits.
KUALA LUMPUR: The recent emphasis on improving public service delivery should be seen as an opportunity for the government sector to transform existing public service functions into web services. Accenture government operating group Malaysia managing director Shahrol Halmi believes that by doing so, the public will only need to interact with the Government from a single point of view. He said technology, such as service-oriented architecture (SOA) and web services, could transform challenges in public sector delivery into value creation opportunities. SOA is a framework that integrates siloed applications so that their functionality can be accessed as services on a network. Web services are the most common way to implement SOA. "There has been a lot of interest shown by individual (government) agencies (to embark on SOA) but the roadblock for them has been finding the right agencies to collaborate with," Shahrol said at Microsoft's "Business Agility in the Real World" seminar yesterday. He said government agencies should identify and agree on the processes that they wanted to bring to web services. "Those services should be short-listed to ones that have collaborative processes between different agencies," he said. Shahrol suggested that one way for government agencies to embark on SOA would be to run pilot projects. Microsoft public sector regional technology officer Oliver R. Bell said the implementation of new technologies, such as SOA, would boil down to leadership and that one of the ways to drive change was through incentives. "SOA creates a platform for agencies to work together collaboratively. Hence, every agency needs to understand the benefits that each unit will bring to the table," he said. Microsoft Asia-Pacific region public sector technology strategist James Whittred said the Malaysian government had shown a lot of interest in SOA and that education would be key to its widespread adoption. He said Microsoft would continue to play a role in helping to raise awareness of the benefits of SOA among organisations.
Government suppliers will soon find it easier to certify their procurement transactions made through the electronic procurement portal, ePerolehan. From August, suppliers will only need a flashdrive, called an ePXS token, to verify procurement documents at the portal. ePXS is short for ePerolehan Access. The token will allow vendors and suppliers to certify their transactions from any computer easily. Datuk Azizan Ayob, executive director of Commerce Dot Com Sdn Bhd ¡ª the company that manages the ePerolehan portal ¡ª said vendors and suppliers currently need to use a MyeP smartcard and a reader to certify transactions over the portal. For the devices to work, a program also needs to be installed on each computer that accesses the portal, affecting portability. "The ePXS token is more portable and convenient, compared to the card reader and is as easy as plug-and-play," Azizan said. The ePXS function is guarded by a PIN (personal identification number) and is useless until the number is entered. If suppliers lose the flashdrive, they will need to purchase a new one from Commerce Dot Com. No penalty fee will be charged, said Azizan. He said the device is also the cheaper method to certify transactions over ePerolehan. "It works out to be about 40% cheaper than the current RM310 that suppliers pay for the MyeP smartcard and its reader, but we cannot confirm the price at this moment," he said.
The ePXS token is part of Commerce Dot Com's effort to popularise the use of ePerolehan, he said. Since it was introduced in 2002 to simplify government procurement processes, RM2bil worth of transactions have been completed over the portal up till now. Azizan expects to push the number of transactions carried out over ePerolehan to the RM3.5bil mark this year. "And by 2010, we hope to see RM10bil worth of procurement transactions carried out through ePerolehan," he said. He said a simpler and more userfriendly solution such as ePXS could help achieve this. According to him, a recent mandatory ruling from the Government to all its departments to use ePerolehan will help further boost the use of the portal. "We anticipate an increase now that all government departments are required to use ePerolehan," Azizan said. Commerce Dot Com will work together with digital signature specialists MSC Trustgate.Com Sdn Bhd and Soft Key E-Solution Sdn Bhd to develop the ePXS token.
E-business specialist Alam Teknokrat Sdn Bhd, or Skali, has been appointed to upgrade 450 websites belonging to the Federal Government and its agencies. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the Economic Planning Unit had approved the project under the Managed Portal Services programme. He said Skali would also train 4,000 unemployed graduates in new fields of technology such as design and project management leadership. "We believe that this programme will produce at least 400 new entrepreneurs," Najib said, adding that the programme, which had been started, would be officially launched soon. He was speaking this to newsmen after launching the book Skali Lagi ¨C One More Time written by Skali group chief executive officer and co-founder YM Tengku Farith Rithaudeen, which tells of the story the company and the journey of YM Tegku Farith and Skali's founding team.
The public will be able to carry out all their official business at one government department when the e-KL project takes off this year. Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Unit (Mampu) director-general Datuk Normah Md Yusof said that under the ¡°No Wrong Door¡± policy, the last words the public should hear from a civil servant were ¡°I don¡¯t know.¡± ¡°We don¡¯t want the days where people who are trying to conduct official matters are pushed or redirected to various offices and passed from one staff member to another. It is very frustrating for the public,¡± she added. Normah said the project, which would be implemented from this year until 2010, could catapult Malaysia¡¯s competitiveness ranking into the top 10, which would in turn attract more investors to the country. ¡±We don¡¯t want to be left behind, particularly when other countries in the region are also mushrooming in terms of growth. ¡°An example is when a person who wants to pay his assessment goes to the wrong local council or authority.
He should not be asked to go away. ¡°Instead, the local authority staff can tell him that he is at the wrong office but that he can still pay his assessment there and have the payment entered into the computer online system. ¡°Our clients will be served no matter where they go,¡± she said. The policy comes as the department ¨C which has been tasked to improve the public service delivery system ¨C is seeking to emphasise to the people the concept of ¡°One government, many agencies.¡± Normah said that for now, if members of the public call in hoping to get some information about another agency, the staff should be able to give them some basic information about the other agency. Complaints about being passed around from one telephone connection to another or shuffled between different counters are among the most frequent grouses from the people concerning the government¡¯s public delivery system.
The Malaysian authorities have been pretty half-hearted when it comes to establishing citizen-facing call centres - but that may be about to change. Recent research from Frost & Sullivan suggests that the Malaysian government may be about to take call centres more seriously. If this is the case it represents a long overdue change. Although Malaysia is regularly cited as an ideal hub for regional call centre operations (American Express runs its regional contact centre operations from Kuala Lumpur) - the government has not shown interest in consolidating citizen interactions through a unified contact channel. According to Siva Sundaraj, Senior Research Analyst with Frost & Sullivan: "The Government sector is looking promising for setting up centres and expansion to support its e-government initiatives. The setup of new contact centres in Malaysia is expected to be distributed around the country." Rising public sector interest comes against a backdrop of accelerating interest in call centres in the country. The contact centre applications market in Malaysia is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 12.8 per cent from 2006 to 2013, by which time it will generate revenues worth well over US$23.8 million.
Five hospitals in the Klang Valley have introduced the e-GL (electronic guarantee letter) facility for civil servants effective Aug 1. Public Services Department director-general Tan Sri Ismail Adam said the five hospitals are the Putrajaya Hospital, Ampang Hospital, Sungai Buloh Hospital, Selayang Hospital and Serdang Hospital. According to him the move was to make it easier for civil servants who would no longer need to go to their workplace first to get guarantee letters before proceeding to the hospital for medical treatment and admission. The guarantee letter would now be available online under the Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS) introduced by the Public Services Department. Ismail said HRMIS was part of the Government's efforts to improve the public delivery service and the management of its human resources. "We want all government agencies to immediately update their employees¡¯ records within HRMIS. This is your responsibility," he said in a circular to ministry secretaries-general, state secretaries, local councils and statutory bodies. Ismail said HRMIS was now being expanded to include other government agencies and departments to make it easier for the public to conduct transactions with the Government.
He said among the particulars that should be made available in HRMIS are the employee¡¯s employment details, rank, details of spouse, children and parents, place of employment and salary. When contacted, Cuepacs president Omar Osman welcomed the move, saying the much-awaited system would allow sick employees to get treatment faster. "Under the old system, sick employees would have to get the guarantee letter from their office and only then go to the hospital. "Imagine the hassle a sick person has to go through," he said. Omar said Cuepacs had also received complaints from members who were admitted into second class wards although they were entitled to first class simply because they did not have the guarantee letter. "They are only upgraded when a family member goes to the sick employee's work place and comes back with a guarantee letter," he said. He expressed hope that the system would be expanded nationwide as soon as possible and that it would cover all government hospitals including the National Heart Institute.
MANILA, Philippines -- The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has finished building its database that contains the records of some 1.5 million government employees. This is the initial phase of an automation project that aims to promote transparency in government records and help prevent the occurrence of so-called "ghost employees" or those that are illegally part of government payroll. The second phase involves the ongoing development of a system called Personnel Information Database System (PIDS), a set of applications that run on top of the commission's database. The PIDS is intended to enhance information-sharing and other HR (human resources)-related tasks between CSC offices nationwide to help keep track of employee movement in government. "We started converting 2001 records into digital form as early as 2004. Because of the huge amount of data, we had to subcontract the encoding," said Carlos Bantay Jr., senior project manager at Development Bank of the Philippines Data Center Inc. (DBP-DCI), in an interview. DBP-DCI is managing the CSC automation project, which has a budget of about P38 million. The project also aims to help government employees get instant access to personnel records since regional offices will get access to CSC's central database. The project was partly funded by the World Bank and the e-government fund from the Commission on ICT, according to the CSC Web site.
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has stepped up its efforts to digitise its database of 1.5 million government employees, with the aim of creating an automated and increased transparency of government records. This was because there was a need to prevent the occurrence of so-called ¡®ghost employees¡¯ -those who are illegally part of the government payroll, something easily achieved in an unconnected paper-based administration. The second phase to the project is already underway - a system called Personnel Information Database System (PIDS) which will run as a set of business intelligence applications that operates on top of the newly-created digital government employee database. This system will improve information-sharing and other HR-related tasks between CSC offices across the country. It is also a tool for management to help keep track of employee movement within the government. The automation project has budget of 38 million pesos (US$813,356). It aims to help government employees get instant access to personnel records since regional offices will get access to CSC¡¯s central database.
Ultimately, it will effectively control civil service employment levels and costs, saving the government costs lost through corruption and thief. ¡°Aside from making the operations inside the CSC more efficient, the PIDS will allow faster decision-making regarding personnel matters. The PIDS shall also help CSC develop more purposive and responsive HR policies and programs,¡± shares CSC Chairman Karina Constantino-David. The project was partly funded by the World Bank and the e-government fund of the Commission on ICT.
Now you see them, now you don't - power outage in data centre brings down key government web sites. Suspected power failure in a government data centre resulted in severe disruption to government email systems for most of yesterday, and many key government web sites. The Supreme Court and Subordinate Court sites were down, along with those of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Transport. Other public sector agencies such as the Public Utilities Board and the Singapore Tourism Board were also down. However, some websites remained unaffected, such as those for the Ministries of Education, Defence and Law, and for statutory boards like the Central Provident Fund. According to the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore the problem was caused by a power failure at the Government Data Centre at 11.40am. The Government Data Centre is housed by a third party provider, 1-Net.
The Singapore authorities have given their blessing to a consortium of local companies aiming to export 'made in Singapore' e-government solutions. Singaporean IT firms CrimsonLogic, Ditium Technologies, Elixir Technology, V3 Teletech and RSTN Consulting have come together under the umbrella of the 'Singapore e-Government Services Alliance' in order to boost e-government exports in Asia and the Middle East. Singapore's Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang announced the formation of the consortium in part of a recent speech underlining the government's commitment to boost exports to strategic markets. The consortium comes under International Enterprise Singapore's (formerly the Trade Development Board) iPartners Programme.
Speakers at a workshop called for establishing e-governance to ensure people¡¯s easy access to information about the services of different government agencies. They also stressed the need for training of government officials and setting up of infrastructure for information and communication technology (ICT) in government offices. The awareness creating workshop was organized jointly by United Nations Development Programme and Ministry of Planning at LGED auditorium in Dhaka on June 18. The workshop was organized as part of a project styled ¡®Assistance to support for strengthening information and communication technology (ASICT) for strengthening different divisions of planning ministry through ICT.¡¯ Speaking as chief guest Planning Secretary Jafar Ahmed Chowdhury said the project would help ensuring better inter-departmental connectivity in the ministry. The training of the government officials would also increase their efficiency, he hoped. He however said e-governance can not be established over night, it should be done in phases. Once an office gets the facility of ICT, people would get better services from it, Chowdhury observed.
The secretary said the government plans to expand the information technology network to chief advisor¡¯s office as well as in the secretariat. ¡°The three-year project, started in July 2006, aims at strengthening infrastructure in different wings of planning ministry and training up of officials working there,¡± said National Project Director of ASICT Miah Abdullah Mamun. Commenting on the progress of the project, he said they have almost completed recruitment of people and procurement of equipment. In the coming days, they would start setting up of infrastructure and training up of officials, Mamun added. While presenting his paper, Anir Chowdhury, e-governance policy advisor of UNDP, said e-governance does not only ensure speedy disposal of tasks, it minimizes cost and ensures accountability at different levels. It is not enough that different offices are well equipped with high-tech ICT facilities, it is equally important that people can avail themselves of the benefits from the offices, he added. Anir said the government officials¡¯ commitment to serve people is also equally important for establishing good governance.
Bangladesh is now ranked 155 among 198 countries in the seventh global e-government study. Bangladesh¡¯s position was 86 last year. The United States is ranked fourth, behind South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, according to a global e-government study. India has now been ranked 47 from 77, Nepal 106 from 60, Pakistan ranked 135 from 72 and Bhutan ranked 30 from 39. Brown University's seventh annual analysis (published on July 24, 2007) of international e-government finds that many nations are improving services and providing information for users. Studies of global e-government have been released annually since 2001. The researchers evaluated government websites based on two dozen criteria, including disability access, the existence of publications and databases, the presence of privacy policies, security policies, contact information, and the number of online services. This year's study reviews 1,687 government Web sites in 198 countries during June and July 2007. A variety of different sites were analyzed, including executive, legislative and judicial offices as well as departments and ministries of the government such as health, education, foreign affairs, interior, finance, natural resources, foreign investment, transportation, military, tourism and telecommunication.
The Andhra Pradesh Government has approved the proposal for creating a comprehensive website for each department to make it more transparent and citizen-friendly. Under the proposal, the computerisation of issuance of GOs, Assembly functions, rules, improvement of grievance monitoring system, simple file-tracking, e-mail system for quick communication, Internet facility and e-procurement of all offices.It also proposes a taxpayers' facilitation centre for registration, filing of returns, making tax payments, applying for statutory forms/change in profile/registration certificate/driving licence and route permit. The department suggested registration facilitation centres for encumbrance certificates, motor vehicle assistance and registration. It sought increasing the Internet bandwidth from eight to 32 mbps. The government has also agreed to constitute an apex body, e-Governance governing council, headed by the Chief Minister for review and approval of various programmes.
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on 9 July, 2007 has suggested for creation of e-judiciary by establishing "Judicial e-Governance Grid" from the district courts to the Apex Court in order to cover the whole judicial system in the country. The Supreme Court has undertaken the "e-courts" efforts in three phases as a mission mode project under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGEP) to link about 15,000 courts in India. It is now planned to provide required infrastructure and concentrate on capacity-building, judicial process from filing to execution, and finally making the information available online between the courts, prosecuting and investigating agencies, prisons, land-records and registration offices, hence accelerating disposal of civil and criminal cases. President Kalam, while inaugurating the national e-courts project organised by the Supreme Court, said that computerisation of the High Courts and the District Courts is essential for the development of e-judiciary system.
From the time the case is filed till it is disposed of with judgment, the entire processing must take place electronically. He added that computerisation will enable easy search, retrieval, grouping, information processing, judicial record processing and disposal of the cases. The proposed action for connecting all the 15,000 courts from the District Court to the Supreme Court through a Wide Area Network will further enhance the efficiency of the judicial system. The e-Judiciary initiative within the overall justice delivery system should help to transform the Court service into a better focused system in meeting the needs of the citizens in a transparent manner and enable quicker disposal of cases. President Kalam said said that the Grid will ensure seamless flow of information and case objects across the inter-departmental barrier in a G2G mode across the vertical grid. This will be supported by the other horizontal e-Governance grid from the State and Central Government related to the particular case object which will facilitate the case objects to flow across the judicial process at various stages ensuring the speed, transparency and inter-operability thereby eliminating duplicity and ensuring speedy justice.
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on 9 July, 2007 has suggested for creation of e-judiciary by establishing "Judicial e-Governance Grid" from the district courts to the Apex Court in order to cover the whole judicial system in the country. The Supreme Court has undertaken the "e-courts" efforts in three phases as a mission mode project under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGEP) to link about 15,000 courts in India. It is now planned to provide required infrastructure and concentrate on capacity-building, judicial process from filing to execution, and finally making the information available online between the courts, prosecuting and investigating agencies, prisons, land-records and registration offices, hence accelerating disposal of civil and criminal cases. President Kalam, while inaugurating the national e-courts project organised by the Supreme Court, said that computerisation of the High Courts and the District Courts is essential for the development of e-judiciary system. From the time the case is filed till it is disposed of with judgment, the entire processing must take place electronically. He added that computerisation will enable easy search, retrieval, grouping, information processing, judicial record processing and disposal of the cases.
The proposed action for connecting all the 15,000 courts from the District Court to the Supreme Court through a Wide Area Network will further enhance the efficiency of the judicial system. The e-Judiciary initiative within the overall justice delivery system should help to transform the Court service into a better focused system in meeting the needs of the citizens in a transparent manner and enable quicker disposal of cases. President Kalam said said that the Grid will ensure seamless flow of information and case objects across the inter-departmental barrier in a G2G mode across the vertical grid. This will be supported by the other horizontal e-Governance grid from the State and Central Government related to the particular case object which will facilitate the case objects to flow across the judicial process at various stages ensuring the speed, transparency and inter-operability thereby eliminating duplicity and ensuring speedy justice.
The Andhra Pradesh assembly has become the first state legislature in India, which provides wireless Internet connectivity to its member within the premises of the building. The legislators, who have already been provided with laptops, will now be able to access the Internet within the assembly when they meet in the Parliament for the monsoon session. All the necessary equipments including Wi-Fi Router, have been installed and the system has been successfully tested in the assembly building. The Wi-Fi project aims to enable the legislators to get access to necessary information during the session itself for raising the issues and participating in debates. As the system will have 50 lines of 1mbp capacity, only the legislators will be able to utilise it. Every legislators has been provided with a Wi-Fi card to access the Internet through this system.
National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software (NRCFOSS), India is planning to bring its programme on free/open source software to Gujarat in collaboration with engineering colleges in the state. NRCFOSS is initiating and promoting development and deployment of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) tools, technologies, products, architectures and solutions in various relevant application domains. This initiative is under the SOA framework where e-Governance, technical, SMEs and school education are some of the domains being explored. The centre has trained 100 teachers for 200 hours in the first phase of the project. In second phase, the centre is planning to extend its presence to Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala.
Informational technologies in power organs are actively introduced for a long time. It is especially seen in the Presidential administration. Electronic documents circulation was introduced here just after the capital was shifted here and last year all the central state structures and Parliament joined the common system of electronic documents circulation. The next stage is joining of regional akimats. System allows quickly analyze the coming documents and prepare the projects of decisions. The employees of administration have two minutes to define where the document must be sent. Mirbolat Zhakypov, head of department of Presidential administration: - The common system of electronic documents circulation is the basis of the system of electronic government, as it contains the most important documents. The most important decisions go through this system. It controls all the decrees and instructions of the President.
About 20 intergrated informational systems, including inner web-site are in the Presidential administration. Experience of South Korea and Estonia was used during creating of Internet site. It is the only access window to all the programs and systems and allows to change information between departments and to communicate on-line and the main it makes the work of Presidential administration mobile and effective. Not only process of taking administrative decisions but also feedback with population is sped up. Muratkhan Zhuat, head of department on informatization of Presidential administration says it is very important, as the complaints of the citizens can be considered in some days with the help of informational-communication technologies. Much attention is paid to the informational safety. All the employees have electronic identity cards that also register time of passing the check point. The card contains all the information about the employee: surname, name, patronymic etc. All this is registered on the monitor while passing the entrance. In future with the help of this card the worker will be able to open his cabinet and computer.
Residents of Baigekum village in Kyzylorda region received the opportunity to take services of Internet. The world wide web was connected just before the Internet-conference with the President that is to be held on June 7. Nine public posts function in the region to take part into the conference. Some of posts are in district administrations. Besides, it is planned to open 10 more public centers.
President Nazarbaev held an online news conference on June 7, responding to live questions submitted by the public via the Internet, according to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service. During the nearly three-hour interview, Nazarbaev praised ongoing efforts toward "political and economic integration...within a union of Central Asian states" as a guarantee for "a secure and stable future for the region," according to RIA Novosti. Nazarbaev also noted in the interview that Kazakhstan "regards Russia as a partner, not a rival" in the export of energy from the region, and stressed that "cooperation between Kazakhstan and Russia in the oil and gas sectors is of a strategic nature." RG
Fairfield City Council has signed a three year agreement to use Policypoint¡¯s online policy education compliance platform. Through this service, Fairfield City Council will ensure staff members gain and retain understanding of vital corporate policies, while freeing up resources to focus on other valuable functions. Situated in Sydney¡¯s west, Fairfield City Council incorporates 27 suburbs and is home to nearly 200,000 people and a strong business sector. Council is committed to streamlining service delivery to provide a healthy, skilled and resourceful population, a clean, safe, natural and built environment, biodiversity and ecological health, a well-based local economy, cultural harmony and effective governance. In line with these strategies, Council¡¯s City Manager, Alan Young required an innovative, effective and financially sustainable system that would not over-stretch limited resources. ¡°We need to be able to quickly disseminate policy and compliance education material to staff, and know that the material has been received and understood,¡± comments Young. Council¡¯s previous options were to provide face-to-face training, or send information via email, with the concern that the organisation had no assurance that material had been reviewed and there was no independent measure that it was understood. ¡°For instance, we need to know that employees have a sound understanding of our OHS Management System. This will enable each staff member to actively participate in continuous improvement of health and safety within our workplace,¡± says Young.
PolicyPoint¡¯s automated service ensures staff receive the information they need to know, and maintains contact with each staff member via regular reminders until the completion of the training process. Managers are automatically informed of any failure to complete the training or struggle in understanding key principles. The service can be tailored by managers with little or no involvement from their IT departments; it also allows a personalised policy library for each employee, ensuring staff have all the policy information needed to fulfil their compliance obligations. Young says the platform will allow them to build workforce capacity through provision of more comprehensive policy and compliance training to staff: ¡°We will particularly make use of the features that allow staff to ¡®acknowledge¡¯ their understanding of a policy or, where appropriate, include a testing module. This will give us the benefit of knowing that staff members can competently apply this knowledge in the performance of their job. It will also allow us to identify staff requiring further assistance or training.¡± With the platform, Young is looking forward to ensuring his staff members are up-to-date with all the necessary information to fulfil Fairfield City¡¯s business and broader agenda. Fairfield City Council is currently developing new policy modules and consulting with stakeholders about the policy education process. They will go live with the platform in the second half of 2007.
Two $10,000 grants are on offer to help young people involved in agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries develop their website management skills and strengthen their industry and community networks. Sussan Ley, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said today that the grants would give two young people an exciting opportunity to play an active role in managing the Young Australian Rural Network (YARN) website for up to 12 months. ¡°The successful grantees will receive website management training and support, and will source new information and promote the website to other young people. As a result, rural youth will have a sense of ownership of YARN and it will be their website of choice,¡± Ms Ley said. Young people currently working on YARN are enthusiastic about their involvement. A content manager said, ¡°I¡¯m very proud of what we have achieved so far on the website, and I¡¯m excited to hand it over to another passionate young rural person to drive it forward.¡± Ms Ley said that the YARN website (www.yarn.gov.au) is an interactive online community which lets people living and working in rural areas communicate directly with each other, the Australian Government and industry. ¡°The Australian Government wants to help bring young rural people from around Australia together - YARN provides a place where young people can keep in touch, share ideas and strengthen their networks online. ¡°YARN is so successful because it is relevant to the needs of young people who live and work in rural areas. YARN has been championed by the YARN content managers and other young rural Australians who take part in online discussions and who visit the website to discover new opportunities locally and nationally. ¡°More than 31,000 people visited the website last month - averaging around 1000 visits per day ¨C and I¡¯m sure these numbers will continue to increase,¡± Ms Ley said. The YARN website is part of the Australian Government¡¯s Advancing Agricultural Industries Programme. For further information, including eligibility criteria, or to access the online application:visit www.yarn.gov.au email firstname.lastname@example.org phone (02) 6272 3292
COMPANIES will be encouraged to make better use of the internet under a plan by Australia's securities regulator to slash government red tape and administrative costs for business. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is rolling out a range of cyberspace initiatives for companies to register, make payments and adhere to compliance obligations. The moves include the launch of an "e-charges" service that will allow the 170,000 charge forms received and processed by ASIC annually to be lodged over the internet. The action is to help reduce red tape and administration costs for small and medium-sized business in complying with ASIC regulations. "Ultimately, our vision would be that a company out there should be able to have an ability through the web to manage pretty much everything they do and interact with us totally electronically," ASIC chairman Tony D'Aloisio told reporters. ASIC started its new electronic registration system for charges July 1 and said it planned to introduce other electronic services over the coming months.
POLICE services and security agencies have begun sharing criminal intelligence in real time, using technology that sidesteps interoperability issues to create a unified national database. Information about illegal drugs, firearms, money laundering, tax fraud and other serious crimes will be made available to all state police forces in return for access to their operational intelligence. The information sharing is made possible by the new $6.9 million Standard Intelligence Exchange Format, a project to establish data exchange standards and processes to support the translation of information between disparate systems. Built by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), the format uses an XML-based format to get around data compatibility problems that have dogged Australian police forces for years. It automatically feeds data held by law enforcement agencies into a central repository - the Australian Criminal Intelligence Database (ACID) - where it is available to other participants. Crime commission chief executive Alastair Milroy says technical sign-off for SIEF was achieved earlier this year, and all state police forces will be online by early 2008. In the past year the database has been enhanced, particularly its network analytic capabilities. New software identifies links between individuals and organisations in large volumes of data, such as bank accounts, phone numbers, vehicle registrations and licence details. The analytical tools allow users "to draw out value-added intelligence about risky individuals and entities" of interest to law enforcement.
The database and the secure national police intranet, the Australian Law Enforcement Intelligence Net (ALEIN), are both part of the crime commission's broader $11 million Australian Law Enforcement and Targeting (ALERT) system. According to the most recent annual report, almost 5000 users had access to the ACID repository in 2005-06 and 22 agencies had access to ALEIN, which had almost 10,000 active users. Mr Milroy recently told a parliamentary joint committee inquiry on the future impact of serious and organised crime that the launch of SIEF would increase the volume of uploads and usage of the database. For the first time, information from private sector sources is being uploaded into the database. The crime commission is taking data from financial institutions, telcos and pharmaceutical agencies under voluntary agreements. Mr Milroy said "hundreds of thousands of pieces of information" provided by the private sector had captured intelligence previously unknown to police. "Certain information provided to us in confidence is, of course, locked down and not for other agency's information," he said. "But we can draw the intelligence from that and use it in relation to work we're doing or feed it back to the supplier of the information." WA Police and the Queensland Police Service both use the repository as their own intelligence database.
Queensland Detective Chief Superintendent Ross Barnett told the inquiry a new records and information management platform, QPRIME, would integrate about 220 databases. "It's going to bring all the databases we use on to one platform: driver's licences, motor vehicle records and all of those major pools," he said. Queensland Detective Superintendent Stephen Gollschewski said an interface with ACID was being built to automatically upload operational intelligence from QPRIME into the national database. "Intelligence generated by Queensland Police will go into ACID," he said. QPRIME would also feed information on terrorism to ACID. "We're committed to a national intelligence database, not just for criminal matters but for counter-terrorist issues as well," Superintendent Gollschewski said. NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said the continuous exchange of information was crucial to monitoring the gangs across state borders. "Given their easy movement around the country, the currency of information and the ability to retrieve it is absolutely crucial to strengthening the national approach," he said.
THE Defence Department is understood to be targeting some of the nation's top chief information officers as it works to bring its unruly computer systems back under controlNames thrown into the mix include Coles Group chief information officer Peter Mahler and former Qantas and Telstra technology boss Fiona Balfour. Westpac CIO Simon McNamara, Woolworths technology and logistics boss Steve Bradley and St George IT chief John Loebenstein have all recently retired, prompting speculation that Defence may try to lure them back to work. Executives familiar with recruitment have said Defence may be willing to shell out up to $600,000 to secure top technology management talent. The remuneration package, which is well above the $200,000 salary Defence paid last year to senior executives, may not be enough to attract senior technologists from the private sector. "With the amount of money we're talking about it's going to be hard. Defence can't pay enough," an executive familiar with the recruitment process said. Defence has so far declined to comment on what it expects to pay its new CIO, but it has confirmed that it will compensate the new IT chief at senior executive service band three rates, which are well below the $1 million plus remuneration packages CIOs at Australia's largest private sector IT users take home. Salaries for SES band three executives at Defence ranged from $158,566 to $204,607 last financial year. Defence is under pressure to bring in a CIO from the private sector following the recommendations of the Proust review earlier in the year.
According to the executive, names on Defence's wish list include Coles' Mr Mahler, although it is not known if the interest is reciprocated. Mr Mahler has steered Coles' IT operations for five years and is central to the company's controversial $1.5 billion information technology and supply chain transformation. Defence, which employs more than 85,000 civilian and military staff, is planning a major upgrade of its Personnel Management Key Solution (PMKeyS) human resources and payroll platform. The department has said it will solicit bids for the project next year from software vendors SAP and Oracle. Oracle's PeopleSoft platform presently forms the foundation of PMKeyS. Coincidentally, the Coles human resources project replaced a PeopleSoft system with technology from SAP. The unnamed executive also suggested that Fiona Balfour, who quit as Telstra CIO earlier this year and is believed to be consulting for Medibank Private, was on Defence's list. Ms Balfour has experience with large Oracle projects from her time at Qantas. Other high-profile names that have been tossed up include Mr McNamara, Mr Bradley and Mr Loebenstein. There are strong doubts that any of the trio could be lured out of retirement to take on the task of fixing the department's IT operations.
SPECULATION is mounting that the Department of Defence will struggle to hit the new deadline for its troubled, $100 million human resources and payroll software update. The department has cancelled contract negotiations once for the upgrade of its PMKeyS HR system and has pushed back the release of fresh tenders until 2008. Executives close to the department's chief information officer group have suggested the department will "almost certainly" miss internal project targets because of its prolonged search for a new chief information officer. PMKeyS is one of the most important business software projects on the department's plate, as it affects many aspects of its operations and has major implications for its ability to manage troop readiness. Incumbent suppliers Oracle and SAP are the only firms that will be invited to bid for the project and both will be eager to win the deal. racle will not want to lose another flagship PeopleSoft HR customer after being ousted from Coles by SAP in 2005. A win for SAP would put it in a position to secure a clean sweep of the department's enterprise resource planning systems because the vendor is already providing software for the department's Roman finance technology upgrade.
Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott said that from next year all Australians will be able to access their Medicare records online. Abbott told a health conference in Sydney that electronic records help to streamline care for patients, from a range of health professionals. "Patients will have secure access via the internet to a full record of their Medicare rebates," he said. "There will also be a layman's guide to item descriptors so that patients can readily appreciate the services they have received. "Within 12 months there will be similar arrangements to allow online patients access to their PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) claims history."
A sustainability travel guide to help tourists play their part in keeping New Zealand clean and green has been released by the Ministry for the Environment. The New Zealand Eco-Wise Travel Guide is available now on the Ministry¡¯s website. It will be distributed in hard copy later in the year by tourism operators, accommodation providers and travel agents. ¡°Each year, New Zealand has about 2.4 million overseas visitors and more than 1.4 million domestic tourists. We need to manage tourism sustainably to avoid the popularity of our country leading to its environmental downfall,¡± says Steve Dixon, Ministry for the Environment Manager of Sustainable Industry. The Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Tourism developed the guide in partnership with Tourism New Zealand, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand, and many other stakeholders. It gives travellers advice on how to reduce waste, conserve water, save energy and travel sustainably and safely. Other valuable information for travellers, such as the Department of Conservation¡¯s Environmental Care Code, are linked from the Eco-Wise web page. ¡°We are inviting travel industry feedback on the guide and intend to launch the final guide nationally, just in time for the start of the summer tourist season this year,¡± says Steve Dixon. The guide has been well received so far, with Mercure Resorts printing it out and giving it to guests booked onto their ¡°Make It Green¡± accommodation package.
The New Zealand government has invited software experts to an open forum to discuss the State Services Commission's proposed XML governance framework, reports M-Net. XML (Extensible Markup Language) enables data to be shared across different systems, especially over the internet, and is key to New Zealand's e-Government Interoperability Framework (NZ e-GIF). This framework aims to improve how government agencies work together electronically and make it easier for citizens to deal with the Government online by encouraging a consistent approach. The forum, scheduled to take place on 25 July, will promote free discussion between the Commission, industry players and software integration professionals on the proposed XML framework, and there will be no commercial advantage for any of the participants, the Commission said.
GeoWise, a provider of software for the clear graphical presentation of location-based statistical data, has today announced that on 2nd July 2007, Public Health Intelligence (PHI), the epidemiology group of the New Zealand Ministry of Health launched its site, PHIOnline, using InstantAtlas. See: See: www.phionline.moh.govt.nz/ and www.instantatlas.com The objective of the site is to make health and health related data more accessible, improve communication of health issues and support key health policy and resource decisions. It was launched by New Zealand¡¯s health minister, the Hon. Pete Hodgson and is supported by the Director-General of Health, Stephen McKernan. PHIOnline makes available a range of time-based public health data, region by region. Via InstantAtlas, statistics on issues such as cancer rates, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and others, as well as educational achievement and population concentrations can be viewed as interactive, eye-catching graphics. This makes it easy to spot relationships, patterns and trends and to make regional comparisons.
¡°InstantAtlas is enabling us to support health professionals, planners and policy makers with the intelligence they need to make important decisions on health service provision in New Zealand,¡± said Dr. Barry Borman, epidemiologist and manager of Public Health Intelligence,. ¡°Our PHIOnline site uses InstantAtlas to make large volumes of statistics much more accessible. Interactive graphics help decision makers interpret issues and trends. The clear visuals stimulate interest, investigation and support confident action to improve public health. User feedback has been excellent.¡± Working with the Ministry of Health, InstantAtlas was selected by Mr Dyfed Thomas, an adviser on geospatial analysis and project manager of PHIOnline. His decision was based on ease of use for the ministry and users and overall value for money. He considered the use of various Geographical Information System (GIS) tools, but found these too complex for his intended audiences, over-supplied with functionality for his needs and very expensive compared with InstantAtlas. ¡°InstantAtlas is now used around the globe to make regional statistics on public health and local government accessible to decision makers and the public,¡± commented Mike Forster, managing director of GeoWise. ¡°We welcome the Ministry of Health to our rapidly growing international client-base.¡± See also: www.phionline.moh.govt.nz/
About GeoWise & InstantAtlas GeoWise develops and sells InstantAtlas™ a powerful software tool for the graphical presentation of location-based statistical data which makes local and regional patterns easy to see and explore. It allows templates to be used to present spatial and temporal indicators and statistics as eye-catching, interactive area profiles, atlases, dashboards, and performance reports. The GeoWise team has a unique blend of skills in design, software, geography and statistics. See also: www.instantatlas.com
Telecommunications investment continues to rise and consumers are generally paying less for more and better services across the OECD area but technology developments are presenting new challenges to telecoms operators, according to a new OECD report. The OECD Communications Outlook 2007 reports that access to broadband high-speed Internet across OECD countries continues to rise, with over 60% of the OECD area's 256 million Internet subscribers having a broadband connection at the end of 2005. This offers an additional revenue stream for telecoms operators to make up for their declining revenues from voice communications, which still make up the bulk of their revenue. Broadband remains one of the main growth areas for telecoms firms and one of their key challenges, looking ahead, will be to decide how much and how soon they should invest in next-generation networks, such as fibre-optics, rather than continue their investments in traditional copper networks.
Much more data can be delivered more quickly over fibre than over other broadband networks such as cable or DSL. This is important because emerging applications and services such as high definition television on demand require more bandwidth than current networks can provide. Looking ahead, the OECD expects consumer and business demand for fibre to rise. Several operators have already made the decision to move quickly to fibre and customers in these countries have access to the best services at the lowest prices. Japanese fibre subscribers, for example, can download at 100 Mbits per second - ten times faster than the OECD average. Additionally, Japan¡¯s price per Mbit/s is the lowest in the OECD at USD 0.22 per month. Japanese fibre subscribers can also upload at the same speed they can download which is not possible with ADSL and most cable subscriptions.Questions remain about who should pay for installing new fibre networks and who should own them. For example, there is a growing trend for local municipalities themselves to build the network and then require their local network operator to offer competitors access to the network under equal terms.
There is no one size-fits-all solution to the challenge, according to the OECD. Those countries that have started stimulating fibre development have each taken a different approach. But governments, industry and local authorities need to work together to agree how best to upgrade their telecommunications networks.Among other issues analysed in the OECD Communications Outlook 2007 is a distinct shift in the telecoms industry away from paying for voice to paying for data. This is already affecting the core businesses of telecommunications operators. Voice continues to be the key driver in OECD telecommunications markets, worth over USD 1 trillion in 2005, but new technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are exerting strong downward pressures on prices for voice services and are expected to continue to do so. Mobile services are also increasingly important in OECD markets, with mobile¡¯s percentage of total revenue tripling to 39% between 1995 and 2005.
The report analyses telecommunications developments in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the so-called BRICS. They are among the world¡¯s fast-growing Information Communications Technology (ICT) markets and their impact is increasingly spilling over into OECD markets. Between 2000 and 2005, ICT spending in the BRICS economies increased by more than 19% a year from USD 114 billion to USD 277 billion, while worldwide ICT spending by just 5.6% a year and OECD country spending by only 4.2% a year.
(Associated Press via NewsEdge) The US is seeking consultations with China over rules on music downloading and cinema rights that appear to discriminate against foreign sound recordings and films, a US trade official said. Hollywood studios and US Internet music providers such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes store could be among the groups that suffer from "less favorable distribution opportunities" for imported films and foreign suppliers of music recordings in China, which the US cited in a World Trade Organization request earlier this week. Stephen Norton, a spokesman for the Office of the US Trade Representative, said the issues would be addressed as part of an ongoing WTO complaint over restrictions on the sale of American movies, music and books.
"Music from foreign sources needs to undergo content review before being distributed in China. Chinese music doesn't have to face that process," Norton told The Associated Press. "The review delays Chinese Internet providers and Chinese consumers from accessing foreign music." The same discrimination exists when Chinese consumers seek to download music onto mobile phones, he said. The problem for American music providers is compounded by rules that prevent foreign companies from owning or investing in businesses that distribute music over the Internet in China. "That is another concern," Norton said. In its written statement to the WTO, the US said "various measures in China appear to impose market access restriction or discriminatory requirements on foreign service suppliers seeking to engage in the digital distribution of sound recordings." China's mission to the WTO was unavailable to comment.
Chinese authorities and the FBI worked together to seize more than 290,000 counterfeit software CDs and certificates of authenticity valued at $500 million. The officials also arrested 25 people. The uncovered pirated software included Symantec and Microsoft products. Wondering where to find the nearest publicly available WiFi Internet access? Our global directory of more than 100,000 locations in 26 countries is a terrific tool for mobile computer users. A joint sting operation by the FBI and the People's Republic of China netted more than half a million dollars' worth of counterfeit software, the FBI announced Monday. The unprecedented cooperative effort, code-named "Summer Solstice" and dating back to 2005, resulted in the arrest of 25 people and the seizure of assets in China worth over US$7 million as well as more than 290,000 counterfeit software CDs and certificates of authenticity with an estimated retail value of $500 million. Agents with the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office investigating U.S.-based distributors, meanwhile, turned up $2 million in counterfeit software products and assets worth over $700,000. Counterfeits of both Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) products, including Windows Vista, XP and Server, were among those uncovered.
Focus on Microsoft "The growing crime involving the theft of copyrighted material does not end at U.S. borders but affects the global economy," said J. Stephen Tidwell, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles. "The buying and selling of counterfeit goods amounts to stealing the ideas of others and is no different than common theft, where the consequences of getting caught include going to jail and other serious penalties." Included among the arrests made were a Guangdong, China-based counterfeiting syndicate believed to be the largest of its kind in the world, allegedly responsible for manufacturing and distributing roughly $2 billion worth of counterfeit Microsoft software. "Microsoft deeply appreciates the work of China's Public Security Bureau in taking such strong enforcement action with these arrests and raids in Southern China," said Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel at Microsoft. "This case represents a milestone in the fight against software piracy -- governments, law enforcement agencies and private companies working together with customers and software resellers to break up a massive international counterfeiting ring," he added. "This case should serve as a wake-up call to counterfeiters: Customers around the world are turning you in, governments and law enforcement have had enough and private companies will act decisively to protect intellectual property."
A Growing Problem Software piracy deprived the software industry of an estimated $40 billion in 2006, according to IDC, representing an increase of 15 percent over 2005. Roughly 35 percent of software on PCs worldwide is pirated, IDC says. China is well-known for the incidence of software piracy, Jim Burger, partner and copyright attorney at Dow Lohnes, told the E-Commerce Times. "I always said there's just one legitimate copy of Microsoft Windows in China," he quipped. Given the record-setting magnitude of the Chinese bust, Microsoft expects that countries around the world will experience a significant decrease in the volume of counterfeit software as a direct result of this action.
New Steps Forward Aside from its magnitude, the Summer Solstice sting is also notable for the concrete evidence it provides of China's increased interest in protecting intellectual property. China has shown strong progress in addressing software piracy, resulting in a drop in its domestic piracy rate of 10 percent since 2003, said Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the Business Software Alliance (BSA). "The BSA and its members will continue to work cooperatively with the Chinese authorities to support these positive anti-piracy and education initiatives," he said.
Spirit of Cooperation "It's wonderful that China has been working to get more to the forefront of this," Sean Kane, an attorney with Drakeford & Kane, told the E-Commerce Times. "I think they are realizing that they need to protect others' intellectual property rights if they expect to be in the world market, and if they want others to protect their rights." China's new cooperativeness may even be the biggest take-away from the bust, Burger said. "You just can't tell countries what to do -- a carrot approach works better," Burger concluded. "In China's case it took a long time, but it looks like it worked."(by Katherine Noyes)
By 2011, Internet advertising is expected to become the largest advertising segment, surpassing newspapers for the first time, a new study reported Tuesday. The same study predicts overall communications spending to top US$1 trillion in 2008, making it the third-fastest-growing sector in the U.S. economy, just shy of government and agriculture. The forecast comes from the "VSS Communications Industry Forecast 2007-2011," an annual report published by the private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson, which has published the report for 21 years. "We are in the midst of a major shift in the media landscape that is being fueled by changes in technology, end-user behaviors and the response by brand marketers and communications companies," said James Rutherfurd, executive vice president and managing Director at VSS. "We expect these shifts to continue over the next five years, as time and place shifting accelerate while consumers and businesses utilize more digital media alternatives, strengthening the new media pull model at the expense of the traditional media push model," he noted. Consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet, video games and cable or satellite TV at the expense of newspapers and free broadcast TV, VSS reported. On average, the time consumers spent on the newer media jumped 19.8 percent from 2001 to 2006, while time spent on traditional media declined 6.3 percent over the same period.
Surprisingly, for the first time since 1997, consumers spent less time with media in 2006 than they did the previous year -- a 0.5 percent decline. The drop in consumer media usage was driven by the continued migration of consumers to digital alternatives for news, information and entertainment, which require less time investment than their traditional media counterparts, VSS reported. For example, consumers typically watch broadcast or cable television at least 30 minutes per session, while they spend as little as five to seven minutes viewing consumer-generated video clips online; however, VSS expects consumer media usage to stabilize in 2007 and increase slightly through 2011, ecommercetimes.com reports. In 2010, that would put overall online ad spending at $54 billion, overtaking print-only newspaper advertising as the largest advertising category, which is expected to stand at $51.5 billion that year. At the same time, the study also predicted rapid growth in the amount of digital advertising that newspapers would take in, jumping from $3.2 billion last year to $7.7 billion in 2010.
As of 2006, ad-supported media still had a 53.8 percent share of the total amount of time people spent with media, compared with 46.2 percent on for-pay media, which include the Internet, cable and satellite TV, movies seen in theaters, books and recorded music. At the same time, the study found that the total amount of time spent on all types of media actually declined slightly last year for the first time since 1997, dipping 0.5 percent to an annual total of 3,530 hours. Leo Kivijarv, vice president of research at PQ Media, a media research consulting firm that worked on the report, said the slight decline came after several years of growth amid rapid adoption of new kinds of hardware and services such as high-speed Internet connections, satellite TV and digital video recorders. With many of those services now already purchased by those who want them, Kivijarv said that time spent with media had reached a saturation point, the AP reports.
BBB Systems, whose projects are exclusively developed in-house, designs and adapts its applications to fit the business models of its diverse clientele. "Customizable applications like the Portal E-Commerce Solution are advantageous to any business looking to build a presence online because they significantly reduce development time and costs, and they offer a great deal of flexibility," states Ben Laurienti, Owner and Lead Software Engineer of BBB Systems. "If one of our clients determines that their existing website needs to support business-to-business transactions or an intranet, etc., we are able to seamlessly and more quickly modify the application to meet their evolving needs. Very few other developers can offer that." The integrated Content Management System (CMS) delivers sales-generating features such as dynamic product recommendations and promotions and user-driven product referrals. Additionally, site administrators can easily use the CMS to optimize their keywords and product content for greater exposure on both internal and external search engines. Nearly one month ago, BBB Systems implemented the Portal E-Commerce Solution in its entirety for the web portal of Dillon Precision, a leading ammunition reloading supplier based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Gary Keift, Sales Manager for Dillon Precision, is satisfied with the results and affirms, "Our shopping cart is unique, and I expect it will become the industry model." To see the new Dillon Precision website featuring the Portal E-Commerce Solution, visit www.dillonprecision.com.
The Kenyan government has launched a KES7.8 billion (around EUR85 million) initiative aimed at improving the country's ICT infrastructure and accelerating the rollout of e-government services, reports Kenyan newspaper The Standard. With funding from the World Bank, the Kenya Transparency and Communication Infrastructure Project (KTCIP) plans to address digital divide issues, as well as make government processes more efficient and transparent, over a three-year period commencing in July 2007. Part of the project's budget has been allocated to bumping up broadband and telecoms connectivity for government staff, universities and rural-dwelling citizens. Some KES2.4 billion has been set aside to support e-government initiatives, including the digitisation of processes such as pensions administration, driver's licence registration and company registration, along with the development of SMS services and Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) technologies.
BRUSSELS, July 2 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Monday launched a public consultation to help explore new markets worldwide for its already competitive information and communication technology (ICT) industry. "Our ICT industry in Europe needs to think and be global," said the EU's Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. "While we have been working hard to create a single telecoms market in Europe, we must not lose sight of the global picture." The consultation invites opinion from the industry, research communities and consumer organizations on three areas. The first is about regulatory, market access and trade issues in third country, including intellectual property rights and regulatory cooperation. The second area is research and innovation ,focusing on ICT research collaboration, research infrastructure and the role of ICT in global challenges such as energy efficiency, ageing, and healthcare. The third is related to the social aspects of ICT, such as network and information security and Internet governance.
Based on the consultation result, the European Commission aims to formulate a more ambitious, targeted international EU strategy for ICT that explores new markets for EU industries, improves the competitiveness of Europe's ICT industry in the global market, and promotes EU interests worldwide. The international strategy is expected to be published in the first half of next year. The EU ICT industry has already been highly competitive in the global market with a share of approximately 30 percent. Electronic communication, embedded computing, micro-and nano-electronics, micro-systems, and "smart" integrated systems are Europe's main industrial and technological strengths. Europe also has six of the world's top ten telecommunications providers and four of the top ten equipment manufacturers. "There are further markets to take abroad for Europe's ICT industry if we strengthen its competitiveness and remove barriers to trade in third countries," Reding said.
An increasing number of Canadian IT companies are displeased with their outsourcing vendors, according to an IDC Canada survey released last week. IDC Canada did an outsourcing satisfaction survey in 2004, with this recent survey revisiting similar indicators such as the number of referrals and contract renewals. Mark Schrutt, IDC Canada¡¯s research manager for outsourcing services, said, ¡°Business satisfied with their outsourcers dropped from 50 per cent to 33 per cent.¡± Relationship management satisfaction went from 71 per cent to 54 per cent, while contract management satisfaction drooped as well. Said Schrutt: ¡° Every element had a 15 to 20 per cent drop.¡± He attributes this drop in satisfaction to the rising expectation of companies who use outsourcers. ¡°Clients are expecting more now, with better returns and strong value,¡± said Schrutt. ¡°The vendors are trying to meet them, but they¡¯re having a challenge.¡±
These boosted expectations have been brought about by companies¡¯ experience with outsourcers -- primarily, their struggles with flexibility. Schrutt said that businesses are having to deal with changing technology, costs (hardware is cheaper, but software and services are more expensive), and the role of IT in the business, and outsourcers are having a tough time keeping up. According to John Simke, president of the Toronto-based Centre for Outsourcing Research and Education, many outsourcers are guilty of trying to force clients into a template, or telling them what to do instead of working with them. But the customers are striking back. Simke said, ¡°What we¡¯re dealing with now is the savvy client. They¡¯re far more demanding, so the level of satisfaction has gone down,¡± he said.
Service needs to be worked on, according to Schrutt, who said, ¡°Vendors need to meet the business and technology needs, and work together in a cooperative and flexible approach.¡± Schrutt also found that there was a marked discrepancy between the vendors¡¯ and the companies¡¯ impressions of the services rendered, with many vendors placing customer satisfaction in the 80 to 90 per cent range. ¡°Vendors measure how well they do, not how the relationship is doing, studying things like service delivery, account management, and practices and processes,¡± he said. Also troublesome to clients is who conducts the customer satisfaction surveys: account managers or sales staff. Said Schrutt:¡°Customers don¡¯t feel comfortable providing this information to the vendor.¡± Even third-party surveys don¡¯t work, as, said Schrutt, customers think that the Canadian outsourcer customer market is small enough that the vendors would be able to identify them.
Schrutt stressed the importance of stopping these problems before they need to be tallied by working more closely with their clients to nurture the relationship, rather than just document the service. This is also the responsibility of the client, said Simke. Historically, he said, clients have often been content to leave relationship management to the outsourcer, and didn¡¯t bother to develop enough of a knowledge base about outsourcing to contribute usefully to the relationship. But this is changing. Said Simke:¡°On the client side now, they¡¯re putting some pretty senior executives, with a business orientation, in charge of outsourcing. They know how to go toe-to-toe at a business level, not at a technical level, which is relatively straight-forward.¡± This, combined with an already more-competitive market characterized by shorter and less lucrative contracts, should be the necessary push to bring customer satisfaction back up to par in the next three or so years, according to both Schrutt and Simke. ¡°Vendors will see that need for flexibility, and will adapt to the businesses,¡± said Schrutt. (By Briony Smith)
In a move to raise the profile of scientific research from China's mainland and Hong Kong, leading publisher of scientific journals Nature Publishing Group (NPG) launched a new website "www.naturechina.com" on Saturday. "Every week Nature China's editors will select the best research recently published on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong and provide a short summary of the results," said Phillip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of Nature. "By organizing this research into a comprehensive, regularly updated, one-stop web portal, Nature China will help scientists and science policy makers find information on the most significant research coming out of China," he said. "This new member of the Nature family will increase the international profile of Chinese scientific publications as well as communication between Chinese scientists," said Campbell. In 2005, Chinese scientists published more than 150,000 scientific papers worldwide, according to the Institute of Science and Technology Information of China. China has become the world's fourth largest producer of scientific papers after the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. "Nature China is one of the key components in NPG's strategy to develop publishing initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region," commented David Swinbanks, NPG Publishing Director for the Asia-Pacific region, "Our aim is to raise the profile of region's best science and thereby enhance its further development."
China's software firms should focus on making breakthroughs in key products such as operating systems, database management systems, and intermediate software, a senior official with the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) said Thursday. Lou Qinjian, vice minister of MII, said the nation's software industry lags far behind its overseas peers in research and development and its combined sales accounts for only six percent of the world total. Sales of China's software industry totaled 480 billion yuan (62.9 billion U.S. dollars) in 2006, and exports accounted for six billion U.S. dollars, said Lou at the opening ceremony of a software exhibition. He noted software industry sales have grown at more than 40 percent annually in recent years.
China has about 13,000 software developers, of which 35 have an annual sales of more than one billion yuan (131.1 million U.S. dollars), according to official statistics. Sales of the nation's software industry are expected to reach almost 1.1 trillion yuan (144.2 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010, according to the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for Software Industry Development (2006-2010) released by the ministry in May. China will by 2010 have 10 to 15 major software firms that each have annual sales of 10 billion yuan, according to the plan. Wang Bingke, deputy director of the ministry's Department of Economic Restructuring and Operations, said earlier the MII would encourage software firms to cooperate and form innovative unions to build an "innovative, China-made technological system".
China's IT services outsourcing industry could generate US$56 billion in revenue and create 4 million jobs by 2015, becoming a new engine for the nation's economic growth, a report said. Outsourcing service providers in China could earn as much as US$18 billion by 2010 and US$56 billion by 2015, according to a White Paper released by Electronic Data Systems (EDS) yesterday. The world's second-largest IT service provider also reached a strategic cooperation agreement to develop the IT outsourcing industry in China yesterday. "China is now facing a historic opportunity to become a leading player in outsourcing, if it can successfully overcome the challenges and capitalize on the opportunities in the coming years," said Derek Sharp, vice-president of sales and business development of EDS Asia. China has been promoting its outsourcing sector in recent years to tap the booming market. The nation's software outsourcing companies raked in US$1.4 billion in revenue in 2006, up more than 40 percent compared with a year earlier. "Globally, outsourcing demand greatly outstrips the existing supply," said Richard Zhang, director of Mckinsey & Company in Shanghai, a leading international consultancy that helped EDS prepare the report. The potential outsourcing market is estimated to be as much as US$465 billion in 2006 and US$600 billion in 2010. However, only 9 percent of the total demand has been met, according to Zhang.
The White Paper, titled "Building a World-Class IT Services Outsourcing Industry in China", said China has distinctive advantages such as an abundant supply of raw talent, world-class infrastructure and low costs. "China's large and fast-growing domestic IT services market is a great strength for its outsourcing industry," said David Wirt, corporate vice-president and managing director of EDS China and South Korea. Unlike their Indian counterparts, outsourcing companies in China work closely with local clients from industries such as banking, securities and manufacturing. These experiences allow them to develop their own domain expertise and enhance their innovative capacity. Shenyang-based Neusoft, now China's largest outsourcing company, started to develop software programs for Japanese car audio manufacturer Alpine Electronics in 1991. The two companies set up a joint research center in 2001. Nuesoft is now one of the leading providers of auto electronic software in China.
"This is impossible for Indian outsourcing companies due to their small local market," Wirt said. "They have to buy expertise and knowledge due to the small domestic market." EDS, which has about 20,000 staff members in India now, has been trying to scale up its operation in China. This April, the US-based company decided to establish a global delivery center in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province. The company is looking to increase the center's headcount to 5,000 in a few years. "We hope our cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce will help the outsourcing market here to develop as a whole," said Sharp.According to the cooperation agreement, EDS and the ministry will work together on policy and regulatory issues, as well as cultivate market growth opportunities. The two parties will jointly hold high-profile summits and conferences to promote China's image abroad.
The retail value of financial cards in China grew by 22.1 percent in 2006 to a total value of around 1.51 trillion yuan, with online payments and M-payments (mobile payments) taking wider spaces in the market. In 2005, PayPal, the e-payment system of eBay, entered the Chinese market. In August 2006, Alibaba, a relative newcomer to China's Internet payment market, sold 40 percent of its shares to Yahoo Inc. The country had about 40 Internet payment portals by the end of last year, according to a report by the market research firm Euromonitor. With more companies entering the online payment market, transaction value reached 34.7 billion yuan in 2005. Online activity by consumers is projected to grow by 43 percent on average in the three years following 2006. Some 35 million consumers are forecast to make purchases online this year, raising the transaction value from 64.9 billion yuan last year to 107.2 billion yuan in 2007. Mostly used by young consumers, credit cards are now the preferred means of online payment. Pre-paid cards will emerge as another possible payment tool, but it is expected that demand for pre-paid cards to be used on the Internet will be limited, at least in the near term, as secure protocols have not been sufficiently developed, the report said.
It is generally accepted by banks and card issuers that the Internet is the most promising new payment channel, the report said, though its use is still developing in China. Internet payments accounted for only 4 percent of financial card spending in 2006. It is projected to expand to nearly 8 percent by 2011, Euromonitor predicted. With more established operations like PayPal entering the online payment sector, competition will heat up dramatically, the report said. Using the Internet for payments is still at a nascent stage, but improved, secure and mature electronic banking systems are projected to boost online payments in China to reach a value of 200 billion yuan by 2011. With the implementation of an Electronic Signature Law, Internet payments will grow along with e-commerce, the report said. Consumers in China are expanding their use of the Internet, shifting from simply checking their account information to online payments using financial cards. The number of mobile phone subscribers has now risen to more than 500 million, with M-payment use also expanding after a period of moderate growth from 2002 to 2004.
There were 15.6 million M-payment users in 2005, an increase of 134 percent over 2004, accounting for 4 percent of total cellphone subscribers and an industry value of 340 million yuan. Domestic analyst Norson Telecom Consulting, forecasts that the M-payment user base will grow to 139 million by 2008, or 24 percent of all cellphone users, with an industry value of 3.28 billion yuan. China UnionPay and China Mobile established the Union Mobile Pay Ltd joint venture in 2003 to operate a mobile phone payment service. Through the combination of electronic money and telecom technology, M-payments have the potential for strong penetration, along with convenience, compatibility and low payment costs, the consulting firm said. Yet the usage ratio is still low as it will take time to foster new consumer behavior, improve M-payment security and strengthen cooperation along the industry chain. M-payments can provide a new payment channel, but further development will require widespread cooperation, including from telecom operators, merchants and banks, as well as consumers themselves.
The growth of fixed assets investment in China's electronics and IT industry accelerated in the first half of 2007 but still lower than the average of manufacturing industries in the country. Statistics from the Ministry of Information Industry show the industry completed a cumulative investment of 114.44 billion yuan (US$15.1 billion) in the period, up 34.4 per cent year on year, with the growth rate up 14.3 percentage points from the first two months of 2007 but down respectively 10.6 percentage points and 0.3 percentage points comparing with the year-earlier level and the average of manufacturing industries. China's electronics and IT industry saw 37.77 billion yuan worth of new-added fixed assets in the first six months of 2007, up 54.2 per cent year on year, with growth rate 14.4 percentage points higher than that in Jan-May 2007. In a breakdown, 61.7 per cent of all new added assets came to the electronic component and device sector, making photoelectronic device manufacturing, electrical light source manufacturing and household video equipment manufacturing record higher than 100 per cent growth in new-added fixed assets. The number of newly constructed projects in the first quarter was 64 less than in the year-ago period, with scheduled investment involved in these projects down 33.7 per cent as against 2006. But that began to rebound in May and kept the upward momentum in June, making up a total 1,374 newly constructed projects for the industry in the first half of 2007, 105, or 7.6 per cent, more than in the year-earlier period.
The growth was 2.8 percentage points higher than in Jan-May 2007. The scheduled investment involved in these projects stood at 112.39 billion yuan in the six months, up 8.2 per cent year on year. By the end of this June, the number of electronic component projects being built reached 472, up 36 over the same period of 2006; that of electronic device projects was 193, 17 more than in the year-ago; that of special electronic equipment projects was 197, up two; and that of electronic information machine-building projects was 196, up 18. Thanks to the increase of newly constructed projects and the rebound of foreign investment, the electronic component sector and the computer sector had their fixed-assets investment rebound in the first half of 2007. The electronic component sector realized a cumulative investment of 26.37 billion yuan in the first six months of 2007, up 13.6 per cent year on year; while the computer sector used an investment of 9.62 billion yuan, up 19.8 per cent year on year, and 4.9 percentage points higher than the growth in the first five months. Other sectors, such as the electronic device sector and the telecom equipment sector, maintained a rapid growth in fixed-assets investment in the period. The electronic device sector saw its investment up 55.7 per cent year on year to hit 40 billion yuan, with the growth 23.8 percentage points higher than in the year-earlier; while the telecom equipment sector posted an investment of 10.28 billion yuan, up 32.1 per cent year on year, 15.4 percentage points lower than the growth in Jan.-June 2006.
In the first five months, the investment in foreign-funded enterprises of China's electronics and IT industry continued a downward trend, which began to rebound in June. It reached a total 37.12 billion yuan in the first half of 2007, up 1.3 per cent year on year. However, foreign-funded enterprises in mobile telecom and terminal equipment sector, computer sector, IC sector, electronic component and device sector still saw their investment slide down. Meanwhile, the investment conducted by enterprises in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan reached 27.91 billion yuan, up 89.7 per cent year on year, with the growth 78 percentage points higher than in the year-ago period. Their investment concentrated in the mobile telecom and terminal equipment sector, IC sector and photoelectronic device sector. Different development trends of foreign investment and investment from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan changed the investment structure of China's electronics and IT industry. Of the total investment from overseas, the proportion of investment from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and from foreign enterprises changed from 1:2.5 in the first half of 2006 to 1.5:2 this year, representing a strong substitution of investment from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan for foreign investment. Especially in electronic component sector, the investment from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan reached 19.88 billion yuan, up 151.6 per cent year on year; while foreign investment totaled 23.94 billion yuan, down 4.1 per cent year on year.
The proportion between them changed from 1:3 in the first half of 2006 to 1.8:2.2. By contrast, domestic-funded enterprises used an investment of 49.41 billion yuan in the first six months of 2007, up 46.2 per cent year on year. In a breakdown, private enterprises posted the fastest growth in investment and realized an investment of 12.5 billion yuan, up 82.2 per cent year on year, 5.8 percentage points higher than the growth in Jan.-June 2006. That accounted for 25.3 per cent of total investment in all domestic-funded enterprises, up 5 percentage points. The investment in stock limited companies grew by 29.3 per cent year on year in the period, while that in limited liability companies hiked 49.5 per cent year on year. Their growths were respectively 6.4 percentage points and 38.2 percentage points lower than those in the year-earlier period. While foreign investment fell sharply in the period, the total fixed assets investment in eastern China, where foreign investment used to be centralized, also dropped apparently. For example, the investment in enterprises in Beijing and Jiangsu kept dropping in the first half of 2007, and those in Tianjin and Shanghai only hiked by two per cent and five per cent respectively, but in Fujian, Guangdong and Zhejiang, the growths all exceeded 50 per cent.
Led by a continuing surge in young users taking advantage of technological advances, the market for online mobile-phone services is set to reach 1 trillion yen by the end of the year. According to surveys by the communications ministry and others, the market is growing at a brisk pace of 30 percent to 40 percent every year. Online services for cellphone users, such as buying goods and downloading games, music and video files, are expanding on the back of improved data transmission speeds and billing plans that charge flat rates for data communication transmissions. The market value includes fees charged for content-oriented services as well as mobile commerce services. At the end of 2006, the overall market value was 928.5 billion yen, a 28.5-percent increase over the previous year and more than triple the 298.6 billion yen in 2002, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said. The market for mobile commerce services, such as selling movie and train tickets and other commodities over the Internet, online stock trading and Web auctions, has grown significantly. At the end of 2006, commissions and fees for such services reached 562.4 billion yen, a 38-percent jump over the previous year.
Sales of content-oriented services, such as downloading music, games and images, totaled 366.1 billion yen, up 16.2 percent from an year earlier. Music and games accounted for 60 percent of the sales, cellphone carriers said. The Chaku-Uta and Chaku-Uta Full services were the most popular for music downloads. Subscribers of the services can download part of a song or an entire tune onto their cellphones. More than 20 percent of the nation's 85.29 million Internet users accessed online services solely through cellphones or personal handy-phone systems as of the end of 2005, according to a survey by the communications ministry.
The efforts by Japanese firms to make their presence felt in the virtual world of the online game "Second Life" is expected to accelerate following the release of the Japanese version of the software on July 13. "Second Life" is a 3-D virtual world created by California-based Linden Lab. Users control avatars--3-D human icons--to chat with other participants and shop using virtual currency. About 8 million people currently play, mainly in Europe and the United States. Mitsukoshi, Ltd. established its virtual outlet in "Second Life" at 10 a.m. Thursday, becoming the first Japanese department store to do so. The outlet features the Echigo-ya Gofukuten kimono shop, the forerunner of Mitsukoshi, which was established in 1673. A robot clerk welcomes visitors. No items are sold in the virtual store, but traditional Japanese costumes such as happi coats, hats made from bamboo and paper fans are distributed for free to players. Mitsukoshi hopes for 120,000 visitors in the first year. The company hopes the move online will enhance its brand, and encourage users to visit Mitsukoshi's regular Internet store. It believes its presence on "Second Life" could generate as much as 40 million yen in additional sales. A company spokesman said: "By boosting our contact with customers, we're looking forward to steering visitors toward our actual department stores as well as the shopping Web site." The travel firm H.I.S. Co. provides a service allowing avatars to move instantly to various interesting locations in "Second Life" with one touch of a panel. The company also directs users to their travel booking Web site.
Automobile companies such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. use the virtual world to publicize their products, for example by allowing users to test drive 3-D cars modeled on real world new releases. Keiji Mitsubuchi, a professor at the Graduate School of Digital Content that specializes on preparing students for careers in information technology, said, "Companies can earn a reputation for being strong in Internet services by appearing in 'Second Life.'" TV stations that were once reluctant to utilize the Internet due to copyright concerns, have also begun entering the virtual world. Fuji TV has introduced nine characters in "Second Life" resembling real life teen idols who appear on one of its TV shows. The company hopes users will become more familiar with the program by staging events in the virtual world, such as the idols meeting fans and signing autographs. TV Tokyo is hosting a summer festival in "Second Life" until Aug. 31. It created a townscape resembling a Japanese city from the 1950s and '60s, and will hold a fireworks display and Bon festival dance event. Linden Lab began distributing the Japanese version of the game on July 13, with instructions displayed in Japanese. According to the company, there are 490,000 heavy users of the software globally as of June, who play the game for more than an hour each month. The number of heavy Japanese users are estimated at about 27,000, with the number rising from ninth overall by nationality in May to sixth in June. The number is expected to rise further in the future.
According to an estimate by Mizuho Corporate Bank, Ltd., there will likely be 50 million users of "Second Life" worldwide by the end of 2007, rising to 240 million by the end of 2008. The value of the virtual market is expected to grow from 135 billion yen in 2007 to 1.25 trillion yen in 2008, the company says. However, Linden Lab. says the number of heavy users overall fell 2.5 percent in June from May. Masayoshi Sakai, a visiting associate professor at Waseda University Graduate School, warns there are limits to the benefits companies can expect to reap with a "Second Life" presence. "There are many companies that can't accumulate visitors in 'Second Life,' so companies need to offer something that visitors can only experience in the virtual world," he said. "Otherwise there's no guarantee the companies will get the benefits they're hoping for."
Japan's Softbank Corp. (9984.T: Quote, NEWS , Research) will launch a Internet Protocol (IP) phone service using a fibre-optic network in August, aiming to lure customers away from rival Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) (9432.T: Quote, NEWS , Research), the Nikkei business daily reported on Sunday. Softbank subscribers, including the 5 million customers of its "BB Phone" IP phone service provided over an asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) network, will be able to make calls for free after a small monthly charge, the newspaper said. Softbank believes offering IP phone service over both ASDL and fibre-optic networks will help it better compete with NTT, which is investing aggressively to quadruple users of its fibre-optic network to 30 million by 2010.No one at Softbank could be reached for comment. Softbank will look to compete on price. While subscribers to its fibre-optic service will be able to speak to each other free of charge, customers of NTT's service are levied a fee for each call, the Nikkei said. The basic rate of Softbank's new service, to be called "BB Communicator", will be set at 315 yen ($2.66) a month. Calls made to regular fixed-line phones will cost 8.4 yen for three minutes, roughly on par with NTT's rates, the Nikkei said. BB Communicator will use fibre-optic lines belonging to NTT or other telecom carriers, meaning new subscribers will be able to access the service by using an adapter to be provided by Softbank, the Nikkei said. Softbank, which is also in the throes of a price war in the mobile phone industry with rivals NTT DoCoMo Inc. (9437.T: Quote, NEWS , Research) and KDDI Corp. (9433.T: Quote, NEWS , Research), will aim to get 2 million people signed up to the new fibre-optic service, the Nikkei said.
Leading consumer electronics manufacturers will start a pilot program in fiscal 2008 to notify consumers of recalls via cellphones. The move is part of a campaign by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to improve recalls of defective products following Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.'s dismal attempts to recover defective kerosene heaters in 2005. Under the current system, purchasers can register through a variety of methods, such as using the postcards that come with products. But according to the ministry, less than 10 percent of those who buy household appliances bother to file their registration. The lack of customer information continually causes headaches for manufacturers wanting to recover defective products. Under the new scheme, home electronics manufacturers would install information in their products using the QR code or IC tag systems. A QR code, short for Quick Response code, is a two-dimensional bar code created and widely used in Japan. IC tags contain information about the products they are attached to. Consumers register themselves as users by sending back information via the Internet after reading the QR code or IC tag of the products using their cellphones.
Afterwards, manufacturers can notify consumers about product safety, recalls and after-sales service by e-mailing to their cellphones. The pilot scheme is part of measures taken by the ministry to improve product safety. The ministry said that it plans to ask for several hundreds of millions of yen in a budget request to help fund the project. Creating a more effective way of getting users to register has become an issue since Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. struggled to recall their defective kerosene heaters that resulted in the deaths of two people from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2005. The company could recover only about 70 percent of the products between April 2005 and June this year. It cost Matsushita Electric 24 billion yen in fiscal 2005 to publicize the recall.
Google unveiled a new interface for its Korean language site yesterday, as it tries to catch Naver. Google¡¯s chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt wants to make Google as ubiquitous as brushing your teeth, he said yesterday in Seoul. But if he wants to do that in Korea it is going to take some doing. To ¡°Google¡± someone is acommon verb now in the United States, but in Korea one ¡°asks Naver,¡± the leading local Internet portal itself having become a part of the language. Schmidt was in town to give a lecture on the second day of the Seoul Digital Forum at the Sheraton Walkerhill hotel. But he is also here to do business. In a press conference, Schmidt and recently appointed local Google executives unveiled a new user interface for Google¡¯s Korean-language service developed by its local research and development center. Schmidt emphasized the company¡¯s commitment to Korea. ¡°Korea is an important market for Google because of its tremendous technology and engineering culture,¡± he said. Asked why Google has fallen behind local portals, Google officials said that its philosophy is to support users and that the past several years were spent in trying to figure out what Koreans wanted. ¡°This is just the beginning,¡± local chief Lee Won-jin said. ¡°We have learned many lessons in the years since we launched the local search service in 2000.¡± But local experts have another explanation. ¡°Google¡¯s interface and design were not appealing to Koreans, who do not like text-oriented Web pages, and the search engine was not strong on Korean Web sites,¡± said one local portal operator who declined to be identified.
Until now, local Google executives admit, Google Korea has been only a ¡°translated Korean version of the English Google¡± and that they need to improve and localize functions if they are going to catch industry giant Naver. With foreign portals such as Google failing so far to meet the needs of local users, home grown portals have taken root in the ordinary lives of Koreans. On Naver, the home page opens onto a world of shopping, news, gossip, multimedia and user-created content, making it a complete site for locals. Indeed, for many users Naver is the Internet. Google¡¯s new Korean interface just begins to touch on a few of these features, by adding buttons to highlight blogs and other services. Local industry analysts are not sure whether Google¡¯s revamped efforts will be enough. On Tuesday, Schmidt also met with officials of Daum Communications, Korea¡¯s No. 2 search engine, to discuss widening an existing advertising partnership. Lee Seung-jin of Daum was quoted by The Associated Press as saying the two companies are discussing cooperation on search results and user-created video content. ¡°Google¡¯s alliance with Daum and its sudden change in the strategy of its Korean services, puts the situation up in the air,¡± one analyst said of Google¡¯s fresh assault on the Korean market. In his lecture, Schmidt said the society is being transformed for the better by the Internet. ¡°More people looking at information create a better outcome,¡± he said.
The Korean government said yesterday it will spend 1 trillion won ($1.07 billion) on efforts to help the country adopt a next-generation Internet protocol by 2013.The new network layer system, called Internet Protocol version 6, abbreviated IPv6, provides a virtually infinite number of addresses, compared to the current IPv4, which is plagued by an Internet address crunch, officials said.¡° All state and public Internet protocols will be converted to the IPv6 mode by 2010,¡± Park Jong-koo, a senior official at the Ministry of Science and Technology, said at a meeting of science and technology ministers. ¡°The private sector will also be encouraged to switch to the new mode by 2013,¡± he said. The official said the government will prod local Internet system developers to boost their know-how regarding IPv6 equipment and hardware. Those fields are now dominated by such foreign companies as Juniper Networks Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. Korea¡¯s push for a switch to IPv6 comes as the United States and other countries are trying to upgrade their Internet network layers to the new mode. According to experts, IPv4 allows the use of just 4.3 billion Internet addresses, while IPv6 can provide a practically limitless number of addresses.
The Korea International Trade Association, or KITA, hopes to increase its presence by taking trade-related duties online. The trade association said yesterday that it will create a cyber trade portal so that people can connect to the network and conduct trade-related work anywhere. It is calling its plan to create a ubiquitous trade environment ¡°U-KITA,¡± with ¡®U¡¯ standing for ubiquitous. The trade association will work on forming global trade networks through the nation¡¯s largest trade portal. It will form a network with some 70 foreign trade-related groups so that small and medium firms can obtain information about foreign markets without necessarily having to participate in exhibitions or trade shows. They hope to attract 100,000 companies run by Koreans, form an economic network and assist smaller companies that have poor foreign connections advance in foreign markets. A next-generation e-marketplace will be the core of the global trade network. Users will be able to register products on a business-to-business Web site, which processes payment, insurance, and delivery of those products. Last Tuesday, the Korea International Trade Association signed memorandums of understanding with the Korea Export Insurance Corp. and 15 e-business organizations prior to developing this electronic marketplace. Those 15 organizations include the corporate credit evaluation body Korea Enterprise Data, electronic payment system provider Inicis, and the global delivery firm DHL.
The trade association is aiming to complete the first step in creating the system ¨D product registration ¨D by the end of this year. A ¡°u-trade¡± hub will allow companies to process all trade-related documents online. This year, construction of the trade hub enters its third development phase. In a statement, the trade association said that when its core projects for the U-KITA visions are complete, Korean companies will be able to meet with and trade with foreign companies through the Internet, thus expanding trade possibilities for smaller companies. The halo effect of these firms creates more than 1.8 trillion won ($2 billion) in economic effects on an annual basis. ¡°In the future, you can skip paper documentation. Tasks that used to take 20 days now will only take five,¡± one trade association agent said.
Internet-based banking transactions in Korea increased 6.4 percent in the second quarter from three months earlier as more people went online for financial transactions, the central bank said yesterday. According to the Bank of Korea, Internet banking transactions for checking financial records, transferring funds and taking out loans reached 16.9 million on average each day in the April to June period, compared with 15.9 million in the previous quarter. The number of Internet banking subscribers registered with 17 local banks, the state-run Korea Post and HSBC increased 5.3 percent quarter-on-quarter to 40.1 million as of the end of June.
Korea¡¯s digital electronics exports surged 18.1 percent in July from a year earlier, thanks to strong demand for telecommunications equipment, semiconductors and other electronic goods. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said yesterday overseas shipments of digital electronics goods reached $10.6 billion in July, compared with $9 billion a year earlier. Imports also increased 11 percent to $5.5 billion, with the trade surplus in digital electronics climbing 26.9 percent to $5.1 billion. The ministry said exports of locally made mobile phones and semiconductors rose 35.6 percent and 50.7 percent, respectively. Shipments of information technology and communications products also grew 22.2 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively. Exports to China shot up 34.7 percent to $2.7 billion, while shipments to the United States gained 16 percent to $1.28 billion. In July, imports from China totalled $1.5 billion.
Indonesian communities will soon be acquainted with new government-initiated Internet kiosks at local post offices featuring at least four desktop computer stations, a scanner, a printer and a digital camera. In a drive to provide communities with greater Net access for educational and entrepreneurial purposes, the Internet kiosks were jointly conceived by the Communication and Information Ministry and state-owned PT Pos Indonesia. The joint project has been dubbed the Indonesian Information Community Kiosk or Warmasif. "Warmasif is an outlet for people in a particular area to communicate, access global information, market their products, make online deals and access a virtual community library," said Director General for Information and Telecommunication Technology Cahyana Ahmadjayadi on Thursday. The project aims to reduce poverty, narrow the digital divide and create knowledge-based communities, he said at a press conference on the collaborative effort. "There are already 13 Warmasif kiosks in Indonesia, such as in Palangkaraya, Kupang, Manado, Ambon and Jayapura. We plan to develop 50 more this year in various cities and regencies," he said. Provincial administrations have been urged to inform their communities on the function and educational and financial benefits of Warmasif. Kiosk-goers will be linked to a virtual subject-based library developed by the Communication and Information Ministry.
Comprehensive electronic health and medical resources will also be made available, which will include access to health insurance companies, hospitals, clinics, the Indonesian Red Cross, medical experts and specialists. The e-business component of Warmasif will help users market their products globally, purchase products from other provinces or foreign countries and make electronic transactions, which will be authorized by their local post office. The ministry also runs a small and medium business website (e-UKM) to enable users to liaise with other entrepreneurs online. Open-source operating system Linux will be installed on all kiosk computers in an effort to provide the system with better protection against viruses, Cahyana said. The project will support the spirit of the Indonesia Go Open Source (IGOS) program, which is a national scheme in which state institutions use license-free, open-source software rather than proprietary products developed by major global software companies. The deal between the ministry and PT Post Indonesia will also involve training for kiosk administrators. "Post office employees will be trained to become administrators and guides for members of the community who are still computer and Internet illiterate. There are many of them in remote areas," said PT Pos Indonesia chairman Hana Suryana. People can find more information about the venture at www.warmasif.co.id. For PT Pos Indonesia, this is the company's second major digital business venture -- after establishing Internet service provider Wasantara Net in 1996 -- and takes advantage of its widespread network of post offices.
MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) launched Friday an online payment system using cellular phones for registering business names. Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila said the BNRS G-Cash online payment service, put up in partnership with Globe Telecom Inc., would be available initially in Metro Manila and the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga and Iloilo. ¡°Electronic payments may be made through the Globe and Touch Mobile networks,¡± Favila said. ¡°All other key areas in the country would be enjoined to implement the facility within the year.¡± Touch Mobile is a brand operated by Globe Telecom.
Favila said that with the new system in place, the entire process of registering a business name could be made online. Business owners will still have to visit the DTI office in their area of business to pick up their business name certificates. The DTI said registrants would be charged P2.50 per text-message transaction as value-added transaction fee, on top of the registration fee of P300 for sole proprietorships or P500 for corporations. Favila said business owners could opt to pay in cash or check even in areas where the online system is available. Registrants may access the BNRS at www.bnrs.dti.gov.ph or on the DTI website www.dti.gov.ph.
A new study on global IT competitiveness ranks Singapore highly, but it said the Republic's Achilles' heel lies in research and development, specifically in patent generation ¡ª the single biggest indicator of IT competitiveness. According to the inaugural study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), Singapore is listed 11th globally in terms of IT competitiveness, and fifth within the Asia-Pacific, behind Japan, South Korea, Australia and Taiwan. Mr Jeffrey Hardee, BSA's Asia Pacific vice-president and regional director, said: "Singapore is doing well overall. There are some areas where it can improve and one of those might be IT infrastructure. For example, broadband penetration was surprisingly low for Singapore, relative to the other places in the region such as South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia." Other factors that made up a country's ranking ranged from an ample supply of skills, an innovation-friendly culture to a competition-friendly business environment. With all those added up, the ranking assesses and compares the environment of the IT industry across 64 countries in order to determine the extent to which they enable competitiveness in the IT sector.
Singapore scored in developing talent and support for IT industry development, said Mr Tony Nash, EIU's Asia director of country and economic research. "It is ranked as one of the highest countries in the world in terms of human capital along with the US and other countries probably because of how it handles education and how it responds to the needs of the workforce ¡ª very rapidly, very flexibly and in a very quality-focused way." Singapore could improve in its rankings by encouraging "businesses to do more innovation in Singapore", Mr Hardee said. "This will have a spin-off effect to make the IT industry more competitive. Also, it will do well by encouraging venture capitalists to come and provide seed money to firms, to encourage entrepreneurial spirit in Singapore and do more risk taking." The United States topped the global ranking. Surprisingly, typical Asian powerhouses such as India and China lagged behind, taking up 46th and 49th places in the ranking respectively.
Banks and financial services players in Singapore have been urged to take a different approach when investing in information technology (IT). Instead of just using IT systems to control risks and comply with regulations, professionals say IT systems should be seen as a strategic investment to help grow their businesses. They made the comment at the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, or ISACA, conference held in Singapore on Monday. Following the spate of high profile corporate scandals in recent years, companies worldwide - including those in Singapore - have invested in IT systems and processes to tackle fraud risks. But industry professionals say most local companies are going for just basic stop-gap measures, rather than taking the opportunity to drive business revenues through IT solutions. Douglas Lee, President, ISACA Singapore Chapter and Technical QA Architect, Microsoft, says: "Over the past few years, a lot of money has been spent on meeting regulatory requirements. But as you know, when you're trying to meet requirements, you meet the minimum bar and that's where you stop your investments. "But if a company needs to get itself to the next level where governance becomes a competitive advantage for an organisation, they need to think beyond complying and flip it around on its head and say, how do I drive my business, data and information in order to make my business more profitable, more efficient, give my people better equipped information?
You need to be value-driven rather than compliance-driven." But going for the next level could involve hefty upfront costs. There's also a lack of talent who can take a holistic approach to finding solutions. Tommy Seah, Vice Chairman, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, says: "There's no integration from the various disciplines. So for example, someone who's good in accounting will only know how to look at accounting. "They won't understand the things like the chances of the system being penetrated through an external source. That guy that is very good at external source networking won't know anything about finance or operations. So that's where systemic risk comes in." Douglas Lee says: "A dynamic enterprise, they spend probably only about 40 to 50 percent keeping the lights on. The rest of the time, they're doing business experiments. They are doing things that they can help generate more revenues for the company. "So at that stage, they are value-driven. But to get to that point, there are some initial investments and that is the reason why we're having a lot of inertia is that the initial investments are not easy. It also requires that you retire some existing systems that no longer provide value." Still, industry professionals say companies will save money over the long run if they adopt newer technologies. Industry experts suggest that whenever a business unit proposes answers to IT-related problems, companies should question whether the solutions will add value to the whole organisation. They say this will help the firms think through the real benefits of any given solution and prevent investments into stop-gap systems.
Singapore¡¯s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has awarded a S$1.7 million contract to enhance it e-filing system for companies. According to a release from ACRA the US$1.1 million investment will enhance ACRA¡¯s BizFile System with more customer-centric features, as part of ACRA¡¯s focus on providing excellent customer service. SCS initially designed and implemented BizFile, one of the world¡¯s first online corporate registration and filing systems, for ACRA in 2002. In 2005, SCS productised BizFile for the international market, naming the system iBizFile. iBizFile was subsequently selected by the British Virgin Islands for their business registration needs in 2006. ¡°ACRA constantly seeks to improve the BizFile experience for our users to facilitate a hassle-free environment to do business here in Singapore," said Juthika Ramanathan, Chief Executive, ACRA. "By enhancing the navigation and design of the new BizFile system and creating new workflow processes to help reduce operation costs, we at ACRA believe that SCS will deliver a quality, upgraded BizFile system to offer a user-friendly experience.¡± Under the new contract additional advanced portal features will be integrated with the existing platform. The enhanced BizFile will be more interactive and highly customer-centric, with a state-of-the-art look-and-feel. In addition, BizFile¡¯s search capabilities will be boosted by an advanced search engine to facilitate online searches of eService transactions by the public.
The Vietnamese Government will continue national modernisation by promoting hi-tech zones in the North and South. It hopes to achieve this largely by offering special incentives to local and foreign investors who come to the zones. Our monthly news magazine, Outlook, examines the use of hi-tech parks to attract new investment, advanced technology and skilled human resources. The magazine, which goes on sale in Ha Noi, HCM City and other major centres this morning, profiles Viet Nam¡¯s two main hi-tech parks and provides perspectives from both investors and zone managers. This month, we also meet Viet Nam¡¯s only blind fisherman, visit picturesque Cape Dai Lanh and take a walk down the streets of a village known for its residents¡¯ tall tales. Readers can also catch up on the news of the month and local and overseas current affairs - and also find out what¡¯s new on Viet Nam¡¯s arts and culinary scenes. Outlook retails for VND15,000 at news-stands, major hotels and restaurants and at the head office of the Viet Nam News at 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi, or our HCM City office at 120 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street.
Hyderabad (India) based Ram Informatics has launched a new website, www.insuranceonline.com, to help general public, agents, brokers and development officers of the Life Insurance Corporation of India. The company has implemented e-Governance services in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Currently, the website had information pertaining to various insurance policies, premium rates, terms, premium calculators and forms of the LIC. However, the company would expand its scope to incorporate the details of other private life insurance players also. Besides, the site also provided details of the LIC Housing Finance Ltd.
The Chennai City Corporation, Tamil Nadu has chalked out new measures to implement e-Governance in association with Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT). The new proposal to go in for paperless governance was accepted at its council meeting. An estimate of Rs 6.9 crore by ELCOT for providing software, hardware, maintenance and training to the civic agency was accepted. The council had decided to seek assistance either from the Information Technology Ministry or the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for implementing the project. Software was being prepared for budgeting and accounts, property tax assessment, birth and death certificates, works supervision, building approval, geographic information system (GIS) and grievance redressal. Wireless radio communications between Corporation departments and grievance redressal by SMS, were other proposals that were passed in the meeting.
A Raja, the Minister of Communication and Information Technology announced that about one lakh broadband enabled service centres will come up in the country by March, 2008 at a total cost of INR 5,400 crore. One centre will come up for every six villages with all e-governance services. Central government has allocated INR 1,600 crore to set up the service centres and rest by the private sector under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. This declaration was made at the eIndia 2007 Conference, organized by Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) on July 31, 2007. The Minister said that for implementation of e-governance projects, government on its part is trying to provide basic infrastructure including Internet, window facilitation center and last mile connectivity for implementation of e-governance, but participation of private sector and citizens is a key factor for providing totally transparent services to the public.
Intel Corp. has tied up with three large Indian PC vendors, including HCL Infosystems Ltd., Wipro Ltd., and Zenith Computers Ltd to assemble the Classmate PC, a PC specially designed for schools. The company will start shipping the product to Indian schools in September, 2007. The Classmate PC will be sold only to schools, and not through retail channels to consumers. The Classmate PC has been specially designed to work in a networked classroom environment, and comes with software and features that give the teacher in the classroom control over the dissemination of content to students' PCs. The PC, which can run both Linux and Windows operating systems, is powered by a 900MHz Intel Celeron mobile processor, and comes with Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. The price of the product with the control software will be INR 18,000 with the education software and Wi-Fi connectivity available at extra cost.
Sri Lanka's Dialog Telekom has launched a fixed wireless network, which is based on CDMA through a subsidiary company, Dialog Broadband Networks. The product is already launched in Kandy, Puttalam, Kegalle, Kalutara and Ratnapura of Sri Lanka. The network aims to provide a complete package in the provision of multi-sensory connectivity, with uncompromising quality and the most competitive solutions. Dialog CDMA subscribers will experience an unmatched range of Value Added Services and of course the best clarity and coverage. Dialog Broadband Networks is also a key player in Sri Lanka's ICT infrastructure sector, providing backbone and transmission infrastructure facilities and data communication services.
Intel Pakistan Corporation has introduced the Intel-Powered Classmate PC, which would be used by students of classes VI to VIII in classrooms under the supervision of teachers and with the added option of parental guidance. Intel has designed the mobile learning assistant Classmate PC for students. The Classmate PC is designed to provide affordable, collaborative learning environments for students and equip them with technology. The company has selected two government schools in Islamabad and one each in Lahore and Karachi. The Classmate PC has two versions. The first one is only 7-inch long with a price of US$ 230-240. It will be limited to the school segment only and will not be sold in the market. The other version is a 9-inch PC priced at US$ 375-400 and meant to be sold in the markets.
KARACHI (August 10 2007): The total size of the local information technology (IT) industry would be at 10 billion dollars by 2010 against the present 2.2 billion-dollar revenue and one billion-dollar IT exports, said Managing Director of Pakistan Software Export Board Yusuf Hussain. He said this while addressing a media workshop on "Techniques of IT reporting in media" at the seventh ITCN Asia exhibition here on Thursday. A sizeable number of journalists from various print and electronic media organisations attended the workshop. Besides, Dr Tony Murphy, author of the book "Succeeding in the knowledge economy"; former Texas Secretary of State Principal, Texas Global, Geoffrey S. Conner; and Director of Texas Emerging Technology Fund Mark Elllison addressed the workshop. The PSEB Managing Director said that Pakistan had rich potential in terms of outsourcing services in the IT sector, and added that A.T. Kearney, a Chicago-based research and strategic management consulting company, in its latest annual survey report, ranked Pakistan amongst the top 50 outsourcing IT states. "This speaks volumes for the target-oriented initiatives as well as the potential of outsourcing capabilities of local companies and also a strong manifestation of confidence the outer world has about the Pakistani IT industry," he remarked.
As part of achieving this target, he said, the PSEB was going to hold international level CEO Forum in Karachi on Friday (August 10). The main purpose of the forum, titled "Corporate success in the knowledge economy," was to showcase the rapid strides made by the Pakistani IT sector over the last few years and also to increase foreign financing through effective interaction with foreign companies. The PSEB chief also informed the media that the board was launching the PSEB IT job board portal for the Pakistani industry and talent acquisition was the first step in the talent management. Dr Tony Murphy, in his address, spoke about the potential of Pakistan's IT sector, and said that this sector was growing at a high rate. Its advantages included relatively low wages amounting to as little as half the level of salaries in India, as well as reasonable real estate costs, plentiful government incentives, business environment and readily available supply of skilled workers, he added. Geoffrey S. Conner appreciated the target-oriented initiatives of the PSEB regarding projecting Pakistan as a rising IT state, and hoped that international companies would accord a healthy response as a result of these initiatives. In his address, Mark Elllison said that he had recently visited Pakistan to identify opportunities for investments, technical partnerships, international business development and collaborative research with Pakistan-based companies and educational institutions. "There is much more in the local IT sector yet to be explored. The basic need is to project this potential in the international level," he remarked. On the occasion, the participants of the workshop also raised various questions regarding the IT sector, the PSEB achievements, missions and the initiatives being taken for the promotion of the IT sector.
Ministry of Communications and Information Technology plans to promote Afghan Telecom to present its digital (CDMA) mobile phone services in Afghanistan said H. E. Eng. Amirzai Sangin Minister of Communications and IT in a news conference held for this purpose on Thursday August 02, 2007.08.02. H. E. Eng. A. Sangin Minister of Communications and IT explained that before this agreement Afghanistan was providing only fixed line and wireless digital phone services, but by implementing and completing of this important project Afghan Telecom will be able to facilitate its digital mobile phone services across the country. H. E. Minister of Communications and IT underlined that now they sign an agreement with two Chinese companies (HUAWIE, ZTE) and plans to sign another agreement with an American company names GSI to equip and supply Afghan Telecom betterly to facilitate their digital mobile phone services within six months in the country.
This project costs nearly ten million dollars that are funding through developmental budget of the Ministry of Communications and IT. It is worth mentioned that currently Afghan Telecom is providing digital phone services in all 34 provinces and more than two hundreds districts of Afghanistan. According to the officials of the Ministry of Communications and IT, by implementing and completing of this important project the inhabitants of Afghanistan can carry his/her digital mobile phone across the country and can receive or make their call everywhere through same SIM Card and phone, and through this system subscribers can purchase their credit cards in the market like prepaid system in GSM mobile phones. Furthermore, the competition among the operators will be increase and the cost of the call will cut down remarkably. At last, the agreement was signed between H. E. Eng. Barialai Hassam Deputy Minister Technical and the representatives of the two Chinese companies.
Amirzai Sangin, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, has announced that Afghan Telecom is planning to roll out a CDMA-based network in cooperation with Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei. It plans to sign another agreement with US-based GSI to supply Afghan Telecom with digital mobile phone equipment and services. The CDMA project will cost in the region of USD10 million and will be funded by the developmental budget of the Ministry.
Qatar Telecommunications¡¯ Iraqi affiliate AsiaCell Communications could invest upwards of USD300 million a year to expand its Iraq network, says Reuters quoting a QTel shareholder as saying. AsiaCell has agreed to pay USD1.25 billion for one of three mobile licences sold last week in the country and could consider a bid for the Iraq assets of Egypt's Orascom Telecom, which dropped out of the auction at the eleventh hour.
The third cellphone handsets manufacturing factory with production capacity of two million per year was inaugurated in Shiraz, Fars province. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, deputy minister of industries and mines for economic and international affairs elaborated that in the first stage, three models are to be produced from semi-knocked down (SKD) kits. Production will switch to completely knocked down (CKD) format within the next six months, Mohsen Shaterzadeh added. He predicted that handset production capacity would exceed six million units annually, once the fourth factory becomes operational within the next few days, according to a fax sent to Iran Daily by the ministry¡¯s Public Relations Department. The official said that setting up these factories following the rise in handset import tariffs is a great step in domestic production. He attributed the success to the all-out support of the government particularly by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, First Vice President Parviz Davoudi and Industries and Mines Minister Alireza Tahmasbi.
In addition, he thanked other organizations for their cooperation. He continued that as per ratification of Economic Council to develop high tech industry, handset production--planned by Industries and Mines Ministry since 2006--has recently borne fruit. He said that given the rise in domestic demand for cellphone handsets which would reach 40 million within the next five years, domestic production would improve IT knowledge across the country. Apart from creating new jobs, the high value-added of the sector will be channeled into the country leading to economic growth, he concluded. Mobile phone handset tariffs were increased by 56 percent to 60 percent last year. In May 2006, Iran announced plans to produce six million mobile phone handsets. Iran Telecommunication Manufacturing Company was founded four decades ago in Shiraz to produce electromechanic telecommunication systems. Last year, 35 percent of its stakes were offered as ¡¯Justice Shares¡¯. At present, 1,670 people work in the company.
A senior Information and Communications Technology Ministry official disclosed that about 10 foreign companies have shown interest in bidding for the third cellphone operator. Deputy minister Samad Mo¡¯menollah stated that firms from Persian Gulf Arab states as well as Turkcell are interested in participating in the bid. He didn¡¯t reveal the names of companies based in the Persian Gulf littoral states. The official told ISNA that the ministry would benefit from experiences gained from the contract with the second mobile phone operator (Irancell) in drafting new deals. Mo¡¯menollah predicted that new demand for cellphone would be 40 million lines. He, however, recalled that the cellphone demand has significantly declined since ¡¯SIM card prices of 2.8 million rials (those offered by the government) and 1.5 million rials (Irancell SIM card) are still high for (low-income) families¡¯.
Turkcell has posted a second quarter net profit of USD274 million, up 29% year-on-year, on the back of a USD1.5 billion increase in quarterly revenues. Revenue growth for the year is forecast at 20%, Reuters reports, with expectations of continued subscriber uptake and a strong performance by the Turkish lira. Turkcell added 1.5 million net new customers in the three months to the end of June, taking its total user base to 33.8 million.
MTS Uzbekistan (until June 2006 known as Uzdunrobita) has announced it will shut down its legacy AMPS/D-AMPS network on 10 June, with the last remaining customers being transferred to its GSM network free of charge.
This year the level of digitalization of over 2,000 telephone exchange stations is expected to reach 80%, against 73% at the end of 2006. These figures were announced during the general shareholders' meeting of Uzbektelecom Company, the largest telecommunications operator in Uzbekistan, UzA reported. On President Karimov's initiative, the development and integration of information and communication technology in different spheres of economy and society have been made the priority objective of the socio-economic policy of the country, Uzbekistan Today wrote. A major contribution to the implementation of this policy is made by Uzbektelecom. Performing similar functions, the telecommunications sector could be compared to a human nervous system. The level of its development determines the efficiency of functioning of other life-sustaining organs of the state, including the sectors of healthcare, economy, education, science and culture. Uzbektelecom Director-General Hakim Muhitdinov said in 2006 over 10.5 billion soums were appropriated for the development of the telecommunication industry from the company's own funds; and appropriations from all sources totaled 44.7 billion soums.
Under the contemporary market conditions special attention is paid to the efficiency of the company. In 2005 its earnings exceeded its expenses by 7.5 billion soums, and in 2006 ¨C by 17 billion soums. Uzbektelecom controls 97% of the fixed local telephone communication and 100% of the international. Using advanced technology, the company offers a wide range of voice communication, Internet access, CDMA standard based wireless connection, broadcasting and other services. The head of the External Relations Department of Uzbektelecom Margarita Kashina said in 2006 the company implemented a number of projects, including the replacement of automatic telephone exchanges with digital systems in Tashkent, Andijan, Namangan, Ferghana, Syrdarya, Jizzakh and Samarkand regions, laid over 1,000 km of fibre-optic cables within the frame of the JBIC Project, and completed the works on other objects. Early this year, the company launched a uS$21.2 million project on the expansion of the CDMA_450 standard based mobile communication network, reconstruction of the telecommunication transportation networks in Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya regions, in the cities of Ferghana and Jizzakh, modernisation and development of local telecommunication networks in Tashkent using new generation technologies. For this project, China Development Banked extended a US$15.6 million loan to Aloka Bank, which, in turn, will procure the necessary equipment and provide it to Uzbektelecom on leasing conditions.
UzA ¨C Sarkor Telecom, one of the leaders of Uzbek Internet services market, reported increase of its international channel bandwidth to 25 Mbps. In July 2001, Sarkor Telecom was the first in Uzbekistan to launch international fibre optic channel with 1 Mbps bandwidth. Small at that time but very dynamic company managed to increase its international channel tens of times. The company increased its external channel to the Internet every quarter, continuously improving its services. Sarkor Telecom plans to increase its international channel bandwidth to 27 Mbps in November 2007.
In the first half of 2007 the market growth rate slowed by 14.6 percentage points compared to the observations for the same period of the previous year. Thus, in the first six months of 2007 the number of mobile subscribers increased by 37.6% to 3.74 million compared to 52.2% in the first half of 2006 The fastest growth in the number of subscribers was observed in January-February (231,900 and 242,700 people respectively) and June (207,100 people), and the lowest in April (62,100 people). If to analyse the growth rate of the client base of individual companies, the number of Uzdunrobita's subscribers increased 1.34 times, of Unitel's ¨C 1.6 times, and of other companies ¨C 1.14 times. Especially high client base growth rate was observed at Unitel (Beeline trademark) in January-March. This is explained by the company's aggressive promotion campaign, which coincided with Coscom's temporary termination of services and the resulting loss of subscribers. Unitel quickly gained a large number of new subscribers for its new "Vse svoi" tariff plan, which made all calls from mobile phones free.
However, Uzdunrobita quickly reacted by introducing the new "First" tariff plan offering the same conditions on 14 February 2007, which substantially narrowed the gap between the growth rates of market leaders' client bases. Soon after, Coscom recommenced its operations and launched a campaign to attract former and new clients, and restore its market position. As a result in April Unitel's client base shrank by nearly 39,000 people. Uzdunrobita's client base saw fast expansion in May-June, which according to Avesta Research analysts is the result of the company's efforts to expand the network of dealer points across the country and improve the quality of services compared to other GSM operators, particularly in the regions. The month of June saw a substantial increase in the pace of market growth and a sharp increase in the number of subscribers of all operators. It appears that the population has responded to the active promotion of new tariff plans ¨C Uzdunrobita's Red, Unitel's City, Coscom's Circle of Communication, Family and Very Good, and Perfectum Mobile's Leader and Region.
The market for mobile communication services of Uzbekistan is currently observing the process of industry consolidation; small operators are being forced out. Since 2001, the market shares of Uzdunrobita and Unitel companies increased by 16.32% and 5.29% respectively, while the aggregate share of smaller operators decreased by 21.62%. The last six years have seen the drop-outs of UzMacom and SkyTel, a sharp decline in the share of Coscom from 22.2% in 2001 to 11% now. In January-June 2007 Uzdunrobita's share shrank by 1.33%, whereas Unitel's share grew by 4.53%. In the reporting period, the aggregate share of Coscom, Perfectum Mobile and Uzbektelecom Mobile operators decreased from 18.5% to 15.3%. At this time the market share of Coscom company makes up about 11%, of Perfectum Mobile ¨C 4.5%, and of Uzbektelecom Mobile ¨C 0.3%. In the second half of 2007, the experts of Avesta Research expect Uzdunrobita's share of the market to remain above 50%, Unitel's ¨C to reach 32%, and Coscom's to remain at 11%.
Large market deals -- In the reporting six months of the year two major merger and acquisition deals were made in the telecommunications market. On 29 June, Russian MTS announced its acquisition of the remaining 26% stake in Uzdunrobita LLC (MTS-Uzbekistan trade mark) from private investors for US$250 million, thereby gaining full ownership of the largest mobile company of Uzbekistan. MTS was the first Russian company to enter the Uzbek mobile market in August 2004. The company then purchased 74% stake in Uzdunrobita for US$121 million. Within three years, the company's value grew on average 5.9 times, and is currently estimated at about US$1 billion. This increase in the company's value was largely due to fast growth of the mobile market of Uzbekistan and positive development outlooks. At the same time, while in 2004, MTS paid about US$777 for every subscriber, this time it paid only US$520. Another large deal was made in early July of this year, when the Swiss-Finnish TeliaSonera announced 100% acquisition of the American MCT Corp., the owner of several large operators in the Central Asian region, including Coscom in Uzbekistan, Indigo-Tajikistan and Somoncom in Tajikistan and Telecom Development Company Afghanistan (Roshan) in Afghanistan.
The deal cost TeliaSonera US$300 million. The price per one subscriber was about US$385. The estimated value of Coscom JV made up US$151.5 million. At the same time, the value of every subscriber of Coscom JV was somewhat lower than of the subscribers of other mobile operators of Uzbekistan. To compared, in August 2004 MTS paid US$777 for a subscriber, when purchasing 74% shareholding in Uzdunrobita, and in June of this year it paid US$520 for every subscriber, when purchasing the remaining 26%. Also, in the early 2006, Russian Vympelcom purchased 100% stake in two Uzbek mobile operators ¨C Unitel and Bakri Uzbekistan Telecom (Buztel trademark) for US$270 million, paying about US$735 for every subscriber. Earlier in September 2004, a consortium of Greek investors and the EBRD acquired full control over Daewoo Unitel, by paying about US$73.5 million, on average US$250 for every subscriber.
TeliaSonera is the leading telecommunication community in Scandinavia and Baltic. Its main shareholders are the Governments of Sweden (37.3%) and Finland (13.7%), as well as Swedbank Robur (2.2%), Cevian Capital (1.6%), SEB (1.5%), Nordea (1.3%), SHB/SPP (1.2%), and Skandia Liv (1%). The Company's turnover in the first quarter of 2007 exceeded US$3.35 billion, and net profits comprised US$587 million. In May of this year 8% stake in TeliaSonera was sold for US$2.68 billion. Thus, the company's total value is estimated at some US$33.5 billion. TeliaSonera's entry into the market of Central Asia, according to Avesta Research experts, is explained by the falling growth rates of the European telecommunication markets, particularly the market for fixed telephone connection, due to high saturation, and secondly by the growing attractiveness of Central Asian markets, particularly the market of Uzbekistan, demonstrating fast growth.
Market potential -- As of 1 July 2007 the mobile penetration rate in Uzbekistan made up 14%. Avesta Research experts expect the number of mobile subscribers to reach 4.9 million by the end of the year. From this year on, the market growth rate will start to slow down. By 2010, the number of mobile users is expected to reach about 13.2 million people (penetration rate ¨C 47.4%) and by 2015 ¨C 15.2 million (penetration rate ¨C 53.6%). Taking into account the fact that the Accelerated Revenue Per User (ARPU) makes up about US$12, the total market capacity currently comprises about US$538 million. By 2012 it is expected to reach US$2.2 billion. The researchers of the Avesta Research agency expect that TeliaSonera's entry into the Uzbek market will substantially toughen the competition and reduce the shares of current market leaders ¨C Uzdunrobita and Unitel. However, taking into account the time it will require TeliaSonera to complete the deal and develop its strategy for Coscom JV, a substantial increase in competition is not expected until 2008.
SingTel will lead a group of companies in a bid to build a high-speed broadband network in Australia, the company said. The group, to be called G9, would included SingTel's Australian unit Optus, PowerTel, Macquarie Telecom Group, Soul, iiNet and New Zealand Telecom's AAPT unit, the group said in a statement. Details of the participation of individual member companies would be determined as the bid is finalized, it said. Broadband has become a key political issue ahead of a national election later this year amid concerns Australia's broadband speeds lag well behind those of other nations. The Australian government recently announced it would conduct an open and competitive bidding process and legislate to enable a new high speed broadband network for city areas. Last month, it set up an expert panel to consider proposals from telecommunications groups. "As a first step, we look forward to working with the minister's expert task force to identify the issues that the government will need to consider in assessing competing bids, including the regulatory changes sought by bidders," Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan said. "We expect that our input will assist the expert task force in its task of preparing detailed bidding guidelines, which is a necessary first step before parties can finalize their bids," he said.
THE federal Government is gearing up for an outsourcing frenzy with contracts worth $600 million per annum due to hit the market over the next two years. Market research firm Intermedium has reported that 23 federal Government agencies and departments are due to put long-standing computer infrastructure services contracts on the market by mid 2009. The findings were published in its Federal Government IT Infrastructure Outsourcing Report 2006-2007. Agencies and departments with contracts that are due for renewal in the next two years include the Australian Taxation Office, Department of Health and Ageing, Medicare Australia and Department of Agriculture. Intermedium director Judy Hurdich said that agencies whose contracts were signed in the 1990s face a number of decisions as the agreements wind down. "The threshold question for these agencies now is whether to retain infrastructure outsourcing as a strategy or take a decision to revert to in-house arrangements," Ms Hurditch said in a statement. "While no agencies have yet completely abandoned outsourcing, it is clear that a number of them are very undecided about what to do." Ms Hurditch said that moves towards selective sourcing within the federal Government meant that specialist providers were much better placed to pick up a slice of the business than they were when agencies and departments first outsourced.
THE NSW government is set to slash the number of business software platforms it uses following a dramatic shift in its procurement of finance, payroll and human resource systems. NSW minister for commerce Eric Roozendaal said that the government had culled the number of enterprise resource planning vendors it will buy software from to three as part of its People First information and communications technology strategy. Mincom, Oracle and SAP survived the cut but all other finance, payroll and HR platforms will be decommissioned over the coming years in a move that is meant to assist plans to shave $565 million off the state's computer and communications bill. "The changes follow an independent review of major enterprise resource planning systems that are available and support in Australia," Mr Roozendaal said in a statement. "We want standardised software solutions across the NSW government which can leverage government's volume and save taxpayers money." The change will come into effect when the 2007 round of Government Selected Applications Systems (GSAS) contracts is awarded. The current round of GSAS contracts expires in December. "The Department of Commerce will tender for associated services, including implementation, upgrades, support and other managed services," Mr Roozendaal said. "Separate contracts will be established with certified service providers to implement, support and maintain the corporate applications for a period of up to five years." Government agencies using non-Mincom, Oracle or SAP finance, payroll and HR systems will continue to receive support and maintenance for their existing software for up to five years, Mr Roozendaal said.
Despite the perception of Government in Australia as being a mature market in terms of the adoption of enterprise outsourcing, CIOs and IT decision makers within both federal and state agencies identified policy changes and increased demand from consumers as major drivers of this market. New analysis from global growth consulting company, Frost & Sullivan (www.frost.com), The Australia Enterprise Outsourcing Market in Government 2006 - 2010, reveals that revenues in this market totaled AU$1.58 billion in 2006 and is forecasted to be worth AU$1.83 billion by end-2010, growing at a CAGR of 3.9 per cent (2006-2010). BPO is forecast to be the strongest growth segment at 5.9 per cent compound annual growth, with IT outsourcing growing at 3.6 per cent on a compound annual basis.
BPO includes front office, back office and other government processes such as licensing and registration, infringement processing, transport ticketing, utility billing and market management. While IT outsourcing includes applications (maintenance and support; software development and integration) and operations which includes datacentre management, helpdesk and network telecommunications, among others. "The strongest growth segment with substantial revenues in the outsourcing market between 2006 and 2010 is expected to be the front office sector, which covers contact centres and customer interaction," says senior industry analyst, Simon Hayes at Frost & Sullivan Australia. "A CAGR of 6.4 per cent is forecast by end-2010." IBM is the market leader in outsourcing, but is followed closely by EDS, which has substantial existing government relationships it can leverage to gain new business. Third-placed Fujitsu has particular strengths and existing relationships in state government. "Overall, the IT outsourcing market in Government is really just churn, fuelled by cyclical renewals of existing major contracts, particularly in the federal sector, as well as demand for upgraded infrastructure," adds Mr. Hayes.
The upcoming Federal Election will act as a powerful restraint on market growth, in particular the BPO segment, with the Federal Government postponing decisions that could be seen as politically controversial. "While activity is forecast to increase post-election, significant growth is not expected in BPO until at least 2009, and then only if outsourcers are able to convince governments that there are benefits to be garnered." The key challenge in 2007 is a tightening of budgets for both services and infrastructure. While this seems to contradict responses that most agencies are expecting to increase spending, it underlines the concept that government agencies are under more pressure than commercial organisations to deliver value for money.
A survey conducted with 50 senior management-level executives with control or insight into the agencies' outsourcing budget and strategy shows that Governments are searching for security, with factors such as success on previous contracts, the ability to effectively deploy new technologies and the ownership of a known and trusted brand rated more important than cost of delivery in the selection of an IT service provider. Government respondents also rated independent accreditation and presence on the ICT Multi-Use List (MUL) more highly than private industry respondents. In terms of selecting a BPO provider, however, cost of delivery was rated as the most important factor, although trust factors like success on previous projects, presence on the ICT MUL and brand also rated highly. The Australia Enterprise Outsourcing Market in Government 2006 - 2010 Demand & Supply reports forms part of Frost & Sullivan Australia's enterprise outsourcing subscription, which includes research on the following sectors: Enterprise Outsourcing Opportunities in the Australian BFSI Vertical (published May 2007) and Enterprise Outsourcing Opportunities in the Australian Healthcare Vertical (November 2007).
The Government is set to stump up the cash to create an association to represent the interests of the multibillion-dollar ICT industry. This is after it became apparent that membership fees from businesses would not be sufficient to get the industry body off the ground. Garth Biggs, acting executive director of the fledgling industry body, ICT-NZ, says it will receive a grant from New Zealand Trade Enterprise to help meet its running costs over its first two years, but the details are still being negotiated. The funding was questioned by National's economic development spokesman Richard Worth, who says it could only be justified if ICT-NZ was export-oriented and created benefits that flowed beyond its members. "I do not think there is any rationale plan as to which entities of this sort get funding. If you look at business councils, which are not dissimilar, funding support is very patchy. One of National's criticisms of NZTE is there is a clutter of grants programmes." Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard says a decision on a grant application by ICT-NZ will be reached soon. "The Government provides funding to the ICT industry because it has been identified as both an enabler - an industry which enables other industries to achieve growth - and as an industry likely to have a strong positive impact on the New Zealand economy." Mr Biggs says he accepts that the industry should be able to stand on its own feet, but says Government help was needed to get the ball rolling. "I have no aspirations at all to make this a government-funded organisation, but they are the only ones who are in a position to get it started. We are a $15 billion industry and we need to be big and mature enough to look after ourselves, but we need something to build on."
Communications Minister David Cunliffe has been encouraging IT industry bodies - of which Mr Biggs estimates there are more than 100 - to come together to provide a "single voice" for the industry in its dealing with government for several years, but progress has been slow. ICT-NZ was first conceived in 2004. Mr Biggs also heads the HiGrowth Project Trust, another government-funded group that was originally tasked with creating 100 ICT firms with $100 million in annual turnover by 2013. It later dropped this as a goal after criticism that it was an unachievable target. HiGrowth has channelled $80,000 of public funds into ICT-NZ, a sum which has been roughly matched by contributions from the now-defunct Information Technology Association and the Software Association. Corporate members will be asked to pay fees of up to $20,000 a year to join ICT-NZ. New Zealand's largest technology firms, including the locally-incorporated subsidiaries of IBM and EDS have so far been non-committal. Mr Biggs says it is hard for ICT-NZ to attract members till it can deliver benefits to them, and difficult to deliver benefits till the industry body is properly funded. This has created a Catch 22 that he hopes will be broken by the seed funding from Government. The industry body hopes to employ six staff, in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.
THE mobile phone controversy in Papua New Guinea has shown us a classic case of how the government could dishonour a major policy and shame itself in front of the global community just to protect a pet business interest. It boils down to one thing: Profit. Mobile phone company ¡°B¡± Mobile is the most jealously-guarded enterprise in Papua New Guinea. A subsidiary of the government-controlled telephone company Telikom PNG, ¡°B¡± Mobile is a big revenue source of the government, contributing a heap to the phone company¡¯s 2007 revenue of K347 million (US$114 million) which delivered a hefty pre-audit profit of over K100 million (US$32 million). That¡¯s why when Jamaica-based mobile phone provider Digicel rolled out its service on Friday with offerings of cheaper, more efficient, customer-friendly services and latest technology, the Somare government immediately sprung into action with sheer precision by revoking the few-days old spectrum licence issued to the telco and ordered it to immediately stop operations. This was the second time inside two weeks that the government had tried to put Digicel out of business by canceling its operating licence. This came despite the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare¡¯s assurance to Seamus Lynch, Digicel Group board director, last March that the telco¡¯s investment and its licence to operate in PNG were protected. The order to cancel the telco¡¯s licence came from the Prime Minister¡¯s son, Arthur Somare, minister of Public Enterprise, Information and Development.
In a letter dated July 20, the day that Digicel launched its cell phone service in the country, The PNG Radio-communications and Telecommunications Technical Authority (Pangtel) advised the telco that its interim spectrum license had been withdrawn and warned it to stop all operations. Pangtel director general Charles Punaha reportedly told Digicel that the move followed a ¡°directive¡± from Minister Arthur Somare. ¡°... we are legally obliged to implement the government policy and to carry out our statutory functions in a manner consistent with the ICT policy in accordance with Sectioin 36(2) and Section 35 (2) of the Telecommunication 1996 (Act) as amended,¡± Punaha said. Punaha revealed that the amended ICT policy stipulated that Telikom would be split into Network Company (NetCo) and Service Company (ServCo), and the spectrum license would only be issued to NetCo, which would be the owner and operator. He said that ¡°accordingly, the interim spectrum licences issued to Digicel and Green Communication are now inconsistent with the amended government policy and Pangtel will not grant any license contrary to the said policy¡±. Very clearly, the government wanted to keep its monopoly on the mobile phone business through the NetCo and ServCo, two new quasi-government businesses, despite the many pronouncements made in the past that it would open the telco industry to competition, whether from local operators or foreign-based companies. ¡°The actions of Pangtel (cancelling the licence) appear to be very politically motivated ....¡± Lynch told a media briefing last Wednesday. But as far as Digicel is concerned, ¡°it is business as usual for Digicel ...¡±, he said. Digicel¡¯s coming has been long-anticipated. This is because cell phone users in Papua New Guinea have seen Digicel as the ¡°knight in galloping mobile technology¡± that would save them from the insanity of services being provided by ¡°B¡± Mobile.
When the word-of-mouth buzz on Digicel launching came out on Friday, July 20, thousands of cell phone users carrying ¡°B¡± Mobile SIM cards queued up in front of the just-opened Digicel outlets in Port Moresby as well as those in Lae city in the northern coast of PNG to sign up. For the estimated 15,000 expatriate Filipinos, with about half of them in the national capital city of Port Moresby, the coming of Digicel was something to celebrate. At K1.66 (PHP24.40 or US$0.544) per minute call to the Philippines, Digicel¡¯s rate is 62.20% cheaper than what is normally being charged by Telikom, which is an outrageous K4.40 (PHP64.48 or US$1.43) per minute for direct dialing, and a little more for calls from ¡°B¡± Mobile. Digicel¡¯s text messaging, both locally and overseas, costs only 25 toea (PHP3.68 or US$0.082) per message, which is very much cheaper than the one charged by ¡°B¡± Mobile. Under the present overseas calling set up, countries of destinations are divided into two zones - Zone 1, which covers Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, US and selected destinations, is charged K1.48 (PHP21.76) during day calls and 99 toea (K14.55) for night calls. Zone 2 covers the rest of the world and is charged K1.66 for day and night calls.
Because of this rate scheme, the Filipinos are petitioning Digicel management to include the Philippines among the Zone 1 countries, explaining that there are about 15,000 cell-phone carrying Filipinos in Papua New Guinea, and that they make regular calls to the Philippines. They said that should the Philippines go with Zone 1 countries, Digicel could expect bigger call and text messaging volumes to the Philippines. At a cost ranging from K89 (PHP1,300) to K99 (K1,455), the subscription comes with a free handset, which could be Nokia 1100, Konka C625 and Kona C636, Bolo 68 and Motorola C113. In many Filipino gatherings last weekend, the major topic was the new mobile phone service. And almost all were saying they¡¯re just waiting for Digicel to stabilize and then they would thrash ¡°B¡± Mobile for good. You can¡¯t blame the Filipinos. Back in the Philippines, they are being pampered to high heavens by the three warring telcos - Smart (of Philippine Long Distance Co), Globe and Sun Cellular - all offering the cheapest cell phone call and texting services and free ring-tones. And for all this, their services are all rating high. And these three telcos are now into 3G, going 3.5G aside from the broadband services being offered at cheaper rates. So, the prospect of being able to get an efficient service from Digicel is enough for the Filipinos to finally abandon ship. This week, an open war between Digicel and ¡°B¡± Mobile broke out: With Telikom blocking all moves for it to interconnect with Digicel, the new telco retaliated with a whole page full-color ad in the local papers enticing ¡°B¡± Mobile users to swap their SIM cards with free Digicel SIM cards, plus a K20 load credit for free. (Obviously, Digicel has ignored Pangtel¡¯s cancellation of its license last Friday, maintaining that it has a valid permit.)
In short, Digicel is practically telling ¡°B¡± Mobile users: it¡¯s now time to junk ¡°B¡± Mobile¡¯s and move on. Faced with the prospect of being jettisoned by its current subscribers, Telikom has put up a brave front by telling the public that it will not drop out of the game. Earlier, Telikom managing director Peter Loko said, ¡°several thousand new customers are signing each month¡± and with this, the telco expects to hit the 200,000 mark by end of this month (July) and is processing more than one million cell phone calls every day¡±. This could not be true anymore. During the first four days of Digicel¡¯s operations, it already signed up over 20,000 customers, who are obviously dissatisfied former ¡°B¡± Mobile phone users and new ones, who earlier did not find ¡°B¡± Mobile worth bothering about. Truly, the days of delayed arrival of text messages, clogged up network, outrageous top-up rates and substandard service, are almost over. Welcome to PNG, Digicel! Meantime, foreign investors who are watching right now must be shaking their heads in great disbelief, disgust and amusement. Now, they want to believe that there¡¯s truth to the ¡°amended¡± saying that ¡°PNG is the land of the expected¡±.
ITU Forges Partnership with ICO Global Communications And Commonwealth Business Council Geneva, 20 June 2007 ¡ª ITU reached agreement today with ICO Global Communications and the Commonwealth Business Council to utilize satellite communications for improved global response in the face of natural disasters. Natural calamities have spread mayhem around the world, severely impacting the lives of people and the environment. The recent spate of tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides and forest fires have left behind a legacy of lost and broken lives, economic upheaval and sheer devastation, imposing long-lasting impediments to sustainable development and global efforts for poverty reduction. The poor, especially those living in remote and isolated areas, are the most vulnerable and disaster-prone. In 2006 alone, 21¡¯800 people succumbed to natural disasters, with 95 per cent of those killed residing in least developed countries. USD 65 billion of economic loss was recorded worldwide.
Satellite airtime for emergencies ICO Global Communications will provide airtime on their F2 satellite for disaster prevention and effective response in the aftermath of natural disasters through both voice communications and other telecommunication applications, including telemedicine. An hour¡¯s airtime will be provided every day for use through ITU to help countries maintain preparedness, provide early-warning information and elicit quick response. In the event of a disaster, this time will be adjusted according to demand to facilitate rescue and rehabilitation efforts. "The partnership that we have established with ICO Global Communications and the Commonwealth Business Council is an important milestone towards ITU¡¯s effort to save human life," said Dr Hamadoun Tour¨¦, Secretary-general of ITU. "Satellite communication provides a platform to deliver a wide range of services and applications even to remote areas. In the digital age, we are able to provide an ICT lifeline to disaster victims and humanitarian personnel entrusted with coordinating rescue and relief operations, especially when terrestrial communications infrastructure is disrupted, overloaded or destroyed." While ITU will manage and coordinate emergency telecommunications, the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) will provide content and manage the entrepreneurial skill development programme.
"ICO strongly supports the goals of ITU and CBC, and we are pleased to be able to contribute ICO¡¯s satellite services to these efforts," added J. Timothy Bryan, CEO of ICO, a next-generation satellite operator. "ICO¡¯s development and global implementation of S-band technology will serve our interests well as we continue to work with key suppliers to create advanced user terminals to access F2 for humanitarian and emergency uses." Dr Mohan Kaul, Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council, said, "CBC is pleased to work with ITU and ICO to contribute towards development and disaster preparedness. What is required for the future is increased economic empowerment of wider segments of society, to lift people out of poverty and give them new opportunity. This can be achieved by bringing technology and innovation to the service of many." Dr Kaul added, "We need to pursue the ¡®democratization of knowledge¡¯ by making technology more widely and freely accessible. By means of tele-education and entrepreneurial development programmes, CBC will equip and prepare global citizens for economic empowerment and disaster management."
Information technology company Microsoft will give technical assistance to enhance access to online research for scientists, policymakers and librarians in the developing world.This was announced at a meeting in Washington last week (10 July).Representatives from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Environmental Programme, and leading science and technology publishers, together with representatives from Cornell and Yale Universities met to officially extend their free access to peer-reviewed journals for many developing world scientists to 2015, in line with the UN's Millennium Development Goals.The United Nations' Technology Officer, Randy Ramusack, said the technical assistance will give policymakers and librarians from the developing world faster access to peer-reviewed science journals from three portals.
The portals a-- HINARI (Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative), AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) and OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment) a-- provide access to journals focusing on health, agriculture and the environment to more than 100 of the world's poorest countries. "We consider this as [a] donation to a society that needs it most and as the initiative's only technology partner, Microsoft is providing a new system for access and authentication, enabling secure and effective use of the programs in developing countries," said Ramusack. Microsoft will provide new software called the Intelligent Application Gateway 2007 that will meet increased demand for access to heavily trafficked portals and perform at the standards of today's most heavily trafficked websites, said Ramusack. The system will also enhance security through authentication of users when they log on. Professor Otieno Malo, the chairman of the Kenya National Academy of Sciences, said this will improve research capacity for institutions and researchers.
"[The new system] will greatly enhance scientific research collaborations between the developing and developed world scientists through research works and even put us in touch with relevant institutions and researchers once we get their works online," he told SciDev.Net. "HINARI-AGORA-OARE removes many of the barriers that we in the developing world have been facing in accessing published literature," said Mohamed Jalloh, consultant urologist at the H?pital G¨¦n¨¦ral de Grand Yoff in Dakar, Senegal. "These programs have the great potential to improve health, education training and research in remote areas all around the world," he said. "They have drastically improved the way we work at the hospital."
Since the year 2000, the University of Iowa has been trying to bring the benefits of the Internet to parts of the world where access is minimal and/or expensive. The university's WiderNet Project manages the eGranary Digital Library, which places Web resources on a server on university campuses in developing countries that have little or no Internet connectivity. Based at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, the eGranary Digital Library manually updates its library at least twice each year on campus intranets in Africa, India, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan and Haiti. The eGranary grew out of the experience of Cliff Missen, a Fulbright scholar in Nigeria, who in 1999 witnessed how difficult it was for librarians to get good, fresh information into a patron's hands. Missen, who now serves as co-director of WiderNet, started taking compact discs with information to the Nigerian university where he was teaching. That led to the concept of the eGranary.
People in developing countries "don't have to wait for the Web," Missen told USINFO. "Seven out of eight people in the world don't have access to the Internet, and the few people in the developing world who do, spend an extraordinary amount of money to do so. With the eGranary they can have access overnight to 10 million documents without having to have any bandwidth." Yet the eGranary does more than provide instant access to books, journals and other documents; it offers "true information literacy," Missen said. "It really does change the way people think about having access to information." WiderNet also provides coaching and training at partner institutions in Africa and manages donations of equipment and software for those institutions. Over the past five years, it has trained 3,600 people in the use of the eGranary.
THE NEED FOR INFORMATION Some people in the developing world have a very basic Internet connection that allows them to check e-mail and the like, but as soon as they share that connection with more than a few people the response time gets very, very slow, Missen said. "You certainly can't do things like download software, watch videos and listen to music. Those kinds of documents are too large for a tiny connection." The eGranary, on the other hand, is very fast. Users can download a book "in a blink." Missen said, adding, "They can open a 200 megabyte video file in five seconds. ... Librarians are finding they can add a wireless mast [or access point] to this outfit, and now they've got a free wireless public library. You don't have to worry about who's logging in because there's no Internet cost." Access to eGranary for a single user costs $750, while a server capable of meeting the needs of thousands costs $2,800. Annual updates cost an additional $200, but Missen said many librarians are finding that the information provided has a long enough shelf life that annual updates are not essential.
"INTERNET IN A BOX" The eGranary Digital Library is often called "The Internet in a Box" because it offers offline approximately 10 million educational resources from more than 1,000 Web sites, including OpenCourseWare from course offerings by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Project Gutenberg's complete collection of classic literature and the entire Wikipedia Web site. The eGranary's interfaces are streamlined for easy navigation and offer a comprehensive search engine. All materials - including 40,000 books in their entirety and 150 to 200 full text journals with their archives - are included with the author or publisher's permission. Many would be prohibitively expensive for a library in the developing world to own. The eGranary's 750 gigabytes of storage space hold the largest collection of informational materials available on a server that can be accessed without an Internet connection.
Under the leadership of MIT, the open courseware movement now offers anyone in the world free and open access to the educational materials from all 1,800 MIT courses and a growing number from other universities. These materials include course syllabi, reading lists, PowerPoint presentations, problem sets and solutions, lecture notes, exams and, in some cases, videotaped lectures. (See related article.) Founded in 1971, Project Gutenberg provides free downloads of 2 million books a month to people in more than 100 countries to spur literacy. For the most part, books available are those whose copyright in the United States has expired. More information on the eGranary Digital Library is available on a University of Iowa Web site. Additional information about the Fulbright program is available on the State Department Web site. (USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov) (by Effrey Thomas)
The roll-out of Telecom Namibia's SWITCH service enters another phase today with the scheduled launch of post-paid services for its code division multiple access (CDMA) mobile subscribers. The post-paid services will hit the market under two separate calling plans for the business (switchbiz) and individual (switchself) market segments. "After the successful launch of pre-paid SWITCH services in many parts of the country, we are now planning to launch post-paid services for our mobile SWITCH subscribers," explains Amanda Hauuanga, General Manager for Marketing and Sales at Telecom Namibia. "We have a good chunk of business already from pre-paid subscribers, but we also want to exploit the potential in the yet-untouched post-paid segment. With the launch of post-paid services, we are confident that our subscriber base will increase significantly," said Hauuanga.
Telecom Namibia customers will now be able to subscribe to the post-paid services and benefit from the savings available from a total package. Some of the benefits include uncapped post-paid plans, closed user group (CUG) facilities, great handset offers and a dependable network service. The call plans also offer free minutes and free SMSs which are applicable to calls within the Telecom Namibia network, providing real ongoing value. All call plans have been designed to keep the usage patterns of customers; these include switchself 1, 2, 3, and 4 for individuals. For Corporates and the SME segment, they would find the switchbiz10, switchbiz50, switchbiz100 and switchbiz200 extremely appealing. Hauuanga said she was pleased to be offering a complete telecommunications package to both business and residential customers based on the new post-paid SWITCH services.
"The addition of post-paid to our SWITCH product range will enable us to provide a total solution for our customers, while extending our business into a dynamic and expanding market segment. "Our new SWITCH service recognizes the relevance of mobile telephony as an adjunct and alternative for fixed line telephones in some market segments. "Our focus will be on providing outstanding value through competitive rates and flexible plans, with a comprehensive range of the latest mobile handsets. As with our home phone and Internet services, we will be offering some of the most competitive mobile phone plans and bundled savings available," said Hauuanga. "As a leading telecommunications service provider, Telecom Namibia remains committed to giving customers value for money. We look forward to continuing and strengthening our relationship with customers by providing quality fixed and mobile services," she added. "We have very aggressive goals to meet the ever-increasing demand for mobile voice and data services, as we grow our existing pre-paid customer base and introduce new and innovative value-added services in an environment of fixed-mobile convergence," Hauuanga concluded.
The health sector is set to get a technology boost with analysts predicting a EUR260 million cash injection from the Government. According to iReach analysts, the Government could spend up to EUR260 million in technology within the health sector in 2007, about 2 percent of the overall budget assigned for health this year. This compares to less than 1 percent for countries such as Germany, France and the UK. "If we compare this to our European counterparts it may initially seem insignificant. The UK will invest EUR2.64 billion this year on health IT, while Germany and France will invest EUR1.6 billion and EUR1.3 billion each. This is less than 1 percent of their overall health budgets," iReach analyst Neil Brennan said in a statement. "What these figures fail to show is the amount that these countries invest per capita on health IT. And it is here where Ireland compares very favourably."
While Ireland may be spending less in monetary terms, per capita figures give a much truer picture. About EUR62 per person is spent on health IT in Ireland, compared to EUR43 per capita in UK, EUR19 per person in Germany and EUR21 in France. In fact, Ireland was eclipsed only by Sweden, which spends EUR68 per person, and even outstrips the US, which invests EUR60 per person. However, this does not mean that the Irish system is the most efficient -- as anyone who has spent hours waiting in A&E could probably tell. "While Irish spend per capita is quite high, the organisational efficiencies, fully integrated patient management systems, are still in their infancy in terms of more advanced European models such as the Swedes. What is needed are integrated patient management systems that link all elements of a system, be they clinical and nonclinical (admin, HR, financial) together," said Brennan. (by Ciara O'Brien)
Mental health treatment based on the use of internet chat after in-patient care produced positive results in a controlled trial conducted by researchers at Heildelberg University. They conclude that modern communication technologies offer novel opportunities for the provision of stepped care for patients with mental disorders. The study, published in the July issue of the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics investigated the effectiveness of group therapy delivered through an internet chat following inpatient treatment. The main goal of the program was to reduce the risk of losing the therapeutic benefits achieved during the preceding inpatient treatment. 114 patients participated in one of two parallel groups of 8-10 patients that met with a group therapist in an internet chat room. The groups met weekly for 12-15 weeks for 90 minutes. Controls were 114 patients who did not participate in the chat groups and were matched by application of propensity score methods.
The main criterion was derived from comprehensive assessments of changes in health status comprising the psychological and physical condition of the patients. Assessments were conducted at admission, discharge and 12 months after discharge. 12 months after discharge, chat participants showed a substantially lower risk (24.7%) for negative outcome than controls (38.5%). The researchers, add: ¡°Furthermore, the low dropout rate and the high session attendance supported the expectation that this novel offer met patients' needs, and thus, opens a new avenue for the optimisation of care for patients with mental disorders.¡±
On June 27, 2007, the Minister for Information Technologies and Communications of the Russian Federation L.D. Reiman signed Order No. 71 "On Assignment of Codes for Choosing a Communications Operator and the Value of the Communications Network End Cap Category to Arrange Access for Subscribers (Users) to the Services of Intercity and International Telephone Communications Provided by ZAO Kompaniya TransTeleKom. The Order is expected to be shortly registered with Russia's Justice Ministry, and the public in this country will be in a position to make telephone calls using the access codes 57 for international calls, and 52 for intercity calls. It will be recalled that in the Russian Federation the services of intercity and international communications are currently provided by three operators: OAO Rostelekom, OAO MTT, and OAO STsS Sovintel. There have been more than 30 licences issued for the provision of services of intercity and international telephone communications.
With a new regulatory framework put in place for the sector on January 01, 2006, the Russian telecommunications market has entered the phase of practical implementation of the demonopolization strategy for the long-distance communications services market. This enables the users to exercise their right to select an operator for intercity and international communications, as provided for by the legislation. With new operators entering the market for long-distance communications services, competition is being stepped up, which provides incentives for communications operators to improve the quality of communications services and reduce the rates for their services, and this, given the expanse of this country, is of vital importance.
The UK's digital divide is deepening, with those who are socially excluded most at risk of digital exclusion. A new study from research firm FreshMinds and the UK online centres -- an organisation that works to provide ICT access to all members of society -- found that 75 percent of people it counts as socially excluded are also on the wrong side of the digital divide. Helen Milner, managing director of UK online centres, said the term 'digital divide' is one that "we've been bandying about for a while, but it's more relevant and more urgent today than at any time in the last 10 years." She added that "technology is opening new doors and new worlds for 61 percent of the population, connecting them to better paid jobs, instant information, new forms of communication and social interaction, community infrastructures, government services, consumer power and convenience. But for a stable 39 percent, those benefits remain firmly out of reach." Milner appealed to MPs and policy-makers to "take ownership of digital inclusion".
Health & Social Services Department in Guernsey has awarded a ten year contract to TrakHealth for the supply of an integrated Health and Social Services electronic record in support of comprehensive health and social care services to Guernsey and Alderney. The Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British crown dependency in the English Channel; together with the Bailiwick of Jersey, it is included in the collective grouping known as the Channel Islands. This contract is an integral part of a major project designed to improve the way care is delivered whilst also yielding much improved health and social care information to support operational management, the quality of clinical services and the strategic planning of future health and social care delivery. Central to the solution is a web-based healthcare information system that delivers a fast track to electronic patient records. A rapid integration platform incorporated enables its modules to easily and seamlessly connect to Guernsey's existing specialist systems including TechniData Laboratory, HSS Radiology, and GE PACs as well as new systems from JAC, CSE Servelec, and CliniSys. The introduction of an electronic health and social care record represents a major programme of business change and IT modernisation. It will potentially impact nearly every facet of health and social care delivery, whether provided by Health and Social Services Department staff, by clinicians working with the department, or in the private sector. With 62,000 people in the population, the scope of the project is comprehensive as it delivers a joined-up island-wide community health and social care service.
The University of Leeds has selected the Blackboard Learning System, the Blackboard Community System and the Blackboard Content System. The university opted for a comprehensive e-Learning platform featuring three integrated products, that provide anytime/anywhere access for the university's 33,000 students and 7300 staff. Professor Vivien Jones, pro-vice-chancellor for Learning and Teaching and member of the VLE Steering Group, said: "We needed a system that both satisfied our ever-increasing student and faculty demands and was highly scalable. We are very pleased that we invested time in carrying out such a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of our options, and we are confident that the platform will give staff the leading-edge tools needed to realise our vision for developing a high-quality blended learning experience for all our students." Leeds VLE Steering Group thoroughly evaluated Blackboard¡¯s products for a year on pedagogic, technical, commercial, legal and financial aspects. The university selected these Blackboard Academic Suite products following detailed feedback from staff and students. To ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the programme, the University of Leeds has signed a multi-year contract.
Worries about credit card fraud remain a significant factor behind poor uptake of e-commerce by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Following this month¡¯s report on e-crime by the House of Lords Science & Technology Committee, the FSB said only 18% of UK SMEs were trading online in 2005, while less than 1% were generating all their sales through the web. Although only 6% of small firms had experienced online credit card fraud, its threat was a significant concern to 19% of businesses, the FSB added. It backed recommendations in the committee¡¯s report, including increased research into e-crime, as well as allowing victims to report incidents to the police and receive a crime number in return. It also said banks should take more responsibility for losses sustained through electronic fraud. David Croucher-Jones, FSB home affairs chairman, said: ¡°E-crime needs to be given the same status as crime that is committed against a bricks and mortar business. Only when this is accomplished, by implementing the Lords recommendations, can more small businesses benefit from having a stronger online presence."
SHOPPERS are spending record amounts online, with sales breaking the ¡ê4bn a month barrier for the first time, according to a report. Wet weather was one factor behind last month¡¯s internet spending boom, said the report, by the Interactive Media in Retail Group, the industry body which represents e-retailers. Online spending hit ¡ê4.2bn during July ¨C up 80% year-on- year. The wet weather prompted many people to stay at home and surf the net instead of hitting the high street, said IMRG. Electrical goods such as digital cameras, MP3 players and laptops were among the most popular products bought over the internet ¨C up 102% on July 2006.
The city of Tallahassee recently received notice of national recognition from the Public Technology Institute (PTI) as an "Innovation Lab." The City achieved the prestigious recognition for its "Public Safety Systems Integration Project," a substantial upgrade of technology systems used by the Tallahassee Police Department and Tallahassee Fire Department, which enhances public safety as police officers and firefighters can respond faster and have more data at their disposal. The project was coordinated by the City's Information Systems Services Division. PTI's Innovation Lab program recognizes local government jurisdictions for the proven, successful deployment of a technology solution or practice. PTI is a national non-profit technology research and development organization based in Washington, DC, representing local governments.
The project involved replacing police and fire computer aided dispatch (CAD) and records management systems, and integrating both new applications with enhanced 9-1-1, automatic vehicle location technologies (AVL), advanced technical mapping, querying tools, imaging technologies, electronic field reporting, crime and fire analysis tools, and the City's 800 MHz data system. Additional phases have been included since the project's inception in 2001 to keep current with technology trends, such as wireless data transmission via cellular technologies. For citizens, the technological advances mean faster response times for police and fire units, along with critical data available in real time to first responders.
"I'm proud of the City's achievement in the area of technology enhancement, particularly given our emphasis on improving the delivery of public safety services to our citizens," said City Manager Anita Favors Thompson. "I'm especially proud of the collaborative efforts of our Information Systems Services staff working with the Police and Fire Departments to upgrade the technology in these critically important systems. One of our organizational goals is to provide higher levels of service to citizens through the use of technology." "Secure communications and data-sharing among government officials are vital weapons in the public safety arsenal," commented Alan Shark, Executive Director of PTI when naming Tallahassee an Innovation Lab. "I applaud Mayor John Marks and members of the City Commission, City Manager Anita Favors Thompson, Chief Information Officer Don DeLoach, Police Chief Dennis Jones, and Fire Chief Cindy Dick for having the foresight to bring these different technology components together to better serve the citizens of Tallahassee."
The Chinese government is calling for more schools and community centers to provide free Internet services for young people. Zhang Xiaoliang, chief of the Communist Youth League Central Committee's rights protection division, told China Daily yesterday: "A healthy environment and healthy online content should be offered to all kids, and we hope these 'green net bars' will help to do that." Zhang said that while there had been considerable efforts made to crack down on illegal Internet cafes, doing so was not necessarily the best way to protect youngsters from inappropriate content. Being online is a way of life for today's young people, Zhang said, so it is virtually impossible to force them to stay away from Internet cafes. "You can't stop kids using Internet cafes just because they are poorly managed," he said. From Friday, the revised Law on the Protection of Minors prescribes that, "Nonprofit Internet service infrastructures within communities shall be free or offered at a discounted price, as well as provide a safe and healthy online service for minors."
Youth and children's centers in the Wuhan, Jiaozuo and Tatang neighborhoods of Guangzhou, to name but a few, were the pioneers in providing this kind of nonprofit Internet cafes for minors, Zhang said. When asked about the existence of such places in the nation's capital, however, he said: "So far, there are none." The call for more "green net bars" follows a government notice in March, which banned the opening of any new Internet cafes for one year. Fu Yanmei, an assistant inspector with the Ministry of Culture said that during a national inspection of Net cafes, which runs from next month until September, county officials will be required to inspect their Internet cafes at least once a week, city officials at least once a month, and provincial officials every two weeks. It is hoped the inspections will help reduce the number of youngsters who are currently addicted to online gaming, of which there are currently some two million, authorities have said. There are 120,000 registered Internet cafes and countless unlicensed ones in China.
A website providing knowledge and online consultation about sex and procreation was opened recently in east China's Nanjing city. The website is aimed at young people, especially teenagers who, according to the local government, may get involved in premarital sex, even illegitimate pregnancy. Relevant knowledge is necessary to help them avoid getting hurt and to keep sexually healthy. Columns on the website include "teenage blogs", "measures for contraception" and "health self-check-up". Experts on sex, meanwhile, will offer an online consulting service.
Wang Guoqing, the son of a farming family from Huangshi village, north China's Hebei Province, is preparing to leave for Shanghai. The 20-year-old has been hired as a security guard there after learning of the company's job advertisement through the central government-funded on-line job information system. After a one-year probation, Wang will be paid 2,000 yuan a month, almost a fifth of his family's entire annual net income. He is one of the many unemployed rural laborers to find a job since the expansion of the government-supported on-line job information system to the countryside. A program called "fully employed community", previously conducted in urban areas, has been introduced in the rural areas of north China's Hebei Province and reaches town-level administrations. "I'm glad I can help my father support the family. I could not have found such a good job so quickly without the help of our job official," Wang says. He is speaking of Liu Sanbei, Party head of Huangshi Village, who has become busier since he was appointed job official this year.
Liu conveys information from monthly briefings held at the employment service center at Beiwangli Town, which has helped more than 400 villagers to find jobs in Shanghai, Guangdong and Baoding. "It's hard for our farmers to get jobs without help from the right places," said Liu. "Some of our villagers go to the cities, wander the streets and come back unemployed, and others turn to job agencies, which often exaggerate pay or conceal harsh working conditions." Huangshi has another 200 farmers struggling to find jobs because they are either poorly educated or lack vocational training, said Liu. The expansion of the system, part of Hebei's rural poverty alleviation program, is expected to help more farmers, who usually have been poorly informed, to find jobs -- at no charge. In the midst of unprecedented urbanization, falling earnings have driven evermore farmers to find new lives in the cities. Ministry of Labor and Social Security figures show China has about 200 million migrant workers, with more than 120 million in cities and the rest in smaller towns, but another 100 million unemployed farmers stay at home. In Hebei alone, around 1.2 million farmers are seeking jobs -- most come from families with financial difficulties, said Tian Fen, deputy director of the provincial labor and social security department.
The farmers usually have to pay 200 to 300 yuan, almost half of their family's monthly net income, to job agencies, and then they are frequently cheated with false fake job information, said Tian. However, the info-system, linked with the networks operated by the labor departments in provincial administrations, collects job information across the country and provide it to jobseekers for free, said Tian. To ensure the farmers get the information, the departments appoint job officials in villages without access to the system, and they are responsible for its distribution and for villagers' responses. "Our target is to help at least 90 percent of unemployed farmers find jobs," said Tian. So far, more than 2,000 towns in Hebei are included in the info-system and more than 10,000 villages, or 18 percent of the province's total, have a job official, according to Tian. "Actually, vocational training has lagged behind market demand," said Tian, adding Hebei planned to provide free professional training for 800,000 farmers this year, almost twice as many as last year. The training information will also be published through the info-system, said the official.
The research firm Pew Internet has released a new study (PDF) that looks at the growth in the number of Internet users in China, and what it might mean for the future of the 'Net. There are now an estimated 137 million Internet users in China, and that number has been growing by 18 percent since 2004 until it picked up even more steam in 2006, going up to 23 percent. The United States has 165 million Internet users, according to Pew, with 25 million of those users being aged 12-17. At the current rate of growth in China, the number of Chinese web surfers will surpass the number of American users some time in 2009, and it will continue to rise sharply afterward. With more than half of Americans already online, China's growth over the next 10 years will easily dwarf that of the United States. While Pew can only estimate the number of Internet users in China, the figure's size isn't difficult to accept. China's overall population of 1.32 billion indicates that roughly 10 percent of the population is online now.
According to Pew, most Internet users in China are young, male, and live in major urban centers: only 17 percent of Chinese web users are from rural areas, and a staggeringly small 0.4 percent are peasants and farmers. One farmer summed up the situation vividly: "To us farmers, a computer is no different from an aircraft carrier, because neither has a bearing on our life." Still, interest in getting online remains high even in rural areas: only 8 percent of rural Chinese say they have "no need" of getting online, and 7 percent of the same group claim "no interest": these numbers are comparable to those of urban populations at 9 and 10 percent, respectively. The challenges for many Chinese people in getting online are lack of access and lack of funds. Many rural Chinese (41 percent) also cite their lack of computer skills, but this is one statistic that is lessening over time. The Chinese Ministry of Education is establishing guidelines for 2007 to improve computer skills among children. So what affect will the surging population of Chinese web surfers have on the Internet as a whole? China remains divided from the rest of the 'Net by the content filtering firewall that the government maintains to suppress information and discussion of topics the government deems unworthy.
In addition, the government is actively engaged in hunting down people who post negative opinions about the government on blogs, something that US companies such as Yahoo and Google have publicly condemned yet privately supported. These tensions will increase as China's 'Net presence continues to grow, but one wonders if the Great Firewall of China can keep up. Can the Chinese government really keep tabs on all of these users? 137+ million users (and growing) can't be easily monitored no matter how you slice it, and government attempts at controlling what people say online have been met with a number of high-profile controversies over free speech which have been embarrassing for China, at lest in the western world. Of course, China isn't too worried about what the western world thinks, especially when the kinds of growth we're seeing there gives rise to visions of dancing dollar signs and euros in the eyes of many a businessman. Whether increased online activity in China will lead to more democracy there is anyone's guess, but the growth rate is likely to only exacerbate the kinds of conflicts we now see between bloggers, corporations, the Chinese government. The US government could also take an interest in the matter, especially since so many US corporations are involved. For now, the real focus from the US side has unsurprisingly been on piracy.
China's Internet watchdogs have said they are still considering penalties for on-line games companies that failed to install anti-addiction systems by the deadline on Monday. Eight government departments jointly announced on April 9 that all online game companies must install the anti-addiction system and formally operate the system by July 16. Meanwhile, on-line gamers are required to register with their real names and identity card numbers to show if they are under or over the age of 18, according to the circular. By July 15, games like ZT games and World of Warcraft (WoW) had installed their anti-addiction and real-name systems. Zhao Yurun, public relations director of the The9, which runs WoW in China, said, "We have installed the anti-addiction system on all games, including WoW, the Soul Ultimate Nation and the Fantastic Melody Online." An official with General Administration of Press and Publications said officials were still discussing penalties for firms that had failed to install the anti-addiction system, a GAPP official said. The anti-addiction system restricts a minor's playing time by canceling half their earned credits if they remain on-line for more than three hours a day. If the child plays for more than five hours a day, all their gaming credits will be lost. Statistics show China has 31.23 million on-line games players, of whom about 10 percent are minors and 65.3 percent play for less than three hours a day.
The number of Internet users in China hit 162 million at the end of June, a state information centre said, with growth in the first six months of this year nearly matching that for the whole of 2006. The world's second-largest online population grew by 25 million from January to the end of June, according to a report by the China Internet Network Information Center, as the country closes the gap with the United States' 211 million Internet users. In China -- which is close to rolling out third-generation wireless standards -- 44.3 million people use cellphones to go online, the report said, adding that the number of broadband users had reached 122 million. CNNIC takes orders from China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII), the centre says on its Web site, www.cnnic.net.cn. In January, CNNIC said China's Web population had reached 137 million by the end of 2006, up 26 million from a year earlier.
China's online travel services are taking off, with even greater growth forecast for the next few years. Last year, at least 2.75 million Chinese booked hotel rooms, air tickets and other travel services on the Internet, up 72 percent from the previous year, according to a report recently released by Shanghai-based in Research Consulting Group. China's online travel market was worth some 1.54 billion yuan (204 million U.S. dollars) last year, a growth of 82 percent from 2005, the report said. The findings are based on a month-long survey in November with responses from 60,000 Internet users across China. Analysts with the consulting company are optimistic about China's online travel market, saying the number of users would more than double to 5.7 million in 2008, and hit 9 million by 2010. The online sector is expected to be worth 6.5 billion yuan by 2010, analysts said. Their optimism is based on three factors - the overall bloom of tourism and the soaring amount of money netizens spend on tourism, and improved online marketing systems. Compared with the U.S. online travel market, with revenues of 83 billion dollars in 2006, China's market is still small. In the US, online sales of travel services accounted for 30 percent of total tourism industry revenue in 2005 according to Merrill Lynch & Co.
The percentage in China is less than 1 percent, Dai Bin, professor at Beijing International Studies University, told China Daily. "Looking at it from the good side, this means there is still huge potential for developing this market," he said. But he warned that the current boom is mostly due to a few companies. The biggest success so far in China's online travel market is the NASDAQ-listed Ctrip.com, accounting for 54.2 percent of the market last year. In second place was another listed company, eLong.com, with 17.8 percent of the market. The rest of China's travel websites, mostly for traditional travel agencies, work as "a platform to release information, a substitute for traditional marketing and communication", Dai said. Actual payment is completed offline in traditional ways. Explaining why travel agencies prefer traditional means of payment, Hu Guodong, manager of the Internet department of Beijing UTS International Travel Service Co Ltd, said: "If a customer uses an online payment service, our agency has to hand 1 percent of our revenue to the bank, which is too much to bear for travel agencies with a thin profit margin." In contrast, if the customer pays by swiping a credit card, the agency only pays a 0.1 percent fee to the bank, he said. "We need the banks to give us better conditions to make online payment more feasible," he said.
The once-lucrative business of Internet cafes in China is now at cross-road, though it boasts the largest size in the world, with a total of 120,000 outlets and more than 1 million employees, according to business sources. A total of 6 million computers are installed in the country's netbars, accounting for 90 percent of the total number of computers in internet cafes throughout the world. Currently, the whole industry's annual sale stands at 100 billion yuan, but the majority of local netbar owners complain they are losing money, due to excessive expansion and competition in the sector. Nowadays, the averaged service charge of netbars in China has plunged to the current 1.5 yuan per hour, compared with two yuan in the past. Generally, 1.5 yuan is nothing but the average per-hour cost for the business, according to Li Hongli, president of the Star Netbar Chain, the largest in Hubei Province. Li, whose franchise network owns over 160 Internet parlors across the central China province, is quite annoyed with the increasingly fierce competition in the business. Netbars have to run at loss if they strictly abide by law and they hardly cover the cost even if they operate with some irregularities, he says. Li claimed that Netbar owners are trying to survive by purchasing computers of latest types and luxury equipment like elevators, and employing as many attendants as possible. Thus, the per-computer investment has increased to 12,000 yuan, doubling the previous 6,000 yuan.
According to Li, merely 20 percent of netbars are making profits, 40 percent manage to run at par, and the rest 40 percent are losing money. In 1997, game parlors appeared in cities to provide surfers, mostly young game players, with dial-up services, and thus, netbars are widely regarded as a recreational business among Chinese. Between 1999-2002, Internet cafes mushroomed in the country and lured large flocks of young people, thanks to a government crack-down on illegal electronic game business as well as the emerging of broad-band service and the reduction in connection cost of the Internet services. Now, the netbar business has met its Waterloo, due to the sharp increase of home-use computers and the rapid expansion of broad-band networks, according to some local analyzer. The 19th national survey on the development of Internet business in China, which was published early this year shows that 76 percent of Chinese now surf the Internet at home, comparing to 70.5 percent in 2005. Because youngsters from families with computer are no longer visiting netbars, Internet cafes have to attract clients from low-income families.
Meanwhile, the declining of netbar business is also attributed to the revival of electronic game rooms and the fast development of home-use game machines and new-generation handle game players like mp4 and cellphones armed with sophisticated game software. The president of the Star Netbar Chain complains that generally, a period of 10 years is well enough for any industry to become mature, but China's netbar business is still at its initial stage. Li urged the government to shut down unlicensed operators and prohibit Internet cafes from accepting underaged customers and operating overtime. At the end of 2006, China had 137 million Internet users, accounting for over 10 percent of the country's total population.
A Japanese politician has opened a cyber office on the internet-based virtual world Second Life. Kan Suzuki is the first of the Japan's political elite to appear on the site, giving him access to seven million users. Already some big Japanese firms, like Toyota and Honda, have established a presence in Second LifeSecond Life users create virtual versions of themselves, who then inhabit the three dimensional virtual world; shopping, playing games, making money and even listening to politicians. Mr Suzuki says he wants to deliver lectures and discuss policies with his net constituents. But Mr Suzuki, who is seeking a re-election in the upper house in July, could be breaking the electoral law. Under a Japanese law, distribution of text and images for use in election campaigns to is prohibited. It is not yet clear how it will affect Mr Suzuki's plans to use his virtual office to help him win re-election. But, it has led some to dismiss his move as a gimmick.
Normally used for security purposes, face and image recognition technologies are making their way into other, more entertaining, fields. One service, kaocheki, lets people send a digital photo of them via cell phone to find out which celebrity they most resemble. Takuya Miyata, founder and chief executive officer of J-Magic Inc., displays his firm's kaocheki site on his cell phone at his company in Minato Ward, Tokyo. The service's analysis says Miyata looks like popular comedian Junji Takada. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO using a face recognition engine developed by Oki Electric Industry Co., kaocheki is free of charge and simple to use. Within a few seconds, a photo sent to email@example.com (for men) or firstname.lastname@example.org (for women) will result in a list of your top three celebrity matches - complete with percentage. Taking full advantage of the high-resolution camera phones that are everywhere in Japan, two-year-old mobile content provider J-Magic Inc. launched the service on a trial basis in late April. By early June, more than 22 million users had tried the service. "I didn't expect it to become such a big hit," said Takuya Miyata, the 34-year-old founder and chief executive officer of J-Magic. "The popularity has spread through mixi (Japan's top social networking site) and blogs. I didn't do much promotion." The Tokyo-based company is the first in Japan to apply face recognition technology in this way. Following the lead of Google, Yahoo and other search engine operators that have dominated text-based searches, Miyata and advertisers are hoping to seize the potential of the visual recognition technology.
Although Google bought California-based photo recognition firm Neven Vision Inc. last year, it has yet to offer image recognition search services, although development is under way. Yahoo does not offer the services either, but says it is looking at a number of ways to improve its search functions .Rather than text-based search engines, image and moving picture search engines will be the key to the Internet search industry in the near future, analysts say. Some companies believe the kaocheki site has strong media potential, noting it has attracted not only tech-savvy teens and people in their early 20s, but also older people who don't usually take full advantage of cell phone functions. "We aim to offer content that people enjoy and spend cash on, so that the content market will expand," said Miyata, who once worked as an engineer developing cell phone cameras. "People (regardless of age or sex) are naturally interested in their face." He pointed out the technology may be applied to such businesses as dating services to help customers find their future partners via cell phones. In addition to the kaocheki service, the company launched in April its eyenowa search engine using image analysis technology developed by Olympus Corp. Instead of a text-based search engine, the service provides information on a product based on a picture sent to email@example.com.
For example, suppose you leaf through a magazine and find a recommended book or CD in the magazine. Take a picture of it with your cell phone and send it to the site. You will receive a message that gives you links to sites that have more information about the product or where to order it, such as through Amazon. J-Magic said about 45,000 products ranging from CDs and books to DVDs can be searched, and it plans to expand the product lineup by adding such items as clothing and jewelry." There is a lot of potential" in cell phone marketing, Miyata said. "I want to make the next evolution of search engines based on image, voice and others. "For one, Miyata said his company's services can be a useful sales tool in the near future for marketers to sell their goods to targeted audiences. "By sending a photo of your face to a certain site, you may be classified as a certain celebrity type and receive a message saying 'you resemble (famous model) Yuri Ebihara,' so we recommend you choose this type of jewelry and clothing,' and lead you to a certain shopping site," he said. Miyata declined to reveal the company's financial figures, but he said kaocheki's popularity helped boost its earnings, which are growing faster than expected thanks to an increasing number of business tieups for kaocheki services.
He also hopes to list the company within several years on the market for startups. The company mainly earns revenue from regular banner and affiliate advertisements, as well as tieups with other companies linked to the kaocheki site. Compared with the U.S., Japan is generally considered quite advanced in mobile phone usage, with legions of people taking snaps with their high-resolution camera phones and enjoying rich mobile phone content. But Miyata said the U.S. is catching up as many of the brightest engineers are going into the mobile phone business." What I'm worried about in Japan is that Japanese firms tend to focus only on Japanese customers when developing high-technology products, and as a result, it may take a lot of time to market them in other countries," he said. American high-tech firms are already offering services targeting various ethnicities in the U.S., including Brazilians and Chinese, which makes it easier for those services to spread to other countries, he said. "Such fast-growing mobile business development is gaining momentum in the U.S. It's a threat." The key is branching out overseas, and Miyata is already getting feelers. Though he declined comment on specifics, he said mobile business firms in Italy, the U.S. and other parts of Asia have already shown interest in possible kaocheki-related business tie-ups. "It will be another unexpected surprise," he said.
"Sadly, Japan was unable to lead the information technology industry," said Idei, who retired earlier this month from the post of chief corporate adviser at the consumer electronics giant."At present, there is no world-class brand from Japan that does Net business," he said in an interview Monday. "There is no new Sony on the Net."Japan has equipped itself with a sufficient IT infrastructure, but companies are not yet making best use of the environment to come up with attractive products and services that can go beyond national boundaries, he said.For instance, he said, it is hard to find the Japanese equivalents of major online search engines such as Google and Yahoo."By using IT more and more, I hope one day there will be a new world-class company from Japan," said Idei, 69, who set up the consultancy Quantum Leaps Corp. in 2006 to foster that dream by providing a new "value creation catalyst" for the younger generation.Compared with Japan, Idei said he had found that there were many creative Net ventures in China and other parts of Asia.One of the reasons Japanese Internet companies are not innovative enough and remain "localized" is that they rely too much on U.S. business models, he said.Both politically and economically, it is about time for Japan to become more independent of U.S. standards and learn from other countries to increase the country's potential and sharpen its global competitive edge, he said.
On the future of Sony, Idei said he is optimistic, but there is no time for complacency."Over the next three years, Sony will have the wind at its back" as demand for high-priced consumer products such as flat-panel TVs will likely remain robust on the back of the buoyant global economy, said Idei, who was in the top position until 2005.He said some of the high-value added products that Sony is currently selling could be manufactured in emerging economies, including China and India."Now is the time (for Sony) to seriously consider the next strategy," he said, noting the current management team, led by Howard Stringer, should not be preoccupied with "little things" but should formulate "a grand design."Idei also said he anticipates that Japan's electronics industry will see more mergers and acquisitions, noting there are "too many" similar companies."It is inevitable that a big industry will experience realignment," he said.
NHK plans to offer previously aired television programs on the Internet possibly from fiscal 2008, becoming the first Japanese TV company to do so, sources said Wednesday.According to the plan, the broadcaster, which is funded by viewer fees, would provide programs aired in the previous week free of charge, the sources said. However, those not already paying viewer fees would be charged.It remains unclear which programs would be made available. Questions about such issues as copyright infringement as well as potential protests from commercial broadcasters that fear the continuing expansion of NHK's broadcasting services still need to be addressed, the sources said.Under the plan, NHK would make news and documentary programs up to seven days old available for download on personal computers, the sources said. Programs will be copy-protected and expire after a certain period.Other programs, including dramas and entertainment shows, may also be made available for download if consent is secured from performers and other concerned parties, the sources said.The BBC, Britain's public broadcaster, is expected to start a similar service on July 27. Viewers will be able to download free of charge programs of the past week and keep them for up to 30 days. Programs may be replayed for seven days after first being viewed.NHK's Internet service plan will require a revision of the broadcasting law. A bill to that effect was introduced to the Diet in April but did not get approved. If approval is given in the next Diet session, the service could begin in fiscal 2008, starting next April, the sources said.
BRASILIA (Kyodo) Communications Minister Yoshihide Suga said Japan will start researching and developing technology for a new generation of network to replace the Internet. The government would like to get the technology into commercial use by 2020, Suga said Friday in Brazil. He said an organization will be established as early as this fall with cooperation from businesses, academia and the government to promote the technology. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will seek £¤7.8 billion for the project in the fiscal 2008 budget, Suga said. The new technology is envisaged as being faster and more reliable than the current Internet while being less susceptible to viruses and breakdowns. The ministry is hoping Japan will take the lead in developing post-Internet technology and setting global standards.
With all broadcasts in Korea converting to digital signals in 2012, the government will aid low-income families who do not have digital television sets. At an economic policy meeting led by Deputy Prime Minister Kwon O-gyu, the government discussed the conversion from analog to digital TV and the resources needed. Last month, the government announced a bill saying that all broadcasting services must convert to digital by Dec. 31, 2012. The government estimated that it will take 2.3 trillion won ($2.5 billion) during the period up to 2012 for the digital conversion. That includes investment by broadcasting companies on facilities, production costs for high-definition programs, improved receiver environments and distribution of converters that handle the switch from analog to digital. The government estimated that it will take 219.8 billion won to distribute the converters to low-income families. The government is also considering raising costs for public television viewer ship. Public TV has cost 2,500 won a month since 1981, but advertising revenue is continuously dropping. Ad revenue was 2.7 trillion won in 2002 but fell to 2.4 trillion won last year.
Korean companies have spent too much money on information technology facilities and are therefore overly dependent on the ups and downs of that industry, according to a recent report released yesterday by a private think tank.¡° Spending in the IT sector makes up 60 to 80 percent of the facility investment costs in all industries, which has created imbalances,¡± the Hyundai Economic Research Institute said in the report. At the same time, the traditional Korean steel, chemical product and automotive industries have reached their maturation points and the companies are spending more to develop new technology, the report said. The situation is vastly different in neighboring Japan, where facility investment costs are spread much more evenly: 20 percent on information technology, 40 percent on automobiles, 20 percent on chemical products and the remaining 20 percent on machinery, according to the report.
Before the Asian currency crisis in the late 1990s, Korea spent 14 percent of its gross domestic product on facility investments of all kinds, but the figure has tumbled to 9 percent recently, the report said. Japan¡¯s ratio has stayed the same, at between 9 and 11 percent. The report also noted that while Japanese companies have set aside a consistent portion of their budgets for new product development and research and development, their Korean counterparts tend to place a bigger emphasis on product development. When business conditions worsen, the report said, Korean firms tend to make huge cuts in the research and development areas before cutting other expenses. ¡°In order for Korea to be equipped with a long-term growth engine, the government will have to enlarge the scale of state-run research activities in the non-IT industries or service sectors,¡± the institute said. ¡°Giving tax breaks to companies making R&D efforts could be another way.¡±
The number of Internet users in Japan is estimated to have increased by 15 million from five years ago to about 67.5 million due mainly to a surge in the number of users in their 40s and 50s, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said Wednesday. The tally came from a survey of 180,000 people aged 10 or older in 80,000 randomly selected households across Japan on whether they used the Internet for purposes other than work or school work in the year from October 2005. Of the respondents, 59.4 percent said yes, up by 13.0 percentage points from the previous survey five years ago which included using the Internet for work and school work. The number of users increased in all age brackets, with women aged 40 to 44 marking a 31.2-point rise to 80.6 percent, and women aged 45 to 49 registering a 34.4-point gain to 71.5 percent. As for men, 81.1 percent of those aged 40 to 44 accessed the Internet, up 15.9 points, and of those aged 45 to 49, 74 percent replied likewise, up 18.8 points. The Internet was mostly used for e-mail and for searching for information and accessing news. Some 39.2 percent of women aged 40 to 44 said they use e-mail at least four days a week, which translates into 200 days a year.
The number of mobile broadcasting service users in Korea exceeded 6 million this year, just two years after the launch of the service, a government report said yesterday. According to the report by the Ministry of Information and Communication, there were 6.45 million users of digital multimedia broadcasting at the end of May. DMB lets users view TV programs on personal devices. Korea was the first country to launch both satellite and terrestrial services in 2005.The ministry said that 1.3 out of every 10 Koreans uses a mobile device to view the on-the-go broadcasting services. The ministry added that 5.32 million use the free terrestrial service while around 1.13 million use satellite.
A decade ago, Mongolia started a work to register its historic and cultural mementos, however, the country has been backward by 15-30 years from the worldwide standards. For this reason, in 2005, the Government of Mongolia approved a program to keep up the information on the national cultural heritage in a digital system. The program aims to place all information on historic and cultural heritage in a unique database. Within the scope of the program, the Cultural Heritage Center of Mongolia has started giving high-capacity computers, printers and cameras to the central and local museums and scientific organization which keep historic and cultural monuments. Thanks to this, the above organizations will have a possibility for delivering scientific references on historic and cultural mementos to the Cultural Heritage Center
Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Metropolitan Department of Education and the Mobicom Corporation spelt an agreement of a project for introduction of the first module secondary school of information technology. The project will be carried out in the secondary school No 24 in Ulaanbaatar. Only 8-11 grade pupils will be selected nationwide to study in the school. The module school will be put into operation on September 1. The project is much significant to develop talents of children who have in interest in information technology and impart them education meeting the international standards.
IT project embarked upon by the Ministry of Education will soon make students in Brunei schools connected. More than 2000 laptops will be distributed to both primary and secondary schools as part of the agreement as schools will enjoy portable and mobile teaching aids expected to be in place in five months' time. The Mobile Teaching & Learning Project (Mobitel) includes the supply, delivery, installation, testing, commissioning and maintenance of related hardware and software for mobile teaching and learning in government primary and secondary schools. The Mobitel project is one of focussed areas under the e-Education project, which is part of the E-Government initiatives. Dyg Hjh Aishah binti Hj Md Husain, Acting Director of Schools, Ministry of Education, revealed that the total number of laptops to be distributed to schools is 2135 and the total cost of the whole project which includes hardware, software, training and maintenance is B$5.9 million (US$3.8 million). The Mobitel project does not limit ICT-aided teaching and learning to special rooms like a lab.
An interesting feature is that teachers will be able to monitor and control students' computers with Remote Desktop Management software. Through these Apple mobile learning labs, it wills be much easier to bring a digital learning environment into every classroom. Designed specifically for schools, these mobile labs provide teachers and students flexible, affordable and convenient access to technology. Research has shown that the more students have access to technology-based learning, the greater their engagement and achievements. Once the School Network Infrastructure (SNI) project is ready, these laptops can be used by teachers and students to access the Internet from anywhere within the school premises. "Computers are used in education to enhance the teaching and learning processes. I hope teachers and students will be able to benefit from these new facilities by using them wisely," added Dyg Hjh Aishah.
KUCHING: The urban and rural digital divide in Sarawak will be narrowed when another 92 village libraries are hooked up to the Internet by September. Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said the information and communications technology (ICT) project for these libraries would cost RM36.7mil and funded by the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. Dr Chan, who is in charge of state ICT development programmes, said that by September, 213 or more than 85% of the state's 249 libraries would be ICT-enabled. The state library, he said, would start one multimedia mobile library this year to provide easy access to library and information services through the use of ICT in rural areas. He said the Federal Government would finance half of the operating expenses of all libraries in Sarawak, which amounted to more than RM11mil for the first six months of this year.
The Education Ministry is drafting the National ICT Skills Standards (NISS) and developing assessment instruments to measure these skills in primary and secondary schools. Among those helping in the process are experts from the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) who served as facilitators at a workshop on the NISS, held in Kota Kinabalu recently. They are ISTE chief executive officer Dr Don Knezak and senior director Dr Lynn Nolan. Dr Knezek provides consulting services to governments around the world while Dr Nolan is an expert on technology's role and direction in schools of the future. Dr Knezek said that the NISS needs to be localised so that it suits the Malaysian context. "We are working with a number of departments in the Education Ministry to determine what standards should be set in relation to ICT, that is, what are the skills and competencies that all students should achieve," he said, in a teleconference. According to Dr Nolan, the NISS would provide a "roadmap" on where technology use in Malaysian schools should be going. "At the moment, ICT literacy, especially at the upper secondary level, is not articulated in a clear manner. "The NISS is meant to bring a structure and framework to the expectations of the general public on what students should know. "It should be in a form that is easily understood by people outside the system," she said. Dr Nolan and Dr Knezek shared their experiences of similar undertakings in other countries around the world. "Malaysia can learn from what other countries have done.
You do not have to start from scratch. You can jumpstart the process," said Dr Knezek. Participants at the workshop included officers from ICT units of various divisions of the ministry namely the Curriculum Development Centre, Schools Inspectorate, Malaysian Examinations Syndicate and Teacher Education Division. Also present were lecturers from teacher training institutes as well as primary and secondary school ICT literacy teachers. The two facilitators from ISTE were flown in by technology giant Microsoft. Microsoft Asia Pacific public sector programmes director Vincent Quah said that they were brought in through the Partners in Learning (PiL) initiative. "There is a need for Malaysia to develop a technology standard as the foundation to anchor all past, present and future knowledge, to make it measurable, assessable and sustainable in order to protect the investment the country has made in education." PiL is a global programme to improve ICT education among students and teachers. It was launched in 2003 by Microsoft with a cash grant of US$250mil (RM850mil) and has been implemented in more than 100 countries. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates signed an Memorandum of Understanding on PiL with the Malaysian Government in June 2004 worth RM10mil.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) plans to set up two more rural information and communication technology (ICT) projects in the state to help address the rural-urban digital divide. Dr Alvin Yeo, the deputy dean of the computer science and information technology faculty, said the projects would be similar to eBario, a pilot project started by Unimas in 2001 to provide ICT to an isolated rural community. "We are getting some funding from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to get the eBario project to other places," he said. He added that the locations had not been decided. He said Unimas was also looking at training staff from other universities to implement the projects. "They can then become the trainers for other projects and therefore create a domino effect," he told a press conference at an international conference on information technology in Asia here on Tuesday.
Themed "Social Computing: Engaging Communities", the three-day conference was organised by Unimas. Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan, who opened the conference, said the state government was implementing some projects to narrow the digital divide and would support the efforts of other parties to tackle the issue. "Plans to bridge the ditigal divide include increasing computer literacy and general computing skills. "Also, telecentres will be established and gradually upgraded to become community knowledge centres providing access to e-government applications, e-learning and information resources," he said.
WHILE laminated network plans of Rapid Penang bus routes were being put up at its hubs and bus stands all over the state, some were immediately taken by passers-by. According to contractor E.H. Lim, he had put up some plans as early as Sunday and found quite a number of them missing when he went to double check yesterday. While he was busy putting up the plans at the Weld Quay bus hub yesterday, a middle-aged couple were spotted discreetly picking up a laminated copy which he had left on the floor and rolling it up before they quietly disappeared into the crowd. Lim said he printed over 15,000 copies of the network plan in the Bahasa Malaysia-cum-English version, and 10,000 copies in Chinese. ¡°We have already laminated and pasted 150 copies of the Bahasa Malaysia-cum-English version and will paste 100 copies of the Chinese version as soon as we finish laminating them. ¡°I have so many other bus stops and hubs to cover all over the state, and it looks like I will have to go around again in a few days¡¯ time to replace the missing ones,¡± he said. Rapid Penang engineering assistant Farah Wahida Othman said that she and two colleagues were given 3,000 booklets on the bus routes to distribute. ¡°We have been here for two hours and we are left with fewer than 150 copies, but they will be replenished,¡± she said, adding that commuters were very keen about the service and her team had been busy answering questions about the routes.
Jamalia Husin, 26, got onto a bus in Downing Street thinking that it would lead her to Komtar, but it ended up at Weld Quay instead and she had to hop onto another bus. At the five-lane Komtar bus interchange, there was some confusion as some commuters waited at the wrong lane but the situation improved after 12.30pm when the network plans were put up. Cheah Joo Yong, 68, who is illiterate, said she was able to find the right bus with the help of Rapid Penang staff. ¡°I wanted to try out the service since it was free. I took the bus from Penang Adventist Hospital and now I am off to Sungai Nibong. I will be trying it again tomorrow to Batu Maung,¡± she said, and thanked the Government for the new public transport system. Two couples from Australia were spotted at Weld Quay, getting off their ride round Air Itam. ¡°We only have a two-hour break before our cruise ship takes off, so we decided to try the service since the locals told us it was being launched. ¡°The ride was awesome as the bus was really clean and spanking new. We really enjoyed the air-conditioning,¡± said Judy Hunt, 66.
SHAH Alam needs to change from a manufacturing-based city to a knowledge, service, and IT-based centre, said the Selangor State Investment Centre chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Jabar Ahmad Kembali. "It's a new policy from Mentri Besar (Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo) and this is a good time for us to change. Selangor has always been known as a manufacturing-based state but we are planning to change that image," he said during an interview in Shanghai last month. Jabar together with Shah Alam mayor Mazalan Md Noor and delegates from Shah Alam City Council (MBSA), I-Berhad and consultants for the I-City project in Shah Alam, were on a study trip to Shanghai and Jiangyin in China, to emulate some good planning practices for their projects. Jabar said I-City was a private project endorsed and welcomed by the state government and a steering committee chaired by state executive councillor Datuk Ch'ng Toh Eng to monitor and drive its development has been set up. The project is developed by I-Berhad to become the premier Multimedia Super Corridor's (MSC) investment location where local and foreign IT talents are nurtured to spearhead the state's knowledge-based economy. MBSA planning department head Ahmad Zamri Kamaruddin said fast-track approvals would be given for building plans for the project. Jabar said: "We will give I-Berhad the priority.
I think this project is totally different from other developments in Shah Alam." Among the major challenges the developer and government will face are supply of human resource in the IT sector, provision of world-class facilities for the international community expected to be working there and modernisation of Shah Alam while maintaining its socio-cultural status. Besides, what the foreign investment community needs is a working and living environment that offers a similar cosmopolitan lifestyle as in their home countries. I-Berhad CEO Eu Hong Chew said the knowledge-based sector was different from that of manufacturing sector as the former required an environment that could encourage creativity and innovativeness among workers. He said I-Berhad had proposed to the state government to designate i-City as a Shah Alam ICT Zone for the international community so they could enjoy incentives through the MSC's Bill of Guarantees and have a cosmopolitan lifestyle. "If we want to attract IT companies as our next wave of investment in Selangor, then we have to create an international community in Shah Alam where they can live and work comfortably," he said. He said Selangor could learn from Bangalore which was transformed into a major IT centre of India with the setting up of high-tech and software industries in the area. "I am sure this project will be a success based on the location and experience.
I think the lifestyle in Shah Alam will gradually change and maybe the mentality of the people will also change," he said. The mayor said I-City would be the catalyst of growth for Shah Alam and would be promoted as an international zone. During the study trip, the delegation visited the Jiangyin Municipal Government and Huaxi Village, regarded as the wealthiest village in China, before proceeding to Shanghai where they learned about the city's shopping and entertainment spots like Huaihai Road, Xintiandi and the Nanjing Road pedestrian mall. The authorities learned how development zones in Jiangyin and Shanghai attract foreign direct investment and how to address town planning issues like landscaping and street cleanliness.
ICT (information and communications technology ) skills can offer women a lot of career opportunities; all it takes is a little creativity and foresight, according to an expert. Dr Kamal Jit Singh, chief executive officer of BT Multimedia Malaysia, said women should keep themselves updated on the advancements in technology so that they will not be left behind. He said women should notice and adapt to the technological changes that is happening around them. They should use these technological advances to enrich their lives. "Women need to learn ICT skills and innovate," he said, adding that they could look to conducting a business online or using SMS (short message service) as a tool for whatever trade they are doing from the home. These skills, Kamal Jit said, shouldn't be difficult for most women to learn because they are "more creative than men." He said there is no end to the possibilities that technology can offer women if they put their minds to the task. "And don't be afraid to break the rules," he said. A cellphone is just a gadget for talking, but in the right hand, it becomes a marketing tool, a device to build customer relationships, or a pre-order system. Kamal Jit was participating in a panel discussion titled "Rocking the Cradle, Ruling the World: Succeeding at home and at work," during the Women's Summit conference here last week.
The theme of the summit was "Women at the heart of development." Another speaker, columnist Chong Sheau Ching, agreed with Kamal Jit. She said technology is a tool that can enable women to better themselves and their livelihoods. Her women's community site ¡ª ehomemakers.net ¡ª uses ICT tools to help women make ends meet. All that is really needed, she said, is a phone. Women can use the device to receive orders for cakes and handicrafts, and the sale of such items helps supplement their income. Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, gave the keynote address at the summit. She said ICT can help women raise families without having to sacrifice their careers. "A lot can be done from the home using technology, if the women improve their ICT skills," she said. This is especially useful now that the Government is planning to allow women in the public sector to take a break from work to give birth and raise their babies. And when the children are big enough, to come back to work. There are 3.6 million women working in the nation's public and private sectors, as well as others who are self-employed, according to Shahrizat.
RHB Bank Bhd is confident that a RM12mil fee income will be added to its corporate revenue this year from its corporate online banking facility, RHB Reflex Cash Management. Chairman Datuk Azlan Zainol said he expected the customer base of the product, commonly known as Reflex, to increase from 3,000 corporate, multinational, commercial and SME customers to 5,000. To date, RHB has 300,000 corporate and commercial customers. "Reflex caters to most of the banking needs of our business customers. That has made it very attractive to large and small companies that already have accounts with us," Azlan said after the launch of the product yesterday. The fees charged were very competitive as well, he added. With Reflex, company officials can log on to their accounts on the Internet and obtain updates on their company accounts and perform various banking transactions, such as checking balances, fund transfers and bulk payments, anywhere and at their own convenience.
In addition, users could gain access to other services, such as the online payroll service that enables employers to submit EPF, Socso and income tax payments, Azlan explained. RHB Bank senior vice-president, technology banking division head Tengku Mohamad Rizam Aziz, who was also present at the launch, said that besides standard security, Reflex boasted additional features such as the Host Return Code, which identified the authenticity of the website that a user signed on to, providing added assurance. RHB would be having roadshows in Penang, Johor and Kota Kinabalu, besides the Klang Valley, to provide guidance as part of its marketing strategy. On the restructuring within the RHB Group, Azlan said he would make an announcement soon.
The Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) wants to establish a national broadband network (NBN) to "exclusively cater to the needs of the national government agencies and local government units." This was the general objective set by the agency now in charge of implementing the controversial NBN project. Guided by government policies laid out in the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan (2004 to 2020), the NBN is part of a bigger effort to develop a digital infrastructure to provide public access points for delivery of e-government services, claimed DoTC Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso in a Powerpoint presentation he made for the local business community. "The plan also identifies measures to make cheaper and more accessible the digital infrastructure across the country through lower connectivity costs, regulatory reforms, and development of the human resource skills to support the development of the ICT-related industries," an online summary of the plan said. It was also government's policy to adopt voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to reduce telecommunication spending in government, the official said. Finally, government wants to "rationalize" all government network infrastructure to usher in sharing and interconnection among agencies. Government is now spending about P4 billion yearly on telecommunications.
This figure is projected to increase every year as more government agencies connect and implement e-government initiatives, Formoso said. The current government communications setup consists of a buffet of technologies, including voice-only landlines, mobile phones, dial-up Internet access, DSL lines, leased lines, PABX and various local area networks, and retail national direct dialing and international direct dialing. Some do not have a data network. Formoso said that most government agencies source their own communication requirements and data center from the private sector, while none of the government agencies run their own virtual private networks, except for some government-owned and ¨Ccontrolled corporations. E-mail applications and file transfers are also often done through popular web-based services like Yahoo! or Google. Under the proposal of ZTE, a loan amounting to $329 million will be extended by the Chinese government. The loan terms indicate that the country will be given 20 years to pay at a maximum interest rate of 3 percent. Repayment will only commence after the five-year grace period, or on the sixth year. The Philippines and China signed an agreement allowing China Eximbank and listed Chinese firm ZTE Corp. to fund and develop the NBN project.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) announced the launch of ThinkLab - a new PC lab at the National University of Singapore¡¯s Computer Centre. Equipped with more than 100 Lenovo ThinkCentre A60 desktops powered by AMD processors, the lab is sponsored by Lenovo in partnership with AMD Far East Ltd and Jardine OneSolutions (2001) Pte Ltd. The desktops at the ThinkLab will feature Lenovo¡¯s innovative ThinkVantage Technologies ? a suite of award-winning software tools aimed at increasing user uptime with easier maintenance and self-help features. Lenovo is our trusted IT partner in this joint initiative and we appreciate their contributions in enhancing the university¡¯s IT infrastructure with ThinkLab. Most importantly, its innovative self-help features will decrease the need for on-site support thus reducing total cost of ownership and enhancing user productivity. This is crucial especially for academic institution where our desktop PCs are located all over the campus. said Tommy Hor, Director, Computer Centre. The ThinkLab will be available for use by all NUS students and staff. Its aim: to enhance daily work, productivity and their learning experience. Lenovo¡¯s ThinkVantage Technologies have helped organizations realize cost and time savings by providing exceptional performance on the applications that customers use most.
The Lenovo ThinkCentre A60s at the NUS ThinkLab will deliver mainstream enterprise features such as dual-core processing, improved virus protection, and recovery tools as well as optimized desktop solutions that allow for fast, easy downloading and data processing resulting in time savings and increased productivity. ThinkVantage features self-help tools such as Rescue & Recovery that allows users to easily backup or recover important files, folders, directories and hard disks. These Rescue & Recovery tools also enable the PCs at ThinkLab to recover from virus or software crashes, even if the primary operating system fails to boot as users can quickly access a set of self-recovery tools that help diagnose the problem, and get the PC restarted. Lenovo designs its ThinkCentre Desktops to maximize productivity while minimizing cost,? said Dion Weisler, Vice President and General Manager, Lenovo ASEAN. By continually making our desktops more reliable, easy to use, and maintain, we hope to provide NUS the tools to increase student and staff productivity, as well as enhance the learning experience.
Managing a fleet of ThinkCentre A60 desktops is made easier with the System Migration Assistant which quickly transfers user-specific data and settings from one desktop to another. This is a core requirement for an environment such as ThinkLab where the desktops will be a common resource that will be shared across all NUS students and staff. AMD is pleased to be part of this initiative to provide computing resources to the student population in NUS,? said Bryan Low, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, South Asia, AMD. ?I am confident that our award-winning AMD 64-bit technology will allow schools to reduce operational costs and provide interactive learning environments that lead to greater student/teacher communication.
Central Singapore CDC launched a website ¨C www.trustcentral.org.sg ¨C on cultural dos and don'ts on Sunday to allow youths to glean more information on races and to appreciate different cultures. The new media is seen as the medium to reach the young crowd as many youths, aged between 16 and 25, spend their time surfing the internet. Besides that, the CDC has also embarked on another idea to allow youths to gain cross-cultural experiences. It has arranged for youths to spend some time in the homes of people of other cultures. And the host families received tokens of appreciation on Sunday. These families and the youths they hosted also talked about what they have learnt in a dialogue session with President S R Nathan.
Singapore's infocomm sector grew by a record 20 percent last year, compared to the previous year, to reach S$45.4 billion. Mobile penetration rate has gone up to 108 percent, despite an already saturated market. This is driven by individuals such as Karen Wong, an info-communications professional, who carries three mobile devices with her ¨C one that is small enough for her back pocket on the weekends, another that comes equipped with a keyboard and a third which is used mainly for internet browsing. Broadband adoption has also increased from 64 percent last year to over 68 percent. At the launch of this year's CommunicAsia, the "next generation network" is the new buzz phrase. Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, said: "Twelve companies and consortia have been pre-qualified to build Singapore's Next Generation National Broadband Network. "When it is ready in 2012, this network will be capable of speeds of at least 1 Gigabits per second and of supporting bandwidth-intensive applications that are decades into the future." Chan Yeng Kit, CEO, Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), said: "I suppose the best way is to compare dial-up narrowband in the past with the current broadband. There was a big jump in speed. When you look at the next generation broadband, we're looking at a similar increase in capabilities."
Not content with just connecting citizens, IDA has also launched the Digital Concierge which allows tourists and visitors to access maps, shopping malls and restaurant listings online. The Digital Concierge will be fully implemented by the middle of next year and is expected to push Singapore towards its target of S$30 billion in tourist receipts by 2015. That is also the target date for Singapore's intelligent nation masterplan. By then, the number of wireless hotspots would have reached 5,000 ¨C 47 percent more than what is available now. Some building owners, who were initially reluctant to install wireless base stations, have now been convinced. Mr Chan said: "They've seen an increase in the customers and in the number of people who've come to the shopping malls." Driving the record 20 percent infocomm sector growth last year was the export of hardware, which IDA said is good news for the industry as software sales tend to follow.
Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) on Friday announced its entry into the pay television market, offering an Internet protocol-based service to challenge the monopoly of rival StarHub. SingTel's Chief Executive for Singapore operations Allen Lew says SingTel will spend S$30 million in the current fiscal year to develop the service. "The next generation of television watching has arrived. Customers have been calling for choice and flexibility in the pay TV market and now they have it," he says. To attract customers, SingTel is offering a competitive price, with subscription charges starting at just S$15 a month (before GST). SingTel's aim is clear. It wants no less than to overtake StarHub and become the market leader. "We're not used to playing second to anybody, especially not in this market. We are financially responsible. We will get to number one position within a reasonable time, but I can't tell you when that will happen. We have our own internal targets for that," Lew says. The launch of mio TV also means that SingTel will now be able to compete with StarHub head-on on all three services - TV, data and voice. IPTV refers to the delivery of video or TV signals using Internet Protocol, usually via a broadband connection and a set-top box connected to the TV. The new mio TV service, featuring 33 channels, will start on Saturday. It will also offer high-definition television, or HDTV, content, giving a clearer, more vivid picture and could reach 85 percent of Singapore households.
The new service includes free-to-air channels by MediaCorp, blockbuster movies as well as a Cantonese movie channel. MediaCorp's much anticipated HD5 will also be available on mio TV. This will be the first free-to-air high-definition channel in Singapore which subscribers with HD-ready displays can enjoy, as all mio TV Set-Top Boxes are HD-ready at no extra cost. Lucas Chow, CEO, MediaCorp, says: "Other than the HD5 channel (through) which we will be providing high-definition content, we will also be providing content that most probably you'll see on mio TV first before you see it on our free-to-air television. "What it means is that now the viewers other than receiving our signals free to air, over the antenna, can also receive our signals over their IPTV channels." In addition, SingTel has successfully inked an unprecedented output deal with Sony Pictures Television International that brings viewers Sony's upcoming slate of feature films at the same time as the DVD release and before they are seen anywhere else on TV. The deal also includes key titles from Sony's extensive catalogue of feature films. Subscribers of mio TV can pick from a price list of channels. The more channels they add on, the more expensive the monthly bill. SingTel says mio TV's a la carte price plans allow customers to pay only for what they want to watch. No longer do customers have to contend with restrictive basic tier subscription packages. mio TV will also be among the first in the world to introduce on-demand channels to the Singapore market. This option allows viewers to choose from up to 25 selected movies for unlimited viewing for only S$12 per month.
This means movies, anytime, for as low as 50 cents each. Launching the event on Friday, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development Youth and Sports, cautions the industry to keep its objective clear. He says: "We can compete all we like, we can slash prices all we like, we can deliver content more efficiently but at the end of the day the two key things are content and services. It is the way companies successfully innovate to deliver content and services that will give you a lasting competitive edge." And Dr Balakrishnan believes that can be achieved through investing in research and development in this fast changing field. SingTel, Singapore's biggest company by stock market value and Southeast Asia's biggest telephone operator, had received a licence to offer the service in January. Besides TV, IPTV operators can also offer viewers video-conferencing and interactive applications such as gaming.
Vietnamese people are top of the list when it comes to buying new technology after covering essential living expenses, according to the 1st Half 2007 Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey. The survey was conducted between 16 April ¨C 1 May 2007 and interviewed 26,486 Internet users in 47 countries across 15 time zones. The results show that 47 per cent of Vietnamese buy new technology, followed by Greeks at 45 per cent, Russians at 44 per cent, Chinese at 42 per cent and Turkey was tenth with 36 per cent. The Vietnamese are the second highest when it comes to purchasing new clothes at 50 per cent, after first placed Russia, and third in spending on out-of-home entertainment at 49 per cent after Russia and Brazil. Vietnamese people were ninth for purchasing shares and mutual funds. In the survey Vietnamese people said that job security was their biggest concern but consider health to be also very important.
Overall Viet Nam are ranked No 5 in term of overall Consumer Confidence with 118 points (two points more than last year) and well above the global average of 97 points. It showed how confident the Vietnamese were of their economy, said Sarah Duchazeaubeneix, Manager of Retail Measurement Service, Nielsen Vietnam. Headquartered in New York, USA and Haarlem, the Netherlands, Nielson operates in more than 100 countries and is the world¡¯s leading provider of marketing information, audience measurement, and business media products and services.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) should be used strategically and optimistically for empowering the poor especially for the vulnerable people of coastal area, said Syed Marghub Murshed, former Secretary, government of Bangladesh. He spoke this in an inception meeting of a project named,¡± Strategic Use of ICT for Poverty Reduction¡±, organized by Dwip Unnayan Shangtha (DUS) in collaboration with Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC), on July 17, 2007 at BRAC INN, Mohakhali, Dhaka. Syed Marghub Murshed was the Chief Guest while BMM Mozharul Huq, Consultant of Disaster Management Cluster, UNDP and Dr. Jahedul Alam, Chairperson of Hatiya Dwip Samity were the Special guests. Among others, Geeta Malhotra, Head-ICT Advocacy Grassroots Communication and Capacity Building of One World South Asia, the donor of the project and representatives from HLCIT ¨C Nepal, SEWA- India, D.Net, HASAB, HASI, NIRAPAD, Disaster Forum, OVC, CPP, BDPC, Action-Aid Bangladesh, ALRD, BRIDGE, WIN Incorporate, DUS, Hatiya Dwip Samity and representatives from media attended the meeting.
The program was started with the inaugural speech by Rafiqul Alam, Executive Director of DUS. Mr. Alam welcomed the participants in the meeting. He also played the role of moderator in the meeting. Dwip Unnayan Shangtha took this project with the view to undertake activities for poor island community to build their capacities on development information sharing along with to enable them to use various media tools namely print, radio and internet to minimize their sufferings in livelihood options at Hatiya of Noakhali district. The outcomes of the project will be exhibited as showcase at GK3 meeting of Kualalampur, Malasia and at AMARC. In the meeting on behalf of DUS, BNNRC and OWSA three individual presentations were made by Mr. Shamir Chandra Adhikari, Program coordinator, Dus, AHM Bazlur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer of BNNRC and Ms. Geeta Malhotra, from OWSA respectively in the meeting. Mr. BMM Mozharul Huq said we have supplements the ICT initiatives with the government efforts to reduce the damages of disaster. The alarming signals should be given in due time and these should be understood by the community people, he commented.
Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) and with other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has been continuing advocacy with the Government for a long time to open up the Community Radio in Bangladesh. Community Radio movement in Bangladesh is a very promising yet critical stage. Different NGOs civil society groups, journalists, intellectuals and other concerned entities of this country are putting continuous and ardent effort in order to come up with a Community Radio friendly regulatory environment through appropriate government regulations. Just last year, a National Consultation on Community Radio was jointly organized by MMC, BNNRC, FOCUS, YPSA and VOICE and supported by UNESCO, UNICEF and UNDP- Bangladesh with the goal of identifying course of action on how to proceed for introducing Community Radio in Bangladesh. At the end of that consultation, the participants agreed to put more focused effort on Community Radio piloting and the enactment of the draft Broadcasting Act 2003. But till now, no pilot project has been commenced in Bangladesh as far as the case of true participatory based Community Radio service is concerned.
The member organizations of advocacy group already have the human resources, contents and organizational motivation needed to initiate, manage and sustain any pilot Community Radio project. Advocacy group is to initiate any Community Radio project addressing the issues related with fulfilling Millennium Development Goals (MDG), World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action Plan, PRSP and knowledge based Society. Recently, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) has taken a strategic campaign program where the Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, Hon'ble Chief Adviser of the Non-Party Care Taker Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Barrister Mainul Hosein, Adviser of the Ministry of Information and the Mr. Didarul Anower, Secretary of the Ministry of Information were included. Under the campaign program, an appeal was made to allow the draft broadcasting policy, side by side the Govt. was requested to give permission for launching some community radio as pilot basis. On the basis of the findings of the pilot project, Govt. can allow the full pledged community radio in the country for long term. As a result of the strategic campaign, for the first time, a high level meeting was organized by the Ministry of Information regarding community radio.
The meeting was held at the conference room of the ministry at 11 a.m. on July 23, 2007. Mr. Didarul Anowar, Secretary of the Ministry of Information presided over the meeting. Among others 15 high officials of the ministry including the Director General of Bangladesh Betar (Radio Bangladesh), Principal Information Officer (PIO) and Joint Secretary of Ministry of Information attended the high level meeting. On behalf of advocacy group Mr. Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, Chairman of BRACNet and former secretary Government of Bangladesh, Mr. Kamrul Hasan Monju, Executive Director of Mass line Media Center (MMC) and Mr. AHM Bazlur Rahman-S21BR, Chief Executive Officer of BNNRC participated the meeting. In his welcoming speech the Secretary of Ministry of Information emphasized on to find out the ways to launch community radio as pilot basis. Mr. Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury highlighted the importance of Community Radio in brief. Mr. Kamrul Hasan Monju and Mr. AHM Bazlur Rahman-S21BR briefed the meeting on community radio, its program, management, monitoring, community content and licensing system. After an elaborate discussion, a high level committee was formed and the Director General of Bangladesh Betar (Bangladesh Radio) was nominated as the Convener. The committee will submit a concept note, guideline and a regulatory frame (draft) of Community Radio to the Secretary of the Ministry of Information within a month.
With an endeavour to make the judicial system accessible to remote and backward areas, the country¡¯s first mobile court was inaugurated in the Mewat district of Haryana on Saturday. Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, while inaugurating the court in the presence of Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj, Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Jain, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Supreme Court judges Ashok Bhan and H.S. Bedi, said, ¡°People generally go to courts to get justice but today with mobile courts, the courts will come to the people.¡± Asserting the importance of judiciary in a democratic setup, Mr. Justice Balakrishnan said, ¡°A judicial system for the masses is a must for maintenance of rule of law and for safeguarding the democracy. It is because of the judiciary that democracy is maintained in India.¡± So, he urged more State Governments and the Centre to come forward in strengthening this system. The Chief Justice of India also advised the people of Mewat to make full use of the facilities made available to them through the mobile court and not to misuse their rights. ¡°Unless economic growth percolates to the common man in the form of better education, jobs and a better judicial system, it will remain a myth and never become a reality,¡± he added.
From Monday, the mobile court, that has been set up in a bus, would move from one location to another according to a well-prepared plan and schedule. The court shall sit on four days every week at four different centres and on two days it would work as a regular court at Ferozepur Jhirka. The selected centres include Punhana, Shikrawa, Indana and Lohinga Kalan. In the first phase, the court will start functioning in Punhana block which has been divided into four zones, each consisting of 25 to 30 villages. Said to be a brainchild of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the concept of mobile court is based on the pressing need to take the administration of civil and criminal justice closer to the people so that those living in remote areas are able to benefit without incurring the expenses of travelling to courts at distant places. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Hooda said, ¡°We chose Mewat for inaugurating the first mobile court because of its abysmal literacy rate and as it is the most backward district of Haryana. We need further innovations such as these in the judiciary to take our country forward.¡± The mobile court would be staffed like a regular court and transact serious judicial business in both civil and criminal cases through a full-fledged trial. It would be presided over by an Additional Civil Judge-cum-Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate. Dubbing the introduction of mobile courts as a revolutionary occasion for the judiciary, Mr. Justice Jain said, ¡°Though our country has progressed enormously since Independence the judicial system has still not managed to reach the poor and illiterate masses living in remote and backward areas. We hope that mobile courts will help in solving this problem and ensure justice for all as envisaged in our Constitution.¡±
The Indian government is planning to issue biometric identification cards to slum people, who will need to produce it for all transactions involving government housing. The cards will help the government in authenticating the identity of the rehabilitated slum residents who will get the biometric cards when they are handed over low-cost government housing. Under the Delhi Master Plan 2021, the government is planning to rehabilitate the city's slum dwellers in low-cost housing. The slum dwellers have to provide affidavits and other documents to prove their eligibility. Currently it is estimated that there are 600,000 households in shanty towns, or slums.
India¡¯s great internet dream which sank the hopes and dollars of hundreds of ambitious dotcoms in the early 2000s could finally be turning into reality. More than half of Indians who access the internet reside not in the metros but outside India¡¯s eight largest cities, or in other words, in Tier II and III cities. This changing scenario not only reflects the pace of internet and telecom penetration in the country but also the huge opportunity that exists for marketers across non-metros. So, when online research & advisory firm JuxtConsult ¡®India Online 2007¡¯ surveyed 10,000 offline households in 31 cities countrywide, it reflected sharply on the online behaviour of Indians. In a two-part series, ET presents the big picture. Internet penetration is steadily making inroads into the hinterland and getting broader in its socio-economic manifestation (SEC). If 66% users came from SEC ¡®A¡¯ and ¡®B¡¯ classes in 2006, only 56% come from these classes now. Internet is no more child¡¯s play. Perhaps that explains why the internet user-age is getting broadbased. If the 19-35 year age groups accounted for 76% users last year, they now constitute only 67%. Also, more and more users are logging on virtually cutting across various disciplines and backgrounds.
There are only 17% internet users in this country who come from an IT background as against 21% a year ago. Now, the nerd is seldom heard. As far as accessing the internet goes, there¡¯s nothing cyber about the caf¨¦ anymore. Cyber cafes posted a disappointing 1% increase over last year and now sit at 47% in the access radar. However, accessing internet from homes are getting more and more popular with the rapid spread of broadband and other technologies. As many as 59% of internet users access the Net from their PCs. However, the place of work still continues to be the single largest place for accessing internet at 78%. A quick look at the purchasing power of internet users demonstrates how car ownership among them has gone up by 5% over last year and sits at 28%. Credit card usage, too, has risen by 7% since last year, sitting at 34%, and 90% of users have mobile phones, as against 85% in 2006. That¡¯s a lot of affluence over 365 days. Tellingly, the survey found that of the 30 million Indian Net users, just about 41% prefer to browse online in English as compared to 59% a year ago. That perhaps explains focused Net penetration across Tier II towns of the country where vernacular is more than the staple, only 37% of the current Net users hail from the top 10 metros. According to World Internet Stats, while 29% browsers surf on the English board, as many as 15% prefer to do so in Chinese.
The Indian Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has launched online Admission 2007 Project (Ni-On) of National Institute of Open Learning for Indian students. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has initiated Online Admissions under its NIOS Online (Ni-On) Project from this year onwards. This unique facility will facilitate the learners in directly accessing NIOS. Under Ni-On Project, NIOS has tailor-made '3' Streams of Online admissions for meeting the requirements of different groups of its potential learners. In Stream 1, all the learners can access NIOS directly Online through its website (www.nos.org) for the purpose of seeking admission. Stream-2 has been designed to save one-year of all those who have been unsuccessful in CBSE/ ICSE/Other recognized State Education Boards. These learners can seek Online Admissions in the Stream '2' and also appear in the Public Examinations of October-November 2007, whose results will be declared by December 2007 itself. Stream-3 of Online Admissions also caters to the learners covered by Stream '2' but allows them an additional advantage of appearing in On Demand Examination (ODE) at Secondary-level only based on his or her state of academic preparation. Last two Streams have been designed to provide "Safety Net" to all such unsuccessful learners of the Formal School System.
The Indian bank has launched an e-Learning initiative for its employees in association with US based e-learning solution provider, KESDEE. Indian Bank is hosting KESDEE's 41 user friendly course libraries, which covers Risk Management, Asset and Liabilities management, anti-money launderies and an exclusive "Branch Management" module. The programme is aims to enhance the capabilities of the employees of the bank on a continuous basis. The programme would help the employees to gain expertise in their area of operation as well as other areas of interest, resulting in better and more efficient customer service.
The Indian Government is planning to issue biometric cards with enhanced security features like fingerprint or retinal scans to all the new income tax payers in the country. While speaking at the National Conference of Chief Commissioners of Income Tax, the Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram said, the process of eliminating about 13 lakh duplicate PAN cards is the last mile for government. The Ministry is planning to introduce Iris-based biometric PANs to all new applicants once the data about the existing cards is updated. Biometric identification will provide extremely accurate, secured access to information. The government is planning to launch the biometric PAN cards by October, 2007.
Far from the gleaming high-tech parks of Bangalore and Hyderabad, 25-year-old Mohammed Zayeed hunches over a raised concrete slab in the slums of New Delhi. With surgical precision he disassembles the backbone of India's booming IT industry for 12 hours a day: removing cream-colored plastic casings from old desktop computers, separating hard drives from circuitboards, and stripping PVC coating from copper wires. He tosses the detritus into towering piles destined for the next link in a long chain of recyclers. In New Delhi alone about 10,000 people, some young children, dismantle old computers and other equipment known as e-waste - searching for gold, copper, palladium, or anything else to turn into cash. The work can be hazardous. Recyclers expose themselves to toxic metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. "We know that it's harmful," says Zayeed, whose monthly income of $75 supports a wife and two children. "But we are poor, so anything that can be recycled is money for us." E-waste recycling is a booming business in India. A study by Toxics Link, an advocacy group in New Delhi, found that metals from 183 defunct computers could yield as much as $24,000.
India currently produces 150,000 tons of e-waste a year and illegally imports at least that amount from the West, says the group's associate director, Satish Sinha. Currently India has only 22 computers for every 1,000 people, but that number is projected to increase to 120 in the next five years. The government has been slow to regulate disposal. Although it bars the import of used electronics equipment, that prohibition is easy to circumvent, insiders say, by simply labeling the stuff as "mixed scrap metal." And there are no guidelines for domestic e-waste. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, the country's top regulator, is drafting regulations, but B.P. Nilratna, a top ministry official, declined to say when they'll be ready. India is unlikely to impose any type of taxation or fee to cover recycling costs, as is done in other countries. An estimated 40% of all computers for home use are sold in informal marketplaces that are difficult to monitor. And the more formal PC market is afraid that if costs rise because of a recycling tax, it will lose even more market share. While new regulations promise a switch to cleaner, safer recycling, that may address only part of the problem.
Recycling scrap electronics is profitable only when it comes to computers and mobile phones, says Vinnie Mehta, head of the Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology. Other e-waste that doesn't contain the metals now fetching high prices on global commodities markets, such as fluorescent bulbs, are more costly to recycle. So are air conditioners, refrigerators, and microwaves. "Here in India the disposer of any waste gets paid for it," he says. "It's like cherry picking - what about the rest?" Government regulations can't come quickly enough for Ravi Agarwal, the director of Toxics Link. He laments that even China, the world's other dumping ground for defunct electronics, "has been much more progressive on what needs to be done," passing legislation regulating e-waste recycling. European firms that have come to India with plans to start recycling centers, he says, are put off by the lack of regulation: "Legislation is not just regulation but enabling." A few Indian companies aren't waiting. Ramky, India's largest waste-management firm, signed a deal in May with Singapore's Cimelia Resource Recovery to build a $12 million e-waste recycling facility in Hyderabad - the first of its kind in India.
Construction is scheduled to begin in August, and the plant is expected to open by the end of the year. "As long as legislation is not there, the flow [of e-waste] will go to the informal sector," says Yogesh Gupta, Ramky's general manager for e-waste recycling. That is certainly the case for the computer owner at home, but 70% of India's e-waste comes from the business sector. Ramky hopes that once government guidelines are issued, corporate e-waste will head its way. India has only two government-recognized e-waste recycling facilities, in Chennai and Bangalore. Together they recycle under 1,000 tons a year, less than 1% of India's total e-waste - and less than half the metal and plastic they take in. Industry leaders, like Singapore's Cimelia and Belgium's Umicore, recycle more than 90%. Efficiency like that would go a long way toward cleaning up India. But it might also leave people like Zayeed seeking other ways to feed their families.
The Karnataka State Government will assist to set up 12 community radio stations to empower rural people through the medium of radio. While speaking at the workshop organized by the Information Department of the state, K.V.R. Tagore, Commissioner, three stations would be started in the each of the districts of Bangalore, Mysore, Belgaum and Gulbarga. The government will provide only minimal assistance in form of funds, technical expertise, infrastructure and content programming.
The Sri-Lankan Government has equipped a rural hospital with computer facilities and a broadband link, which will offer remote consultation, diagnosis, and treatment through telemedicine, to patients in rural areas. The project in Kurunegala, was launched under the Information and Communication Technology Agency's 'Nenasala' program of ICT centres in partnership with the Human Genetics Unit of the Colombo University medical faculty. This new facility would be particularly useful for genetic disorders patients. Now, patients can contact Clinical geneticists in the Human Genetics Unit, Colombo through online and video conferencing. This telegenetic project is aimed to help remote communities to get the best genetic advice available in the country.
Iran ranked 64th out of 100 countries in information technology in 2007. The Economist magazine listed the nations from 1-100 in terms of economic climate, IT infrastructure as well as the drive towards research and development, according to ISNA. The first place went to the USA followed by Japan, South Korea, Britain and Australia. Malaysia ranked 36th, Saudi Arabia 38th, Turkey 39th, India 46th, China 49th, Pakistan 60th and Azerbaijan 62nd. Algeria and Nigeria scored higher grades than Iran in Middle East and African region. According to manager of intelligence section of the magazine, there is a strong link between competitiveness in these countries and their IT capabilities.
On Thursday August 2, the Khujand airport international terminal, operated by the Khujand open joint-stock company Nourafshon, launched its website ¡ª www.aviaterminal.info. According to Artyom Geivandov, the chief spokesman for the terminal, visitors of the website may familiarize themselves with information about the terminal, its activities, get information necessary for passengers, as well as post their advertising materials. ¡°The website also contains references to Russia¡¯s AviaPort, information partner to the project, as well as Russian air companies S7, Orienburg Airlines, KrasAir (Krasnoyarsk airlines), Ural Airlines, and airports Domodedovo (Moscow), Pulkovo (St. Petersburg), and Tolmachyovo (Novosibirsk),¡± the spokesman said, noting that the website offers passengers an opportunity of online order for products realized in the terminal duty free shop. (Bahrom Mannonov)
Turkish mobile operator Avea has launched a mobile TV service over its EDGE network, in partnership with Mobilturk. The service includes live and on-demand broadcasting such as news, sports, documentary channels and music videos.
The Turkish Patent Institute (TPE) has begun accepting brand applications in electronic form. This new application is a part of the government's ¡°e-state¡± project and aims to make better use of technology, said Yusuf Balc?, TPE president. ¡°We are continuing our studies to implement patent and design applications via the Internet, he added. The TPE began accepting brand applications via the Internet as of August 1.
THE South Australian Department of Health is set to launch a $375 million information technology overhaul aimed at digitising healthcare across the state. The 10-year initiative, which includes 65 individual projects, comes in the wake of intense lobbying from Department of Health IT executives for a systematic approach to upgrading patient information systems. The $375 million program, which was funded in last week's South Australian state budget, is also designed to dovetail into national electronic health record initiatives. The budget highlighted an $11.5 million capital injection for patient and nursing administration systems, but the overall 10-year project will allow the Department of Health to upgrade myriad other IT platforms. The state has already implemented an extensive clinical information system, known as OACIS, across its public hospital system. However, many of the platforms that feed data into OACIS are ageing. The state's Department of Health also hopes to avoid the problems that have hit hospital software projects in other states by pursuing a long-term strategy that ensures that it has adequate infrastructure to support its new software systems. Once complete, the state-wide healthcare information system will link clinics, hospitals and specialist health units and also provide the foundations for sharing medical records with general practitioners in South Australia and interstate healthcare providers.
The Department of Health, South Australia has been awarded A$11.5 million (US$9.7 million) to commence on a much-anticipated upgrade to its patient management systems. The transformation of the healthcare IT infrastructure is expected to eventually cost as much as A$70million (US$59 million). The funding came about when the state ruled in its favour at a recent 2007-2008 South Australian state budget. This was brought about after much extensive lobbying by the department over the past few years. The allocated budget will be used to support the revamp of several IT systems, which includes the out-dated patient administration platform. Additionally, an overhaul to a nursing administration system will also be at least partially funded out of the allocation. The upgrade to the patient administration system (PAS) is projected to take between periods of six to eight years to complete. It will be expected to run in parallel with a number of other computer projects such as the finance and material management software renewal. The health department¡¯s IT division has classified the PAS project as part of a 10 year, A$650 million (US$547 million) information and communications technology capital investment programme that they had planned. While funding is not guaranteed for a large number of the projects outlined in the costly capital programme, the South Australia Health technology executives however, believe that the mega 10 year plan will enable them to petition for more effective arguments for budget allocation.
The federal government will offer close to $1 billion in subsidies to help Elders and Optus take high-speed broadband to Australians living in the bush. Prime Minister John Howard and Communications Minister Helen Coonan will head to southern NSW tomorrow to announce that the Optus-Elders joint venture has been chosen to take broadband to rural and remote areas of the nation.Under the second stage of its Broadband Connect program, the government was offering up to $600 million in subsidies to encourage companies to provide a high-speed internet connection for rural Australians.However, the government is set to boost those subsidies to around $900 million.Labor is asking the commonwealth auditor-general to investigate details surrounding the Broadband Connect tender, concerned some tender participants were aware that the subsidy was to increase, while others were not."Tender participants have indicated that this information was not provided to other tenderers for many weeks," Labor communications spokesman Stephen Conroy said today."Given the limited period allowed for the preparation of bids in the Broadband Connect tender, this delay in providing equal information to all participants significantly disadvantaged some bidders."The government will also announce the creation of an expert panel to review high-speed broadband, laying the foundation for a competitive tender process to decide who will help connect the bulk of Australians.The report of the panel, which will not be finalised before the election, will sort out a number of regulatory issues which is crucial to determining who will get the go ahead to build a fibre-to-the-node network (FTTN) for urban Australians.Telstra and its rival, the Optus-led G9 group, have been vying for the project.The FTTN involves connecting fast fibre optic cable to Telstra's existing copper wire network, which is linked to homes and businesses.Labor has proposed contributing $4.7 billion from the future fund to contribute to the $8 billion cost of rolling out high-speed broadband to 90 per cent of the nation.
Australian women working in IT&T-related careers have faced many instances of "subtle discrimination", research shows. Over all, though, female professionals in the hi-tech sector say their careers are rewarding, provide opportunities and challenges, and are beneficial to society, the report says. James Cook University in Cairns, released the final part of a three-year study last week that finds women in IT&T are more likely to recommend their career to others if they have been treated as equals in their workplace and have found management approachable. Women "did still feel that they were held to higher standards than their male peers, so they actually had to work a bit harder to impress and get even higher technical skills because there was a perception that you just had to be better to get ahead," education researcher Neil Anderson said. "We are hoping the research influences industry policy and industry practices because if they want to encourage more women into the industry the key factors are management approachability and equality." Professor Anderson said earlier research, released late last year, involving 1500 high school students, found most schoolgirls thought senior IT&T subjects were boring and irrelevant. The study is part of a larger Australian Research Council Linkage project in partnership with Education Queensland, Technology One and James Cook University.
It is investigating low participation of females in pathways to technology careers. Professor Anderson said women in IT&T reported high levels of job satisfaction and argued that the job was interesting and creative. "We want to try and get across the idea that the sorts of things that young women in schools are saying aren't typical of the industry," Professor Anderson said. The university plans to pursue further research next year on the study's finding that many girls were put off a technology career in junior school. "Another interesting thing was that they thought the pathways in schools for IT weren't clearly articulated like the other types of subjects," Professor Anderson said. "If we confirm what we found from this study, we'll look at ways we can improve that through policy and materials available to the teachers online or in curriculum reform."
The Optus-Elders Opel consortium plan to wire up rural, regional and remote Australia will not deliver to the entire population outside the capital cities, an expert has warned. Peter Moon, chairman and chief executive of Horizon Broadband Communications, also said the consortium's plans to use the unlicensed 5.8 gigahertz spectrum was unworkable and was likely to turn the network into a sinkhole of public money. He said the Opel promise of ADSL2 and wireless broadband using WiMAX would only serve a fraction of the 500,000 rural and remote households in the target market. "I don't think the business case stacks up," Mr Moon said. "The knowledge that we have of that unlicensed 5.8 GHz WiMAX system is that it will only service 130,000 customers across their 1300-odd transmitter towers." "What's being delivered is not, and cannot, be a next-generation future-proof network because the architecture is wrong; the chosen spectrum space is wrong." Horizon is a research and development business operating from the University of Ballarat's technology park. It also operates in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide. Because the spectrum Opel plans to use is unlicensed, anyone who wishes to use the frequency can do so. However, Opel has indicated that that is unlikely to happen as this spectrum is little used in the bush. But Mr Moon said this cheaper spectrum was inferior and would leave the network vulnerable to interference and bad connections.
"The unlicensed spectrum in Australia is not the spectrum you should be using for regional, rural and remote wireless connection because it doesn't have the capacity to go long distances," Mr Moon said. "And being unlicensed, it's fraught with all sorts of contention and interference issues. The only spectrum really to be used for regional, rural and remote Australia is licensed spectrum." He said both the Federal Government and Federal Opposition and the big telcos were obsessed with fibre-to-the-node when the spectrum was more ideally suited for a fourth-generation wireless broadband network. With signals that were robust and able to travel at extremely high speeds, it would provide the kind of network that could turn Australia into a global telecommunications leader. The alternative of fibre-to-the-node on the other hand would be costly and inefficient, with its embedded infrastructure and sunk dollars. He said Communication Minister Helen Coonan's special panel set up to create the framework for a tender to build an urban fibre-to-the-node network had only one chance to get it right. "We've probably only got one more chance in this country to actually create a separate alternate virtual pipe. No one has the money in this country to go and dig holes and plough in cable across this country." He said the network could work perfectly well using the existing infrastructure, including the towers set up around Australia. The infrastructure of power companies in every state could play a critical role. An Optus spokeswoman said there would be no problems with the Opel roll-out. "WiMAX is well suited for the delivery of high-speed broadband across large geographic areas, making it well suited for low-density populations like Australia," the spokeswoman said. "WiMAX has been widely deployed across locations in Europe, rural USA and Canada to deliver both residential and business broadband services."
AUSTRALIA's peak communications body will take a fresh look at whether or not the country's television viewers are finally warming to digital TV. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has kicked off a new round of research into digital TV uptake with the results expected to be released early next year. The research will update previous studies carried in 2005 and 2006 ¨C published in the reports Digital media in Australian homes and Digital media in Australian homes 2006 - that found domestic response to the broadcasting technology had been tepid. It comes ahead of a transition to digital-only broadcasting early next decade. "One of the strategic objectives of this research is to establish reference points for key indicators in the transition from analogue to digital television in Australia," ACMA executives wrote in tender documents seeking a research leader. "Research conducted by ACMA might be expected to be a valuable resource for government, the public, industry and the media in the context of the federal government's Digital Action Plan." Previous ACMA-led digital TV studies found that Australians had few compulsions to move to the new formant. Only 30 per cent of viewers had adopted digital TV in 2006, up from 13 per cent in 2005, and 14 per cent of non-adopters were not even aware that digital free-to-air television existed at all. A massive 71 per cent of non-adopters were not interested or not sure if they were interested in digital free-to-air TV last year, up from 61 per cent in 2005. The studies also showed that TV broadcasters and communications authorities were failing in their efforts to promote digital television. In 2006, 25 per cent of non-adopters said the main reason they were not interested in digital free-to-air TV was because they did not know enough about in or had not thought about it. Tenders for the 2007 digital TV research project close on August 24 and the new survey will be carried out in November.
A CANBERRA-BASED mentoring program aimed at increasing the number of women in IT executive positions was launched today. Lamenting the low numbers of women in information technology jobs - and the even lower number in positions of authority - Special Minister of State Gary Nairn launched phase three of the Women in IT Executive Mentoring program, today. The program, which began its first phase in Sydney in 2005, is a partnership between Dell, the federal Government and interested private companies.Mr Nairn said he hoped a similar scheme could be set up in the state government IT arena.
THE National E-Health Transition Authority's failure to engage clinical, vendor and healthcare stakeholders is jeopardising the sector, the Health Informatics Society of Australia says. "In an area such as health, this lack of operational knowledge can have critical and even life-endangering consequences," the society's submission to the independent review of NEHTA's performance says. "There is a concern that the almost academic approach could lead to complex, costly and possibly unsafe systems being implemented," the submission says. A survey of society members rated NEHTA's work programs as highly important, but found it was not meeting expectations. Society chief executive Dr Brendan Lovelock said the survey could not be easily dismissed. "This is a consistent view from informed stakeholders whose support will be required to achieve the high-level objectives for health system change that were intended from NEHTA. "It would be better to resolve the identified and important issues around engagement and style within the existing structures to avoid a repeat of the hiatus that occurred with the formation of NEHTA." A key issue was the narrow range of skills among NEHTA's board members.
"This is not a reflection on the competence of people currently serving on the board, but more a recognition of the breadth of the task required to transition Australia to a new e-health environment and the consequent need to have representatives that are reflective of the major stakeholder groups," the society says. Other concerns are the culture and management style of senior managers, lack of content in communications, cost and lack of useful outcomes, poor return on investment and complex and bureaucratic processes. NEHTA appointed Boston Consulting Group to conduct a statutory review of its operations 2 1/2 years after it was established as a non-profit, corporatised entity owned by the federal, state and territory governments. The chief executives of each jurisdiction's health service comprise the board. Boston Consulting, which originally recommended the creation of NEHTA, is to report its findings, including recommendations for future directions and governance, to the NEHTA board for its final decision. A spokeswoman for NEHTA declined to comment while the review was ongoing. Independent health IT consultant Dr David More said progress on e-health to date was "a national disgrace".
"It really is hard to overstate just how important proper deployment of e-health is in Australia, and just how badly it has been handled to date," he says in his submission to Boston Consulting. "The bottom line is that what NEHTA is trying to do is very badly needed, but the way they are going about it is deeply flawed, and their direction needs serious modification." Dr More said a change in governance arrangements was urgently needed: "NEHTA has virtually no practising clinicians working with it, and manifests virtually no insight into the way the health system really works. "The private sector simply ignores NEHTA, while the public sector merely pays lip service to its recommendations." The health messaging standards body, HL7 Australia, said it was not possible for NEHTA to meet its key objectives because it "does not have the mandate, the level of funding and ability to offer incentives or the collaborative ethos" needed to achieve those outcomes.
BUMPY negotiations between the NSW government and IT vendors could leave school students waiting longer than expected for new computers. The NSW Education Department had hoped to install around 20,000 new computers in schools across the state under its Technology for Learning program (T4L), in time for the beginning of term four. However, the department's chief information officer, Stephen Wilson, said delays finalising supplier contracts with Apple and laptop makers may alter the schedule. "It has been customary for the main rollout for a particular financial year to occur in term three of the school year; however this time frame is not mandated," Mr Wilson said. "It is possible that delays in the finalisation of (the Apple contract) and the laptop component of ITS2007 may spread out the delivery of T4L machines," he said The NSW Department of Commerce is currently negotiating the two contracts on the state's behalf. The desktop component of the ITS2007 contract was announced in May, but negotiations for the laptops and servers are yet to be completed. It's understood that negotiations between Apple and NSW Commerce have stalled because Education wants the company to match supply terms prescribed in current contracts with IBM-based PC vendors. Education said that Mr Wilson had "made it clear to the Department of Commerce and Apple that the same supply terms are expected to ensure equitable service delivery for schools that choose Apple PCs." Apple declined to comment on its negotiations with the state, citing customer privacy policies.
BENDIGO Bank and Adelaide Bank have pinpointed technology cost savings as an important benefit of the companies' proposed $4 billion merger. The banks hope common core banking systems will help them achieve between $60 million and $65 million in pre-tax cost savings that are expected to be realised from the merger.The merger, announced today, will significantly increase the scale of the two banks' IT operations and create an entity with a combined share market value of about $4 billion. "Cost synergies will be in areas such as reducing functional overlap, IT savings and the consolidation of corporate costs," executives from the two banks wrote in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange. Details of how the banks will reap the anticipated technology cost savings remain scant but executives indicated that the duo would benefit from common core banking systems and shared IT services. Bendigo Bank's computer and communications operations are significantly larger than Adelaide Bank's and, according to full year financial reports issued by the companies today, are growing at a much more rapid rate. Bendigo's information technology costs shot up from $28.3 million a year ago to $34.8 million in 2007, the company reported.
"Information technology costs increased by 23 per cent, reflecting increases in communication lines across the network, commissioning of the new data processing centre in Bendigo and upgrading of computer hardware and software systems," Bendigo executives wrote in the bank's full year accounts. "Communications, postage and stationary increased by $1.6 million due to growth in phone costs and higher postage volumes. Other product and delivery costs increased $2 million, including increased ATM and Eftpos network servicing costs." Adelaide Bank, meanwhile, reported a slide in technology expenditure from $12.2 million a year ago to $10.95 million at June 30, 2007. Communications, printing and stationery costs fell from $8.4 million to $7.5 million. "Technology and communication costs reduced by 10 per cent and 11 per cent respectively due mainly to the bank's corporate sourcing initiative, which concentrated on achieving more efficient procurement processes and more rigorous contract renegotiation," Adelaide Bank executives wrote.
ITU has developed an online tool to keep track of crucial ICT security standards work through a single access point. For the first time, ICT security vendors, service providers, developers, researchers and the public will now have security standards at their fingertips, with one common user interface. The guide called the ICT Security Standards Roadmap brings together information about existing standards and work in progress by the world's key standards developers. It is a collaborative effort between ITU, the European Network and Security Information Agency (ENISA) and the Network and Information Security Steering Group (NISSG). Enhancing security in cyberspace is a matter of critical concern in an increasingly networked society. Crime on the Internet alone has led to losses estimated at several billion dollars, both from online theft and from costs related to fixing networks that have been the victim of cyber attack. Cyber crime takes several forms, from breaching network security, financial fraud, invasion of privacy and identity theft to virus attacks or spam.
"There has never been a greater incentive to revitalize the order and trust in the stability and reliability of communications systems, and standardization in security design for networks is a key prerequisite," said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. "Standards-development bodies have a unique ability to address security vulnerabilities in ICT by bringing together all players. As well as the publication and development of many important security Recommendations, ITU has been behind many open discussions on providing security guidelines to protocol authors and identifying threats and vulnerabilities."
The guide provides information for potential users of security standards and other stakeholders to gain an understanding of what standards are available or under development as well as the key organizations that are working in the area. This web-based tool also lists standards-development organizations and the security standards they publish. Acting as a central tracking facility, it not only enables the identification of standards and standards activities but it also fosters coordination among standardization bodies, reducing duplication of effort and making it easier to identify existing gaps. The guide, to be developed on an ongoing basis to enhance its scope and include other standard-development organizations, is organized in five sections: ICT standards development organizations and their work ;Approved ICT security standards;Security standards under development; Future needs and proposed new security standards; Best practices. The standards are in a searchable database format with links to their sources.
Companies need to think about security and risk management before they get too excited about virtual worlds, according to analyst group Gartner. The risks businesses face as a result of getting involved in virtual worlds can be significant, according to Gartner vice president Steve Prentice. These risks shouldn't be ignored, he said - but neither should the potential opportunities and benefits that arise from using these new environments for corporate collaboration and communications. Gartner said the issues facing corporations fall into five categories:
IT risks According to the analyst, the IT risks of virtual worlds deal with the applications needed to run virtual worlds being downloaded to desktop systems. And while there are no indications these client applications represent a higher risk than other comparable applications, Gartner said that at this time, the high frequency of updates makes the control of a large application difficult.
Identity and access management It's difficult - if not impossible - to ensure that any avatar is the real-life person it claims to be, according to Garter. This lack of verifiable identity control or access management is a "major deficiency" in public virtual worlds and is having a significant impact on the potential use of virtual worlds for internal collaboration purposes, the analyst house said. As a result companies should seriously evaluate the availability of private virtual-world environments, hosted internally and existing entirely inside the enterprise firewall.
Confidentiality Discussions involving confidential and commercially sensitive information shouldn't take place inside Second Life or any other virtual world - or in an open, internet-supported social-networking site, Gartner warned. But by moving to a private virtual world the issues of privacy, confidentiality and identity can be controlled. The analyst also says non-US organisations may wish to avoid virtual worlds that are subject to US jurisdiction because this may result in stored information being subject to legal scrutiny.
Brand and reputation Uncontrolled virtual worlds represent an environment "fraught with danger" for enterprises that are sensitive to brand and reputation issues, the analyst said, so enterprises should exercise extreme caution in their virtual-world activities.
Productivity Many senior executives view virtual worlds as a waste of time as well as computing and bandwidth resources. But while unconstrained use of virtual worlds for all staff is "probably inappropriate and unnecessary", enterprises should keep an open mind and evaluate trials carefully to avoid premature and inappropriate decisions, it said.
Data collected by SonicWALL shows ongoing growth in the volume of spam, virus and phishing attacks, increased use of PDF spam and the emergence of a new wave of Excel and ZIP spam. The results were based on aggregated results from the SonicWALL Smart Network from April to July, 2007. SonicWALL's analysis shows that Directory Harvest Attacks (DHA), Denial of Service (DoS) and similar attacks decreased by 2 percent over the quarter, but still accounted for 55.7 percent of e-mail flowing into inboxes. Spam, viruses and phishing attacks, increased by 4 percent from Q1 2007, and comprised 37.4 percent of all e-mail, with the remaining 6.9 percent being Good e-mail -- a 3 percent increase over Q1 2007. During the second quarter of 2007, PDF spam emerged as a persistent threat. These types of e-mail attacks typically contain little to no text in the body but attach a PDF file, usually a stock or drug spam message containing malicious code, which, if opened, can be automatically downloaded onto a victim' s computer. It is believed the widespread adoption of PDF spam illustrates the adaptability of spammers in finding new techniques to counteract image spam prevention techniques.
"PDF spam demonstrates the continued innovation in spam techniques that attempt to bypass anti-spam detection and trick employees into opening e-mails that give the appearance of legitimate business letters," said Andrew Klein, senior product manager for SonicWALL's Email Security division. "PDF spam is effective because files in PDF format have long been considered an acceptable way for businesses to transfer information. Much like phishing e-mails, spammers have manipulated the trust factor to get past both technical and psychological defenses." More recently, an increasing amount of Excel and ZIP file spam have been detected. Utilizing the same trust-busting premise as PDF spam, Excel and ZIP spam succeed because they mimic legitimate correspondence to get more eyes to view the message. Klein commented, "Think about how many times you've fired off a PDF or ZIP file to someone with no message or a simple note along the lines of 'Here it is.' Spammers are mimicking this behavior. As a result, it is difficult to educate e-mail users as to which e-mails to open and which to ignore. The results are that if a PDF spam message gets into a user's Inbox, it is has a much higher likelihood that it will be opened than a traditional spam message."
Businesses must tell the police when they fall victim to e-crime but are often too embarrassed to do so, according to a high-ranking police officer. Detective chief superintendent Chris Corcoran of North Wales Police, chair of the E-crime Wales Unit and member of the National E-crime Forum, told silicon.com: "We need to get a true picture of the real problem so we can start to resource it properly, start to link in nationally properly and start to take some informed preventative measures." Corcoran said: "We can't deal with what we don't know about from a police perspective so - unless people tell us - we can't address the problem." Police can help by giving e-crime victims advice but businesses and consumers need to come onboard and recognise e-crime is "not high-tech crime but everyday crime", he added. The UK no longer has a standalone reporting body to deal with e-crime occurrences. Such a body did exist but was incorporated into the Serious and Organised Crime Agency last year. Wales set up its own e-crime steering group three years ago to begin taking action against cyber crimes and recently rolled out a management team to advise and support e-crime victims. Corcoran added Welsh businesses are "over the moon" about this service and prefer the personal contact and ownership a region-specific body brings. (by Gemma Simpson)
China's campaign against online pornography is far from over, an official said here Tuesday. "China will continue to hunt down online pornography," said Li Baozhong, deputy director of the office in charge of China's campaign against pornographic and illegal publications. "The successes we achieved at the beginning of 2007 have not dulled our appetite." "Over 200 million harmful online messages and 4,000 pornographic messages have been deleted so far this year. Pornographic websites have been blocked 10,000 times," he said in an interview with Xinhua. Li said the government would maintain its campaign against illegal publications, banning street sales and preventing them from spreading to the internet. He referred to the current fashion among teenagers for "Death Note" horror fiction, pointing out that China had launched a nationwide crackdown on "illegal terrifying publications" such as "Death Note" in May. "Death Note", a type of horror tale containing elements of mystery, death and revenge that has been banned from bookshelves, is popular among primary school students. But experts say they are harmful to children's psychological development. Horror fiction has become harder to find on the street since May but internet advertising and sales have shot up. The government will continue its campaign against the spread of this type of fiction on the internet.
Spam senders will be blacklisted on an anti-spam website opened here Monday by the Internet Society of China (ISC). The comprehensive anti-spam processing platform (www.iscbl.anti-spam.cn) will post a regularly updated blacklist of spam servers, allowing telecom operators and mail service providers to access the information. Over 100,000 IP addresses have been blacklisted thanks to public reports, said Zhao Zhiguo, vice-director of the telecommunications department of the Ministry of Information Industry. A "white list" of mail service providers will also be posted on the website, boosting the development of lawful mail service providers, such as the country's big players Sina, 163 and Sohu. ISC Secretary-General Huang Chengqing said the website will gradually open to the public and businesses to accelerate anti-spam efforts domestically and internationally. The ISC found from surveys that commercial ads related to online shopping, online business and adult shops accounted for the largest proportion of junk mail, and that users got particularly hot under the collar about spam containing viruses. The ISC also disclosed 906 IP addresses that sent quite a number of spam to Chinese users between March 2006 and May 2007, and urged them to take rectification measures before July 18.
Anyone who tries to publish scenes caught on video monitors in public places showing people engaged in intimate moments will face fines up to 30,000-yuan (US$3,937), the Beijing Morning Post reported today. Beijing police have begun a campaign to regulate the city's electronic eyes. Individuals and companies who set up video monitors in public areas without approval will be fined 10,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan, and company executives will also have pay the fine, the report said. Those who shoot and publish intimate scenes between couples or of women suffering a "wardrobe malfunction'' will be severely punished, the report said. Video monitors have to be set up in major public areas such as traffic hubs, infrastructures and units, the report said. If the monitor fails to work when crimes happen, companies running or installing the monitor will shoulder the responsibility, the report said. Individuals and companies must report to local public security departments if planning to set up electronic eyes, and they must safeguard pictures that invade people's privacy, the report said.
The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), China's drug watchdog, has warned the public against buying pharmaceutical products from illegal online drugstores. Those websites operators who do not obtain proper licenses from the drug administration are illegal and will be held to account, said Yan Jiangying, spokeswoman of the SFDA at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday. The administration grants two kinds of licenses, one to websites providing solely information on drugs, the other to those trading online. By the end of July this year, 1,211 websites had received licenses on providing information on drugs and only nine had been licensed to sell drugs or act as brokers, according to the SFDA. Of the nine, only four are allowed to sell drugs "over the counter" and the remaining five act as brokers between sellers and buyers. "Every website is required to display its license at the top of its website so that consumers can check and validate the license number with the list on the SFDA official website," Yan said. "The administration will work with the Ministry of Information Industry to crack down on illegal drug websites.
We also expect more citizens to tip us off if they find such websites," she said. As online shopping becomes more and more popular, more online drugstores have emerged, some claiming to sell imported drugs at lower prices and even selling banned drugs like anesthetics. The drug administration in Shanghai has set up a special team to monitor the drug business on the Internet. It is convenient to buy drugs online, especially for some patients who want to protect their privacy, but it is hard to guarantee the quality and safety of drugs if the websites are not registered by the authority and evade our monitoring, said an official from the administration. "For some illegal drug websites, all they need to start up business are a computer and a telephone. You don't know where their drugs come from. They not only threaten the health of consumers but also harm legal drugstores like us," said Yi Hui, deputy manager-general of Shanghai Pharmacy Ltd. which runs a legal online drugstore.
China's software piracy rate dropped eight percent last year, amid rising sales of foreign and domestic software firms, the State Copyright Bureau has announced. Figures from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) show pirated products accounted for 24 percent of China's software market last year, down two percentage points from 2005. The proportion of pirated PC software last year was 53 percent, down by four percentage points from 2005, said the report by CNNIC. "China is striving to crack down on piracy with governments at all levels leading the way in the use of legal software," said Xu Chao, deputy director general of the State Copyright Bureau Copyright Department, on Thursday. Software piracy in China covers the pirating of discs, pre-installing pirated software, copying between users and illegal usage, according to a survey by the Ministry of Information Industry and the China Software Industry Association.
Copying between users was gradually replacing pirated discs as the main method of piracy, said the survey which covered hundreds of software companies and thousands of software users. The government had to promote legal software to stamp out piracy and reducing prices was not necessarily effective, said the bureau. China's software industry reported 2006 sales of 480 billion yuan (60 US dollars), of which software products accounted for about 274 billion yuan, said the report. "The issue of intellectual property rights is very complex in China," said lawyer Yang Jun. "It will take a long time to educate ordinary people, many of whom consider selling and buying pirated disks a moral issue rather than an illegal action." Since 1996, law enforcement agencies have stopped 231 illegal disc production lines that could have produced 220 million discs, said the Ministry of Public Security. From 1994 to 2005, China confiscated 1.5 billion illegal publications, of which more than one billion were pirated discs, according to the Ministry of Culture.
Technopreneurs working with open-source technology can now develop their applications further, with the opening of the Basis Bay-MSC Malaysia Open Source laboratory here. The lab, which is set up by the two entities through the Technopreneur Development Division at Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), is aimed at spuring the development of applications using open-source technology. According to Basis Bay chief executive officer Datuk Praba Thiagarajah, although the acceptance of open-source applications in Malaysia is still growing, there is a global market for applications developed using the technology. "The majority of organisations in Europe and the United States are using them in mission-critical environments, but we do not want to limit the opportunities of opensource technology to only that," he said. Opportunities beyond the mission-critical application environment, he said, includes those involving IT infrastructure products such as database and middleware solutions.
The lab, located inside the MSC Malaysia Technology Commercialisation Centre at the Multimedia University here, can cater for nine projects at a time with two people working on each project. It is equipped with Basis Bay's Jazz server which it claims is made to support high performance computing. "We hope to get 30 projects developed in this facility (as a start)," said MDeC CEO Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, adding that there is no time frame set to achieve that goal. Developers will be charged a minimum monthly rental fee of RM180 to use the facility and are given between four and six months to complete their projects. Basis Bay also plans to open the facility to developers outside the Klang Valley. But Praba did not specify when this would happen.
It is not Google Earth but Wikimapia which is the biggest concern of security agencies. It is called Wikimapia. The website, which derive its name from Wikipedia, combines high resolution satellite and mapping imagery created by Google Maps and the easy interactivity of Wikipedia. In the case of Wikimapia, users can go to wikimapia.org, identify locations on the high-resolution maps there and enter more information about the locations. The information gets automatically stored on the maps. The site has already added four million locations since it was created in May 2006. The site can be accessed in 64 languages and a user does not need to be tech-savvy to access all the information available (unlike on Google Earth). Security personnels in India believe that any person can go and post any kind of information about the installations in India and there is very little space to stop it. It is next to impossible to catch such people who place vital and sensitive information, but the risk they pose is very big. India is badly affected: all major installations, including Rashtrapati Bhavan, air force airfields, army installations and headquarters and nuclear research centres are plotted on the site. In certain cases, users have identified defence installations, leaving additional information.
The Kerala IT Mission and Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) has launched a web portal to check cyber crimes in India. Users can log on to www.cyberkeralam.in and register themselves. They will be given a password using which they can share their grievances with experts at C-DAC. Users can expect immediate tips but if the problem requires a detailed investigation it will be referred to the hi-tech cell of the Kerala police. The portal will help in checking cyber related crimes like hacking, phishing, fake websites and e-mail ID and password thefts. A call center will function from the C-DAC headquarters to help solve the common problems faced by the computer users.
ISLAMABAD (August 18 2007): Pakistan could create 30,000 jobs in the IT sector by reducing its software piracy rate by only 10 percent, said Farhan Junejo, License Compliance Manager, Microsoft-Pakistan here Friday at a training programme. "Pakistan can easily cut its piracy rate from the current 86 percent to 76 percent, to generate 30,000 jobs for the unemployed youth in the Information Technology (IT) sector," he said addressing a week-long "IPR Law Enforcement and Cyber Investigation Training," organised by American Embassy here at a hotel. The law enforcement personnel from FIA, police and judiciary are being trained to help them investigate and prosecute Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) related crimes in the country. Quoting an International Data Corporation (IDC) report Farhan said, a 10 percent reduction in the global software piracy rate could in fact add 1.5 million jobs, increase economic growth by $400 billion and generate $64 billion in new taxes to help government's fund public programmes like education, health and law enforcement. He said that in 2006 the IT industry provided almost a trillion dollars revenues to the global economies. The hardware sector contributed $330 billion, the packaged software $180 billion and the services generated $420 billion in revenues.
Defence Signals Directorate and Microsoft Join Forces to Deliver Greater Protection to Government ICT The Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), Australia¡¯s national authority for information security, is to assess the security of Microsoft¡¯s Windows Mobile 5 and 6 systems. The Acting Director of the Defence Signals Directorate, Ms. Lynwen Connick and Microsoft¡¯s National Chief Security Adviser, Mr. Peter Watson met today after the Microsoft products were formally accepted into Defence Signals Directorate¡¯s Australasian Information Security Evaluation Program (AISEP). Ms Connick said it is important that these Microsoft products are being evaluated under the Defence Signals Directorate managed Australasian Information Security Evaluation Program (AISEP). ¡°The evaluation of Windows Mobile 5 and 6 is an important step in evaluating emerging technology for potential use in government systems. The successful evaluation of these products will mean that government can be assured that there will be greater choices available to work remotely. ¡°As the government moves to provide greater on-line service and access options to Australians, we need assurance that there are appropriate levels of protection for our Information Communications Technology systems,¡± Ms. Connick said. As the national authority for information security, the DSD evaluates Information Communications Technology (ICT) security products for use in the Australian Government¡¯s official communications and information systems. Mr Watson said the evaluation of Windows Mobile represents a significant milestone for Microsoft. ¡°We are very pleased to be undergoing this process with the Defence Signals Directorate. This highlights the co-operative relationship between Microsoft Australia and the Australian government and reinforces both organisations¡¯ commitment to the area of security accreditation,¡± he said.
THE federal Government has signed an agreement with ANZ that will see some of the bank's customers trial secure access to online government services. The agreement between ANZ and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, allows ANZ business customers trial access to government services using a chip card carrying an IdenTrust digital certificate. Access to federal, state and local government services would be provided during the trial, ANZ said in a statement. ANZ working capital managing director Chris Cooper said the bank for the first in Australia to provide customers with secure access to government services. Uses for the card could include access to applications for government grants, licence applications, customs reporting and access to government tender information. Trials are scheduled to begin later in the year, with ANZ planning to offer access to more customers if the trials prove successful.
CUSTOMERS will have to be notified of security breaches involving their personal data under a bill to be introduced by Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja. When parliament resumes next week, the senator will present a private bill obliging businesses and government agencies to inform affected individuals about data exposures. The proposed amendment to the Privacy Act would bring Australia into line with tough US data-breach rules, and the European Commission's Directive on Data Protection, expected to be passed shortly. Senator Stott Despoja said the bill was necessary because existing privacy laws were deficient. "The current laws do not specifically require an organisation to notify those affected when personal information is subject to unauthorised disclosure," she said. "In recent years, there has been growing public concern about increased losses, infiltrations and spillages of information held by businesses and agencies. "Even the most security-conscious organisation can fall victim to information theft or exposure of personal records." The rise in data security breaches coincided with an increase in identity theft, which had implications for an affected person's finances, credit rating and good standing. "It can lead to harassment by debt collectors, denial of credit and attention from law enforcement for crimes committed by someone else," she said. But the incidence and severity of identity theft could be ameliorated through greater awareness, and pre-warning when personal data was wrongfully disclosed.
"Measures can be implemented to lessen the impact, but only if people are aware of the loss of their information," Senator Stott Despoja said. "Notification requirements would bring about greater awareness, and improve data-security practices, as has occurred in other countries." There was an urgent need for the legislation, she said. "We're seeing a number of proposals to centralise and streamline government services and databases, while business mergers and the purchase of companies by offshore private equity funds mean there's greater potential for large-scale breaches." Senator Stott Despoja said a recent study by the US-based IT Policy Compliance Group showed that more than two-thirds of Australian companies experienced six losses of sensitive data each year. "Further, the report states that one in five organisations loses sensitive data 22 or more times a year," she said. "These breaches involve customer, financial, corporate employee and IT security data that has been stolen, leaked or inappropriately destroyed." To satisfy public expectations, "Parliament must legislate to require organisations to tell individuals when their information has been compromised. "I hope my colleagues will support this straightforward amendment to the Privacy Act."
"An online dog re-registration initiative by Auckland City Council is a good service for responsible dog owners", says Associate Local government Minister Nanaia Mahuta. ¡°Making it this simple will help responsible dog owners minimise the risk of over-looking the need to re-register.¡± ¡°This initiative means Auckland will have more resources available to concentrate on the heart of the dog problem ¨C irresponsible owners who actively avoid registering their dogs," says Nanaia Mahuta. Figures from the National Dog Database show that in 2006/2007 there are 19,204 dogs registered in Auckland City alone. ¡°For effective dog control and safe communities we need good laws, active and determined local councils, and support from citizens and responsible dog owners. ¡°Good laws need good enforcement. That¡¯s the job of councils, and it¡¯s great to see new initiatives being taken. Good laws also need the active support of citizens. Making the law easy to observe builds this support. "This government, and local government, understand the benefits of responsible dog ownership and we want people to be able to enjoy those benefits with as little fuss as possible. "However responsible dog owners are let down by those who do not respect the law. If you know of dogs which are unregistered, menacing or dangerous, then tell your local council,¡± says Nanaia Mahuta.
Panos South Asia (PSA) is a part of a family of Panos Institute worldwide that encourages and facilitates public discourse on a wild range of issues, particularly those that have a direct impact on the least privileged and most marginalized sections of society. Panos works through media to bring neglected subjects to the fore in developmental debate, so as to give a platform for voices and perspectives, which are often rendered voiceless in the public sphere. In this endeavour, besides other activities, Panos facilitates the capacity building of media and other communication practitioners to use new media technologies to raise marginalized voices and perspectives in development. The Internet as a 'new media' has become a major arena for traditional broadcast media. Internet based radio is proving an attractive field for traditional electronic broadcasters. Despite bandwidth limitations in South Asia, the Internet already enables radio stations and other communication practitioners to distribute their radio programmes in broadcast quality beyond their immediate geographic confines. Panos South Asia (PSA) is organising a 5-day South Asian regional ¡®Online Radio Broadcasting Training Workshop¡¯ for media and other communication practitioners in South Asia, from 19-23 June 2007 at its Media Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The workshop aims to provide know-how on the potential the Internet offers to radio and point them to ways of incorporating it in their respective media outlets' strategy. Based on hands-on training in digital technologies, the workshop curriculum will cover the issues of distributing material online and the techniques of streaming content to global audiences. Trainees will become acquainted with the latest real-time on-line broadcasting technologies, as well as with the fundamentals of digitisation of multimedia input, encoding, compression standards and online audio streaming. Broadcasters, radio producers/reporters, editors, web masters, web editors, bloggers, pod-casters and other communication practitioners, especially, but not necessarily associated with radio media from South Asian countries wishing to attend this training workshop may apply by 28 May 2007 by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org PSA will cover all related costs of participation, including travel, for selected participants from the region. Your application should contain a brief resume and less than 300 word essay stating your experience on 'new media'. And how by participating in this workshop it will enable you or your organization to enhance your work to give a platform for voices and perspectives, which are often rendered voiceless in the public sphere. PSA will respond ONLY to selected applicants by 5 June 2007. Telephone and other solicitations shall not be entertained.
Panos South Asia (PSA) is organising a 3-day South Asian ICT4D Regional Consultation Workshop from 29-31 July 2007 in Kathmandu, Nepal under its regional project ¡°Facilitating Networking, Knowledge Sharing and Learning on ICT4D in South Asia¡±. The workshop seeks to bring together media and CSOs, I/NGOs, donors, development and communication specialists, academics and researchers working on ICT4D in South Asia. Panos South Asia (PSA) is a part of a family of Panos Institute worldwide that encourages and facilitates public discourse on a wide range of issues, particularly those that have a direct impact on the least privileged and most marginalized sections of society. Panos works through media to bring neglected subjects to the fore in developmental debate, so as to give a platform for voices and perspectives, which are often rendered voiceless in the public sphere. In this endeavour, besides other activities, Panos is implementing a project that aims to facilitate ICT driven empowerment of the marginalized people at the local level in development in South Asian countries to mainstream their local perspectives (voices) to facilitate networking, knowledge sharing, and learning on Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) at the national, regional and global levels.
The project is supported by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) under the Building Communication Opportunities Programme (BCO). The Regional Consultation Workshop aims to identify the prevailing ICT4D practices in South Asia with specific reference to Millennium Development Goals, Poverty, Human Rights and Sustainable Development and to identify gaps and challenges in these specific areas with specific references to capacity in South Asia. The consultation workshop also aims to identify possible areas of synergy between media and CSOs on ICT4D in South Asia. And in turn, chart out strategic intervention/plan of action to facilitate synergy between media and CSOs. Those wishing to participate in the consultation workshop are requested to apply by filling out the attached application form. Few scholarships are available for selected applicants. Properly filled out applications should be submitted not later than 30 June 2007 by e-mail to email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org.
AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The International Association of Software Architects (IASA), a 5,000-member association focused on defining and supporting the professional duties of IT architects, today announced the first IT Architect Regional Conference (ITARC). Set for Sept. 13-14, 2007 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, ITRARC is the premier IT architect educational event of the year, and is the largest regional event addressing the pressing needs of IT architects today. Co-sponsored by the International Association of Software Architects (IASA) and the IASA Atlanta chapter, the September meeting is the first of a series of regional conferences taking place throughout the U.S. to provide high-level, professional education and training for the fast-growing and ever-changing IT architecture community. The conference will feature an assortment of specialty tracks, presentations, and panel discussions. Speakers comprise both internally known experts and practitioners from the region. IASA founder and President Paul T. Preiss announced that the renowned pioneer of Agile modeling methodologies, Scott Ambler will keynote the event.
"This is a revolutionary idea, a conference that serves and is owned by local architects," said IASA founder Preiss. "Members have told us that they are tired of over-priced events where companies can only afford to send one delegate. This is about the local community, sharing ideas with peers and teams." Besides Ambler and IASA's Preiss, speakers will include local professionals like Rawls Whittlesey, Chief Architect at Delta Technology, and Don Browning, Principle Architect for Turner Broadcasting Systems. One topic that is expected to be of broad interest is how companies deal with the tension between convenience and security. Addressing how to find the right balance, the presentation will be made by Jason Chambers, Lead Architect at Atlanta-based nuBridges Inc.
Agile software development is quickly being adopted within organizations worldwide and will likely to be the norm by the end of the decade, said Preiss. "Architecture is an important part of any agile software development project, contrary to popular belief. That is why we are delighted to have Scott Ambler as our keynote speaker. Just like a traditional team can benefit from enterprise architecture (EA) support, when it's done right, so can an agile project team." The secret is in doing EA right, said Ambler. "Traditional approaches to EA simply aren't 'right' for agile projects: the high failure rate with EA efforts tells us that traditional approaches likely aren't right for traditional teams either. It's a dilemma, if we allow it to be one. But there are solutions, as well." Ambler's keynote describes effective strategies for EA which will enable enterprise architects to effectively support agile teams, strategies which are based on collaboration and working software instead of command-and-control and comprehensive documentation.
Among other topics, attendees will learn efficient strategies for linking their enterprise strategy to implementation; create and articulate sound ROI for information architectures; prioritize their objectives; and inspire employees to share their vision. Governance concepts, a topic of ever-increasing importance for information technology practitioners and executives alike, will also be discussed. The pricing ($350 for IASA members, $500 for non-members until Aug. 8) has been deliberately set to encourage team attendance, from professionals such as chief architects, software architects, infrastructure architects, business and information architects, developers, and aspiring architects. Conference sponsors include Microsoft, IBM, Sun, and DataDirect. The Atlanta event will be followed by other ITARC meetings in Washington, D.C., San Diego, and other major venues around the country. The conferences are part of IASA's ongoing commitment to developing the Architect profession, and follow successful events in Europe and Asia.
Information and communication technology experts, policymaker and civil society members underscored the need for taking measures so that rural people can benefit from technological development. They were speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day meeting on 'GKP South Asia Meeting: Consolidating the Partnership Towards GK3' jointly organised by D.Net, Bangladesh NGO's Network for Radio and Communications (BNNRC) and Sri Lankan organisation Sarvodaya Fusion at the city's Brac Inn. Speaking as the chief guest, Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, Vice Chancellor of Brac University, said it is important to convert information to local dialect as many a people in the rural areas are not capable of accessing Internet and information. ¡°We can see that cell phone has marked a rapid growth in the last four to five years. This opportunity should also be made available to the rural people,¡± he noted. Emphasising on the field level content generation, Jamilur Reza Chowdhury observed: ¡°If you take the knowledge to the local people, dialect should be considered seriously. Those who are working in this field should try to understand the problems of the grass root level people, he said.
The two-day meet at Dhaka aims to frame a common agenda for South Asian nations so that they can have a common voice in the third Global Knowledge Partnership that is scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, according to the organisers. On the first day, 33 people from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India participated where they assessed the works of the South Asian countries in disseminating information and communication technology to common people. Riaz Hamidullah, director Saarc and Bimstec; Dr Toufic Ahmad Choudhury, chairman of D.Net; Justine Chew, coordinator of GKP Secretariat, Harsha Liyanage, managing director of Sarvodaya Fusion, AHM Bazlur Rahman, chief executive officer of BNNRC and Mahmud Hasan, director programme of D.Net also spoke at the inaugural session. Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP) is the world¡¯s first multi-stakeholder network promoting innovation and advancement in Knowledge for Development (K4D) and Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D).
The use of the Internet is characterised by increased participation and interaction of users to communicate and express themselves. The expanding use of the Internet¡¯s inherent capabilities for creation and exchange is often called the ¡°participative web¡±. It is an Internet influenced by new intelligent web services enabling users to contribute to developing, rating, collaborating and distributing Internet content and developing and customising Internet applications, driven by an expanding broadband base and easy-to-use software to create and distribute content. The collective intelligence of Internet users is driving new social and economic applications, with the participative web increasingly important across an expanding range of business, research and innovation and social activities. More open approaches to information creation, exchange and diffusion are being taken up extensively in government, education and other areas. As new models for creation, distribution and use of digital information are enabled by the Internet, new policy challenges for governments are emerging to provide the environment that enables and supports these development and diversity of use.
Questions to be addressed in the Foresight Forum include: What does the future hold for the participative web? What are the trends and impacts on knowledge-creation, business, users and governments? What are the implications for enhancing confidence and trust in the Internet? What is the government role in providing the right environment for stimulating Internet innovation and economic growth? This first-ever international policy forum on the participative web will bring together experts from around the world, from policy makers and academics to business executives and a wide range of civil society to address these questions. The presentations and discussions around the themes of Creativity, Confidence and Convergence will contribute to the OECD Ministerial Meeting on The Future of the Internet Economy in Seoul, Korea, 17-18 June 2008.
Following the success of the 2006 GovTech conference, this year¡¯s conference is highly anticipated by all stakeholders, and will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from August 21 to August 23. Organised by the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), the conference aims to bring together delegates from the public sector as well as local and international experts and specialists from the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. ¡°GovTech promotes open communication and constructive dialogue between stakeholders, so as to ensure progress and development of the vision of a very precise egovern- ment strategy. And we are not leaving anything out ¨C we will evaluate the current situation and map the road ahead,¡± affirms Sita chief: business operations Noedine Isaacs-Mpulo. The conference will consist of four ¡®tracks¡¯, covering the broad theme of ¡®transformation through technology together¡¯, and will analyse the bigger role for ICT in the public service sector, with a focus on broader stakeholder involvement.
The first track looks specifically at government transformation, and asks what needs to be done in this regard to move forward. Elements that will be discussed include spatial, structured and unstructured integration, technology modernisation and service orientation, egovern- ance and citizen relationship management, the enablement of shared services (such as business process outsourcing and ICT outsourcing), creative and effective ways of extend- ing broadband to remote communities, and managing ICT security.
The second track focuses on sourcing and delivery models, including presentations and discussions regarding joint social investment and small to medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) incubation, the creation of offshore capabilities to aid transformation, and eprocurement or the overall supply chain process alignment versus ICT-specific disciplines.
The third track investigates appli- cable technologies and pertinent trends for a South African context, including next-generation networks and convergence, the International Standards Organisation, information technology infrastructure library and control objectives for information and related technology, WiMax in comparison to high-speed down- link packet access or fourth-genera- tion, radio frequency identification, service orientated architecture, open-source software and standards, Web 2.0, nanotechnology, and collaboration tools.
The fourth track will provide State-entity updates and vertical government initiatives, and will con- sider the three spheres of government, State entities and agencies. It will include presentations from various government departments, including the Department of Transport, which will discuss lessons learned from the implementation of its eNaTIS system. Sita¡¯s role is to coordinate the State¡¯s information technology resources to achieve cost savings through scale of operation, increased delivery capabilities and enhanced interopera- bility. Sita aims to leverage information technology (IT) as a strategic resource for government, managing the IT procurement and delivery pro- cess, and using IT to support the delivery of egovernment services to all citizens. Thus, Sita is the IT busi- ness for the largest employer and con- sumer of IT products and services in South Africa ¨C the government.
The conference will also include a large expo, giving industry players the opportunity to exhibit new technology and solutions. This year¡¯s expo will include the addition of various SMMEs, allowing them to showcase the niches they are able to cater for, as well as an international boulevard where foreign governments will display their services and projects.
Geneva, 11 July 2007 ¡ª The Connect Africa Summit will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, 29-30 October 2007. This was announced by ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour¨¦ at a Press Conference in Geneva, held jointly with the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID). While investment in ICT infrastructure in Africa has improved dramatically in recent years, representing a total of USD 8 billion in 2005 (up from USD 3.5 billion in 2000), and growth in mobile phones has increased by as much as 400 per cent, Africa has fallen back in overall connectivity. While mobile has surpassed fixed line telephone access, fewer than 4 out of every 100 Africans have Internet access; broadband penetration remains below 1 per cent; and 70 per cent of all Internet traffic within Africa is re-routed outside the continent, driving up costs for businesses and consumers.
"We need a Marshall Plan for ICT infrastructure development in Africa," said Dr Tour¨¦. "We have to mobilize the world¡¯s human, financial and technical resources to support economic growth, employment and development across Africa." He added that support was pouring in from partners in this endeavour, including from leading ICT companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere ¡ª who have been given the challenge of replicating their successes in Africa ¡ª as well as from governments, international organizations and development banks. He pointed out that the Chairman of Intel Corporation Mr Craig Barrett is spearheading the efforts through his leadership of UN GAID. With less than 8 years left to meet the 2015 targets of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG), drastic steps are required. Dr Tour¨¦ pointed out that meeting ICT connectivity targets would act as a catalyst in achieving the broader development goals. "ICT is a means of creating wealth and sustainable economic growth," he said.
UN Secretary-General to support Connect Africa initiative Earlier, speaking at a function at the International Telecommunication Union, UN Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon expressed his full support to the Connect Africa initiative and said that it represented an important step in overcoming the digital divide. "This is an important vision," he said. "We need to make our best efforts, as part of our MDG programme, to bridge this gap." He also said that ITU should broaden its vision and commitment to meeting long-term global concerns, such as climate change.The Connect Africa Summit will be held under the patronage of the President of Rwanda, Mr Paul Kagame, and Chairman of the African Union, President John Kufour of Ghana. It will be organized by the International Telecommunication Union, the African Union, the World Bank Group and UN GAID, in partnership with the African Development Bank, the African Telecommunication Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa. This collaborative effort will engage some 500 high-level stakeholders active in the region, including China, India, the European Commission and G8, OECD and Arab countries, major ICT companies, the United Nations Development Programme and other international organizations.
"This will not be just another Summit," said Dr Tour¨¦. "It will be a Summit of commitment between partners, not a meeting to negotiate new resolutions." The private sector, governments and international organizations will be called on to work together, and there will be a commitment to creating an environment that promotes the improvement of ICT. "ICT is a business, and the only way to ensure sustainability and large-scale effects is to provide an environment that lets business deliver ICT," added Dr Tour¨¦. "For too long we have had negative information coming from Africa; we have to bring positive news." Speaking on behalf of GAID, Mr Walter Fust, Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, said, "ICT is extremely important for managing knowledge for development, and for bringing local knowledge into development." He stressed the importance of the Connect Africa initiative and said that emphasis should be laid on a few targeted areas, such as using ICT to empower people with disabilities and to "reverse the pyramid of learning" by ensuring that all schools are connected to the Internet. He added that the goal is to establish 500'000 telecentres worldwide by 2015.
HANA The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the telecommunications industry regulator, is set to host the upcoming 2nd Annual Connecting Rural Communities Africa conference organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). The Conference will be held in Nairobi from 21st to 24th August 2007 at the Grand Regency Hotel. Dubbed ¡®Connecting Rural Africa Forum 2007¡ä, this international forum will bring together African government officials, senior figures from African regulatory authorities and international ICT experts who are leading the private sector connectivity drive to discuss and analyze best practices, share case studies and debate crucial topics such as: -Optimal regulation strategies to promote rural connectivity -Creating the right environment to attract foreign investment -How to best harness and utilise ICT to deliver socio-economic benefits to rural communities -Analyse current projects which seek to bridge the digital divide -The opportunity to advance rural connectivity through mobile, internet and satellite and enhance access to key services, content and applications. It also aims at providing a forum to discuss regulatory strategies, research findings, business models, available technologies and public-private partnerships that could enhance rural connectivity.
¡°The Second Annual Connecting Rural Communities 2007 Forum will enable governments, regulatory agencies and operating companies to focus on the central challenge for Africa?s ICT evolution: bridging the urban-rural gap. It will be an excellent networking opportunity for the public and private sector to build relationships and make new business contacts. I hope you will be able to participate at the conference, use the opportunity to meet other senior ICT stakeholders and return back to your office empowered by the knowledge that will be shared at the event.¡± Said Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, CEO, CTO. The theme of the 2007 conference- Bridging the digital divide through sustainable ICT connectivity- couldn¡¯t have been more appropriate. Based on the success of last year¡¯s event which included a high-ranking speakers representing 10 different nations, the duration of this event has been increased. The forum will run for three days and will be preceded by a meeting of the ¡®Commonwealth Connect programme¡¯. This year will have an additional focus day devoted to telemedicine,e-governance, mobile based banking and improving the accessibility of education. There will also be a workshop day, which will allow smaller groups to focus on specific issues in an informal and interactive format.
Sep 18, Marriott Denver City Center, 1701 California Street, Denver, CO 80202. The 2007 Colorado Digital Government Summit is being produced in conjunction with Colorado's Cyber Security Summit. "There is clearly an evolution in the role of information technology for state & local governments and Government Technology Magazine has been on the forefront regarding technology issues and trends facing the public sector. Government Technology¡¯s 2007 Colorado Conference scheduled for Tuesday, September 18, 2007 will be no exception. Historically this conference has attracted the Nation¡¯s best practitioners and past topics have included cyber security, shared services in government, enterprise architecture and effective project management. Whether you are an elected official, an IT professional, a government manager seeking to leverage technology in day-to-day operations or a technology solution partner, this is clearly the annual event to attend. Mark your calendars and register early I look forward to seeing you all there!" Michael Locatis, Chief Information Officer, State of Colorado
The Fifth China International Software and Information Service Fair kicked off in Dalian on Thursday, the picturesque a port city in Liaoning Province attracting over 700 IT businesses from around the world. Industry powerhouses such as Lenovo, Intel, Siemens and Toshiba converged on Dalian to show off their latest consumer electronics, integrated circuits, IT outsourcing and consultancy, digital entertainment and other services and products. To accommodate such a variety of talent, the fair spread its canvas to over 30,000 square meters. The four-day fair will most major forums on topics such as on innovation in the software industry, IT personnel training, the outsourcing of China's software and information services, and an IT-specific job fair, organizers said. Intel Corp., which announced in March that it would soon build a 2.5-billion-dollar chip factory in Dalian, will also organize themed seminars to promote its software. Infosys, the world's second largest software exporter, will also be participating for the first time, with Infosys (China) chief executive James Lin calling the fair a wonderful platform for his company to forge closer partnerships and become better-known on the ground in China.
The fair, jointly sponsored by eight ministries and government departments including the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Information Industry, the Ministry of Education and the Liaoning Provincial government, is the only international software fair in China. The Ministry of Information Industry has emphasized the importance of China's presence on the IT software market with its sales volume nationwide leaping 23 percent year-on-year to 480 billion yuan in 2006. China is set to ride this roaring rise to 2010, by which point the market is set to be worth one trillion yuan, according to ministry stats. Dalian, one of China's major software production and export bases, currently hosts 510 software companies, 30 percent of them overseas-funded like Nokia, Ericsson and General Electrics. The city's boom can be made no clearer than the 10 billion yuan it garnered in software industry sales in 2005, or 50 times higher than 1998.
Oracle, one of the world's biggest business software makers, announced that it has established a research center in Shanghai and said it plans to open more offices in China, one of its fastest-growing markets. The Oracle Asia Research and Development Center in Shanghai will be the US software company's third research facility in China, with the other two in Beijing and Shenzhen. The Shanghai research center will focus on ubiquitous computing, Web 2.0 technologies, wireless computing and voice recognition technologies. "The establishment of the Shanghai R&D facility is a milestone in Oracle's investment in China," said Pascal Sero, vice-president, Oracle Asia Research and Development Centers, Oracle Asia-Pacific & Japan. "With three centers strategically located in the country, China is now the research engine in Asia-Pacific (for Oracle)," Sero said on the sidelines of the Oracle OpenWorld Asia-Pacific, a business and technology conference. But the senior executive declined to reveal the investment into the research center or how many researchers will work at the facility.
The world's biggest enterprise software vendor also announced it will establish a Partner Solution Center in Beijing, the second facility of its kind in China. The other was established in Shenzhen in 2004. The Beijing Partner Solution Center will focus on helping Oracle's partners in China build their application solutions, the company said in a statement. The US software company is also planning to open more branch offices in rapidly growing cities in China to meet soaring demand. Oracle has in the past year opened eight branch companies in cities such as Dalian, Hangzhou and Fuzhou, bringing the number of its branch companies in the country to 13. "Oracle will ramp up its expansion in China by establishing a number of new facilities to provide greater support and meet growing demand from customers across the country," said Roger Li, regional managing director for Oracle Greater China. But Li did not say which cities his firm is to set foot.
Sponsored by the Chengdu city government in the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, the second Chengdu International Digital Entertainment Week will be held in the Chengdu Science and Technology Street from September 1 to 14. A forum discussing the development trends of China's digital entertainment sector, an e-game competition drawing participants from South Korea and Russia, a display of famous digital products and an animation and cartoon design competition and exhibition will be held, said Zheng Heping, deputy secretary-general of the Chengdu city government. Hosting the digital entertainment week is an attempt to boost the software sector in Chengdu, he said. Manufacturing is Chengdu's strength. But the inland city is thousands of kilometers away from the sea and its industries spend at least 50 percent more on transportation than coastal regions. It takes five days longer for products manufactured in Chengdu to reach other countries than from coastal cities. With the computer and Internet boom, in 2003 the Chengdu city government decided to take full advantage of the city's scientific and technological personnel to establish the software sector as a pillar industry. A traditional electronic industrial base in China, Chengdu is an important educational and scientific research center in the country. It has 33 institutions of higher learning and 70 scientific research institutes feeding its talent pool. The city has some 630,000 scientists and technicians, the most in western China.
The annual Seoul Digital Forum, a summit of global information technology moguls and mavens, kicks off today with discussions on how to sustain growth in the industry amid the changes in the media environment. This year¡¯s theme, ¡°Media Big Bang ¨D Impact on Business and Society,¡± marks the fourth year for the event, which draws a variety of internationally known guests as speakers, this year including Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Associated Press President Tom Curley and Disney Media Network Co-Chairwoman Anne Sweeney. Chris Anderson, editor of Wired Magazine and author of the much discussed book ¡°The Long Tail,¡± will also be at the event. ¡°Witnessing the emergence of new players and the challenges that existing industries face, a media big bang is certainly taking place,¡± said the forum¡¯s organizing committee in a statement. Starting with a discussion on the impact of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement on the media market on the first day, a series of seminars will discuss the influence of media on today¡¯s politics, the role of new media in education and other topics during the three-day event. Google¡¯s Schmidt, on his first visit to Korea, is scheduled to give a special lecture on the changes that Internet technologies will bring to existing media. The venue is the same as last year, the Sheraton Walker hill Hotel in eastern Seoul. Aside from the lecture, Schmidt is also expected to have several private meetings with Korean IT firms, according to industry sources, possibly to hash out some deals. Today he will meet with Kim Shin-bae, president of SK Telecom, Korea¡¯s largest mobile service provider, and later in the day with Seok Jong-hoon, president of Daum Communications, the nation¡¯s second-place portal site operator. Daum and Google already have an online advertising arrangement.
Korea is to hold an international meeting this week to provide a chance for the world¡¯s IT experts to exchange opinions on a new Internet protocol designed to increase the number of available Internet addresses, officials said yesterday. The two-day Global IPv6 Summit in Korea 2007 will kick off in Seoul on Thursday, the Ministry of Information and Communication said. The annual summit, the seventh of its kind, will focus on how to launch the IPv6, an Internet protocol that is an improvement over the current IPv4. The new protocol is a possible solution to the worsening shortage of available Internet addresses, and the ministry is seeking an earlier introduction of the standard.
Korea¡¯s information minister will leave for China this week to meet with Chinese officials and discuss ways to boost cooperation in the information technology sector, officials said yesterday. According to the Ministry of Information and Communication, Rho Jun-hyong will have a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Xudong today to exchange opinions on how to improve technological ties in telecommunications and other areas. His visit comes as local telecommunications companies eye China as a market with high potential since the world¡¯s most populous country is moving to offer a third-generation mobile communications service.
All members of the Banjig.Net Internet web-site will meet on August 4. The main aim of the meeting is to provide information about the Internet usage and to determine its further development goals. The meeting will be available to all who use the Internet and will give new information to them. During the meeting, many activities are planned to take place, such as trainings on ¡°E-business¡± Internet usage, individual development and many other competitions. The members who are living abroad can send greetings and take part in the meeting with their web cameras. The meeting is intended to be held annually to conduct trainings by inviting professional teachers.
The MCA ICT Resource Centre's information and communications technology trade fair aimed at small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country is scheduled for Sept 6-8. The event, to be held at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre here, is meant to help boost ICT adoption by SMEs. It also provides a platform for SMEs and ICT companies to mingle. In conjunction with the exhibition, the MCA ICT Resource Centre has declared Sept 3-8 as SME ICT Week. In the period, it will hold e-marketing workshops, a leadership forum, security conferences and more. This year's exhibition, the third in as many years, is expected to draw about 400 exhibitors. For more information, surf to www.mirc.org.my.
Microsoft's premier and largest annual conference ¡ª Tech.Ed South-East Asia ¡ª will be returning to this capital city next month. The software giant announced that the conference would once again be a learning and training centre for some 2,000 technopreneurs, IT administrators, software developers, and software architects from throughout the region. Themed "Turn doing your job into making your mark," this edition of Tech.Ed aims to sharpen the focus on core and critical IT and programming skills. It will enable developers to get technical training, information and resources to help them build, deploy, secure, mobilise, and manage software solutions, said Microsoft. Fielding a comprehensive array of technical sessions, instructor-led workshops, and technology specialists, Tech.Ed SEA 2007 will also provide insights into the highly-anticipated Windows Server 2008, formerly codenamed "Longhorn." This year's event will feature even more speakers from Microsoft, allowing participants to learn about leading technologies from the people who develop them. There will be a total of 120 breakout sessions across technical tracks that include Windows infrastructure; Office, messaging and collaboration; as well as systems management and enterprise data management.
"Tech.Ed continues to be recognised by our partners as the premier industry conference that not only introduces new Microsoft technology and software, but also sets the next wave of the technology agenda," said Tyson Dowd, senior director of Malaysia software economy at Microsoft Malaysia. "We're especially excited about introducing the next generation of products at this year's Tech.Ed, as they will demonstrate integrated innovation at its best," he said. "Businesses today are looking at increased productivity and cost efficiencies and, with integrated innovation, this leads to a dramatic increase in business value and makes enterprises what is termed 'people-ready.'" Dowd also said that the decision to bring Tech.Ed back to Malaysia is based on the growing and vibrant software economy in th country. Last year's conference was held in neighbouring Singapore. Tech.Ed SEA 2007 will take place at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Sept 10 to 13.
Ministers and senior officials from 16 Asian and Middle East countries met in Singapore on Monday to discuss the next generation of web applications and its impact on users. The one-day Infocomm Media Business Exchange Ministerial Forum was chaired by Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Dr Lee Boon Yang. The theme this year was "Web 2.0: Rise of the Empowered User", with the focus on its impact on user empowerment. The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said the closed-door forum was an opportunity for dialogue and reflection. The ministers and senior officials had a useful discussion with industry players on the role governments, businesses and societies would play in maximising the benefits of Web 2.0 while at the same time managing the new set of challenges it might bring. During the forum, Chief Technology Officer of Linden Lab Cory Ondrejka, and CEO of Infocomm Development Authority Chan Yeng Kit made presentations on the Second Life phenomenon and the technology and philosophy behind Web 2.0.
Singapore and ITU collaborate on training programme in ICT policy and regulatory frameworks. Senior ICT policy makers and regulators from developing countries are in Singapore to attend a five-day executive programme on information and communication technology (ICT) development, entitled ¡°Enabling Frameworks for ICT Development - The Singapore Experience¡±. The programme, offered by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), will provide an opportunity for participants from Asia Pacific, Africa and Arab States to study and analyse Singapore¡¯s model as a means to catalyse ICT progress in their own countries. The participating countries include Bhutan, Brunei, Kenya, Kiribati, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. This follows an agreement reached between ITU and IDA in June 2007 to provide a training programme for senior ICT and telecom officials that would foster the development of ICT frameworks in their countries to enable fair, effective and sustainable competition in a multi-operator, multi-network environment. The Executive Training Programme is one example of action taken to implement the ITU Regional Initiative on Telecommunication/ICT Policy and Regulatory Cooperation in the Asia Pacific Region, which was adopted by the 4th World Telecommunication Development Conference held in Doha, Qatar in 2006.
Participants will engage in an interactive learning experience led by practitioners from the IDA and featuring guest speakers from ITU and the ICT industry. They will learn about Singapore¡¯s experience in ICT policy-making and regulating in a fully liberalised, multi-operator telecom sector. This includes covering topics like competition management, licensing frameworks, dispute resolution procedures and interconnection. The five-day programme, the first of a series, will be conducted at Singapore¡¯s e-Government Leadership Centre. The programme aims to train at least 30 participants annually over the next three years. ¡°We appreciate IDA¡¯s response to ITU¡¯s call for cooperation through this Executive Training Programme,¡± said Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU¡¯s Telecommunication Development Bureau. ¡°Singapore has one of the best regulatory models in the world, an experience which can be shared by other regulators. This is particularly relevant in developing countries, which are coping with a number of current policy and regulatory issues.¡± Deputy Chief Executive and Director-General (Telecoms) of the IDA, Leong Keng Thai said, ¡°Singapore embarked on its ICT development journey 25 years ago, and ICT has contributed greatly to Singapore becoming the confluence of business, culture and advanced infrastructure today. We are truly pleased for this successful collaboration with ITU that allows us to share the Singapore model with developing countries and facilitate their efforts in harnessing ICT for economic and social growth. We look forward to conducting more of such sessions.¡±
During their stay, participants will get first-hand experience with Singapore¡¯s recent ICT initiatives, such as Wireless@SG. Wireless@SG is the Singapore Government's wireless broadband programme that aims to extend broadband access to all public places. Since its launch in December 2006, the Wireless@SG network has 3400 hot spots spread across the island and 428,000 subscribers. It is part of the Next Generation National Infocomm Infrastructure that Singapore is building, which is expected to be completed by 2012 and will also comprise an ultra high-speed wired network.
Lower taxes on digital equipment imports, as well as a more favourable business environment, have allowed Viet Nam to attract more foreign direct investment from multinational corporations, according to organisers of this year¡¯s 12th Viet Nam Computer Electronics World Expo 2007. The Viet Nam ICT Outlook 2007 (VIO 2007) conference and the electronics world expo, to take place in HCM City from July10-15, is organised by the International Data Group in Viet Nam (IDG Viet Nam), HCM Computer Association and Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). The importance of such an event highlights the government¡¯s desire to strengthen the Digital Content Industry up to 2010, with a total budget of up to VND1,280 billion (nearly US$80 million) while the hi-tech law is being finalised for its consideration at the National Assembly. The event aims to not only serve as a platform to promote and define the industry but also helps policymakers, strategy-makers and users learn about the latest ICT developments in Viet Nam. Managing director of IDG Viet Nam & Indochina, Le Thanh Tam, said: "Promoting the successful combination between ICT and digital electronics and entertainment industries are important trends here and around the world." Tam said the event also serves as a bridge for local and international corporations to expand business networks.
The organisers expect to receive more than 250,000 visitors, including 50,000 international delegates. Brand names joining the VCW 2007 include Canon, VNPY, FPT, Sony, Intel, FujiFilm, Samsung, Toshiba, Asus, Gigabyte, Hitachi, LG and Panasonic. The Bravia V-Series and many other high-tech items like the Alpha 100 and Walkman Video are on display at Sony¡¯s booth as part of the ongoing exhibition. Three hundred local, regional and international exhibitors will be featured, including 40 exhibitors from North American, 27 from Southeast Asia, 25 from Taiwan, 20 from Hong Kong, 20 from mainland China, 15 from Japan, 8 from EU and 100 from Viet Nam. The two-day VIO 2007 conference, with participation of 25 local and international speakers, will focus on issues such as the impact of the flattening world on Viet Nam economy and the role of ICT in Viet Nam, Digital Life, ICT Solutions for Enterprises, and ICT Investment Opportunities.
Bangladesh Information Society Watch Group (BISWG) was formed in Dhaka in a bid to review the progress of WSIS action plan in the country. The initiative was taken at a discussion meeting jointly organised by BNNRC, Bytesforall Bangladesh, and Monthly Computer Jagot at BNNRC office in Dhaka on June 23. AHM Bazlur Rahman, chief executive officer of Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio Communication (BNNRC), has been nominated convener of the newly formed body. Abdullah H. Kafi, Member of United Nations Internet Governance Advisory Group, Ananya Raihan of D.Net, Hakikur Rahman of SDNP, TIM Nurul Kabir, Monjur Mahmud of Bytesforall Bangladesh, MA Haque Anu, president Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum, senior journalists and representatives of other civil society organisations attended the meeting. The meeting was organized to share present status and create awareness on WSIS action plan. Stressing the need for increasing the number of Internet users in Bangladesh, Kafi said Internet users should go up to build a vibrant information society in the country. Referring to different global conferences on ICT, he said priority issues of the developed nations and least developed countries (LDCs) are different and that¡¯s why problems of the LDCs are not addressed at these meetings. Kafi emphasised on more participation from developing countries at the global level. World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) action plan, initiated in Geneva in 2003 and followed up in Tunis in 2005, is being implemented across the world and Bangladesh is one of the signatories. A follow up meeting was also held in Geneva from May 14 to 15 this year. Government officials and representatives from the civil society organisations and private sector participated in the meeting. ¡°But there is no coordinated effort in Bangladesh to implement the WSIS action plan. So, it has become very difficult to assess the progress of action plan in Bangladesh,¡± Bazlur Rahman mentioned, while speaking at the meeting.
Bangladesh, for the first time, will join the world conference of Wikipedia ¨C Wikimania 2007, beginning from August 3. Belayet Hossain, an administrator of Bangla Wikipedia, will represent Bangladesh in the Wikimania 2007 to be held in Taipei, Taiwan. ¡°Bangladesh has been invited in global conference of Wikipedia for the first time,¡± Rajibul Hasan, one of the administrators of Bangla Wikipedia, told a gathering of wikipedians recently. Emergence of Bangla Wikipedia drew the attention of the people around the world and inviting Bangladesh in the global conference is a recognition of it, he said. Bangla Wiki, a wing of Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN), organised the gathering to share views on different Wiki issues at its Sonargaon road office on 14 July. The participants discussed expansion, modification and improvement of Bangla Wikipedia articles as well as improving and increasing the number of articles about Bangladesh in English Wikipedia. The meeting urged all to work for developing a free and open source of information in the Internet for people of all walks of life. It also urged the experts and professionals to share their skills and knowledge with Wikipedia voluntarily. Munir Hasan, coordinator of BdOSN, observed it is possible to share local knowledge and culture with rest of the world easily through Wikipedia. It was decided in the gathering that the wikipedians would start a bi-weekly Wiki Adda and a Wiki Camp. They also arranged an offline Wiki entry system for the people who do not have access to the Internet. Under the facility, anyone can submit his or her contribution and the volunteers of Bangla Wikipedia will add the information with proper credits. First Wiki Camp is going to take place on August 9, 2007. Among others, wikipedians Muhammad, Tarif Ezaz, Rejanur Sajal, Taskinoor Sajid, Ferdous Tanin, Abhishek Roy, Anir Chowdhury and Fokhruzzaman were present at the gathering.
BDOSDN- Bangladesh Open Source Developers Network - Seminar news - Hello, Bangladesh Open Source Developers Network and IT Bangla Ltd. jointly organized a seminar on "Open Source Software" on 21 July, 2007 at IT Bangla Campus.
The State Information Technology (IT) Mission has begun giving free computer training to Government employees. About 2,000 police officers in Malappuram district will get training in the first phase of the programme, being conducted here in association with Akshaya. Each of the five lakh Government staff in the state of Kerala will get 40 hours of computer training over three years. The pilot phase of training will cover 38,000 Government employees working in different departments in Malappuram district. As much as Rs.1.69 crore has already been transferred to Akshaya in Malappuram for the mega training project under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGAP). Computer training has been made mandatory for police officers in view of Malappuram becoming an e-district. It will soon be made mandatory for other Government employees in Malappuram. The training is estimated to cost the Government Rs.450 per employee. The IT training course would cover operating system, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, computer hardware, Internet and Malayalam typing.
KARACHI (August 09 2007): The 7th Information Technology Commerce Network (ITCN) Asia will commence here on Thursday. This was stated by an official of E-commerce Gateway Pakistan, which is organising a three-day event at the Karachi Expo Centre. According to Adeeb Aijaz, General Manager Communication, the President of Azad Kashmir, Raja Zulqurnain Khan, will be the chief guest at the inaugural session of the event, which is being organised since 2001. He said that this is for the first time that an Azad Kashmir pavilion has been set up at the ITCN Asia. The opening day's programme includes an International Telecom Conference. The theme of this moot will be " Growth prospects in telecom industry in Pakistan'. The Pakistan Software Export Board's CEO Forum will also be organised on the same day. According to organisers, as many as 350 stalls would be set up at the ITCN Asia. Representatives from the United States, Britain, Germany, China, Malaysia, Singapore, India and Taiwan would be among the participants from abroad. The event, it has been stated, would serve as a comprehensive showcase of the latest technology, equipment and machinery as well as allied services. It would also provide the investors with an outlook of the regional IT and Telecom industry and an opportunity to meet their perspective counterparts and business partners. The organisers further pointed out that the ITCN Asia 2007 incorporates a variety of events.
The participants between 16 and 30 ages will join the competition organized by Youth and Sports Ministry and National Association for Computer Games. The winner will earn right to take part in world championship to be held October 3-7 in US city of Seattle.
This is the result of first month of realization of program on reducing of informational inequality. Mainly villagers were taught how to work with computer. Kuanyshbek Yesekeyev, chairman of Agency of RK on informatization and communication presented the results of campaign. The representatives of Agency and akimats discussed the realization of program that started on July 2. Military men, pupils of orphanages, employees of budget sphere and different organizations and all the volunteers were taught. 2 512 computer class rooms were opened in the schools of regions. Also class rooms were opened in regional akimats and administrations of Astana and Almaty. The goal of the program is to raise the number of users of Internet, raise significance of informational resources in everyday life of Kazakhstani citizens. The state will continue to teach people free of charge during 3 years and over 500 computer class rooms will function for this task.
"Tech Age Girls" (TAG) Contest was held on 9 July at the Tashkent University of Information Technologies (TUIT). The competition was organised within the frame of the UNDP "Capacity building for Internet technologies development and promotion in Uzbekistan" Project. Women's Committee of Uzbekistan, UNPD Projects "The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women" (CEDAW) and "Assisting the Government of Uzbekistan in the formulation and implementation of ICT for development policy" (ICTP), UN Informational Center and TIUT Woman Resource Center helped organize the event. The representatives of the World Bank, National Commission of Uzbekistan for UNESCO, Uzbek-Japanese Human Resource Development Center, Westminster International University in Tashkent, and Sarkor-Telecom Company were invited to attend the opening ceremony. "Tech Age Girls 2007" Project aims to introduce the opportunities offered by the IT sector to merited and promising females of Uzbekistan and help them develop their leadership skills.
In February 2007, project participants were identified through the initial selection conducted from among girls aged 12 through 16. Project framework envisaged that participants would develop their IT skills, adopt knowledge from the successful businesswomen of the ICT sphere, come up with their own projects, which, in turn, would encourage them to join one of the most promising areas of the world economy. In February-May, 35 TAG Project semifinalists were provided consultations on modern advanced technology: starting with IT fundamentals and ending with web design and publishing. The semifinalists were selected from among over 100 applicants from different regions of Uzbekistan. Within the framework of this selection stage, more than 30 innovative blogs were created in Russian and Uzbek languages. Young ladies created about 25 personal websites on the role of women in local community. Participants interviewed businesswomen and shared the information about their activity, achievements, personal qualities and opinions distinguishing these women as leaders on their websites.
Now, 14 finalists ¨C talented students of secondary schools of Andijan, Namangan, Kashkadarya, Ferghana, Surkhandarya regions and Karakalpakstan Republic will take part in summer consultation to take place on 8-22 July. They will attend an advanced training on web-design, web-programming, the methods of providing consultations, and leadership qualities. They will also participate in the UNESCO session on "Millennium Development Goals in Uzbekistan". The summer consultation participants will take part in a series of meetings at the Senate of Oliy Majlis (parliament) of Uzbekistan, the World Bank's Uzbekistan Office, ICTP, UN Informational Center and TUIT. They will go through internships at the World Bank, UN Informational Center, UNDP CEDAW and ICTP Projects, Female Resource Center of TUIT, Uzbek-Japanese Human Resource Development Centre, Westminster International University in Tashkent, and Sarkor-Telecom. Upon completion of the summer consultation, the last two days the girls will spend preparing and making the presentations on the project plans for schools and communities in their regions. They are expected to become advanced ICT users and adviser-volunteers who will promote the use of Internet and creation of web-resources for educational purposes for the women of Uzbekistan.
A training course ¡°Applying ICTs in the government and society¡± is held at the Academy of State and Public Construction under the President of Republic of Uzbekistan. The training course is organized by the Communication and Information Agency of Uzbekistan, Academy of State and Public Construction under the President of Republic of Uzbekistan and UNDP ?Assisting the Government of Uzbekistan in the formulation and implementation of ICT for development policy? (ICTP) Project. The objective of this course is to improve knowledge of and increase awareness among government employees on international tendencies and various approaches and methods of ICTs application in government structures and society, increase practical skills in the framework of specific projects which are oriented to build electronic government in Uzbekistan and exchange experience with other participants. The objective of this course is to improve knowledge and increase awareness among government employees on international tendencies and various approaches and methods of ICTs application in government structures and society, increase practical skills in the framework of specific projects which are oriented to build electronic government in Uzbekistan and exchange experience with other participants.
UzA ¨C Internet festival of national domain UZ started on 1 August, with the goal to develop online resources and services in this domain. The festival results will be announced in late September at the ICT Week. Uzbek agency for communication and information provides state support to the festival. The organizers are UZINFOCOM, ICT development center, and infoCOM.UZ magazine. Only websites registered in the UZ domain can participate in the festival. The exception is for blogs and Livejournal accounts. The websites will be awarded in 15 nominations, including science and education, traditional and online media, state bodies, youth, culture, sports, services, private and blogs. Previous national internet festival was held in Uzbekistan in 2005.
Training for specialists on effective use of the Environmental Information System for Uzbekistan (EIS-UZ) was organized recently at the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration EcoGIS Centre. The system is capable of processing and analyzing the data of environmental monitoring, revealing the tendencies appeared in the environment through certain periods of time and determining the main environmental problems. The EIS-UZ includes the Environmental Information Database (EIDB), its website, and the Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The system was developed by the joint project of the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) "Enhancement of the environmental indicators database with GIS application to monitor the state of the environment in Uzbekistan". Representatives of ministries and state agencies dealing with the issues of monitoring and assessment of the state of environment and management of the natural resources took part in the training, a press release of the UNDP said.
The main aim of the training was to instruct the specialist-users to effectively manage the EIS integrated into the GIS since by the end of this year the Project will pass the system to the State Nature Protection Committee. In its turn the committee together with other state agencies will be responsible for the maintenance of the system including updating the environmental data and base map data, to manage and create new supplementary software and scenarios to interpret the data as well as to put these data analysis results onto maps. The theoretical part of the training programme consisted of such main chapters as "Technical description of the system", "Functions and capabilities of the system", "What is GIS and does it work?", "Using the EIDB-ArcGIS interface", and "Using the Metadatabase". Each theoretical lecture was supplemented by practical work, where more than 30 training participants studied how to manage data bases and use the modern geo-information technologies. As a result, the training participants have studied the structure and components of the EIS-UZ, EIDB and with its functionality; they have learned how to work with the EIDB implementing various result formats of a search. They also have studied the principles of GIS and learned to create modern chronological maps on the state of the environment using the environmental indicators data. At the end of the training programme the participants have received special certificates.
Some of the world¡¯s leading names in digital media will meet in Wellington next month to share knowledge on how traditional broadcasting is adapting to the move to digital, Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey said today. ¡°It is great to welcome so many prominent players to the ¡°New Broadcasting Futures: Out of the Box¡± conference in August, to focus on important issues currently facing broadcasters, both here and abroad.¡± Free-to-air digital television was recently launched by Freeview in New Zealand and last week TVNZ announced the content of its first advertising free digital channel, TVNZ 6. ¡°The Labour-led government supports the industry¡¯s shift to digital and has invested $25 million over the next five years to Freeview. ¡°As countries throughout the world have made the move to digital they have faced similar challenges about ensuring take-up of the service, and reaching a point when analogue transmission can be switched off for good. ¡°Meetings like this are essential to share knowledge and experience, and debate issues like ensuring quality and relevant local content is maintained as television is produced and transmitted in more and more ways.
¡°As New Zealand progresses toward the digital future, this conference is very timely and means we can learn from international experiences and consider how to ensure our unique culture, values and national identity are protected in a world of globalised multi-media.¡± The line-up of speakers include Barry Cox (chair, Digital UK), Lyn Maddock (Australian Communications and Media Authority) and Pierre Helsen (former chair, Swedish Digital TV Commission) and feature content creators, broadcasters and providers from a range of platforms, including interactive media. ¡°This conference is an excellent opportunity to discuss the issues facing us as we move further in to the digital age and it is also great to see that tertiary students will benefit from using the event as a cross-platform, multi-media project in itself.¡± The conference will feature international and local speakers, workshops, case studies, technology demonstrations and panel discussions and will be held at Te Papa on 28 and 29 August. To register visit www.newfuture.govt.nz.
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