|Spring 2008 Issue21|
| Sweden Tops 2008 E-Government Readiness Report; U.S. Drops to Fourth
CT Standardization Essential to Interoperability
U.S. Tops New Tech Usage Ranking
Bush Signs U.S. FOIA Reform Bill
EU¡¯s Data Guardian Stresses Importance of Privacy Protection for RFID
Guangdong Launches Emergency Website
Govt Plans E-home Network Experiment
Wireless@SG Wins at Global Wireless Award
Viet Nam E-Government Plan Lets HCM City Cut Red Tape
Government of India Seeks to Enable E-Governance Through SOA
Iraq to Use E-Government System to Battle Corruption
Australia New Info System Improves Disaster Response in Asia Pacific
7th Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region Taking Shape
| AFRICA: Nigeria 'We Must Build Capacity for ICT to Develop
EUROPE: EU Project Works Towards ¡®Next-Generation¡¯ Cities
EU Rolls Out E-Skills Agenda
New IT Systems Needed for an Integrated European Border Management Strategy
Croatia eProcurement Provisions in Force
Malta¡¯s National ICT Strategy 2008-2010 Launched
Swedish New eGovernment Action Plan Launched
NORTH AMERICA: U.S. Congress Urged to Pass Cyber Crime Legislation
U.S. OMB to Limit Number of Internet Connections for Agencies
U.S. San Francisco Bay Area Mayors Unveil Regional Emergency Coordination Plan
U.S. Missouri to Deploy Statewide Law Enforcement Information Sharing Solution
U.S. New York City Housing Authority Publishes Updated IT Strategic Plan
Majority of House Members Back Repeal of U.S. Maryland's Computer Services Tax
Connected Tennessee Releases U.S. First County-by-County Internet Speed Map
U.S. Missouri Governor Urges Lawmakers to Pass Internet Harassment Protections
U.S. Calif. Senate Passes Bill Outlawing RFID Skimming
U.S. President's 2009 Budget Provides $71 Billion for IT Funding
|CHINA: Action to Eradicate Internet Sex Ads
HK to Fully Launch Anti-spam Laws
Police Caution On-line Investors to Monitor Balances, Beware of Fraud
China Bans Online Sale of Lotteries to Ensure Regulation
China Says Struggling to Control Online Piracy
China Defends New Web Rules
JAPAN: Move to Regulate the Internet
Govt Aiming to Bridge Digital Divide
Gov't to Spur Regional Economies with IT
SOUTH KOREA: Let Landline Phone Users Switch to Internet Telephone Without Changing Numbers
New Gov't Aims to Revamp Korea's IT Sector
S Korean Netizens Launch Attack on Election Law
MONGOLIA: Laptops for 400 School Students
| INDONESIA: Information Ministry Gets Ready to Become ICT Hub
PHILIPPINES: NBN Project to Be Bid Out to Local Telcos in ¡¯08
NTC Issues Latest Draft Rules on VoIP
SINGAPORE: Next Generation National Broadband Network Will Spur Flourish of Services
Singapore Offers Prizes to Push Multimedia Development
THAILAND: ICT Ministry Can Revoke 'Inappropriate' Concessions with Private Sector
VIET NAM: The Web, 10 years On
City Looks to High-Tech Future
| ADB Provides US$ 21 Million to Develop ICT in South Asia
BANGLADESH: BTN Targets to Set Up 40,000 Telecentres
Bangladesh to Issue Call Centre Licences
INDIA: Government of India Brings E-Governance at the Doorstep of Common Man
Indian Communications Minister, A Raja Rules Out Auction of 2G Spectrum to New Players
Telecom Spectrum Policy Should Be Fair, Transparent: PM Manmohan Singh
Indian Government Opts WiMax for CSC
DoT Begins Phase II Rural Mobile Project in India
Delhi Cabinet Approved Implementation of Online ¡®Jeevan¡¯ Project
EPF Online Project - Set to Be Scraped
Government of India Approves INR 1,623 Crore for State Data Centres Scheme
PAKISTAN: NADRA Plans to Create Citizens¡¯ Database to Eliminate Identity Theft
PTCL Invests $50 Million in Submarine Cable Project
Plan Chalked Out to Achieve $5 Billion Software Export Target
Work on $200 Million IT Tower Starts
| AZERBAIJAN: Cut Internet Prices This Year
State-Owned Telcos to Be Sold This Year
Pilot NGN Project Completed
KAZAKHSTAN: Information Minister Reiterates Intention to Take Over Television Channel
Kazakh Opposition Protests Blocking of Websites
| AUSTRALIA: Funding Axe Hovers Over ASIC
Labor Axes Digital Co-Ordinator
Govt Seeks Submissions on Copyright Law Review
NSW Govt Urged to Get More Involved in Broadband Rollout
Qld Government Goes Pineapples for Green IT
Federal Government Announces $15 Million ICT Apprenticeship Program
Rudd's 2020 Vision Looks Past Technology
Inside Queensland's AU$1 Billion IT budget
Government to Help Get More Bodies in IT
NEW ZEALAND: Moving Minds with Information Technology
New Guidelines for Treatment of Government Intellectual Property Rights
Submissions on Telecom Plan Under Consideration
National Broadband Map Gets Green Light
AFRICA: Uganda Government Ministries Go On-Line
ASIA & PACIFIC: Public Sector to Squeeze More Out of IT in 2008
EUROPE: Europeans Top International eGovernment Index
Bulgarian New Anti-Corruption Portal for Citizens
German Business-To-Government Process Chains ¨C Study Call
New Network of Italian Public Administrations
NORTH AMERICA: U.S. NYC Unveils Citywide Performance Reporting System
U.S. Michigan AG to List All Dept. Expenditures Online
| CHINA: Gov't Boosts Online Purchasing
China's Corruption Prevention Bureau Launches Official Website
Officials' blogs Well Received
China to Build Platform for Internet IPR Monitoring
More Websites Set Up for Corruption Report
China Launches Websites to Aid Reporters Covering National People's Congress
JAPAN: Hamlet's Star Rising on Web
SOUTH KOREA: U.N. Ranks Korea Among Leading E-gov'ts
Inter-Korean Complex to Get Web Connection
| INDONESIA: Govt Launches Tourism Website
NSW Scheme to Be Rolled Out in Nine More Ports
MALAYSIA: MyKad-style IDs for Cops and Soldiers
E-Tracking to Boost Safety
PHILIPPINES: Former CICT Chair Urges Partnerships for E-governance
IT Executives Pushing for Web-Based Poll System in 2010
Electronic Voting in House Meets with Senator¡¯s Approval
More ICT Councils Formed in South RP
DOST Gives La Salle P1.6M Grant to Study Poll Automation
SINGAPORE: New Board of Directors Appointed for the IDA
THAILAND: Tsunami Warning Systems Up to Standard
"Smart" Traffic Report Service via Cell Phones Launched
VIET NAM: Public Security Ministry Takes Down Five More in IT Scandal
VN Launches Online Business Registration
Administrative Procedures to Become Available Online
Government to Get More ¡¯Net Friendly
|INDIA: E-Payment of Direct Taxes May Be Made Mandatory
ADB Funds to Boost E-Governance in Assam
E-Governance to Go Mobile in Faizabad
Virtual Government Offices to Come Up in Every Small Town
Taking E-Governance to Rural Areas
Haryana Launches Website to Facilitate Investment in the State
Indian Government Brings E-Governance Services to Panchayat Levels
Delhi Government Plans a One Stop Portal
Government Departments in Himachal Pradesh Get Networked
MALDIVES: Opens World¡¯s First Virtual Embassy
PAKISTAN: Telecom Sector Attracted $654.30 Million FDI in First Half
|AZERBAIJAN: Azerbaijan to Launch E-Government Project This Year
IRAN: Ministry in Talks to Computerize Elections
Iran First in Middle East Internet Use
|AUSTRALIA: National E-health Body Loses Chief
First Look at ATO $1b Business
Government Portal to Get a Makeover
NEW ZEALAND: Auckland Regional Council and Auckland Regional Transport Authority Select Impress for GIS to Integrate SAP and ESRI
New Site Sees Improved Public Access to Legislation
Australians Will Help Review Public Sector IT Projects
NZ Heads Australia in E-govt Responsiveness
Public Transport GPS System to Get a Trim
| AFRICA: Banking, Manufacturing and Government Investments Spur Enterprise Software Market in Middle East and North Africa, Says IDC
ASIA & PACIFIC: B2C E-Commerce Awakens
EUROPE: EU Highlights Key Challenges for Mobile Internet, at GSMA Mobile World Congress
UK Towards the eProperty Market
NORTH AMERICA: The Role of ICT in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Premier 100 IT Leaders Named in U.S.
Software and Information Industries Grew Faster than U.S. Economy
Data Mining of Wireless Phone Numbers in U.S.?
NASCIO Partners with FCC to Raise Public Awareness on Digital TV in U.S.
U.S. Missouri Announces New Information Resource for Businesses
| CHINA: Green Approach to Databases Demanded
Credit Data to Go Online
Nation's IT Services Sector Nearing 'Golden Era'
China's B2B Transaction Volume Up 25.5% in 2007, Survey Finds
China's Internet Consumption Expected to Rise 45.8% in 2008
Internet Market to Hit 164b Yuan in 2008
Access Licenses for 3G Network Awarded
China Software Industry Reports 20% Rise in Revenue
Bank Card Transactions Up 50% in Holiday
SOUTH KOREA: Improved Digital-electronics Competitiveness Seen
Korean IT Sector Forecast to Grow 4.6 % Next Year
Korea's Digital-electronics Trade Surplus Hits New High in 2007
Korea's IT Exports Grow over 10% in 2007
Korea's Internet Call Market to Grow Sharply on Household Adoption: report
Korea's Internet Banking Soars 40% in 2007
Sales Jump at Korean Online Shopping Malls
| INDONESIA: 'Use Satellite Link for 50m Net Users'
MALAYSIA: Maybank Banks on New Online Service
TM Set to Open More Customer Service Centres in Sabah
E-Marketing is ¡®the Way to Go¡¯
PHILIPPINES: National Broadband Network Still a Priority Project
Peoplesupport Wins 2008 E-Services Philippines Award
Philippine Broadband Scandal Will Affect Foreign Investments
SINGAPORE: An Emerging Digital Cinema Platform: Thomson, Through Its Technicolor Digital Cinema
Asia's First Interactive Digital Centre Opens at Temasek Poly
AMI-Partners: SMBs in Singapore to Spend $3B on I.C.T. This Year
THAILAND: Commerce Ministry Promoting E-Commerce
Mobile Banking Ship Aims to Encourage Youths to Save
VIET NAM: Report: SMBs to Spend $1.4B on ICT
| BANGLADESH: 3 Local Firms Win Gateway Bids for Int'l Calls
INDIA: Patna Municipal Corporation Launches E-governance Initiative
Hughes Signs Deal with Comat to Provide Broadband Services at 10,000 Kiosks Across Rural India
| AZERBAIJAN: Aztelekom Earnings Rise in 2007
Azercell Becomes Wholly-Owned by Fintur
IRAN: Tech-Service Exports Rise
KAZAKHSTAN: K-Cell Deploys New Messaging Solutions
TAJIKISTAN: Babilon-T to Deploy Mobile Wimax Network
TURKMENISTAN: Knightsbridge Group Offers Broadband Telecommunication Systems to Turkmenistan
UZBEKISTAN: ¡°Uzbektelecom Mobile¡± Penetrates the Telecommunications Market
Presentation of Uzbekistan Information Technologies in Turkmenistan
| Australian Company Hub Will Provide Broadband Services to Pacific
AUSTRALIA: Local Govt Group Says Slow Broadband Costing Regions $3b
NAB Lags in Online Business Banking
Aust Broadband Will Fail to Compete Globally, Expert Says
Tasmania Gets Tech Innovation Cash Bonanza
FIJI: Bank to Roll Out Internet Banking
NEW ZEALAND: Govt Moves to Support Java Platform Development
VANUATU: Electronic Banking to Bring Financial Services to Rural Areas
| WFP, Vodafone, ICT to Improve Emergency Comms.
AFRICA: Nigeria Mobile Phones Narrow Poverty Gap in Emerging Markets - UN Report
EUROPE: Gemalto Delivers New Generation e-Health Insurance Cards Solution to Slovenia
NORTH AMERICA: U.S. Ill Wind Sparks Web-Based GIS Fire Management System
First Wireless Tracking System Approved for Underground Mines in U.S.
U.S. Washington Counties Create Training Video on Pandemic Flu Preparation
Bristol, Va, and Tucson, Ariz., Named Smart Communities in U.S.
U.S. ConnectKentucky Wins 2008 Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Award
|CHINA: Mobile Internet Getting Growing Popularity China 3G Network Able to Serve 50 Million Users, Group Says Ministry: China Tops Broadband Users Worldwide Telecommunication Cost Down 13.6% China Internet Population Tops 200 Million IIOC Says Yes to Olympic Blogging JAPAN: High School Girls Online on Cell Phones 2 Hours a Day Cellphone Varsity Class Opens in Japan Cyber Univ. 'Lax on Student ID' China, Japan Websites Join Hands for Olympic Coverage Cyber University Warned by Ministry SOUTH KOREA: Web Links Bind Rural Areas to Internet Age, Raise Productivity Digital Textbooks to Debut This Year E-campaign Seeks to Help Multicultural Families New Mobile Service to Cut Airport Departure Time Free Internet Phone Service Between Korea, Japan MONGOLIA: Mapping Turns to Urban Areas|
| INDONESIA: School Textbooks to Be Available Online for Free
MALAYSIA: Clearing House Introduces Automated Settlement System
WiFi Service for All in Malacca
Crystal Mosque Offers Wireless Broadband
E-Guru to Help Year One Pupils with Languages
PHILIPPINES: RP Laws Enough to Ensure Transparent ICT Procurement
150 Public High Schools Soon to Have Websites
SINGAPORE: Seniors Go Wi-Fi, Needy Earn Free PCs, Disabled Get Vocational Training
|BANGLADESH: UAE to Help Bangladesh Set Up Internet-Based System to Assist Jobseekers BR Introduces Computerised System for Rajshahi Station BHUTAN: Rural Communities in Bhutan Join the Information Society INDIA: E-Passports to Be Introduced from Next Year, Says Prabab Indian Govt. Offers Traffic Alerts Via SMS to Delhiites Net Facilities for Bill Payment in Mizoram, India RBI CAB's E-Portal for ICT Based Fin Inclusion Launched E-Tax Payment May Be Made Compulsory in India|
|AZERBAIJAN: CATEL Expands Coverage IRAQ: Zain Eyes Full Iraq Mobile Coverage by Year-End IRAN: Wimax Licensing Expected Soon Cellphone Subscribers Up Mobile Phone Subscribers Rising TURKEY: Turkcell Fails to Halt Mobile Number Portability UZBEKISTAN: Number of Mobile Users Exceeds 6 Million|
|AUSTRALIA: Internet Take Up Rate Slow, But Improving LGA Calls for Action on Climate, Broadband Govt to Ensure Teaching Graduates Have Computer Skills AUSTRALIA: Public Transport 'Smart Card' Coming Soon New Link to Speed Up Aust Broadband Australia Getting More Broadband for Its Buck Australia Beats Germany in Tech Efficiency Test Govt Not Paying for Fibre-to-the-Home Govt Pushed on Computers for Students Pledge NEW ZEALAND: Sustainability Challenge and New Portal Launched New Website Crucial for Youth NZ Launches Cybercitizenship Pathway Kiwis' Online Lives Exposed Cheap, Tough Notebooks Could Transform Schools New ¡®Mission¡¯ Website Promotes Healthy Lifestyle|
| EUROPE: Ten Arrested in Spain for E-mail Lottery Scam
NORTH AMERICA: U.S. Fla. Attorney General Announces Statewide Cyber Safety Challenge
Reduced Software Piracy in U.S. Equals Billions in Economic Growth
Security Fears Reduce U.S. Online Shopping
|CHINA: Online Sales of Fireworks Scrutinized China Cracks Down on 'Vulgar' Video, Audio Products China Detains Nine over Olympic Website Scam China Cracks Down on Online Games, Porn 51 Websites Closed for Carrying Illegal Drug Ads 200 Million 'Harmful' Pieces of Web Info Removed JAPAN: Network Unveils Hidden Anti-counterfeit Code Nine Teens Arrested for Assaulting Two Boys over Slanderous Web Posts Child Sex Network Uncovered Computer Virus Creator, Distributors Arrested for Violating Copyright Laws|
| PHILIPPINES: Gov't Pushes Growth of Copyright-Based Firms
NBI Seizes 129 Computers in Anti-Piracy Raid
SINGAPORE: Information Sharing Centre Provides Accurate Statistics on Piracy
|INDIA: Cyber Crime Emerging as Serious Issue Maharashtra Cyber Cops Ready to Click PAKISTAN: Reporters Without Borders on Pakistan's Cyber-Crime Ordinance Sad Demise of Freedom, Liberty and Civil Rights in Cyberspace|
|UZBEKISTAN: Development of Intellectual Property Rights Supported|
|AUSTRALIA: Conroy Announces Mandatory Internet Filters to Protect Children Australia Net Censorship Plan Under Fire Australia May Give Go-Ahead for Creative Commons on Public Data NEW ZEALAND: Banks Suppress Data About Online Security Review Discloses Lax Data Protection|
| ITU Global Forum Acts to Strengthen Emergency Response
EUROPE: Proceedings of the EU Ministerial eGovernment Conference Published
Europe-Wide Mobilisation to Celebrate Data Protection Day 2008
Safer Internet Day 2008
NORTH AMERICA: U.S. Local Governments Meet on 311, Customer Relationship Management
How Technology Can Improve the Management of U.S. Health Services
7th Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region Taking Shape
|JAPAN: The ¡°2008 EU-Japan Cooperation Forum on ICT Research¡± Largely Exceeds the Objectives Fixed SOUTH KOREA: Largest Telecommunication Service Provider Goes Global Google Korea to Intensify R&D Efforts This Year MONGOLIA: Virtual Expo Website of Products Initiated KT to Help Set Up Internet Data Center for Mongolia|
| MALAYSIA: Low-Cost IT Training for Penangites
PHILIPPINES: Training on Multimedia Productions
SINGAPORE: Over 90 Digital Media Projects on Show at Temasek Poly
RFID Summit: Terrapinn 5th Annual RFID Asia Summit 2008 Brings Worldwide Focus to Singapore
|INDIA: Capacity Building Scheme in India under NeGP The 11th National Conference on E-Governance Asia¡¯s Largest Rural ICT Forum|
|IRAN: Int¡¯l Telecom Confab Will Highlight Potentials UZBEKISTAN: Discussion of State and Problems in Development of Information & Librarian System Training Organized for Subsidiaries¡¯ Directors of JSC ¡°Uzbektelecom¡±|
|AUSTRALIA: Qld Computer Games No Longer a Hobby NEW ZEALAND: Web Geeks Descend on Wellington for Webstock 2008 World Indigenous Television Broadcasting Conference 2008|
The United Nations just released its 2008 E-Government Readiness Report, ranking countries by e-government development. The 250-plus page report: UN E-Government Survey 2008: From E-Government to Connected Governance indicate that while governments are moving forward in e-government development around the world, most lack the investment needed to move from e-government applications to a more integrated connected governance stage. Northern European countries, however, have integrated national and ministerial Web sites for more integrated program delivery, according to the report. Europe on average was the highest ranking region. "A large part of the success of the European countries" said the report, "has been their investment in infrastructure and connectivity, most notably in broadband infrastructure." No countries from the African, Caribbean, Central American, Central Asian, South American, or Southern Asian regions scored among the top 35. The United States did rank first in "e-participation" meaning its citizens are more interactive with their government. The Republic of Korea was second, and Denmark and France tied for third.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), in partnership with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), organized a joint international conference this week to address standards-based solutions to interoperability challenges. Entitled Interoperability: Key to International Business, the two-day event was held in Warsaw, Poland, on February 6-7, 2008. The conference partners selected Warsaw as the host city to encourage greater participation by Central European stakeholders in standardization activities. In an effort to facilitate transatlantic trade and innovation, the Interoperability Conference opened a dialogue focused primarily on information and communications technology (ICT) applications. Participants agreed that standards are essential to this dialogue; interoperability issues must be considered at the beginning of the standardization process and all stakeholders must be involved to ensure that market needs are met.
A series of presentations identified the multiple roles that interoperability plays: in the built environment from security systems and appliances, to energy management and the "smart house"; in the entertainment industry, from enhancing the way we enjoy television programming in our homes to the standardization of cable networks; in helping business save costs by making electronic transactions; and in RFID technology-based applications, influencing telecommunications and electronic identification methods such as ePassport. Conference participants identified several other issues for consideration, such as the need for better links between research, innovation, and standardization, and the contribution of conformity assessment activities to interoperability. The conference engaged attendees from twenty-two countries and included participation by industry and government representatives as well as user communities and standards developing organizations. The first of its kind, the joint international conference was an important stepping-stone on the path of collaboration between standards organizations in the United States and Europe. A complete conference report will be available for public review in the coming weeks on the ANSI event webpage. Hosted by the Polish Committee for Standardization (PKN), the conference was supported by DG Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission, the European Free Trade Association, and Microsoft Corporation.
HELSINKI (Reuters) - The United States, Sweden and Japan topped a new ranking that measures how well countries use telecommunications technologies -- networks, cell phones and computers -- to boost their social and economic prosperity. Connectivity Scorecard, created by London Business School professor Leonard Waverman, and published on Wednesday, measured countries on around 30 indicators including usage of communications technology. "All the other rankings mainly measure only how much have you invested in ICT (information and communication technologies)," said Professor Ilkka Lakaniemi. Lakaniemi, the head of global political dialogue at telecom network gear maker Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN.UL), which commissioned the study, said South Korea's rank in the middle of the table shows clearly the different approach of the study to other rankings. South Korea is usually on top spots at similar lists, but Lakaniemi said this is mostly due to heavy public investment, while it falls behind in the usage of technology, especially by corporations.
"You have a lot of consumer applications, you have a lot of entertainment applications, a lot of this and that, but they do not really add much to productivity," Lakaniemi said. The study said the top-ranking United States, which has benefited the most from ICT, was rated below 7 out of 10, mostly due to weak usage of vast broadband networks, indicating there is room for improvement for all countries. "These results indicate an opportunity for countries to add hundreds of billions of dollars in economic benefit by rethinking how they measure and enable connectivity," the study said. Russia topped the list for developing countries, way ahead of China or India. "It will be interesting to see how in the next 10 years Russia will go down on this list and India up. You have an older population in Russia and a better-educated, younger workforce in India," Lakaniemi said. The study -- which is scheduled to continue on an annual or bi-annual basis -- was conducted by consultancy LECG.
On New Year¡¯s Eve, President Bush signed into law a bill designed to bolster the Freedom of Information Act. The OPEN Government Act of 2007 will establish a Web-based tracking system for FOIA requests and require agencies to report any delays or redactions they make while filling requests. Congress passed the law Dec. 19. Requests will also be overseen by the National Archives and Records Administration¡¯s Government Services Office, essentially establishing what bill sponsor Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.) called a governmentwide ombudsman to ensure that agencies handle cases smoothly. ¡°No matter who is the next president, he will have to run a government that is more open than in the past,¡± Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.), said on the Senate floor during passage of the bill. The measure is the first legislation to amend the act in almost a decade. Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966, FOIA allows the public to force the government to fully or partially disclose unreleased information and documents.
The European Data Protection Supervisor¡¯s (EDPS) opinion on the Commission¡¯s Communication on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Europe, places particular emphasis on the need to ensure privacy safeguards and data protection measures in the context of the growing use of RFID technology. Peter Hustinx, who holds the position of EDPS, has expressed support for the Commission¡¯s Communication, published in March 2007, which addressed the main issues arising from the deployment of RFID technology, while taking account of privacy and data protection considerations. On the whole, the EDPS agrees with the Commission¡¯s approach of leaving room, in the first place at least, for self-regulatory instruments. He, however, stresses that additional legislative measures may be necessary to regulate the privacy and data protection aspects of RFID.
Hustinx noted that: "RFID systems could play a key role in the development of the European information society but the wide acceptance of RFID technologies should be facilitated by the benefits of consistent data protection safeguards. Self-regulation alone may not be enough to meet the challenge. Legal instruments may therefore be required to guarantee that the technical solutions to minimise the risks for data protection and privacy are in place." More specifically, the EDPS has called on the Commission to consider the following recommendations: The provision of clear guidance, in close co-operation with relevant stakeholders, on how to apply the current legal framework to the RFID environment; The adoption of EU legislation regulating the main issues of RFID-usage in case the effective implementation of the existing legal framework fails; Such measures should notably lay down the ¡®opt-in¡¯ principle at the point of sale as a precise and undeniable legal obligation; The identification of "best available techniques" which will play a decisive role in the early adoption of the privacy-by-design principle.
A website that provides information on emergencies opened to the public yesterday by the provincial government of Guangdong Province. The site, which is also the official home page of the provincial government's emergency management office, is written in both Chinese and English, and is the first of its kind in the country. Li Ronggen, Guangdong's vice-governor, said yesterday at the launch ceremony: "The purpose of the platform is to provide the public with the most accurate and up-to-date news whenever an emergency happens, and to avoid the spread of misinformation." The site, located at www.gdemo.gov.cn, is open to all and can also be used by the public to report information about emergencies, Li said. It defines an emergency as any natural disaster, major accident, public sanitation problem or crime, he said. Each is classified according to its severity, from very high (shown in red), to high (orange), moderate (yellow) and normal (blue). The site, which will be updated daily, contains lots of information about the basic definition and categorization of emergencies, Li said. "It will help people to better understand emergencies and teach them how to deal with unusual situations," he said. It provides tips and suggestions on how people can protect themselves in the event of a flood, fire or disease outbreak, he said. The site will also feature information about emergencies happening around China and in the rest of the world.
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry plans to conduct in March an experiment on building a next-generation home network by networking household electrical appliances that can be centrally controlled to prevent disasters and crime, as well as alleviating the burden for caring for elderly people, ministry sources said. The ministry plans to map out in fiscal 2008 specifications for household electrical appliances needed for central control, based on the results of the experiment, to enable makers to manufacture necessary products for the system in fiscal 2009. Information-related household electrical appliances that can be operated externally via the Internet will be produced. About 50 companies, including major electrical machinery makers Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp., communications companies, including NTT Group and KDDI Corp., and securities companies will participate in the project.
Currently on sale are devices capable of programming TV recording via mobile phones from outside and air conditioners capable of keeping rooms at a suitable temperature when they are switched on outside the home by returning householders, but such devices have different communication formats. The experiment will test the functions of a next-generation "home gateway" device capable of simultaneously controlling household electrical appliances with different communications formats by networking them. When the network is put into practical use, TV sets will automatically switch on and stoves will automatically switch off when an emergency earthquake warning is issued, for example. The network also will be able to notify nursing care companies of a householder's body temperature and blood pressure and report on the amount of food in refrigerators of elderly householders. This will enable caregivers to provide care services efficiently by shopping for elderly people before visiting them, for example.
Singapore's Wireless@SG programme recently earned an international award, which recognises the efforts of governments and supporting organisations who have implemented broadband-wireless solutions for their respective cities, counties and regions. In the Wireless Internet Institute's third annual Wireless Communities Best Practices Award, the Wireless@SG project won in the new category of Economic Development for utilising broadband wireless technology to meet social and economic challenges. Offering free Wi-Fi in more than 6,200 hot spots around Singapore, the Wireless@SG initiative impressed the jury with its comprehensive plan that aims to grow Singapore's economy through infocomm technology.
An e-government initiative begun last year by Ho Chi Minh City has increased efficiency in state and local agencies, permitting more online transactions by businesses and citizens. The Vietnam News Agency reported that the e-government project, scheduled through 2010, is being implemented in 16 districts and five departments in Ho Chi Minh City. Software and online registration are used in processing investment licenses and managing representative offices of businesses. The Departments of Planning and Investment, Finance, Science and Technology, Culture and Information and the Judiciary are using 23 different software programmes for administrative purposes and 10 for public services. More than 66 websites have been created for departments and agencies in city districts, which offer a wide range of information, from taxes to land sales. Le Manh Ha, head of the Post and Telecommunications Department, said the city would continue to support local companies in trade promotion and investments as well as small-and medium-sized companies.
The Government of India is looking at Service Oriented Architechture (SOA) to bring greater efficiencies to administrative processes and to enable e-Governance. The National Informatics Center (NIC) has been entrusted to introduce e-Governance standards, which will be based on SOA. The mandate for NIC is to integrate government implementations at various states and different departments into one network under the National e-Governance Plan. The primary SOA drivers in Asia are improved service delivery in increasingly competitive markets and improved integration at both the data and application levels, according to a study conducted by Springboard Research. SOA has been incorporated into the government framework in India, Australia and Singapore. Infocomm Development Authority and India's NIC have also espoused the benefits of SOA. In Australia, the government had released its e-Government strategy last year where it had identified the need for SOA usage by the country's entire governmental network, the report added. Under this, SOA would be implemented to improve services to citizens and to make efficient use of the government's ICT capabilities. SOA's success in the public sector can partly be attributed to governments' desire to serve its citizens and partly by the need to achieve transparency, one of the muted impacts of globalisation," Springboard Research Senior Analyst Balaka Baruah Aggarwal said.
Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told a conference in Baghdad on January 3 that the government will require all ministries to use an e-government system, which will help ensure greater transparency and fight corruption, Iraqi media reported. Salih said Science and Technology Minister Ra'id Fahmi will head a committee tasked with designing the system by year-end. "All ministries and government institutions are to take part in this system and put their data and information into this system to show the movement of public funds, to enable citizens and the media to see this movement," Salih said. He added that ministries will be required to make their spending public from April 1. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a New Year's address that 2008 is the year of reconstruction in Iraq, adding that fighting corruption will be a key goal of his administration this year. Salih told conference participants that Iraq must break the cycle of corruption that took hold under the former regime and continued throughout the oil-for-food program, and later through the mismanagement of contracts by post-Hussein governments. KR
Response times to natural disasters in the Asia Pacific are expected to become quicker under a new information sharing system developed in Australia. The network of satellites system allows countries to share information using websites. The technology is used to track and monitor bushfires in Australia. Dr Alex Held from the CSIRO says it would allow many different agencies to access information they need in the event of a disaster like a tsunami. "It will allow people with internet connection or local government agencies to quickly create maps and visualise on their screens the damage that may have been caused by different disasters around their country or in their neighbouring countries," he said. "You can really visualise the impact of some of these very dramatic disasters very quickly and create maps that may be used for disaster recovery, perhaps for an aid process."
With a theme of ¡°ICT for Better Cities¡±, the 7th Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VII) will be held from 26-27 May 2008 in Shanghai, China. Its main topics will include: Informatization Policy and Sustainable Development Strategy, E/M-Government Knowledge Base Development, Scientific Date Sharing and Emergency Management, South-South Cooperation and Innovative Technologies, Global Informatization and World Expo 2010 Shanghai, and, Strategy and Policy on Digital Ocean Economy Development.
CIAPR was jointly initiated in 2000 by the Shanghai Municipal People¡¯s Government and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) in response to the call for bridging the digital divide of the ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration and the United Nation¡¯s Millennium Summit. So far, 6 successful forums have been held, attracting more than 5,000 participants from over 180 cities in 105 countries. A unique event focusing exclusively on municipal-level ICT and the related local-to-global knowledge economy, it has become a premier gathering of government leaders, mayors, the private sectors and IT business leaders, experts and ICT professionals of the world.
Apart from the opening ceremony and plenary session, CIAPR VII will include a rich series of parallel sessions: Workshop on E/M-Government Knowledge Base Development in Asia and the Pacific, Forum on Innovative Technologies in United Nations South South Cooperation, Workshop on Scientific Data Sharing and Emergency Management, Symposium of Logistical Informatization in the Yangtze Delta, Workshop on Global Informatization and World Expo 2010 Shanghai, etc. Also, the United Nations Public Service Awards will be presented by UNDESA, exhibitions of UN achievements for sustainable development; of city informatization in China, will be launched, and the ranking of top 50 city informatization will be released. For further information, please visit: http://www.unpan.org/directory/conference/guest/browseoneconference.asp?conference_id=2212 or http://www.apcity.org .
In this interview with newsmen, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, GeSTALT, Mr. Ben Omakor, fields questions on sundry issues affecting the information communication technology sector and tasks stakeholders on the need for effective training for greater productivity. Efem Nkanga was there. Excerpts:
How do you assess the Nigerian IT industry with respect to the NITDA Act? The Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency NITDA Act needs truthfulness from the various companies, I mean the ability for companies to declare their real income, but if the companies are not ready to declare their real income that means NITDA would be short-changed but NITDA, is a focused organisation and so they need all the support from companies in the IT industry in the country to be able to meet all their objectives.
What do you have to say in the area of regulation and government policies and the complaints that government has not been encouraging ICT skills acquisition through provision of affordable computers at public school level? Well, I think the ICT for Development (ICT4D) Action Plan of NITDA is coming up to address all these issues. I think two weeks ago, NITDA held a stakeholders forum on the action plan which is meant to be a blueprint on how ICT can be used to stimulate growth in all sectors of the economy. I think government is addressing that especially the last administration. In fact, if you must know, in 2001 that the NITDA Act came into being and the bill is now signed and one of the most interesting things about that bill is the fact that all ICT users ought to contribute one per cent of their income to that fund for ICT development. I think government is addressing that area very well. But one thing that I must add is that government must know that it is the building of the capacity that we are talking about not so much the provision of laptops of PCs.
Let me give you an instance. The One-Laptop-Per-Child (OLPC) programme may not succeed too much because of the total reliance on the aesthetics rather than the building of capacity. The fact that you give laptops to a little child to play with is not it. The truth of the matter is that government and everybody must get aware that we must build capacity. The capacity here is talking about training them in the use of computers. There are computers here now but there is nobody using them. Are you getting what I am saying? So it is not so much the availability of computers or cheapness of computer but about the fact that government must create awareness for people to use computers through various IT trainings. In fact, it would be compulsory in civil service that you must be able to use the basic computer. The same thing in all levels of schools: primary, secondary and tertiary. ICT is now a way of life and not a decoration. That is, the point we are making and so when you do that, government will now make it a policy in the civil service, in secondary schools and at the university level. If you look at it, most syllabuses at the university currently are still the old programme languages and those things are no longer more than programming languages. In other words, the government needs to totally overhaul the syllabuses through the National Universities Commission (NUC) so that they must tend toward industrial readiness.
There was an initiative by NITDA a few years ago entering into partnership with higher institutions on ICT but that arrangement seems to have come down. What is your view on this? I think it still in NITDA?fs programme. It is a very laudable venture. In fact, the programme is supposed to be in all institutions but because we discovered that in Africa and in Nigeria in particular, except in South Africa, IT infrastructure has not taken a pride of place. Why? It is because basic infrastructural problems are still over-whelming for ICT to have its pride of place. I mean when people have not even had basic water to drink. And so, private ventures like us can grow faster by providing infrastructure, by providing computer capacity to train youths en mass in basic software and hardware. If am telling you that it is easy for us to have people that would be doing computer if for instance, almost up to 10 companies are the ones providing these computers why would not the cost of computers come down, that is the way I look at it and abroad you are talking about computers being available, it is because in those countries, computers are easy to produce, they produce them in mass. We can start doing that in Nigeria and the only way is to build capacity.
The EU-funded ¡®Innovative Cities for the Next Generation¡¯ (ICING) project is expanding the scope of eGovernment in cities, developing a citizen-focused, multi-modal, multi-access approach which could revolutionise on-line and mobile services for city dwellers. The ICING project brings together universities, city councils and telecoms companies in three European cities: Dublin, Barcelona and Helsinki. Each city has designated a ¡®city laboratory¡¯ pilot area in which new systems, aimed at improving quality of life and access to information, are currently being developed and tested. By incorporating a number of technological tools, including environmental sensors, geo-spatial data and multi-layered service networks, these ¡®laboratories¡¯ aim to develop an integrated approach which will see the birth of new services and enhanced access to existing ones. Citizens of the next-generation cities should be able to customise their communication with the city council according to their needs and interests. For example, they could expect to receive personalised information such as notification of roadworks in their area, information on traffic flows, or deadlines for the payment of local taxes. By the end of the project in 2008, the partners will have created a roadmap for the exploitation of the research results into real services. These should benefit citizens and could then be rolled out across many cities in Europe and beyond.
The European Commission and European Information and Communication Technologies and Consumer Electronics Association (EICTA) are conducting the first European e-skills event tomorrow in Brussels. This follows the adoption last September of a long-term e-skills strategy. The event -- Moving Forward and Implementing a Long-Term E-Skills Agenda in Europe -- aims to facilitate the definition and the adoption of long term e-skills strategies in all EU member states, to promote 'flagship' projects in the member states and at EU level and to exchange best practice amongst industry experts and policy makers. E-skills are an essential tool in the implementation of the Lisbon agenda, said the EU in a release. New jobs depend on new ICT skills. As the member states move toward development and implementation of their e-skills action plans, it is crucial that a close dialogue is held with industry to ensure they are put into practice effectively. The event will bring together key stakeholders from industry, national ICT associations, member states ministries, social partners, associations, senior EU officials, education representatives, NGOs and other interested parties to drive progress in the implementation of a long-term e-skills strategy.
With the increasing mobility of persons, the European Union faces a challenge; how to enable fluent border crossings and facilitate the entry of bona fide travellers while enhancing security. Facing this challenge will require further development of the integrated Border Management Strategy of the European Union in a comprehensive way, taking into consideration the possibilities that new technology offers. Making use of new technologies in an extensive, consistent and proportionate way, identifying synergies among systems to most effectively apply these technologies is the key element for an effective integrated Border Management Strategy in the medium-term. A step-by-step approach is needed, implementing what has already been planned and decided, while developing a long-term strategy that builds upon existing initiatives.
The Communication New tools for an integrated European Border Management Strategy, presented today, puts forward suggestions for new tools that would form an integrated part of the European border management of the future, including: proposals for the introduction of an entry/exit system, allowing the electronic recording of the dates of entry and exit of third country nationals into and out of the Schengen area; proposals to facilitate border crossing for bona fide travellers, through the introduction of automated border crossing facilities for EU citizens and certain categories of third country nationals; parameters for the possible introduction of an Electronic Travel Authorisation System.
Since the entry into force of a new Public Procurement Act last January, Croatia has brought its legislation in line with the eProcurement provisions of the EU Directives on Public Procurement (Directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC). The web portal of the Croatian Public Procurement Office provides valuable relating information to all those who are subject to the new Act and involved in the Croatian public procurement system. The implementation of the Act is expected to increase transparency, publicity and legal safety of the public procurement procedures in Croatia. The most significant legal novelties are as follows:
Introduction of electronic auctions and the competitive dialogue procedure; Introduction of dynamic purchasing system and Common Procurement Vocabulary; Introduction of electronic transmission of tenders; Introduction of public announcements via electronic means and obligation to use such electronic means for any contract or work exceeding HRK 70 000 (about €9 500) in value.
The Act is available in Croatian version at the portal of the national Public Procurement Office which was launched one year earlier with the support of the European Union through its CARDS 2002 twinning project "Strengthening the Croatian Public Procurement System." The Public Procurement Office is a special agency of the Government of the Republic of Croatia. Since 2003, it has been tasked with the implementation, oversight and application of the Public Procurement Act and any subordinate legislation. The Public Procurement Portal offers a wide range of information pertaining to the Croatian public procurement system and the procedures carried out by contracting authorities and legal persons obliged to observe the provisions of the Act. It is also intended to enable the Public Procurement Office to further develop the public procurement system and foster its transparency.
In December 2007, Austin Gatt, Malta¡¯s Minister for Investment, Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), launched the new National ICT Strategy (2008-2010) under the heading ¡®Malta: The Smart Island¡¯. Building upon the achievements of the previous ICT Strategy 2004-2006, the National ICT Strategy for Malta 2008-2010 sets out a vision for Malta by 2010, that of the ¡®The Smart Island¡¯; one of the top 10 information societies in the world. In the Smart Island¡¯s vision, the application of information and communication technology (ICT) will be ubiquitous, the Internet will be a social equaliser and the ICT industry will be a main pillar of the economy. ¡°The Smart Island vision needs to be read in the context of the Prime Minister¡¯s vision for Malta for 2015, which among others aims at establishing Malta as a regional ICT services hub alongside with healthcare, education, financial services, logistics and the maritime sectors.¡± said Minister Gatt.
The new strategy seeks to address pro-actively the major challenges which the country¡¯s development in this sector shall inevitably face, including: new digital divides which will emerge in the coming years, successful application of technologies in the enhancement of quality of life and the constantly moving target of becoming (and remaining) a leading ICT industry in the region. Based on a series of five strategic parameters among which is the EU i2010 action plan, Smart Island defines seven streams for mapping out the path towards the 2010 vision. One of these streams highlights the need for ¡®Re-inventing government by transforming public delivery and enhancing governance¡¯.
On 24 January 2008, Minister for Local Government and Financial Markets Mats Odell unveiled the new Swedish action plan for eGovernment. The new plan defines prioritised policy areas until 2010 and indicates the responsible government departments while calling for the necessary coordination with municipalities and regions (county councils). The primary objective of the action plan is for Sweden to re-take a leading position within the eGovernment area by 2010 by reaching a renewed vision; that of having ¡®the world¡¯s most simple administration¡¯. In other words, the administration should be as simple as possible for as many as possible. This is to be achieved with an administration that emanates from the needs of the citizens and the entrepreneurs.
The plan is furthermore intended to palliate several deficiencies that have been observed during the implementation of the previous eGovernment strategy (the so-called ¡®24-hour Public administration strategy¡¯). To such end, it includes a number of action areas aimed at improving the legal, technical and economic conditions governing the authorities¡¯ contacts with the citizens and entrepreneurs. In this light, planned actions include among others: rendering the information handling of public bodies more efficient; enhancing the security of information and information exchange; introducing an automatic IT-support for case handling and procurement. In addition, the plan stresses the need for public bodies to use open standards as much as possible and gradually free themselves from the dependency on single platforms and solutions.
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) urged Congress Tuesday to swiftly enact cyber crime legislation that would update criminal laws to provide law enforcement with much-needed tools to find and prosecute cyber criminals. "This holiday season, Americans will spend as much as $30 billion for their online holiday shopping. But while they are doing so, many will worry that criminals are lurking in cyber space, waiting to steal their money or even their identity. Unfortunately, their concerns are justified," said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman in testimony delivered before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. During his testimony, Holleyman said that today's cyber fraud is increasingly perpetrated by organized crime rings that are motivated by huge profits and equipped to execute very elaborate schemes.
He said the ability of law enforcement officials to act against cyber criminals is limited by gaps in existing law. "For too long, cyber criminals have taken advantage of legal blind spots to brazenly threaten online confidence and security," he said. Holleyman praised the broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate for legislation to update cyber crime laws. He noted that current proposals in Congress would provide a comprehensive approach to attacking cyber threats by closing loopholes in criminal statutes and stiffening penalties and sanctions to provide for more effective deterrence. Holleyman told the committee members that Senate passage of the Identity Theft Enforcement and Restitution Act of 2007 (S. 2168) has created an opportunity for Congress to send legislation to the President soon. "Such legislation deserves to be enacted, can be enacted, and should be enacted as soon as possible," he said.
The Office of Management and Budget wants to reduce the number of Internet connections across government to 50 by June. Under a new Trusted Internet Connections initiative, which OMB will kick off with a governmentwide meeting Nov. 30, agencies will have to develop a plan of action and milestones by Jan. 8 on how they will reduce the number of Internet connections. Clay Johnson, OMB¡¯s deputy director for management, announced the new program Nov. 20 in a memo to agency leaders. He wrote that the Trusted Internet Connections initiative will ¡°optimize our individual network services into a common solution for the federal government.¡± Johnson said with the progress made under the Security Line of Business initiative, the General Services Administration¡¯s award of the Networx telecommunications contract and the Federal Desktop Core Configuration implementation project, agencies have a unique opportunity to improve their network delivery capabilities.
The memo also will require agencies to use the Homeland Security Department¡¯s U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team Einstein program to improve their response capabilities. The White House requested an additional $115 million Nov. 6 to expand the Einstein program under the DHS fiscal 2007 appropriations bill. ¡°This is an essential step because the Federal Information Security Management Act-based defenses have failed to stop the attackers from getting inside agencies,¡± said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute. ¡°Once they are inside, only very sophisticated monitoring can hope to find the infections.¡± Warren Suss, president at Suss Consulting, said he is not sure if the new initiative is what agencies need right now. ¡°OMB must be careful with the new initiative to avoid layering yet one more mandate on agencies who are working hard to address a very real security threat,¡± Suss said. ¡°Centralization is not necessarily the answer because agencies have needs for redundancy for the Internet and can have unique requirements.
To limit the number of Internet connections to a target of 50 could be an overreaction to the cybersecurity problem and it has potential to create more problems than it solves.¡± He added that agencies have network design and architecture challenges that could be limited under this program. Agencies already are trying to meet the June deadline to implement IPv6 on their networks¡¯ backbone. OMB officials also have touted IPv6 has a way to improve agencies' defenses against cyberattacks. ¡°Agencies at some point need to take responsibility for security and the management of their technology,¡± Suss said. ¡°There are very serious threats out there and I don¡¯t mean to minimize them, but forcing yet another constraint on the solution may do more harm than good.¡±
Today, in recognition of the need for a regional response to natural and human-caused emergencies Mayor Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed were joined by regional emergency management officials, first responders and the State of California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) to unveil the Bay Area Regional Emergency Coordination Plan (RECP). Ten Bay Area counties participated in the development of the "base" plan that will serve as the foundation for nine subsidiary plans to be submitted in spring 2008. "This project was an investment in more than just a document -- it's an investment in relationships," said Mayor Newsom. The RECP provides an all-hazards framework for collaboration and coordination among emergency response entities in the Bay Area. The base plan focuses on the role of State OES in coordinating the regional response to an event. Additionally, the region will be continuing to work on more detailed plans in areas such as transportation, logistics and mass care and shelter.
The RECP is consistent with the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), state mutual aid plans, and the California State Emergency Plan; and it complies with the requirements of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the National Preparedness Goal. "In a region as large and vulnerable as the Bay Area, the need for a collaborative and organized response is vital," said Mayor Dellums. "The RECP is the first of its kind in the state and will ensure that if a major disaster occurs that all entities at all levels of government are on the same page." "When disaster strikes, we all have to work together," said Mayor Reed. "This new Regional Emergency Coordination Plan builds on the spirit of teamwork and innovation that characterizes our region. Disasters don't recognize city borders, and in times of crisis, neither should we." San Francisco used approximately $2 million of the federal homeland security grants to pay for this project. The consultant is URS Corporation, which includes among its clients OES, DHS and FEMA. The RECP will now reside with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services, as it is designed to be used at the state's Regional Emergency Operations Center which is located in Oakland.
The State of Missouri will deploy Knowledge Computing Corp.'s Coplink solution suite to support comprehensive information sharing and collaboration among local and state law enforcement for solving crimes and thwarting terrorism. Funding for the project, known as Missouri Data Exchange (MoDex), was made possible by a unique partnership between state and local law enforcement, which together, pooled federal funding to maximize the initiative's reach, effectiveness and return on investment. "We have already seen the tremendous benefits of information sharing through the Missouri Information Analysis Center," said Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt, "and I commend local law enforcement for their vision and foresight to bring this software to Missouri. By working together they will be able to provide a tremendous asset to build on MIAC's success and strengthen and protect our communities."
"I know from my own experience in law enforcement that access to accurate and timely information and intelligence will help save lives," said Mark James, director of the Department of Public Safety. "This data sharing program will give law enforcement the advantage against criminals by identifying relationships, associations and patterns that will help us solve more crimes and increase public safety across Missouri by getting offenders off the street more quickly." There are 12,655 full time sworn officers within the Missouri law enforcement geographical area. Coplink will be accessible to authorized law enforcement officers, investigators, detectives, highway patrol troopers, and crime analysts throughout the state and will be used for law enforcement purposes only. This includes sworn officers serving communities across 114 counties, the city of St. Louis, approximately 535 municipalities and other state law enforcement entities. Among law enforcement agencies worked to bring the system to the state, including the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Police Chiefs Association, Missouri Sheriff's Association, Cole County Sheriff's Office, and the Missouri Department of Corrections.
Two years have passed since the release of New York City Housing Authority's (NYCHA's) "Information Technology Strategic Plan for 2005-2010 V. 1.0: Focus on Financial Stability." Avi Duvdevani, deputy general manager for information technology and CIO of the New York City Housing Authority recently announced the publication of the authority's two-volume IT strategic plan update. "Because of the magnitude of accomplishments and fiscal challenges during that time," said Duvdevani in an e-mail, "as well as the recent publication of PlanIT, New York City's enterprise technology plan, the planned update to NYCHA's 2005 IT strategic plan is both timely and appropriate." Duvdevani said the updated IT Strategic Plan continues to provide a broad overview of information technology goals through 2011, as well as a roadmap of prioritized initiatives to be undertaken over the next 24 months, a number of which are already in progress.
The efforts to repeal the controversial computer services tax on Maryland IT companies won critical bipartisan support yesterday. Seventy-two of the 141 members of the Maryland House of Delegates have co-sponsored House Bill 196 (HB 196) legislation to repeal the computer services sales tax enacted during the Legislature's November 2007 special session. Business organizations around the state, such as the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, the Tech Council of Maryland, and the Maryland Computer Services Association (MCSA), are working closely together to secure repeal of this tax. "While still very early on in the legislative process, we are encouraged by the bipartisan support for our efforts to repeal Maryland's damaging computer services tax," said Tom Loveland, MCSA's co-founder and CEO of Mind Over Machines Inc. "Maryland's IT sector and business reputation will be dealt a serious blow if this sales tax stands as law. Computer services companies in Maryland now employ 68,000 people, and have an annual payroll of $5.2 billion. We cannot let these highly skilled workers and companies move to surrounding states, and we are already seeing this happen."
Today, Connected Tennessee announced the release of the nation¡¯s first county-by-county reading of average Internet speeds across Tennessee. This county-based Internet speed map will give providers of broadband and Tennessee policy-makers a more accurate understanding of which Tennessee communities remain in need of higher quality service in order to utilize the latest applications that benefit local and state government as well as private industry. Through a collective effort between SpeedTest.net, the Communications Workers of America¡¯s (CWA) Speed Matters Campaign and Connected Tennessee, the project surveyed more than 86,000 people from Tennessee¡¯s 95 counties. Tennessee residents can continue to update the data by participating in a speed test on Connected Tennessee¡¯s website, www.connectedtennessee.org. Speed tracking provides the state of Tennessee and Connected Tennessee with an accurate reading of the types of speeds being achieved by consumers around the state.
¡°The data gathered by Connected Tennessee allows us to see for the first time where improvement is needed and work to localize our efforts,¡± said Governor Phil Breese. ¡°Technology adoption and economic development go hand in hand, and we want to work to ensure that Tennesseans everywhere can realize the opportunities that are possible when all communities are truly connected.¡± The maps reveal that the average statewide upload speed is 575 kilobits per second (Kbps) and the average statewide download speed is 3.4 megabits per second (Mbps). This means that the average Tennessean with broadband service can download a typical 1 megabyte document in less than three seconds. For those on dial-up service, the same process would take almost four minutes. Fifteen of Tennessee¡¯s 95 counties registered significantly lower than the average upload speed, while 30 counties fell short of the average download speed. ¡°The United States has fallen to 16th in the world in terms of access to broadband Internet,¡± said Noah Savant, Vice President of the Communications Workers of America. ¡°The data collected by the Speed Matters Campaign and Connected Tennessee is designed to encourage the build-out of high-speed networks ultimately to provide not only all Tennesseans, but all Americans with the ability to access the immeasurable benefits afforded by a high-speed connection.¡±
State Representative Mark Maddox, Co-Chair of the Tennessee Broadband Task Force commented: "The rural areas of our state are lagging behind and warrant the attention of the task force, and Connected Tennessee and these maps make that very apparent." The upload and download speed maps as well as Tennessee broadband availability maps can be accessed on the Connected Tennessee website at www.connectedtn.org/mapping_&_research/availability_maps/. The data gathered for these maps will help Connected Tennessee take steps to improve technology availability and adoption among Tennessee residents and businesses. Connected Tennessee¡¯s mission is to close the digital divide in Tennessee by creating and growing a collaborative network among telecommunications and information technology providers, public agencies, business and community leaders, researchers and universities in an effort to meet the five comprehensive goals of Governor Breese¡¯s Trail to Innovation:
· Affordable broadband technology for all Tennessee; · Dramatically improved use of computers and the Internet by all Tennesseans; · The formation of community Leadership Teams in every county ¨C local leaders who assemble to develop and implement technology growth strategies for local government, business and industry, education, healthcare, agriculture, libraries, tourism and community-based organizations; · A policy and regulatory framework that encourages continued investment in communications and information technologies year after year; and · A meaningful online presence for all Tennessee communities to improve citizen services and promote economic development through e-government, virtual education and online healthcare.
Connected Tennessee has also released maps that provide a very detailed picture of where broadband does and does not exist across Tennessee. The first Broadband Inventory Map was released on July 27, 2007. Tennessee is only the second state to benefit from such detailed and accurate maps of broadband availability. Connected Tennessee is one of a growing number of states working with Connected Nation, Inc., (www.connectednation.org) a national nonprofit with a reputation for forming public-private partnerships that help states expand broadband to mostly rural and unnerved communities through mapping, research, and program implementation. Connected Tennessee is leading the way into a new economy for Tennesseans. As Tennessee¡¯s technology-based economic development partnership, Connected Tennessee is a public-private alliance of leaders from private industry, government and education. By leveraging the latest in technology and networking, Connected Tennessee is ensuring Tennessee is a better place for business and an even better place to live.
Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt today called on members of the General Assembly to quickly pass recommendations presented by his Internet Harassment Task Force. "I created the Internet Harassment Task Force to help protect Missouri families from the terrible tragedy that Megan Meier's family has had to endure," Blunt said. "I applaud the bi-partisan legislators, law enforcement officers, child services advocates, Internet providers and Missourians who worked together to define valuable recommendations for our state and call on lawmakers to quickly pass legislation placing the recommendations in statute." The governor's task force, headed by Public Safety Director Mark James, identified several recommendations to enhance Missouri law and protect public safety. Among their recommendations is ensuring cyber bullying and harassment is clearly defined in state statute and offenders are punished accordingly. In addition the group recommends criminalizing the use of any electronic device -- which includes computers and text messaging on cell phones -- for the harassment of another person. Legislation the task force drafted calls for penalties ranging from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Sen. Scott Rupp is sponsoring legislation that includes the task force recommendations. The Senate Judiciary and Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence committee held a hearing on the legislation yesterday.
The California State Senate took action to outlaw "skimming," the surreptitious reading of personal information stored on RFID-enabled ID cards, State Senator Joe Simitian announced. RFID involves placing a "tag," a tiny receptor device containing electronic information, on an object. The tag can be read by directing radio waves at it, which causes the tag to send back a signal containing the information. "The problem is real," Simitian said. In a controlled experiment, "the card I use to access the State Capitol was skimmed and cloned by a hacker in a split second. Minutes later, using that clone of my card, he was able to walk right into the Capitol through a 'secure' and locked entrance." By a vote of 36 to 3, the Senate passed Simitian's Senate Bill, SB 31, which now moves to the Assembly. The bill would make it a crime to surreptitiously read information stored on RFID tags. The bill makes exceptions for inadvertent scanning and also permits various emergency medical services and law enforcement agencies to scan without a bearer's permission to identify or assist an unresponsive person, or to solve a crime, as long as a search warrant has been issued. "If you've been mugged, or even had your pocket picked, you know you've been a victim. You can take steps to protect yourself against identity theft,'' said Simitian. "But if your personal information has been 'skimmed' without your knowledge or consent, you're completely vulnerable." "Right now if someone steals your ID, it's a crime; but if they steal the information on your ID by 'skimming,' it's not.
That makes no sense whatsoever," Simitian said. "The problem is particularly serious because we've got millions of IDs and access cards out there with no limitation on the kind of information they carry, and no requirement that they use any of the privacy protection technology that's readily available." Simitian has expressed concern about the potential privacy pitfalls of RFID technology as its use becomes more widespread in identification documents. He said he was pleased to see the Senate return to the issue after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed another RFID bill he authored just last year. Simitian said, "RFID technology is not in and of itself the issue. RFID is a minor miracle with all sorts of good uses." But, he notes, "It's easier than ever to steal someone's personal information with an unauthorized reader -- technology that is readily available, off-the-shelf, and surprisingly inexpensive." RFID technology is decades old. But miniaturization in electronics has enabled it to be employed much more widely in recent years. Unlike swipe cards, which must be held close to a reader to register, RFID tags can be read automatically, without the bearer doing anything, or even noticing. Some can be read only from an inch or two, but others may be readable over several yards. Tags can be encoded with almost any type of personal information, including birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, drivers license numbers, or bank account numbers. The technology is increasingly being used to encode information on identification documents, such as driver's licenses and passports. Businesses or schools may use it on ID cards for employees or students. On a health insurance card, it might not only identify the bearer, but provide essential -- and deeply personal -- medical information.
Last week, the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released more detail on the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Information Technology (IT) Budget. The President's FY 2009 Budget provides nearly $71 billion in funding for information technology (IT) investments, approximately a 6.8 percent increase over the FY 2008 President's Budget. "This IT amount is consistent with the President's commitment to balance the budget, while protecting the homeland and fighting terrorism," said Karen Evans, administrator, E-Government and Information Technology. "The budget reflects the investments necessary to improve service delivery and to secure and protect government information while maximizing and spending taxpayer dollars wisely." In addition, the President's request would continue support for E-Gov and Lines of Business initiatives which have demonstrated not only significant cost savings, but significant benefits beyond financial savings through government-wide solutions and the elimination of duplicative systems within agencies.
"E-Rulemaking recently celebrated their fifth year anniversary," said Evans. "29 Federal agencies are now posting their rulemaking documents on Regulations.gov, a searchable site with more than one million documents available, including 610,000 public comments. This is a prime example of collaborative technology bringing transparency to government process." Also, for the first time, the President's Budget was released as an E-Budget online. This marked the first time in American history the Executive Branch has electronically transmitted a budget proposal, according to a release from the White House Press Office. The Executive Clerk used an HSPD-12 approved credential to digitally sign the electronic transmittal of the budget to Congress on February 4, 2008, thus proving the document's authenticity. "Our efforts of the past several years, in particular those related to the President's E-Government initiative, allow us to successfully and securely develop and submit an E-Budget," said Evans. "OMB is leading by example and we are very proud of this historic accomplishment." The Report on IT Spending for the Federal Government (Exhibit 53) is available at www.budget.gov. It provides details of the Administration's proposed 2009 IT investments. Related documents on IT security and Electronic Government (E-Government) are also available at www.budget.gov.
The latest campaign to clean up cyberspace was launched yesterday by the government. According to a notice jointly released by 12 ministries taking part in the scheme - among them the State Administration for Industry & Commerce and the Ministry of Health - the campaign aims to curb the growing number of illegal advertisements for sex-related health supplements, STD drugs and clinics, and sex toys. It is scheduled to run through next February. Tough punishments will be meted out to medical institutions and clinics that boast online of special cures for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) that have not been approved or licensed by the health authorities, the notice said. It added that approved STD hospitals will have their licenses revoked if they advertise online without first getting the appropriate approval. The same punishment will apply to those who publish revised versions of their adverts without first getting permission, it said.
Companies that use sexually suggestive advertisements to promote sex drugs face having their businesses suspended, the notice said. In addition, agencies that design, make and release "vulgar" advertisements will be dealt with in accordance with the law on advertising, it said. Those that are found to have seriously violated the law or the new regulation could be stripped of their right to operate in the advertising business, the notice said. Websites that host illegal advertisements must remove them immediately once they are told to do so by the authorities. Those that do not do so will be closed down, the notice said. It urged websites owned and operated by government departments and civil societies to take the lead in curbing such advertisements. Health administrations and drug agencies have also been instructed to closely monitor online advertisements involving drugs and hospitals and report all offensive ones to the relevant authorities, the notice said. In September, the government initiated a series of measures to rid all print and broadcast media of advertisements related to sex drugs and STD remedies.
The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance will be fully implemented on Dec. 22, Director- General of Telecommunications of the Hong Kong government Marion Lai announced here Thursday. People who want to decline unsolicited commercial electronic messages, also known as spam, can register their phone or fax numbers onto three do-not-call registers. The three registers -- fax, short messages and pre-recorded phone calls will be launched in phases on Dec. 22, Jan. 8 and Jan. 25 respectively to ensure smooth operation. Protection will start from the 10th working day from the registration date. Lai said that with the ordinance's full launch the existing interim measures to tackle unsolicited electronic messages will be withdrawn. Those who have registered their numbers on the office's existing not-to-call list for rejecting junk faxes will have to register their numbers onto the do-not-call register for fax. People can also make unsubscribe requests direct to individual message senders.
Commercial electronic message senders are reminded to: provide accurate sender information and unsubscribe facility in a message; honor recipients' unsubscribe requests; not send messages to any phone or fax numbers listed on a do-not-call register unless consent has been obtained from the recipient; not withhold calling line identification information when sending pre-recorded telephone calls and fax messages; and not use misleading subject headings when sending email messages. The Telecommunications Authority will issue enforcement notices to senders who have contravened these rules. Failure to comply with enforcement notices warrants a 100,000 HK dollars-fine (about 12,853 U.S. dollars) on first conviction, and up to 500,000 HK dollars on subsequent conviction.
China's Ministry of Public Security on Friday released a circular advising investors who trade or bank on-line to monitor their accounts for fraud, amid an unprecedented public enthusiasm for investment. The circular said that although on-line bank accounts were convenient, they were subject to security flaws. The ministry gave an example of a recent incident in southeast China's Fujian province. A citizen surnamed Lin in Nanping City told local police that he had opened a postal fund with on-line trading facilities valued at 110,000 yuan (about 15,068 U.S. dollars) with an agricultural bank. When he tried to redeem the fund, he found the account had been cleared out. The police investigation found that Lin's password and online digital certificate might have been stolen by someone using an on-line 'Trojan' virus, which gave them access to the fund that could be cashed in within three days. Given the strong public interest in investment funds, the Ministry of Public Security warned those who conduct their financial affairs on-line to be alert for on-line viruses, apply for hardware digital certificates rather than software versions, check their balances frequently and keep their personal information confidential. The ranks of China's fund investors have been expanding rapidly. As of September, there were more than 50 million fund holders on the mainland, according to the Shanghai Securities News, with a large proportion trading on-line.
No institutions will be allowed to sell lotteries on the Internet any more in China, said a circular issued Wednesday jointly by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the General Administration of Sports. Those beginning to sell lotteries online prior to the issuance of the circular will stop the activity immediately as of the day when the document was issued. Those failing to stop online sale on time will by penalized by telecommunication regulators according to related laws and rules. Perpetrators of online sale of illegal lotteries, or those who intercepted money from lottery sale or gambled online, will be prosecuted. According to Wang Xuehong, head of the research institute of lottery under the Beijing University, there are honesty and security problems in the area of online lottery sale. It is difficult for buyers to tell legal websites from illegal ones. "It's hard to say whether a website will buy lottery tickets for the buyers after it receives money from them," Wang said, adding that it was difficult to supervise websites behavior.
China is struggling to contain a surge in online piracy, specifically cases involving the illegal downloading of movies, music and books, and needs tougher punishments, a senior official said on Thursday. The number of cases dealt with last year was more than double the previous two years combined, and with technology developing rapidly, it was becoming harder to crack down, said Yan Xiaohong, deputy head of the National Copyright Administration. "Although our rectification campaigns have had obvious initial results, we must clearly recognize that there has been no sea change for the better in our nation's Internet copyright protection environment," he told a news conference. "Especially following the rapid development of Internet technology, online piracy cases have proliferated, and the fight is far from over." Fines and sentences meted out against offenders to date had perhaps not been strong enough, he said. "As the situation is so serious we ought to give out heavier fines under the legal framework," Yan said. China had 210 million Internet users at the end of 2007, second only to the United States, and the population would become the world's largest at the beginning of this year, Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, quoting industry sources. The government keeps a tight grip over the Internet in what is sometimes called "the Great Firewall of China," blocking overseas sites deemed anti-China such as those of banned spiritual group Falun Gong, and censoring domestic content.
Deputy head of the Public Security Bureau's economic crimes division Gao Feng said there would be no let up in the "cleansing" of the Internet of content deemed inappropriate. "We will put whatever police forces are needed into this," he said, without elaborating. Despite this, piracy has proliferated, with illegal downloads of Hong Kong and Taiwan television shows and films being especially popular with Chinese Web surfers looking for more than the staid fair offered by state media. Such shows and movies are often banned or censored in China for their supposedly racy and politically suspect content. Last month, the government said that in a bid to curb pornography and politically sensitive online subjects, only state-owned firms would be allowed to apply for licenses to share videos and audio online. But a lack of clarity over those definitions and uncertainty over how strictly Beijing would enforce the rules over sites such as Google's YouTube have left many in the industry confused. Chen Jiachun, vice-director of the Ministry of Information Industry's Telecom Management Bureau, declined to comment directly on the impact of the new rules. "We will chose an appropriate way to respond to questions from the media or society," she said. "It will be very soon."
China's new rules on online video and audio content banning violent, pornographic and fake material are aimed at promoting the Internet's "healthy" development, according to a government statement. The rules, unveiled late last year, say sites offering broadcast or streaming services should be run by state-invested bodies, the Ministry of Information Industry said. Sites which have a blameless record will be able to reapply for independent operating licences. "The Internet in China is developing very rapidly, and there are already more than 200 million users. It is everyone's common aspiration to have a good Internet environment," the ministry said in a statement released on its Web site (www.mii.gov.cn) late on Tuesday. "The rules encourage Internet video and audio service providers to transmit positive programmes which are in the public interest," it added. The Chinese authorities have said only state-owned or state-controlled companies can apply for licenses to broadcast or stream videos online, but a lack of clarity over those definitions and uncertainty over how strict Beijing will be in enforcing the rules have left many in the industry confused.
Google's YouTube is often blocked during high-level political events in China, while online encyclopaedia Wikipedia and Yahoo's photo-sharing network Flickr have also been periodically blocked. The new statement did not appear to clarify the situation. "The rules make clear state investment should guide the development of Internet video and audio programmes, which is of benefit to the development of Internet culture with Chinese characteristics," it said. "(Companies) which have operated in accordance with the law and done nothing illegal before the rules came out, can re-register and carry on operating," the statement added. Several of China's most popular video Web sites, which include Tudou.com, 56.com and UUSee.com, are backed by foreign venture capital heavyweights such as Sequoia Capital, Steamboat Ventures and IDG. China's government, keen to avoid sparking social discontent, keeps a tight watch over the media and often blocks or censors popular Web sites and forums where dissent may brew.
THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT is moving to push ahead with legislation to control file sharing, web content and mobile phone access. According to the Gyaku bog, the Japanese government intends to control all content ¨C including blogs, webpages and online press,, and also limit web content on mobile phones. So too, online file sharing is a target for legislation ¨C with committees meeting in December to discuss how best to weld the different legislation together.
The government is set to tackle the nation's digital divide by delivering broadband Internet services via satellite to areas with poor reception, and improving cell phone coverage by allowing people to establish small base stations in their houses without requiring a license, it has been learned. A draft plan outlining measures to make broadband Internet and cell phones useable throughout the nation was announced by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry on Thursday, at a meeting of the ministry's advisory committee. The ministry has predicted the project will cost both the public and private sectors up to 1.2 trillion yen. According to the draft plan, a communications satellite will be used to make broadband Internet accessible on isolated islands and in mountainous areas where it is difficult to establish fiber-optic communications. The ministry plans to set up antennae at public offices that will be able to receive signals from the communications satellite, and transmit them to each household through fiber-optic cabling. Trials will be conducted in some regions beginning in fiscal 2009, the ministry said.
To reduce areas where cell phones cannot pick up a signal, the ministry will revise laws and ordinances to allow people to set up very small base stations capable of transmitting signals to basements or rooms without windows, without requiring a license. The government also will increase the subsidies paid to communications firms to set up base stations, from half the setup cost to two-thirds. The government plans to establish a nationwide broadband network by the end of fiscal 2010. However, as of Sept. 30, about 2.2 million households were sited in areas without a network, and as of March 31 2007, about 420,000 people were living in areas with no cell phone signal. Thus, it became necessary for the government to implement measures aimed at narrowing the digital divide between urban and rural areas. The ministry will complete the strategy to tackle the divide based on the draft plan by June, and will include the costs to the budget requests beginning in fiscal 2009.
The government said Tuesday it has adopted a 330 billion yen emergency program to nurture regional economies by having them taking advantage of information technology. The program calls for building up IT infrastructure such as broadband telecom facilities and base stations for cellphone networks in sparsely populated areas, while providing municipal governments with IT facilities. It also envisages developing information processing systems that could help boost productivity at small and medium-sized companies, the officials said. In addition, the program envisions developing IT systems to monitor the elderly outside the home and children on their way between home and school, according to the officials.
Korea is preparing a new rule that will allow landline phone customers to switch to Internet-based telephone carriers without changing their phone numbers, officials said Wednesday (Dec. 26). The new rule will be a boon for consumers, but could cause severe damage to traditional telephone companies such as KT Corp. The government plans to introduce the "number portability" rule for landline and Internet telephony customers in the first half of next year, officials said. In 2005, Korea awarded seven licenses to Internet telephony operators, but the move didn¡¯t spark a mass migration to Internet operators because the Internet telephone users require a new number with the prefix "070." The new rule is aimed at reducing telephone costs for households in Korea, one of the world¡¯s most wired nations with more than two-thirds of its 15 million homes connect to the high-speed, broadband Internet, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication. The Internet telephone service, which uses voice-over-Internet Protocol technology, allows customers to speak over the Internet, substantially reducing the cost of long-distance telephone calls. The number of mobile phones users in Korea was 36.58 million at the end of 2006, according to the National Statistical Office.
Korea¡¯s incoming administration aims to revamp the country¡¯s information technology (IT) sector, so as to better meet the trend towards industrial convergence, officials at the presidential transition team said Saturday (Jan. 5). In a meeting to review policies being carried out by the Ministry of Information and Communication, President-elect Lee Myung-bak¡¯s transfer committee made clear that wide scale changes are being planned. They said that IT can no longer remain independent of other industries and that convergence with broadcasting, telecommunication, culture, education, transportation, construction and medical services is the inevitable trend. President-elect Lee repeatedly said in the run up to his Dec. 19 election victory that he will make 2008 the dawning era of Korea¡¯s digital convergence. Reflecting this approach Rep. Kim Hyong-o, vice chairman of the committee, said the communication ministry needed to establish a role for itself that reflects changes taking place in the 21st century. "The next president is more interested in how best to use digital infrastructure than the infrastructure itself, developing software versus hardware and promoting growth of smaller sized firms compared to helping big companies," the Grand National Party lawmaker said. In the past the ministry generally focused on building up the country¡¯s digital infrastructure, poured resources into hardware development, and implemented policies that centered on large conglomerates.
South Korean netizens launched a campaign Monday for the revision of an "antiquated" election law restricting online electioneering in a bid to expand their rights to online political activity. A coalition of 31 civic groups, including the progressive People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, has begun to send letters to that effect to legislators. The civic groups want the law revised during this month's parliamentary session so that the new law can take effect ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections, slated for April 9. Park Hyeong-jun, a member of the people's solidarity, sent a letter to Rep. Ahn Kyung-yul of the Grand National Party (GNP) Monday, calling for him and other members of the National Assembly political affairs committee to issue a revision to scrap the out-dated article.
``The old law has overridden the right of netizens to voice political opinions,¡¯¡¯ Park said in the letter, which was made public on the civic group's Internet website. Park pointed out that article 93 of the election law _which bans online and offline activities to support or undermine a particular candidate or a party starting from six months ahead of elections _infringes upon the public's right to free political activity. ``The article might have been relevant in the past, in which plutocracy had been prevalent in elections. But times have changed and now it is only preventing citizens from freely voicing rightful political opinions,¡¯¡¯ Park said.
ON January 29, over 400 students of school #4 and #51 in Ulaanbaatar received a laptop computer each in the first stage of ¡°One Laptop Per Child¡± program (OLPC). ¡°Times have changed. When I was studying in school, we could not imagine such high-tech products. But Mongolia is rapidly developing. This is proved today by how easily our youngest generation gets connected to the world by Internet,¡± said Prime Minister S.Bayar at the opening of the program at the school #4. During President N.Enkhbayar¡¯s visit to the U.S. Mongolia signed the memorandum of understanding with the U.S. OLPC program. Last month, Mongolia and OLPC launched a pilot project providing 20,000 units of the acclaimed XO laptops. Half the computers are in English, but those that follow would come up in Mongolian language. All 2nd to 5th graders of those two schools received laptops in the first stage. The Minister of Education, Culture and Sciences N.Bolormaa said that soon all students would have one. The laptop, that came with 13 different types of useful educational and entertainment programs including calculator, dictionary, musical instruments, video recorder, digital photograph capture and Internet access, can be used for drawing, language, natural science, math classes. The laptop is 1.5 kg in weight, has 256mb RAM, 1Gb hard drive.
The Communications and Information Ministry says it should drive any attempts to establish an information and communication technology (ICT) culture in Indonesia. "The culture of information and communication technology should be started from the ministry itself," said Communications and Information Minister Muhammad Nuh during the opening of the ministry's three-day national coordination meeting on Monday. The main purpose of the meeting is to establish a new policy for the ministry in its efforts to accelerate the national ICT development program in 2008. The national program itself is aimed at developing a prosperous, civilized and knowledge-based information society that is synergic and integrated nationally. Nuh said that in order to be a reliable hub for the program, there were three things the ministry should do. "First, improve the quality of human and other resources. Second, enhance the value system, including good governance and innovation, that can support its tasks," he said. "Third, eliminate all performance burdens, including incapable human resources." The minister also emphasized the need to provide concrete suggestions for revamping regulations related to foreign or joint businesses in the ICT sector. "Any improvement must embrace both economic and political views," he said.
He also said that 2008 was an important year because it would mark the beginning of preparations for the 2009 presidential election. "The Communications and Information Ministry will hold a big responsibility in making the election successful." Another speaker at the meeting, Dr. Made Suwandi from the Home Ministry, explained the importance of information and communication technology in the implementation of the central government's decentralization program. "The role of information and communication technology is very important for Indonesia's administration reform efforts, and finally for its economic development," he said. "Progress in structural reform, both bureaucratic and institutional, is needed for improving the investment climate in Indonesia. "More specifically, information and communication technology development is also needed for encouraging the development of small and medium enterprises, reforming the financial sector, and also for making a success of the national poverty reduction program." Another speaker, Alex Bambang Riatmodjo from the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, said ICT had an important role to play in maintaining national security and defense, especially counterterrorism efforts.
The Department of Transportation and Communications is studying various options for financing a new version of the national broadband network project (NBN) that will be bid out to local telecommunications companies next year, Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro said Friday. Mendoza told reporters that the national government might no longer use the $329.4-million loan for the original NBN, which was abolished following a Senate investigation into allegations of bribery and other irregularities. The government when it has determined the budget for the new version of the NBN project, it will likely get fresh funding from export-import banks of Europe, South Korea and China and from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund, he said. The DoTC has given leading Philippine telecom companies a list of requirements and the quality of service needed, Mendoza said. He said the DoTC began exploratory talks with Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., Globe Telecom Inc. Bayan Telecommunications and Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc. on Oct. 9. He said the meeting focused ¡°on how the government can lower the government¡¯s ballooning telecom expenses.¡±
He added the DoTC had formed a technical working group ¡°to flesh out the telecom needs of the government and to see how the private sector can meet them at the best price possible.¡± The NBN project aims to interconnect government offices down to the municipal level. In an earlier interview on the NBN plan, DoTC Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso III cited for example that for central offices ¡°we need at least 2 mbps connection -- that is the committed rate and not the burst speed.¡± ¡°The telcos will come up with comments and suggestions as far as NBN functionalities are concerned,¡± Formoso said. ¡°The government will then, taking all of these into consideration, prepare the terms of reference. We will then tender it, then they will submit [offers]. At the very least we should do (the bidding) by next year.¡± Secure interconnection of government offices is mandated by the E-Commerce Law and by the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan for the period 2004 to 2010, as well as the digital infrastructure component of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo¡¯s 10-Point Agenda, Mendoza said.
MANILA, Philippines -- The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has issued a newer set of draft rules for voice over Internet Prototocl (VoIP) services to promote more competition in the country. The latest draft rules, a copy of which was obtained by INQUIRER.net, outlined additional policies that were set to ¡°clarify and supplement¡± previous rules on access charges. VoIP providers are still required to enter interconnection agreements with at least one public switched telephone networks (PSTN), which in turn, will take care of routing calls to and from other networks, the new draft rules said. The VoIP providers are also required to pay so-called ¡°transmit charges¡± of not more than P0.25 per minute. The same transmit charges apply to VoIP providers accessing mobile phone networks, the rules said.
The new rules, however, stressed that access charges for VoIP calls originating from or terminating to a telephone network will not exceed the cost of regular national long distance calls. Access charges from or those terminating to a PSTN will not exceed P1.00 per minute, while those originating to and terminating from a mobile network will not go beyond P1.50 per minute. VoIP providers using existing broadband Internet networks will not be required to enter commercial agreements with any network provider, the rules said. The NTC is set to hold a public hearing on the new draft rules soon, NTC Deputy Commissioner Jorge Sarmiento said.
Singapore today took a step closer towards having an open access Next Generation National Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN), which will offer pervasive ultra-high speed connectivity by 2015. The Request-For-Proposal (RFP) is now open to all interested parties to submit their bid to design, build and operate the passive infrastructure layer of the Next Gen NBN. At a media briefing this evening for the RFP¡¯s launch, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yang said, ¡°The Next Gen NBN will offer pervasive and competitively priced ultra high-speed broadband connectivity to business users at the workplace as well as to Singaporeans at home, schools and learning institutions and other premises.¡± The Next Gen NBN is expected to be available nationwide by 2015, although consumers can begin to look forward to a range of new and exciting Next Gen Services such as high-definition video conferencing, telemedicine, Grid Computing-on-Demand, security and immersive learning applications on the Next Gen NBN from about 2010.
Today¡¯s RFP has been formulated after an extensive year-long industry consultation and studies of deployments internationally. This RFP seeks proposals from industry to put in place the passive infrastructure of Next Gen NBN. Under this RFP, a Network Company, or NetCo, will be selected to design, build and operate this passive infrastructure that will carry the traffic for Next Generation Services. The deployment of active electronics such as switches and routers to manage the flow of traffic on the passive infrastructure will be done by what is called the Operating Company or OpCo, which will also be the entity that offers wholesale broadband access to downstream Retail Service Providers, or RSPs. The latter are the companies that provide Next Generation Services to end-users. ¡°A Next Generation Broadband Network will contribute to Singapore¡¯s continued economic success. It is also critical for the Next Gen NBN to provide effective open access to downstream operators. This will create a more vibrant and competitive broadband market. As a policy, we have therefore decided to adopt separation between the different levels of the Next Gen NBN to achieve effective open access. The RFP to construct the network will therefore provide for structural separation of the passive network operator from the downstream operators. If necessary, the Government is also prepared to consider legislation to achieve such effective open access for downstream operators in the next generation broadband market,¡± said Dr Lee.
¡°The Next Gen NBN tender will require that the appointed NetCo be structurally separated from downstream operators and vice versa to be consistent with the policy objective of effective open access. The successful bidder in the RFP would have met the requirements of effective open access.¡± The Next Gen NBN will require the OpCo to be operationally separated between the Next Gen NBN OpCo and RSPs. Operational separation while less onerous than structural separation, requires the Next Gen NBN OpCo to maintain separated operations, branding, personnel and board of directors. The OpCo RFP tendering exercise is scheduled to be called in the second quarter of next year. Under the terms of the Next Gen NBN NetCo RFP launched today, the Government is prepared to provide a grant of up to S$750 million for the project.
A technology agency is offering a $100,000 prize in a competition to develop multimedia search technologies. Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (ASTAR) is offering a US$100,000 prize to the winner of a competition to develop new multimedia search technologies. The Star Challenge 2008 competition will last eight months and is open to competitors from around the world. Registration is underway and will close on February 29, to be followed by three knockout rounds and a qualifying race for the finals, which will be held in Singapore. ASTAR hopes to spur development of new technologies for multimedia search, allowing users to search out specific words in audio or video files without the use of tags. Teams are expected to develop search algorithms able to seek out specific words, objects and events in video and audio files.
Ahead of the knockout rounds, ASTAR will provide competitors with a set of development data and tools, including sample search queries and results. In the qualifying race to choose five teams that will compete in the finals, competitors will have to solve four challenges using the search technology they develop. Teams will be judged on the time it takes to complete all four challenges. The finals, to be held on Oct. 20, will be judged by a panel of professors drawn from Singapore and other countries. The five finalists will race to complete four challenges with the fastest team taking home the cash prize.
Thailand's Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont said Friday that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry could revoke or amend concession contracts agreed with private operators if the contracts were later considered inappropriate. Gen. Surayud said his government would not give special instructions to the ministry in dealing with Shin Satellite (SATTEL) which had allowed Al-Manar TV, reportedly backed by the Lebanese Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah, to test signals from Thaicom Satellite. Senior executives of SATTEL yesterday met with Vorapat Tiewthanom, ICT deputy permanent secretary, and told him that Al-Manar TV contracted to test its signal via Thaicom satellite between January 9-11. The broadcast of Al-Manar was halted last Friday one day into a three-day "test run'' beamed through the Thaicom satellite. The firm decided to stop the signal after the company was informed by a foreign journalist that Al-Manar TV was allegedly linked to Hezbollah.
"The incident was considered not especially serious. There're several things concerning information technology, which we still can't catch up to, because we didn't invent but are simply users. Inventors can find ways to check but our technology is still lagging," Gen. Surayud said. Meanwhile, ICT permanent secretary Sue Lo-Uthai said his ministry would later today dispatch results on probe conducted by an investigative committee to Deputy Prime Minister Kosit Panpiemras on why SATTEL had allowed Al-Manar TV to test signals from the Thaicom satellite. Mr. Sue said it was found that a contract to lease the Thaicom satellite was not yet signed by SATTEL with the Lebanese television station. Therefore, concession contract signed between the Thai government and SATTEL should not be affected. Normally, SATTEL would offer test signals one month to customers before a contract is signed, he said. In this case, the company terminated the signal transmission immediately after learning the problem.
Ten years after the internet went live in Vietnam, the number of web users in the country has soared, with dissidents using it as a podium and others surfing it to learn about the outside world. The Vietnamese Government says around 18 million people, or more than 20 per cent of the population, are using the Internet, numbers that thrust the country into the world top 20 in terms of online penetration. "A new social space has opened up in reality and virtually," said Vietnam expert Carl Thayer of the Australian Defence Force Academy. Internet cafes in the main cities are packed with young people addicted to online games or chat. But net access has also increased the sources of information available to the population.
"The internet has had a great impact on my life... since I know more people, know more about the world, about other countries I have never been to," said Tran Nguyen Hung, a 17-year-old student in Hanoi. "I cannot imagine how my life would be without logging onto the Internet at least once a week." The web has also opened a new space for dissidents in the communist country where traditional media are still heavily controlled. "The internet was a crucial catalyst in the emergence of Bloc 8406," Professor Thayer said, referring to a banned pro-democracy group started after 118 dissidents signed an online manifesto urging an end to the one-party political regime. Bloc 8406 refers to the date they began their initiative: April 8, 2006. "The Internet has served as a source of information on topics the government deems too sensitive to discuss openly, such as relations with China or a multi-party system," Professor Thayer said.
Rural access Despite the growth of the Internet, its reach is limited to Vietnam's cities with the countryside having little access. The Vietnamese Government also tries to keep close tabs on and control what makes it onto the Net. Media rights group, Reporters Without Borders, is critical of such controls. "For 10 years, Vietnam's network has followed the Chinese example," the Paris-based group said in a statement. "Censorship hardens on Internet sites dealing with politics and religion, and bloggers suffer the same hardships as journalists." Reporter Without Borders says it hopes the situation can have improved when the communist country joined the World Trade Organisation in January. "But this year Vietnam has seen its worst wave of arrests of cyber-dissidents since 2002," added the group, which registers eight cyberdissidents currently in jail in Vietnam. About a week ago, two of them, lawyers campaigning for human rights, had their prison sentences reduced by one year on appeal, but they both still face three or four years in jail.
HCM CITY ¡ª With an eye towards restructuring the city¡¯s economy for the development of science and technology and promotion of the service industry, city officials approved a project to build a Viet Nam-Japan Tri Thuc (Knowledge) Park Project in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area. Licensed by the city government earlier this month, it is a joint venture between Japanese companies Kyokutu, G.A Consultants, Brain Child and Shinko. The Japan-owned VIJA Powersource Joint Corp. is the owner. The project is worth US$610 million and covers an area of 440,000 sq.m. It will provide office buildings and houses for rent, training for highly skilled workers, and production and processing of software and chips. This first high tech project in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area will require 35,000 engineers and software programmers. Another project in the pipes is Taiwanese TECO¡¯s joint venture with Sai Gon Tel to build a US$1 billion software park in the Thu Thiem New Urban Area.
The park is expected to attract around 100 information technology and computer companies that are operating in Taipei¡¯s Nankang Software Park. A TECO representative said there was a wave of investment in high tech fields in Viet Nam as a result of its business-friendly policy and accession into the World Trade Organization last year. Low labour and production costs are other incentives attracting foreign investors. Investors are considering transforming Viet Nam into a research and development centre of new high tech products. Nguyen Bach Khoa, JPVE Gateway Building¡¯s project director, said it is time to increase the quality of projects by focusing on promoting foreign investments in high tech, service sectors. To achieve this goal, the city needs to overcome challenges involving promoting investments in infrastructure such as roads and water and electricity supply projects and ensuring high tech training of its workforce.
Nguyen Dinh Mai, Sai Gon High Tech Park (SHTP) ¡¯s director, said this year the park will focus on addressing these problems, especially the severe shortage of managerial staff and analysts knowledgeable about the international scientific and technical market, and the lack of offices, support services and capital. He said the park will earmark an area for high tech projects like software and design development by overseas Vietnamese investors. The 913-ha SHTP, founded in 2002, is situated in District 9, about 15 km from downtown HCM City. It houses factories and companies in the semiconductor chip, information technology, telecommunications, automation, precision engineering, new materials, nano technology, and bio-technology fields working in sectors like health care, pharmaceuticals and environmental protection.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is granting &21.2 million for the development of ICT in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal by improving the availability of affordable broadband Internet connections. The South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Information Highway Project is estimated to cost around US$ 24 million. ADB will provide $4.7 million grant to Bhutan, another US$ 9 million grant to Nepal and a US$ 3.1 million loan to Bangladesh for the project. The project will empower manpower and local content and Internet applications to promote inclusive growth and reduce poverty. The governments of the four member-countries of the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) will finance US$ 7.2 million of the total project cost. ADB will also provide US$ 4.4 million grant to increase technical and business skills in developing local ICT and Internet applications particularly for the poor. The project will establish a SASEC regional network with fibre-optic and data interchange capacity, which will directly connect the four member countries. The project will also set up a SASEC village network to expand broadband access to 110 rural communities in the SASEC countries and provide direct connections among the communities for local networking and local information sourcing.
Bangladesh Telecentre Network (BTN) is coming up with the laudable initiative of Mission-2011, in which BTN is targeting to set up 40,000 telecentres by 2011. While inaugurating "Mission-2011: Building a sustainable information and knowledge system for the poor and the marginalised", organised by Bangladesh Telecentre Network in Bangladesh, Fakhruddin stated that the Mission-2011 will play a significant role in unleashing the immense power of ICT for poverty reduction and development. People's participation is a key to the success of the mission. The initiative of Mission-2011 aims to build an information and knowledge system for the poor and the marginalised who live in urban slums or in rural areas. These telecentres would not only minimize the digital divide by improving access to technology, but will also provide invaluable support through appropriate content and advisory services in the livelihood struggle of large number of population.
NEW DELHI: India may not have a great relationship with her neighbours, but her leadership in the outsourcing space has made them look up. Now they are trying hard to grab a share of the multi billion dollar outsourcing pie. While Pakistan and Sri Lanka have already set up BPOs, Bangladesh is gearing up to join the bandwagon. Licences for the country's first-ever telephone-based call centres are soon to be issued. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), which is the licensing authority has invited individuals and firms to apply. Reports suggest, the first licences maybe issued by end of this month. Meanwhile, BTRC has posted its draft call centre policy on the website so that prospective operators can share their views and help finalise the policy. The policy, says, BTRC will issue two types of licences and the fee will vary between taka 15,000 to 50,000 based on the number of agents the centre has. Licences will be issued for 10 years on an annual renewable basis. Experts say BTRC's move will make the country an attractive low-cost call centre destination. Also, a speedy development of the information communications and telecommunications (ICT) sector will help them earn revenues. The country which launched its ICT policy in 2002, is still in the nascent stages of development. As Nikhil Rajpal, VP, global services practice, Everest Group who tracks the market explains, ¡®¡®The total size of the ITeS sector in Bangladesh which includes both export and domestic BPOs, is only $150 million as of now. But its expected to double or triple in the next three to five years.'' Of course, Bangladesh can never be competition for India, but they can surely compliment us. ¡®¡®India cannot possibly handle all the work it gets. And with rising costs, smaller players can look to Bangladesh as an alternative centre.'' Rajpal says. As of now they produce two lakh graduates every year. Of course, only 10-20% of these are BPO ready. Rajpal foresees in the next 2-5 years, nearly 10,000 to 20,000 call centre jobs will be generated. However there are roadblocks. The political instability may not attract big players and captives may not go there initially. Of course, third party players could find it an attractive destination. Also, the physical infrastructure needs to be hauled up.
The Government of India is implementing the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) with the vision to make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common services delivery outlets. In this regard, the government has identified 27 Central, State and Integrated Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) have been identified under the NeGP to ensure availability of e-Government services. NeGP is delivering services at doorstep through State Wide Area Networks (SWAN) for Connectivity; National Data Bank/ State Data Centers (SDC) for secure, data storage and Common Services Centers (CSC). In 2005, the government approved the SWAN project with an overall outlay of INR 3334 crores to be spent in five years. The Scheme will establish Wide Area Networks in 29 States and 6 Union Territories across the country from the State Headquarter to the Block Level. The scheme will provide minimum connectivity of 2 Mbps from the State to the District, subdivision and Block level. Once implemented, the SWANs would go a long way in providing a network for G2G functions and for delivering G2C services, particularly in delivering the various services planned under the Mission Mode Projects of the NeGP. In 2006, the Central Government approved the CSC project with an estimate expenditure of INR 1649 crores. The government is establishing 100,000 rural kiosks across the country; one CSC for every six census villages, through a Public Private Partnership. All CSCs would be broadband, Internet-enabled, primarily through wireless connectivity and would provide for a mix of Government and private services at the doorstep of the citizen.
A Raja, Communications Minister ruled out auctioning 2G spectrum to new players in order to maintain level between new and existing service providers. The Communications Minister stated that the government can not adopt auctioning route for existing 2G spectrum due to legal barriers. Since the government has already announced the 3G policy, so government will allocate frequency on that basis only. Bids by Bharti Airtel followed by Idea Cellular for 4.4 MHz additional spectrum has raised spectrum speculations. Bharti had offered Rs 2,650 crore reserving the right to increase the bid further, while Idea had written a letter to telecom secretary expressing its willingness to participate in the bidding process. Raja stated that the auctioning of 2G spectrum will create a level of playing in favor of existing GSM players.
Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India stated that the policy regime to allocate radio frequency or spectrum should be done fair, transparent and in equitable manner. While inaugurating the Indian Telecom 2007, he stated that it should not create any entry barrier for newcomers or barriers to the continued growth of the sector. The Indian telecommunications industry has been divided into two groups over the contentious spectrum issue. In this dispute, GSM technology operators are demanding that they should be given the first priority in rolling out their services. On the other hand, CDMA operators are fighting for equal treatment at par with the GSM players.
The Government of India has opted for WiMax technology to connect rural India for the common service centres, as part of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). In this project, the government will invest INR 750 crore to connect more than 1000 blocks in the country. In the first phase, the government will provide an over-the air-point-to-point connectivity to common services centres. The government will set up one-base station in each blocks to provide the P2P access. Once the base-station is established, around 5000 blocks will also be connected using WiMAX technology. State-owned telecom operator BSNL will be implementing the project, which will be funded by the Department of Information Technology. Universal Service Obligatory (USO) fund will be contributing for connecting the rest of 5,000 blocks. After the implementation of the WiMax project, the government is looking at taking citizen services such in the areas of education and health.
The Department of Telecom is planning to roll out second phase of the rural mobile project. In its second phase, DoT will roll out another 11,000 cellular towers across 2.4 lakh unconnected villages under the Universal Services Obligation fund. In its first phase, DoT has set up 7,800 towers and received massive response from the operators. BSNL, Reliance Communications, GTL, and Vodafone Essar were winners in the first round of bidding. DoT has identified Madhya Pradesh where DoT wants to set up nearly 2,000 towers followed by about 1,000 towers in Orissa. The rural mobile project assumes significance as the Government has set a target of 500 million subscribers by 2010.
The Delhi Cabinet on 14 January, 2008 approved implementation of the online Project Jeevan that would provide a single-window facility for various services pertaining to different departments and ministries in the Capital in order to make it a truly hi-tech city. While 23 departments and 104 services have been identified to be brought under the ``Jeevan" project, 45 priority services would be made available initially through "Jeevan" computerised citizen service centres or portals with online payment gateway facility. This would create integrated citizen service centres that would be used for shared delivery of infrastructure by all government agencies and some businesses. A private-public partnership model has been adopted for the scheme to ensure sustainability, cost-effectiveness and accountability. The kiosks would be established at convenient places and services concerning the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Delhi Development Authority, the Delhi Jal Board, the power distribution companies, the New Delhi Municipal Council, the Delhi Fire Service, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited and various departments of the Delhi Government.These computerised citizen service centres or web portals would facilitate payment of various bills, issue of different forms, applications and information brochures.
The Employee's Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) of India had started the project 'reinventing EPF India' seven years ago, that was to provide online access of Provident Fund accounts and services to about 4 crore citizens of the country. However after INR 2,500 million having been spent, the UPA government is all set to scrap the project and start all over again. Siemens Information Systems Limited (SISL) was hired as a consultant in 2001 to implement the project. Originally to be completed in 22 months, the project was slightly behind schedule by May 2004. However after 66 months the project was completely derailed due to problems on both the software front as well as on EPFO's front, according to the Gupta sub-committee- that was set up to monitor the progress of the project. The sub-committee has now proposed a step-by-step modernisation approach involving all 112 EPF offices simultaneously with the help of the government's National Informatics Centre (NIC).
The Indian Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the State Data Centres Scheme for establishing state-level data centres across all states/ UTs in the country. The Government of India has approved financial support of INR 1,623.2 crore, which includes both capital and operational expenses, for a period of five years. State-level data centres will enable the states and Union Territories to set up robust, shared and secured infrastructure to host state-level e-governance applications for delivering government-to-government, government-to-citizen and government-to-business services electronically. The scheme would be implemented in a period of 12 months. The CCEA also gave approval for implementation of the ongoing plan scheme for creation of consumer awareness during the 11th Five Year Plan.
The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) of Pakistan is creating a citizens database, which will eliminate identity theft from the country. The national database will eliminate identity theft, which formed on the basis of all e-Governance regimes including e-Commerce and cyber security. While speaking at the Electronic Passport and Services to Citizens: The Roadmap of Government-driven ID Programs at the ID World International Congress in Milan, Italy, Brig Saleem Ahmed Moeen, Chairman of NADRA stated that the new identity card programme in Pakistan will prove a drive to economy, transparency and authentication. He stated that the Identity Card project is now a role model project for the other countries. So far, NADRA has issued 60 million CNICs and receiving around 25,000 CNIC requests daily. This is one of the largest fully integrated databases in the world with an Automatic Finger Identification System (AFIS) and Facial Recognition System.
ISLAMABAD (February 08 2008): The Pakistan Telecommunications Company, has made an investment of $50 million in submarine cable being a part of a consortium that will put in place a high-capacity fiber-optic submarine cable, stretching from India to Italy and France via the Middle East. The consortium of nine leading telecom operators signed the Construction and Maintenance Agreement (C&MA) and the Supply Contract of the fiber-optic cable named I-ME-WE (India, Middle East, Western Europe), which will be the fifth in a series of similar systems. The cable design covers a distance of almost 14,000 kilometres and the system is likely to be available for service by the end of 2009. The system will have a capacity of 3.84 terabits per second. The Pakistan Telecommunications Company and the other members of the consortium intend for this system to meet the ever-growing capacity requirement of Asia, the Middle East and Europe besides satisfying the capacity needs of the USA to these regions as well. The nine companies that form the consortium include Bharti (India), Etisalat (UAE), France Telecom (France), Ogero (Lebanon), PTCL (Pakistan), STC (Saudi Arabia), Telecom Egypt (Egypt), Telecom Italia Sparkle (Italy) and VSNL (India). Sher Bahadar Khan, Executive Vice President of PTCL said that this project was an important addition designed to cater to the ever growing capacity requirements towards the Middle East and the western countries with Pakistan in general and PTCL in particular. He said that this project will also play a pivotal role to provide effective resilience to the existing cable systems (SMW3 & SMW4) available with PTCL to provide flawless communication to its esteemed customers within and outside of Pakistan. This entire venture was, of course, a result of the untiring teamwork of the consortium member countries to achieve the target, he added. Earlier, the Chairman of the Interim Management Committee of the IMEWE Consortium, K P Tiwari, expressed his deep appreciation to all parties involved for their devotion, commitment, and untiring effort over the past year and half in effectively addressing various challenges and making this project a reality and successful.
KARACHI (February 13 2008): The federal government has chalked out a plan to facilitate the Information Technology (IT) sector, with a view to achieving the $5 billion target of software export set for 2010-11. Sources in the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) told Business Recorder on Tuesday that the current level of software exports of the country was about $50 million per annum. 'As the government realises that in current circumstances the marked target can not be achieved amid the competitive international market with insufficient IT professionals, hence it has taken the initiative of the IT development program to facilitate students by providing quality education and training at affordable fee packages, which would help produce sufficient IT professionals across the country', they said. "Government has planned to facilitate IT students on the maximum aimed at increasing the production of trained, diversified and well skilled IT professionals upto 53,000 per annum in next two years," they informed. Software development primarily depends upon the qualified professionals, however the targeted growth rate in the domestic software market will require over thousands of software engineers every year, they added. However, at present about 150 software engineers are being produced by the reputable institutes, while 100 to 150 are being trained by software houses and user organisations, they said. Sources said that about 400 to 500 software engineers were produced by substandard institutions with lack of proper arrangements. Due to poor education, they failed to meet the market's requirements and earn low salaries as compared to qualified professionals, they said. In wake of the situation, the government has evolved a policy to provide incentives on software exports and manufacturing of computer hardware, besides establishing software technology parks and data networks, they said.
KARACHI (February 17 2008): The construction of Pakistan's tallest 47-storeyed Information Technology (IT) Tower adjacent to Civic Centre started at a cost of 200 million dollars with the signing of an agreement in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal signed the agreement on behalf of City Government Karachi and Datu Gochi Kon on behalf of Malaysian Construction company I. M. Technologies, a consortium of I.G.M. Investment, Jable-Ali Limited and Mall Park Limited. The consortium will construct IT Tower in 24 months, which will have three shopping Malls of international standard, 12000 seats Call Centre, 240-room five-Star hotel, Business Centres and car parking facility for 2100 vehicles while 50,000 people would get employment here. Some 5,000 persons will get job during the construction of building while the water used in construction work will be recycled. The agreement signing ceremony in Malaysia was largely attended, among others, by Pakistan High Commissioner Lieutenant General (Retd) Tahir Mahmood Qazi, DCO Karachi Javed Hanif, EDO Enterprise Dr Shahab Imam, Chief Controller of Buildings Rauf Akhtar Farooqui, CEO and MD I.J.M. Corporation, Datu Krishnan Tun, Director I.M. Technologies (Pakistan) Sarfraz H. Rizvi besides Malaysial federal government level secretaries, high government officials and businessmen, industrialists and members of civil society.
Addressing the ceremony Nazim Karachi Mustafa Kamal said that co-operation of Malaysian companies and investment by them in ongoing mega projects in Karachi would prove helpful in bringing the two countries closer to each other. He said that paper work on this project started one year back and today work on it was starting with signing of the agreement. He said the importance of the project could be judged from the fact that 4000 out of 10,000 call centre seats have already booked before the start of work. He was confident that with working together, the IT complex project could be completed much before the stipulated time frame of 24 months. He thanked the Malaysian investors for their confidence in the City Government Karachi by investing in projects like Elevated Expressway and IT Complex. He said the IT Complex would prove a unique project in the region which would give a boost to BPO industry in Pakistan. Earlier CEO and MD IJM Corporation welcomed the Nazim Karachi and his team in Malaysia and said the IT complex would be a most modern and unique project of its kind in which an investment of 197 million dollars will be made. It will have a spacious car parking facility and 10,000 seats call centres in upper floors.
Azerbaijan is likely to reduce Internet prices while leaving phone call and subscription prices unchanged in 2008. Ali Abbasov, Azerbaijan¡¯s Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, said there will be important steps this year to reduce Internet prices in the country. ¡°Both Internet and phone call prices fell while telephone subscription fee rose in 2007. Proposals are worked out for transition to the pay-for-call system for intercitycity local telephone calls. The aim is to achieve efficient use of the telephone network. Every mobile phone user pays AZN 15-20 a month while he doesn¡¯t pay even AZN 2-3 for home phone. So, we can apply the pay-for-call system, allotting free minutes for the low-income groups,¡± he added. Mr. Abbasov noted that, anyway,the system will not be applied in 2008.
Reuters reports that Azerbaijan plans to start selling the government¡¯s stakes in telecoms joint ventures this year. According to Kerem Gasanov, the head of the Azeri State Property Management Committee, the government was preparing to sell its 50% stake in the Azeri-US CDMA operator Catel worth an estimated AZN5 million (USD5.9 million). The sale of a 34.6% government stake in Azerbaijan's largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, Azercell will follow, Gasanov said. This holding is expected to fetch between USD170 million and USD190 million. The government also intends to sell its 50% share in Azeri-British telco AzEurotel, and has set a starting price of AZN6 million.
State-owned cellco AzTelekom has completed a pilot project in the Shemakha region as part of the E-Azerbaijan project. The project involved the building of a next generation network (NGN) linking 23 village centres with an automatic telephone exchange in the regional city. In a statement, AzTelekom said, ¡®¡We have built communications networks conforming to the latest requirements and [able to support] such services as IP TV, VoIP, triple-play and other multimedia service. Overall capacity of the new network [in the] 23 villages of Shemakha region [is] 20,000 numbers. The project was realised as a mini model of E-Azerbaijan.¡¯ The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), which operates AzTelekom on behalf of the state, intends to implement similar projects in other regions of the country.
In an address to the Kazakh parliament in Astana, Culture and Information Minister Ermukhamet Ertysbaev on December 10 reiterated plans to nationalize the Khabar television station, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. He explained that the state intends to carry through its plan to take control of the television channel, which was first announced in May 2006 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," May 4, 2006). He added that the authorities will buy back all privately held shares in Khabar, in order to increase the state's share from its current 50 percent stake to full ownership. Khabar was originally founded in the mid-1990s by Darigha Nazarbaeva, the eldest daughter of President Nursultan Nazarbaev. RG
Speaking at a press conference in Almaty, Sergei Duvanov, the administrator of the Kazakh opposition's inkar.info website, on February 18 protested against the sudden blocking of access to several opposition websites to users in Kazakhstan, according to Interfax-Kazakhstan. Duvanov added that despite new investment in web technology following an earlier interruption of access, several opposition websites were "blocked again." The Kazakh authorities have repeatedly monitored and curtailed independent and opposition websites for several years, with the most publicized incident involving the Internet provider Nursat, the largest in Kazakhstan, which was accused of blocking access at the behest of the authorities to websites maintained by the opposition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," November 9 and 15, 1999). RG
COMPANIES regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission will press ahead with plans to update its core information systems despite signals from the Labor Party that it will cut technology funding for the agency. Labor finance spokesman Lindsay Tanner last week incurred the ire of business groups with plans to slash $111 million from ASIC's operating budget by reducing expenditure on technology and major litigation. The measure would cut some of a $130.9 million capital injection for technology that was announced in the May federal budget. Mr Tanner's comments came just days after ASIC issued a major technology tender designed to tackle some of the projects that had been funded in the budget as well as fulfil some of the day-to-day operating requirements of the agency. The tender will establish a panel of pre-qualified suppliers that can be drawn on as necessary, meaning that ASIC will have no upfront spending commitments with any firms that may be selected through the tender.
Tender documents show that a wide range of capabilities are being sought by ASIC, including day-to-day functions such as helpdesk support and information security services. However, a number of capabilities involving specific investments flagged in the May budget, including electronic document management and data warehousing, are also covered in the procurement documents. The document management and data warehousing projects were to be funded from a $116.7 million grant covering upgrades to ASIC's core IT infrastructure. A further $14.2 million was allocated to improving IT security and risk mitigation. The ASIC computer upgrade is not the only technology project facing cuts under the incoming Labor Government as the ALP has already committed to axing the $1.1 billion welfare access card.
ONLY five months after the appointment of Andrew Townend to head the $40 million Digital Australia body, the new Labor Government has taken the axe to the project. The Rudd Government will also legislate to make the end of 2013 the final shutdown date for analog television signals. "Digital Australia was an organisation designed to provide a lack of action," Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy told Media. "It was a policy without substance." Mr Townend was appointed to Digital Australia in July, eight months after the announcement of the new body, which mimicked a similar government organisation in Britain that he led. The group was started to co-ordinate the various stakeholders affected by the analog shutdown, such as TV manufacturers, retail stores and consumers. "His background in broadcasting and experience as a leader of the digital switchover process in the UK will be invaluable to Australia's achievement of digital switchover," former communications minister Helen Coonan said earlier this year. In July, figures showed just 28per cent of local households had the capability to receive free-to-air digital television, either through set-top boxes or TVs with built-in digital tuners, compared with 46 per cent in Britain.
Digital Australia was a key plank in the Howard government's package of media reforms announced in April last year. "This is part of the Government's plan to reduce duplication and red tape," Senator Conroy said. But the head of the free-to-air TV industry's lobby group Julie Flynn said some process for co-ordinating the switch-off of analog TV signals was required. "That is government policy but we have said publicly and privately that a process will be necessary involving close consultation with stakeholders," Ms Flynn said. "We are more than happy to work with the Government on the process." Senator Conroy said the Rudd Government would consult with various parties about how to use the spectrum. He added that a fourth free-to-air TV network remained a possibility.
The Federal Government is seeking submissions on a review released today into photo and film copying law. Attorney-General Robert McClelland says the review is a part of the Government's commitment to open and public consultation in achieving fair and effective copyright law. "We are committed to encouraging creators and copyright owners to develop new markets while also giving a fair deal to Australian consumers, and I invite all parties to make a submission in response to the issues paper," he said. The review focuses on the operation of two new copyright exceptions introduced in 2006 which permit 'format shifting' of photographs and films to be reproduced in different formats for private use under certain conditions. Submissions are invited on whether the exceptions could be expanded to allow a greater range of copying without causing detriment to copyright owners. "I acknowledge digital markets are rapidly adapting and the Government will need to assess all views in deciding whether to make changes," Mr McClelland said.
The New South Wales Government is being asked to take on a bigger role in delivering new communication infrastructure, especially broadband technology in regional areas. In a submission to the Rural and Regional Task Force the group Economic Development Australia (EDA) wants the State Government to become more involved in the area. Armidale council's Kevin Abey is the local EDA spokesman and says the state needs to consider how it can better use resources in the country. "What we are seeking is for the State Government to look at coordinating broadband infrastructure development at the community level," he said. "We understand that broadband in the context of health and education is very, very important, so perhaps the State Government has a role in coordinating the delivery of new services and also infrastructure so that the community can benefit from the some of the initiatives that the State Government has undertaken."
The Queensland government has announced plans to embark on a new green procurement strategy, after a procedural review led to the establishment of a green whole-of-government computing arrangement. As part of his announcement yesterday, Queensland's Minister for Public Works, Housing and ICT, Robert Schwarten said all government staff would now be expected to "think green" when engaging in procurements. The announcement comes after a substantial 12 month review of the state government's procurement strategy last year, which included consultation with industry and a number of other stakeholders. "A recent whole-of-government arrangement for desktop computers, laptops and file servers called for energy-saving features in hardware, responsible recycling and disposal, and environmentally-conscious manufacturing," he said. The green ICT initiative set out to purchase only high-compliance energy efficient desktop PCs from vendors with a demonstrated record of taking back used government hardware for resale or recycling.
"This is just one example of how agencies can contribute to a sustainable future for Queensland," Schwarten said yesterday. Richard Harris, research vice president at analyst firm Gartner told ZDNet Australia that he was encouraged by the move and said it was up to governments to be the leaders in adopting green policies broadly and within ICT. "The first degree of green IT thinking relates to the types of products and services bought," he said, "but moving forward from that it is to demonstrate how IT can help governments reduce their carbon footprint and to encourage more appropriate uses of technology". "With the establishment of a new procurement office I'm now confident that the Queensland government is bringing this type of thinking front and centre." In a statement released ahead of last year's Gartner Symposium, Harris said that by 2010 "environmental-related issues will be among the top five IT management concerns for more than 50 percent of state and local government organisations in Australia, North America and Europe".
The Federal Government is tackling the IT skills shortage head-on with the announcement of a new a $15 million Information and Communications Technology (ICT) apprenticeship program. The Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner said the new program would deliver up to 60 jobs for young people within Government agencies. ¡°This program directly addresses the ICT skills shortage in the Australian Public Service (APS) and provides real career opportunities in the technology sector,¡± Tanner said. ¡°It is all about investing in skills and investing in young Australians. The initiative also highlights the benefits of agencies working together to provide opportunities, produce efficiencies and develop important workforce skills.¡± Tanner said the four-year APS program which is being coordinated by the Department of Finance and Deregulation will help address current and projected skills shortfalls.
Apprentices who take part in the program will receive ¡®on-the-job¡¯ experience with an APS agency and graduate with a nationally-recognised qualification. Work placements and the academic component of the program will begin in February 2008. This announcement is the latest in a range of practical programs initiated by the Rudd Government to address Australia¡¯s skills shortages. Other programs include; a $2.5 billion Trades Training Centres in Schools Plan; $84 million on-the-job Training Plan - to ensure students involved in trades training received one day a week of on-the-job training for 20 weeks a year; investment of $1 billion over four years to turn secondary schools in Australia into digital schools; and Establishing Skills Australia. Excelior Pty Ltd which is part of the SKILLED Group has been selected to deliver and administer the initiative. Excelior will work in partnership with the Canberra Institute of Technology, who will provide the academic component.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced the Labor government's plans to bring the country's "best and brightest" together by convening the Australia 2020 summit in April -- but concerns have been raised over its use of technology. "The reason we are doing this is because we believe the nation faces serious long term challenges which go well beyond the normal electoral cycle," Rudd said at a press conference yesterday. "We want to make sure that in rising to those challenges that we bring forth and summon forth the best ideas available across our country." The government has scheduled the summit be held on the third weekend of April and intends to invite 1,000 people to Parliament House with expertise in any number of the 10 designated areas of interest the meeting hopes to tackle. The digital economy and innovation are specific items on the agenda, which also aims to plot future directions for infrastructure, productivity, population sustainability, climate change, indigenous Australia, governance and the arts. Rudd said that the 10 areas will be examined by one hundred delegates each and chosen at the discretion of the 10 individuals selected to chair the various working groups. He also noted that all participants are expected to pay their own way.
"I think it's interesting that in 2008 we're bringing people together physically like this," said Sheryle Moon, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA). Moon added that the Internet is not being utilised effectively ahead of the summit and suggested the government consider using Web 2.0 as a conduit for greater social and political inclusion. "We're not using all the technology available to get all the best ideas out," she said. "The problems in each of these areas are reasonably well known, by making the most of the technology at hand each one could be defined fully ahead of the summit and free up the time needed to work through solutions." Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne and Rudd's co-chair for the summit, said Australia 2020 is an "extraordinary opportunity" for the nation. "It is all too rare to bring prominent Australians together from a huge range of areas and ask them to think about the future," Davis said. AIIA's Moon said that technology will play a role in all of the issues and said that each working group would require at least some experts with a technology background. "Each area would definitely need someone who understands the enabling features of technology," she said, adding: "I think technology-led innovation will provide many of the answers as to how we solve a number of these problems."
Queensland's ICT spending will reach almost AU$1 billion this year, according to the state government's CIO, with AU$13 million going on security spending alone. Of the government's close to AU$1 billion budget, around 50 percent is spent on core infrastructure technologies and operations, with the balance split roughly between application related operations and annual ICT project activity, acting CIO Alan Chapman told ZDNet.com.au. Two of the most significant budget costs for the state are maintaining its fleet of desktops as well as its voice and data networks, Chapman added. Security too makes up a significant proportion of spending, with security software such as antivirus and firewalls accounting for AU$13 million and maintaining core service delivery applications taking another AU$200 million. Enterprises in the Asian Pacific region spend an average of 11 percent of their total IT budget on security according to a survey carried out by analyst firm Gartner in August 2007.
Although overall budget spending has been increasing slightly, the Queensland government has been able to keep costs down because of the ICT market offering more commodity products, Queensland's CIO said, as well as consolidation and shared services initiatives. "The Queensland public service has shifted its focus to viewing government as a single enterprise where decisions are often made on a whole-of-government portfolio basis. This requires a CIO role that takes a whole-of-government view and coordinates all agencies towards achieving an aligned set of investments. As a result, achieving real collaboration between CIOs is key a part of the Queensland Government CIO's job -- not just a networking opportunity," Chapman concluded. "Like many other government and non-government organisations Queensland has begun a period of core infrastructure renewal and consolidation. The renewal and consolidation agenda will deliver a refreshed platform for government service delivery along with significant improvements in robustness, redundancy, business continuity, disaster recovery and compliance, while maintaining the same cost base.
There is also the future potential for greater integration of systems, reduced duplication and increased reuse across departments." With Queensland now facing an ageing, increasing population, its IT is being forced to adapt to meet the challenge: the government is now moving to adopt service-oriented architectures and customer relationship management tools. However, technology is not the be all and end all, Chapman revealed: "Technologies are not the answer. No technology can be the silver bullet for government. The technologies are only effective in conjunction with real business reform and that reform needs to be taking place now."
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, introduced the Skills Australia Bill 2008 to Parliament yesterday, with some observers already saying it will bolster the IT industry in fighting the skills crisis. "This legislation is being brought in front of Parliament as a priority because we understand the urgent need to increase the supply of skilled workers," said Gillard, addressing the House of Representatives yesterday. The bill will establish Skills Australia, a statutory advisory body set up to assist the government in directing its workplace training funds. According to Gillard, the first task of the Skills Australia board will be to "analyse current and emerging skills needs in the Australian economy -- both in the broader economy and demands across industry sectors". "The challenge of recruiting and retaining skilled staff has shot up on the radar," said Phillip Allen, research manager at analyst firm IDC Australia.
"I think that the government's initiative is well timed for the industry, as it has dominated discussions in our CIO round-tables, and with vendors," he said. Allen told ZDNet.com.au today that the skills shortage has hit crisis point in IT and is being exacerbated on two fronts; difficulty in attracting members of Generation Y, and swathes of senior IT professionals on the verge of retirement. His claims were reiterated by Jane Bianchini, chief operating officer of ICT recruitment firm Candle. She said, "we're backing on to baby boomers retiring with their mainframe skills and there aren't enough graduates coming through with new expertise, so we've got shortages right across the industry". "Universities are struggling to fill IT related courses, something needs to be done," the analyst said. Adding that the skills issue has risen sharply on his companies "top priorities" survey of vendors, jumping from number 12 to number six, just behind "reducing costs". As part of its Skilling Australia for the Future policy, the government plans to offer 450,000 new training places over the next four years across all vocational sectors. Gillard pledged yesterday to make the first 20,000 available by April this year.
"The new places will offer high-quality training opportunities which better suit the needs of our economy in the future," said the Deputy Prime Minister. IDC's Allen claimed that the skills shortage was also contributing significantly to the growth in offshoring: "It's not always a money thing, in a lot of cases businesses just can't find the skills here". "We've witnessed some companies offshoring pieces of development because they haven't been able to gain access to enough technical expertise required at home," said Candle's Bianchini. "At the end of the day we just need more bodies in IT, whatever it takes, we need to get people attracted to the sector again," Allen concluded.
Modern communication technologies are not just transforming the world we live in but are a vital part of any world-leading education system, Minister of Education Chris Carter says. In a speech delivered to the ¡°Moving Minds Conference¡± in London today, the Minister emphasised the Labour-led government¡¯s continuing commitment to ensuring all young New Zealanders could take advantage of the opportunities provided by digital and web-related technologies. ¡°Education is a life-long opportunity and we all now know that ¡°one shot¡± of education is no longer enough,¡± Chris Carter said. ¡°Everyone needs to gain the skills for life-long learning, to learn to problem solve, be self-motivated, work with others, be creative and innovative. Above all, effective communication through Information Communication Technologies (ICT) will be essential for all our young people now and in the future.¡±
Since 2001, the Labour-led government has invested $400 million in ICT projects, including providing principals and teachers with laptop computers, providing broadband to rural schools, development of the Virtual Learning Network where students and teachers can connect with their classrooms 24 hours a day, e-Mentoring for music education where real-time, online tuition is delivered to students over the web and the Digital Conversations website where students are able to video conference with experts from around the world. The government is addressing the problem of access to technologies for students from poorer homes through the ¡°Computers in Homes¡± project where families can access computer skills through their local school so that training is provided for parents, thereby making a computer a key resource for the entire family. Chris Carter said while much had been achieved since Labour was elected, there was more work to be done. New funding streams would be developed to further support and expand the use of ICT in schools. ¡°ICT is an important part of the government¡¯s vision for the 21st century. The power of education to drive change is as powerful as ever it was. E-learning, in all its forms, will make a substantial contribution to the education of all young New Zealanders now and into the future.¡±
The State Services Commission New Zealand today released new Cabinet approved Guidelines for Treatment of Intellectual Property Rights in government Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) contracts. These state that the commercialisation of intellectual property resulting from State Services agencies' ICT contracts is best carried out by the commercial sector. Laurence Millar, Deputy Commissioner Information and Communication Technologies, said: In general government ICT contracts should provide for ownership of intellectual property by the supplier, and only in limited circumstances will agencies seek to own and commercially exploit the intellectual property rights arising from these contracts. Agencies should, however, retain an all-of-government usage licence. Government agencies will also retain the right, where appropriate, to allow free use of the intellectual property on open source terms.
In the past, government agencies have often sought to own the new intellectual property rights, on the assumption that this was in the best interests of government. However, by retaining ownership of these rights, agencies may have been inadvertently restricting opportunities to exploit that intellectual property and limiting incentives for innovation. Government investment in ICT can make a significant contribution to economic transformation in New Zealand. This can be achieved not only through the effective use of ICT in driving productivity in the delivery of government business, but also through the use of intellectual property created in developing ICT solutions, where it is exploited and commercialised by those best placed to do so, Laurence Millar said. The Guidelines recognise the need to balance economic development and national interest. In matters of national security, for example, government will want to retain full ownership rights, regardless of the possible economic benefits of commercial development of that intellectual property.
Government, like any other customer, will also seek to ensure that solutions developed and deployed for it will be supported and maintained to its satisfaction. The Guidelines were prepared by a working group of government officials and draft versions were widely consulted on across government and with a representative range of suppliers. Decisions about intellectual property rights ownership, commercialisation and usage licensing should be made when agencies are developing an ICT project business case, and should be set out in Requests for Proposal/Tender documentation.
Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe is now considering submissions on Telecom¡¯s Amended Separation Plan. Submissions closed on 25 January. ¡°The submissions have raised some significant issues that I will be giving serious and careful consideration to before making my decision,¡± Mr Cunliffe said. ¡°Most submitters have acknowledged that Telecom¡¯s Amended Separation Plan is a significant improvement on Telecom¡¯s original plan, while raising a number of potentially significant outstanding issues.¡± ¡°While I am conscious of the need to progress the operational separation process as quickly as possible, I am carefully considering all options available to me. Accordingly, at this stage I am not ruling out any options, including potential rejection of the Amended Plan.¡± The Minister called for submissions on 24 December 2007 after receiving Telecom¡¯s Amended Separation Plan on 21 December.
The State Services Commission is gearing up to take its national broadband aggregation map out of its beta stage and turn it into a fully fledged public web service. The National Broadband Map was launched last November at the government's Digital Summit in Auckland and provides a view of broadband demand by mapping state sector locations and the availability of high-speed broadband services. Businesses and the public can add their own information to the map to provide a clear view of the gaps between demand and availability of high-speed services. The map can be found at: http://www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz/Your-Region/broadbandmap/ At the time of its launch, deputy commissioner for information and communications technology Laurence Millar said the map would give telecommunications infrastructure providers invaluable information on broadband demand and supply and should spur fresh investment in broadband infrastructure around the country.
According to documents accompanying a Request for Proposal issued this week, the Commission wants the National Broadband Map "proof of concept" beta to become permanent and is searching for vendors that can provide a browser and map-based user interface that can be interacted with by New Zealand organisations and individuals. The system should include a database to store broadband supply and demand, and geo-spatial data, as well as an API for data access. The vendor should also be able to supply ongoing maintenance and hosting. The map shall have almost all New Zealand streets, roads and key landmarks and allow individual properties to be identified. It should also show property boundaries. Map point and network data will be supplied by the Commission in a standard format.
Users of the map should be able to search for addresses that resolve to a marker on the map. They should be able to input data associated with their marker with the information then being stored on a database. The map will include categories and sub-categories that can be turned off and on, and the base map should also have pan and zoom functions controlled by keyboard shortcuts. The website will be compliant with the New Zealand Government Web Standards and Recommendations v1.0, although the vendor should be prepared to alter design for handheld and other devices. Full details of RFP requirements can be found on the Government Electronic Tenders Service website, ICNNZ Reference: 20682. The closing date for proposals is February 18 with the successful tenderer to be notified by February 26, 2008. The Commission wants the completed National Broadband Map to be delivered by May 7, 2008.
The Uganda government ministries and departments are now connected to each other and teleconferencing between them is possible. According to a statement issued by the information communication technology ministry, the network is being refined and will be officially launched in Kampala soon. The statement went on to say that the network is part of the national backbone infrastructure project whose construction has so far covered the city of Kampala, towns of Entebbe and Jinja town that is located in Eastern Uganda. The system works with multiple users and through the network users can hold discussions with other ministries or departments can communicate with each official without leaving the office. Officials can also make Powerpoint presentations on screen and others can give their response to the presentation through the click of a button. On his part the ICT Minister Dr. Ham Mukasa Mulira attributed the success of the project to the government¡¯s structured approach to the implementation of information communication technology in the country.
"ICT implementation has got three phases that include establishment of the infrastructure, use of applications and then the users. As we were infusing ICT¡¯s, we also started on the infrastructure such that as government liberalized the sector many investors were attracted but at the same time it established the national backbone," he said. Following the liberalisation of the sector, Uganda's telecommunications industry grew steadily and led to the introduction of wireless networks that include the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), WIFI among others and the ultimate being the Blackberry. He said the first phase of the infrastructure has been completed with E-government that is going to be established throughout the country. "In the next phase we are planning to connect health centres where an expert surgeon for example who is in the northern town of Lira can guide an operation in a Kampala hospital using the same system," he said.
Getting the maximum value out of IT infrastructure and resources will become the top IT trend in the government sector in Asia Pacific this year, predicted Government Insights in a report. The annual report, covering the top 10 predictions for the government sector in 2008 in the Asia/Pacific region excluding Japan (APEJ), is called Asia/Pacific Government 2008 Top 10 Predictions, January 2008. The economic benefits from technology are driving governments to further optimise the value of IT investments, said Raphael Phang, research director of Government Insights Asia/Pacific, a research and advisory firm. ¡°In 2008, upcoming next-generation technologies, such as Web 2.0, virtualisation, mobile technologies and biometrics, will take centre stage,¡± he added. He also predicted an increase in public sector IT spending in the region. ¡°IT spending in the APEJ public sector is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9 per cent to reach US$32.77 billion (S$46.4 billion) by 2011,¡± he said. India and China would account for more than half of the region¡¯s total IT spending, he added.
The two countries are expected to achieve double-digit CAGR of 10.2 per cent and 17.6 per cent respectively. ¡°[China] and India will continue to lead the growth in the region as they have been building up their information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure to increase outreach to their citizens, especially in the rural areas,¡± Phang said. Other top predictions presented and analysed in this study are as follows: Infrastructure optimisation and IT resource re-purposing will pick up steam with virtualisation and consolidation strategies; ¡°Gov 2.0¡± will replace ¡°e-Gov¡± as governments seek to gain additional value from citizen interaction and business transactions; Governments will extend ICTs to strengthen national security while striving to ensure the privacy of citizen data. Technologies for disaster recovery efforts, citizenry surveillance and biometrics will still be key.
Five of the top ten countries in the UN¡¯s 2008 eGovernment Readiness Index are EU Member States. Sweden heads the 192-country index, followed by Denmark. The UN survey assesses eGovernment readiness according to a quantitative composite index based on website assessment, telecommunications infrastructure and human resource endowment. The closer the index figure is to 1, the greater the readiness. On that basis, the top ten countries in the latest ratings are Sweden (0.9157), Denmark (0.9134), Norway (0.8921), the US (0.8644), the Netherlands (0.8631), the Republic of Korea (0.8317), Canada (0.8172), Australia (0.8108), France (0.8038) and the UK (0.7872).
This year¡¯s report also takes a special look at initiatives to improve the operational efficiency of eGovernment through the integration of back-office functions. Complexity, expressed in terms of the number of functions within the scope and number of organisations involved, is the primary factor influencing a successful outcome, the survey says. The more ambitious projects tend not to deliver the full anticipated benefits. While the technology for back-office integration is increasingly resilient and ¡°fit for purpose¡±, success or failure will depend more on people issues ¨C in particular, the ability to change public service cultures and working patterns, address trade union concerns, and provide adequately skilled and competent management and leadership.
The Bulgarian government has launched a new ¡®anti-corruption portal¡¯ aimed at providing citizens with a convenient ¨C and anonymous ¨C means of reporting incidences of corruption. Officially announced just before Christmas, the government's anticorruption portal ¨C www.anticorruption.bg ¨C had already received 90 corruption reports by mid-January. Complainants are given the option to decide whether they wish to identify themselves or not. The government guarantees anonymity and has assured users that it has not installed any software capable of tracking down the source computer. The greatest number of complaints received to date concern medical professionals, policemen and customs officers. School teachers, managers of state-owned enterprises and municipal officials are also among those reported for corruption offences. However, so far there have been no complaints against senior government officials. Most of the cases reported seem to concern small-scale corruption. The web portal has implemented measures to ensure that each case is properly followed up.
Once submitted, a corruption report cannot be erased from the system. The site offers track-and-trace functionality enabling complainants to see what happens next. Once the ball starts rolling, it becomes quite serious. Rather than just being published, the submitted reports are forwarded to the internal compliance units of the institutions concerned (known as inspectorates) for detailed investigation. There is a statutory period of two months within which the inspectorates must provide feedback. The period can be extended for cases of greater complexity. At the end of the day, if the circumstances of the case are duly verified and confirmed, the wrongdoer is penalised. Depending on the gravity of the case, sanctions can vary from administrative measures to imprisonment. The site is sponsored by USAID and forms part of the government's overall anti-corruption strategy. Other key state institutions in Bulgaria also maintain their own facilities for citizens to submit corruption complaints. These include the Ministry of Interior (http://nocorr.mvr.bg/), the Ministry of Defence (hotline), and the Commission for Protection of Competition (http://www.cpc.bg/public/index.php?id=2363).
Scientific studies on the development of process chains between business and public administrations are the subject of a call for proposals launched by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior on 25 January 2008. The aim of the call is to develop innovative solutions that can be rapidly built into eGovernment practice. The call is for feasibility studies on the development of process chains in one of three specialised fields: environmental information, financial services, and information and reporting requirements for employers. Each bidder can apply for one or more of these lots but will not be awarded more than one. The studies are part of Germany¡¯s current federal E-Government 2.0 programme.
The contractors will develop an overall system for ensuring that data flows and process handling between public authorities and businesses can be managed through process chains. This includes proposing practical solutions for interfaces, data input points and data protection. The studies are expected to provide a basis for cross-cutting co-operation between administrations and business, and to offer the potential for integration and cost-saving. They should help to build up process libraries. The results will be made freely available for general public use. The contracts will go to consortiums of scientific institutions/universities and businesses. The lead organisation must be the scientific institution. SME involvement in the consortiums is specifically encouraged. The deadline for initial applications is 14.00 CET on 29 February 2008. Offers and any other correspondence must be in German.
Italy has launched a new federal network of public administrations. This will bring together local, regional and central administrations, and is expected to improve usability, increase efficiency and limit costs. The Italian Public Connectivity System (SPC) Coordinating Commission has announced the creation of a federal web network made up of central and local public administrations, as well as 125 Italian public bodies across the world. The new system will increase interoperability between the different levels of national and local public administrations, which will share common databases and procedures, making life easier for citizens and private companies. The upgrading of the existing SPC, already one of Europe¡¯s largest networks linking regional, local and central administrations, into a fully ¡®federal¡¯ network will ensure greater co-operation and flexibility at all levels.
The SPC Coordination Commission also announced that the new broadband network would use the most advanced security technologies and would be compatible with a wide range of applications, including Voice Over Internet Protocol, with the aim of reducing internal operating costs. The new web network was sanctioned by the Italian Ministry for Reform and Innovation in Public Administration. A ministry representative sits on the SPC Commission, which is chaired by Fabio Pistella, president of the National Centre for Information Technology in Public Administration (CNIPA). Regional, provincial and local city administrations are also represented. The Commission¡¯s remit is to support an efficient use of IT in public administration in order to improve the quality of services and contain costs.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today unveiled the New York Citywide Performance Reporting (CPR) system, which he announced in the State of the City, a performance measurement tool that will help make the workings of government transparent to all citizens and ensure that City agencies are accountable for their performance. Each year, the Mayor's Management Report (MMR) offers indicators from city agencies to gauge performance. This new technology will make 300 of those indicators available to the public online, plus an additional 200 indicators that are integral to the quality of life of all New Yorkers and which will be updated monthly. "When we introduced 311, we streamlined and centralized information for New Yorkers like never before, and now we're doing it again," said Mayor Bloomberg. "CPR provides anyone -- government officials, reporters and most importantly everyday New Yorkers, with a wealth of regularly updated information on city government." "CPR is the culmination of more than two years of work coordinated by the Office of Operations, and involving more than 40 City agencies," said Jeff Kay, Director of the Mayor's Office of Operations. "CPR will let us use City data to identify problem areas and improve service delivery. It is another step in improving transparency and customer service for New Yorkers."
CPR uses a uniform, standardized reporting format across all agencies and all data types, and provides a single point of access for all users. Most notably, it aggregates data across agency into "citywide themes," which represent groups of related services such as infrastructure, education, or public safety. The system also provides easy downloading to help users analyze and present system data. It will increase accountability by making it easier to monitor agency performance for the most important "outcome" measures - those directly reflecting how citizens' lives are affected by government. CPR includes 500 hundred "critical" outcome measures. More than 200 of these critical measures are being reported for the first time. CPR is trend-based, not target-based. It compares current performance to performance during the same time last year providing a short-term performance trend or "snapshot", intended to be used for real-time decision-making. It quickly highlights performance that is trending in a negative direction, providing early warning for areas that need attention through the use of color coding. Through the City's Web site, CPR will offer: graphical representation of performance, including pie charts to make performance trends easy to identify; drill-down capability, allowing users to review comparative trends for up to a five year period; monthly, quarterly or annual updates of each critical measure -- depending on how often the statistic is produced. CPR will be updated monthly with the most current measurements available for each performance indicator.
Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox announced today that his office is the first in state government to create a page on the department's Web site detailing the expenditures of the AG's office, including contracts, salaries and wages, equipment and other spending. Ralph Nader, joining the press conference by phone, said "I applaud AG Cox for taking this important first step of making government operations more transparent. I hope the governor follows his example and makes the full text of all Michigan state contracts available to the public via the Internet." According to Cox, "Our office is a leader in defending Freedom of Information requests and Open Meetings Acts. Letting the sunshine in on state government expenditures is the next step in open government. The public has a right to see how their tax dollars are being spent. Our 'Track Your Taxes' Web page.
The volume of purchases made online by State ministries and commissions is expected to grow significantly from the end of this month, with the further development of a Web-based bidding system, a senior official has said. Ma Jihong, Party secretary of the procurement center of the Central People's Government of China, said on Thursday: "On completion of the online invitation and bidding system, we will gradually publicize categories of the items available. "The new system will help to lower procurement costs and improve efficiency," Ma told a seminar ahead of the fifth anniversary of the implementation of the Government Procurement Law. She said the bidding system will also provide more openness and transparency. The government implemented its procurement law in January 2003. Since then, the value of State purchases has risen from 700 million yuan (95 million U.S. dollars) to 10.7 billion yuan this year. Also, according to official figures, in the five years since the law's enactment, more than 5 billion yuan of central government funds have been saved. As of last Wednesday, the value of government procurement conducted via the center's website, www.zycg.gov.cn, was 5.3 billion yuan, almost half of the total spend for the year.
The site contains information on more than 6,000 individual buyers, 16,000 suppliers and about 150,000 products and services. By providing detailed records of all transactions, including information on buyers, suppliers, contract checking and acceptance, the site, which receives some 20,000 visits per day, has "forcefully" promoted the transparency of government procurement procedures, Ma said. To date, the center has made collective purchases for State organs at all levels. While experts have generally praised the adoption of e-commerce applications for government procurement, Liu Junhai, president of the commercial law research institute of Renmin University of China, said "better purchasing credibility" still needed to be established. "The procurement system has contributed significantly to saving government funds, reducing commercial graft and protecting the rights of suppliers," Liu told China Daily. However, the system is not flawless, he said.
Collective purchases usually take longer to complete and in some cases, the product quality and after-sales service are not as good as they should be, he said. Liu called for the introduction of more detailed regulations on government purchases, as parts of the current law are unclear and difficult to implement. Liu Jie, vice-manager of Beijing-based Haoying Furniture Co Ltd, has also called for more clarity on the preferential policies the law says it gives to environmentally friendly firms, medium- and small-sized companies and businesses based in western areas.
China's newly-founded National Bureau of Corruption Prevention (NBCP) launched its official website on Tuesday. The public can now post notes at the website (yfj.mos.gov.cn) or write e-mails (firstname.lastname@example.org) and leave information and opinions on the body's work. The website also publicizes the NBCP policies, events and lists anti-corruption news from both home and abroad. The NBCP was officially established on Sept. 13 with Ma Wen, the Minister of Supervision, as its head. The bureau was founded at a time when the country has seen many corruption scandals that have brought down a number of high-level officials, most notably former food and drug administration head Zhen Xiaoyu and former Shanghai Party head Chen Liangyu. The NBCP planned to study methods to constantly improve corruption prevention systems, push for the sound operation of these systems and to coordinate the corruption prevention efforts of various departments, Ma said on Sept. 13 when the NBCP was launched. The bureau has been entrusted to collect and analyze information from such sectors as banking, land use, medicine and telecom, among others, and to share it with relevant departments. These included prosecuting organs, courts and police authorities, among others. It would not, however, be involved in the investigation of individual cases.
Eleven officials in the Pearl River Delta city of Zhongshan in Guangdong Province recently opened blogs on the local government's Web portal to help the public get better acquainted with their activities. "Many people take it for granted that officials open blogs just to show off. But I don't think so," said Fang Bingzhuo, deputy secretary-general of the municipal government. "Through the blog, we can tell local residents what we are doing and why," said Fang, one of the officials taking part. And officials can get to know citizens' ideas in a more timely manner via their messages on the blog, he said. "We consider it meaningful and the city government encourages more officials to open blogs." "The blogs make me understand what the government officials are like," said local resident Yang Shaofeng. "I used to mistakenly think that officials just passed the time by reading newspapers and gossiping," Yang said. "But their blogs tell me that they really have administrative capabilities and constructive ideas."
However, they should spend more time improving their blog subjects, such as including important local issues and and sharing their viewpoints on the work they are responsible for, to make their blogs more interesting, he suggested. Zheng Yongting, a philosophy professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said blogs establish a new channel of communication between government officials and citizens and will help improve the image of those officials. "The blogs will make the officials closer to the public and will also help them to better understand public opinion," Zheng said. In addition to the Zhongshan officials, Zhu Yongxin, vice-mayor of Suzhou in East China's Jiangsu Province, and Liao Xinbo, deputy director of Guangdong Health Department, have also opened personal blogs.
China's National Copyright Administration (NCA) has launched the first phase construction of a monitoring platform for the violation of intellectual property rights (IPR) on the Internet, said a chief official of the body on Thursday. The monitoring platform, which will be completed in May, will have an automatic search system for music and film products that are being broadcasted online without permission, said Yan Xiaohong, NCA deputy-director. "This will help us to locate and deal with IPR violation cases more accurately and swiftly. "We have to resort to new technology to tackle the problems brought about by technological development," he said, adding the first phase of the project will cost eight million yuan. Yan said the platform worked like Internet search engines. With authorized film, TV and music products uploaded to its data base, it would be able to identify unauthorized use of those products by surfing online. Once it has detected such products, it will send a notice to the relevant websites and ask them to delete them. Yan added the project's second phase is under appraisal.
China's disciplinary bodies on Friday announced they were setting up more corruption-reporting websites. Up until now the Communist Party of China's (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the Ministry of Supervision, together with a further 18 provincial-level discipline inspection committees, have set up corruption-reporting websites. In Shanxi, Guizhou and Zhejiang Provinces, many cities and counties have set up similar websites. In Zhejiang Province, there are 11 cities and 85 counties which use information from similar websites to accept petitioners' report in a battle against the corruption of local officials. Reports of corruption from these websites is a primary and effective way to uncover officials' wrongdoing, said the CCDI.
To be better informed of corruption problems, China's National Bureau of Corruption Prevention (NCBP) launched a website on December 18 last year for petitioners to make online complains. However, the newly-founded website (www.yfj.mos.gov.cn) crashed, just hours after it was established, because of the huge numbers of people wanting to register their complaints about corruption among officials. An NBCP official said the number of visitors was very large and beyond expectations. In no more than two days' operation, netizens had left 22 pages of messages on the website's guestbook. The website is now working again. Last year, many senior officials were found guilty of serious corruption, including the former director of the National Bureau of Statistics Qiu Xiaohua, the former food and drug administration head Zheng Xiaoyu and former Party head of Shanghai Chen Liangyu. Zheng was executed for his crimes, Chen and Qiu have been removed from their posts.
China launched two websites Monday to help overseas journalists report the upcoming first session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) and also the first session of the 11th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The two sessions will open on March 5 and March 3 respectively. A media center will be set up at the Media Center Hotel (No.11B, Fuxing Road, Beijing, 100038) to serve the needs of journalists. The center shall opens on Feb. 26. Chinese and resident foreign reporters should submit their applications to the media center. Foreign reporters temporarily in China for the sessions should apply at Chinese embassies or visa organizations authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Hong Kong and Macao offices of the China Travel Service have been authorized to handle applications from Taiwan reporters. Reporters from Hong Kong and Macao shall apply at the central government's liaison offices in the two special administrative regions. The acceptance of applications shall close on March 5. Further information is available at www.npc.gov.cn for the NPC session and www.cppcc.gov.cn for the CPPCC session. The websites are in Chinese, English and other foreign languages.
Kitayamamura is the only village in the country that is competely surrounded by prefectures other than the one it belongs to, but that doesn't matter because the village office's "Murablo" has become a nationwide phenomenon attracting registrants from across the country. The village, surrounded by Mie and Nara prefectures but belonging to Wakayama Prefecture, had a population of only 518 as of the end of December, but the site's blogmembership of about 6,600 is 12 times as large. The number of hits exceeds 60,000 a day. Murablo is the country's first portal site for blogs run by a local government, and viewers can read blogs written by members nationwide covering a broad range of topics, including motorcycles, confectionery and alcoholic beverages. Teruyuki Ikegami, 36, an employee of the village's tourism industry division, who is in charge of administering the site, said even a small village can attract national attention with a Web site. "Various [commercial] opportunities will present themselves if Muraburo's membership increases," Ikegami said. Mayor Mitsugu Okuda, 66, spurred the development of the Web site after he asked village employees to consider opening one similar to an "e-villager" site in Fukushima Prefecture. Research found that a village in that prefecture was recruiting "e-villagers."
Registered members receive several mail-magazine messages a month and can receive discounts at hot spring hotels in the village. Ikegami said that if Kitayamamura was to open a Web site, it should contain blogs to enable users to make exchanges and, at the same time, be more effective in promoting the village. He said blogs, which are easy to update, give members a framework to conduct exchanges. Ikegami, who joined the village office after dropping out of university, did not have much Internet experience prior to the project. Despite only having a basic knowledge of computer use, Ikegami was put in charge of building the village's Web site four years ago. Ikegami did not know the intricacies in making a Web site, but he worked from morning until night to construct the Web site. His experience later helped him open the Murablo site. With cooperation of an IT systems company in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, and at a cost of 15 million yen, Kitayamamura developed a software that enabled people to register as members free of charge, open blogs easily on the site and use facilities and member stores in the village at discount prices.
As expected, the Murablo membership expanded and at the end of last year, members evaluated each others' blogs to select the best for a prize. Revenues from banner advertisements are sufficient to cover the site's maintenance costs. Sales of jabara, a local citrus product, have also soared. The village office of Totsukawamura, Nara Prefecture, which has been hard-hit by the effects of depopulation, has also become a Murablo member to promote itself. Ikegami said that in the future, he hopes to establish an association of villages via a "virtual" framework connecting regional blog sites across the country. The mayor praised Ikegami, who he said worked hard to open the village's Web site in as a short time as possible, even though he did not know how to use a computer very well. "He was eager to create an interesting Murablo blog site, which has opened various [commercial and publicity] avenues for the village," Okuda said.
"The village plans to install fiber-optic cables in every home to make it a high-tech municipality. "Getting everything up to speed is an advantage to a small village. A plan is implemented within two to three months after it is approved by the village's assembly." He said that because the village is small, it can approve and implement a plan in a very flexible manner. "I hope Mr. Ikegami will continue to use his inspiration to work on various projects," he said.
Korea E-Government Website The United Nations has ranked Korea among the world leaders in e-government readiness and participation. The Government Administration and Home Affairs Ministry said Sunday (Jan. 6) that the country ranked sixth last year in the U.N. Global E-government Readiness Index among 192 nations and second in the world body¡¯s e-participation index among 189 nations. The readiness index is a composite indicator comprising indices on measures for the Web, telecommunication infrastructure and human capital. The participation index is a qualitative assessment of the quality, relevance and usefulness of government Web sites in providing online participatory tools to the people. Sweden ranked first in global readiness, followed by Denmark, Norway, the United States and Netherlands. Korea was fifth in 2005. The ministry said the country fell one notch because of no e-transaction systems in certain government Web sites; lack of links between Web sites of the central and provincial governments; and fewer credit points for the number of mobile phone subscribers and PC owners.
Other Asian countries that ranked high in the readiness index were Japan (11th) and Singapore (23rd). As for the e-participation index, Korea rose from fourth in 2005 to second last year. The United States came first in the 2007 poll, followed by Korea, Denmark, France and Australia. Singapore ended up 10th and Japan 12th. In other indices, Korea showed an improvement from three years ago. The literacy rate rose from 98 percent in 2005 to 99 percent last year. School attendance went from 95 percent to 97.24 percent over the same period. "Korea received a good score because of its active responses to people¡¯s opinions gathered through online bulletin boards when deciding on policy," the ministry said, citing the e-government Web site (http://www.korea.go.kr) and the homepage of Chuncheon, Gangwon-do (Gangwon Province) (http://www.chuncheon.go.kr/) as excellent examples of state-run sites. The U.N. launched its annual e-government survey in 2002.
The inter-Korean industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Gaeseong is expected to get Internet connection this year. South Korea¡¯s Information and Communication Ministry and Unification Ministry reported to President-elect Lee Myung-bak¡¯s transition committee Monday (Jan. 14) that they will push for an Internet communication center in Gaeseong, and nurture North Korean personnel in information technology. In his presidential campaign, Lee pledged integration of the Korean Peninsula through information technology. The Information Ministry said it wants to build a communication center in the Gaeseong complex within this year. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il agreed in their summit in October last year to build the center providing Internet and telephone service. The ministry will also expand the communication network at Geumgansan (Mount Geumgang) and planned joint shipyard sites in the North Korean cities of Anbyon and Nampo. Over the long term, feasibility studies will be conducted on modernizing North Korea¡¯s communication network. Seoul will also build centers for inter-Korean IT cooperation and information access in the North to foster IT experts and strengthen joint studies in software development. The Unification Ministry presented a two-phase plan for North Korea¡¯s IT development. As the first step, the ministry will focus on raising the number of North Korean IT specialists through joint seminars on high IT technologies, such as voice recognition, computer animation and Linux. The second step will be building IT infrastructure in key industrial cities in the North, but this is contingent on progress in Pyongyang¡¯s denuclearization.
JAKARTA: The Culture and Tourism Ministry has launched a website to provide comprehensive information about the country's tourism sector. The website contains information on tourism sites and special events and features an online hotel booking facility. Titled www.my-indonesia.info, the website was officially launched Thursday and is run in cooperation with Indo.Com, a well-known Internet service provider. Eka Ginting, an Indo.Com director, said the new website provides online bookings for around 200 hotels in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara and Manado in North Sulawesi. The government hopes the number of foreign tourists will increase to 7 million this year from about 6 million in 2006.
The government hopes to expand the National Single Window (NSW) scheme, an on-line permit service for importers and exporters -- first introduced earlier this week at Jakarta's Tanjung Priok Port -- to nine more major ports next year. "So far, it's been successful at Tanjung Priok Port. "And we expect that ten big ports, including Tanjung Priok Port, will be served by the scheme by the end of 2008, at the latest," said Edy Putra Irawadi, a deputy to the coordinating minister for economics, on Thursday. By next April, he said, the government would introduce the system at Belawan Port in North Sumatra, Tanjung Mas in Central Java, Tanjung Perak in East Java, and Makasar Port in South Sulawesi. The extension of the scheme to another five ports -- Panjang in South Sumatra, Pontianak in West Kalimantan, Batam, Bali and Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan -- was expected to follow later in the year. Last Monday, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati officially launched the first stage of NSW and its web portal -- http://www.insw.go.id. During the first stage, five government agencies out of the 36 with responsibilities in the export/import field, have adopted the system, namely, the Customs Office, Food and Drug Control Agency, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Animal Quarantine Center and the Agricultural Quarantine Center.
Currently, however, only 100 importers -- the beneficiaries of the so-called fast-track priority facility operated by the port authority -- are able to benefit from the scheme. The priority facility, which grants importers preferential treatment for goods inspection at the port, is restricted to firms that have a proven track record and have never violated the regulations. As for exporters, they will not be eligible to receive such treatment during the first phase of the NSW scheme, which is expected to end before April, when the second phase is scheduled to commence. "We hope that by April next year, when we launch a common portal, the work of all the 36 agencies will be integrated in the NSW system, as well as other importers and exporters, so that we can simplify permit processing and curtail corruption," Edy said, "There used to be a lot of redundancies involved as regards the necessary documents, unnecessary payments and convoluted bureaucracy." He said that under the new service, an importer would only need 7.5 hours to get the necessary clearances to recover their shipments from the port authority, must faster than previously, when several days might be required. The new service would also significantly reduce costs. Edy said the NSW scheme had also simplified the job of the relevant government agencies, adding that the 23 biggest ports in Indonesia had to process 4.5 million export and import documents every year.
SEREMBAN: The country¡¯s 250,000 government security personnel will soon be carrying MyKad-type identification cards if the Government approves a National Registration Department proposal. Deputy Home Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho said the ministry was looking at the proposal positively. ¡°Although a decision has yet to be made, the move will be good. We want all Malaysians to benefit from the applications in the MyKad,¡± he said in an interview. It is learnt that the card for policemen would be called MyPolis while armed forces personnel would carry MyTentera cards. Tan said this was also part of the Government¡¯s efforts to ensure that all Malaysians used a single identification card. ¡°We must get the necessary approvals from the relevant ministries and agencies before this can be done because armed forces personnel come under a separate jurisdiction,¡± he said.
MyKad has eight applications ¨C as an identity card, driving licence, passport, health information card, Touch n Go, MEPS cash, ATM card and for public key infrastructure (to access government services such as checking income tax payments online). Armed forces personnel now carry the BAT C 10 document, issued by the Defence Ministry, as their identification card. It contains details such as the holder¡¯s name, service number, date of birth, rank and old identity card number. They get their MyKads only upon retirement. Policemen now carry identification cards that contain only their name, rank and birth date. The holder is also subject to provisions under the Police Act.The NRD has to date issued some 22 million MyKads. He added that many spin-off applications could be generated from the existing ones in the MyKad. Citing an example, he said MyKad can now be used for entry to East Malaysia and as a Frequent Traveller Card between Miri and Brunei.
PETALING JAYA: An electronic tracking system will be implemented at government hospitals to record incidents such as bed-sores and blood infections. The system, said Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, would enable the ministry and hospitals to take remedial measures swiftly and minimise mistakes. Dr Ismail said the ¡°safety indicator¡± monitoring and improvement system would start in the first quarter of this year. ¡°We will be able to capture data electronically. At the moment, people are finding it difficult to document and record incidents,¡± he said. ¡°With this system, the information can be accessed speedily and it will be accurate.¡± The system is among several initiatives planned for the year to ensure better treatment for patients in government hospitals.
Government hospitals treat about 39 million outpatients and 1.9 million admissions yearly. Dr Ismail said that the ministry would also implement a technique called Healthcare Failure Mode and Effects Analysis, with the help of a World Health Organisation (WHO) consultant. This technique would be used for risky procedures such as blood transfusions, patient falls, errors in patient identification, wrong site surgery and high-risk medications, he said. Dr Ismail added a voluntary system to report ¡°near misses¡± should complement a mandatory system of incident reporting as such cases are more common than adverse events.
MANILA, Philippines -- There is a big difference between ¡°e-government¡± and ¡°e-governance,¡± according to a former chair of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT). Most information and communications technology (ICT)-related projects in government are e-government projects, explained Virgilio Pena who is now a consultant for the "E-governance for Effectiveness and Efficiency" (E3) project of management and technology consulting firm BearingPoint. Bearing Point has won the bid to implement the E3 project under a grant from the Canadian International Development Agency. Pena said that e-governance, on the other hand, describes an encompassing use of ICT to deliver better public service. Put simply, e-governance is "providing best service to clients" using ICT, he added. Amid the controversy hounding the National Broadband Network project of the Department of Transportation and Communications, Pena stressed that this project could have been justified if government had an e-governance policy and strategy in place. ¡°NBN could have been easily justified if e-governance is in place. This is so because you would need a government network to deliver government ICT services,¡± he said. In his years of public service, Pena said he has seen that most government ICT projects are designed without the idea of having them ¡°connected¡± to other government ICT projects.
He cited mega ICT projects of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the LTO, which are essentially e-government projects that automated a government process or service. His idea of e-governance would now allow people to transact with one agency that has access to all government records. Thus, in the case of getting a passport, people don't need to get NBI clearance to apply for a passport. DFA would already have access to other agencies to verify the identity of applicants. Hoping to push the idea of more public-private partnerships in ICT projects in government, the E3 project is working on a study that would come up with policy recommendations for e-governance, Pena said. ¡°We need a vehicle to push the e-governance policies,¡± the former government executive said. Results of the E3 study will be presented to the National Competitive Council, which is currently headed by the Department of Trade and Industry in cooperation with the private sector, Pena said. The NCC was created through an executive order. E3, which started late 2006, is a five-year project that has received about $10 million in grant from CIDA. The E3 study will look into existing government policies and laws and to identify best practices, wherein government could effectively outsource ICT systems to the private sector, he said. ¡°Our study will find out if the BOT law needs to be amended to become applicable to ICT projects,¡± Pena said. The E3 study will also look into international experiences in terms of government outsourcing ICT projects.
MANILA, Philippines -- A group of technology industry veterans led by Augusto "Gus" Lagman is proposing an Internet-based system that promises to make transparent the counting of votes by allowing public access to real-time results. In an interview with INQUIRER.net, Lagman, a staunch critic of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during the time of former chair Benjamin Abalos, said the proposed system is "very close" to what election watchdog National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) used during the previous elections. As described by Lagman, the proposed system makes use of a Web-based portal through which Comelec "encoders" could directly post election returns or send data via SMS. Under this system, the manual counting of votes in each precinct remains the same whereas other proposed poll automation systems make use of machines for casting of votes. "Based on previous elections, manual counting per precinct takes only eight to 24 hours. That's not what is causing the delay," said Lagman, who used to head Namfrel's technical unit in charge of the system. Instead of voting machines, each precinct would require at least one PC connected to the Internet and results would then be sent to and tabulated in a central system ideally managed by the Comelec. Aside from the private Comelec-run portal, the system also proposes a public portal from which political parties, for example, can access real-time results.
"Each party, for example, can double-check what Comelec has posted with their respective poll watchers in each precinct. Any group can likewise conduct their own tally using the data provided publicly," Lagman said. "With this system, any Filipino, even those from abroad, can be updated with the latest results from any given precinct. Because data is transparent and double checked, even unscrupulous officials cannot manipulate the results." Lagman estimates around 280,000 precincts will be used for the 2010 presidential elections and about 40,000 of these will be located in public schools. Granted each will be provided with two PCs, including a Comelec server that will run the system, he estimates the entire project would cost somewhere around P1 billion. Lagman believes this "hybrid" (hybrid because it retains manual counting while using the Web to transmit election data) system costs less to undertake than machine-based systems. Comelec's previous deal with the MegaPacific consortium (under Abalos' time) was valued at about P1.3 billion for the purchase of some 1,900 optical media reader (OMR) machines. The project, however, was nullified due to irregularities discovered in the bidding process. "Even then, we estimated about 4,000 machines will be needed to cover the entire country, and that would add to Comelec's cost," said Lagman, whose group includes industry veterans like Moscom president Bill Torres and Namfrel chair Bill Luz.
A crucial component to this system is the software to manage the whole setup. Lagman said it would cost around a million pesos to "refine" the software used by Namfrel and make it capable of handling the 2010 nationwide polls. "There is no need to start (making the software) from scratch," he stressed. "We can even give away the software to Comelec for free. Right now, however, we are trying to raise enough money to cover the development costs." Lagman's group, however, could be battling against time in getting the government to even consider its proposed solution. A Comelec advisory council tasked to help in the computerization efforts is about to conduct a six-month study of different vendor solutions, including OMR- and DRE-based systems. In a previous interview, CICT chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua, who is heading the advisory council, said eight vendors were selected for the study after which the Comelec would select which technology it would pilot in next year's ARMM special elections. By law, the Comelec is required to pilot a chosen system before deploying it in the 2010 polls. "The software will be finished and ready by the first quarter of next year. We are still hoping the government can include our system in the study," Lagman said.
Senator Joke Arroyo on Wednesday welcomed the automation of voting in the 240-strong House of Representatives, saying it would relieve the otherwise ¡°excruciating¡± process. ¡°Computerization of voting during plenary sessions is long overdue and therefore a most welcome development,¡± Arroyo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net. ¡°I had long advocated this when I was in the House,¡± said the former Makati congressman who served three consecutive terms before being elected to the Senate in 2001. Arroyo, however, warned that automated voting in Congress could fall prey to corrupt practices, noting that the billion-peso Commission on Elections poll automation project was found to be so highly irregular that it was voided by the Supreme Court. ¡°It is assumed that what the House would install would be unlike the Mega Pacific counting machines the Comelec approved in a deal that the Supreme Court subsequently voided,¡± Arroyo said. ¡°They were faulty machines. The House should not be saddled with election machines that are open to manipulation.¡± Arroyo said the old manner of voting in the House reflected the country¡¯s ¡°antiquated manual electoral voting system where it takes weeks before the election results are known.¡±
¡°In the impeachment trial of US President (Bill) Clinton, the results were known in a matter of minutes in the 500-member House of Representatives and the 100-member Senate of the US,¡± Arroyo said. ¡°In the impeachment vote on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, it took an excruciatingly long 20 hours,¡± he pointed out. Under the former system in the House, voting on important and controversial issues such as the impeachment of the President was done nominally. Each member¡¯s name was called and he explained his vote. With 240 members, the process took hours. ¡°In an automated system, the explanation may be made only after the results are known. This is the Senate practice even without automation,¡± Arroyo said. Arroyo said some measures were also approved by the House even when there was no quorum. ¡°Electronic voting will show whether a quorum exists at the time of the voting. If there is no quorum, the measure cannot be voted upon,¡± he said.
More cities in the southern Philippines are following Cebu's model and forming their own information and communication technology (ICT) councils in order to attract investments from the outsourcing industry. Following the example of the Cebu Educational Foundation for Information Technology (CEDF-IT), similar groups have already been formed in Iloilo (the Iloilo Federation for Information Technology or I-FIT) and Bacolod (Bacolod-Negros Occidental Educational Foundation for Information Technology or B-NEFIT). The creation of similar ICT councils is now underway in Davao, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Iligan, according to Bonifacio Belen, president of CEDF-IT, which comprises local government, business groups and non-governmental organizations. Representatives from these cities recently met in Cebu City to organize a governing body for all regional ICT councils. "In the next six months, we will organize ourselves into a national federation," Belen said.
MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has approved a P1.6-million grant to the De La Salle University (DLSU) to conduct a study on ¡°alternative modes¡± to automate elections in 2010, an official from the science agency told INQUIRER.net. Science Undersecretary Fortunato dela Pena said the executive committee of the agency approved the grant on January 11. The grant was pushed after the DLSU was invited to assist the Commission on Elections (Comelec) technical advisory council to conduct a scientific research on poll automation technology that would be most appropriate for the country. The Comelec technical advisory council is mandated by law to evaluate and recommend an automated election system that would be used during the 2010 elections. The group has suggested a pilot test of an automated system during the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao elections in October, and a fully automated version in 2010.
Dr. Carmelita Quebengco, executive vice president of DLSU, presented last year a proposal to the technical advisory council. The Comelec group has approved DLSU¡¯s work plan in principle, pending the submission for and approval of a grant from the DOST to finance the six-month scientific study. In a separate interview, Caslon Chua, dean of the DLSU College of Computer Studies, was surprised by the news, adding that he was still scheduled to do a presentation on January 28. ¡°This is news to me,¡± he said in a telephone interview. The university was invited by Ambassador Henrietta De Villa of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, to present its proposal to the Comelec group. De Villa heads the research group under the technical advisory council. The DLSU research will focus on both the technical ¡°human computer interaction¡± portion of an automated system and its social aspects, including the people¡¯s behavior toward an automated system. The social aspect of the research would look at how individuals behave during simulated automated election systems, Chua said.
A new Chairman and ten new members have been appointed to the Board of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) with effect from 1 December 2007. Mr Lam Chuan Leong, steps down as IDA Board Chairman after eight years of service. Ms Yong Ying-I, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, will now lead the Board of Directors. Ms Yong has been serving as Deputy Chairman of the IDA Board since December 2003, and was also IDA¡¯s Chief Executive Officer from 1999-2001. IDA expresses its deepest appreciation to the retiring Board members for their invaluable service and contributions. In particular, IDA is grateful to its inaugural Chairman, Mr Lam Chuan Leong, who has guided IDA since its formation in December 1999.
Under Mr Lam¡¯s chairmanship, the telecom and postal sectors were successfully liberalised, resulting in greater choice and lower prices for consumers and businesses, and pushing up Singapore¡¯s mobile and internet penetration rates. Singapore¡¯s infocomm industry has also seen significant growth, with revenue doubling from S$23.2 billion in 1999, to reach S$45.4 billion in 2006. Singapore¡¯s achieving the top three positions in the WEF Global IT Report for the past five consecutive years, is also testament to the success of various infocomm development strategies put in place during Mr Lam¡¯s tenure as Chairman. Ten new members will be joining the IDA Board, bringing a wealth of varied experience from the private and public sectors and a deep understanding of the dynamically changing infocomm landscape. The 17-member Board will continue to guide the work of IDA and help propel the infocomm industry forward.
NONTHABURI, Dec 26 (TNA) ¨C Senior officials reaffirmed that Thailand's existing tsunami warning systems are effective on the commemorative day of the tsunami, which smashed Thailand on Dec 26, 2004. Smith Tumsaroch, chairman of the National Disaster Warning Committee and Suparerk Tansriratanawong, director of the Meteorological Department, attended a merit-making ceremony for victims of the 2004 tidal waves. Meanwhile, Mr. Smith said that the existing tsunami warning systems along the Andaman coastline and the Gulf of Thailand are up to standard, but that additional tsunami detection buoys will be installed in the Andaman Sea. Growing numbers of tourist arrivals showed that they are confident of Thailand's warning systems, he said. However, Mr. Smith warned that he was worried about the installation of the disaster warning systems in other regions nationwide. He said the centre would try to finish the task before the next rainy season. Mr. Suparerk said that the installation of the disaster warning systems will be accelerated across the country. The cooperation will expand to international disaster warning agencies. He affirmed that the existing systems are ready to operate, and that officials test the systems every day. Smith said that the National disaster warning centre will hold the merit making ceremony every year on December 26 to commemorate the loss of more than 5,000 lives in the tsunami, which hit Thailand's six Andaman coastal provinces. The disaster led to the establishment of the disaster warning system in the country.
BANGKOK, Dec 27 (TNA) - Ministry of Science and Technology on Wednesday unveiled a new "smart" system to report traffic conditions via mobile phone to help drivers returning to their hometowns arrive safely and without incident, Prof. Dr. Yongyuth Yuthavong, Minister of Science and Technology said. Dr. Yongyuth, Highway Police Commander Pol. Maj-Gen Pasin Noksakul and Andrew McBean, senior vice president of mobile-phone operator Total Access Communication (DTAC)'s business division held a joint press conference to launch the new technology as a travel aid to the public. Under the system, travellers can check traffic conditions via their mobile phones by downloading programme from the website http://map.longdo.com/m/pc or use a mobile phone to download the programme directly from http://map.longdo.com/m, he said.
With the programme, users can see road maps with graphics showing real-time traffic conditions, he said, adding that a red line means traffic congestion, yellow means heavy traffic and green means flowing traffic. The road user can also inquires regarding traffic conditions through MSN Messenger and SMS, he said. The traffic report would cover main roads in Bangkok and expressways. The project is part of the smart transport and traffic system project of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC) and the Highway Police. The initial project had traffic reports via a government-sponsored website http://traffic.thai.net during last year's Songkran Festival holiday which proved successful. The newly launched services were an improved version able to better help drivers when they are on the road.
The Public Security Ministry on Monday prosecuted five more persons accused of wrongdoing in the implementation of Project 112, an IT project on State administrative management authorised in 2001 by the Prime Minister¡¯s Decision No 112. The accused will be charged with abuse of power while carrying out public duties and intentionally causing serious losses to the State budget. The five persons were director of the Study Encouragement Printing Company Pham Tran Viet Anh; director of the Transport Printing Company Nguyen Hong Son; former director of the Friendship Printing Company Le Tuan Anh; Transport Printing Company accountant Le Thi Hoang Yen; Justice Publishing House chief accountant Pham Thi Tuyet Lan. According to the Investigation Unit of the Public Security Ministry, the former director of Justice Publishing House, Nguyen Duc Giao, who was arrested in September for the same charge, signed a contract worth VND3.8 billion (about US$237,000) with the Project 112 management board to print project-related documents.
However, Giao subcontracted the order to seven other private printing companies for a cheaper cost of VND2.9 billion ($181,000). He and the five others prosecuted falsified financial documents to conceal the discrepancy between the contracts from the project management board. The police have so far arrested and prosecuted 17 businessmen and senior Government officials for their involvement in the corruption scandal. These included the former deputy head of the Government Office and head of the Project 112 management board, Vu Dinh Thuan; Government Office official and secretary of the project management board Luong Cao Son; and an expert at the Administrative Department of the Government Office, Hoang Dang Bao. The State Auditor estimates that the project management board misspent VND140 billion ($8.7 million).
The Ministry of Planning and Investment and the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD) officially launched a website to assist investors with Vietnamese business regulations at a meeting in Ha Noi yesterday. The pilot project was designed to outline Vietnamese investment procedures in a clear and helpful manner, said Phan Huu Thang, director of the Ministry of Planning and Investment¡¯s Foreign Investment Agency. The procedures for setting up a local company, leasing land and signing a business co-operation contract were now available free on-line for first-time and existing investors, he said. The website takes investors through the steps they must follow when establishing a company. It names the authorities involved and the officers in charge. It also tells investors what forms must be submitted, the costs involved and how long the process should take. It also outlines the complaints¡¯ procedure. All necessary paperwork can be download from the website (http://vietnam.investway.info).
Thang said the scheme would be extended to investors in HCM City and da Nang. The agency would continue to administer the website in the short-term, after which it would be transferred to the Ha Noi People¡¯s Committee to manage, he said. Thang added that the project was still in its infancy and that the agency would strive to iron out any shortcomings. However, he said that the website should make registering a company easier and less time-consuming. At the meeting, Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD, said the Vietnamese government needed to simplify existing investment procedures to boost growth, in addition to raising domestic skill levels to meet market demands. The secretary general added that the Government should concentrate not just on attracting foreign investment but also in disbursing capital efficiently in order to generate jobs and promote competition.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved a plan to simplify State administrative procedures from 2007-10. The plan stipulates that by the end of 2010 all administrative procedural databases along with application forms must be made available to the public. The Government will establish a task force for this purpose. The PM decided that ministries, ministerial-level offices and localities must list and evaluate their administrative procedures and application forms for public viewing on the task force¡¯s website.
The Ministry of Information and Communications said it plans to concentrate on expanding its use of information technology in 2008 with the aim of building e-government services. This year, the ministry will accelerate the development of its information technology (IT) network, diversify its services as well as speed up IT application across-the-board. According to the ministry¡¯s statistics, Viet Nam¡¯s telecommunication network experienced a surge in growth in 2007 with 19.5 million new telephone subscribers. The nation now has 46.94 million phone subscribers, or 55.5 subscribers per 100 people of which mobile phone users account for 75 per cent. Ten years after first surfacing, Viet Nam is one of the countries with the highest internet use. From a population of 85 million, close to 20 million have access to the net. Moreover, 2007 was an important year as it saw the increased application of IT in State-owned agencies, laying the foundation for a professional and systematic e-government. Last year, electronics such as computers and computer components emerged as one of Viet Nam¡¯s key export staples earning US$3.9 billion.
In order to popularize e-Payment of taxes among the 3.2 crore-odd income tax payers in the country, the Income-Tax Department of India is making mandatory e-Payment taxation for certain categories. The e-Payment of direct taxes will become mandatory for corporates. Already, corporates are required to file their income-tax returns through the electronic route only. The Department is making e-Payment mandatory from January 1, 2008. Currently, there are 32 agency banks that deal with income-tax payments. Of these, eight already offer e-payment option through net-banking accounts.
Finally, the Asian Development Bank has approved US $500,000 fund for Indian Government for deploying innovative information and communications technology in order to support e-Governance services in Assam. The Assam Electronics Development Corporation Limited (AMTRON), a public sector agency under the Information Technology Department of Assam will be implementing agency for the programme. In the programme, the state government will provide office space, equipment, technical staff for technical assistance. The investment plan will include a business model on financial viability and profitability, which will attract public private partnership. The technical assistance will also conduct a comprehensive study of the existing technology, which will be taken into consideration in the deployment of the innovative and cost efficient technology.
Soon, Faizabad's citizens will receive e-Governance services on their mobile phones. The Chief Development Officer (CDO) Gaurav Dayal has launched an initiative, called 'Real e-Governance', in which e-Governance services would be conducted through mobile phones. Recently Dayal has started trials for a project called Anant Sampark by Harnessing Wireless Access (ASHWA), with an aim to establish a practicable e-Governance infrastructure which will connect rural areas with the district headquarter. With ASHWA, villagers can access their family register, different certificates including death, birth, income, domicile and land records with the "dial" button of the cellphone. A member who is associated with ASHWA is known as Ashwarohi. A villager who need a copy of land record of any government certificate or assistance, he has to approach Ashwarohi, and pay him a sum of INR 20. A master computer, monitored personally by the CDO will be installed at Vikas Bhawan in the district headquarter. This main server will receive the message. After identifying the cellphone, from which the message has been sent, the computer will print the required document. Each village will have one Ashwarohi, who will be trained to use GPRS cellphone.
The Maharashtra government plans to set up around 9,000 kiosks across the state on a build, operate, own and transfer (BOOT) basis to mark the year 2008 as the ¡®Year of IT and e-governance.¡¯ It is currently evaluating the bids it has received on various parameters including the technology to be used and user-friendliness of the interface. The kiosks will offer government services like land records, various licences, getting caste or domicile certificates, filing of VAT return, payment of motor vehicle tax, and enrolment forms for the state government¡¯s pension scheme for the old and destitute. The operators, running these kiosks, will be allowed to collect user charges to recover their investment. Confirming the development, Maharashtra IT secretary K. Shivaji told Business Standard: ¡°Apart from ushering in an era of transparency and reducing the influence of middlemen involved in the process, it (the move to set up kiosks) will help people from rural areas to save on travel time besides loss of income.¡± People who require various government services are most often from the poor and lower-middle class, engaged in various odd jobs, he noted. If they have to avail of these services, they have to either go to the taluka headquarters or district headquarters, spend a day in figuring out which office they have to submit the forms; then fill the forms, collect the documents submit them.
¡°It¡¯s a tedious and time-consuming process. Besides, it means the loss of a day¡¯s wages for that person, which he or she can hardly afford,¡± explained Shivaji. The government plans to install the virtual government office (read kiosk) in every small town, if not in every village, which is often a local marketplace where people often go to work or shop - thus reducing their travel expenses. Then it will make government machinery accountable. Once the application is submitted, if the person concerned doesn¡¯t get the required certificate or NOC or licence from the government office within the stipulated time, an explanation will have to be given, failing which action will be taken, noted Shivaji. ¡°It will help senior officials like district collectors to track how the government machinery in his/her district is functioning and take corrective measures if the job is not satisfactory,¡± he added. Meanwhile, as a part of the e-governance drive, the state has also connected all 358 taluka headquarters and 35 district headquarters with Mantralya using broadband (2 Mbps line which can be upgraded to 6 Mbps if required, and up to 32 Mbps, without making any additions to the physical infrastructure). Shivaji explained that this is ¡°making inter-departmental transfer of data, exchange of memos, government circulars, etc., instantaneous, and secure¡±. To set up this dedicated network, the state government has already spent over Rs 100 crore. ¡°Now that this architecture for e-governance is ready, we will be adding features to make our system more transparent which will eventually make the decision-making process fast and accurate,¡± he asserted.
NEW DELHI: An expert group on Information Technology Programmes of the Panchayati Raj Ministry has recommended computerisation of 2.5 lakh panchayats in the next three years. This will set the stage for taking e-governance to rural areas, where people can get services such as birth and death certificates, tax payments, and e-mail connectivity at the gram panchayat office itself. Once the scheme is implemented, the gram panchayat president or the sarpanch will monitor panchayat-centric schemes, carry out financial accounting and reporting, and maintain records of gram sabha and panchayat meetings on the computer. The expert group, which submitted its report to Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar here on Thursday, has recommended the use of information and communication technologies as an integral part of multi-mode training and capacity building. It has given extensive recommendations on hardware and system software, application of software, connectivity, domain-specific data and metadata standards and adoption of a national panchayati portal. With e-governance, grassroots organisations will benefit in many ways, leading to decentralised planning, effective monitoring of centrally sponsored schemes, transparency and accountability. Introduction of Information and Communications Technology at the panchayat level will not only allow experimentation with technology but also give immense opportunity to the people to handle technology they have been denied for so long. It will also create job opportunities at the grass roots level in the form of operational services, maintenance and in many other ancillary areas. Importantly, it is likely to create an improved cyber space covering the entire government spectrum of the country. Computerisation of 250,000 panchayats is likely to cost Rs 5,400 crore. It is a mission-mode project under the National e-Governance Plan of the Centre.
The Government of Haryana has launched a website called HaryanaIndustries.nic.in in association with Microsoft India. The website aims to provide a single window for global and national investors to look into the advantages offered by the Haryana Government. The state government offers an investment destination and facilitate their involvement by providing relevant information and facilities online. The website contains the list of acts, policies, rules, forms, etc. required by a potential investor. The website also provides a roadmap to budding entrepreneurs for setting up of business. It also helps them to get in touch with all the stakeholders including the providers of raw material, human resources and funds. The portal also includes discussion forum where the registered industries can start or participate in discussions on any subject of their interest. They can contribute to blogs, Wiki entries and participate in various opinion polls.
Soon in India, the Gram Panchayat President or Sarpanch will be able to monitor panchayat centric schemes, do financial accounting and reporting, keep records of gram sabha and panchayat meetings' on the computer in the panchayat office through the induction of ICTs. The Expert Committee on Information Technology for Panchayati Raj submitted its recommendations to the Minister of Panchayati Raj, Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar in this regard. The report states that the use of ICT is an integral part of multi-mode training and capacity-building. The Committee has recommended the use of hardware and system, application software, open standards, connectivity, domain specific data and Meta Data Standards, capacity-building, adoption of National Panchayati Portals (NPP), and facility management. With the use of e-Governance, the grassroot organisations will be benefited in many ways, which would lead to decentralised planning, effective monitoring of Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs), transparency of accountability, enhance their ability to generate, manage and collect local revenue, ability to automate their own functioning. The computerisation of 2,50,000 Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) will cost around INR 5,400 crore over the next three years. Computerisation of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) is a Mission Mode Project (MMP) under the ambitious National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) of Government of India.
The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), India has decided to upgrade the state portal. Presently the state government has nearly 81 websites offering various services and information across all its departments, however, the new portal aims at providing a single point of information and interaction, with the state government for all residents, visitors and businesses, according to the state Department of Information Technology. It also aims at providing content management through collaboration and community features on the Intranet¡ªfrom workflow and routing of documents, discussion threads, user-chat sessions, dynamic group and team creation, messaging and notification. The new portal framework would also integrate various existing as well as its future GNCTD websites and focus on enhancing ease of use and access to more frequently used e-Governance information.
Himanchal Pradesh (India) has entered into new era of e-Governance with the launch of the Himanchal Pradesh Statewide Area Network (HIMSWAN). HIMSWAN is the second largest state-wide network in the country, which will link all government departments up to the panchayat level. The network will provide all government services to the remotest region like 14,000 feet in Lahaul and Spiti as well as 3,243 panchayats across the state. This project will bring down the cost of telephone bills in government department as well as all departments connected with this network. To facilitate better services under the HIMSWAN, 50 integrated community service centres have been set up that are providing more than 40 services under one roof. As many as 3,361 more such centres are being set up.
The Maldives has become the first country in the world to open a virtual embassy in Second Life, the online virtual world. The Maldives Virtual Embassy is an on-line space located in the Diplomatic Quarter of Diplomacy Island in Second Life, which is designed to allow new avenues for diplomatic representation and negotiation, especially for small and developing countries that have limited diplomatic outreach in the 'real' world. The embassy includes a notice board with detail on 'democratic and human rights reform' in the country. The Virtual Embassy is another channel to provide viewpoints on issues of international concern, and to interact with partners in the international community. The Second Life (SL) is a fast-growing virtual community with more than six million 'citizens.' It has its own currency, the Linden Dollar, which can be exchanged for US dollars. SL citizens own property, socialise, learn and interact in SL.
ISLAMABAD (February 14 2008): Telecom sector has attracted $654.30 million Foreign Direct Investment that has been 32.64 percent of the total overseas resources injected into Pakistan economy during the first half of current fiscal year, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said on Wednesday. Economists say ongoing political uncertainty and insecurity have been hindering the inflow of FDI and more troubling were the reports that money was being shifted to some UAE states. An industrialist said everything has been held back till the elections. "Let us hope things may improve after the elections." He said the FDI would have been more than this had there been political stability in the country. What to say of foreign investors, he said even the "local investors were uncertain about tomorrow." The total FDI inflow was $2.14 billion during first half of current fiscal year and telecom sector stood the major contributor with $654 million. Telecom Economic Indicators of the first two quarters revealed total inflow of $962.5 million FDI in July-September 2007 and $1051.10 million in October-December 2007. The telecom sector contributed $363.9 million in the first quarter, July-September 2007 and $290.4 second quarter, October-December 2007. Thus contribution of telecom sector to the total FDI was 32.64 percent in the first half of current fiscal.
In 2005-06, telecom sector received $1.824 billion FDI and emerged as main sector of the economy with 35.60 percent share in the total FDI. Since liberalisation in 2004, Pakistan Telecom Sector has been major contributor to the FDI as reforms made it attractive for many global telecom giants who had invested in Pakistan. The cellular and WLL operators have been pumping money into the sector to expand network and exploit its full potential. They have been adding subscribers in huge numbers to their network every month as total users of six cellular operators have touched 78 million in January 2008 from half a million in 2004. The wireless operators have also shown exceptional growth in recent times and all the companies have been investing to attract more and more customers. In January 2008, the total number of users in WLL has gone up to 2,200,559 from 2,123,179 in December 2007. Analysts see the trend of investment may continue in the next few years as a large market potential (rural areas) was yet to be exploited. According to the PTA, in January 2008 over 78, 738, 187 mobile users were subscribing services of five operators in Pakistan namely, Mobilink, Ufone, Paktel, Telenor and Warid. It is evident from the data that these companies have been showing substantial growth every month and thus both the mobile and WLL teledensity has increased to 53.41 in January 2008.
Azerbaijan¡¯s Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies will launch the E-Government Project this year. The ministry said specifications of the project will be drafted at government's expense at the first phase. The E-Government Project will be financed from a grant of the Government of South Korea. The plan of actions on the project has been submitted for approval to the Presidential Office. Before sending to the Presidential office the plan of actions was put for public discussion.
The Iranian Interior Ministry and the Guardians Council -- which has supreme vetting and supervisory powers over Iranian elections -- are continuing talks on computerizing the electoral process, including vote counting, Deputy Interior Minister for Political Affairs Alireza Afshar said at the ministry in Tehran on December 18, Mehr reported. Iran is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in mid-March. Afshar said the two bodies agree on some aspects of computerization, but the Mehr report did not specify which. The Guardians Council has been reluctant to abandon standard paper-based voting, which it believes allows its inspectors to closely check on the results. Afshar on December 18 visited a ministry workshop providing training for the use of the election software developed by the ministry. Reformists have separately expressed concerns in recent days about Guardians Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati's most recent remarks on the vetting of electoral aspirants. He recently suggested that candidates will be disqualified from running in the March elections unless they can prove to Guardians Council officials that they are fit to run for public office. The council usually weeds out the majority of aspiring electoral candidates, leaving only the reputedly pious or conservative candidates. However, the council denies that it does anything but implement the law. VS
According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Iran ranks first in term of Internet use in the Middle East. Announcing this on Saturday, caretaker of Iran Telecommunication Research Center noted that some 36 percent of world Internet users are located in Asia and 2.7 in the Middle East of which Islamic Republic¡¯s share is one percent. ¡°Some 1,218 of Iranian cities have access to Internet and 1,460 telecommunication centers are operational there,¡° Kamal Mohamed-Pour said, IRIB reported. He stated that some 500,000 Internet ports have been installed nationwide of which 25 percent pertains to governmental sector and 75 percent to private enterprises. Referring to installation of 20,000 ports for establishing electronic government in economical and banking sections, he noted that currently some 15,000 ports have been installed nationwide. He announced that at present, about 320,000 universities and over 5,000 schools are connected to the Internet.
Earlier, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mohammad Soleimani said that the cabinet has approved the plan for setting up a national Internet network. Soleimani noted that the cabinet authorized Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) to spend 5,660 billion rials to establish the network within three years. ¡°Efforts to design the national Internet network have proven useful and components for the project are in place,¡° he said. Secretary of the High Council of Information Technology, Abdolmajid Riyazi, said that if the budget for the national network is allocated on time and its implementation faces no problem, the project will be complete by March 2010. He further said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes the national Internet network should become operational by the end of the incumbent government¡¯s tenure. ¡°To meet the entire demands of cities and villages, the national Internet network will require a budget of 10,000 billion rials,¡° he said.
WEEKS after announcing the National E-Health Transition Authority will usher in a "more transparent and consultative approach", the organisation's chair, Uschi Schreiber, is set to depart after resigning as director-general of Queensland Health. The state's premier, Anna Bligh, said Ms Schreiber is leaving "to pursue new career opportunities". It is understood she will move to Sydney early next year to take up a partnership with Ernst and Young. Ms Schreiber's departure from Queensland Health's top job would trigger her automatic resignation from NEHTA's board - which she has chaired since April - when she replaced Patricia Faulkner. Ms Faulkner was board chair for around eight months before resigning her position as secretary of the Victorian Department of Human Services. NEHTA's board, which is currently considering a review of its operations and possible future directions conducted by Boston Consulting, comprises the leading health bureaucrats from the federal, state and territory governments. Each director reports to his or her own Health Minister.
In the past 2.5 years, 16 directors have moved through the board's nine places: Ms Schreiber is the ninth to resign. Four of the present line-up have been appointed since April. Submissions to the Boston Consulting review raised concerns about NEHTA's governance arrangements and the lack of engagement with other stakeholder groups. Last month, Ms Schreiber promised to lead NEHTA into a new phase that would see the organisation "work more closely with the IT vendor community, jurisdictions and other interested parties" to aid completion of the work program. Even before news of Ms Schreiber's departure, there has been industry concern about the board's stability. This week, an industry newsletter distributed by not-for-profit company Chik Services reported that only two of the original board members remain. "The loss of corporate memory, experience and intellectual capital this reflects is staggering," CHIK said. "With such a degree of churn at the highest level, little wonder that decisions with the potential to involve billions of taxpayer dollars have a hard passage to traverse."
THE Australian Taxation Office will brief potential suppliers on the first tranche of its $1 billion outsourcing program on December 17. The briefing will set the scene for a request for expressions of interest (EOI) covering the ATO's managed network services that is due to be released to the market towards the end of January next year. Managed network services is the first of three bundles of services that will be opened up to competitive bidding as the ATO winds down its $1.8 billion outsourcing contract with long-term supplier Electronic Data Systems. The network bundle covers voice and mobile carriage, data carriage, desktop handsets and PABX, WAN and LAN switches, computer telephony integration, security gateway and mobile devices. The other two bundles will contain the ATO's end user and centralised computing services.
The January EOI will be the first of three phases to the managed network services tender. Under current ATO plans, a shortlist of prospective suppliers will be culled from the EOIs and vendors on the list will participate in a series of in-depth workshops with ATO executives to map out more exacting requirements. The workshops will then be followed by a formal request for tender. All three tranches of the tender will follow the same format but the EOIs for the end user and centralised computing bundles are not expected to be released until the second half of next year. An invitation to register for the managed network services briefing has been posted on the government's Austender procurement website.
The online face of the Government, the Govt.nz web portal, is to get a makeover to make it easier to use and search as a UN report rates New Zealand high in e-government uptake but still well behind Australia. Figures reveal the Govt.nz portal attracted 3.7 million unique visitors last year, a 35 per cent increase on 2006 with around 60 per cent of visitors coming from offshore. While increasingly on the radar of locals as a place to get information on everything from dog licences to tax issues, nearly as many people visited the Trade Me auction website in December alone as visited the Govt.nz portal in the whole of 2007. The 2008 United Nations E-Government Survey ranks New Zealand 18th in the world in terms of e-government readiness, in between Israel and Ireland and 10 places behind Australia. New Zealand has slipped three places since the last survey in 2005. Laurence Millar, the State Services Commission's deputy commissioner for information and communication technologies, said the Govt.nz website was being revamped to bring it up to date with changes made to the portals of other governments.
"We're at the end of the lifecycle of that version of the portal which actually rated very well back in 2005," he said. RSS (really simple syndication) feeds will be added across the portal to allow information updates to be sent to people rather than them having to visit the website regularly. Software widgets would also allow people to receive information directly to their computers. "Having government information on people's desktops will be a theme," he said. The Govt.nz search engine was revamped last year to include page indexing by Vivisimo and external search results from Windows Live Search, as people sought a search experience similar to that of Google. Millar said the weighing towards international visitors to the website was due to its high rankings in search results for information about New Zealand. "New Zealand isn't that well known in the world. "So the place people go to for information about us is the portal," he said. Local web users were increasingly going directly to specific Government websites rather than to Govt.nz. The Ministry of Social Development alone has 18 websites.
"We're not looking to be the single gateway," said Millar. "That was a concept out of the commercial world that isn't really relevant to government." While the UN rates New Zealand well in terms of e-participation and e-democracy, our relatively poor track record in broadband has held us back. The UN picked out some good examples of e-government in action - Brazil's House of Representatives website allows citizens to talk to their representatives and participate in debates directly through the internet, while Singapore's SingPass system lets citizens with an ID and password gain secure access to 370 e-services across 40 government agencies.
WALTHAM, Mass. ¡ª Impress Software, a leading provider of packaged integration applications, today announced that it has been selected by the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) in New Zealand to integrate their SAP and ESRI systems. The ARC and ARTA will implement Impress for GIS, a solution that ensures consistency of asset information between SAP and ESRI and streamlines asset management processes that span both systems. The ARC is responsible for protecting and sustaining the region's air, soil and water resources, and ARTA is responsible for managing the growing demands on its transport systems. The ARC and ARTA manage a significant portfolio of assets, including approximately 40,000 hectares of regional parkland, 40 railway stations, rail carriages, 14 ferry wharves, and Mt. Smart Stadium.
Recently, the ARC completed an advanced asset management plan for its regional parks in accordance with the Local Government Act 2002. One of the plan's top priorities was to improve the current asset management system. The Auckland Regional Council concluded that a solution that would seamlessly integrate SAP PM with their ESRI geographical information system would significantly improve workforce productivity, decision-making and compliance. "With our asset management strategy centered on SAP and GIS, it was important for the ARC and ARTA to find a way to fully leverage both systems in a timely and cost-effective manner," said John Holley, Group Manager Information Services from the ARC. "Impress for GIS, as a certified, fully supported and upgradeable solution, gives us confidence that we will complete the integration on time and budget, and peace of mind that our investment will be protected as we face future upgrades to SAP or ESRI."
The ARC and ARTA expect that Impress for GIS will enable employees to work more effectively in their most familiar environments. The integrated solution will also provide management with accurate and current asset information to facilitate effective decision-making for long-term financial planning and risk management. "The Auckland Regional Council has embarked on a strategic charter to meet the region's present and future needs," explains Warren Utt, CEO, Impress Software. "We're pleased that Impress was selected to help the ARC simplify and unify its asset management approach, and believe that more and more government agencies will follow the ARC's lead as a way to more effectively manage resources and prepare for future growth."
A new website launched today will mean greatly improved access to legislation for New Zealanders, Attorney-General Michael Cullen said today. The new website ¨C www.legislation.govt.nz ¨C provides free public access to Acts, Regulations, and Bills to anyone with access to the internet. "Providing public access to legislation is an important step in improving public engagement with the legislative process," Michael Cullen said. "New Zealanders have a right to know what¡¯s on our statute books and the government has an obligation to make that as easy as possible." The New Zealand Legislation website is the culmination of the Public Access to Legislation (PAL) project, undertaken by the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) in conjunction with the Office of the Clerk, and the Tax Drafting Unit of the Inland Revenue Department.
The PAL system is designed to improve the way in which New Zealand legislation (Bills, Acts, Statutory Regulations, and Supplementary Order Papers) is made available to the public. The aim is to provide public access to up-to-date official legislation in both printed and electronic form. As the library of legislation on the website is built up over time, the website will show legislation at all its different stages¡ªfrom a Bill as introduced, at each stage during its passage through Parliament, to an Act as originally passed, to an Act as it is amended over time, to a repealed Act. The new website also provides extensive information about the site and how to use it, in its "About this site" and "Glossary" sections. The legislation on the new website will initially be an unofficial version of New Zealand legislation. The PCO will now undertake a process of "officialising" the legislation, so that the website can ultimately become an official source of New Zealand legislation. This process is expected to take around three years.
Australian civil servants will join and even lead some reviews of large New Zealand public sector IT projects. The arrangement, which is reciprocal, was reached after the State Services Commission agreed to adopt OGC Gateway, a system for monitoring capital projects that was developed by the British government. Deputy commissioner Laurence Millar says the SSC has struck formal agreements with the state governments of Victoria and Canberra - which are also Gateway converts - allowing officials from the three governments to jointly participate in peer reviews. The adoption of Gateway, which is not limited to ICT monitoring but will be used to review other capital spending, comes as the public service tackles a significant wave of major capital projects, Mr Millar says. "We are coming round to a cycle of reinvestment across Government." "Some of the major systems put in during the 1990s are getting close to end of life. For the past six to eight months we have been working with Treasury to see how the Government can improve its overall capital management regime."
The SSC has primary responsibility for keeping tabs on large public sector IT projects. Mr Millar says the monitoring regime that was put in place in the wake of the police Incis computer failure has "stood us in pretty good stead". But he says its home-grown monitoring systems had the "constraint of being a bespoke approach". Gateway - which the British government's Office of Government Commerce has made available to other governments free of charge - will lift project monitoring up a level, he says. "In our current regime the emphasis was on responding to problem projects and most of our focus has been on making sure projects are delivered on budget and on time." Gateway also aims to ensure projects deliver the business outcomes sought in the beginning, he says. "Having something we can pull off the shelf to say: `this is how you do that phase' is attractive. "It is being managed and evolved by a more substantial team than New Zealand would ever be able to put together and because we are using the same methodology as other countries, it significantly increases our pool of reviewers."
One principle of Gateway is that no-one can lead a review of a project till they have participated in a review. Though the SSC employs some accredited Gateway reviewers who have moved here from Britain, it will only have a small pool of practitioners at first, making it particularly helpful to tap into the pool in Australia. Reviews will only provide advice. New Zealand and British government agencies are unlikely to swap staff for project reviews because of the different time zones, he says. Mr Millar says the Government is unlikely to follow the Australian federal government in monitoring the total amount of money paid to individual IT vendors by the public sector. The Australian Financial Review reported that the federal government planned to do this as part of an effort by Australia's Finance Department to get better control over its A$6 billion (NZ$6.8 billion) annual spend on technology. Mr Millar doubts such information would make a difference to the way contracts were awarded here. Public sector chief information officers meet informally to share their experiences dealing with suppliers, "a fantastic idea" which he says may be more useful.
Central and local government agencies in New Zealand have fared better than their Australian counterparts in a University of Otago study of e-government responsiveness. The study, headed by Associate Professor Robin Gauld from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, set out to see if e-government was making government services more responsive. ¡°Our key and consistent finding was that the Australian agencies performed significantly worse than their New Zealand counterparts, bringing into question their higher ranking in international e-government studies and also their potential to deliver on the Australian government policy that e-government means more responsive government.¡± Researchers sent out an email message to 273 government agencies at both local and national level in Australia and New Zealand asking two simple questions: ¡®Where are you located?¡¯ and, ¡®what are your open hours?¡¯. They would have contacted more agencies but found 29 per cent of Australian federal agencies had no such facility for email contact.
Responses were monitored, recording how long they took, and then analysed for quality of response. Associate Professor Gauld says they heard back from 209 agencies, with 199 replying within 45 working hours. ¡°A total of 67.5 per cent of the Australian and 89.3 per cent of the New Zealand agencies responded to the email, with strong evidence that the Australian agencies were less likely to respond than their New Zealand counterparts,¡± he says. ¡°The Australian central agencies, at 60 per cent, were the least likely to respond and New Zealand local government agencies were the most likely, with 91.4 per cent providing a response of some sort.¡± Earlier research in the United States by Darrell West at Brown University found 91 per cent of federal and state offices responded. In terms of quality of response, just over a third of all Australian agencies managed to answer both questions, compared with 75 per cent of New Zealand agencies. New Zealand local government agencies were the best performers at 81.5 per cent.
Associate Professor Gauld says the performance of local government agencies is an interesting one. ¡°Perhaps it is to do with local government¡¯s closeness to their communities. Maybe they also have the capacity to be more customer focused.¡± He says the study also suggests the phone may be a better option for making contact with agencies in Australia, although he has reservations about that. ¡°Young people today usually go to text and email before they pick up the phone. You can¡¯t assume they will go for the phone.¡± Despite the overall poor performance, many of the agencies provided detail well beyond what was requested and also asked if there was any other way in which they could help.
Associate Professor Gauld says government agencies on both sides of the Tasman can improve their performance, especially given their commitment to e-government. ¡°Both ought to be aiming to have contact email addresses for all agencies and both should be committing to replying to email requests and to providing appropriate and accurate responses,¡± he says. ¡°If capacity to respond remains questionable, this will do little to boost confidence and trust in e-government mechanisms.¡±Associate Professor Gauld is currently looking for funding to do a similar study on a global scale.
It's only recently been given the go- ahead, but Greater Wellington regional council is already trying to shave $3 million off the cost of a real- time passenger information system that will track buses and trains by satellite and provide estimated arrival times to passengers. The council approved plans in November to equip the region's 500 buses and 65 trains with GPS-based equipment, estimating the system would cost $12.8 million to buy and $2.2 million a year to run, but asked officials to look at ways to cut costs. A report says about $1.3 million could be saved if only 150 of the region's 2700 bus stops were fitted with $15,000 plasma displays that would simultaneously show all arrival times, instead of 250 as envisaged. Signs costing half as much would be fitted to 100 bus stops, as originally planned, that could scroll through estimated arrival times on each route. Passengers would also be able to check arrival times by logging on to the Metlink website or sending a text message. The council may also ask bus operators NZ Bus and Mana Coaches to pay for displays in some buses that would show where the bus would next stop. The screens could also show other travel information and advertisements.
The annual running costs of the system could be cut by $600,000 a year if both measures were adopted and if the council offered the communications contract for the real- time passenger information system to one telco as a "package deal". NZ Bus chief executive Bruce Emson would not say whether the company would consider paying for displays in buses, but says it supports the overall project in principle. The council researched seven suppliers of real-time information systems last year and concluded they offered the same basic functionality, but said it had to decide "how 'fancy' it wants the system to look". US company Trapeze was the "most innovative" of the suppliers and could use wireless broadband to turn buses and trains into "a kind of mobile Internet cafe", but its system is unlikely to be available in New Zealand in the immediate future, the council says. Most suppliers of real-time passenger information systems can integrate satellite monitoring with computers that control traffic lights. The council envisages buses running behind schedule would automatically be given priority at traffic lights to help them catch up. Another benefit is that train drivers could check on connecting buses, when deciding whether to wait for them at a station.
The software solutions market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has been expanding significantly, driven by demand fromAccording to a recent study by IDC, the strong growth of over 39% year-on-year in 2006 will slow to less than 36% in 2007 and 28% this year. According to preliminary results, the market reached almost $390 million in 2007 and is predicted to hit $500 million in 2008. Enterprises as well as governments.The EAS market in the MENA region is fueled by a fierce fight for leadership between rivals Oracle and SAP. In 2006, Oracle led over SAP by a close margin, while 3i-Infotech placed third. Together, the top three players controlled 68.5% of the total EAS market. On the country level, though, the top two positions are reversed in some cases.
Companies across the region invest most heavily in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions. This segment soared by a third in 2006 to almost $206 million. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as part of enterprise application suites was second most in demand, shooting up by 97.5% year-on-year to $38.5 million. Supply Chain Management (SCM) was third with a value of $33.80 million, which represents an almost 39% year-on-year increase in spending. On the demand side, the finance vertical is the biggest spender with an estimated 19% share of the market in 2007. Process manufacturing was the second largest vertical with more than 16%, and the government sector, including health care and education, ranked third, accounting for nearly 14% of total EAS investment in the region last year.
'We expect EAS investment to grow particularly rapidly in the government sector and the retail industry over the coming years,' said Nair. 'These two vertical markets, along with transportation, have been the fastest-growing industries in the region. Over the next five years, we predict that the oil and gas industry will expand at a slower rate than the overall market and will account for a smaller share of overall EAS spending in 2011 than it did in 2006.' IDC's Arab Middle East and Egypt North Africa Software Solutions 2007-2011 and 2006 Vendor Shares (IDC #ZR01P) provides a detailed overview of the regional market for high-end integrated package software products. Covering Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Other Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (OGCC, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar), Levant (Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria), and North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia), the study carries detailed qualitative and quantitative information, analysis and forecasts that help vendors answer key questions regarding market sizing, segmentation, market shares, and major economic and political factors affecting the EAS market.
B2C e-commerce sales for the five major markets in the Asia-Pacific region totalled only US$59.1 billion in 2006, with Japan accounting for a lion's share of the sales in 2006. But things are changing. EMarketer forecasts that B2C e-commerce sales in the region will grow 23.3 percent a year to US$168.7 billion in 2011. "Japan was the largest market in the region, by far, with a 62.3 percent share of online sales in 2006," said Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst with eMarketer. "But by 2011, Japan and South Korea, the region's other mature market, will both lose share to two up-and-coming online markets -- China and India." "A number of hurdles common to both countries must be cleared to ensure sustainable long-term growth," said Grau. "Immature online payment systems, poor delivery networks and distrust between buyers and sellers, to name just a few." According to a China Internet Network Information Centre survey, the top reason that Internet users in China do not buy online is uncertainty about the security of the online shopping process.
Smaller developing countries in the region, such as Thailand, the Philippines, and Malaysia, are also on track to become viable e-commerce economies. "For Western e-commerce firms with global aspirations the challenge is to decide what to do in this region and how to do it," Grau said. "These markets are very different, so prospective entrants must seek local solutions." Before jumping in, however, companies should be warned that it will take longer for e commerce to advance from its formative stage in India and China and other developing countries in the region than it did in advanced industrialized countries like the US, Japan, and Western Europe. "Most countries in the region, particularly China and India, lack a nationwide credit card system or an efficient delivery network, essential infrastructures that have greatly facilitated e-commerce growth in more advanced countries," Grau explained. In addition, in developing countries the online shopping process is often at odds with traditional business practices. B2C transactions in China and India are conducted on a cash-basis, requiring e commerce companies to provide alternative payment methods, such as cash on delivery and wire transfers. "Still, no matter what the obstacles, the markets of the region are simply too big to be ignored," Grau concluded.
Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media yesterday spoke about 'Mobile goes Internet : Key Challenges for Mobile Ubiquity in Europe's Single Market' at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. This is what she said: "Europe remains the world's leader in mobile communications. We have the highest penetration rates of mobile use in the world, an average of 111%, with some countries reaching over 150% penetration. The fact that the GSM standard is a European standard, backed both by Europe's industry and by the EU institutions, is only a small, though important part of this success story. In fact, the economic success of mobile telephony in Europe has been achieved through open competition, innovation and investment supported by pro-competitive regulation. Our strong EU mobile industry is however at a historical tipping point. Can today's leaders convert their leadership into an advantage for the future, or will the successes of the past create a legacy that locks it out of the Mobile Internet?
The UK Land Registry has announced that it will be focusing its resources over the next two years on the introduction of eMortgages and the electronic transfer of property. The UK Land Registry is the world's largest property database, with over 21 million titles. Around ¡ê1 million (€1.34 million) worth of property is processed every minute in England and Wales. The massive task of computerising property titles was completed in 2002 and all registered titles are now fully computerised. On-line services have been introduced incrementally, but the ultimate goal of the Land Registry is to move towards ¡®eConveyancing¡¯, which will transform, through a phased approach, the current paper-based conveyancing system into electronic documents and electronic signatures. Alasdair Lewis, the head of the Land Registry's Business Transformation Programme, said: "We have always recognised that we would move incrementally towards our long-term vision of eConveyancing. We have already done much in-depth work with customers, testing the market, and our first priority must now be to introduce electronic discharges, charges and transfers ¨C thus, fully automating our core business of registering land.¡± The Land Registry recognises that this is a significant task and that it will not happen overnight. They, therefore, plan to focus initially, in 2008, on delivery of electronic charges and electronic discharges. The prospect of electronic property transfers will be addressed in 2009.
The International Telecommunication Union made a statement at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia, demonstrating the part played by information and communication technologies (ICT) as both a cause and a potential cure for climate change. ITU stated that ICT can play a vital role in combating climate change. They can be used for remote monitoring of climate change and gathering important scientific data -- for instance, using telemetry or remote sensing by satellite. Furthermore, smart technologies can usher in a whole new generation of energy-efficient products, notably in next-generation networks. ITU pointed out that the proliferation of ICT products in homes and offices, and their deployment throughout the world, places an increasingly heavy burden on energy consumption. The late night glow in homes and offices emanating from computers, DVD players, TVs and battery chargers is all too familiar. And the move to "always-on" services, like broadband or mobile phones on standby, has greatly increased energy consumption compared with fixed-line telephones, which do not require an independent power source. Energy demands caused by high-tech lifestyles in some countries are now being replicated in others.
Computerworld announced Monday its annual class of Premier 100 IT Leaders for 2008, honoring executives who have led their organizations by mentoring and motivating employees, envisioning innovative solutions to business challenges, and effectively managing and executing IT strategies. Among those honored were 20 IT leaders from education and the public sector.
Local Government Don C. DeLoach, chief information systems officer, City of Tallahassee Hugh Miller, chief technology officer, City of San Antonio Neal A. Puff, CIO Yuma County
State Government Ben L. Berry, CIO, Oregon Department of Transportation Brenda L. Decker, CIO State of Nebraska Sheng Guo, chief technology officer, New York State Unified Court System Teri M. Takai, CIO of Michigan Department of IT, State of Michigan
Federal Government Randall D. Headrick, director of communications and information, Air National Guard CIO, National Guard Bureau A6 Charles Scott Lambert, project manager of logistics modernization program, U.S. Army Ram Murthy, director of application systems, Peace Corps Steven J. Spano, director of communications and information headquarters, United States Air Forces Europe, Craig Woods, manager of technology support, United States Postal Service
Education Asif Ahmad, vice president of diagnostic services, CIO, associate dean of academic computing, Duke University Health System and Medical Center Robert G. Henderson, director of cyber infrastructure, University of the Pacific Anthony Hill, CIO, Golden Gate University Michael H. Hites, vice president for planning and IT, CIO, New Mexico State University Joy R. Hughes, vice president for IT, CIO, George Mason University Stephen M. Levin, CIO of University Services, University of Minnesota Joseph J. Tufano, vice president, CIO, St. John's University Michael F. Williams, executive director of IT, Immune Tolerance Network, University of California at San Francisco
The software and digital information industries have grown fast and are keys to continued economic growth in the United States and around the world, a new report states. The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) released a report Thursday that measures the economic impact of the two industries, saying it's the first of its kind. The report, entitled "Software & Information: Driving the Global Knowledge Economy," found that the industries grew faster than the U.S. economy on the whole and generated millions of American jobs, many of them high paying. The SIIA report (PDF) found that the software and information industries grew 10.8% in 2005, while the GDP grew 3.2%. They employ more than 2.7 million Americans and showed 17% net employment growth between 1997 and 2006. The annual average wage in the industries was $75,400 in 2006, according to the report. That's 78% higher than the average $42,400 for all private-sector workers. SIIA president Ken Wasch said "the digital revolution is spurring an unprecedented level of innovation and growth, providing significant new opportunities for software and information producers and their customers.
"This report shows the critical role that the software and information industries play in a vibrant and dynamic U.S. economy. It underscores the importance of continued U.S. investment in innovation and technology," he said while announcing the release of the report. The report found that software and information sales through U.S. affiliates exceed $60.4 billion, 13% of the total $483 billion for all U.S. companies. The industries also contributed another $19 billion in cross-border exports, the report stated. Global ICT spending, which includes software and computer services, exceeds $3 trillion and is projected to grow to approximately $4 trillion in 2008, according to SIIA. "Innovation in the software and information industries is clearly a critical reason why the U.S. continues to be the global economic leader, but there is little room for complacency if America hopes to maintain its leadership position," Wasch said. "Sustaining -- and growing -- the significant economic and job impact delivered by these dynamic industries will require a supportive public policy environment." Wasch said that as the U.S. economy faces uncertainty, the software and information industries will continue to propel growth.
According to its Web site, Seattle-based Intelius says that it will charge consumers a fee to find a number that is "unlisted or unpublished" and will identify a consumer's wireless service provider. This information is mined from the Internet, personal Web pages and other sources, and has not been authorized by individuals to be sold for this purpose. "This is a violation of Americans' privacy. People expect their cell phone numbers to remain private," said Steve Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel of Verizon Wireless. "Trolling the Internet, using data-mining techniques and simply buying lists to create a directory are actions that clearly violate a consumer's right to privacy," Zipperstein continued. "Verizon Wireless has long refused to release our customers' numbers and we call on legislators and policy makers to ensure that what a consumer wants to be private stays that way."
Verizon Wireless has a long-standing policy not to provide its customers' wireless numbers to any directory project or third party. Customers view their wireless phone numbers as private and consider their wireless phones as a place they don't have to face intrusions from telemarketers and other unsolicited calls and messages. Over the past several years, the company has successfully brought legal action against telemarketers, winning injunctions, putting several companies out of business and putting others on notice that it will not tolerate these intrusions on its customers' privacy. On behalf of its customers, the company continues to investigate and pursue those who violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to use an auto-dialer and recorded messages to wireless phones.
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) will serve as an important public awareness channel for the Federal Communications Commissions as an outreach partner for the digital television transition. After February 17, 2009, full-power television stations will broadcast in digital only. In 1996, the U.S. Congress authorized the distribution of an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so that they could start a digital broadcast channel while simultaneously continuing their analog broadcast channel. Later, Congress mandated that February 17, 2009, would be the last day for full-power television stations to broadcast in analog. The switch from analog to digital broadcast television is referred to as the digital TV (DTV) transition. Broadcast stations in all U.S. markets are currently broadcasting in both analog and digital. John Gillispie, Iowa CIO and NASCIO president, said, "February 2009 will be here sooner than we think. Now is the time for us all to get up to speed on DTV: what is it; what does it mean to me; what do I need to do? We at NASCIO encourage everyone to educate themselves on this important issue."
An important benefit of the switch to all-digital broadcasting is that it will free up parts of the valuable broadcast spectrum for public safety communications (such as police, fire departments, and other first responders). Also, some of the spectrum will be auctioned to companies that will be able to provide consumers with more advanced wireless services (such as wireless broadband). NASCIO supports the analog-to-digital transition and the February 17, 2009 deadline because state and local public safety agencies urgently need this valuable spectrum in order to protect their constituents and communicate effectively during the next natural disaster or terrorist attack. Otto Doll, South Dakota CIO, said, "Outreach on the DTV transition is important as many of our rural residents and the elderly still get their TV over-the-air. Also, many households have additional TVs not hooked up to cable or satellite -- relying on rabbit ears for reception. Ensuring citizens in cities, rural areas and tribal lands are aware of the pending DTV transition and set-top coupon program is critical to television maintaining its information flow, uninterrupted into our households." Cable and satellite TV subscribers with analog TVs hooked up to their cable or satellite service should not be affected by the February 17, 2009, cut-off date for full-power analog broadcasting, but should contact their provider to find out anything is needed to be prepared for the February deadline.
There are many sources of information about the digital transition including on the NASCIO Web site but one of the best is the government's Web site. It contains information on what DTV is, questions consumers should ask when purchasing new television sets, what programs are available in DTV, and much more. NASCIO is the premier network and resource for state CIOs and an effective advocate for technology policies at all levels of government. State members are senior officials from any of the three branches of state government who have executive-level and statewide responsibility for information resource management. Representatives from federal, municipal, and international governments and other state officials participate in the organization as associate members. Private-sector firms and non-profit organizations may join as corporate members.
TMissouri Gov. Matt Blunt yesterday announced that Missouri companies facing decisions on workforce expansions, job retention and business reorganizations now have a new Internet tool to help them make even more informed decisions. The site is another resource Blunt has created to help Missouri businesses and communities create and retain jobs. "Creating and retaining jobs in Missouri requires a collaborative, focused effort from businesses, employees, community leaders and state government," Blunt said. "This new online resource will help everyone involved in job creation and retention gain a better understanding of the issues facing each region of our state to help facilitate good decisions that support Missouri workers and our economy."
The Missouri Job Vacancy Survey (JVS) is part of the state's revamped Rapid Response Internet site and provides information about the quantity and quality of job vacancies in Missouri, including real-time access to regional labor demand, labor availability and skill set data. In addition to being a helpful tool for business, JVS also has valuable information for Missourians who are seeking job opportunities. Job vacancy statistics supply a measure of employer demand for workers in local communities and an analysis of job vacancy characteristics, including wages and benefits offered, education and experience requirements, and full or part-time status. When combined with other statistics, such as unemployment rates and occupational wage levels, job vacancy data can provide a good indicator of labor market tightness, labor force shortages, and the overall health of state and local labor markets. The site was developed by the Missouri Department of Economic Development's Division of Workforce Development, and the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center in conjunction with the Metropolitan Information and Data Analysis Services division of the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri.
More Chinese firms will adopt virtualization technologies on databases to cut hardware and maintenances cost and save energy, a US-based IT research firm said yesterday in Shanghai. The global demand of computer servers for enterprise-level data centers is expected to reach 60 million units in 2010, and about a quarter of that capacity demand will be met by the virtualized servers but not real servers, according to International Data Corp. The virtualization helps chief information officers to save the server budget and improve efficiency of the usage of power and water, which helps protect the environment, according to Vicki Cui, research manager of IDC China's computing system research. Power consumption of data centers in the US will reach 100 billion kilowatts in 2011 if they use traditional methods, which requires 10 additional power plants, according to a statement from IBM, citing the US Environment Protection Agency. China's adoption rate of the technologies, however, was only 17 percent in 2006, one-third of the rate in Japan and lower than India, according to IDC. "China's adoption rate will surge within the next two or three years, firstly in companies with more than 100 servers," said Cui at an IT forum in Shanghai yesterday. "We have seen some vendors in the sector double revenue in the past year," Cui added, without providing detailed figures. Companies including Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Cisco talked about the visions of future data centers, including virtualization. IBM, which defines visualization as a green technology, said it has great potential in China, a country aware of energy protection.
China is to establish a system to publicize the credit information of export businesses on the Internet so government bodies can better manage foreign trade. The Ministry of Commerce yesterday said on its website that it will establish a foreign trade credit system in more than 10 provinces and municipalities including Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu. Through the system, the government will put the credit history and operational information of companies doing business overseas on the Internet. Government supervision bodies and foreign companies will be able to retrieve the information through a website, the commerce ministry said on its website yesterday. This is part of the government's effort to build a system to make the credit information of all enterprises transparent. The government first ran a trial credit system in Shenzhen three years ago. The city government has since put the information of nearly 10,000 enterprises on a website. Business partners can check the credit, tax and legal records of any of these companies online. This is a good move for China's foreign trade, said Wang Shengli, a credit administrator under the Ministry of Commerce. "Chinese enterprises need good credit to win in global trade, and this is also good for their trade partners in other countries," Wang said.
Many Chinese companies do not fully understand the significance of credit and they do not pay enough attention to credit management within their companies, according to Han Jiaping, a credit management expert. Paying more attention to credit will help Chinese enterprises' trade partners and is also good for domestic companies themselves because it helps them avoid risk, he said. But there is currently a lack of credit management personnel in China, Han said. The credit system is part of the commerce ministry's effort to build a broader information system in the business field, Wang said. The system will include information on companies doing business within China, as well as investment and other information. The Ministry of Commerce is to share with other government bodies, including Customs and tax, to supervise enterprises together. "This will make it more convenient for those who obey the regulation, while those who do not will get punishment," Wang said. Vice-Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said earlier that through a ministry blacklist system the government has punished over 400 export enterprises that have broken rules or behaved illegally.
Despite tremendous growth potential in China's IT services, the industry has yet to fully take advantage of the global resources, a recent report has found. The conclusion was made in a joint white paper entitled IT Services Industry in China, released by CCID Consulting Co Ltd (CCID) and Microsoft Customer Service and Support, Asia-Pacific & Greater China Region (APGC CSS). The white paper said IT services in China have shifted to personalization, and are now entering a new, performance-oriented phase and heading for further standardization. IT services involve IT consulting, IT systems integration, related training, IT system management outsourcing, as well as IT products support and maintenance. Due to rapid economic development and a booming IT industry in China, the IT services industry has expanded to a market with an annual scale in the scores of billion yuan. During the first half of 2007, the nation's IT services industry revenue amounted to 31.14 billion yuan, up 14.1 percent from a year earlier. "China's IT services industry is marching into a golden era within the next five years, capturing an annual revenue of 132 billion yuan by 2010," said Chen Jianjun, deputy secretary general of the China Federation of IT Promotion.
Last year, the industry structure began shifting, with stable growth of system integration, while demands on outsourcing consultancy and training services flourished. The growth of governmental demands on IT services remains robust. Services for small- and medium-sized enterprises have accelerated. And the number of household clients is increasing. Many key industries, such as finance, telecommunications, manufacturing and retailing, have become the crucial drivers for China's booming IT services industry. Chen believes the strengthened intellectual rights protection, resulting in a fairer and sounder market environment, also stimulate the healthy development of the sector. The white paper also indicated that globalization provides a wealth of opportunities for China's IT services industry. To benefit from these opportunities, players in the industry should adopt the ability to deliver superior customer services and to fulfill the IT needs of a globally integrated economy, which means they must provide tailored services with world-class quality to clients based on an international aspect. Along with globalization and IT services economization, the industry's technology trends involve further standardization, increased information safety and more personalized and tailored solutions.
To meet the demands of these trends, the industry's most challenging issue is finding talent, agreed Li Jun, CEO of CCID, and Wing-Dar Ker, general manager of APGC CSS, Microsoft. An online survey by ChinaHR.com, one of the leading job consulting websites in China, showed that among the top 10 most promising jobs in China, IT services ranked fourth. The survey was carried out over the last year. Transnational companies are adjusting their global business allocation and moving the intellectually intensive services segment from home markets to the developing nations, including China, where costs are relatively low. CCID is the first Chinese consulting firm listed on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) of the Hong Kong stock exchange and is directly affiliated with the China Center for Information Industry Development. Being one of Microsoft's five technical support centers in the world, Microsoft's APGC CSS is the first global IT service center established in China by a Fortune 500 company.
Business-to-business (B2B) transactions hit 1,250 billion yuan (168.9 billion U.S. dollars) in China last year, up 25.5 percent from 2006, according to a survey released on Tuesday. The "Netguide 2008" survey, which provides a wrap-up of 2007, polled more than 300 web sites and about 200 enterprises, with 50,786 interviewees around the country. The survey, conducted by the Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI), reported that the newly-listed Alibaba.com was first in the e-commerce marketplace and accounted for about 70 percent of market share. Alibaba.com is one of China's fastest-growing Internet companies. Its registered members soared to 24.6 million in 2007 from 6 million in 2004.Paying members increased to 255,000 by June 2007 from 77,000 in 2004. Alibaba.com, which reportedly has the world's biggest base of online suppliers, raised 1.5 billion U.S dollars in its initial public offering (IPO) last November -- the second-largest Internet offering in history after Google's IPO in 2004. Other e-biz dotcoms on the top list are netsun.com, globalsources.com, cn.made-in-china.com and hc360.com, according to the survey. The Netguide 2008 also forecasts that China's B2B trade volume will exceed 1,620 billion yuan (218.9 billion U.S. dollars) in 2008 and 2,130 billion yuan (287.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2009.
China's Internet consumption hit 398.8 billion yuan (53.89 billion U.S. dollars) last year and is expected to reach 581.5 billion yuan in 2008, up 45.8 percent, according to a survey released on Tuesday. The "Netguide 2008" survey, which provides a wrap-up of China's2007 cyber world, polled more than 300 web sites and about 200 enterprises, with 50,786 interviewees around the country. The Internet consumption includes all web-related expenses such as broadband installment expenses, payment for online game and shopping, and payment for IP phone services. according to Fu Zhihua, director of the Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI) research department that conducted the survey. The DCCI survey also reports that Sina Corp., Netease.com Inc., Tencent and Sohu.com Inc., China's four largest Internet portals, have gained most from the robust Internet industry, accounting for about 76 percent of total web portal revenue in China. The market scale of financial web sites, fueled by bullish trends in China's stock market, reached 920 million yuan, and online search engines saw 82.8 percent growth to 2.87 billion yuan in 2007, said the survey. The Netguide 2008 shows that among Internet users, browsing daily news takes up 38.8 percent of their time, followed by dealing with e-mail, 11 percent, and writing and reading blogs, 9.2 percent.
China's Internet market scale is expected to jump by 40 percent to 163.5 billion yuan in 2008, according to the estimates of CCID Consulting, a leading market consultant. "Online games and e-commerce are the major driving forces of the impressive growth," explained Tan Bin, a senior expert with the company. "Prepaid cards used to be the only profit source for online game operators," said Tan. "Now they sell equipment that players use in the games, which has proved to be more profitable." According to the CCID research, the online game market grew by 74.6 percent year on year to 11.4 billion yuan in 2007 and is expected to reach 18.7 billion yuan in 2008. "E-commerce, which covered the sale of books and discs mostly in the past, has become a platform for more products, such as insurance, steel and chemicals," said Tan. "As traders get used to doing business online, which significantly reduces their costs, e-commerce is sure to boom," Tan said. China's e-commerce rose by 68.9 percent to 18 billion yuan in 2007 and is expected to see a 65 percent annual increase in 2008, according to the company. "Online advertising will expand the Internet market as more companies increase their spending during the Beijing Olympic Games," Tan said. CCID Consulting predicts that online advertising will grow by 49 percent year on year to 6.9 billion yuan in 2008. Beijing-based CCID Consulting was the first domestic consulting firm to be listed in the Growth Enterprise Market of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It is affiliated to the China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID Group).
Six handset makers, including Lenovo and ZTE, were awarded the first post-trial period access licenses to China's homegrown third generation (3G) network on Wednesday, according to the TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance. The move indicated that the technology, TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), was entering the commercial stage. The licenses would immediately give Lenovo, ZTE, Hisense, Samsung, LG and New Postcom opportunities to win procurement deals from China Mobile. In December, the nation's largest mobile operator said it planned to purchase 30,000 TD-SCDMA mobile phones and 10,000 data cards for 3G network trials. China Mobile, China Telecom and China Netcom, three major Chinese phone operators, are conducting network trials of TD-SCDMA in 10 cities. China has promised to provide 3G mobile communications services in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Some western governments and companies have accused China of delaying the issue of 3G licenses to allow its home-grown standard to mature enough to compete with foreign rivals, including WCDMA and CDMA2000. Xi Guohua, Vice-Minister of Information Industry, however, pledged last year that the government would give equal status to WCDMA and CDMA2000 despite its support for the domestic standard.
China's software sector generated 580 billion yuan (about 80.8 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue in 2007, an annual increase of 20.8 percent, the Ministry of Information Industry reported. Specifically, sales of software products surged 22.5 percent to201.7 billion yuan, while system integration income rose 16 percent to 147.8 billion yuan, the latest ministry statistics said. The income of software and technology services hit 97.8 billion yuan, up 24.8 percent. Revenues of embedded system software hit 115.5 billion yuan, up 21.8 percent year on year. Revenues generated from integrated circuit design jumped 16.8 percent year on year to 17.1 billion yuan, the ministry said without giving further details.
Bank card transactions on the Chinese mainland rose 49.7 percent from a year ago to 29.42 billion yuan (US$4.1 billion) during the seven-day Spring Festival holidays ended on Tuesday, China UnionPay said yesterday. UnionPay card transactions in overseas markets topped 1.6 billion yuan during the holiday season, up 42.6 percent than a year ago, the country's sole bank card transaction system operator said.
LG booth at CES 2008The competitiveness of Korea¡¯s digital electronics industry made solid gains in 2007, fueled by improved quality, the government said Tuesday (Jan. 15). A survey of 32 products including digital TV sets, mobile phones, display panels, next-generation fuel cells and robots, showed the country¡¯s technical competitiveness moving up an average 3 to 5 percentage points compared to the year before, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said. It said noticeable strides were made last year with locally produced liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma display panel (PDP) TV sets being rated as technologically equal to Japanese products. In 2006, Korean-made LCD and PDP TVs were considered less high-tech that those from Japan. The ministry also said continued efforts by South Korean companies and laboratories raised technological levels of both industrial and domestic robots to around 80 percent of market leaders. It said that with more effort being made in research and development, the industry could expect to further close the gap. In fuel cells, Korean-made lithium ion batteries posted 3 percentage point gains in competitiveness versus top brands made in Japan. Locally made batteries were considered to have technology levels roughly equivalent to 78 percent of global pace setters in this field. The latest findings said there was almost no technological gap in such areas as next-generation mobile TVs, DVD recorders and mobile phones. South Korean goods were rated as being the world¡¯s best or only slightly behind leaders in these areas, the ministry said.
Korea¡¯s information technology (IT) sector is forecast to expand 4.6 percent in 2008 from a year earlier, mainly driven by software and IT services, an industry researcher said Tuesday (Dec. 18). The growth outlook is higher than an estimated 3.7 percent for this year, IDC Korea said in a report. The researcher, however, expected the global IT industry to expand by 5.5 percent to 6 percent next year, slower than the 6.9 percent predicted for this year, as concerns over a global economic slowdown could lead to reduced investment in the tech sector.
Samsung¡¯s 40-inch LCD Korea¡¯s trade surplus in the digital electronics sector reached a record $57.1 billion in 2007, fueled by strong global demand for display panels and semiconductors, a government report said Thursday (Jan. 3). The report by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy showed exports rose 8.9 percent year-on-year to $124.9 billion, while imports gained 10.1 percent to $67.8 billion. "Last year not only marked a record high in terms of the trade surplus, but it was the third straight year since 2005 that exports surpassed the $100 billion mark," said Kim Sung-jin, head of the ministry¡¯s digital industry team. He said exports of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels and computer memory chips shot up 36.4 percent and 30.9 percent, respectively, last year compared to 2006. "The 11.0 percent growth in mobile phone exports also helped overall numbers," he said. The official added 2007 was significant because it was the first year that electronic components, including LCDs and computer chips, accounted for more than half of all digital electronics exports. The latest tally, however, showed exports of consumer appliances and production-related electronics goods dropped as local companies moved manufacturing lines abroad to take advantage of lower labor costs. Imports, meanwhile, were led by a 14.7 percent rise in inbound shipments of parts and components, with consumer appliances and telecommunication equipment also contributing to growth. The ministry said digital electronics made up 14.2 percent of the 371.7 billion worth of goods exported by the country last year.
Sales of Korea¡¯s online shopping malls grew 16.3 percent in December from a year earlier, buoyed by a rise in the sales of winter clothing and travel-related services, a government report said Monday (Feb. 4). The combined sales of the shopping malls were tallied at 1.50 trillion won ($1.59 billion), up from 1.29 trillion won a year earlier, the National Statistical Office (NSO) said in the report. This is the highest monthly figure since the country started compiling on-line sales statistics in January 2001. The office said December marked the third month in a row that sales growth increased by double digits. In October and November annual sales jumped 27.4 and 16.3 percent respectively. Sales of clothing and fashion items rose 10.0 percent to 273.3 billion won, with those for travel and reservation services climbing 27.1 percent on-year to 254.9 billion won, the NSO said. Transactions connected with children¡¯s goods also jumped 27.3 percent to 87.4 billion won in the cited month. The latest report said for the whole of 2007, on-line transactions topped 15.76 trillion won, a 17.1 percent increase from the previous year. For the fourth quarter, total cyber shopping mall transactions reached 4.33 trillion won for a gain of 19.6 percent from the same three-month-period in 2006.
The use of Internet banking in Korea jumped 40 percent in 2007 from a year earlier as people increasingly went online to make financial transactions, the country¡¯s central bank said Thursday (Jan. 31). According to the Bank of Korea, Internet banking transactions reached an average 17.9 million per day as of the end of December, compared with 12.8 million the previous year. The data is based on online banking transactions to check financial records, transfer funds or take out loans. The number of Internet banking subscribers registered with 17 local banks, the state-run Korea Post and HSBC Holdings Plc stood at 44.7 million as of the end of December, up 24.5 percent from a year earlier. The majority of the transactions were conducted via computers, but mobile banking, or banking services via wireless handsets, accounted for 3.8 percent of the total. Transactions based on mobile banking jumped 60.5 percent on-year in 2007. Korea leads the world in broadband usage, with over two-thirds of its people using the high-speed Internet.
The Korean market for internet-based telephony is expected to grow over 50 percent annually over the next five years as an increasing number of households and businesses replace their traditional service with the new and cheaper way of making calls, a report showed Thursday (Jan. 17). According to the report by industry consulting firm, IDC Korea, the local market for Internet calls, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), will likely expand by an annual average of 53 percent between 2007 and 2011 to 1.42 trillion won ($1.5 billion). The report put the local VoIP market last year at an estimated 255.2 billion won, up 52.2 percent from a year earlier. "Until now, the VoIP market here has grown as businesses moved fast to adopt the new telephony service. As more households are expected to follow suit, its size will likely grow at a faster pace down the road," an IDC Korea official said. The report added that the government¡¯s plan to introduce the "number portability" system this year will add to the growth momentum as potential users will not have to worry about changing their long-held numbers in subscribing to Internet telephony. VoIP provides lower charges than traditional telephony services. Especially for those subscribing to the same operator, customers can receive a sharp discount. However, due to service unreliability and lack of awareness, many households have been reluctant to switch to the VoIP service, experts say.
Korean exports of information technology (IT) goods grew more than 10 percent in 2007, boosted by increased sales of handsets and flat panels in global markets, a government report showed Thursday (Jan. 3). According to the report by the Ministry of Information and Communication, Korean companies sold a combined $125.1 billion worth of IT goods last year, up 10.5 percent from a year earlier. During the same period, Korea imported $64.8 billion worth of IT products, up 9.9 percent from a year earlier. This brought the nation¡¯s IT trade surplus last year to a record $60.4 billion. The ministry said that the growth in exports comes despite a range of unfavorable external risks such as the local currency¡¯s climb against the U.S. dollar and overall declines in prices of its flagship products. It is the second consecutive year for Korea to log double-digit export growth in the IT sector. By sector, overseas shipments of mobile handsets rose 13.1 percent to $28.7 billion, while those of flat panels saw their exports jump 29.8 percent on-year to $21.8 billion, the report showed. Semiconductor sales, however, remained relatively sluggish as weak prices of DRAMs for personal computers showed few signs of recovery. Chip exports reached $39.3 billion last year, which was an increase of a mere 5.2 percent from a year earlier. In December, meanwhile, exports of IT goods rose 9.9 percent to $10.3 billion, driven by brisk performances of mobile handsets and flat panels, the report showed. IT imports in the month stood at $5.75 billion, up 17.4 percent from a year earlier.
Information and technology experts said satellite high-speed broadband internet connection would provide a cheaper and more reliable service for up to 50 million potential national users. "The use of wireless wimax and wifi services and cdma (data transfer system) to replace the more expensive GPRS (data transfer system with different technology) and the dial-up system was to decrease access costs," Armein Langi of the Bandung Institute of Technology told a discussion held by The Habibie Center Foundation here Thursday. "Satellite broadband connection will cost a user less than US$10 per month for 24-hour unlimited access," he said. Teguh Prasetya from PT Indosat told The Jakarta Post, "It takes around US$100 to start up investment on broadband connections for each house, while some US$1,000 is needed to start up the dial-up system for each house". The Habibie Center in cooperation with the Information and Communication Ministry and Investor Groups against Digital Divide (IGADD) discussed the obstacles and recommendations around implementing broadband internet connections in Indonesia.
"We (want) to reach 20 percent of the country's population (to) provide affordable high-speed broadband internet access by 2012," Ilham Akbar Habibie, Chairman for the Institute for Democratization and Socialization of Technology-The Habibie Center (IDST-THC) said during his opening speech. The discussion was called "Democracy 2.0: Enhancing Citizen Participation" and it was held in response to the government's program to expand information access for the entire society. Associate Director for Research at The Habibie Center Dewi Fortuna Anwar said the use of technology was expected to stimulate the growth of democracy in the country. "Our education system does not teach us to be outspoken," Dewi said. "The top-down leadership or authoritarian style of government does not let our voice be heard. "This is our challenge on how to change the people's mindset." Palgunadi T. Setiawan, a businessman and financial spokesman for the discussion, said limited infrastructure would be one important obstacle to overcome. "We are facing a problem of limited availability of cheap (computer) terminals and a lack of infrastructure, especially in rural areas," he said. "We also need to provide internet technology, e-commerce (online trading) ... which is compatible with people's business scale or the availability of infrastructures in rural areas." Palgunadi said widespread promotion of online services was needed, especially for the rural population, to show the business advantages technology could provide.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) expects its trade finance sector to contribute 20% to the group's revenue in financial year ending June 30, 2009 (FY09), following the introduction of its new online trade finance service. The e-trade finance service, expected to be rolled out in April next year, is anticipated to contribute 20% to the group's revenue in its first year of implementation, and 25% for subsequent years, said senior executive vice-president, head of business banking Rozidin Masari after the signing ceremony for online trade finance services between Maybank and HCL (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd on Wednesday. Rozidin said the trade finance sector contributed 16%-17% to the group's revenue for the last financial year. At present, Maybank has more than 17,000 customers utilising its trade finance facilities, with about 3,000 business customers registered with Maybank2e.net, an integrated online enterprise cash management financial portal.
"We aim to convert 10% of our Maybank2e.net customers in the first year of rollout to use this service and to grow it by 30% each year," said Rozidin. The online trade finance services via Maybank2e.net would "enable customers to utilise and monitor their trade financing activities and status online anywhere, anytime" said chief operating officer Datuk Johar Che Mat. The new e-trade service, targeted at small-medium enterprises (SMEs) is expected to further enhance Maybank's present SME market, said Rozidin. "We anticipate double-digit growth in SMEs and the commercial market for the financial year ending June 30, 2008 (FY08)," he added, in spite of only 1.1% growth in SME loans in its first quarter results ended Sept 30, 2007.
KOTA KINABALU: Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) is opening more kiosks and customer service outlets in efforts to increase its broadband user base to over 70,000 next year. TM Sabah general manager Sukkuriya Masri said the company, with its local partner MY Broadband Centre, would be opening 12 kiosks throughout Sabah. ¡°We will also be opening nine service centres in smaller towns such as Tenom, Felda Sahabat and Kota Marudu,¡± he said after opening the first TM kiosk at the City Mall yesterday. Sukkuriya said TM currently had about 45,000 customers using its Streamyx broadband service with another 15,000 logging on to the Internet via its dial-up service. He said the company was working towards bumping up broadband Internet access speeds by providing more fibreoptic lines in major towns in about three to four years. He said as Internet access infrastructure improved, TM hoped to see more local content by small and medium industries.
KUALA LUMPUR: Electronic marketing (e-marketing) awareness is still in its infancy stage among local businesses despite its potential for international exposure and networking at minimal costs. Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Kong Cho Ha said e-marketing was the way to go with some of the larger industries already adopting such marketing techniques. ¡°Entrepreneurs need to be aware of the many areas of the ICT as enabling tools in business as well as a tool to move their business into a more knowledge-based economy,¡± he said. Kong was speaking in conjunction with Penang ICT Week 2007 next week which will feature talks and the MCA ICT Resource Centre (MIRC) Business Leadership Summit 2007. Also in the programme is an e-marketing conference that will highlight topics such as branding, innovative leadership, e-commerce as well as marketing techniques like blogging and email marketing.
Kong, who is also MCA New Technology & Innovation Bureau chairman, said entrepreneurs should look at e-marketing as a long-term investment. As for tools and technologies, he said the government provided grants and incentives to help local manufacturers to market their product globally through ICT. ¡°There is a need to educate small and medium enterprises on how to leverage on ICT to maximise market exposure,¡± he added. MIRC chief executive officer Andrew Wong said the ICT week was to eliminate misconceptions about ICT and to create exposure. Ebay education specialist Chris Chan said online trading was not only about selling and buying but also creating a presence. ¡°SMEs should work together with online trading websites to further market their products globally as it will also raise the bar for product quality and standard,¡± she said, adding that there are currently six million registered local users with the website. The Penang ICT Week 2007 will be held from Dec 13 to 18. For details, visit www.mirc.org.my.
MANILA, Philippines -- Setting up a national government broadband network remains a priority project of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC), officials said during a televised press conference. DoTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza stressed that what was cancelled was the NBN contract, and not the idea of setting up a national broadband network. ¡°It was the contract with ZTE Corp. that was cancelled. But the NBN project is still a priority project of government. It is still within our medium-term development program,¡± Mendoza said. The NBN was designed to provide a nationwide broadband network that will provide a ¡°nationwide coverage¡± linking government agencies. Mendoza said that the agency has started discussions with potential suppliers last year.
DoTC Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso III added that the agency has started ¡°exploratory¡± talks with local carriers or telecommunications companies in December 2007. He added that DoTC is currently collating responses from the carriers after the agency made its presentation. The DoTC executive said the collected inputs from the carriers might be used to produce the terms of reference for a tender, which the carriers can look at. ¡°But this is all exploratory. Nothing definite yet,¡± Formoso said. ¡°It will be open to all.¡± The DoTC created last year a technical working group to study how government can slash expenditure on telecommunications and improve Internet connectivity in the country. It tapped the National Telecommunications Commission to convene the local carriers. This was after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed the DoTC to talk to local carriers regarding creation of the national broadband network last year.
PeopleSupport, Inc. (NASDAQ:PSPT), a leading offshore business process outsourcing (BPO) provider, has been awarded the Most Progressive Homegrown Company Award during the 2008 e-Services Philippines conference. The award is based on successfully penetrating the BPO market by providing high quality third-party services to respected multinational brands, high client satisfaction, quality of management, revenue and employee growth, and contributing to the promotion of the Philippines as a center of excellence in outsourcing. "This award recognizes PeopleSupport as a true industry leader," said Lance Rosenzweig, PeopleSupport CEO and Chairman. "As far back as 2000 when we started with a handful of agents, PeopleSupport understood the potential of young Filipino professionals and believed in their ability to provide excellent service."
The e-Services Philippines conference and awards ceremony was initiated in 2001 by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the trade promotion arm of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to raise awareness of the Philippine competitive advantage and to recognize service excellence delivered from the country. e-Services Philippines is a week long trade show organized by the DTI to bring together the leaders of the local and international BPO industry, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies and industry associations. The award was presented by DTI Senior Undersecretary Thomas G. Aquino, during the e-Services Philippines Award ceremony on February 12, 2008. About PeopleSupport PeopleSupport, Inc. (Nasdaq:PSPT), is a leading offshore business process outsourcing (BPO) provider that offers customer management, transcription and captioning and additional BPO services from its centers in the Philippines, Costa Rica and the United States.
PeopleSupport's services are designed to reduce costs, improve performance and increase revenues by delivering high quality, value-added, multilingual voice and text services. A majority of PeopleSupport's services are performed in the Philippines, where PeopleSupport is one of the largest outsourcing companies, employing approximately 8,400 college-educated, fluent English speaking personnel. Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, with approximately 9,000 employees worldwide, PeopleSupport serves clients in a variety of industries, such as travel, consumer, financial services, healthcare, insurance, technology, telecommunications, entertainment and education.
The Philippines' botched national broadband project will likely cast a dark shadow over the investment climate in the country, say industry players, as the ongoing controversy over bribery allegations threaten to plunge the local ICT landscape into chaos yet again. China's network equipment maker ZTE, last week issued a strongly worded statement noting that the cancellation of the national broadband network (NBN) contact "will not only play down the confidence of companies from China, but also from other countries to invest in the Philippines". The Philippine government in April 2007 awarded CTE a US$300 million-contract to build a broadband network to connect all government agencies and offices across the country. The project was later scrapped after allegations emerged that the deal had benefited high-ranking officials through commissions and kickbacks.
"This episode certainly brings unforeseeable negative influence on bilateral economic co-operations between China and Philippines," ZTE said. "So far, almost every project undertaken by Chinese companies has been put into inequitable suspicion, including agricultural project, tele-education project, railway projects, power plant project and elevated highway project in Manila." The Chinese technology company said the controversy would harm trade relations between China and the Philippines. It noted that bilateral trade volume had exceeded US$30 billion, with the Philippines enjoying the favorable trade balance of some US$15 billion. In fact, ZTE said China had surpassed the United States to become the biggest trade partner of the Philippines in 2007. Echoing the same sentiment is Cynthia R. Mamon, managing director of the local subsidiary of U.S. IT vendor Sun Microsystems, which reputedly manages one of the most number of government-related IT contracts in the Philippines.
"Obviously, this issue will send the wrong message to foreign investors that it's not good to undertake IT projects in the Philippines because it's too risky," said Mamon, in an interview with ZDNet Asia. Dealing with the government, she said, can be very complicated because it is also hard to collect payment once a contract is arbitrarily cancelled or even completed. The Sun executive said the NBN fiasco was the not first multinational project to suffer the same fate. The Philippine government also scrapped its contract with German company Fraport, which was originally engaged to build the country's newest airport terminal, Mamon said. The Philippine Supreme Court voided the contract on the grounds that the contract was onerous and ordered the government to take over the facility. The German construction company is currently contesting the ruling in international courts, and has refused to accept the US$64-million compensation allocated by the Philippines' high tribunal.
Thomson (Euronext Paris: 18453; NYSE: TMS), through its Technicolor Digital Cinema business, and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore today announced a partnership to establish a digital cinema hub and network operations centre (NOC) in Singapore. ¡°Thomson recognises Singapore¡¯s commitment to the digital media and entertainment industry and believes there will be tremendous value in utilising their robust infrastructure to expand our digital cinema service offerings into the Asia-Pacific region,¡± said Mr Curt Behlmer, VP, COO of Technicolor Digital Cinema, within Thomson Services division. ¡°Digital cinema is growing at a very rapid pace, and we look forward to supporting studio and exhibitor customers as they begin to roll out digital cinema in Singapore and Asia-Pacific.¡± Thomson, with the support of the IDA, plans to construct an efficient and secure digital cinema hub and NOC in Singapore to offer digital cinema service and related management solution capabilities to the motion picture industry for the Singaporean territory and other Asia-Pacific regions. ¡°IDA is delighted to support Thomson-Technicolor¡¯s first digital cinema hub in Asia to cater to the digital media and entertainment industry. This strategic partnership furthers Singapore's efforts to be the leading trusted digital cinema hub outside North America and Europe for the processing, management and distribution of digital cinematic content¡±, said Ms Tham Ai Chyn, Assistant Chief Executive, Industry and Cluster Development, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore. Thomson¡¯s Singapore facility is expected to have the capability to support the following digital cinema services: physical and electronic forms of content delivery; Thomson¡¯s key distribution and management systems; equipment monitoring; and 24/7/365 multi-lingual call-centre support, fully integrated with its premier operations in the U.S. The build-out of the new digital cinema hub and NOC in Singapore is slated to begin in mid-2008.
Singapore is taking another step forward in 3D digital media application. It is now home to Asia's first Interactive Digital Centre which opened at Temasek Polytechnic on November 1st. It is also the 8th such facility worldwide; the new centre is expected to change the way companies and industries do business. The facility enables a user to create a three-dimension virtual environment of any complex and let him explore every design, engineering and landscaping detail. All these even before the complex is built. For example, beside being able to examine the nuts and bolts of a jet engine, a user can also explore the different organs in the human body. This centre can generate 3D applications that are tailor-made to specific needs. Dr Tan Hock Soon, Manager - Interactive Digital Centre (Asia), Temasek Polytechnic, said: "The idea is that we make use of the data that's currently available from companies, 2D and 3D digital assets. We reuse them to construct visualisation products so companies can use them for various purposes such as training and walk-through of buildings."
And such applications are useful when you're dealing with large complicated objects or buildings that cannot be moved easily. So these 3D environments can also be used as training tools without putting anyone at risk or expose them to dangerous situations. Temasek Poly's Interactive Digital Centre was set up at a cost of more than S$4 million. Part of the money comes from the government's Interactive Digital Media, or IDM, fund. Sridhar Sunkad, Director - Business Development, Eon Reality, said: "Going by the roadmap that the Singapore government has initiated in their IDM space, we were impressed with the vision of the leadership especially with the 2015 vision in terms of the intelligent nation, and what IDM would play a role to drive the country towards the plan." The world's interactive digital media industry is valued presently at some S$1.6 trillion and will grow up to S$4 trillion by 2015. In Singapore, the industry is projected to employ some 10,000 people. And to help cope with the manpower need, Temasek Polytechnic will also launch an Interactive Media Technology diploma in April next year.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs, or companies with up to 999 employees) in Singapore are set to invest a whopping US$3 billion this year to strengthen their information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, up 6% over last year's level. Telecom will contribute up to US$1 billion to the 2008 total, according to the latest study by Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, Inc. The top three vertical sectors contributing to ICT spending across Singapore are wholesale, manufacturing and professional services (which include financial planning, billing and record keeping). These three verticals will contribute more than 50% of ICT spending in Singapore this year. "SMBs in Singapore will continue to spend on ICT technologies this year provided the economy remains robust," Mr Sreedhar says. "Therefore it is essential for ICT vendors to keep close tabs on the pulse of the SMB market to better understand the ICT needs of this dynamic market."
About the Studies AMI's 2007 Singapore Small Business Market Overview and Comprehensive Market Opportunity Assessment and 2007 Singapore Medium Business Market Overview and Comprehensive Market Opportunity Assessment study highlights these and other major trends in the context of current/planned IT, Internet and communications usage and spending. Products and services covered include established and emerging hardware, software, applications and business process solutions. Based on AMI's annual surveys of SMBs across Singapore, the study track a broad spectrum of issues pertaining to budgets, purchase behaviors, decision influencers, channel preferences, outsourcing, service and support. Also covered are detailed firmographics and critically important technology attitudes and strategic planning priorities. This data points to key opportunities and messaging hot buttons for vendors and service providers seeking to match their offerings to SB market requirements.
The Commerce Ministry has launched a project aimed at assisting local traders in E-commerce as well as to boost consumer confidence, a senior ministry official said today. Kanissorn Navanugraha, director-general of the Business Development Department, said the ministry¡¯s ¡®Trustmark¡¯ program was designed to support Thai E-Commerce players and help them earn recognition from consumers. To join the program is free of charge. Any E-commerce trader whose qualifications meet the Commerce Ministry requirements will be awarded a ¡®Verified¡¯ symbol to be shown on their website. Seeing the ¡®Verified¡¯ symbol, would-be consumers were assured of a quality product from the seller, said Mr. Kanissorn. A recent survey found the total value of trade via the E-Commerce system in 2006 totaled around Bt305.16 billion. Of the total, trade through the government¡¯s e-auction dealings was as much as Bt176.68 billion and business to business (B to B) was Bt79.73 billion, while business to consumer (B to C) was only Bt47.50 billion. Mr. Kanissorn added B to C trade could expand further if consumers had enough confidence to buy goods through the internet. Out of more than 60 million Thais, less than 8.5 million used the internet, according to Mr. Kanissorn.
BANGKOK, Jan 10 (TNA) ¨C The Government Savings Bank (GSB) brought 15 outstanding children and youth selected from across the nation to learn the value of saving and to get a glimpse of the habit of saving as they visited the self-proclaimed the "world's only mobile banking on shipboard." The 15 children visited what is claimed to be the "world's only mobile shipboard banking facility" at the Temple of Dawn pier, where they also deposited money. The ship belongs to GSB Pakklong Talad Branch that has offered banking services to residents on both banks of the Chao Phraya River since 2006. The 'bank ship' had served residents along Bangkok Noi Canal for over 22 years, but the services were increasingly popular among the people so the bank decided to expand the boat's routes, according to GSB Pakklong Talad Branch manager Sompong Ambamrung. He said shipboard banking was still popular and facilitated customers, particularly clients along the Pakklong Talad-Temple of Dawn-Wat Rakang route, with over 100 customers daily. The banking ship offers almost the same services as onshore bank branches--including deposits and withdrawals of funds, as well as loans, he said. The bank manager also said that the branch is considering expanding more ship routes to encourage savings habits among the people.
The latest study by Access Markets International (AMI) Partners Inc. found that small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Vietnam are on track to spend more than $1.4 billion on information and communications technology (ICT) in 2008, up some 11 percent over 2007. "Small businesses will account for more than 75 percent of this spending, with the manufacturing industry driving almost 45 percent of total ICT spending," says James Cheng, Singapore-based SMB Research Manager at AMI-Partners. "Basic computing hardware in the form of desktop and notebook PCs will continue to dominate Vietnam SMBs' spending this year. However, Internet, storage and security spending is likely to also grow at a fast clip." AMI's survey reveals that PC penetration among Vietnam-based SMBs was slightly above 50 percent in 2007. MBs are set to increase their adoption of mobility computing products such as notebook PCs this year. "Indeed, notebook spending among Vietnam-based MBs is likely to hit US$19 million this year, up 16 percent over 2007," Cheng said. "This is due to a rise in mobile employees. Up to 71 percent of MBs said in AMI surveys that they had a mobile workforce and want to increase the number of mobile employees in the future. This trend will ensure the continued rise in notebook spending by Vietnam MBs."
MBs in Vietnam invested about $199 million in 2007 on computing hardware alone. Though spending on basic computing infrastructure will continue to dominate the bulk of IT spend this year, strong growth in areas such as the Internet, storage and security will be evident. More MBs will require higher bandwidth to boost collaboration among employees, especially for mobile employees who need to stay connected while out of the office. Increasing amounts of data will continue to strain existing storage infrastructures. Hence, MBs may opt for storage management software to optimize current storage space. In addition, with increasing security threats on the horizon, there will be a continued focus on security to protect electronic data against virus attacks and sabotage.
"While investments in basic infrastructure will continue, the investment priorities for SMBs in the next 12 months will center on increasing bandwidth, improving storage and security capabilities to prepare for their next phase of organization growth," says Mr. Cheng. "This trend presents excellent business opportunities for channel partners to offer computing support, development and integration services in areas like storage and security." Vietnam is expected to continue its strong economic growth in 2008 and MBs are likely to be the direct beneficiaries. MBs will invest more in higher-end IT infrastructure to increase employee productivity and ensure better competitiveness. With Vietnam only at the beginning of an economic boom, IT vendors will do well to focus on this country and listen to the requirements of SMBs. Vietnam could very well prove to be their fastest growing market in the next few years.
Three local companies have won bids to set up gateways to handle international phone calls to and from Bangladesh, ending the monopoly of state-run BTTB. Novotel Limited, Mir Telecom and Bangla Trac Communications Ltd were declared winners yesterday after a marathon 26- hour auction that began at 10 in the morning on Monday at Radisson Water Garden hotel. In the auction, 31 qualified firms vied to set up the three international exchanges to share 65 percent of revenue from overseas incoming and outgoing calls. The companies will give the government 51.75 percent of the revenue. The remaining 15 percent and 20 percent of the total revenue will be shared by interconnection exchange and end users, local phone operators, respectively. The auction for interconnection exchange licence is scheduled to be held today.
The Patna Municipal Corporation is moving one step ahead in the direction of e-Governance initiatives with the launch of dynamic website www.patnanagarnigam.org, which provides digitally signed birth and registration certificate to people. ITI Limited, a wing of the Centres' communications ministry has developed a software. People would be able to get birth and death certificates without any delay. Besides that, any applicant will also be able to know about the status of demand with a click of the mouse. Around 100 companies had shown interest, but the ITI Limited was shortlisted for preparing the software. The State Government has already signed a proposal for making Patna as a metropolitan city that envisions the concept of "Greater Patna" that would also cover neighbouring Hajipur on the other side of Ganga. For this project, the Central Government has sanctioned INR 550 crore, including 313 crore for the construction of new houses for the poor, under Urban Basic Services Scheme for Patna.
Hughes India has signed an agreement with Comat Technologies to supply ten thousand broadband satellite terminals with its nationwide HughesNet satellite services and applications to be delivered at rural business centres across multiple states in India. The Hughes and and Comat consortium will roll out its kiosks in Sikkim, Tripura and various parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Uttaranchal through a competitive bidding process for the Government of India's Community Services Centres. So far, Hughes has delivered two thousand terminals and working closely with Comat to ensure smooth deployment of the HughesNet Fusion Services at these rural centers in the five states.
Earnings of state-owned telco AzTelekom increased by 23% in 2007, reports Azerbaijan Business Centre, without giving further details. It also reports that AzTelekom, held on behalf of the government by the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT), invested AZN20 million (USD23.66 million) on infrastructure projects last year. In total, 442km of fibre-optic links were installed, and 33,000 new lines were added in 2007, and digitisation of local exchanges continued; by the year-end over 70% of the PSTN had been upgraded, and the MCIT has stated that the process will be completed by the end of 2008.
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) has sold its 35.7% stake in leading cellco Azercell to Fintur Holdings, which already owned the other 64.3%. Fintur is a joint venture between TeliaSonera (58.55%) and Turkcell (41.45%). The State Property Committee has not disclosed the value of the deal, but said that auditors Ernst & Young had earlier valued the stake at USD180 million. According to TeleGeography¡¯s GlobalComms database, Azercell¡¯s network is available to around 99% of Azeris. At the end of 2007 it had over three million subscribers, giving it over two-thirds of the mobile market.
The value of Iran¡¯s technical and engineering exports has increased to $2 billion from $100 million ten years ago, signifying a 200-fold growth. ¡°Although the growth of the country¡¯s technical and engineering exports is remarkable, it is not satisfactory and needs greater government support to reach its potential,¡° Mohammad Aboutalebi, a board member of the Association of Technical and Engineering Services, said in an interview with IRNA. ¡°If the situation in Iraq stabilizes, the country could become one of our important target markets for export of technical and engineering services,¡° he added. The official mentioned Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Venezuela as other potential markets for export of these services. Persian Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are also among Iran¡¯s proven markets, he noted. Aboutalebi called for greater government support in such areas as banking, insurance and provision of the necessary information about the needs and regulations of potential customers of Iran¡¯s technical and engineering services. The Association of Technical and Engineering Services currently has 180 members.
Kazakhstan¡¯s largest mobile operator by subscribers, K-Cell, has deployed Telenity¡¯s Canvas short message service centre (SMSC) and multimedia messaging service centre (MMSC) on its GSM network. K-Cell says the new infrastructure is ready to support next generation services. ¡®We were looking for a messaging solution that would resolve our traffic peak, maintenance cost, flexible routing and revenue assurance issues,¡¯ stated Veysel Aral, CEO at K-Cell. The cellco, which is also known as GSM Kazakhstan or GSM-K, is a joint venture between Kazakhtelecom (49%) and Fintur Holdings (51%). It has around six million subscribers and a 53% share of the overall market according to TeleGeography¡¯s GlobalComms database.
Babilon-T and Huawei have signed a deal under which the latter will supply what it claims is central Asia¡¯s first commercial mobile WiMAX network. The planned infrastructure will cover the four major areas of Tajikistan, including the capital Dushanbe, with rollout starting immediately and a launch planned for sometime during the first quarter of 2008. ¡®Babilon-T is looking forward to implement wireless broadband access infrastructure nationally,¡¯ said Fayzullaev B, the company¡¯s General Director. ¡®By introducing mobile WiMAX technology, we will be able to provide our customers all over Tajikistan with broadband access to the Internet.¡¯
Knightsbridge Group company is ready to act as operator and investor for the broadband telecommunications project in Turkmenistan. This offer was made by the company head, Armen Sarkisian at a meeting with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on January 22. The guest underlined that Turkmenistan may become one of the first countries to introduce latest telecommunication systems. Armen Sarkisian also offered to modernize the Turkmenbashi port, develop energy cooperation and participate in hydrocarbon extraction and processing. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said that all proposals deserve serious and detailed consideration. The head of state invited Knightsbridge Group to consider a possibility of participation in international tenders for construction of cement factories in Turkmenistan.
In accordance with the Program on reconstruction and development of telecommunication networks of the Republic of Uzbekistan the JSC ¡°Uzbektelecom¡± offers, among others, the wireless services in CDMA-450 standard. Subsidiary ¡°Uzbektelecom Mobile¡± was set up in 2004 to realize this program. The key goal of this subsidiary is to develop a wireless network in Uzbekistan. Subsidiary ¡°Uzbektelecom Mobile¡± is also involved in implementation of state tasks, in particular, providing social structures including educational institutions, defence, medicine, post offices located in remote and difficult to access areas with telephone services. Based on a protocol decision taken on the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of 31 May 2005 ¡°On measures to provide mini-banks of the Republic with telephone services¡± data services have been launched on the wireless network of ¡°Uzbektelecom Mobile¡±. Now more than 200 mini-banks in rural areas enjoy these services.
CDMA-450 standard facilitates carrying out two governmental tasks: first is to provide all areas including remote areas with universal telecommunication services and second is to build the Internet network throughout the republic. In 2004 a wireless network of JSC ¡°Uzbektelecom¡± was put into operation in Djizzak province. The same year an opening ceremony was held in Bukhara to introduce a wireless network. Telephone services in CDMA-450 standard reached the Republic of Karakalpakistan, Khorezm, Bukhara, Navoi, Samarkand, Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya provinces. Further development of wireless network will enable offering the telephone, data services and Internet all over the country including the territories where laying of cables is not profitable. At the end of the XXth century new digital technologies made a splash on cellular services¡¯ market. The main reasons of success of CDMA is more broad zone of services, high quality of speech and flexibility in introducing new services.
This technology secures high protection and stability of channels and makes channels more attractive for all subscribers. CDMA standard is the most advanced and expensive and at the same time the most reliable and protected. Advantages of CDMA standard are in high speed of voice and data transmission including the original algorithms for data packing. To saturate the market with CDMA-450 terminals the subscribers are provided with different modifications of mobile phones and stationary terminals of type ACCESSTi. ACCESSTi is an interface between the standard phones (or telephone station) and mobile network CDMA 2000 1x frequency band 450MHz. This interface creates a direct connection between the telephone and mobile network. If you only have a stationary telephone then you can realize a voice connection directly with mobile network in CDMA-450 standard. Through connecting a telephone cable with ACCESSTi you are able to have an access to mobile network from your telephone bypassing a fixedline operator.
You also can call directly to the stationary telephone at home using a device on the terminal for incoming calls from mobile CDMA phone. These applications can be used in rural areas as well as in the cities where flexibility and prices are the key factors. This solution is also convenient to install payphones for occasional events such as exhibitions, trade or sport events. If you use UATS instead of one telephone the call is automatically routed to CDMA-phone and accesses ACCESSTi. In this case you only pay a charge from mobile instead of big price from stationary phone to mobile. The ACCESSTi is not only a voice interface, but also a wireless connection for data transmission. The ACCESSTi provides easy, reliable and highspeed access to the Internet (to 153Kbts). The network of subscribers¡¯ offices is being developed to create conditions to provide high quality services. To attract subscribers the subsidiary expanded a range of services offered including a second-based tarification for telephone calls, improvement of billing system. On 1 August 2007 the following tariff plans were introduced: A group of tariffs ¡°Stationary¡±. The tariff ¡°Stationary Unlimited¡± provides 7 thousand free calls for $18 per month within a registered zone.
In the same group there are the tariffs ¡°Stationary time-based tariff¡±, ¡°Luxary -stationary¡± ¨C the subscriber¡¯s payment is $1 including a 100 free of charge minutes within a registered zone. A group of tariffs ¡°Mobile¡±. Tariff ¡°Optimal¡± ¨C 7 thousand minutes for $35 per month within a registered zone. Tariff ¡°Inter-regional¡± ¨C 7 thousand minutes for $50 per month throughout Uzbekistan. Tariff ¡°Corporate¡± for subscribers (except physical persons and private businessman) using at least 10 mobile phones registered for one payer- 5 thousand minutes for $25 per month in registered zone. Tariff ¡°Exclusive¡± provides for $150 per six months including 7 thousand free minutes per month in registered zone. Tariff ¡°Comfort¡± provides 200 free minutes for $6,99 per month. Tariff ¡°Comfort 500¡± 500 minutes per month for $14,99. Tariff ¡°Standard + Internet¡± - $1,99, tariff ¡°Super Uzmobile¡± -$0,005 per day, tariff ¡°Delux¡±- $17 per month ¨C100 free outgoing calls. ¡°Uzbektelecom Mobile¡± plans to expand its network throughout Uzbekistan as well as to provide international automatic roaming, additional services such as SMS, SMSemail, SMSwed, VMS, MMS, mobile portal, different means of payment for services and many others.
From January 31 to February 2, 2008 the National Exhibition of the Republic of Uzbekistan was held within the framework of the next Uzbek-Turkmenian intergovernmental committee¡¯s meeting on bilateral cooperation. Extensive layout ¡°Information Technologies of Uzbekistan¡± was presented within that exhibition. The exhibition was organized in order to fulfill agreements and arrangements concluded in the course of the State visit of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan I.A.Karimov to Turkmenistan on 18-19 October 2007. Welcome speech to participants and those who organized that event was sent by Turkmenistan President Gurbanguli Berdimukhamedov expressing a confidence that such exhibitions will allow to expand the commercial and economic relations between two countries. National exhibition of such a scope is organized outside the Republic of Uzbekistan for the first time.
That exhibition was organized by the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Commerce of the Republic of Uzbekistan, company ¡°Uzexpocenter¡±, Uzbek and Turkmenian¡¯s Commerce and Industrial Chamber. The exhibition provided a good opportunity for business circles of Turkmenistan to be directly familiarized with products and services of more than 130 leading enterprises of Uzbekistan, organize a dialogue with potential partners. Thematic sections of the exhibition met priority directions in development of partnership between two countries. Within the framework of that exhibition a meeting between the First Deputy General Director of UzACI A.F.Izbosarov and Deputy Minister of Communications of Turkmenistan, General Director of ¡°Turkmentelecom¡± A.Ch. Berdinobatov was held. During the meeting they discussed a state and further development of bilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies.
ICT sector of Uzbekistan was presented as a special sector. The following IT-companies and organizations were represented in that sector: JSC ¡°Uzbektelecom¡± through its subsidiaries ¡°Uzbektelecom Mobile¡± and ¡°Engineer & Technical Center¡±; Tashkent University of Information Technologies; Center for training and support of young programmers; Company ¡°Koinot¡±; The Center for development and introduction of computer and information technologies ¡°UZINFOCOM¡±; Company ¡°BAIK Technologies¡±; Company ¡°Intelligent Solutions¡±; Journal ¡°InfoCOM.UZ¡±; Company ¡°Newmax technologies¡± The stand ¡°Information Technologies of Uzbekistan¡± was supported by Communications and Information Agency of Uzbekistan together with the Association of information technologies¡¯ enterprises and organizations of Uzbekistan. Joint Stock Company ¡°Uzbektelecom¡±, being the largest telecommunication operator in Uzbekistan, demonstrated a wide range of services including lease of channels by operators and providers of fixed-line and mobile services, data transmission, all kinds of voice and data services, access to the Internet, videoconferencing, mobile services in CDMA standard and others.
In the course of national exhibition the negotiations were held between JSC ¡°Uzbektelecom¡± and the Center of International Accounts and Agreements of Turkmenistan which resulted in conclusion of the agreement on upgrade of Internet channel for Turkmenistan up to 6Mbps, on additional telephone carriers from Turkmenistan International Switching Center to International Switching Center in Uzbekistan (ISC ¨C2 Bukhara city) with capacity 2xE1 as well as on direct transit of E1 carrier through Uzbekistan to Russia and Kazakhstan. The subsidiary ¡°Uzbektelecom Mobile¡± was presented in section ¡°Telecommunications¡±. Its main task is to develop a nationwide wireless system based on CDMA-450 standard. The information of ¡°Engineer & Technical Center¡± was also of great interest for Turkmenian specialists. This ¡°Engineer & Technical Center¡± is the biggest training center in Central Asia. Tashkent University of Information Technologies was presented in the section ¡°Education in IT sphere¡±. Practically all representatives of the Ministry of Higher Education of Turkmenistan attended a stand of Tashkent University of Information Technologies. In particular it was mostly interesting for young people of Turkmenistan.
The company ¡°Koinot¡± demonstrated its products in section ¡°Telecommunications¡± such as digital telephone exchanges convenient for rural areas, modems SHDSL-E1 for dedicated lines, signaling converters, optical multipliers, bridges Ethernet/E1 and other production manufactured in Uzbekistan by ¡°Koinot¡±. Products of that company are successfully deployed on telecommunications networks of Uzbekistan. The Center on Scientific & Technical and Marketing researches demonstrated its researches in the field of convergence of telecommunication networks and services; telecommunication networks management; inter-network connections and sending of different telecommunication services, traffic; information security; measures on protection of labor; standardization, metrology and certification; marketing researches; tariffs policy; information technologies and services; electromagnetic compatibility; post services; cryptography and crypto-analysis; monitoring over the existing normative documents; quality system; working out of software products; introduction of ICT terms to the state language; introduction of restorable sources of energy.
The Center for training and support of young programmers demonstrated the National operating system Doppix, which is being worked out within the project ¡°Localization of free and open software¡± launched in Spring of 2007. This project is aimed at working out and localization of national operating system distributive based on free and open software including operative system and a package of application programs. That Center and Turkmenian company ¡°AGA BIRLESHIK¡± had signed an Agreement on cooperation in developing, introduction of the modern software production. UZINFOCOM demonstrated its activity and in particular the activity of specialists of Service responding to computer incidents (UZ-CEPT). The visitors were informed on the program UZ-CERTified. That program is aimed at solving of one of the most actual tasks which is to inform the users of national segment of Internet on dangers and threat during their web-serfing. Company ¡°BAIK Technologies¡± demonstrated its works: System of e-document circulation ¡°Germes¡±, Terrasoft CRM, ¡°Virtual reception¡± and others.
During the exhibition a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between ¡°BAIK Technologies¡± and ¡°AGA BIRLESHIK¡± on cooperation in promotion their products on Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan markets. The company Newmax techologies informed on its activity, which was also interesting for visitors. Its products include a sale of different types of GPS , working out of monitoring systems and transport vehicles management based on satellite navigation technologies. Company has its own researches related to satellite navigation, digital cartography, geo-informatics and programming, company has a rich material base, experienced specialists, team of researchers and appropriate permissions. Practical results of its activity are monitoring system and transport control means ¡°maxTrack Online¡±, ¡°maxTrack Offline¡± and ¡°maxTrack Mobile¡±. Company ¡°Intelligent Solutions¡± was represented in the section ¡°Software products¡±. Company provides complex design solutions in the field of information technologies.
Company demonstrated its ready solutions: ¡°System of e-document circulation¡±, ¡°Integrated Banking System¡±, ¡°Billing System¡± and many others. The journal ¡°InfoCOM.UZ¡± signed the agreement with Turkmenian IT-company ¡°Taze dunya¡± on cooperation in the field of information. The company is involved in retail and wholesale sale of products such as computers, components, technique, software products development, installation and testing of communication facilities, protection and fire systems, video-observation and access control. To inform the visitors on status of ICT in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan the competitions in the form of a quiz were conducted at InfoCOM.UZ¡¯s stand during three days of exhibition. During competitions winners were granted modern mobile phones, fixed-line phones manufactured in Uzbekistan, USB-fleshes and other prizes. More than 2000 people attended the stand ¡°Information Technologies of Uzbekistan¡±. All Uzbekistan ICT enterprises and companies were represented by experienced specialists who were able to answer all the questions asked at the same time promoting their companies, services and products.
Adelaide-based Australian Satellite Services has installed a new hub on the U.S. west coast that will enable it to provide a range of IP-based broadband services to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Australian Satellite Communications Pty Lt (which trades as Australian Satellite Services) has purchased an iDirect 51F hub from VT Systems' subsidiary iDirect and plans to introduce both Ku-Band and C-Band services into Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. It already uses an iDirect hub to serve much of the Asia Pacific region but according to iDirect the new hub will enable it to provide high- speed connectivity to the oil and gas and maritime industries and support bandwidth-intensive IP applications that must function in real time. The new hub will also enable Australian Satellite Services to deliver Internet broadband, VoIP and other services to government, educational and non-profit organisations expanding their operations in the region. According to Australian Satellite Services' managing director, Chris Joseland, "The Asia Pacific region is so vast, and the applications for satellite communications so diverse that iDirect is the only platform capable of meeting all our business objectives. With iDirect's intelligent technology, we can combine users with diverse user profiles onto the same hub platform to save both space segment and capital costs, and pass on these benefits to our customers." According to iDirect, its group quality of service (QoS) feature will allow Australian Satellite Services to allocate bandwidth efficiently across remotes and tailor service levels to balance real-time and less critical applications that share a common network.
The Australian Local Government Association says below average internet access in the Northern Territory is taking millions of dollars out of the economy. One of the authors of the association's latest State of the Regions report says it's costing businesses $3 billion a year and is preventing innovative businesses from starting up. "What we're seeing is a broadening of the gap between the regions that are haves and the regions that are have nots," said the association's Ian Manning. "It certainly has been local government's long outstanding view that until every region in Australia is performing at its best, then Australia will not be performing at its best." Mr Manning says health and education services in remote areas would also benefit from better internet access. "These are especially important in the dispersed areas where your [access to] a high tech facility is compromised by transport costs and so therefore the benefit to the Territory of a proper roll out is so great that very considerable investment is justified."
The report also suggests climate change costs Australian households up to $17 billion each year. The figure is worked out by looking at the costs of a carbon price or tax, considering loss of productivity, and costs for securing water. The association's president Paul Bell says local governments have been dealing with climate change for ten years and the Commonwealth needs to be more involved. "Those arrangements need to be direct between local government and the Australian Government. That is the only way we're going to be able to solve this problem and we need to do it on a regional basis. That's where the best effects will come into play. That's the best way we've got of ensuring we can meet some substantive targets that will reduce the warming of our globe." The National General Assembly of Local Government is meeting during the next few days in Darwin.
THE National Australia Bank's online banking system has been ranked the least popular in a survey of 850 companies. The respondents rated the NAB's online platform 3.66 out of 10, according to the Business Banking Customer Satisfaction Monitor released by analysts East & Partners last week. St George was the best ranked with a score of 4.66. Over 40 per cent of respondents said they use online banking, which made it the second most popular channel for business banking behind relationship managers. The big four banks and St George managed an overall average score of 3.96 and senior manager, client advisory, Robert Morgan said this showed no bank had got their online platforms right. "There isn't much of a discrepancy between the banks. If the overall average rating is 3.96, that's quite a poor performance." The survey participants generate between $5 million and $500 million in revenue.
One of the United States' top technology gurus is warning that Australia will not be able to compete in the global economy if it does not greatly improve its broadband internet capabilities. Professor Larry Smarr from the University of California is collaborating with Melbourne University on a broadband connection 3,000 times faster than what is available to Australian consumers. This morning the two universities will unveil a broadband link between the two institutions which moves data at one gigabit per second. The quality and speed of Australia's broadband is below that of many other countries, according to Professor Smarr, one of the original architects of the internet. The initiative is being promoted by the Australian American Leadership Dialogue, which involves some of Australia's most influential business people, academics and politicians, including Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The federal Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) has this week announced the recipients of the latest round of funding for Tasmania's Intelligent Island initiative, along with several million dollars more in innovation grants across the country under its Commercial Ready program. After some concerns over the momentum of Intelligent Island late last year, DIISR and the Tasmanian Department of Economic Development announced that a further AU$6.1 million in grants have been distributed between seven Tasmanian ICT organisations in the penultimate round of funding for the Market Access and Partnership Program (MAPP), a component of the federally-bankrolled, state-administered AU$40 million initiative. Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon A further AU$15 million has been reserved for the funding of Tasmania's ICT Centre for Excellence, a joint project between the federal and Tasmanian state governments and the CSIRO.
"The successful commercial grants cover software development, commercialisation and market expansion across the tourism, defence, aquaculture, finance, e-learning and broadband entertainment industries," Tasmania's Premier, Paul Lennon, said in a statement. "In addition, a MAPP Special Grant was offered to TasIT, The Tasmanian Information Technology and Telecommunications Industry Association, to undertake an industry capability assessment for Tasmania," he added. According to Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the latest round of funding brings the total amount allocated under MAPP to AU$12.6 million. "Successful projects were assessed by an independent industry-based panel with some of the projects specifically chosen for the benefits they will deliver to the ICT sector as a whole," said Tasmanian Premier Lennon. Stan Kaine, CEO of security start-up Point Duty which won AU$1.1 million of funding under MAPP, said that the transition between federal administrations and bureaucracies -- the initiative had previously been administered by the federal Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts -- had only improved the process.
"From an industry view point the transition has been very smooth, we've had the chance to implement a lot of training and increase the talent pool ahead of the opening of the centre for excellence," said Kaine. DIISR published the details on Wednesday of nine other innovation grants given out to organisations across the country under its Commercial Ready program, including funding for an anti-counterfeiting technology being developed in Victoria, as well as a public transport management system being developed by another Victorian organisation for the Beijing Olympic Games.
THE Australia and New Zealand Banking Group will continue investment in Fiji by introducing new products and services, says the chief executive officer. Mike Smith, who is on a visit to Fiji, said the Pacific was an important market for the bank and this was underscored by the investment ANZ had made over the past few years in the region to deliver more convenient banking for customers. Smith said Fiji was one of ANZ's most important markets in the region. "We've been here for 128 years and over that time we have continued to invest in the business, our staff and the community," Mr Smith said. "Investments in technology will continue to play an important part of our future growth in Fiji and we will be rolling out a new internet banking platform for our customers over the next 18months," he said. "Already, our operations hub, Quest, is leading the way in the ICT industry in Fiji, creating employment and supporting our business across the Pacific and in Asia, Mr Smith said. "We can play a role in the future development of the region by continuing to invest in programs like our rural banking initiative, by working with companies and governments to facilitate private sector investment; and by providing support for sustainable industries in the region such as tourism, manufacturing and services," he said. Mr Smith's trip to Fiji is part of a program of visits to the Pacific following his appointment as CEO of the bank last October.
Industry development has been a tainted idea in New Zealand since the days of Rob Muldoon and Think Big. After our near economic meltdown in 1984, it became accepted on both sides of politics that government should not intervene in the market or attempt to ¡°pick winners¡±. But, as memories of Muldoon¡¯s big gambles fade, and as alternative strategies also fail to lift New Zealand¡¯s economic performance, a more measured kind of industry development has been moving quietly back into favour.
A trio of tenders, from the so-called tri-lateral agencies, this month has thrown these efforts into sharp relief. The agencies (comprising New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, The Foundation for Research Science and Technology, and the Tertiary Education Commission) have gone to tender for research reports on three development opportunities. These aim to deliver lasting benefit to New Zealand and to create high-value jobs, among other benefits. The identified opportunities include platform development in high temperature superconductors, titanium powder metallurgy, and ¡°JAIN SLEE¡± software. These are all areas in which New Zealand has significant expertise and which are expected to grow into major industries internationally.
Rural areas in Vanuatu, out of normal reach of bank branches, will soon enjoy access to modern banking services thanks to funding support from Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that will bring electronic banking and card-swipe technology as close as the local shop. National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) clients in rural areas will be able to use a plastic card with a magnetic strip to gain access to many financial services using electronic funds transfer point of sale (eftPOS) cards, or SmartCard technology. The technology will allow bank customers to have access to savings accounts, make deposits and withdrawals, or transfer money. ¡°This new branchless banking system will give many people in rural areas access to modern financial services for the first time,¡± said ADB Project Team Leader, Milovan Lucich. ¡°These services will help people living in Vanuatu¡¯s remote villages participate in sustainable, income-generating activities that contribute to economic growth.¡±
Many rural households in Vanuatu are without access to secure and convenient financial services. In some remote areas, government workers and teachers who receive salary payments into their bank accounts must make expensive, time-consuming trips to the nearest NBV branch to collect their money. Local farmers have resorted to burying their money in cans in the ground rather than face long trips to town to deposit money. The new electronic banking system will provide local access to secure and convenient banking services. ¡°The new technology allows us to provide a range of services aimed at meeting rural clients¡¯ banking needs and could be a model for expanding access to financial services throughout the Pacific,¡± says Bob Hughes, Managing Director of NBV. ¡°Once the system is established, we hope to use it to help facilitate microfinance loans.¡± The Japan Special Fund is providing a $600,000 technical assistance (TA) grant that will be managed by ADB. NBV will provide $150,000 to complete the funding. The TA is an extension of a successful rural microfinance outreach ADB/NBV project that supported the expansion and scaling up of rural and microfinance services in Vanuatu in 2002-2006.
The business model will use bank agents, such as local store owners, in rural communities who will be provided with the necessary technology and communications equipment to help the rural population open savings accounts and use account transaction facilities. At present, only 13% of the rural adult population have bank accounts, and an estimated 92,000 need financial services. Vanuatu is the third poorest country in the Pacific with a rising poverty index of 24.7, placing it 49th out of 102 developing countries and areas, based on a 2006 United Nations Development Program Human Development Report. The country has experienced rapid population growth and, until recently, a long period of sluggish economic performance. As a result, the current real per capita income is lower than it was 20 years ago.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced the creation of a global partnership with the Vodafone Group Foundation and the UN Foundation aimed at increasing the effectiveness of information and communications technology (ICT) response to major emergencies around the world. With a $4.3 million commitment from The Vodafone Group Foundation-United Nations Foundation Technology Partnership as well as a further $1.8 million contribution from the WFP, the initiative will develop the first-ever ICT training programme which will be open to the global community of humanitarian relief organizations, the food agency said in a news release. "Over the next three years, this partnership will help contribute to our work to help save millions of lives," said Josette Sheeran, WFP's Executive Director. "Better telecommunications mean we can respond faster and more efficiently, with much greater access to those in urgent need."
She added that WFP was greatly encouraged that The Vodafone Group Foundation and UN Foundation recognized that telecommunications are essential to food aid convoys, aircraft and medical teams delivering vital relief assistance. The focus of the partnership will be to standardize ICT solutions used by global aid organizations to speed the ability to set up critical communications networks in the immediate aftermath of a humanitarian crisis. Other aspects planned for the next three years include supporting the immediate deployment of rapid response ICT teams. Kathy Bushkin Calvin, Chief Operating Officer of the United Nations Foundation, pinted out that in 2007, aid groups responded to 19 major crises worldwide. "By investing in disaster response before disaster strikes, and by opening this partnership to the entire relief community, we know that this will help strengthen everyone's efforts on the ground." The programme builds on funding provided by the two Foundations in 2006 to research and develop ICT best practices.
A NEW report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, (UNCTAD) states that use of modern ICT gadgets like the mobile phones and net access are helping to narrow the digital bridge between the rich nations and emerging economies. The study finds that mobile telephones and telecentres support livelihoods in developing countries. "A decline in the cost of information and communication technology (ICT) has extended its use by the poor, who capitalise especially on information obtained by telephone to support livelihoods in agriculture and various small businesses", the new UNCTAD report says. The Information Economy Report 2007-2008 (1), released last week illustrates ICT contributions to poverty reduction by focusing on two examples: "The use of mobile telephones for conducting micro-business in Africa; and the creation of telecentres for the benefit of poor communities."
"Mobile telephony is rapidly progressing in the developing world. In Africa, there were 50 million new mobile subscribers in 2006, and in 2007 the total number of mobile subscriptions reached an estimated 200 million. This means an average of more than 20 active cell phones per 100 persons. Mobile telephony has practically replaced fixed lines in many countries." The reported noted that the flexibility and ease of mobile technology has led to its widespread use in business transactions, most particularly by very small firms or micro-businesses. "Basic, up-to-date information on prices and the weather, for example, often was not easily available in the past in Africa and Asia. Farmers and fishermen in India and Senegal now use mobile phones to get information on the weather and market prices which have a practical effect on short-term decision-making, such as when and where to sell produce. Small farmers in Uganda share their knowledge about agricultural production, and micro-businesses in Kenya gain access to credit by using mobile phones."
"An advantage both for the poor and for the developing countries they live in is the relative lack of infrastructure required for mobile phone systems. Compared with fixed-line telephony, mobile networks can be quickly and fairly inexpensively provided, as they do not depend on the installation of physical cables. In addition, mobile telephony can be based on prepaid subscriptions which do not require credit screening and complicated accounting and billing systems. And the ability of mobile phones to send short text messages expands the range of cheap communication available to the poor."Rural areas continue to be less well served in Africa. "Universal access to such phone service remains a challenge due to a lack of commercial distribution channels. High rates of poverty can make even less costly mobile phones too expensive, and low levels of education can make cell phone use difficult. One response to these challenges can come from government policies that encourage competition and investment in mobile telephony, that ensure a stable regulatory framework, and that take practical steps to spread ICT benefits to the poor," the report states.
Telecentres - namely, public facilities where people can communicate using phones, the Internet, and other forms of ICT, and where they can develop digital skills- have helped extend social and economic benefits to numerous poor. They are increasingly key programmes and policy instruments used by governments. Telecentres can support the livelihoods of the poverty-stricken by providing access to important information, by extending the development of technical and business skills, by giving better access to government services and to financial resources, and by aiding the activities of small entrepreneurs. To understand how telecentres support livelihoods among the poor, UNCTAD surveyed a number of telecentre networks in Bangladesh and India. The survey assessed which services telecentres are providing, who benefits from those services, and what are the key environmental and institutional factors that enable telecentres to help the poor raise living standards. The results show that most telecentres are concentrating on providing access to ICT and on developing basic ICT skills. In line with the type of services offered, telecentres are primarily used for information and education purposes. However, this is not sufficient for supporting the livelihoods of people living in poverty.
Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 GTO), the leader in digital security, today announced that it will provide leading Health Sector specialists ZZZS and Cetis with a comprehensive solution for the latest generation of electronic health cards for Slovenian citizens. This new electronic health card is the first of its kind in Europe to feature a Java public key infrastructure (PKI) that will further secure the online health system via a digital signature for health professionals. Gemalto's Coesys Issuance solution to be delivered in Slovenia consists of middleware, digital signature capabilities, software applications, applets and cards. Cetis, Slovenia's leader in security document printing will operate the personalization of the cards and the PKI infrastructure. ZZZS, the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia, in charge of the National Health Insurance Card System, will act as system integrator and will issue the cards to the citizens. The whole solution ensures backward compatibility with the existing infrastructure.
Mr. Marjan Suselj, Director of the HIC System Sector at ZZZS, comments: "Our eHealth 2010 strategic plan has the ambitious objective to inter-connect health information systems on the national level, ensuring eServices and transparent information to all relevant parties in a secure and efficient way. The Gemalto technology is one of the key enablers to put in place this eBusiness model for a common way of work in the Slovenian health sector by 2010". In 2000, Slovenia was among the very first countries, with France, to introduce microprocessor-based health cards. The country is now renewing and upgrading the two million e-health cards currently in circulation in the country. The latest generation of Gemalto e-health solutions for Slovenia will significantly enhance online services for health professionals by enabling them to go through their administrative tasks faster and exchange medical data and messages with hospitals and other health professionals in an easy and secure manner. "Gemalto is proud to contribute to this innovative project highlighting once again the pioneering role of Slovenia in the digital security arena" adds Jacques Seneca, Executive Vice President of Gemalto in charge of the Security Business Unit. "The introduction of this new PKI based solution is further evidence of Gemalto and its partners' commitment towards innovation that provides better security and convenience for governments and citizens".
On July 4, 1999, Minnesota experienced a "blowdown" -- a windstorm that flattened 600 square miles of forest in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. After a massive rescue effort of holiday visitors, the state was left with a very large fire hazard. "We had a fuel load that was in excess of anything we had seen before," said William Glesener, Firewise specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "Since then, we've had several fires up there, and we recognized that we needed to manage the Wildland/Urban Interface. So the state of Minnesota got on board with the national Firewise program, and started looking at things we could do, and things we might need in case of a catastrophic event." At the time, incident management teams were doing some mapping of homes. "Tom Eiber was the person in charge of the DNR's Firewise program at the time," said Glesener, and it soon became apparent that there was a lot at stake and a bigger view was needed. "We needed to know where the homes were," said Glesener, "where the hydrants were, where the fire stations, nursing homes and hospitals were." In addition, said Glesener, there was a need to track hazards to low-flying aircraft. "There are three different entities that are tracking stuff above the treeline," said Glesener. "The FCC tracks things that broadcast, the FAA tracks things that are over 110 feet tall, but you have a potential for a local building that is above the treeline but is not 110 feet tall such as a lookout of fire tower that isn't registered.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announced it has issued its first official approval of a wireless tracking system for use in underground mines. The approval was issued by MSHA's Approval and Certification Center to Venture Design Services Inc. for the MineTracer Miner Location Monitoring System. "Since the Sago Mine disaster, MSHA has received dozens of proposals from manufacturers and distributors of emergency communication and tracking systems," said Richard E. Stickler, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "This approved system provides a wireless means for mine operators to track miners underground both before and after an emergency event." The system components normally will be interconnected with low-voltage DC power cables; however, in the event of an emergency, the power cables become de-energized, and the system will resort to battery power and can remain operational wirelessly. Although not yet incorporated in the design, Venture Design intends to add text messaging and gas detection to the system in the future.
Since 2006, MSHA has issued 36 new or revised approvals for communications and tracking systems, including a hand-held portable radio, several leaky feeder systems and several radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking system components. MSHA currently is examining 41 additional communications and tracking approval applications, including several wireless communications and tracking systems. The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006 requires that each mine evacuation plan include provisions for tracking the pre-accident location of all underground miners. Furthermore, the MINER Act requires that mine operators adopt wireless communications and electronic tracking systems by June 2009. MSHA's Approval and Certification Center tests a wide range of mining equipment, components, instruments and materials to ensure that they meet government standards for safe design and construction. This work helps to ensure that the various products will not contribute to an explosion, fire, electrical failure, vehicle crash or other kind of accident.
A new video on pandemic flu preparation has been launched to help businesses, government agencies and community-based organizations prepare for the ongoing threat of what could be a catastrophic, world-wide event. Public Health Seattle & King County has launched Business Not As Usual: Preparing for Pandemic Flu, a 20-minute training video to help advance local preparedness efforts. The video is available online now at www.metrokc.gov/health/pandemicflu/video. A free DVD can also be ordered, which includes helpful planning materials. "It's essential that businesses, government and social service agencies can continue to provide critical services to the public during a severe pandemic flu, which will last for months," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "We developed this video to inspire and support local businesses and organizations in their preparations."
Created to assist workplace leaders and staff in their pandemic flu planning efforts, the video describes the threat of pandemic flu and what life might look like during an outbreak. It also shows the benefits of being ready, and provides practical tips for creating a plan. "Buildings are left standing, and the roads remain open, but the health impacts of a severe pandemic flu will be felt throughout our community," said Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health Seattle & King County. "Everyone will need to change how we do business when a pandemic flu comes, so it's important that everyone prepares now." The video profiles community leaders who share their experience in preparedness. The cast includes local leaders from Washington Mutual, Food Lifeline, Puget Sound Energy, Harborview Medical Center, Chinese Information and Service Center and the Seattle Fire Department. King County Executive Ron Sims and Public Health experts also offer their knowledge and experience in disaster preparation.
"At Food Lifeline, we've been working hard to create sound plans to prepare our staff and organization to respond effectively in times of disaster," said Linda Nagoette, President & CEO. "Whether the challenges we face are weather related or stem from pandemic flu, it's our responsibility as a service provider to be ready -- both at home, and at work." A pandemic flu is a new influenza virus that could be a much more serious flu virus than seen in a typical flu season. Different from the typical, seasonal strains of flu, humans would have no or little natural resistance to a new strain of influenza. Once a pandemic virus develops, it can spread rapidly causing outbreaks around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that as much as 25 percent to 30 percent of the United States population could be affected. In King County alone, a severe pandemic flu could make 540,000 people ill, 270,000 would need outpatient care, over 59,000 would need hospitalization, and 11,500 could die in the first six weeks of an outbreak.
Bristol Virginia Utilities (BVU) and the community it serves have been awarded the national 2008 Smart Community Award for their outstanding broadband and economic development initiatives. Sponsored by Last Mile magazine, the competition chooses two "smart communities" annually from across the country -- one with a population of more than 200,000 and another with a population of less than 200,000. The award recognizes municipalities that have bridged the digital divide. Tucson, Ariz., received the award for a community with a population of more than 200,000. Smart Communities are judged on their efforts to enable ubiquitous broadband access, further economic development, enhance public safety and education, employ innovative solutions in network deployment and application, and foster community involvement.
Sandy Crusenberry, Bristol Virginia Utilities' marketing and business development director, accepted the award on behalf of Bristol, Va., at the Digital City EXPO in Phoenix. Addressing Expo attendees, Crusenberry stated, "BVU's success is attributed to our dedication to providing excellent customer service and technical support, a forward-thinking management team, investment in 'future-proof' infrastructure and a trusting relationship built with our customers after over 60 years of providing electric service." BVU IS the first municipal utility in the nation to offer triple-play services over a fiber-to-the-user (FTTU) network, according to a release from the utility. BVU President and CEO Wes Rosenbalm said, "Bristol leaders and the BVU Board of Directors chose to invest in important infrastructure in order to make advanced broadband more accessible and affordable to local residents and businesses and to enhance the area's economic development opportunities and its citizens' quality of life. That decision took commitment to our community's future."
Today, ConnectKentucky was honored with the 2008 Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Award presented by the Alliance for Public Technology (APT). The award was presented during the APT 2008 awards luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The Hadden Award honors individuals and organizations which, like the award's namesake, advocate for widespread public access to advanced telecommunications. Until her passing in 1995, Dr. Hadden dedicated her career to the principle of "connecting each to all," defining a national vision for technology access. APT has presented the awards annually for 12 years. ConnectKentucky has garnered national, industry-wide recognition as a best-practice model for broadband expansion. The model includes extensive broadband mapping, a public-private partnership and local eCommunity Leadership Teams.
Brian Mefford, CEO of Connected Nation, ConnectKentucky's parent company, said "It is a significant honor for ConnectKentucky to be named among the Hadden Pioneer Award winners. It is a tremendous affirmation of the public and private partners, volunteers and telecommunication workers who have come together to make a difference in the lives of all Kentuckians. Through Connected Nation, we are replicating this work in other states and the Hadden Award acknowledges the importance of technology growth for every American." "ConnectKentucky provides an incredibly successful model for stimulating broadband build out and demand that should be adopted nationally," said APT President Kenneth Peres. "ConnectKentucky's comprehensive strategy of assessing broadband availability, identifying and aggregating demand through grassroots county planning teams, and bringing providers and users together through a private public partnership has resulted in an expansion of broadband availability that is both significant and measurable."
Cell phones equipped with applications such as web browser, global positioning system and multimedia function are getting popular among Chinese consumers. A survey released Thursday by the CCID Consulting showed that 31,668 people had been interviewed and 37 percent of them would like to choose cell phones with which they can surf online when they intended to buy a new one, while 33 percent hoped they could get one with the GPS function, a helpful tool to China's increasing car owners. More than 20 percent, mainly the young generation who put pieces of music in their cell phones and use it as a music player, said they would like one having a large storage disk. A similar proportion said they would use their new mobile phone to chat with online friends. CCID Vice President Lu Guoying estimated that Chinese mobile phone market will see booming purchase from 2008 to 2010, when many Chinese consumers change their cell phones for new ones. "It is an opportunity for mobile phone companies to raise their market share," said Lu. China is expected to manufacture 500 million sets of mobile phones in 2007, with 150 million to be sold in domestic market.
China's locally developed high-speed network for mobile phones will have the capacity to serve 50 million customers in 10 cities of the world's biggest wireless telephone market by users, according to an industry group. The so-called third-generation mobile-phone network may be introduced for commercial tests by users at the end of the first quarter, Jing Wang, secretary general of TD-SCDMA Forum, said in an interview in Hong Kong today. The network's capacity will exceed South Korea's population of 49 million. ``The network is already big enough for commercial deployment and the government may expand it to other cities if the commercial tests produce positive results,'' said Steven Liu, a Hong Kong- based telecommunications analyst at DBS Vickers Ltd. ``The technology is quite reliable as it has already undergone a lot of testing since 2005.'' China Mobile Communications Corp. may invest as much as 26 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) on infrastructure and handsets for the network, Wang said. The government hasn't set a timetable for issuing 3G licenses or said how many it will grant. The high-speed standard allows users to video conference and offers quicker downloads from the Internet.
China Mobile Communications, which owns 74 percent of Hong Kong-listed China Mobile Ltd., is building the network based on the time-division synchronous code division multiple access technology in eight of the cities including Beijing and Guangzhou. TD-SCDMA is one of three standards chosen for 3G mobile-phone services in the country. The parent companies of fixed-line operators China Telecom Corp. and China Netcom Group Corp. are also building TD-SCDMA networks. High-speed licenses will be issued by the government if testing of the TD-SCDMA network is successful, Wang said. The mobile operators may face increased competition, with China Telecom and China Netcom also seeking 3G licenses. At present the fixed-line carriers are losing customers to the wireless companies, which are offering reduced rates and are targeting smaller towns and villages to win users. China gained a record 8.1 million mobile-phone subscribers in October, raising the total to 531.4 million at the end of the month, according to government data. The number of fixed-line subscribers fell by 977,000 to 370.7 million, the government said.
China Mobile Communications may this month seek bids for mobile phones to be used on the TD-SCDMA network, Wang said. ZTE Corp. said in June it won orders from China Mobile Communications for equipment worth 2.37 billion yuan ($320 million) to build the TD-SCDMA network. The Shenzhen, south China-based company will also submit bids to supply TD-SCDMA handsets to the mobile-phone company, President Yin Yimin said in April. TD-SCDMA Forum, a group promoting the technology, counts China Mobile Communications and handset providers such as Huawei Technologies Co. as members. Apart from TD-SCDMA, the government is endorsing the wideband CDMA and CDMA2000 standards for 3G services in the country.
The number of Chinese broadband users has hit 122 million, the highest in the world, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday, citing an official from the information industry authority. Sixty percent of the netizens surfed on the Internet via broadband, said Jiang Yaoping, vice minister of the ministry of information industry, at a work conference of China Telecommunications Corporation on Saturday. Last year, more than 30 percent of China Telecom's income came from non-phone services, rising from 5.5 percent in 2002, the report said. One-third of the new broadband users are farmers, where the demand for the service is high, China Telecom officials said. The increased user number boosted the non-voice income of fixed-phone carriers, accelerating the transformation of traditional phone carriers into comprehensive information service providers, the report said.
Chinese phone users are now less reluctant to check their phone bills as efforts to reform the monopoly industry resulted in a 13.6 percent drop in 2007 in overall telecommunication charges in China. It means the cost have reduced by half in the past five years, said Information Industry Minister Wang Xudong at a work conference on Wednesday. He added that "a preliminary market-oriented pricing system has been established." He did not mention the specific amount or how the cost was calculated. A spokesman for the ministry was not available for comment. As more Chinese accused the telecommunication industry, dominated by several state-owned giants, for reaping handsome profits by charging monopolistic prices, the government urged the companies to offer lower pricing packages. China Mobile started to offer charge packages that offer free incoming calls in February, a major change promoted by the Ministry of Information Industry early in 2007. Similar packages were also adopted by rival China Unicom.
Chinese mobile operators used to charge both the caller and the receiver. Price cuts did not bring down the mobile operator profits because the 539 million Chinese mobile users were encouraged to make more phone calls. China Mobile registered 37.9 billion yuan net profits (5.19 billion US dollars), up 25.7 percent in the first half. But the fixed line operators reported profit losses as mobile operators won more customers with cheaper prices. The rapid proliferation of mobile phones in China has made the traditional fixed-line less attractive. While 39.9 percent of the population have a mobile phone, only 28.3 percent have fixed-lines. The telecom business volume reached 1,680.86 billion yuan, up 27 percent in the first 11 months last year, and the business revenue amounted to 663.92 billion yuan, up 10.9 percent.
The number of Internet users in China soared past 200 million in 2007, a new report from the country's quasi-government Internet overseer said Thursday. The Industry Standard China's Internet population stood at 210 million at the end of last year, up 53 percent from the same time in 2006 when there were 137 million, the China Internet Network Information Centre said in its semi-annual report on Internet use here. That figure puts China just 5 million users away from becoming the world's largest wired nation and with only about 16 percent of the population online. At its current growth rate, China will become the world's top Internet market sometime in the next few months. The greatest growth came from users under 18 and over 30, CNNIC said. One of the most surprising statistics from the new report indicates that about 40 percent of users added over the last year, over 29 million, came from rural areas. Even in the January 2007 report, the vast majority of Chinese Netizens were based in major urban areas such as Beijing and Shanghai. Also surprising among the new results is that China's most popular Internet application is online music, used by 86.6 percent of those surveyed, followed by instant messaging with 81 percent. E-mail placed only fifth, with 56.5 percent using it.
CNNIC's survey provides the most reliable information about Internet use in China, although its methodology is translucent at best. It does not reveal its sample size, nor does it reveal what consists of an Internet user except that the person used the Internet at least once in the month prior to when the survey was taken. While the new statistics may seem impressive, it highlights how Internet usage in the country still lags behind mobile phone use, and how even greater usage could be spurred by more access through wireless devices. "China's admittedly impressive user statistics hide an important fact: only a fraction of those users have regular access to a PC," said David Wolf, CEO of Wolf Group Asia, a Beijing-based technology consultancy. Despite limited PC access for some users, Chinese Internet users have embraced the Internet as a means of expression. "In addition to an increase in overall numbers, you also see a rise in the number of Netizens creating content on BBS and blogs, making Chinese Netizens some of the most active participants in the Web 2.0 phenomena in the world," said Sam Flemming, founder and CEO of CIC, an Internet word of mouth monitoring firm based in Shanghai.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is for the first time allowing athletes to write internet journals or blogs at this year's Beijing Olympics. In its guidelines the IOC said athletes could write only about their own Olympic-related experience. They must not release Olympic video or audio material or confidential information. The IOC says the decision reflects the fact that blogging is a legitimate form of personal expression. Human Rights groups repeatedly complain that China restricts internet access for its own citizens.
High school girls are the biggest users of mobile phone Internet and text services, accessing them for an average of two hours and four minutes a day, according to a Cabinet Office survey. High school boys were next, going online on their cell phone for an average of one hour 32 minutes a day. Middle school girls accessed services for an average of one hour 19 minutes, and middle school boys for one hour 11 minutes, the survey on youngsters and the information society found. The poll also found that 27.3 percent of primary school students, 53.4 percent of middle school students, and 95.2 percent of high school students had their own mobile phone. The survey questioned 5,000 people aged 10-29 and 2,000 parents and guardians of 10-17-year-olds in March. Valid responses were given by 49.4 percent of the youngsters and 57.3 percent of guardians. Findings of the survey were released Saturday.
Japanese already use cellphones to shop, read novels, exchange email, search for restaurants and take video clips. Now, they're taking a university course. Cyber University, the nation's only university to offer all classes only on the Internet, began offering a class on the mysteries of the pyramids on mobile phones Wednesday. For classes for personal computers, the lecture downloads play on the monitor as text and images in the middle, and a smaller video of the lecturer shows in the corner, complete with sound. The cellphone version, which pops up as streaming video on the handset's tiny screen, plays just the Power Point images. In a demonstration Wednesday at a Tokyo hotel, an image of the pyramids popped up on the screen and changed to a text image as a professor's voice played from the handset speakers. Cyber University, which opened in April with government approval to give bachelor's degrees, has 1 850 students. The virtual campus is 71 percent owned by Softbank, a major Japanese mobile carrier, which also has broadband operations and offers online gaming, shopping and electronic stock trading services.
The cellphone lectures may be expanded to other courses but for now will be for the pyramids course, according to Cyber University, which offers about 100 courses, including ancient Chinese culture, online journalism and English literature. Unlike the other classes, the one on cell phones will be available to the public for free, although viewers must pay phone fees. The catch is the lectures can only be seen on some Softbank phones. The service may be expanded to other carriers, officials said. Sakuji Yoshimura, who heads Cyber University and gives the pyramids course, said the university gives educational opportunities for people who find it hard to attend real-life universities, including those with jobs, the handicapped and the sick. "Our duty as educators is to respond to the needs of people who want to learn," Yoshimura said. He scoffed at those who question the value of Internet and cellphone classes, noting attendance is relatively high at 86 percent. Whether students play the lecture downloads to the end can be monitored by the university digitally, officials said. Although real-time exchange with professors and other students isn't possible in Net classes, social networking and other cyber-discussions are flourishing, said Hiroshi Kawahara, professor in the Faculty of Information Technology and Business.
The Education, Science and Technology Ministry has decided to instruct Cyber University to improve a system under which the college gave students credits without confirming their identities, it has been learned. The Fukuoka-based open university provides students with four-year courses with all the lectures online, allowing them to take classes on the Internet from any location. Unlike an ordinary open university, the university does not provide any lectures in classrooms, promoting itself as a school where a student can be certified as a college graduate without ever having to go to a campus. However, according to sources, the university was yet to confirm the identity of about 200 of the 620 students currently enrolled. It also is believed to have given most of the 200 students lecture credits, which are required to graduate from the college. Taking these facts into consideration, the ministry concluded the college is probably violating the university establishment standards, which stipulate that universities give credits only to students who take lectures. The ministry will consider issuing the university with improvement advice under the School Education Law, if the college does not complete confirming the identity of all students by April, the sources said. The university, headed by Sakuji Yoshimura, a well-known Egyptologist, was opened in April by Fukuoka-based Japan Cyber Educational Institute, Ltd., in which SoftBank Corp. holds a 71 percent share.
It has two faculties, covering information technology and world heritage studies. Students have to pay at least 2.6 million yen in tuition to graduate from the university. In autumn 2006, when giving approval for the establishment of the university, the University Chartering and School Juridical Person Council, an advisory panel to the education, science and technology minister, pointed out several problems, including the university's likely difficulty in checking whether students had really listened to online lectures. The council then suggested 11 aspects in which the university needed to improve, including: The need to confirm students' identity when they are admitted to the college and take classes online, as well as when the university gives them credits and reviews their graduation qualification. The need to conduct a face-to-face orientation when students are admitted to the college. In response to the council's suggestions, the university said it would set up a system in which students are unable to take online classes without an IC card. However, the university has yet to start the IC card system. In addition, under the current system, anyone can listen to online classes by logging in using IDs and passwords given to students.
Under this system, the university has certified students' credits for the first semester of the 2007 academic year, using information based on the history of those who took classes and results of examinations held online. The ministry had earlier approved a system in which the college confirms students' identities through a camera installed on a PC. But the university has never confirmed the identity of the 200 students in question using the camera system, or in person. In such circumstances, students could have someone else take classes and examinations online to obtain credits to graduate from the university. The ministry therefore decided to instruct the university to improve its system, citing the possibility that the school might not meet the university establishment standards. "If we receive an instruction from the ministry, we'll accept it in good faith. We'd like to complete the identity confirmation of all the students by April," Kaiya Watanabe, the university's secretary general, said.
Two leading websites in China and Japan will join hands for the coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, it was announced on Tuesday. China.org.cn and the Japanese website Searchina hoped to promote the Beijing event in Japan through their strategic partnership, according to a press conference in Beijing. As a major news website under the State Council Information Office, China.org.cn provides China-related news in nine languages and basic information about China to users from more than 200 countries and regions. To get readers better informed about the upcoming summer Olympics, the website has launched a sub-site, offering netizens the latest Olympic news in eight languages, including Japanese. The Japanese version provides Olympic news, background information, photos and comments, thus opening a window and a communication platform for Japanese people. Its partner, Searchina.ne.jp is the biggest Japanese website offering China-related information and has 270,000 registered members in China. The cooperation will enable Searchina.ne.jp to obtain more news resources from its partner, and China.org.cn will expand its influence in Japan. In February, Searchina.ne.jp will provide Japanese tourists with selected culinary information in Beijing via www.gnavi.co.jp. In March 2008 the two websites will open a new program - "The Olympics through Beijing Residents' Lens", inviting users to record the Games-related scenes via camera phones and present a real and live Games to Japanese sport fans.
The education ministry will issue a warning to Japan¡¯s first all-Internet university to more diligently confirm the identities of students to prevent the use of ringers posing as students. Cyber University is operated by Japan Cyber Educational Institute, a SoftBank subsidiary established in January 2006, and began offering courses to the public in April 2007. According to the Asahi Shimbun: When the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology approved the establishment of Cyber University in November 2006, it asked the school to confirm the identities of students through an orientation process that involved direct interviews. Students of the university can listen to lectures and take tests over the Internet, including on mobile handsets of course, without actually going to campus. But that means other people could do all the work for students to gain the credits needed for a degree. Cyber University chief Sakuji Yoshimura, a visiting professor of Waseda University specializing in Egyptology, said the university would make stronger efforts to confirm the identities of students before they enter the university as well as use mobile phones to confirm that the student is actually attending a ¡°lecture.¡±
Goryeong-gun in Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang Province) is one of the five least-inhabited counties in Korea. But around 1,500 years ago, it was a seat of power for the Gaya Confederacy (45 - 532) of chiefdoms. Though the county has only 35 thousand residents and five computer game rooms, well developed IT technology in its homes, businesses and schools keep Goryeong residents up to date with the other parts of the peninsula. Goryeong county council members attend virtual meetings via laptops and Internet connections. Participants can follow and join in proceedings by listening to real-time radio broadcasts thanks to the so called ¡°e-assembly system.¡± The Goryeong-gun Office injected 94 million won to establish the online, paperless meeting system that allows users to read electronic documents on the Web and hear input via an IP broadcasting system that delivers the discussions countywide through real-time radio broadcasts. The system increases efficiency by reducing the number of paper documents -- and hence printing costs -- and saving commuting time for members who live in outlying areas. According to Goryeong-gun officials, the county expects to pocket up to 20 million a year just by doing away with printing paper and toner outlays. Meanwhile, Gangwon-do (Province) is to open an exhibition hall that will introduce the history of computers at an information village spread out over its two towns of Hwangdun and Songgye.
By opening the exhibition hall, the provincial office expects that the residents can gain a better understanding of IT technology. The information village, Invil for short, is the first of its kind and the product of a national government-backed test run in 2000. The display will show more than 70 machines, including computers, printers, monitors, telephones, facsimiles, modems, LAN cards, cables, software programs, electronic calculators and program drivers. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) has been spearheading the drive for information-networked rural villages since 2001 as part of efforts to narrow the information gap between cities and rural areas. More than 300 Invil residents benefited greatly from the government¡¯s distribution of computers and the network training that came with it. Since the introduction of e-commerce or direct selling of goods through websites, the county saw an extra 50 percent in profits from sales during the first year in 2001. It provided great motivation for farmers to open their own homepages. Nowadays the county has 30 percent of its goods sold online. The number of information villages is expected to reach 338 at the end of 2007.
Elementary school students from this year will scroll and click through digital textbooks and interact with teachers online. The Education and Human Resources Development Ministry and the Korea Education and Research Information Service said Thursday (Jan. 17) that 20 elementary schools as early as March will start using digital textbooks for six subjects -- Korean, English, mathematics, sociology, science and music. The digital textbook is operated on digital media such as a personal computer using wired or wireless networks. It goes beyond a conventional textbook by using features such as video, animation, virtual reality and hyperlinks. The digitized book also includes student handbook, workbook, dictionary and reference materials that are updated when needed. Connection is also available to the databases of different organizations, so that students can access and download much more information than just those in textbooks. Korea since 2002 has been developing digital textbooks. They were tested on 300 students at four elementary schools in 2006, and the government selected the prototype for the books last year.
Before the project¡¯s implementation starts in March, the ministry will focus on developing content, multimedia resources and teaching methods. Selected schools will get electronic blackboards and wireless Internet service as well as training for teachers. Twenty elementary schools this year will use digitized textbooks, and the number will jump to 100 elementary, middle and high schools nationwide by 2011. A 2006 ministry report said students with average or poor grades showed great academic improvement after using the digital textbooks. Studies have also found that electronic material is effective in attracting academic interest in students, and that students are more capable of self-learning when using the Internet and multimedia resources for school.
A free E-learning campaign (http://e-campaign.kdu.edu) targeting multicultural families in Korea has begun nationwide service. A joint project between the Gender Equality and Family Ministry and Korea Digital University, the site offers service in Korean, English, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese. People can receive free workbooks upon request by calling (02) 6361-1962~6. Unlike regular Korean sites that demand personal registration numbers, one can easily become a member of the e-campaign simply by inputting name, address and nationality. To heighten accessibility, the site uses big letters and icons with national flags. A click of one of those flags showcases major news and embassy information for each nationality. ¡°I know well from personal experience how difficult and lonely it can be living in a foreign place,¡± said Korea Digital University President Kim Choong-soon, who lived in the United States in the 1960s. He began the venture in 2001. Joint Agreement signed between Jang Ha-jin (3rd left) minister of Gender Equality and Kim Choong-soon (2nd to right), president of Korea Digital University on Jan. 10, 2008.¡°To acquire the language and become familiar with the culture are even more important then financial support,¡± he said.
Yum Chul-hyun, a professor of continuing education and dean of student affairs at the university, said, ¡°We are determined not to make this just a one-time event. We have been working on this idea for years through conducting field studies and launching pilot programs in provinces.¡± The Korea Language & Culture Center at Korea University created the content. The provinces of Jeollanam-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do provide administrative support and the country¡¯s largest steel maker POSCO financial support. The free bulletin board is filled with greetings from new study members in English, Vietnamese and even passable Korean, all warmly welcomed by the Webmaster. ¡°We want to make people feel as welcome as possible and understand why they need to learn,¡± Yum said. ¡°That¡¯s because this is the way to realize a happy family; to make your foreign spouse and in-laws understand you and create a chance to upgrade yourself in Korea through education.¡± Participants needed little convincing, as their passion to learn matched the enthusiasm of the campaign. ¡°Before launching pilot online programs last year, our campaign team traveled to 45 cities and counties in two provinces reputed to have large numbers of marriage migrants,¡± Yum said.
¡°(The provinces of) Gyeongsangbuk-do and Jeollanam-do were where we held one-day offline classes to first teach residents how to use the Internet.¡± ¡°Young women with babies or little children continued to show up, sometimes accompanied by their husbands. They listened despite crying and screaming from their little ones, demonstrating once more how desperate they were for an opportunity like this.¡± Statistics speak louder than words. Between August 20 last year and January 16 this year, 4,875 foreigners joined the Web site. The digital university received 1,063 inquiries via phone or e-mail and distributed more than 16,000 workbooks so far. Certificates went to 941 foreign women who completed all of the courses. Jo Nam-sik, a Korean husband married to Chinese woman writes letter to the education center on behalf of his wife.¡°POSCO, which provides financial support for the e-campaign, promised to do so for the next three years,¡± Yum said. ¡°In accordance, we have completed our plans for the next three years.¡± This includes adding more languages to the site, as Thai and Mongolian sections will open March 3.
The level of Korean service will also be expanded. ¡°Things will be different once these people learn to read and write Korean up to a reasonable level,¡± Yum said. ¡°They can learn whatever they want from there, even prepare for college. Thanks to Korea¡¯s high-tech infrastructure, there are cyber colleges all around that aren¡¯t too expensive. They might consider taking advantage of that.¡± For example, Filipinas who acquire a teaching certification can work as English teachers. Gyeongsangnam-do (province) is hiring foreign women who speak fluent English and Korean as language instructors. The e-campaign is also setting up a separate education program for Korean spouses and friends. Many households in the provinces had harbored a traditional patriarchal mindset in demanding that foreign wives forget their roots and completely turn Korean. It took time for the Koreans to realize the unfairness and prejudice of that demand. ¡°We are launching language and culture programs, this time for the Korean side of the family in the exact same format but in Vietnamese,¡± Yum said. ¡°This is not easy but no longer a matter of choice.¡± Women proudly showing certificate for completing all the e-Campaign education course¡°Communication and understanding is a two-way road.
The happiness of your family and children who¡¯ll grow up to become valuable members of society depends on it.¡± Vietnamese leader Nong Duc Manh during his state visit last year asked Korea to treat Vietnamese brides well. ¡°We immediately sent letters to the Vietnamese Embassy in Seoul and the Korean Embassy and prime minister¡¯s office in Hanoi that we are trying,¡± Yum said. ¡°Big and small movements in Korea are trying.¡± Online classes in Vietnamese for Korean families will be the first to launch within this year. Those for other languages are expected to follow later. Yum said the percentage of multicultural families in Korea has reached around two percent of the population. ¡°The number is rapidly rising and when it reaches five percent, Korea will be a certified multicultural society,¡± he said.
Korea¡¯s main air gateway Incheon International Airport aims to cut the time required for departure procedures through a new mobile airport service. The Incheon International Airport Corporation and Korea¡¯s largest mobile communications operator SK Telecom began Tuesday (Jan. 29) mobile ticketing service for customers flying Asiana Airlines. Service for Korean Air will begin next month. The new service is expected to greatly reduce the time required for departure procedures, which is usually between 60 and 90 minutes per person. Users can log on to SK¡¯s Web portal (www.nate.com) by pressing 2486 and the ¡°Nate¡± button on their cell phones. They should then press ¡°Mobile check-in¡± menu on the site to enter the ticket menu page. Reservation and personal identification numbers must be input into a cell phone to use the system and select a seat. Once all procedures are complete, users receive a barcode image on their cell phones. They then must present the bar code image at automatic ticket machines to receive boarding passes. The fee for the service is 1,100 won. The service is only available on the departure date. If passengers have luggage, they can use a special booth for mobile airport service users. The airport corporation also aims to expand its mobile airport service to other types of users, by cooperating with other mobile communication providers.
A free internet phone service will be available between Korea and Japan starting Thursday, a local service provider revealed Wednesday (Feb. 13). Samsung Networks Co., which provides free internet phone call service ¡°Samsung Wyz070¡± announced it has joined hands with Japan¡¯s Softbank BB Corp., to provide free internet phone service between the two countries. The partnership between Samsung Wyz070 and Softbank BB is the first attempt in the world to bring two countries together through free internet telephony. Samsung Networks is one of the country¡¯s leading information and communication service providers. Samsung Wyz070 is the first commercial Internet telephony service that comes with a variety of easy-to-use add-ons. Softbank BB, for its part, provides a ¡°BB Communicator¡± service that allows one to make internet phone calls through softphone, USB phone, phone adapter and other methods. Phone adapter is the most popular in kind Japan for allowing one to use internet phone through an existing phone. Softbank BB, which began its commercial service in April, 2004 has about 5 million subscribers there.
Samsung Networks intends to engage in aggressive marketing towards individuals with friends, families or relatives in Japan, or domestic companies with various business arrangements or branch offices in Japan. ¡°Samsung Networks will also pursue strategic partnerships with other internet counterparts in the United States, China, Europe and other regions based on our superior technology and know-how, thus making a breakthrough in price fees for international calls,¡± an official at telephony division of Samsung Networks said. Samsung Wyz070 is Korea¡¯s first commercial internet telephony service that permits free phone calls between subscribers, combined with a variety of additional services. The system charges 49 won minute for international calls to countries like the U.S. and China. It is also the first to commercialize dual-mode phones that can be used as cell phones outdoors and as internet phones indoors.
In Mongolia, mapping is nothing new. Mongol armies mapped their marching routes and camp sites in the 13th century. Antique maps dating back to 1803, unveiled this year on a state website, show watch-posts along the Russian border and boundaries of pre-communist political alliances. Most recently, mapping in Mongolia has gone high-tech as scientists map the natural environment using geographic information systems (GIS), or computer mapping software, along with satellite imagery. With lots of nature and few people (less than half a percent of Mongolia¡¯s land mass is urban), mapping in Mongolia has come to mean mapping the environment: watersheds, shifts in grazing land, mineral deposits, and animal populations. This Friday, Mongolia¡¯s GIS community will look to its urban areas for new mapping ideas. The National University of Mongolia has invited MondoMap, an American mapping firm, to the second national workshop on, ¡°Application of Remote Sensing /GIS for the Mongolian Environment¡±. MondoMap will be the odd man out, since the company maps business districts in crowded cities rather than land degradation, desertification or forest fires. The new focus on urban areas is exactly why the event organizer, Prof. Dr. Tsolmon Renchin, Director of NUM-ITC-UNESCO Remote Sensing/GIS Laboratory, is interested to hear from MondoMap. Dr. Renchin invited roughly 80 researchers, mining company representatives, scientists, students and others interested in sharing their GIS skills, to the December 7th conference, to be held in Ulaanbaatar in the Mongolia-Japan Center.
¡°GIS¡± is a new sector in Mongolia, and a relatively new term here, says Dr. Renchin. The meeting is aimed at looking for new applications in GIS. MondoMap¡¯s idea is certainly new to Mongolian map makers who are used to mapping natural phenomena. B. Batmunkh, MondoMap¡¯s product developer, will have 15 minutes to present the company¡¯s urban approach to computer mapping - How MondoMap creates interactive online maps of commercial neighborhoods and business districts. The maps show a detailed diagram of the shapes and locations of each business in an area. The stores are color-coded by category to let users highlight restaurants, shops, salons, theaters and so on. The system lets the user link to a business website and to online reviews. The purpose of the maps is clearly commercial, but according to Batmunkh, they still have something to offer a scientific audience. The GIS platform, which MondoMap built in-house, is highly interactive and may spark ideas on how to serve environmental maps on the Web. Batmunkh also plans to share his thoughts on how environmental studies can be combined with business on the Web, and how commercial maps have a purpose even in Mongolia, where GIS will more likely help you understand horse populations in the countryside than let you find restaurants in Mongolia¡¯s capital, Ulaanbaatar.
Attention parents! Textbooks will be free online for your children starting August this year. The government is buying the copyrights for standardized textbooks used from grade school to senior high levels and will post them online for easy and convenient downloading. The "book reform program" eliminates the monopoly of publishers -- including state-owned Balai Pustaka -- over production and distribution of textbooks said Sugiyanto, head of the books at the Education Ministry. Based on ministry calculations, he said, the per student cost of textbooks was at least Rp 200,000 (US$21.6) each semester, meaning books were simply not affordable for many students. Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) last year found many parents had a hard time buying expensive textbooks, only to find they weren't reusable. Confirming this, Sugiyanto said publishers often revised books every semester, forcing students to buy the new versions because those from the previous school year had become "out-of-date". "This practice that only benefits publishers is very common in this country," he told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.
He said that, absent the need for revisions, books would be usable for a give-year period under the program. Along with this program, the government will also make sure teachers don't try to sell textbooks directly to students at the beginning of the school year, a practice prohibited by a 2005 ministry regulation. Sugiyanto said the program represented the implementation a new Education Ministry regulation on education textbooks. "The policy stipulates that there will be no monopoly on book writing, reproducing, publishing and distribution by the government or other parties." According to him, the ministry has already purchased the rights to reproduce 37 books and planned to buy copyrights for 250 others this year. Copyright deals range between Rp 100 million and Rp 175 million per book. "The materials from the selected books will be uploaded onto websites and the public can download them for personal use."
Sugiyanto said publishers would be allowed to reprint and sell books, but at prices controlled by the government. "We're still calculating the highest prices allowed for publishers to sell the books." President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said recently the government hoped the program would see the price of textbooks drop by at least a third. According to Sugiyanto, the President is scheduled to launch the program between Aug. 1 and 9 this year. Then, with an Internet connection, books can downloaded from www.sibi.or.id or a separate online system of the ministry. The government has allocated around Rp 700 billion this year to help students purchase textbooks through the School Operational Aid (BOS) program. Ministry general-secretary Dodi Nandika previously said schools in the future could use the funds to help students pay to print downloaded materials.
Bursa Malaysia Securities Clearing Sdn Bhd has introduced the central matching facility (CMF), an automated settlement system which is centralised on Bursa Malaysia's settlement infrastructure. In a statement yesterday, Bursa Malaysia said the CMF would provide a more effective and faster matching of settlement for institutional trades in line with the exchange's commitment to achieve greater operational efficiency. It said the CMF would allow clearing participants, which comprised stockbroking companies and custodian banks, to automatically and electronically match trade and settlement details which were previously done manually. ¡°With CMF, files of the matched record for depository transfer and institutional settlement service (ISS) transactions can be produced. ¡°Additionally, CMF automates the creation of the instruction and confirmation of ISS transactions,¡± it said. Bursa Malaysia said the process improvement would reduce clearing participants' workload, minimise settlement errors, eliminate human intervention and provide immediate confirmation of trade details. Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Yusli Mohd Yusoff said the CMF was a significant development for the bourse as part of its continuous efforts to provide new value-added services to help improve the delivery channel. ¡°The CMF will provide an efficient clearing and settlement service that is in line with international best practices and standards,¡± he said.
MALACCA: Malacca has launched a WiFi service to cover the entire state. The Wireless Melaka project hopes to cover 70% of populated areas and deliver low cost Internet access, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam. ¡°I am very happy that wireless Internet access is now available in three locations ¨C two at MITC (Melaka International Trade Centre) and at UiTM (Universiti Teknologi Mara) on Jalan Hang Tuah,¡± he told a press conference yesterday. He said the service would be implemented in three phases at a cost of RM2.5mil, adding that the state government had asked the consortium handling the project for Internet access at parklands and subsidised access fees for students and the poor. Wireless Melaka is a consortium formed by Melaka ICT Holdings Sdn Bhd, The Red Snapper (M) Sdn Bhd and Jaring Communications Sdn Bhd which would build and operate the service. Red Snapper executive chairman Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff said the first phase covering 45% of the populated areas would be ready within six months with micro-cellular base stations installed in Melaka Tengah (38), Jasin (3) and Alor Gajah (3). To register for the service, visit www.jaring.my. Payment schemes are available are RM5 per day, RM20 (one month) and RM50 (three months).
The Crystal Mosque at the Islamic Civilisation Park in Pulau Wan Man here is to have wireless broadband access. The mosque made of crystal shine glass and steel foundation is also equipped with the latest ICT facilities where sermons could be aired via the Internet. Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the mosque is an icon, not only for Malaysia but also at a global level. The mosque is part of the RM250mil Islamic Civilisation Park situated on a 23 ha site and is under the East Coast Economic Region (ECER). Idris said the park has attracted a steady flow of visitors since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi opened it on Feb 3. "The park saw an arrival of 700,000 visitors in six days since its opening where the spillover affect from the enormous crowd, vastly benefited the local business fraternity and food operators," he said.
PUTRAJAYA: An electronic study aide aimed at helping Year One primary pupils improve their language proficiency would be introduced to certain schools as a pilot project. Education Ministry Deputy director-general (Schools) Datuk Noor Rezan Bapoo Hashim said E-Guru was a locally-developed electronic reader to improve pupils¡¯ skills in five languages ¨C English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, Tamil and Arabic. ¡°Pupils need only point at a word in their book, and the electronic reader will give the right pronunciation of the word,¡± she said in an interview. For example, a Year One pupil who is learning Mathematics would be able to place the cursor on a number or word in the textbook and hear it being said.
¡°By using the E-Guru, we hope the pupils will be able to continually practise at home what they have learnt in school,¡± she said. She said one of the main reasons why pupils faced problems in the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English or J-QAF (Jawi, Quran, Arabic and Fardhu Ain) was their inability to grasp the languages concerned. Noor Rezan said the pilot project would involve 15 Year One pupils in six schools ¨C SK Subang Jaya, SK Taman Kepong, SK Seri Anggerik, SK Bandar Tun Razak (2), SJKC Lick Hung and SJKT Tun Sambanthan. Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein will launch the project at SJKC Lick Hung in Subang Jaya today.
The country¡¯s procurement law is enough to prevent anomalous and transparent government procurement of information and communications technology infrastructure, goods and consulting services, a government executive told INQUIRER.net. ¡°A lot of things are blamed in the law. Implementation is often the problem,¡± said lawyer Ruby Alvarez, executive director of the Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), when asked about her opinion about the recent controversial deals related to large ICT infrastructure projects like the National Broadband Network (NBN). Alvarez admitted that there are ¡°no perfect laws¡± that would address every unique government bids, including those involving highly sophisticated projects like the NBN. She also said that ¡°laws can be abused.¡± ¡°When they passed the [Government Procurement Reform Act], it was not meant to really capture the uniqueness of every procurement activities like ICT,¡± she said as she stressed that the country¡¯s procurement law has been considered ¡°world-class.¡± She also stressed that there is no need to change the current procurement law to suit a specific industry. The GPPB, however, is not closing its doors to any initiatives from government to improve transparency in government procurement.
Alvarez said the Bureau of Internal Revenue has, for instance, come up with a procurement manual that has provided certain guidelines on how to deal with ICT procurement. Under the law, large ICT infrastructure projects follow the ¡°lowest-calculated bid¡± rule, which means government agencies award a contract to suppliers found to have the lowest price bid after evaluation. ICT consulting services, however, follow the ¡°highest rated bid,¡± where government awards a contract to a supplier that gets the highest rating based on the financial and non-financial requirements by a proponent. Alvarez said that government proponents, under the law, have the discretion to determine which category a certain government ICT project falls under. GPBB is a quasi-legislative body currently attached to the Department of Budget and Management. In November 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Executive Order 662-A, creating the Procurement Transparency Group (PTG), a multi-agency body that taps at least five non-government organizations or civil society organizations to ¡°enhance¡± transparency in government procurement. The PTG is composed of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, the National Economic Development Authority, the Department of Justice, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Interior and Local Government and five NGOs or civil society organizations. Alvarez said that GPPB now acts as the secretariat of the PTG. ¡°This group hopes to strengthen our partnership with civil society organizations especially in the monitoring of government projects,¡± she added.
Some 150 public high schools under the Smart Schools Program (SSP) nationwide will soon have their own websites. Grethel A. Mende, a professor at the Holy Name University in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, explained how important a website is to a school. ¡°Before, people don¡¯t know where Holy Name is. But now, we even have an online enrollment. Students just have to log in to know the subjects offered for the semester. As teachers, we can also use the website to upload the students¡¯ grades,¡± she said. Mende, whose school is a member of the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep), an industry-academe partnership of Smart Communications Inc. that aims to improve the level of technology and engineering education in the country, is one of the 72 faculty members from the universities and colleges nationwide who have been trained and tasked to create websites for the Smart Schools. The training was recently held in Manila and covered a 16-hour course on designing and developing websites, and deploying and maintaining websites.
It was to equip the participants with the capability to set up basic website, to impart the training to teachers in the Smart Schools, and to provide technical support. ¡°With the training and guidelines given to us, we already have an idea of how the process will take place and to implement it according to the needs of our ¡®partner schools¡¯,¡± said Reymund L. Sabay of the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, Bacolod City. The trainees are required to finish setting up websites for the public high schools assigned to them by Smart before the year ends. The project is part of the Smart Schools Program content component, a flagship community service initiative of Smart that promotes information communications technology in basic education, provides internet connection, access to online content, and training to teachers from deserving public high schools. Online content is already being made available through the website www.smartschools.ph. and the weekly e-newsletters maintained by Smart that feature contributions from teachers and students of partner schools.
From today, senior citizens can learn to make voice-calls over the Internet, meet friends online and play computer games at senior-friendly learning hubs located in the heartlands. The first of such hubs, called the Silver Infocomm Junction (SIJ), was launched this morning at the Retired & Senior Volunteer Programme (Singapore), or RSVP Singapore in short, by Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan. The SIJ is part of a three-year Silver Infocomm Initiative under the Intelligent Nation 2015 (iN2015) masterplan to equip 30,000 senior citizens with digital lifestyle skills and knowledge. Under the iN2015 masterplan, co-created by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the industry, there is an aim for every Singaporean to benefit from infocomm as the nation progresses into the Digital Age.
Engaging the Elderly By 2030, one in every five Singapore residents or almost 20 per cent of total resident population will be above 65 years old 1. To ensure that our seniors can stay economically active and independent through infocomm skills, IDA will work closely with Volunteer Welfare Organisations (VWOs) and the industry to establish at least eight SIJs over the next three years.
Silver Infocomm Day - Learn and Play With Infocomm For Free Some 400 senior citizens are expected to participate in talks and workshops organised for free by SIJ@RSVP on the first annual Silver Infocomm Day held in conjunction with the Active Ageing Festival led by the Council for the Third Age. To commemorate this day, seniors are treated to a plethora of infocomm activities like tips on choosing a broadband package, how to set up wired and wireless home networking, getting onto Second Life and playing the Nintendo Wii to keep fit.
Silver Infocomm Ambassadors - By Seniors for Seniors As a start, IDA leverages RSVP¡¯s current team of Cyberguides to impart their infocomm knowledge to help fellow seniors overcome their fear of technology and realise the benefits of infocomm skills. IDA will continue to groom infocomm-savvy seniors into Silver Infocomm Ambassadors to advocate a digital lifestyle and influence their peers to join the infocomm bandwagon. ¡°I never thought my knowledge in Skype can benefit my friends here at SIJ@RSVP. My friends tell me that they feel so much more comfortable asking someone their own age about something they are uncomfortable with, like IT,¡± said Mr Chong Seng Choy, 69, who joined RSVP in 1999 and is currently helping as a trainer and tutor for RSVP Cyberguide programme.
Equipping the Needy Since 1999, IDA¡¯s NEU PC programme has helped equip 24,000 needy households with a computer bundle. To ensure that no school-going child is denied a computer, an extra mile financial support is made available for NEU PC Plus applicants who are unable to co-pay the subsidised computer and broadband bundle of S$285. Called the iNSPIRE Fund, this support will assist some 4,000 students from needy households over the next four years. Students can render community service in order to receive a fully-paid desktop PC. IDA¡¯s iNSPIRE Fund will be administered by the Singapore Children¡¯s Society. Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF), who have collaborated with the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre to promote volunteerism, is already a corporate donor of the iNSPIRE Fund. Maybank has also pledged its support.
Empowering the Disabled By mid 2008, an Infocomm Accessibility Centre (IA Centre), housed within the premise of the Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD), will be fully operational. With upcoming facilities to include an Infocomm Assistive Technology (AT) library and vocational training services, the IA Centre is co-funded by IDA and the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), including support from the industry. It will train some 4,000 people with disabilities over the next three years to help increase their self-independence and job prospects. IDA and SPD are already working with commercial training providers and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) on structured training curriculum such as Digital Imaging, Web Animation, Network and Database Management for the disabled community (visually and hearing-impaired, and physically-challenged). More than 100 trainees have attended the basic and intermediate courses since September this year. Trainees who show potential may join the apprenticeship programme to enhance their work-readiness.
Abu Dhabi: The UAE would assist Bangladesh Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment in setting up an internet-based system to assist jobseekers, said Bangladesh Embassy in a statement. Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka¡¯abi, the UAE Labour Minister, assured Dr Iftekhar Ahmad Chowdhury, Foreign Adviser, who is in Abu Dhabi for a labour conference. They also decided to set up a joint committee to implement the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Dhaka during the UAE minister's recent visit to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Railway (BR) introduced 'computerised seat reservation and ticket selling system' (CSRTS) for Rajshahi Railway Station. BR Western General Manager AKM Musfikur Rahman formally inaugurated the CSRTS system at Rajshahi Railway Station on Monday. Railway passengers now could buy tickets in advance and reserve seats without any tussle. The authority will also be able to manage the accounts smoothly and accurately. Mushfikur Rahman informed that the system would be introduced soon at 21 railway stations including Khulna, Iswardi, Santahar, Parbatipur, Dinajpur and Gaibandha.
ITU, in partnership with national carrier Bhutan Telecom Ltd (BTL), embarked on connectivity Dagana VoIP Project to expand the VoIP service to ten isolated communities in the remote province of Dagana, Bhutan. ITU contributed USD 413 500 from its TELECOM Surplus Programme to provide Bhutan with the equipment for the VoIP network, as well as with the services of experts in designing intelligent networks (IN) and billing systems. Since June 2006, villagers, entrepreneurs, and schools in rural Bhutan are now subscribed to VoIP services and local government staff are using telephone and fax to communicate regularly with the central government in the capital city of Thimphu. Some subscribers also run public calling offices (PCO) at shop premises, where anyone can make local, domestic and international long-distance telephone calls according to a BTL-prescribed tariff. People no longer have to walk miles to make a telephone call as the "last mile" connectivity is now a reality in homes and schools in rural Bhutan.
Raipur, Dec 15 : Bio-metric passports, bearing finger prints and other biological features of the holder, will be introduced from next year, External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said today. Speaking at a function after inaugurating the regional passport office here in Chhattisgarh this evening, he said these bio-metric features would ensure that passports were not forged. ''Besides, it will also help detect other irregularities in obtaining travel document,'' he added. Stating that steps have already been initiated to issue e-passports, also known as bio-metric passports, by 2008, the Union Minister said these passports would contain a chip with all the personal particulars, facial image and the prescribed bio-metric features of the holders. Pointing out that all 34 passport offices in the country were fully computerised, he said there was scope to make further improvements by introducing better and latest information technology solutions that have become available as a result of rapidly growing IT. He said there was also a need to further simplify the procedures to reduce paper work to the barest minimum. Mr Mukherjee said the government had entrusted the National Institute of Smart government (NISG), Hyderabad, with the task of undertaking a time-bound study on the passport issuance system, including it IT aspects. The NISG has already submitted its report, which has been accepted by the government, he added. Union Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed said more than 13,000 passports were issued by regional passport office Bhopal to the people of Chhattisgarh. In the first eleven months of this year, he said, more than 15,000 passports have already been issued to applicants from Chhattisgarh. He pointed out that the number of passport applicants from Chhattisgarh was expected top be around 17,000 this year. Expressing his gratitude to External Affairs Minister for opening a passport office in Raipur, Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh urged the Centre to upgrade the Mana airport in the state capital as an international airport. Former Union Ministers Motilal Vora, Mr V C Shukla, former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, ministers, MPs and MLAs were among those present.
Soon, citizens of Delhi will get traffic alerts on their mobile phones via SMS. The Delhi Government is planning to install a hi-tech traffic information system (TIS), which will give alerts about traffic jams and help them in avoiding jams. The TIS system will provide information, suggestions on alternate routes and bus timings via SMS. It will also be able to provide traffic density data in the form of map. Bangalore-based Mapunity Information Services is designing the TIS system. Mapunity has a tied up with Airtel and all users of the service would show up on the TIS map. Users of the mobile service provider act as representative samples.
The Power Department of Mizoram (India) has introduced a new service to pay electric bills through Internet within Aizawl. Now, people in the state capital pay their bills through the Internet for which they should have an account and Internet banking facilities of State Bank of India and Axis Bank. The state power department has signed an agreement with the Mumbai based IndiaIdeas.com Private Limited (Bill Desk), which has already many agreements with several banks having core banking facility in the country.
The Reserve Bank of India has launched an e-Portal (www.ict.cab.org.in) on information and communication technology (ICT) enabled financial inclusion efforts of banks. The e-portal is developed by the College of Agricultural Banking (CAB), a premier training institution of the Reserve Bank of India based in Pune, India. The e-portal provides a platform for sharing of knowledge and experience of banks in this area and, therefore, may have the potential to aid in leapfrogging the extension of formal financial services to the hitherto unserved population. The e-portal has various useful sections containing policy initiatives by the Government of India and the Reserve Bank of India, their implementations by banks and other financial institutions, international experiences, a knowledge bank containing relevant articles/research papers, case studies, presentations and video clips, various related upcoming events and news items, ICT solutions and other useful links.
From April 1, 2008 individual and corporate taxpayers who pay INR 50,000 and more as tax in a single payment may have to make the payment electronically. According to the sources in the Finance Ministry, a formal announcement to this effect from the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is expected shortly. Mandatory e-payment of taxes will boost the CBDT's effort to capture data and "mine" it better to check evasion and fraudulent claims. The move is expected to bring up to 3 million companies and other large tax payers under the purview of mandatory e-payment from the next fiscal year. E-payments of direct taxes are currently optional, though e-filing for companies and certain categories of taxpayers is mandatory. Such payments accounted for less than one per cent of net direct tax payments of INR 2,30,090 crore in 2006-07. Filing electronic returns is likely to continue to be optional for individual taxpayers. Mandatory e-filing of returns was first introduced in 2006-07 for corporations and then extended to cover partnership firms, businesses and professionals whose accounts are statutorily audited in 2007-08. Tax assessees can pay taxes online through their Internet banking accounts at 17 designated banks including the State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank. On the indirect taxes side, electronic payment of service tax is mandatory for assessees who paid service tax of INR 50 lakh or above in 2006-07.
Azeri telco Caspian American Telecommunications (CATEL) has installed a new base station in the Kurdamir region of central Azerbaijan, and is in the process of commissioning another in the north-western region of Agstafa, reports Azerbaijan Business Centre (abc.com). CATEL offers both fixed wireless and cellular services via its CDMA2000 infrastructure. Its mobile offering, FONEX, was launched in January 2006. Coverage is concentrated in Baku and the Absheron Peninsula, but it is gradually expanding across the country. According to TeleGeography¡¯s GlobalComms database, CATEL had an estimated 30,000 subscribers to its FONEX service at the end of 2007. The total capacity of its network is reported to be 50,000 numbers.
Zain Iraq, the local subsidiary of neighbouring Kuwait¡¯s cellular giant Zain, has said it will expand its network coverage to the whole of Iraq by the end of 2008, according to Reuters. The Zain Group acquired rival cellco Iraqna from Egyptian group Orascom late last year for USD1.2 billion, and is in the process of consolidating the two Iraqi networks. Ali Dahwi, CEO of Zain Iraq, said, ¡®We have 7.5 million subscribers in the centre and the south of the country. However, we just opened a new service in Kirkuk and we are building our network in Diyala, Tikrit, Anbar and Sulaimaniya. Over the next two months, we will see our service set up in these areas and by the end of the year we should cover the whole of Iraq.¡¯ Zain bought Iraqna late last year after the Egyptian-owned operator failed to win a licence to continue the operations it began after the US-led invasion of 2003. Iraqna had been forced to tie up with Kurdish operator Korek Telecom, which had won a concession, but was sold to Zain after the partnership failed.
Iran¡¯s Radio Communication & Regulation Organisation (RCRO) says it expects to begin its WiMAX licensing process soon. Mahmoud Khosravi, president of RCRO, has told local news agency MOBNA that the regulator will shortly be reviewing the licence terms and will then launch a tender to offer three WiMAX concessions per province. He added that incentives may be offered to ensure that operators deploy networks in rural regions as well as the more lucrative urban areas.
The number of cellphone SIM cards delivered to subscribers in the past two years was twice the number made available to the public in the past 11 years, announced managing director of Mobile Communications Company of Iran (MCI) on Saturday. Vahid Sadouqi elaborated that based on plans, the first operator will deliver about 10 million SIM cards by March 2008, Fars news agency wrote. He noted that the first operator currently has 21.5 million regular and prepaid SIM card subscribers, indicating a 150-percent growth compared to the 8.5 million subscribers in the year to March 2007. On chargeable SIM cards, he said that the demand for these SIM cards have been met and added that delivery of one million prepaid SIM cards will begin next week. The official termed the sale of chargeable cards through MCI.IR website as the one of programs to promote online trading, adding that over two million people have so far registered online. First operator ranks second in the region after Turkcell with over 34 million of subscribers, Sadouqi stated earlier, adding that Irancell stands 10th in the region with 5.7 million subscribers. Cellphone penetration rate in Iran currently stands at over 33 percent but the country still has a long way to go to achieve satisfactory conditions. The number of cellphone users has surpassed those for fixed phones across the country for the first time this year.
Iran ranks second in the Middle East and 35th in the world in term of the number of cell phone subscribers. Mobile Communications Company of Iran (MCI) announced that over 15 million new subscribers have received cell phone SIM cards in the past two years. In other words, the number of mobile phone SIM cards delivered to subscribers in the past two years was equal to the number made available in the 13 years to 2005, a fax by MCI Public Relations Office sent to Iran Daily reported on Monday. The number of subscribers of first mobile phone operator reached 22 million as the country celebrates the 29th anniversary of the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution (Ten-Day Dawn, Feb. 1-11). Iran ranks second in the Middle East and 35th in the world in term of the number of cell phone subscribers. More than 2.5 million people have registered online for regular and credit SIM cards from the company. Cell phone penetration rate in Iran currently stands at over 31 percent but the country still has a long way to go to achieve satisfactory conditions since the country ranks 13th in the Middle East in this regard.
Turkey¡¯s Court of State has refused an application by Turkcell to delay the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP), which is scheduled to be in place by the end of 2008. The decision can be challenged by the cellco.
The number of mobile users in Uzbekistan exceeded 6 million as of 10 January 2008, Uzbek agency for communication and information (UzACI) said Thursday. Rapid development of mobile communication networks and strong growth of the number of mobile subscribers have been observed in the country in the past five years. If in November 2005 there were 1 million mobile users in Uzbekistan, in early 2007 their number reached 2.7 million. During last year, the quantity of mobile subscribers increased by 3.1 million, comprising 5.8 million at the year end, UzACI press service said. To compare, during 2006 the growth of mobile users made up 1.5 million. Currently, there are five mobile operators in Uzbekistan, including MTS-Uzbekistan (Uzdunrobita, GSM), Unitel (Beeline trade mark, GSM), COSCOM (GSM), Perfectum Mobile (Rubicon Wireless Communication, CDMA) and Uzbektelecom Mobile (Uzmobile trade mark,
Internet access across the the Territory lags behind the rest of the country, according to the latest report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Internet use in the Northern Territory has almost doubled over the past five years, but areas of Darwin have some of the lowest broadband connectivity in any capital city. These areas include Lee Point and the Leanyer Swamp, as well as Litchfield and Winnellie in the rural area, And while remote internet connectivity has more than doubled in the last five years, from 17 per cent to 42 per cent, the rate in remote regions of the Northern Territory is amongst the lowest in outback Australia. The ABS says there is still a 24 percentage point difference in connectivity between major cities and very remote Australia.
The Australian Local Government Association (LGA) has released its latest State of the Regions Report, calling for better broadband access and government action on climate change. The national general assembly of local government is meeting during the next few days in Darwin. The report suggests that climate change costs Australian households up to $17 billion each year. The figure is worked out by looking at the costs of a carbon price or tax, considering loss of productivity and costs for securing water. Association president Paul Bell says local governments have been dealing with climate change for 10 years and the Commonwealth needs to be more involved. "Those arrangements need to be direct between local government and the Australian Government," he said. "That is the only way we're going to be able to solve this problem and we need to do it on a regional basis - that's where the best effects will come into play.
"That's the best way we've got of ensuring we can meet some substantive targets that will reduce the warming of our globe." The report also says broadband must be boosted to make Australia internationally competitive. Mr Bell says inferior internet access is constraining business activity and it is important for the new Labor Government to quickly address the issue. "What we're seeing is a broadening of the gap between the regions that are haves and the regions that are have-nots," he said. "It certainly has been local government's long-outstanding view that until every region in Australia is performing at its best, then Australia will not be performing at its best."
Education Minister Julia Gillard says the Federal Government will work with universities to make sure new teachers have the skills to use computers in the classroom. Ms Gillard says schools will be able to apply for funding from March next year under the $1 billion program, which aims to ensure every student from year nine to year 12 has access to a computer. She has told The 7.30 Report there will also be a focus on professional development for teachers. "For the future, we will be working with the deans of education, the people who oversight the education of the next generation of teachers, to make sure curriculum is appropriate to ensuring those teachers come out into schools ready to use computers in classrooms as a learning aid," she said.
'Serious on accountability' Ms Gillard also says the new Federal Government is serious about improving ministerial accountability. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today unveiled a code of conduct requiring ministers to sell shareholdings or have them managed at arms length, and banning them from working in some fields for a year after they have left office. Under the code, electoral fundraising at the Prime Minister's official residences is prohibited and lobbyists will have to put their names on a public register. Ms Gillard says the Prime Minister intends to lift accountability standards. "He's serious, he means business about this and he means to improve the standards and accountability of government," she said. "He will be setting, indeed he has set through this code, the benchmarks for Ministers to live up to and people will be held to account."
The Queensland Government says tunnels, busways and smart card tickets will revolutionise public transport in the south-east of the state. But the Opposition says the card is years behind schedule. Acting Premier Paul Lucas has inspected work on the tunnel for Brisbane's Eastern Busway, which will link bayside suburbs with the University of Queensland. He also says the long-awaited public transport "smart card" will be ready in a month or two. "In the not too distant future or else we can take legal action if we need to," he said. The Opposition's Tim Nicholls says the "Go Card" is not just long-awaited, it is long overdue. "This year isn't the much vaunted year of infrastructure delivery," he said. Mr Nicholls also claims drivers are quickly learning how to avoid being caught by the Government's new fixed speed cameras. But Mr Lucas says the cameras are doing their job as part of a wider road safety strategy.
Hale St Bridge Meanwhile, the State Government has indicated it could take control of work on Brisbane's Hale Street Bridge if the City Council (BCC) fails to minimise potential traffic delays. The Government and the Council have been at odds after it was revealed that an upgrade to an adjoining intersection would cause major delays on Coronation Drive.Lord Mayor Campbell Newman today announced he would scrap the intersection upgrade in a bid to kick-start work on the bridge. But Mr Lucas says the council has two weeks to address the issue before the state considers what action to take. "If the BCC is not capable of managing these projects adequately, the state will then look as to what action it has to take to step in to take control of the project," he said. "I don't want to do that, we should be able to expect the BCC to be able to manage a project without giving people a 40 to 50 minute extra traffic delay going into work, let alone the extra 20 to 30 minutes going home."
Australia's broadband connection to the rest of the world is set to be revolutionised with a new high speed link. The Optl-Portal link will provide real-time, high-definition interaction. One of its advantages will be to advance medical procedures and scientific research. The link could enable surgeons to carry out emergency surgery in other countries using a robot, or the exploration of the Great Barrier Reef from Melbourne.
Australian broadband users are getting more out of their Internet connections although prices have remained static, a report from the Internet Industry Association (IIA) has found. "What our most recent survey found was that the prices haven't changed but the capacities of people's connections are increasing," Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association (IIA), said. According to Coroneos, competition between ISPs is driving increased capacity: "Ours is one of the most competitive industries in Australia in terms of the number of players. We identified as many as 600 ISPs of all descriptions at year's end 2007." Despite the diversity of Australian ISPs, the IIA research found that it was mainly competition between the big names that was most beneficial to customers. The report found that data caps, particularly those offered by large providers, were being increased substantially to satisfy the high usage patterns of Australian broadband users. The report concludes that the average cost of data was AU$80/gigabyte at the start of 2007 but fell to AU$52/gigabyte by the end of the year.
Despite the promising statistics, Coroneos said: "A broader question from the research is what can be done to reduce the underlying cost of data in Australia." He told ZDNet.com.au today that he believes "Australia still has a way to go in terms of utilising the real possibilities of broadband," and said the relationship between broadband, industry and innovation will be critical in the years to come. "It will fundamentally become what electricity was to industry 150 years ago," he said. "That's the kind of the trajectory we're on, heading towards the industrialisation of broadband." The IIA chief executive predicted that 2008 will see even greater competition on the capacity front, as some ISPs prepare their business plans with the increased overseas capacity enabled by the Pipe Pacific Cable in mind. "How fast is fast enough is really a question of end-user expectations, the Internet as a whole is being underutilised at the moment," he said. While Coroneos believes that the Pipe cable has already had an effect on the broadband market even before its construction, some industry watchers have been more reserved in their judgement. Guy Cranswick, senior analyst at research firm IBRS, told ZDNet.com.au that "it is absolutely impossible to say right now" how the cable will affect retail broadband pricing.
Australia has been ranked seventh in the world in a new report rating countries on how effectively they use technology, ahead of EU powerhouses such as Germany and France. The report, compiled by Professor Leonard Waverman of the London Business School for Nokia Siemens Networks, rates countries according to how effective their use of ICT is relative their economic performance. Waverman divided countries into two separate categories: innovation driven economies and resource and efficiency driven economies, as determined by the World Economic Forum. Among the innovation-driven economies, the US topped the rankings with a final score of 6.97/10, while Australia was given a score of 5.93/10, ahead of Germany, France, Korea, Hong Kong, Italy and Spain. Russia topped the list of resource and efficiency driven economies with a score 6.11/10, beating Malaysia and Mexico, and ranked well ahead of China and India, which scored 3.42/10 and 1.68/10 respectively.
According to the report, Russia ranked well in its category due to its higher levels of literacy and the emphasis on social development through technology usage. "What the report does show is that there's a lot more work ahead of us, despite Australia ranking ahead of a number of EU countries," said Sheryle Moon, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association. "It also talks about investing in complementary capital and workplace training which I think is very important," she said. "Australia's ranking is fair given the kinds of indicators they use. It correlates well with the European Union index and other studies like it, but this report definitely draws the connections between the infrastructure, the hardware and its usage patterns to determine where economies sit." The study concluded that economic growth in innovation driven economies will increasingly depend on how the workforce adapts to new technologies.
"This study is a call to arms for government and businesses. In a period of great economic uncertainty there are great benefits to be gained from the effective use of communications infrastructure," Professor Ilkka Lakaniemi, head of global political dialogue at Nokia Siemens Networks, said in a statement. "The use of connectivity technologies might be compared to the way Internet usage has evolved in recent years," he added. "Even the most advanced countries today have achieved only a first generation of connectivity, unable or unwilling to exploit the full potential of the tools, just as a decade ago, people had only just begun to scratch the surface of the usefulness of the Web," he said.
Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, said yesterday he was open to fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) proposals as part of the national broadband network rollout but warned that the government would not increase its AU$4.7 billion budget. Speaking on ABC television, Conroy said that as long as consortiums looking to be part of the National Broadband Network meet minimum benchmarks for the rollout -- such as speeds of at least 12Mbps for 98 percent of the population -- the process will be open to proposals taking the network further. "Our specs that we'll be releasing in the next couple of weeks will allow the possibility of a consortium to put forward a FTTH proposal," Conroy said, adding that he had already talked to some consortiums about the technology. However, extra money for the enhanced rollout will not come from the government. "Whether they can build the business case, that's a matter for the consortium," Conroy said. "They can't expect the government's going to give more than AU$4.7 billion." Conroy's move makes good commercial sense, according to Gartner research VP Geoff Johnson: "All he is really doing is saying 'We'll accept compliant and non-compliant bids and this is the budget'."
Johnson believes the best outcome will be a mix of appropriate technologies where the leading one would be fibre to the "x" (FTTX). "The best mix you can put together for the price is FTTX and fibre to the node [FTTN]," he said. "FTTN is an interim working technology. FTTX is the target technology in the foreseeable future," he said. The expensive bit in FTTX is putting the cable in the ground, according to Johnson. After that it's only a matter of deciding how much to fire up the bandwidth, he continued saying that speeds in FTTX leader Japan sit at around 100Mbps. Around two to five percent of the Australian population could have a business case to be connected using FTTX in locations such as CBDs, inner suburbs and technology parks, he estimated. Around 40 percent of homes and businesses are connected with direct fibre connections in Japan, Johnson said.
The Federal Opposition has demanded to know if the Government will keep its promise to deliver a computer for every senior secondary school student. Education Department officials have told a Senate estimates committee that an audit is being done to determine how many computers are already in schools. Liberal Senator Brett Mason says Labor's promise was that every student would have their own computer, and that is different from students having access to a computer. "Unless every year 9 to 12 student I know is stupid, every one of them thought that the Government would be providing them with a computer," he said. "But Senator Carr has not been able to assure this parliamentary committee that the Government will be providing that, and that is a big let down let me tell you." However the head of the Education Department, Lisa Paul, has told the committee that Labor's promise will be kept. "The policy is the policy and we're implementing the policy and that's just the way it is," she said. "So each student will have their computer... or access to their own computer - we will be implementing the policy exactly as it says so yes I would imagine they'll have a computer on their desk in some form."
Prime Minister Helen Clark today invited all New Zealanders to take steps for sustainability when she launched the Sustainability Challenge and a new interactive Sustainability Portal in Wellington today. "We all need to be part of making our country truly sustainable," Helen Clark said. "This new interactive website is about giving each of us practical information about what we can do to help." "The benefits of individuals taking steps for sustainability flow far beyond the environment. Taking steps like insulating our homes, inflating car tyres correctly, and walking short distances can save us money and/or make us healthier or safer. "The challenge specifically asks New Zealanders 'What¡¯s your next step?' Everyone can play a part by taking a step towards sustainability which works for their lifestyle. The aim of this challenge is to have as many steps as possible registered on the new online Sustainability Portal in the run-up to New Zealand hosting World Environment Day next June 5." The launch also comes as the United Nations negotiations on climate change post 2012 get under way in Bali this week.
"New Zealand is making real commitments to tackling climate change now and after 2012 within a broad international framework. "The Labour-led Government¡¯s move to introduce an emissions trading scheme and other measures to tackle New Zealand¡¯s greenhouse gas emissions gives us credibility internationally and helps safeguard our markets for goods and services. Increasingly, consumers in first world markets want to know whether what they are buying is sustainably produced. "The new Sustainability Portal contains tips about the steps we can take for sustainability, and online activities such as competitions, discussions, case studies, films, and blogs. There is also local and central government information on support and grants to help households to become more sustainable." Helen Clark was the first to register a sustainable step at www.sustainability.govt.nz today, deciding to take reuseable bags to the supermarket. Environment Minister Trevor Mallard also registered a sustainable step of buying products with less packaging, or with packaging that is able to be recycled.
"The Sustainability Challenge is part of the bigger picture of around 170 sustainability initiatives by government agencies now underway targeting action at many levels from the household to the international arena ¨C all part of the Labour-led Government's goal of New Zealand being the first truly sustainable country," Trevor Mallard said. "Households have a significant impact on the environment ¨C they consume 35 per cent of the energy generated in New Zealand. So everyone agreeing to take small steps could make a big difference. For instance, if every New Zealand household replaced their four most used light bulbs with energy saving eco-bulbs we would save $113 million every year. So a small step for sustainability is definitely not to be sniffed at."
Youth Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the Ministry of Health¡¯s new interactive website, www.thelowdown.co.nz, which helps young people to understand depression, is vital. ¡°The ability to access an online service could help young people make better decisions about where to go to if they think they need someone to talk to if they are facing depression, anxiety or dealing with grief and loss,¡± said Nanaia Mahuta. ¡°A service like this exists in Australia, called beyondblue, which assists youth-based programme, youthbeyondblue, to focus on youth depression awareness and prevention as a whole. ¡®¡¯I had the opportunity to hear first hand from young people who were involved in its design and operation, and they were strong advocates for access to services such as this,¡± said Nanaia Mahuta.
The website is part of the Ministry of Health¡¯s national depression initiative, which was initially launched last year with television commercials featuring former All Black John Kirwan talking about depression and will have contributions from some of the country¡¯s top celebrities including singer Brooke Fraser, rapper Scribe, and former All Black Ma¡¯a Nonu. Nanaia Mahuta praises the effort of key parties whose work has provided what she believes is a much needed service. ¡°I want to congratulate the Ministry of Health and all those involved with this online web-based service for young people,¡± said Nanaia Mahuta. ¡°The Ministry of Health, alongside social development, education and employment are key partners to assisting positive youth development, and I applaud the work they¡¯re doing in improving access to services for young people.¡±
Today is International Safer Internet Day and NetSafe has marked the occasion by launching the 'Cybercitizenship Pathway' - a pioneering initiative to help teachers integrate online safety and security education into their classroom programmes. NetSafe receives many queries from teachers who recognise that education about 'how to use ICT' needs to go hand-in-hand with education about 'how to safely and ethically use ICT' in order to help cultivate young cybercitizens - people who act ethically and responsibly online. That's why NetSafe has created the Cybercitizenship Pathway, a guide for teachers to help them integrate online safety and security education into their classroom programmes. It also provides suggested activities across a range of curriculum areas, and is New Zealand's first cybersafety programme to work-in with national curricula from early childhood through primary and high school levels. Cybersafety organisations around the world have begun to acknowledge that giving students a 'list of computer rules' is not the most effective way to educate for behaviour change.
Richard Beach is NetSafe's School Sector Manager and author of the 'Cybercitizenship Pathway'. He says that "In order to ensure the safety and security of everyone in schools and for the future, users must understand the impact and potential of ICT use, apply sound personal safety strategies, and understand, follow and promote cybersafety guidelines which support community safety and wellbeing. International research suggests that the most effective way to teach positive cybercitizenship is by integrating learning opportunities across the curriculum in developmentally appropriate ways." The Pathway is freely available in PDF format from www.netsafe.org.nz and will evolve over the next month into a fully interactive online resource. The Cybercitizenship Pathway will link in with resources from around the world, so that teachers can choose which best suits the learning activity and students' developmental level. "Those going through schools now will soon be voting, transacting business and connecting online as adults - many are already immersed in their own online social environments. By using the Pathway teachers can bring cybercitizenship education to life," says Richard.
The desire to reconnect with old friends has led to 1.3 million adult Kiwis turning to the Internet to reunite through social networking sites. Numbers made public yesterday by Internet marketing company Nielsen Online show that almost half of New Zealand adults have created an online profile and 62 per cent admit to browsing other people's sites. More than a quarter of New Zealanders have created their first profile in the past three months. New Zealand's most frequented social network site, Old Friends - a Trade Me-associated site that boasts more than 1.1 million members - enables users to list their previous schools, workplaces and associations for others to view. They can upload photographs, organise reunions and list long-lost loves.
Trade Me's Mike O'Donnell said they were "delighted but not entirely surprised" by the latest report, which put the site ahead of rivals Bebo, Facebook and MySpace. The Nielsen report said almost a quarter of social network users spent more than five hours a week updating their profiles. Social networker Krystiarna Jarnet, 25, belongs to multiple social networking sites. "It's really good for seeing what mates are up to overseas and it means I can stay in touch with people I might have normally lost touch with." Miss Jarnet said she was cautious about information she disclosed. The sites have been reported as being used for identity theft and fraud. "I only accept people I know as friends."
Tawa Intermediate principal Carolyn Stuart says a new breed of robust, low-cost laptop computers being tested by 20 of its 10- to 12-year-old pupils this term signals "the beginning of a new era of ICT in schools". The school is one of four in New Zealand trialling small, rugged classmatePCs made by Intel. The computers have been compared to the Asus Eee PC ¨C which went on sale at Dick Smith outlets last year priced at $599. They were inspired by the "$100 laptops" developed by the non-profit group OLPC for use in the third world. Ms Stuart says the classmatePCs are great for wordprocessing and online work, though they won't replace the need for some conventional computers. "The obvious advantages are price, size, weight, portability and robustness. They also have a 'wow' factor with kids."
The school is trying out machines with 30 gigabyte disc drives, rather than relying on other versions with smaller but more robust 4 gigabyte flash memory drives. None have been damaged so far and the trial has shown children quickly adapt to the smaller keyboard, she says. Richard Morgan, managing director of Cyclone Computers, which distributes classmatePCs in New Zealand, says they are available only to schools, priced at about $600. He is hoping for a "significant" price cut this week and says the computers may be sold in shops by the middle of the year. In a speech to the International Confederation of Principals conference in Auckland last year, Ms Stuart called for school leaders to "transform their role to that of a learning coach". "We need to work out how we can safely and powerfully use Web 2.0 technologies to educate our students for their future," she says.
Ideally, the school would have one laptop for every three pupils. That was not possible under current funding arrangements but, as prices dropped, more parents would buy them for their children. "The challenge for schools is how are they going to respond when students begin to arrive at school with laptops?" Dick Smith senior buyer Nick Lapwood says the retailer has struggled to meet demand for the Asus Eee PC, which has frequently been out of stock. It hopes to sell a version with 8 gigabytes of flash memory by May.
¡°The new interactive Mission-On youth website adds another dimension to getting young people active,¡± says Youth Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Prime Minister Helen Clark and Sports and Recreation Minister Clayton Cosgrove today launched the new Mission-On youth website, an online initiative promoting healthy lifestyles using on-line technology among five to twelve year-olds. The website is part of the Labour-led government¡¯s Mission-On package of initiatives launched in 2006, to encourage children and young people to lead a healthy lifestyle through improving nutrition and exercise. ¡°Today¡¯s young people are technologically savvy, and the Mission-On website is another medium to encourage young people to keep healthy, move around and make good food choices,¡± says Nanaia Mahuta.
The Mission-On website features a number of interactive elements, including the ability to play games and participate in activities, create a character and see what fun things other children have done. ¡°With a large number of New Zealand households having access to the Internet, the website is another way to get the message across. We need all New Zealanders engaged in this mission,¡± says Nanaia Mahuta. ¡°And, if children don¡¯t already have access to a computer at home, schools and public libraries have the facilities so they won¡¯t miss out.¡± ¡°Mission On encourages children to take what they learn on the site into the real world, and more importantly they can network via the net and share their healthy lifestyle plan with their friends,¡± says Nanaia Mahuta. The new Mission-On website can be found at; www.mission-on.co.nz
Computer users are being reminded of the danger of Internet scams following the arrest of ten people in Spain alleged to have defrauded victims via an e-mail lottery scam. The ten people, all Nigerian nationals, are suspected of making more than 19,000 Euros ($28,000) in three months by demanding payments from innocent Internet users who believed they had won a lottery. Police report that the e-mails sent by the suspects were sent from the Teatinos area of Malaga in Spain, by piggybacking on a neighbor's Wi-Fi Internet connection without permission. Seven arrests were made in Malaga, and three more in Huelva province. "If an e-mail sounds too good to be true, it probably is. E-mails scams like this arrive in the inboxes of many every day of the week, all around the world - and clearly some people are falling for them," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "It sounds like the authorities were able to shut down this scam quite quickly before too many people were affected - but there are plenty more cyber criminals looking for ways to steal people's identities and rob their bank accounts."
Experts note that Malaga is no stranger to Nigerian-run e-mail scams. In 2005, 310 people were arrested in Malaga in what was said to be the biggest ever bust of a lottery scam gang. The arrests followed an investigation by the FBI and Spanish police into a scam run by Nigerian gangs. The police claim that the gang used an innocent party's Internet connection to send their bogus lottery e-mails, which underlines the importance of properly securing wireless access points at home. "If you haven't properly secured your Wi-Fi connection at home you are effectively leaving the front door open for anybody close by to take advantage of it," continued Cluley. "Everyone running a wireless access point needs to learn how to stop unsavory characters from using it to spew out their spam messages, download illegal content, or steal information."
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith today announced a statewide CyberSafety challenge to school principals to sign their schools up for the Attorney General's CyberSafety Education presentations. The challenge is part of Attorney General McCollum's goal to reach every middle and high school in the state with his CyberSafety presentation. The CyberSafety program, developed by Attorney General McCollum for middle and high school students, combines real-life stories and examples to help students identify ways they could be victimized by Internet predators. Members of the Attorney General's Child Predator CyberCrime Unit have been bringing the 50-minute CyberSafety program students statewide since the beginning of the school year. "One of the most important lessons we can teach our young people this year is how to protect themselves from Internet child predators," said Attorney General McCollum. "By challenging our principals to sign up their students to receive CyberSafety Education presentations before the school year ends, we hope to ensure as many children as possible have the tools they need to stay safe online. I appreciate Education Commissioner Smith joining with me on this important issue."
Two challenge winners will be announced in May -- the district that signs up the largest total number of schools for presentations and the district that signs up the highest percentage of its schools for presentations. The winning districts will receive special CyberSafety presentations hosted in person by Attorney General McCollum and Commissioner Smith next fall. "Nothing is more important than student safety," said Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith. "We must strive to do all that we can to equip our children with the knowledge they need to protect themselves as they explore the many benefits the Internet has to offer." Principals can visit http://www.safeflorida.net/safeschools to log into a site developed specifically to register schools to receive the Attorney General's CyberSafety presentation, and then sign up for presentations at a time that works with their schedules. The presentations are available to schools as well as parent groups. Since the beginning of the school year, more than 70 schools have received presentations to more than 24,000 students.
Reducing software piracy in the United States by just 10 percentage points over the next four years could generate more than 32,000 new jobs, $41 billion in economic growth, and $7 billion in tax revenues above current projections, according to a new study released today by the Business Software Alliance (BSA). The study, commissioned by BSA and conducted independently by International Data Corporation (IDC), notes that the information technology (IT) industry is already a major contributor to the American economy. In 2007, the United States spent nearly $458 billion on IT goods and services including computers, peripherals, network equipment, packaged software and IT services. That spending accounted for 3.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), supported more than 314,000 IT companies with 2.9 million IT industry employees, and helped generate $485 billion in IT-related taxes.
Yet the IT sector's contribution to the U.S. economy would be even greater if America's 21 percent PC software piracy rate could be lowered to 11 percent by 2011, the study said. Such an improvement would add highly skilled jobs to the labor force, support the creation of new companies, lower business risks, and fund government services without a tax increase. Moreover, reducing software piracy has a "multiplier effect." According to IDC, for every $1 spent on legitimate packaged software, an additional $1.25 is spent on related services from local vendors such as installing the software, training personnel, and providing maintenance services. "When countries take steps to reduce software piracy, everyone benefits," said Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of BSA. "With more and better job opportunities, a stronger, more secure business environment, and greater economic contributions from the already robust IT sector, reducing software piracy would deliver tangible benefits for governments and local economies."
Most online Americans view online shopping as a way to save time and a convenient way to buy products. At the same time, most Internet users express discomfort over a key step in online shopping -- sending personal or credit card information over the Internet. According to the Pew Internet Project's September 2007 survey: 78 percent of online Americans agree that shopping online is convenient. 68 percent of online Americans say they think online shopping saves them time. Dampening people's ardor for using the Internet to shop is worry over the security of the Internet as a place to purchase products. The September 2007 survey also shows that: Three-quarters (75 percent) of Internet users agree with the statement that they do not like sending personal or credit card information over the Internet.
"These inconsistent notions about the online shopping environment show that, even as e-commerce matures, people's confidence in the security of online shopping remains as an issue," said John B. Horrigan, associate director of the Pew Internet Project and author of the report. "If people's worries about security of personal information were eased, the pool of online shoppers would be greater." The report, entitled "Online Shopping: Internet users like the convenience but worry about the security of their financial information," finds that two-thirds (66 percent) of online Americans have at one time bought a product online. If online Americans did not have such high levels of concern about sending personal or credit card information over the internet, the report estimates that the share of Internet users buying products online could be as much as 3 percentage points higher, or 69 percent.
Beijing municipal government has launched a crackdown on illegal on-line fireworks sales to enforce a law passed just last year. "A few postings about fireworks sales or fireworks vending permits have appeared on some websites," an official with the Beijing Fireworks Office said. The official said one posting even left a vendor's telephone number for prospective buyers. Last year, the central government passed a regulation to strengthen the administration of fireworks sales and production, stipulating that all manufacturers and vendors must be licensed or face fines. The official said sales permits for the upcoming Spring Festival, which falls on Feb. 6 next year, were yet to be issued. The plan for Spring Festival sales, including the number of permits, booths and the sales period, was still under consideration, he said, adding it would be revealed at a news conference on Thursday. He stressed that the transfer of ownership of permits was illegal. He said the number of on-line postings was relatively small, but the government was being cautious and would strengthen administration of the regulation. In September 2005, Beijing lifted a 12-year ban on fireworks, allowing residents to set off fireworks in designated areas during the Lunar New Year and other important festivals.
China's press and publication regulator has issued a notice announcing the launch of another nationwide crackdown on "vulgar" video and audio products. The notice, dated December 25, 2007, was posted on the website of General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) on Friday. The notice said after a three-month quality check of China's entertainment market, GAPP found the contents and covers of certain video and audio products in the country were "vulgar". Some of the video and audio products are coarsely made, containing materials of bad taste; some are replete with sexually suggestive languages like "absolutely erotic", "not suitable for those under 18" and half-nude images to promote sales; and some are showing female nudity in the name of "body art", said the notice. Before January 15, audio and video producers should stop the production and sale of vulgar products and recall those that are already on the market, GAPP said in the notice. After that, GAPP's provincial bureaus will have to carry out inspections and submit before the end of January a written report and samples of vulgar products to GAPP, which will then conduct spot checks across the country.
GAPP threatened in the notice to punish audio and video producers who continued to sell the prohibited products, but did not say how. The notice came as the latest one of a series of "bans" and "crackdowns" on pornography given by China's censors around the new year week. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) ordered Thursday cinemas to stop public screening and distribution of Lost in Beijing, a film it accused of containing pornographic scenes. Beijing Laurel Films Company, which co-produced the racy migrant tale with Beijing Poly-bona Film Publishing Co. Ltd and Beijing Zhonghong Real Estate Development Company, was banned from making films on the Chinese mainland for two years. A SARFT official said the film's producers had used the cut scenes from the original copy in the advertisement and had spread the deleted scenes through the Internet. On Dec. 29, 2007, SARFT issued a ban prohibiting producers of erotic movies from competing for any film awards. The ban also prohibits directors and leading actors from taking part in any of such awards. "The heaviest punishment for such violation would lead to a five-year ban of perpetrators from the movie industry," according to the ban. The SARFT asked nationwide studios not to produce films with footage of hardcore activities, rape, whoring, obscene sex exposing human genitals, or sex freaks. Vulgar conversations, nasty songs and sound effects with sexual connotation were also restricted.
Police authorities in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, have detained nine people for operating a fake Olympic website to cheat money out of people. They were suspected of cheating 300,000 yuan (41,660 U.S. dollars) out of more than 100 people from across the country, by goading them into depositing at least 1,000 yuan (140 U.S. dollars) each to get a cash award 20 to 40 times as much, plus a ticket for this summer's Olympic Games, sources with Nanjing police said. The two leaders of the ring, surnamed Xu and Chen, did not even finish high school but were Internet gaming addicts. With the helpof their friends, they created a phony Olympic sponsorship website in December at www.2008cga.com.cn. Whoever visited the website were encouraged to sign in as its member to win an award. All the "lucky" award winners said they never realized it was a scam until after their cash remittance. Police began to receive reports of the fraud on Jan. 4 and chased all the way to the southern island of Hainan, where the nine suspects were seized on Jan. 27 and 28. In December, a computer engineer named Liao Peigui got a six-month jail in Beijing for operating a fake Olympic website. He was accused of cheating 3,000 yuan out of two.
Seeking to ferret out online games considered overly violent or unhealthy, China has targeted illegal websites, computer markets and Internet cafes as part of a campaign to rein in juvenile crime. The crackdown, christened "Operation For Tomorrow," is also aimed at websites offering unregistered playing platforms or services for gamers that can be downloaded, the official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday. The plan will "use the law to attack, investigate and prosecute ... to cleanse the environment in which young people are raised and prevent and reduce juvenile crime and illegal activity," the report said. China strictly monitors the Internet for anti-government speech and uncensored news reports, but the report made no mention of such content. Xinhua said the plan especially targets school dropouts, runaways, children of inmates, and children left behind by parents who have migrated for work. Unlicensed Internet cafes, known as "black Web bars," will be closed down and supervision will be tightened over legal cafes, the report said. Internet cafes have been repeatedly targeted for breeding juvenile crime and promoting truancy, despite widely ignored rules barring anyone under 18 from admission. Located in towns and small cities throughout China, internet cafes mainly offer online games that are popular among young people.
Authorities have blamed the cafes for Internet addiction and for encouraging juvenile crime as a way to earn money to play online games. Online pornography will also be attacked under the crackdown, the report said. Government offices were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday Tuesday, and spokesmen were unavailable for comment. The report carried the authority of an official announcement because it was posted on the website of the Central Committee for Comprehensive Management of Public Security. Xinhua is state-owned and often serves the function of proclaiming official policies. The committee is a high level coordination and advisory body for public security departments under the central cabinet and Communist Party Central Committee. Enforcers will act under guidelines adopted last year by 14 government departments, including the Culture Ministry, State Administration for Industry and Commerce, Public Security Ministry, and Information Industry Ministry, the report said. Like most such measures, the crackdown seeks to increase government supervision and control over services for vulnerable groups. While promoting government shelters and other official services, it will step-up supervision over domestic and foreign charity groups and other non-governmental organizations, the report said.
Chinese authorities ordered the closure of 51 websites found to be carrying illegal drug advertisements, the Ministry of Information Industry said on Tuesday. Inspectors found sexually suggestive adverts involving drugs and sex-related health supplements, said an official with the ministry. Of the banned websites, 22 were operating in southwestern Yunnan Province, five in eastern Zhejiang Province, nine in southeastern Fujian Province, one in northern Hebei Province, 13 in northeastern Liaoning Province and one in northern Shaanxi Province. In addition, dozens of websites registered in eastern Jiangsu and central Hubei provinces will soon be closed for the same reason, the official said, without mentioning penalties. He said the ministry had ordered local departments to shut down websites identified as illegal by industry and commerce authorities, drug and health watchdogs and Chinese medicine institutions. The ministry also urged local Internet network information centers to publicize relevant laws and regulations, clean up websites under their supervision and promote self-discipline among operators.
China removed more than 200 million items of "harmful" online information last year, according to the National Office for Cleaning Up Pornography and Fighting Illegal Publications. The office's local branches also cracked down on more than 4,000 pornographic messages and 150 kinds of pornographic publications, cell phone novels and Internet games. Last year, the country confiscated about 149 million pornographic, pirated and unauthorized publications. Among these were 3.72 million pornographic publications, 3.2 million illegal newspapers and magazines, 3.36 million smuggled discs and 136 million pirated publications. Law enforcement departments investigated more than 31,000 cases involving the production, sale and distribution of illegal publications in the past year, including 667 criminal cases. The office said that the nationwide campaign launched last year against piracy, online pornography and illegal publications had achieved positive results.
TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese public broadcaster NHK on Wednesday unveiled a new system to put hidden identifiers into films to trace counterfeit works distributed over the Internet. The system, developed with the Japanese technology company Mitsubishi Electric Corp., consists of highly detailed electronic signals which are put inside films and other visual works but invisible to the human eye. If a person copies the film at a cinema or in front of a television screen, his or her camera will automatically tape the signal which will stay in the machine's memory. Automatic software can then search the Internet using the coded signal to find any works that have been illegally copied. "The signal will stay and can be traced, even if only part of the image is put on line," NHK, the Japanese initials for the Japan Broadcasting Corp., and Mitsubishi Electric said in a joint statement. "We hope that this system, once fine-tuned, will manage to better protect the rights of copyright holders," the companies said, adding they eyed to put it into use soon.
The code can also help authorities trace the exact cinema and screening at which the person illegally taped a film. The entertainment industry complains that piracy is on the rise due to the growing access to high-speed Internet and the increasing sophistication of digital camcorders. Under pressure from the film industry, Japan's parliament earlier this year closed a loophole that allowed people to record films in cinemas if strictly for private use. China has come under particular pressure from its trading partners over its huge counterfeit goods industry and has pledged to take action. Washington filed a complaint with the World Trade Organisation against China in April, alleging China's legal regime for protecting and enforcing copyright and trademark protections was unfairly deficient. Twelve nations including Japan this week launched negotiations in Geneva on drafting a new treaty to crack down on counterfeit products.
Nine teenagers have been arrested and another referred to a child guidance center for assaulting two boys in Tokyo in retaliation for posting messages on a Web site slandering one of the group, police said Thursday. The 10 teenagers -- six junior high school girls, a girl who has graduated from the school and three boys -- stand accused of inflicting bodily injury. The suspects admitted to the allegations and expressed regret during questioning. "Our attack went too far," one of them was quoted as telling investigators. In June, the suspects forced the victims, second-year junior high school boys, to take off their clothes at a park in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, then proceeded to hit and kick them, investigators said. The victims suffered injuries that took one to two weeks to heal. The two boys had posted slanderous messages on a Web profile of one of the arrested girls, according to Tokyo police. "Don't come to school," one of the messages read. The girl asked the nine others to join her in assaulting the boys in retaliation for the messages.
The Saitama prefectural police have taken into custody four middle school girls and a high school girl on suspicion of violating the Internet dating site control law by posting online messages offering themselves for prostitution, sources said Monday. The four middle school girls, aged between 13 and 15 and a second-year high school girl, 16, are from Saitama and Ibaraki prefectures, the sources said. As several girls, including a 12-year-old primary school girl, had posted similar messages on the dating service site, officers plan to take more girls into custody, the sources said. The police also have arrested three men, including Shigeru Odaka, 44, a primary school janitor in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, on suspicion of violating the same law and have sent papers on another man to public prosecutors, the sources said. The dating service site was called the "Bulletin for Enjo Kosai with Female Primary and Middle School Students." Enjo kosai (compensated dating) is a euphemism for teenage prostitution. According to the police, in August, the girls posted online messages seeking dating partners, including offers of sexual services. Three of the five girls committed indecent acts with two men they met via the Web site after receiving between 15,000 yen and 20,000 yen from them, the police said. The two men have been arrested on suspicion of violating the law on child prostitution and child pornography.
In August, Odaka was suspected of transmitting messages from his mobile phone to the site asking if there were girls aged between 11 and 15 who needed pocket money, the police said. Posting online messages offering to pay someone younger than 18 to take part in sex acts, or offering the services of a child for prostitution is prohibited under law. The site, which has been closed, was believed to have operated for four to five years, and to have received several thousand hits a day, with 80 percent of those visiting the site being adult male "buyers" and 20 percent being girls offering sexual services. Using online jargon, the primary school girls were referred to as "JS" and middle school girls as "JC." Only the ages of the girls and an amount of money were listed on the site. One of the girls taken into custody reportedly told the police she posted messages on the site for fun, and was surprised to have received so many invitations from men. One of the arrested men was served a fresh arrest warrant on suspicion of violating the law on child prostitution and child pornography for having committed indecent acts with an underage girl. Last summer, the police began investigating the Web site after finding many online messages posted on it from men seeking underage sex partners following the discovery of the site by its "cyber patrol,"set up to detect illegal acts online.
The police have been unable to determine who set up the site, but worked with the site's Internet service provider to trace the people who had posted messages. The police confiscated more than 1,000 photos of Odaka committing obscene acts with girls, and notes such as "Today's partner was a first-year high school student" from Odaka's home in Minami-kasai, Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, the police said. Odaka also posted messages on other dating sites, saying that in recent years he had had sexual relations with about 50 women and girls he met via the Internet. The police also are questioning him on suspicion of violating the Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
A university student who wrote a virus that was distributed through the file-sharing software program Winny and two people who spread the virus, which contained images from a popular anime, have been arrested, police said. The three, whose names were withheld, were arrested on suspicion of violating copyright laws in connection with the malicious program, a strain of the Harada virus. It is the first time for the creator of a virus to be arrested in Japan, and the move by police, which comes as information leaks and other damage caused by viruses spread over the Internet, is likely to produce a deep reaction. Investigators said that between October and November last year, the university graduate student created a virus that caused images from a popular anime character to appear on the screens of infected computers. He allegedly distributed the virus to an unspecified number of people and violated a copyright on the anime.
The other two suspects are accused of distributing this anime through the file-sharing software program Winny. Sources close to the investigation said "Harada" in the name of the virus was a real person, and it was likely that photographs and other information displayed by the virus was that of an acquaintance of the virus creator. In 2004, Kyoto Prefectural Police arrested Winny's developer Isamu Kaneko, a former research assistant at the University of Tokyo, on suspicion of assisting copyright violations. He was handed a 1.5 million fine at the Kyoto District Court, which he is appealing in the Osaka High Court. Police said that that latest allegations surfaced during a related investigation. Computers infected with the strain of the Harada virus in question display a message saying, "You're already dead. Come here. And apologize to me. If you don't, this PC will self-destruct." Files such as music and video files are replaced with photographs of a young man named Harada, and in some cases, the Harada virus deletes system files. In other cases, a fake Shizuoka Prefectural Police home page is displayed.
THE INTELLECTUAL Property Office has called for the development and protection of copyright-based industries, saying these accounted for 4.8 percent of the country's output and gave jobs to some 300,000 people. Adrian S. Cristobal Jr., IP Philippines director general, said copyright-based enterprises and other creative industries were among eight sectors representing the country's IP assets. "Apart from having a great potential to spur economic development, the copyright sector enriches our culture," Cristobal added. The lawyer explained that copyright, a form of intellectual property, pertains to a set of rights of creators or authors for their literary and artistic works. Such works include writings; music; fine art such as photography, paintings, sculptures; and technology-based works like computer programs, websites and electronic databases. In an interview last July, Cristobal said the National Statistics Office was preparing for the use of data on IP as one of the indicators of economic growth. He said the NSO's move was a result of IP Philippine's efforts to "mainstream" the treatment of IP as an indispensable factor in business as well as academic creative processes. The officials said the use of IP data to observe the growth of an economy was a relatively new trend even in more advanced countries.
Agents of the National Bureau of Investigation have seized P28.5 million worth of computers allegedly containing unauthorized software during a raid on an engineering consultancy firm in Pasig City. Raided for alleged software piracy was Steel Systems Engineering Philippines Consultancy / Steel Systems Express Inc. located at the Rima Building on Kawilihan Lane corner Shaw Boulevard, Pasig City. NBI Intellectual Property Rights Division chief Elfren Meneses said the raid was prompted by complaints filed by Microsoft Corporation, Autodesk Inc. and Tekla Corp. Armed with search warrants issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Reynaldo Ros, bureau agents raided the establishment and confiscated 129 units of personal computers with unlicensed Microsoft, Autodesk and Tekla software and 73 pirated CD installers. Copyright infringement charges are being readied against the owners of the company, the NBI said.
SINGAPORE: With the setting up of an information sharing centre in Singapore, comprehensive statistics on piracy in the Malacca Strait are now available, and information is exchanged more accurately than before. Permanent Secretary for National Security and Intelligence Coordination Peter Ho spoke at the launch of insurance company Lloyd¡¯s latest report on terrorism in Asia. He said Lloyd¡¯s ¡¯war zone¡¯ rating for the Malacca Strait three years ago had created an incorrect perception of danger and high risk, so it is important to have comprehensive statistics to reflect the situation accurately. In its latest report, Lloyd¡¯s turned to terrorism in Asia and what businesses can do to minimise the threat, which include getting high¡ªquality information from the right sources such as government and academic institutions.
In Singapore, apart from the information sharing centre, the government is also using a risk assessment and horizon scanning programme. Vigilance is necessary for businesses because despite fewer incidences of Islamic terrorism in Southeast Asia, there has been an increase in the numbers of criminal gangs, kidnappings and violent crimes. Mr Ho said the government¡¯s assessment is Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is ready to return to Singapore if the security forces let their guards down. He added the JI has not forgiven Singapore for discovering its terrorist cells in 2001 in Singapore, and later regionally.
Bhopal, Jan 19: Cyber crime has emerged as a serious issue to be dealt with and judiciary, police and law makers should not adopt a lax attitude towards it. Inspector General of Police Shailendra Srivastava, while chairing a session on cyber crime on the second day of the 31st Conference of the Akhil Bharatiya Apradh Vigyan, said the conference aimed at making police, government and judiciary aware about cyber crime-related issues. More than 70 research papers were presented on cyber crime during various sessions. Earlier, US-based crime expert Professor Keith Harris presented his research on crime mapping. He showed the manner in which a criminal targets areas in his neighbourhood. He pointed out that crime mapping failed several times because criminals used fast-moving vehicles. The procedure helped when similar types of crimes happened regularly. New Delhi-based NICEF Professor B N Chattoraj said laws were not implemented as intended. For instance, the ban on smoking in public places in New Delhi was implemented on poor people whereas influential people made its mockery. Crime expert Ved Pal Singh and Sabal presented research paper on the formulating new legal system to check cyber crime. The paper focussed on general legal procedures and new techniques such as digital signatures, encryption technique and e-trade. South Africa's Stephen Vanzil presented a paper on sexual crime and Internet. His research was mainly focussed on South Africa. Madhya Pradesh High Court Chief Justice A K Patnaik would be the chief guest on the last day of the conference tomorrow. He would present 'Kumarappa-reckless' award to former IPS officer Kiran Bedi.
The Police Department of Maharashtra (India) is going to open a Cyber Crime Police Station to improve the detection of cyber crime. Maharashtra's first, full-fledged, dedicated Cyber Crime Police Station will start functioning in Bandra-Kurla Complex Police Station in Bandra. The Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) of the Mumbai police, which is the only jurisdiction in the city, will now have statewide jurisdiction. Now, CCIC will also have the power to register FIRs and make arrests. The 18 member CCIC will be absorbed into the 61 strong police station. All 84 police stations in the city will report to the Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), while personnel from the new police station will report to the Joint Commissioner (Crime). The new facility will tackle e-Crimes and also improve Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and call-centre industry. Last year, the Mumbai Police had also begun compiling a list of all Internet Protocol addresses in the city.
Reporters Without Borders fears that a new law on cyber crime, revealed on 7 January by the authorities, will pose serious obstacles to "citizen journalism" and calls on the government to clarify thedefinition of some of its provisions. "This law prevents any blogger from posting photos or video showing persons who have not given their consent," the press freedom organisation said. "Pakistan has understood its right to give itself a law for fighting cyber-crime, but it is vital that this law should not obstruct freedom of information." Reporters Without Borders added: "We urge the government to clarify the content of some of the provisions that we think are dangerous. With just one month to go to legislative elections, some of the articles of this law look like censorship." The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act has been in force since 31 December and will be submitted to the new parliament in April, after it has been elected. Reporters Without Borders has written to minister of information technology and telecommunications Awais Laghari asking him to "provide guarantees as regards respect for freedom of information." The law provides for the death penalty for anyone causing the death of another person by means of email messages. A Federal Investigation Agency representative in Islamabad tried to justify the law by referring to Daniel Pearl's murder and describing the exchange of emails between the kidnappers as a "cyber-crime." Aside from the creation of an information and communication technologies tribunal, two articles suggest that this law will add to the censorship measures already applied in Pakistan:
- Article 13 on "Cyber stalking" makes it a crime to "take or distribute pictures or photographs of any person without his consent or knowledge." Citizen journalism of the kind practised by bloggers is based on precisely this sort of activity. - Article 28 on retention of traffic data says: "A service provider shall, within its existing or required technical capability, retain its traffic data for a minimum period of 90 days and provide that data to the investigating agency or the investigating officer when required." The government can extend the period if it wants. Reporters Without Borders points out that the 2001 Budapest Convention on Cyber-crime reaffirms "the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference, as well as the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and the rights concerning the respect for privacy." One month before legislative elections, the Pakistani government is effecting a very significant reinforcement of its control over the dissemination of news and information. A Reporters Without Borders study released on 9 January identified five major problems for the media in the run-up to the elections, including ordinances restricting press freedom that were adopted in November.
We, the cyberspace users in Pakistan are extremely shocked at the sad demise of freedom, liberty and civil rights on 31st December, 2007. This was the last day of unfortunate, terrible, bloody, scary year in the history of the country. Above mentioned folks died due to a suffocating ordinance in the name of prevention of cyber crimes in Pakistan. The ordinance as usual came from the pitch dark, imposed by the Government. Yet another calamity drawn on Pakistanis on the lines of notorious "Hudood Ordinance". This is very unfortunate move further rusting already bleeding wounds. Yet another challenge for civil society and human rights activists to campaign for. Stand tall folks! The cruel ordinance is attached.
Intellect is probably the most important factor in the world's progress. Ideas and knowledge are becoming an increasingly important part of contemporary global economy and culture. Protection of the intellectual property rights has grown in importance over the past several decades and is closely associated with the economic and political processes taking place both inside any particular country, and internationally. Clear and valid legislation and procedures regulating the rights for intellectual property serve as an additional impulse for further and more intensive development of economic relations between the companies, people and nations in the age of globalization and economic integration. At this time administrative regulation of the economic processes in the Republic of Uzbekistan has changed. It aims at protection of entrepreneurship and industry. In light of this, the protection of intellectual property rights gains priority importance.
Decent legislation on the protection of intellectual property rights (LIPR) and its practical implementation raise the trust of investors, stimulate the follow of investments in the domestic market and create a favourable environment for the development of trade and investment relations at the national and international scale. But the main argument in favour of the protection of intellectual property is motivation of the creative and innovative activity. Throughout the sixteen years of Uzbekistan's independence the Government of the country has pursued a target policy on LIPR based on international standards. A whole range of measures was implemented to improve the situation in this field, among them several laws and amendments to the Civil Code of Uzbekistan, ratification of a number of international conventions and agreements on LIPR, as well as creation of new state agencies performing the LIPR related functions.
Uzbekistan's ratification of a number of international agreements allowed it to strengthen its international reputation, and take further steps towards improvement of the existing system of legal protection of creations, industrial samples, trademarks, selection achievements, etc. The adoption of the corresponding legislative acts in turn made it possible to include the provisions of the international acts into national legislation. The adoption of the legislative acts became an additional stimulus towards further development of scientific-technological and innovative activity, efficient use of scientific-technological potential and reduction of the costs incurred by corporate and private entities for legal production of the discoveries, useful models, industrial samples, selection achievements, registration of trademarks, service marks, names of the places of origin, software programmes and databases, topologies of integral micro-schemes, and was aimed at creation of favourable conditions for the development of small business, stimulation of economic development and reduction of the costs associated with the legal protection of intellectual property.
Nevertheless, the legislation regulation this area still needs harmonization, and the staff of courts and regulatory agencies dealing with the issues of copyright and intellectual rights protection should have the necessary knowledge on the subject. The ratification of a large number of regulatory documents at once and the issues requiring clarification related to this field are still a barrier on the way to the economic development of entrepreneurial and industrial sectors. In light of this, the issue of development, synchronization and explanation of the laws on copyright protection is on today's agenda. These actions are required in order to assist the success of local and international industry present in Uzbekistan. It is worth mentioning that the international community in its turn also contributes to the solution of the problem by support the positive changes that have already taken place in Uzbekistan.
One of the examples of such support and cooperation is the off-budget OSCE Project Coordinator's Project on the "Support in the field of development of the right for intellectual property in Uzbekistan." The funds for the implementation of the two phases of the Project were provided by the Government of the United States. The aim of the project is to review the issues on the protection of the copyright in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The project considers the following key issues: synchronization and simplification of the legislation; organizational structure of the copyright regulative system; study of the experience of parties involved in the process of copyright protection: regulative agencies, courts, agencies regulating competition, entrepreneurs. The aim of the project is also to contribute to the process of economic development, create democratic structures and assist the development of legislation, which would simplify further integration of the country into the international community. This project fully agrees with the main aims and activity of the OSCE.
The case is that as a part of its complex approach to security, OSCE considers the economic and ecological issues recognizing that cooperation in these fields helps the maintenance of peace, prosperity and stability. According to the 1990 Bonne Convention on Economic Development and the OSCE Strategic Paper on Economic and Ecological Measurement, the OSCE provides assistance to the member-states in the process of economic transition and fight against economic threats to security. With this aim in mind the office coordinator provides support and takes action intended to: - assist regional and global economic integration, trade and access to markets;- simplify the economic cooperation in the areas lying near the country borders;- develop the business environment that attracts investments and assists the economic growth;- support the development of small and medium-sized business;- provide opportunities to the vulnerable groups and speed up the economic growth in the regions with experiencing slower development;- develop the human capital and entrepreneurial initiative in the countries with transition economies.
A partner in the implementation of the Project on the Uzbek side is the Centre for the Improvement of Anti-Monopoly Policy under the State Demonopolisation Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Also, several consultants/specialists of the concerned parties whose participation it is hard to overestimate are involved in the implementation of the project. In particular, the representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers, State Patent agencies, State Demonopolisation Committee, the Ministry of Justice, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Higher Economic Court, the Uzbek Republican Agency for Copyright are enclosing their professional contributions for the successful implementation of the project. The project was launched in April 2007. Its completion is scheduled for May 2008. According to the tasks set, two main phases of the project ¨C the phase of data collection and the phase of their analysis have already been completed. In particular, the existing legislation was analysed with the aim of determining the legal framework for the issues to be reviewed. Moreover, focus groups and field studies have been carried out.
Focus group discussions covered the issues representing particular importance to the agencies regulating this field and entrepreneurs. This has helped determine and classify existing and potential problems in the system of copyright protection. After each of the meetings, every member of the focus group filled out a questionnaire developed by the staff and consultants of the project. Among the respondents were entities working in the following sectors of the economy and regions of the country: science, scientific service, education, culture, healthcare, industry, construction, transportation and communication, services, trade and agriculture. The idea behind the organization of focus groups and the social survey is the identification of the existing and potential problems in the system of copyright protection through the questionnaire filled out by the participants. The survey and the focus groups were conducted in different parts of the country. The total number of the participants was ¨C 1905, of whom 57% are the members of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and 80% do not have the rights for any type of intellectual property.
The results of the survey revealed the following key facts: - only 20% of the respondents are the owners of the copyrights for certain type of intellectual property. Of them 47% received a protection document in order to protect the object against unfair competition, 30% - in order to receive a certificate at UzStandard and 25% - in order to receive tax and other benefits; - 89.4% of the respondents said that measures aimed at raising the awareness about the intellectual property objects among small and medium-sized enterprise represented an important trend in the solution of the LIPR issues; - 87.5% of the respondents said coordination and cooperation between different agencies and state institutions in protection of intellectual property rights was important to the solution of the problems existing in this sphere; - 59% think there are problems related to the inactiveness of the law enforcement agencies in the problems concerning the protection of intellectual property rights; - 88.9% agreed that particularly important to the solution of the LIPR problems was the quality of the legislation on trademarks, 86.7% - thought it was legislation on creations, discoveries, useful models and industrial samples, 76.6% - legislation on copyright protection of computer software and databases, 67.5% - legislation on copyright protection of the topologies of integral micro-schemes, 72.2% - legislation on selection achievements. On average, slightly over 11% of the respondents found it difficult to answer this question.
Also, the results of the informational block of the survey indicate that the majority of the respondents are not very competent in the issues of intellectual property, do not have the necessary knowledge on the contracts, claims and agencies regulating the issues related to intellectual property. The next stage of the Project was the data analysis phase, which included the study of local (laws and bylaw acts on LIPR and the results of the survey and focus groups) and world best practices in regulation of the copyright protection system, the determination of the key related issues and problems. At this stage the project task group studied the legislations regulating the issues of intellectual property of five countries ¨C Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Japan, South Korea and the United States. Comparative analysis of the legislations of Uzbekistan and other countries was carried out.
As a result some discrepancies were identified on the main issues and aspects of the policy pursued in this field. Recommendations were developed individually each object of intellectual property: creations, useful models, industrial samples, trademarks and service marks, topologies of intellectual micro-schemes, selection achievements, databases and software, copyright and related rights. The reports are basically the reports on the results of the research carried out by local experts, including the analytical part, comparative analysis, general trends in the area of study, the results of surveys and focus groups, and recommendations on introduction of amendments to the legislation of Uzbekistan. In 2008 the Project is to carry out two closing phases: the phase involving the publication of the results of the research among the interested parties and the closing phase on the development of the regulatory acts on introduction of changes to the existing legislation. At this time measures are being taken to organise seminars and conferences with the participation of international experts, representatives of state agencies and the private sector of Uzbekistan.
Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy says new measures are being put in place to provide greater protection to children from online pornography and violent websites. Senator Conroy says it will be mandatory for all internet service providers to provide clean feeds, or ISP filtering, to houses and schools that are free of pornography and inappropriate material. Online civil libertarians have warned the freedom of the internet is at stake, but Senator Conroy says that is nonsense. He says the scheme will better protect children from pornography and violent websites. "Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the internet is like going down the Chinese road," he said. "If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree."
Senator Conroy says anyone wanting uncensored access to the internet will have to opt out of the service. He says the Government will work with the industry to ensure the filters do not affect the speed of the internet. "There are people who are going to make all sorts of statements about the impact on the [internet] speed," he said. "The internet hasn't ground to a halt in the UK, it hasn't ground to a halt in Scandinavian countries and it's not grinding the internet to a halt in Europe. "But that is why we are engaged constructively with the sector, engaging in trials to find a way to implement this in the best possible way and to work with the sector."
The new government backs a plan allowing service providers to filter out a list of child porn sites. Skeptics fear it will become a political tool On paper, the policy looked like a sound one. Australia's newly elected Labor Party government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would protect children online by preventing access to Web sites containing images of child pornography. But the decision to press ahead with a policy of mandatory filtering of Web content by Internet service providers has brought howls of derision from the Australian Internet industry and free speech advocates, who have claimed it will turn Australia into a nanny state, debase the democratic principles on which the nation was founded, and impair the speed and utility of the Internet itself.
All the fuss is over one component of the Rudd government's cybersafety policy: the requirement for Internet service providers to filter out sexually related sites containing "harmful and inappropriate material." Filtering itself can work in several ways. In its most benign form, Internet service providers actively block content delivered by a list of undesirable Web sites. A more active form of filtering involves service providers scanning incoming content in real time to analyze and determine which content should be allowed through. Although details of the technology to be used are not yet clear, industry watchers expect the government to choose the first option, which has the lowest impact on Internet performance. As the filter is designed to protect children at home and in public places, it is possible that there will be an opt-out option.
Authorities in Australia are considering the use of Creative Commons licensing to facilitate sharing of geographical and meteorological data: Last month, the government of Queensland approved the use of Creative Commons, which allows free re-use of copyright material subject to certain conditions, as part of a new licensing framework. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth (federal) government is expected to give the green light to creative commons in a new set of guidelines for the management of the government's intellectual property. The new Australian policy will be watched with interest by Britain's free-data movement. Historically, Australia is a pioneer of free data: a 1968 law exempted most data produced by the federal government from copyright protection.
Polling company Neilsen, which conducts surveys for the Bankers' Association, yesterday published a news release showing the uptake of online banking, but when asked about security questions, spokesman Donald Sheppard said banks didn't want that information released. "The banks we work with didn't really want that going to press because it's a little bit of a can of worms for them," he said. "People are naturally concerned about online banking and that kind of thing and there's been a lot of info in the press about all these scams and phishing and all of that. "We do monitor it ... but our clients are the four main banks and they didn't want that going out into the public arena because they didn't want another song and dance about that." In July, the Bankers' Association issued a new code of practice which said internet customers could find themselves liable for any loss suffered through online fraud if they did not have up-to-date protection software. Australia banks cover such losses and since controversy erupted here over the new code, Westpac and BNZ backtracked and have promised to pay back any money lost by victims of fraud.
BNZ has also announced it would make two-step verification of online transactions compulsory by next month. In some countries customers need to take six steps to authenticate their identity. Mr Sheppard said banks were concerned about attitudes to the code. "I'm sure they are monitoring it quietly but I guess they didn't want the boat rocked on that one. I guess we [Neilsen] are respecting their wishes." Mr Sheppard said all the banks get the information, buying it from Neilsen. He said nothing bad was happening and he described it as a "storm in a teacup". "They do monitor that and some people are highly, highly concerned and some people are really, really, blase. "You and I, as normal, rational citizens, of course we are concerned about online banking - it's our money, for God's sake - and we don't want things to happen with our money. But what the banks didn't want us to do and say is x per cent are concerned about online banking because somebody is going to read it and go 'ooh this is really, really bad'. "They just didn't want to raise this can of worms." Mr Sheppard said Neilsen asks half a dozen generic questions about online security. Methodology changes meant he couldn't say what the trend was. Despite any concerns about security, the survey showed New Zealanders were rapidly taking to internet banking and it is now becoming mainstream.
A review of government data-matching programme security has found data being transferred between departments that is not encrypted or even protected by password. The findings have prompted Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff to demand government agencies encrypt data when transferring it between departments. The review was prompted by data breaches in the UK late last year, which saw tens of millions of citizen's records lost in transit between government departments. According to a statement released today, there are currently 46 authorised and active government data matching programmes. Of those 23 use online computer connections and are required to encrypt the data; four involve the transfer of paper records and the remaining 19 programmes transfer data on computer tape, CD or floppy disk.
¡°My staff found that all tapes, CDs and floppy disks were transferred within New Zealand by means that we consider to be reasonably secure ¡ª typically delivered by staff by hand or, where a courier is used, involving a ¡®track and trace¡¯ facility,¡± Shroff says. However, she notes, not all the CDs, tapes and disks were encrypted in transit and some did not even have password protection. ¡°I have indicated to departments participating in authorised information matching programmes that I will require, within a reasonable time frame, all data that is transferred by tape, CD and floppy disk to be encrypted in transit," Shroff says She says those involved in security practice in other areas should carefully reflect upon the need for encryption for all portable data storage media.The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has an oversight role in respect of government data matching programmes.
The Global Forum on "Effective Use of Telecommunications/ICT for Disaster Management: Saving Lives" closed Wednesday, having launched two initiatives, the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies and the ITU Network of Volunteers for Emergency Telecommunications. Two new publications on emergency telecommunications were also issued: Compendium of ITU's Work in Emergency Telecommunications, comprising work of the three Sectors of ITU: Telecommunication Standardization, Radiocommunication and Telecommunication Development. ITU Handbook on Best Practice on Emergency Telecommunications, a publication of the ITU Development Bureau based on a study of 12 countries The Forum discussed policy, regulation, technology, finance and deployment of last-mile, multi-hazard communications systems. The Forum comprised plenary sessions, panel discussions, a ministerial round table, a private sector CEO round table, a workshop on remote sensing, thematic sessions, and an exhibition of telecommunication/ICT state-of-the-art solutions, including technologies for remote sensing.
The publication ¡®Conference Proceedings¡¯ presents the major achievements of the Ministerial eGovernment Conference, held on 19-21 September 2007 in Lisbon (Portugal). The goals of the conference were to take stock of and build on the achievements to date, accelerate further development and set directions for the coming years in relation to the i2010 eGovernment Action Plan. The Portuguese Presidency of the European Union and the European Commission jointly organised the eGovernment Conference 2007, entitled ¡®Reaping the benefits of eGovernment ¡¯. The publication ¡®Conference Proceedings¡¯ gathers together the sessions, reflections and speaker profiles presented at Lisbon over the three-day conference. The event provided a platform for high-level political debate and facilitated the exchange of ideas.
Close to 1 200 participants attended the Ministerial eGovernment Conference 2007. It was the fourth in a series, the first having taken place in Brussels (BE) in 2001, the second in Como (IT) in 2003 and the third in Manchester (UK) in 2005. Each time, they brought together ministers and senior officials responsible for eGovernment in the EU Member States, leading academics, as well as CEOs and senior managers from the European industry in order to share ideas, experiences, and lessons learned. The focus of the 2007 conference was placed on better public services for growth and jobs, participation and transparency, social impact and cohesion as well as effective and efficient administration, with special emphasis on the local and regional level. The aim was to illustrate the importance of eGovernment as building blocks for better public services. Several policy priorities for the coming years were unanimously approved with a view to allow for the improvement of public services available to citizens and enterprises through the use of ICT. These policy priorities are as follows: Interoperability among Member States, reduction of administrative bureaucracy, public involvement in political processes and their increased transparency.
The Council of Europe has celebrated the Data Protection Day on 28 January 2008 with the support of the European Commission. A majority of EU Member States and candidate countries, several EFTA countries as well as the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) have engaged in the initiative by organising or committing to organise awareness-raising events during or around that day. On 26 April 2006, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to launch a Data Protection Day of the Council of Europe (CoE) to be held each year on 28 January. The 2008 Data Protection Day marks the second edition of the initiative.
The CoE¡¯s initiative originates from the following observation: Despite the presence of data protection issues (including their cross-border dimension) in citizens¡¯ lives, European citizens are generally unfamiliar with these issues and unaware of their rights in this respect. The ultimate goal of the Data Protection Day is to inform citizens from all over Europe of their rights and of good practice in the field of Data Protection, thereby enabling them to exercise these rights more effectively. In this light, each interested CoE member state as well as national or international bodies have been invited to organise awareness-raising events on a voluntary basis and at their level, with their own resources. The list of participating countries and organisations is available under ¡°Activities 2008¡± at the Council of Europe website.
Safer Internet Day is part of a global drive to promote a safer Internet for all users, especially young people and is organized under the patronage of European Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding. On 12 February 2008, events are arranged in 50 countries around the world under the coordination of the INSAFE awareness network, from conferences, media campaigns to activities for children, youth and parents. Young people have been invited to express their ideas about aspects of the virtual world by creating a multimedia project through the Competition "Life online is what you make of it." The winners will be announced on Safer Internet Day. The European Commission organizes a Youth Forum on Safer Internet in Brussels where youth from 9 European countries will discuss their use of mobile phones and social networking sites and make proposals concerning awareness on Internet safety.
Last week, local government officials and industry experts interested in the use of Customer Relationship Management/311 solutions to improve service delivery came together in Dallas for the Public Technology Institute seminar CRM Beyond the Hype. The seminar examined the many policy, management, technical and governance aspects of successful CRM implementations, and included case study presentations by four PTI member local governments. Throughout the seminar, a recurrent theme of utilizing CRM and call center data to improve citizen interaction and government accountability came through in each of the presentations and facilitated discussions. Other themes that were raised include: For any CRM/call center initiative to be successful there must be a champion at the highest levels of government Building relationships among the various government departments is vital (knocking down silos)
Providing adequate training for call center staff and making sure to document process and procedures Integrating GIS and Web services with CRM programs is critical Branding and marketing your 311 and citizen request for services initiative Examining the data -- local governments have a wealth of information that has been collected through CRM. How can this data be analyzed and utilized to increase government performance? How do you share this information with other departments? Be aware of any Freedom of Information and E-discovery issues with regard to information you have collected. These may impact the types of data you save and questions you ask when citizens call your center.Panel Discussion and Presentations A mix of local government officials and solution providers participated in the opening panel discussion that set the stage for this seminar. Topics included strategies to overcome silo-based business processes, and overcoming barriers created by infrastructure towards implementing enterprise CRM solutions.
An overview of some of the market changes that is taking place in the government marketplace was also presented and discussed. Panel members included Michael Antash, Oracle Public Sector; Jim Carney, IBM Public Sector CRM Practice; Kristin M. Howlett, director of process improvement, DeKalb County Ga.; Jill Jordan, assistant city manager, City of Dallas; and Kenny Leverett, national sales director, Motorola Public Service Solutions. The seminar then went through a series of presentations and case studies that examined the different aspects of CRM and customer-service technologies. Throughout the seminar, attendees were invited to ask questions and to dialog with presenters, panel members and other attendees. Evelina Moulder, director of survey research for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) presented the results of a national survey that documented the implementation of customer service systems and how local governments use these systems to respond to citizen needs and to strengthen community-constituent relations. According to the survey results, 42 percent of responding U.S. local governments have either implemented a centralized customer service system (15 percent) or are considering adopting one (27 percent).
Richard M. Leadbeater, industry solutions manager for state government and trade associations, ESRI, talked about the integration of GIS with CRM and applications and business processes. The aim is to increase interaction with the jurisdictions' citizens, and to make better decisions through enhanced techniques to better mine these applications for data. The seminar then focused on the case studies, where officials representing four local governments outlined each of their CRM/311 initiatives. Each presentation included a timeline of their implementation efforts, success strategies, technology solutions they have implemented, organizational changes and operational impacts of CRM.
Local and state officials and representatives from the health care IT industry, gathered January 30-31 in Atlanta for their first Health Care IT Summit. The Public Technology Institute (PTI) presented this event with the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO). Presentations are archived online. The goals of the summit were to help bridge the gap between IT practitioners and those responsible for providing health care, to show how technology can be deployed to more effectively manage health services, to help improve the common links between local, state and federal health systems, and to identify and begin to break down some of the existing technology-related barriers that impede the delivery of health services.
Some common themes that came up during the summit: Local governments are the true innovators -- many of the successes in the delivery of health services come from state and local government technology practitioners. A bottom-up approach can help to spur innovation at other agencies and levels of government. Don't do it alone -- look for opportunities for collaboration with other communities, agencies and the private sector. IT is a tool and an asset to help solve a problem. Many in the public health field may view technology with skepticism and dread. All involved need to work together to show the positive impacts that technology can make in improving business processes and ultimately, service to the community. At the summit, PTI announced the development of the book "Health Care Information Technology: Strategies for State and Local Government." Over the next 12 months, leading officials and industry experts will share their insight and expertise by contributing chapters and real-world examples. The book will be published in the spring of 2009. The summit ended with the announcement that the PTI Health IT Task Force, made up of government officials and industry leaders, will identify other government-related organizations that PTI will work with to showcase the issue of health IT, and that PTI will convene a second Health IT Summit in early 2009.
With a theme of ¡°ICT for Better Cities¡±, the 7th Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VII) will be held from 26-27 May 2008 in Shanghai, China. Its main topics will include: Informatization Policy and Sustainable Development Strategy, E/M-Government Knowledge Base Development, Scientific Date Sharing and Emergency Management, South-South Cooperation and Innovative Technologies, Global Informatization and World Expo 2010 Shanghai, and, Strategy and Policy on Digital Ocean Economy Development.
CIAPR was jointly initiated in 2000 by the Shanghai Municipal People¡¯s Government and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) in response to the call for bridging the digital divide of the ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration and the United Nation¡¯s Millennium Summit. So far, 6 successful forums have been held, attracting more than 5,000 participants from over 180 cities in 105 countries. A unique event focusing exclusively on municipal-level ICT and the related local-to-global knowledge economy, it has become a premier gathering of government leaders, mayors, the private sectors and IT business leaders, experts and ICT professionals of the world.
Apart from the opening ceremony and plenary session, CIAPR VII will include a rich series of parallel sessions: Workshop on E/M-Government Knowledge Base Development in Asia and the Pacific, Forum on Innovative Technologies in United Nations South South Cooperation, Workshop on Scientific Data Sharing and Emergency Management, Symposium of Logistical Informatization in the Yangtze Delta, Workshop on Global Informatization and World Expo 2010 Shanghai, etc. Also, the United Nations Public Service Awards will be presented by UNDESA, exhibitions of UN achievements for sustainable development; of city informatization in China, will be launched, and the ranking of top 50 city informatization will be released. For further information, please visit: http://www.unpan.org/directory/conference/guest/browseoneconference.asp?conference_id=2212 or http://www.apcity.org .
Two weeks prior to the ¡°2008 EU-Japan Cooperation Forum on ICT Research¡±, the organisers record a more than satisfactorily development of the organization of the Forum. More than 175 interested persons registered, amongst them approx. 70 Europeans and more than 110 Japanese, with new registrations each day. The initial objective of about 100-150 participants is thus largely exceeded, 14 days prior to the Cooperation Event. Besides Mr. Fabio Colasanti (Director General DG Information Society and Media ¨C European Commission), H.E. Hugh Richardson (EU ambassador, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Japan), H.E. Miran Skender (Slovenian ambassador), and representatives of Japanese Ministries opening the Forum on March 4, high-level speakers from Europe and Japan have been selected making the programme an interesting and varied one. The final event agenda will be soon made available on this website. With regard to the Technical Visits organised exclusively for European delegates, only few placed are left to register. A short advance information: the Panasonic Center Tokyo as well as the Central Research Laboratory, Hitachi Ltd. will be visited. The final programme will be also made available in the coming days on the EuroJapan-ICT website.
KT CEO Nam Joong-soo speaks at a ceremony to celebrate the expansion of WiBro service through the whole area of Seoul in Apr. 2007.With the growth of the domestic market slowing, a number of local telecommunication giants are scrambling to expand earnings from beyond the increasingly saturated domestic market. And KT, Korea¡¯s largest telecommunication service provider, is leading the way. KT CEO Nam Joong-soo says that the firm aims to build a "Silk Road" of the digital era with its broadband and mobile network technology. Nam said his firm hopes to build a digital silk road that stretches from Korea, across Russia¡¯s Far East to Europe, and all the way to Africa, connecting people through the Internet and mobile telecommunication technology. KT has already established itself in some of the countries along the route. In Russia¡¯s Far East, it operates a mobile service firm called New Telecom, which it bought for $13.2 million in 1997. NTC, which was in the red at the time of the purchase, has grown into the No. 1 telecom firm in the area, with a 43 percent market share. Also, making a foray into Central Asia, KT has bought controlling stakes in two Uzbek telecommunication companies. KT bought a 51-percent stake in East Telecom, an Uzbek landline phone network provider, and a 60-percent stake in Super iMax, a local Internet service provider.
At the time of acquisition, KT said in a statement that it planned to provide wireless high-speed Internet to 12 major cities there, including Tashkent and Samarkand. Uzbekistan is emerging as a very strategic place as it is the most populous nation in Central Asia with 26.5 million people, yet only 60,000 Uzbeks subscribe to Internet services. KT is also preparing to enter Kazakhstan through the acquisition of a local mobile carrier. KT also sealed a contract last month to establish a high-speed mobile Internet service in Rwanda, expanding into Africa for the first time. Under the agreement, KT will help Rwanda build mobile Internet infrastructure and launch WiBro service in the country¡¯s capital Kigali by November 2008. KT said it expects more business opportunities from the deal as Rwanda expands WiBro networks outside the capital. KT has high hopes for the proliferation of WiBro, Korea¡¯s homegrown high-speed mobile Internet technology. WiBro has been chosen as one of the international standards for third-generation mobile telecommunication technologies, known as 3G. The technology allows high-speed Internet access even in a fast-moving car, by blanketing the entire area with wireless hotspots.
Google Inc., the U.S.-based Internet search giant, will work on expanding its research and development (R&D) activities in Korea to provide services tailored to meet rising demand from local web users, a top executive of its Korean branch said Wednesday (Jan. 30). Google Korea is also increasing efforts to provide optimal search services, whereby users can find what they want on the Internet more swiftly and accurately, Google Korea CEO Lee Won-jin told reporters during a press conference on its 2008 business plans. "Google¡¯s basic business strategy is to invest 70 percent of its efforts into search engines, 20 percent into related projects and 10 percent into unrelated but experimental areas such as mobile businesses," Lee said. "Especially, Google Korea plans to increase investment in the mobile sector given that Korea boasts an unparalleled mobile business environment," He said. "We are currently considering launching mobile content and mobile advertisement businesses." To that end, Lee noted that Google needs to step up its R&D activities in Korea, adding that it will not just bring in foreign technologies but it will make efforts to localize them as well.
Google, the world¡¯s largest Internet search engine, launched its Korean operation in 2004 but has been struggling to increase its presence here in the face of such homegrown tech giants as NHN and Daum. To tackle the growth deadlock, Google opened its R&D center in Korea in 2006 and unveiled a localized user interface in May last year. Not elaborating on detailed figures, Lee said that the number of Google Korea¡¯s employees more than tripled over the past year, which shows how actively the company is working on expanding its profile in this country. During the press conference, Google Korea also announced that it has started a revamped Internet service that provides comprehensive search results. The so-called "Universal Search," first started in the U.S. last June, will enhance users¡¯ satisfaction in finding information that they want, Google Korea said. Under the new search environment, users will see a mix of search results ranging from web documents to images, blogs, news and other related data according to their relevance. Google Korea said that the Universal Search is the first in a string of services to be launched this year. "The key challenge was to allow users to see the search results within the same time needed for a mere web document search," said Cho Won-gyu, head of Google Korea R&D center. "We have made much effort in that regard." Some experts, however, said the new service is similar to others already provided by local companies including NHN, which show a range of search results without barriers between data types.
Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry /MNCCI/ has started a webpage to organize the first virtual exhibition of national production, export and import products. The main objectives of this virtual exhibition is to promote national production, to present products and services in the world market, to introduce Mongolian national products to foreign consumers, as well as to provide the Mongolian market with high quality import products. According to the report of the MNCCI, 150 products of 50 companies are displayed on the website. The website contains one picture of the company and three pictures of the selected products of the companies, together with their address and telephone. The website address is: virtual-expo.mn
KT, Korea¡¯s leading fixed-line telephony and broadband Internet service provider, said Sunday (Dec. 9) it plans to help establish an Internet data center in Mongolia. KT said it has won an order to build an Internet data center for the Mongolian government and to establish information and technology (IT) systems as well as networks. The project, which is scheduled to be complete in February, 2009, also calls for KT to provide IT education and dispatch experts to Mongolia. "The project will help the two countries to improve technology co-operation and accelerate South Korean companies¡¯ foray into the Central Asian country," a KT official said. The move comes as the Mongolian government attempts to build an e-government system. Mongolia plans to develop its e-government project by creating related operating systems through an Internet data center.
PENANG: Penangites, especially small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs), can soon sign up for information technology (IT) training programmes at affordable prices from next year. EC iTrain Sdn Bhd, an IT training centre, and the MCA ICT Resource Centre (MIRC) Incubator will set up Xtrain, a training company to provide low-cost IT training. XTrain, said iTrain chief executive officer Bikesh Lakhmichand, would cover topics like utilising, managing and supporting software applications, programming, security and infrastructure. ¡°Although we are offering the courses at affordable prices, there will be no cutback in quality,¡± Lakhmichand said after the MoU signing ceremony between iTrain and MIRC Incubator at the MIRC Business Leadership Summit at a hotel yesterday. XTrain's Penang branch is expected to start its courses in April to ease the regional market's demands for quality information workers. The Kuala Lumpur branch will open next month. XTrain, Lakhmichand added, aimed to train about 1,000 people in its first year of operation. MIRC chief executive officer Andrew Wong said it was proud to collaborate with iTrain in providing the market with qualified information workers. ¡°Many small and medium entrepreneurs and graduates lack experience and knowledge to meet the market's current demands. ¡°Due to that, we have to retrain them in the technology's latest,¡± he said.
The Confederation of Scientific and Professional Organizations (Cospo), together with the Department of Science and Technology in Central Visayas (DOST-7), will hold a series of trainings on Basic Multimedia Productions on January 21-26 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the DOST-Cospo ICT Training Center in Banilad, Cebu City. The participants will be taught on the basics of the different software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Soundforge and Macromedia Director. They will present their own multimedia products at the end of the training. The course fee is P8,000 for non-government employees and P7,200 for government employees. For reservations and inquiries, call the Cospo secretariat at 2317008 or 4162753 or text to (0916) 3423275 or (0921) 7117488 or email to email@example.com.
TV ON a mobile phone, software that generates a 3D avatar from a photo for use in virtual worlds, virtual reality technology that allow users to physically interact with an on-screen character. These were among the 94 interactive and digital media (IDM) projects funded by the Interactive and Digital Media Programme Office (IDMPO) that were showcased for the first time on Wednesday at Temasek Polytechnic's Interactive Digital Centre. Together, they are expected to create 100 new patents and nurture about 900 researchers and engineers in order to boost Singapore's capabilities in digital media R&D. The grants for the projects ranged from $50,000 to 'a few million', according to IDMPO Executive Director Michael Yap. The money comes from the National Research Foundation, which has allocated $500 million to R&D initiatives in IDM over the next five years. Some of the first projects funded by the office have already borne fruit. First Meta, a financial services provider for virtual worlds like Second Life, launched a virtual credit card last July that can be used for both virtual and real-life transactions.
The Metacard offers credit from 5,000 to 25,000 Linden dollars, the currency used in Second Life. The currency, which can be converted back to real money, trades for 265 Linden dollars to US$1 (S$1.44). About one to two million Linden dollars are charged to the card per month by 700 users, and First Meta CEO Douglas Abrams estimates real-world revenue of between $2 to 3 million this year. GG Games, a games software company, has created an online platform for users to play games like WarCraft 3 and Defence of the Ancients with minimal lag. To date, it has over 1.6 million gamers from 253 countries using their software. Other projects in the works include AudiOdyssey, a music game that can be played by the blind. Using the Nintendo Wii controller, they can swing it and press buttons in time to a song. The better the timing of their actions, the higher their score. Another, Project Coremo, aims to turn photos of real-world locations into realistic 3D representations on a virtual map users can interact with. Said Mr Chan Yeng Kit, Co-Chairman of the IDMPO: 'We are pleased with the progress made. Although the research projects will take a few years to complete, we are already beginning to see some promising results.'
The Terrapinn 5th Annual RFID Asia Summit 2008 returns to Suntec, Singapore on April 8 ¨C 11, 2008. RFID Asia Summit is an important part of the global trust to exploit RFID technology to solve some of the world¡¯s long-standing business and social challenges. Recognized as the largest gathering of practitioners in the region, this world-class event continues to attract a high powered mix of close to 200 international keynotes, business leaders and auto-ID technologists from around the world to address cutting-edge developments and economic opportunities in the region and beyond. RFID Asia Summit represents the single best opportunity both for government agencies and businesses operating in or looking to enter Asia to meet with, learn from and form partnerships with key players in the RFID ecosystem. The Terrapinn RFID Asia Summit 2008 speaker line up features well known keynotes from ¡°most admired¡± corporations the likes of Wal-Mart, MGI METRO, The Boeing Company, Rolls Royce and Lemmi Fashion that currently lead the world in RFID innovation and use. 2008 speaker composition comprises 45% from Australasia, 30% from Europe and 25% from the US providing a balanced, global perspective of RFID trends and insights within the Asia context.
This world class event has grown to become a week long extravaganza that includes the high level two-day executive conference, four specially designed master classes and the three day RFID trade exposition that features global RFID solutions and vendors under one roof for a onestop-shop experience for the Asia RFID community. This suite of offerings provide scale and forms the best valued platform for companies to be seen and heard by a targeted audience looking for RFID products and strategic partnerships. The two day conference offers specialized tracks for in-depth coverage of four key growth verticals ¨C Healthcare/ Pharmaceuticals, Logistics/ Supply Chain, Aerospace/ Aviation, and Retail/ Lifestyle. Back by popular demand, the special country-by-country update provides delegates a snapshot of key government projects and initiatives for private sector collaboration by Asia¡¯s RFID powerhouses: India, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. This segment also features a Pan-Asia panel to discuss issues such as Asia¡¯s ambitions and potential to compete with the RFID hubs of America and Europe. On his experience at this event last year, 2006 Percival Award honoree Dr. Patrick King, Global Electronic Strategist at Michellin USA said, ¡°I really am glad I went. I enjoyed myself. The travel worked great and the conference was outstanding. I was amazed at the rate of progress among the SE Asian countries in RFID development and execution. I expect that this will increase.¡±
On October 15, 2007, the world¡¯s largest jetliner, the A380, made aviation by completing its first commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney with 455 passengers and over 10,000 RFID tags onboard. Aviation is one of the sectors seeing a transformation because of innovative auto-ID technology uses. The cross sector approach of a technology show like RFID Asia Summit promotes idea ¡°cross-fertilization¡± and improves the quality of each discussion through diversity that vertical events cannot deliver. ¡°This summit is really a meeting of minds and is designed to help the industry focus on its key challenges in a collaborative and inclusive environment,¡± shares Ms Patricia Cheong, General Manager at Terrapinn Singapore, ¡°The tremendous support we receive from vendors and end users is testimony to the positive impact this show has been in shaping the industry over the last five years. Our promise to the RFID community: we will continue to grow with you and commit resources to strengthen this brand for years to come.¡± RFID Asia Summit 2008 is proud to partner the following associations and sponsors: 3M, ASSA ABLOY Identification Technologies (ITG), NXP Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics, Intermec, Identec Solutions, RFID Business Association (RFIDba), Singapore Manufacturer¡¯s Federation, India Semiconductor Association, Korea Association of RFID/USN, RFiD Society, Software Industry Promotion Agency (Public-Organization), Thai Embedded Systems Association (TESA), National RFID Center of Singapore and ABI Research.
The Government of India has approved the Capacity Building Scheme for taking National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) forward across the country in all the states & UTs. The scheme will mainly provide technical and professional support to state level policy & decision-making bodies, and to develop specialized skills for e-Governance. The Department of Information Technology (DIT) will implement the scheme for which the government has allocated INR 313 crore for three years. The scheme will establish institutional framework for state-level strategic decision-making, including setting-up of State e-Governance Mission Team (SeMT), impart specialised training, orientation programme for SeMTs and decision-makers, knowledge sharing and bringing in international best practices and empower strength of training institutes in various states and UTs of India.
Organised By : Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (GoI), Department of Information Technology (GoI),Government of Haryana. Description: The 11th National Conference on e-Governance, organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (Government of India), Department of Information Technology (Government of India) and The Government of Haryana is being held at the Indradhanush auditorium, Panchkula, Haryana from 7 February to 8 February 2008. The theme for this year's conference is Integrated Citizen Services Issues and Challenges. The key issues discussed during the programme will be; Citizen centric governance. Enabling integrated service delivery. Enhanced developmental impact through ICT: focus on education, livelihood, health and empowering the farmer. A compendium is also compiled with selected papers from administration, academia and industry. The conference will serve as a platform for policy makers, industry leaders and academia to share knowledge as well as success stories and to interact and develop actionable strategies.
Contact; Mr. T.R. Gill, Under Secretary (e-Governance), Department of AR&PG, Sardar Patel Bhawan, Parliament Street, New Delhi-110001, Telephone: +91 11 23367966, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Mr. Sandeep Kapoor, General Manager (P), Infrastructure Project, Hartron, Chandigarh, Government of Haryana, Telephone: +91 172 2710743, e-mail: email@example.com
Connecting rural communities is one of the key focus areas of ICT in Asia. Governments and private sector realise the importance of harnessing technology to bridge the digital divide and create new market opportunities. To map the latest developments in ICT and rural connectivity, the Second Connecting Rural Communities Asia Forum (CRC) 2008 is being organised by Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisations (CTO) from April 15-18, 2008, at Le Meridien, Kerala. The Department of Telecommunications, Government of India will be hosting the event. The theme of the 3-day workshop is Last Mile Solutions for Sustainable and Inclusive ICT Connectivity and discussions would focus upon a wide range of topics including Broadband, CDMA, Value Added Services, E-governance, financing rural projects, etc. The conference will bring together various stakeholders from government sectors, regulatory bodies, mobile operators, satellite operators, Internet Service Providers, infrastructure providers and banks, and serves as an excellent platform to share strategies for connecting rural Asia and evaluate best practices for using ICT for socio-economic benefits.
For registration please contact: Marco de Kock Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0)208 834 1577 For other details please contact: Mani Rai Email: email@example.com Tel: +44 (0)208 834 1565
ISLAMABAD (March 19 2007): National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences-FAST Islamabad Campus is holding here a two-day mega IT exhibition "NASCON `07" from March 24. Federal Minister for Information Technology, Owais Ahmed Khan Leghari will inaugurate this big computer exhibition on March 24 while the Federal Minister of Science and Technology, Nauraiz Shakoor will grace the closing ceremony on March 25 at the University's premises located here at H-11 sector, official sources said. During the two-day NASCON event, ten major competitions will be held between participants from all over the country. Competitions include Software Project Competition, Engineering Project Competition, Dynamic Programming Competition, Engineering Problem Solving Competition, Gaming Competition, Quiz Competition (both university and college level), Business Plan Competition, Harvard Case Simulation, Movie/Song Video Competition and Poster Competition, they added. About the Vision of NASCON, they said is to offer the industry an opportunity to interact with the academia so as to come up with innovative ideas in science, engineering and business. Its vision is also to provide a platform to the students to wrestle their mental prowess in a competitive environment, to offer the students a chance to evaluate themselves by the industry and acquire awareness with regard to the latest trends and developments in their respective fields and specialisation and to promote R&D culture in Pakistan. Students and professionals of Information Technology, computer sciences, engineering, business administration and other allied fields from all major universities and organisations will participate in the exhibition and put on display their talents. Multinational firm, Enterprise DB has the honour to be the major sponsor of the event. Other major national and multinational firms will also participate in NASCON '07 and set up their stall to display their products.
KARACHI (March 20 2007): Currently, IT occupations are experiencing a serious shortage as demand for skilled workers has been rising faster than the supply and this problem is developed into a major issue. Khurram H. Kalia, CEO & president KalSoft (Private) Ltd expressed this while speaking to the mews men. Moreover he said: "In order to overcome this issue, KalSoft has come up with a much required move. The 'Professional Competence Programme'. This social programme is specially designed to provide a complete understanding to the students on how to utilise their education in practical perspective, by using Microsoft technologies.-
ISLAMABAD (March 20 2007): The government has provided training to more than 500 professionals under a programme launched to reduce the software piracy rate in the country. The programme which is expected to be completed by 2009, around 30 workshops regarding major open source applications in all major cities of Pakistan have also been conducted. Talking to APP here Monday, an official at Ministry of Information Technology said in the first phase of the programme, 10 awareness-raising seminars on open source, piracy and copyright have also been arranged in public sector universities and colleges in different cities. He said the high cost of licensed software has prompted the need of this project in order to assist the software industry to migrate from licensed software platforms to open source solutions. Through this project titled Open Source Resource Centre (OSRC), a resource centre has been developed to cater to the queries and issues related to Open Source Software. The resource centre provides assistance to companies who want to save the cost of buying licensed software and shift to open source software solutions. The project team also assists the organisations interested in migrating to open source solutions. The objectives of the programme are to further enhance the network of open source developers and compile, develop and edit content for a course on open source for the Higher Education Commission, to be adopted by universities as part of their curriculum.
The other aims include conducting a survey regarding the rate of software piracy within federal ministries and departments, co-ordinate with the Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) and to participate in conferences, seminars and workshops organised by the IPO and to migrate IT set-ups of eight organisations from proprietary to open source. The official said as a result of the projects activities in the first phase, the government and the private industry has saved a total of more than Rs 35 million by deploying open source solutions. He said according to the World Bank and Business Software Alliance (BSA), Pakistan's piracy rate has decreased in the last two years and added the project's achievements have been appreciated by the local industry, as well as by international agencies such as UNDP-APDIP, CICC, Japan, among others. The project team has been invited to participate in various international conferences, exhibitions and open source seminars, he added. Talking about the scope of the project, the official said there is a lack of intellectual property protection in Pakistan. It is very easy to obtain pirated low-end software packages in the market. Those who do manage to develop their own software package find it extremely difficult to compete, in price, with the pirated versions of the foreign software packages. The low purchasing power of a general computer user encourages this trend. Low per capita income also does not allow the majority of the population to opt for expensive proprietary software. The grooming of an open source software culture within Pakistan is an effective solution to this problem which will help to reduce the software piracy rate and also help provide Information and Communication technologies (ICT) to those who cannot otherwise afford to use them.
The First International Conference on Investment Opportunities in Iran¡¯s Telecom Sector will be held in Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting¡¯s International Conference Center in Tehran on January 16, said manager of Teyf Scientific-Analytic Group. Mehdi Rouhani-Nejad, who is also the secretary of conference, explained that the one-day gathering will be inaugurated with a speech by Communications and Information Technology Minister Mohammad Soleimani, according to a fax sent to Iran Daily by Teyf Group. In addition, caretaker of Telecommunications Company of Iran¡¯s Research Center Kamala Mohammadpour, head of State Radio Frequency Regulations Organization Mahmoud Khosravi, TCI Managing Director Saber Feizi and head of Privatization Organization Gholamreza Heidari Kord-Zangeneh will speak at the event, he pointed out. Representative of Nokia-Siemens Company and manager of the second operator project from France-based BNP Company will also address the seminar.
Operators from UAE, Norway and Egypt will take part in the event thanks to efforts of International Relations Office of Communications and Information Technology Ministry as well as Foreign Affairs Ministry, the official stated. According to him, Iranian agencies in Turkey, Sweden and Malaysia have also declared their readiness to introduce opportunities available in Iran¡¯s telecommunications market to foreign investors by inviting them to participate in the conference. Earlier, operators from Russia, France and Sweden had announced their readiness to take part in the gathering. Teyf will provide an environment for identifying various investment capacities, opportunities and challenges in Iran¡¯s telecommunication market. The seminar, which is to be sponsored by Communications and Information Technology Ministry and Sharif University of Technology, aims to introduce new opportunities in Iran¡¯s telecom sector in an effort to help attract domestic and foreign investments. In addition, it will also study the capabilities of and challenges facing investors. Those interested can refer to www.teyf.ir/icioit or contact (+98-21)88511303 to obtain the latest information on the event.
On January 7, 2008 a seminar ¡°Current state and problems in development of information & librarian system¡± was held in the Republican information & librarian center of Communications and Information Agency of Uzbekistan. Results of activity of information & librarian centers for 2007 and perspectives of improving such activities in the Republic of Uzbekistan was discussed at that seminar. Director of Republican information & librarian center A.Ishmatov reported on state and prospects in development of information & librarian centers and lightened introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by the center. He noted on positive results achieved in 2007. He also mentioned that information technologies are not being introduced sufficiently in the activity of the center. The seminar discussed the ways of solving those problems.
Report of Deputy Director of the §³enter on Scientific & Technical and Marketing Reseaches M. Mukhitdinov on international relations and cooperation in the field of personnel training, conservation and restoration of librarian funds, international exchange by books with such Russian information & librarian centers as ¡°§£§ª§¯§ª§´§ª §²§¡§¯», «§²§¯§¢» and ¡°§²§¤§¢» was of great interest to the participants of the seminar. Technical Director of the Training Center for the young programmers A.Gafurov made a speech informing on the Center¡¯s activity to develop the elaboration of National automotized information & librarian system, probation of which is being implemented in some information & librarian centers. To support the information & librarian centers it has been planned to launch subsidiaries of the Training Center for the young programmers. Head of Department of the National library of Uzbekistan named after A. Navoi M. Rakhmatullaev informed on tasks of the Center of corporate catalogization in order to exclude a dublication of e-notes in the course of compiling e-catalogues.
Reports made by Directors of information & librarian centers of Ferghana, Andijan and Samarkand provinces D. Shukurova, Sh. Akhmedova, M. Samadova and K. Karimova devoted to chargeable services and to interactions between information & librarian center and the centers for information resources also provoked the interest among the participants. The topic of cooperation between information & library centers of UzACI and libraries of military divisions in the structure of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Uzbekistan was presented by the specialist of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Uzbekistan Kh. Kholmatova. Introduction of new forms for statistics and requirements to librarian activity was informed in speech made by specialists of the Republican information & librarian center D. Kudratova and M. Maksumova.
The subsidiary ¡°Engineer & Technical Center¡± of JSC ¡°Uzbektelecom¡± conducts a training for directors of subsidiaries of JSC ¡°Uzbektelecom¡± from 21 to 26 January, 2008. On 21 January, 2008 the General Director of JSC ¡°Uzbektelecom¡± Khakim Asrorovich Mukhitdinov welcomed the first group of specialists and noted that training and enhancement of qualification, re-training of specialists and first of all the representatives of management of the company has been one of actual tasks. The ¡°Engineer & Technical Center¡± was launched in 2003 aimed at solving these goals. The program of training courses is too rich and varied. On the first day the directors of subsidiaries were familiarized with requirements to introduction, certification related issues as well as with a role of directors in the system of quality management according to ISO 9001 standard.
On 22-24 January the representatives of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd are going to conduct the following presentations: ¡°Value-added services? as a reserve to increase a profitability of operators; ¡°Modern trends in development of optical transport networks¡±; ¡°Mobile services for fixed network operators using WLL technology¡±; ¡°Wi-MAX technology is a future of broadband access¡±; ¡°Transition to IP technology is a way to increase a profitability and network possibilities of operators¡±. Representatives of ZTE Corporation will address the following reports during 24-26 January, 2008: ¡°Convergence of mobile and fixed networks is a future of telecommunications¡±; ¡°IPTV±Tripple Play technology¡±. In addition there will be some economic lectures: Sales management for telecommunication services. Process of sales management in the system of selling. Sales management for corporate clients. Sales management for private persons. Planning of work for sales managers. Training courses also include lectures related to other aspects of activity: ¡°Psychological aspects in personnel management¡±, ¡°Disputes solution related issues¡±, ¡°Modern technologies in personnel management¡± and many others. Such training courses are conducted annually.
Training is conducted in the form of exchange of opinions just in the course of lectures in order to allow each director of subsidiary to ask questions on activity of his subsidiary. It should be noted that the ¡°Engineer & Technical Center¡± is excellently equipped. This center has modern digital switching facilities, systems of transmission and computer techniques. So called ¡°computer based on-line¡± training technologies have become the latest feature in training process when each trainee is able to see the information presented by the lecturer on its personal notebook while management is being implemented through wireless data network. It should also be mentioned that a training course called ¡°Technology and a base for telecommunication network management¡± was organized by the ¡°Engineer & Technical Center¡± on 16-23 January, 2008. On 4 - 12 of January 2008 a training course ¡°Foundation for construction and operation of fiber-optical lines¡± was conducted by the ¡°Engineer & Technical Center¡±, and from 7 to 18 January, 2008 a training course ¡°Training for officials of city and regional communication offices¡± was conducted in that center.
The Queensland Gaming Industry will be thrust onto the world stage when industry players take part in the International Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week. Local animation and digital content provider Liquid Interactive has teamed up with Invest Brisbane to showcase South East Queensland as the games development hub of Australia. As part of this work, Liquid Interactive has created a new, interactive website to showcase Queensland games companies to the world. Liquid Interactive Managing Director Michael Burke says SEQ has become renowned for its burgeoning creative economy, and that the new website epitomized Queensland¡¯s digital creativity. "South East Queensland has been attracting the attention of international game developers for a long time now," says Burke. "Local companies are working with international brands such as Sony, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Sega, Microsoft and THQ Inc.
"Brisbane is home to a broad range of creative talent in the areas of game development, animation and interactive media ¨C and we¡¯re keen to show that to the world." Invest Brisbane, Brisbane¡¯s Marketing¡¯s inward investment agency, and the Queensland Government¡¯s Information Industries Bureau coined the term ¡®Queensland Games¡¯ to describe a joint initiative to support and grow a cluster of emerging local talent. Working with local universities and members of the greater Brisbane games industry, a concerted effort has been made to market Queensland¡¯s electronic games developers to the world and attract talent to the state. Invest Brisbane Director Daniel Havas said the presence of local talent including Krome Studios, Pandemic Studios, THQ Studio Australia, Halfbrick Studios and The Creative Assembly could legitimately place SEQ and as one of the world¡¯s most significant games development hubs.
"Low production costs and fresh creative talent are driving forces in the interactive games industry and global publishers such as Sony, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft have found this unique combination right here in Queensland," says Havas. "Queensland Games will build on this in San Francisco to attract top talent and continue to position our local industry as world-class." The Game Developers Conference is the largest gathering of game industry professional in world, attracting over 16,000 international guests each year. The conference runs from 18 ¨C 22 February. According to electronic games industry sources, Brisbane is currently home to approximately 40 per cent of Australia¡¯s electronic game developers and employs over 600 people. Successful Queensland Games productions have included Dark Reign, the Total War series, Destroy All Humans! (1 and 2), The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning, SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants and the Avatar series The Legend of Aang and The Burning Earth.
Wellington is bracing itself to be inundated by the cream of web world talent with the second Webstock conference due to kick off in the capital on Monday. Next week's event will see the return of several of the 2006 speakers, and also an expanded roster of 23 web experts from around the world. While Webstock runs over five days, the conference itself will be held only on Thursday and Friday February 14 -15, with the first three days consisting of eight workshops. Many of these have already been sold out. During the final two days there will be 25 presentations given by the likes of New Zealand's own Nat Torkington, web standards advocate Molly Holzschlag, the "Mad Scientist of Perl" Damian Conway, Google's Chris Di Bona and Trade Me's Sam Morgan to name a few. Also returning by popular demand from the inaugural 2006 event will be the 8x5 sessions - eight speakers, five minutes each.
Webstock was created by a small group keen to raise the standard of websites in New Zealand and elsewhere. That original group consisted of Mike Brown, Debbie Sidelinger, Ben Lampard, Miraz Jordan, Sigurd Magnusson and Natasha Hall. While officially a bi-annual event, there have also been one-day Webstock Minis held in December 2006, and March and June 2007. And just to prove that web geeks don't take themselves too seriously, on day one of the 2008 conference (Thursday) there will be Powerpoint Karaoke Idol - a new international competition that may or may not take the world by storm. According to organisers, the event will see three speakers - Michael Lopp for the US, Australia's Damian Conway and Nat Torkington from New Zealand - speak to a Powerpoint presentation of 12 slides, each of which will be on screen for 15 seconds. The catch is that no competitor will have seen the presentation before, meaning they'll flying blind trying to convince the audience they know what they are talking about. Competitors will be judged on their ad-libbing by the Webstock audience and a panel of judges. Well-earned cocktails will follow Powerpoint Karaoke Idol. This year's event, which is almost sold out, will be held in the Town Hall in the city centre with presentations given in main auditorium, the Illot Theatre and the Civic Suite.
The first-ever gathering of indigenous television leaders from around the world will be held in New Zealand in March this year. WITBC ¡¯08, hosted by Maori Television, is aimed at unifying, strengthening and promoting indigenous broadcasters. The theme of WITBC ¡¯08 is ¡®Reclaiming the Future¡¯. The three-day conference will include insightful presentations from television leaders from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Taiwan, United States, Australia, Wales and Aotearoa ¨C New Zealand. Speakers from other nations will be confirmed soon. People from more than 20 countries have already registered interest to attend WITBC ¡¯08. A key outcome will be the launch of a global association of indigenous television broadcasters.
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