|Summer 2008 Issue 22|
| I-Government vs. E-Government
2007 Internet Crime Report
World Expo Shanghai Goes Online
India Moves Towards M-Governance
Ireland Public Health Geospatial Data System Wins Public Service Excellence Award
N.Y. Legislation Establishes E-Waste Collection and Disposal Program
"Green IT" Development Takes Off in Japan, US
SOA Reduces Risk and Cost in U.S. Shared Services Projects
Korea Develops Core Data Transfer Technology
SINGAPORE: Form Network of Trust to Promote Harmony
IT for Greater Efficiency, Transparency Within Pakistan Government
New Zealand Govt Releases Draft Digital Strategy 2.0
| AFRICA: New Report on Internet Infrastructure in the Congo
EUROPE: I2010 Is Starting to Deliver
EU: ICT Policy Support Programme ¨C 2nd Call for Proposals Now Open
Scotland Publishes Massive Public Sector Infrastructure Investment Plan
Michigan Releases Strategic Plan for Technology
|CHINA: Tighten Scrutiny over Illegal Online Drug Sale
Info Rules to Promote Gov't Transparency
China Moves to Regulate Fee Charges of Telecom, Postal Services
China's Political Advisors Call for Digital Drive in Publishing
SOUTH KOREA: Lee Reveals Vision for Auto IT Industry
| PHILIPPINES: ICT Congress to Look at Education, Economy
SINGAPORE: Form Network of Trust to Promote Harmony
THAILAND: 'IT Cluster' Projects to Help Local Industry Grow
VIET NAM: Safer Electronic Financial Transactions with New ISO Standard for State-of-the-Art Biometric Authent
National Steering Committee on IT Set Up
| BHUTAN: Taking ICT to Next Level
INDIA: TCS Three Government Projects Won E-Governance Awards 2007-2008
E-Governance Scheme for Cities Finalised by Government of India
Government Approves Four IT Sezs
Indian Government Plans 8,000 Telecom Towers in Rural Areas This Fiscal
India: Bihar IT Policy 2008 All Set to Go
Indian Government Stresses Rural Focus for ICT Industry
PAKISTAN: IT Ministry Planning to Provide Broadband Subsidy Under USF
PTA Devises Strategy to Address Obnoxious Calls, SMS, Balance Theft
| KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Adopts Right to Information Law
AZERBAIJAN£ºAzerbaijan to Cut Internet Tariffs
KYRGYZSTAN: Official Announces Planned Electricity Rationing
Kyrgyz Parliament Adopts Plan to Expand National Television Coverage
UZBEKISTAN: A New Circle of Communication from Beeline
| AUSTRALIA: Government Wants E-Mail Spying to Last for Longer
Government Launches $37.9 Million Strategy to Boost Digital TV
Nationals MP Endorses Government¡¯s "Sensible Broadband Decision"
Call for Submissions on Broadband Solutions for Remote Areas
Sydney's Free Wi-Fi Plans Scrapped
Australian Broadband Guarantee Funding Until 2012
Budget Provides Policing for Internet Safety
National E-health Vision Unleashed in September
Rudd Awakening: Govt's Plans for ICT
NEW ZEALAND: New Regulations for Telecommunications Equipment
NSW Government Gives $25 Million Boost to ICT Research
Strategy Draft Signals Intent on Cybercrime
Law to Guard Against Abuse of Igovt ID System Likely
NZ Broadband Network Scores NZ$350 Million Boost
Cunliffe Launches New ICT Industry Body
Platform for New Digital Future Launched
EUROPE: Belgium Social Security Goes Electronic
German E-government Cost-Effectiveness Software Updated
Hungary Launches Database of NGOs
Liechtenstein E-government Strategy Assessed
Poland Improving Security for E-signatures
Portuguese On-Line Tax Declarations Soar
Romanian Bucharest Leads the Way in Romania for E-payments
Slovenia New E-democracy Service Involves Citizens in Legislative Process
Swiss Business Takes to E-government
Detailed UK Noise Maps Available Via New Government Online Service
NORTH AMERICA: New Technology Helps U.S. Local Governments Gauge Risk Management Costs
New York State Publishes Study on Enhancing E-Record Access
San Francisco Announces New Small Business Online Permitting System
| CHINA: State Council to Use Internet for Public Opinion
Gov't Plans 4 On-line Job Fairs for Graduates
New Applications of Internet Communication Technology Bring Common People Closer to NPC, CPPCC Sessions
China to Use GPS to Monitor Transport, Store of Olympic Food
China to Monitor Land Use via Satellite
Shanghai Tech Body Gets Top Accolade from UN
3G Mobile Service Available for Beijing Olympics
JAPAN: Environment Ministry, Weather Agency Unify Yellow Sand Info on Web
SOUTH KOREA: Korea Ranked Top 10 in Global Network Readiness Report
Korea to Launch Health Telemonitoring System
| INDONESIA: Internet Blocking Costs 'Government Credibility'
MALAYSIA: Appealing to the Net Generation
IASA Calls for Public Sector Participation
PHILIPPINES: Computerized Elections: the UP Experience
SINGAPORE: S$1.3b Standard ICT Operating Environment Tender Awarded to oneMeridian
THAILAND: Paperless eCustoms System to Be Launched in May
|BANGLADESH: Implementation of E-Governance Initiatives Emphasised
INDIA: Rural India Gets a Taste of E-Governance
E-Stamping Introduced in Karnataka (India)
India: SBI Looking to Sell Products Via E-Gram
E-Governance Implemented in Municipal Bodies in 423 Cities
India Slips on UN E-Governance
India: Delhi Is the Best E-Governed State of 2007
India: Small States More E-Savvy
Indian Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation's Website Launched
India: Tamil Nadu Launches Portal for E-Processing of Lands
SRI LANKA: Ranked 79 from 127 Countries on Network Readiness
PAKISTAN: Reap IT Benefits: Gilani
|AFGHANISTAN£ºMCIT Builds a Technical Administrative Building in Mastab Qala Area of the Kabul City
AZERBAIJAN£ºDemocratic Party to Use New Political Technologies During Presidential Elections
IRAN: Regional Telecom Ties Favored
UZBEKISTAN£ºUzbekistan Creates Electronic System of Epidemiological Monitoring
|AUSTRALIA: NSW Police to Search Computer Networks
Government Announces Panel of Experts to Assess National Broadband Network Proposals
Australians Prefer E-government, Still Don't Use It
Defence Signs Telecommunications Contract
NSW Prisoners to Videoconference With Lawyers
NEW ZEALAND: Digital Transcription Technology Introduced to the High Court
New Government CIO Posts First Blog Entry
Public Consultations One-Stop Shop Opens
New Gauge Part of Tsunami Monitoring Network
| Global Web 2.0 Market to Surge in Next Five Years, Says Forrester
Global ICT Spending Tops $3.5 Trillion
Governments and Business Must Tackle Internet Address Shortage Together, Says OECD
AFRICA: Continent Lags Behind in Access to E-Infrastructure
EUROPE: Austria E-auctions for Boroughs
New Eservice for Latvia Electricity Consumers
Britain Government's Zanzibar Emarketplace Wins Prestigious Management Award
NORTH AMERICA: Mexico Is a Growing Destination for Information Technology Services
Public-Private Partnership Improves Case Management for U.S Workers Comp Agencies
Canadian Companies Using Creative Techniques to Attract Top IT Talent
| CHINA: Telecom Expanding Wireless Network
IT Revenue Grows by 24% to Again Take Top Shanghai Spot
China Expects 15 Pct of GDP from Online Economy
Digital System Sales Through Medical Check
China to Launch Trial of 3G Mobile Phones
China World's Largest Internet Market
Electronic and Information Industry Lags
Online Recruitment Taking Off in China
Chinese Firms Take 10% of Global 3G Handset Market
JAPAN: Online Banks Racing to Lure Customers to Forex Margin Trading
NEC Equips Switzerland with Mobile TV Transmitters
Brightcove Moves into Japan Market with Online Video
SOUTH KOREA: International IT firms' Korean Units Enter Global Market with Localized Technology
Korea's IT Investment to Top 22.5 Tril. Won
Samsung, Intel, TSMC Agree on Joint Chip-making Standard
| MALAYSIA: Pay-via-Cellphone Service Ready
SINGAPORE: IDA to Pre-Qualify Interested Parties to Be Operating Company for Singapore's Next Generation National Broadband Network
New Scheme to Help Small Businesses Embrace Technology
Scheme to Help Businesses Go Online
Singapore to Usher in New e-Invoicing System, May 1
VIET NAM: IT Groups Target Small- And Medium Enterprises
| BANGLADESH: Intel to Help Bangladesh Bridge Digital Divide
INDIA: Indian Railways to Adopt New Bidding Process for HR Online Project
Salem Corporation Launches Computerised Tax Collection Centre
India: BMC Ties Up Sify to Provide E-Services
Land Records to Be Digitised Within a Month in Andhra Pradesh
Land Records to Be Digitised Within a Month in Andhra Pradesh
PAKISTAN: Acer Holds Incentive Programme 2008
Mobile Firms Asked to Provide SIMs Only to Identified Persons
| AFGHANISTAN: 80% Stake in Telecom Up for Grabs
AZERBAIJAN£ºNar Mobile and Ericsson Sign USD100 Million Contract
IRAQ: Zain to Employ Nokia Siemens for Expansion Work
IRAN£ºMegafon to Apply for Licence
KAZAKHSTAN£ºVimpelcom to Manage Sky Mobile
TAJIKISTAN: MTS Eyes Babilon
Huawei Presents New Computer Technologies at Dushanbe Secondary School
TURKEY: Avea Expects MNP in October
IPO Could Be Delayed by Market Conditions
Turk Telekom to Sue Cellular Rival
Market for Online Ticket Sales Needs to Grow
TURKMENISTAN£ºMTS Launches Wireless Internet in Turkmenistan
UZBEKISTAN£ºHeliosNet to Participate in Development of Telecom Infrastructure in Uzbekistan
| AUSTRALIA: Industry and Government Charting Digital TV Switchover
Queensland Local Body Develops Open-Source CMS
NEW ZEALAND: Kiwi ICT Stacks Up Well in Global Survey
OECD Ranking a Slight Improvement ¨C InternetNZ
| Global Symposium for Regulators Focuses on Affordable Broadband Access
APEC Ministers Take on the Digital Divide
AFRICA: Kenya Sets World First with Money Transfers by Mobile
Namibia: ICT Transforming Health Sector
ASIA: Middle East Leads the Way in Improving Networked Readiness
EUROPE: Investigate Nokia's Proposed Acquisition of Digital Mapping Leader
Estonian Hospital Introduces E-patient Portal
¡®Smart¡¯ Buses and Stops Give Greeks Better Transport System
Greek Greek Municipalities Going Digital
NORTH AMERICA: Government of Alberta£¬Canada Launches Public Health Action Plan
|CHINA: Project to Offer Mobile Rural Development Solutions A Resume on Portal May Click into a Job China's Internet Users Hit 221 Mln, Rank World's First Rural Online Users Up 128% in 2007, Triple Urban Rise Mobile Network to Be Accessible in Beijing Subway Lines Air China Opens Internet Check-in Service in Hong Kong Shanghai's Spot on the Wi-Fi Map China to Launch Online Public Memorial Ceremony for Quake Victims Netizens Launch Programs to Help Quake Victims The Online Hunt for China's Earthquake Victims 30% Chinese Mobile Phone Users to Read Through Handsets in 5 Years JAPAN: comScore Ranks the Top Japanese Web Sites for March 2008 Japanese Internet Satellite Hits 1.2Gbps Acca Networks to Launch Data Service in June Social Networking Site Facebook Begins Services in Japanese Rivalry in Japanese Social Networking Sites Heats Up SOUTH KOREA: Yahoo Opens English Web Site Offering Korea Information Korean Start-up Develops Innovative Titanium Molding Technology Korean Internet Giant Fined LG Electronics Releases World's Thinnest LCD TV Accessing Websites to Be Streamlined for Foreigners|
| INDONESIA: Government and Intel Ink Deal to Promote e-Learning
MALAYSIA: Good Report Card for Our Callcentres, But Still Room for Improvement, Says Expert
i-City A Recognised Cybercentre
Donations Can Be Made Online
PHILIPPINES: GMA Network Goes Online Gaming with e-Games
Twenty-Four Million Pinoys Are Online
SINGAPORE: High-Tech Shopping Carts to Be Deployed
First in the World: Wireless Mobile Wimax Access in Singapore's Seaport Now A Reality
Survey Shows Eight in Ten Singaporeans Shop Online
THAILAND: Easy Access to Information
Go Online to Boost Customer Satisfaction, Performance
The Future of Shopping
VIET NAM: Research and Education Network Launched
|INDIA: Online Grievance Redressal System Launched in Nagaland Portal on Disability Launched in India Gujarat Police Begin Accepting E-Complaints Kerala to Be the First E-Literate State in India Coal India to Launch E-Auction for Future Soon India: Online Database of Orissa Kids Launched Disbursal of Pension Goes Online in Tamil Nadu (India) E-Nagarik Seva Kendras Coming Up Soon in Ranchi (India) E-Card for Journalists E-Passport to Be Introduced in India from June Indian Railways to Outsource E-Tickets Land Revenue Records in Pakistan to Be Computerised Soon PAKISTAN: 12,000 Post Offices to Be Computerised|
|IRAN: E-Banks Planned UZBEKISTAN£ºAirways Launches Sale of Electronic Tickets|
|AUSTRALIA: Council Uses RFID to Go Through Residents' Garbage WA Remote Emergency and Health Services Get Broadband Boost Access to Electronic Media Under Review A Stronger Voice for Consumers Australia Drowning in Electronic Waste Government Makes It Easier to Be Green in One Easy Stop Budget to Target Health Sector ICT Delivery|
| APC Enters into a Partnership with Privacy Specialists
AFRICA: Copyright and Education£ºLaunch of the ACA2K Network
Algeria Launches Offensive against Cybercrime
EUROPE: Google Street View to Be Launched
Prime Minister Brown Says Britain at Risk of Cyber Attack
|CHINA: Unknown Hacker Hijacks Gov't Website Websites Face Content Penalties Gov't Cracks Down on Illegal Online Map Services Junk Text Message Nearly Doubles in 2007 23 Illegal Drug Sales Websites Shut Down MONGOLIA: Control Network Set Up|
| MALAYSIA: MPA Bites Back in Net Piracy
SC: Stronger Laws on Personal Info Needed
New Site Teaches Safety on the Web
PHILIPPINES: IT Sector Presses for Data Privacy and Security Law
IT Chiefs Warn of Cyber-Terrorism Threat
BSA Committee Chair Sees Need for More Anti-Piracy Education
THAILAND: Distance Learning Gets Closer in Remote Areas
Real-Time Tracking for Greater Safety
VIET NAM: Conference Focuses on Information Security
Social Networking Applications Can Pose Security Risks
|INDIA: Emergency Cell to Tackle Cyber Crimes Set Up: Minister Home Ministry Urges State Government to Curb Cyber Crimes More Effectively China Mounts Cyber Attacks on Indian Sites India: Chandigarh Sets Up Cyber Crime Cell PAKISTAN: Laws Awareness to Discourage Cyber Related Crimes Need to Implement Cyber Crime Laws Stressed|
|AUSTRALIA: Consumers Reminded to Protect Themselves from Online Scams Aussie Privacy Reforms to Deal with Social Networks New Patent Database Exposes Inventors' Old Ideas Consultative Working Group to Improve Cyber-Safety Privacy Rules for a Web 2.0 World National Security Policy to Cover Cybersecurity NEW ZEALAND: Budget Delivers for ICT Security as Well as Broadband|
| Stakeholder Consultation on Public Participation in Internet Governance
World Telecommunication & Information Society Day
AFRICA: ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008 Opens in Cairo
Nigeria Hosts AfrITEx2008
EUROPE: 'The Portoroz Declaration' on Ehealth in a ¡°Without Frontiers¡±
|CHINA: IC Industry to Meet in Suzhou in September Microsoft Set to Open Training Center in Wuxi Int'l Electronics Fairs Kick Off Sourcing Season in HK SOUTH KOREA: Copyright Protection Forum to be Held in Seoul Ministers, CEOs, Int'l figures to Discuss Future of Internet in Seoul|
| MALAYSIA: WCIT 2008 to Be Huge Event
Shorter Addresses on the Internet
PHILIPPINES: Land Transportation Office Accelerates Drive for Efficiency with Sybase IQ
Frost and Sullivan and Leading Philippine Outsourcer Share Best Practices for Maximizing Performance in Contact Centers at NICE Systems' Seminar
SINGAPORE: Annual Communicasia and Broadcastasia Event
Singapore Telecom Launches Global Delivery Platform
THAILAND: Minor Group in Radical IT Move
EVENTS JCSSE 2008 Will Be Held on May 8 and 9 at Felix River Kwai Resort, Kanchanaburi
VIET NAM: Top Five eCommerce Events of 2007
Vietnam to Launch First Satellite to Improve Telecommunications
|BANGLADESH: Inter-school ICT 2008 Begins at OIS Today INDIA: E-India 2008 5th National Summit on E-gov PAKISTAN: 'Aaj TV Mobile Hungama' to Open on June 27 NetSol Organises Workshop|
|KAZAKHSTAN: Astana Hosts 1st Congress of IT Companies Premier Opened "Electronic Kazakhstan" Exhibition-Forum in Astana TAJIKISTAN: International Conference on Use of IT in Universities Held in Dushanbe UZBEKISTAN£ºInternational Conference on Digital Signature to Be Held in Tashkent|
|Telecommunications Consumer Stakeholder Forum Regional Telecommunications Review Reaches New South Wales CeBIT Australia 2008 Lands in Sydney Emerging Innovation Awards Winner Announced NEW ZEALAND: New Digital Super Group Announced Government-Assisted ICT Forum Cautiously Welcomed|
It's always interesting when the mainstream press casts its eye on digital government. The Economist (Feb. 16) has a 16-page special report on the topic. One of the most influential and certainly the most global of business publications, The Economist takes an international look at how e-government is progressing, examining how it is faring in such places as Singapore, India and Dubai as well as the UK and the U.S.
Their prognosis: governments around the world have pretty much mastered what The Economist calls "i-government, the provision of information." The Internet has also made it easier to share information between departments and among citizens. Some governments are moving closer to offering entire services online and others are looking at ways to deliver services to a mobile public (i.e., m-government). But government has yet to master how to personalize what it offers, so customers can set their preferences and keep them the next time they visit government online; it still doesn't do a good job providing round-the-clock access; and finally, it has a long way to go before its online public services are as easy to use as those in the private sector. To be fair, the special report balances the struggles with e-government against the special requirements and burdens the public sector faces, the impact of politics, unions and plain old-fashioned bureaucracy, and the constant struggle to protect the privacy of citizens in a digital world.
While none of the governments featured in the article are spared criticism, the United Kingdom comes under particularly harsh judgment for some of its projects that have gone off the rails (including the $25 billion National Health Service electronic makeover). Meanwhile, Washington, D.C.'s CTO Vivek Kundra receives somewhat flattering attention for his efforts to use IT to streamline how the district operates. But overall, much remains to be done, according to The Economist. "Although hopes have been high and the investment has been huge, so far the results have mostly been disappointing. That reflects a big difficulty in e-government: It touches on so many other things. What exactly is it that public organizations are trying to maximize, and how can it be measured?"
According to the 2007 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 206,884 complaints of crimes perpetrated over the Internet during 2007. Of the complaints received, more than 90,000 were referred to law enforcement around the nation, amounting to nearly $240 million in reported losses. This represents a $40 million increase in reported losses from complaints referred to law enforcement in 2006. All complaints received by IC3 are accessible to federal, state, and local law enforcement to support active investigations, trend analysis, and public outreach and awareness efforts.
"The Internet presents a wealth of opportunity for would be criminals to prey on unsuspecting victims, and this report shows how extensive these types of crime have become," said FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director James E. Finch. "What this report does not show is how often this type of activity goes unreported. Filing a complaint through IC3 is the best way to alert law enforcement authorities of Internet crime." Although Internet auction fraud was the most widely reported complaint, others cited in the report include fraudulent activity such as non-delivery of purchases and credit/debit card fraud, and non-fraudulent activity such as computer intrusions, spam/unsolicited e-mail, and child pornography. In an effort to raise public awareness, the report also describes the characteristics of commonly reported scams such as those involving the purchase or sale of pets, check scams, e-mail spam, and online dating fraud.
Common frauds described in the report: Pet Scams · You see an online (or offline) ad selling a pet and send in your money, plus a little extra for delivery costs. But you never get the pet; the scam artist simply takes your money and runs. · You're selling a pet. You're sent a check that's actually more than your asking price. When you ask about the overpayment, you're told it's meant for someone else who will be caring for the pet temporarily. You're asked to deposit the check and wire the difference to this other person. But the check bounces and you lose the money you sent to what turns out to be a fraudster.
Secret Shoppers and Funds Transfer Scams · You've been hired via the web to rate your experiences while shopping or dining. You're paid by check and asked to wire a percentage of the money to a third party. Like the pet scam, the check is bad and you're out the money you sent. As part of the scam, the fraudsters often use (illegally) real logos from legitimate companies. · While renting out a property, you're sent a check that is more than your rental fee and asked to wire the difference to someone else. Or you take a job that requires you to receive money from a company and redistribute funds to affiliates via wire. Adoption and Charity Frauds · You get a spam e-mail that tugs on your heartstrings, asking for a pressing donation to a charity and often using the subject header, "Urgent Assistance is Needed." The name of a real charity is generally used, but the money is really going to a con artist. One set of scams in 2007, for example, used the name of a legitimate British adoption agency to ask for money for orphaned or abandoned children.
Romance Fraud · You encounter someone in an online dating or social networking site who lives far away or in another country. That person strikes up a relationship with you and then wants to meet, but needs money to cover travel expenses. Typically, that's just the beginning -- the person may end up in the hospital during the trip or get mugged and need more money, etc. The 2007 Internet Crime Complaint Report is available at www.ic3.gov/media/annualreports.aspx.
World Expo Shanghai goes on line. And people who can't make it to the real 2010 World Expo will be able to visit the pavilions via the Internet. Expo Shanghai Online, was launched Monday at a seminar in Paris. Switzerland became the first country to join. Expo Shanghai Online is a brand-new program, bringing the more than 150 year tradition of World Expo into the 21st Century. The Web site, which goes partially live in January 2010 will allow people worldwide to see three-dimensional images of the pavilions, on line. Those who log on can "walk" into every corner of the Expo sites and view them from a first-person perspective. They will be able to view performances any time, anywhere. They will also be able to interact inside the pavilions by playing games or chat with pavilion chiefs. They can even plan a future city in keeping with the Expo's theme of livable cities and innovation. At the launch event, the deputy commissioner general of Switzerland's exhibition section, Manuel Salchli, handed a letter confirming his country's participation to Zhu Yonglei. Zhu is deputy director general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination. Vicente Loscertales, secretary general of the International Expositions Bureau, hailed the program as a great innovation with historic significance. Representatives from Switzerland and Japan introduced plans for setting up a 3-D online pavilion through online technology, during the 2005 World Expo at Aichi.
After moving towards e-Governance, now India is expanding m-Governance across the country. Around 54 gram panchayats in five remote blocks of the state will soon have SMS alerts on disasters, funds inflow and outflow, information about health camps and pulse polio campaigns will be sent to and from between the state departments, district offices and gram panchayats, block development offices. In this regard, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has sanctioned INR 50 lakh for the pilot project. The project will begin in 54 gram panchayats in five blocks including Bandwan and Bagmundi blocks of Purulia and Sagar, Patharpratima and Gosaba blocks of South 24-Parganas. The project would be completed within nine months. Once the project is implemented, SMS alerts will be sent out to government officials and members of the gram panchayats about impending disasters such as a Bird Flu outbreak, or allotment of funds for a particular project, information about the date and venue of a health camp to be held, pulse polio campaign and the filing of reports through an SMS alert over the mobile. The state department for panchayat and rural development is working towards setting up Common Service Centres (CSC) at villages at the gram panchayat, block and district levels. About 1,000 CSCs, called Tathya Mitra, have already been rolled out in the districts.
¡®Health Atlas Ireland¡¯ is an open source Geographical Information System (GIS) which enables both health services planning and health data analysis. The project received a Public Service Excellence Award 2008 from Ireland¡¯s Prime Minister Bertie Ahern on 18 April.The Health Atlas Ireland project is led by the health public sector (Health Service Executive - HSE) in partnership with two universities. It is grant aided by the Health Research Board as well as the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Ireland¡¯s specialist agency for the surveillance of communicable diseases.
Health Intelligence, a sub-directorate of Ireland¡¯s Population Health service within the HSE in charge of providing official health information reports that ¡°Health Atlas Ireland exploits the potential of integrating geographical information system technologies, health datasets (census, HIPE, mortality etc) and statistical computations in a web-enabled and open source environment¡±. The purpose of the system is to ¡°provide role-based access to ¡®health mapping¡¯ across the sector in support of service planning, epidemiology, emergency responding and research¡° Health Intelligence indicates.
Reporting on the award of the prize, non-profit network Zea Partners informed that ¡°Health Atlas Ireland was selected among dozens projects for its innovation capacity and its technical perfection¡±, being ¡°an innovative project that greatly improves the quality and the efficiency of services delivered by health services.¡± This network also deems Health Atlas Ireland easily transferable to similar foreign authorities due to its considerable replication potential.
The following are the remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a public hearing on local laws: "The first of four bills before me today is Introductory Number 728, sponsored by Speaker Quinn and Council Members de Blasio, McMahon, Comrie, Dickens, Fidler, Gentile, Katz, Koppell, Recchia, Sanders, Weprin, Gerson, Jackson, James, Stewart, Vallone, Martinez, Yassky, Liu, Nelson, Foster, Monserrate, Rivera, Garodnick, Mealy and Sears. This bill establishes an electronics collection, handling and disposal program for New York City's electronic waste.
"Electronic waste, known as 'e-waste,' contains many toxic substances and represents a growing share of New York City's commercial and residential waste stream. Currently, manufacturers of electronic equipment are not required by law to bear any of the financial burden or responsibility for safely managing discarded electronic equipment at the end of its useful life, thus burdening local government and consumers with these costs and responsibilities. If e-waste is improperly handled, it can harm our environment through the release of toxic substances into the waste stream. "Introductory Number 728 requires manufacturers of certain electronic equipment - such as computers, monitors and televisions - to collect their products offered for return by any person in the City, and to ensure that the equipment is properly disposed of in accordance with existing laws and EPA guidelines. Manufacturers will be required to submit an electronic waste management plan to the Department of Sanitation, describing in detail how they would implement the requirements of the law. Introductory Number 728 will make it unlawful for manufacturers and others to dispose of electronic waste in the City's solid waste stream.
"In the absence of Federal legislation, twelve states have passed electronic waste laws. New York City will be the first municipality to pass e-waste legislation, which will protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of New York City. It will also improve our environment without placing any unreasonable or arbitrary requirements on electronics manufacturers.
The electronics industry of late has become very interested in "green" and "eco-friendly" concepts. Only a year ago, the situation was quite different, said a source at Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI).From the viewpoint of environmental protection, the shift to "green information technology (IT)," including slashing power consumption by IT-related equipment, facilities, etc, is picking up speed in Japan, the US and elsewhere. In Japan the Green IT Promotion Council was established to address global warming by electronics firms, related industry bodies and other groups on February 1, 2008, with an initial membership (actual and planned) of 133 entities.In the US, the non-profit Green Grid Association was established in February 2007 to reduce power consumption by data centers and other facilities, and membership is growing on almost a weekly basis. On February 5, 2008 the group held its very first Green Grid Technical Forum in the US, and announced that corporate membership has surpassed 150 firms.
Time and time again, we hear that technology silos are bad news. The notion of 15 public agencies each building an infrastructure to run its own applications conjures images of wasted space, money, manpower and time. For many, the solution for this kind of redundancy is to share. "Shared services" has emerged as a popular buzzword. But what people mean by that term - exactly what's being shared and how - depends on whom you ask.
It may mean a service that a central group provides to the whole enterprise; managing human resources or accounts payable for an entire state government is one example. "In the context of a lot of the public sector, it's oftentimes things like network communications, IT infrastructure and data centers - so you see all those data center consolidation exercises," said Paul Wheaton, senior vice president and chief strategy officer of Five9 Technologies, a Chicago-based IT management consulting firm that has helped several state governments with consolidations. But to Gartner analysts, a shared service is slightly different: an organization governed in part by the customers it serves, rather than a consolidated center created by executive decree.
"True shared services involve three elements," said John Kost, managing vice president at Gartner and a former CIO of Michigan during the mid-1990s. "No. 1, that the customers are involved in governance. No. 2, that the organization that's running it is billing back all its services to its customers. And No. 3, that there are mutually agreed-upon service levels between the customers and the organization running the operation." One of the more interesting forms of shared IT service is creating software services that perform multiple functions for several organizations - not simply moving servers, storage and technicians into a central facility. The best way to accomplish this kind of sharing, some experts say, is to use service-oriented architecture (SOA).
SOA is an approach to software development that relies on reusable components and open standards. The idea is to create a collection of services in the form of discrete software modules that can be combined in different ways to create different applications. They're a bit like Lego blocks, with standardized connectors that bind each piece to every other piece. You might use the same plastic blocks to build a model of a castle or a dinosaur. And you might use some of the same software blocks to build, for example, an online application that business owners use to apply for permits, or a different application that caseworkers use to enroll clients for benefits. Discussing the role of SOA in creating shared services can be confusing because people also use the term "shared services" to denote the software modules themselves. Under the SOA approach, the software blocks are called "services," and numerous applications may use the same block in different contexts.
"When you talk about it in really tight IT terms, shared services is a component-based architecture, where you decompose a business service into elemental parts and then provide those common components for other people to adopt," Wheaton said. Still, if you stick to the idea that "shared service," means an entity that serves multiple customers with software to meet their business needs, there are good arguments for using the SOA model to achieve that mission.
The state-run electronic research institute said Sunday (May 18) that it has developed a data transfer technology that is fully compatible with the latest component interconnection standards.The development of the intellectual property (IP) core technology marks a first for the country's information technology sector and heralds its entry into the computer processor and system-on-chip (SoC) market, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) said. It said the technology has passed rigorous, year-long compliance tests to determine whether it is fully compatible with the Peripheral Component Interconnect Bus Express (PCI Express). The technology has been registered with the PCI-Special Interest Group that is responsible for setting global standards on PCI Express technologies. IP core technologies control PCI Express systems that are designed to quickly process and transfer data in all computer servers and peripheral equipment.
PSI Express has the capability to transfer 250 megabytes to 8 gigabytes of data per second, a speed that is five to 170 times faster than USBs and older PCIs. Using PSI Express, a person can download a 700-megabyte movie in one second compared to around 15 second using conventional USBs. "The new core can be used in a wide range of items like graphic cards, USBs and various interface devices," said Kim Seong-woon, chief of platform research at ETRI. Until now, Korea did not have this technology so it had to import all the devices with them.Korea is the global leader in terms of memory chip design and production, but lags behind companies like Intel, IBM, AMD and NVIDEA which dominate the fields of high-value-added processors and SoCs. Industry insiders said that with more computer and peripheral product manufacturers switching to PCI Express from older PCIs and USBs, demand for the system could reach $25 billion in 2010, with Korea aiming to take 5 percent of the global market worth around $1.2 billion.Kim also said that a local IT company has been given the right to use the IP core technology with others expected to follow suit. The IP core took about three years to develop.
SINGAPORE: Singapore wants to form a spider-web network of trust to blanket the entire country. Four constituencies - Buona Vista, Canberra, Zhenghua and Marsiling - will help do that. The programme's objective is to promote harmony if racial and religious tensions break out. These constituencies were among some 30 constituencies to receive the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) Ready certification from Minister-in-Charge of Grassroots Cluster CEP, Mr Lim Swee Say, on Tuesday. This certification means the constituencies have developed proper emergency preparedness plans and have a group of influential community leaders who can be mobilised in a crisis. Grassroots volunteers also received a Grassroots Emergency Response Guide Book at the event. With regards to the escape of Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Mas Selamat Kastari, Mr Lim said Singaporeans have passed the resilience test with flying colours as citizens have remained united in confronting this incident as one people. He said: "Even though we've passed this test for the escape of Mas Selamat, we shouldn't assume that we'll always be able to pass the test in the future because future damages could be much bigger. Therefore, no matter how resilient we are today as a community, we must never take it for granted." By the end of this year, there will be a new version of the Grassroots Emergency Response Guide Book, which will include topics like what the CEP is all about and some exercises on how to deal with racial and religious tensions within the Singapore community. This book is expected to be distributed to over 7,000 grassroots leaders in 84 constituencies. (by May Wong)
Qamar Zaman Kaira the Federal IT Minister has said that the present Government of Pakistan desires to use IT to bring about greater efficiency and transparency within the government, streamline the functioning of the government and at the same time facilitate the citizens by providing them services at their doorsteps. The Federal Minister was informed that 40 different IT projects are being executed by Electronic Government Directorate (EGD) of the Ministry of Information Technology for various federal government organisations. The Federal Minister appreciated the efforts of Electronic Government Directorate, which he stated is doing a remarkable effort in automating various processes of the federal government and assisting federal government organisations in making their services available online to citizens. He further stated that e-Government could significantly contribute to the government's hundred days programme and beyond and desired that a briefing on this subject may be arranged for the benefit of the concerned offices. He informed that e-Government has been used worldwide for streamlining the working of the government. He particularly showed keen interest in using IT to bring greater transparency in the electoral process.
The Ministry of Economic Development has released a draft of the government's updated digital strategy for public comment. As expected, the draft Digital Strategy 2.0 focuses a lot on the impact of digital technologies on citizen, society and government rather than on the narrower ICT sector. "In the few years since the 2005 Digital Strategy, we have seen changes in the ways people communicate, interact, do business and experience their histories and cultures," the draft strategy says. "Today¡¯s digital technologies are enabling new expressions of New Zealanders¡¯ sense of identity and community on screen and online. New business models are emerging, disrupting the old. Citizen-centred transactions have the potential to transform government. Smart digital technologies are enabling us to do things faster but with fewer resources." The draft says it is time to respond to this "digital revolution":
"The refreshed digital strategy will be the product of this national conversation. It will be the yardstick to measure our progress towards our digital future over the next few years." The draft says revolutionary change has occurred in telecommunications since the 2005 Digital Strategy and many of the targets of the 2005 document have been achieved, "while others remaining are not ambitious enough in the current environment". The new draft focuses on issues such as the internet generation, the participative web, digital broadcasting, digital culture, converging markets and other issues. Consultation on the Draft Digital Strategy 2.0 will run from April 14 to 5.00pm May 12 2008 at www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz
Montreal-based Alternatives is in the final sprint to release a report on the development of the internet infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The feasibility report by this APC member focuses on the setup of a national internet backbone as well as on the content of a national information and communication technology (ICT) policy for the DRC. Founded in 1994, Alternatives, an action and communication network for international development, is a non-governmental, international solidarity organisation based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. "We are finally about to release the first draft of our research on internet infrastructure in the DRC on March 12 (2007)," Michel Lambert, programme director of Alternatives, told APCNews, just before leaving for Kinshasa this month. In terms of ICT development, the document will federalise policies of all relevant sectors: telecommunication, computer science and communication media. It will determine the current challenges, enumerate essential priorities and define strategic axes to tackle these priorities.
In terms of implementation, this unique independent study in the DRC proposes an internet infrastructure, at only 10% of the price proposed by commercial business. ¡°If you are frowning at that prospect, consider catching up on literature related to open access,¡± insists Lambert. ¡°Open access infrastructure refers to the pipes, the copper - let's say, the large artery infrastructure ¨C that is understood as a global public good,¡± describes Karen Banks of the APC. ¡°The other part of it,¡± she argues ¡°is the infrastructure at the ends of the large arteries - the wireless and other types of networks that connect to the artery. These also need to rely on a regulatory approach that stimulates investment and maintenance,¡± she explains. ¡°It needs to be done in way that is conducive to innovation and diversity in ownership - including local and community ownership - of ICT models¡±. This interpretation, generously documented in APC issue papers, considers internet infrastructure as a critical resource, precisely like water.
The final report is expected in two months. ¡°Since January 2007, we are facilitating the newly created civil society-government commission on ICT policy. That commission is also expected to conclude in March or April 2007," Lambert told APCNews. Active in over 25 countries, Alternatives - which is an APC member - supports local, community-based initiatives working towards the greater economic, social, and political rights of people and communities affected by poverty, discrimination, exploitation, and violence. The organisation publishes Le journal d¡¯Alternatives, a high-quality publication inserted once a month in Montreal's French daily Le Devoir. It is also available on Alternatives' website.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo - also called the DRC, RDC, Congo-Kinshasa or Congo, and formerly as Zaire, is the third largest country by area on the African continent. Formerly a Belgian colony, since 1998, the country has suffered greatly from the devastating Second Congo War (sometimes referred to as the African World War. This has been the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. Some four million people have died as a result of the fighting. The United Nations says a thousand people a day are still dying as a result of the conflict. (by FN for APCNews)
More than 250 million Europeans regularly use the Internet, says the mid-term progress report of the European Commission on i2010, the European Union¡¯s (EU) digital-led strategy for growth and jobs. Since its adoption in 2005, i2010 has led to a firm commitment to promoting ICT at EU and national levels. As of 2007, all Member States consider ICT development as one of the main achievements in their structural reform programmes. From their side, EU institutions have encouraged the building of a single market for online services and increased research funding.
Besides the increase of the regular use of the Internet in the EU, the report ¡°Preparing Europe's digital future. i2010 Mid-Term Review¡± reveals that 80 % of Europeans regularly using the Internet have broadband connections, while 60 % of public services in the EU are fully available online. Furthermore, two thirds of schools and half of doctors make use of fast Internet connections, thanks to a strong broadband growth in Europe.
The EU has the world's largest developed consumer market and 100 million broadband Internet connections and is thus well placed to reap the economic benefits of ICT. In other words, the Mid-Term review finds that i2010 is starting to deliver. In this favourable context, the report addresses the key challenges for 2008-2010, namely: To boost research performance, EU-funded Joint Technology Initiatives on nanoelectronics and embedded systems, eHealth and risky high-tech research will become operational in 2008.
To encourage use of new online technologies, the Commission will publish a Guide to EU Users' Digital Rights and Obligations later in 2008. To launch large-scale projects to support pan-European public services like the cross-border operation of electronic identity or electronic signatures.
The second call for proposals of the ICT Policy Support Programme opened on 29 April 2008 following the adoption of the related Work Programme for 2008. This call will close on 9 September 2008. The ICT Policy Support Programme (ICT PSP) is one of the three multi-annual specific programmes that structure the ¡®Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme¡¯ (CIP). Running for the years 2007-2013, CIP aims to encourage the competitiveness of European enterprises, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). CIP supports among others a better take-up and use of ICTs, as well as the development of the Information Society.
The ICT PSP Work Programme for 2008 has been recently approved by the European Commission. Among other objectives, ICT PSP aims to help to ¡°overcome the hurdles hindering the development of an information society for all in support of the i2010 goals¡± and to ¡°develop markets for innovative ICT-based solutions notably in areas of public interest.¡± The indicative budget of the second call for proposals amounts to €39 million. Proposals are called for under three main themes, namely: ICT for user friendly administrations, public services and inclusion; ICT for energy efficiency and sustainability in urban areas; Consensus building, experience sharing on Internet evolution and security. The evaluation of the proposals, assisted by independent experts, will take place in early October 2008. Communication of selection results to proposers and start of negotiations are foreseen for November 2008.
Details of Scotland's largest and most ambitious programme of public sector investment in education, transport and the environment have been published by the Scottish Government. The second Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) sets out the Scottish Government's proposals for sustainable capital investment.It provides businesses with information to allow them to plan ahead for future investment projects.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said:¡± The Scottish Government has delivered record funding for local government to deliver our priorities, including increased investment to enhance the infrastructure needed to make our communities more successful. "We are determined to deliver much needed improvements to Scotland's public services and boost the performance of our economy. "The Infrastructure Investment Plan sets out projects that are key to our aim of increasing sustainable economic growth. It also provides the business community with information on the extensive range of opportunities that lie ahead."
The first IIP in Scotland was published in 2005. The new plan provides a new platform for investment. The new Plan includes for the first time local authority capital plans over the next five years. It also includes web links to many policy and investment strategies in the public sector which support the Plan.
The Michigan Department of Information Technology (MDIT) released its 2008 strategic plan today, laying out the future vision for technology in Michigan government. Titled: From Vision to Action (2008-2012), the strategic plan for technology is centered on six goals that take Michigan beyond the realm of consolidation and into shared services and collaboration.
"This 2008 iteration of Michigan's strategic plan for information technology builds on all that we have learned in the past and enhances our vision for the future," said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "It lays out how technology will enable us to build a better state government and fulfill our priority areas: jobs, education, communities, health care and better government."
The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) has listed on-line drug sales as a priority target this year and strengthening crackdowns on false advertising of drug products, according to the food and drug watchdog on Thursday. An SFDA spokesman said the authority would enhance its supervision over large and influential Internet portal sites involved in the false advertising or mailing of fake drugs to customers. The websites, most disguised under the names of certain hospitals or medical institutions, either sold counterfeit drugs or publicized illicit content. They included false, exaggerated or misleading information regarding cures to various ailments, the spokesman pointed out. He said the authority would trace producers of counterfeit drugs via on-line illegal adverts as clues. The Ministry of Industry and Information last month ordered relevant Internet access service providers to enhance their management to ensure these sites would not be reconnected to the web in future, according to the SFDA. The administration also warned the public to be alert and avoid falling victim to similar websites. Since July, China has run an advertising campaign against illegal drug ads to tighten its supervision. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce is responsible for punishing violators and the SFDA is in charge of approving drug ads. The country shut down 23 websites found to be carrying illegal drug adverts in its latest inspection, according to the pharmaceutical authority.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) opens a website on Thursday to let people know public policies in detail which might affect their life and business. The powerful economic regulator's drive is echoing to a new decree which takes effect on May 1, requiring government departments to ensure people's access to government information and that on matters of public concern. The NDRC said on the website, http://zfxxgk.ndrc.gov.cn, the information would be open to the public either on its main portal, www.ndrc.gov.cn, or upon request from any individual or legal entity. Any request should be filed in written forms to the NDRC, the website said. The commission promised to respond to written requests within 15 working days. According to the rule on government information transparency, governments at all levels should open information involving public interests, policies or activities that people are entitled to know or discuss, bureaucratic setups, functions and procedures, and any other information legally defined as that should be known by the public. An official with the NDRC said the newly effective rule would improve transparency of the government and ensure people's right to know public policies. The information on the NDRC website includes administrative regulations, rules and other official documents, economic and social development plans, projects and related policies, economic and social statistics, fiscal budget and expenditure reports, administrative charges lists and government procurement lists.
China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has launched a nationwide campaign to reduce illegal telecommunications and postal fee charges. A nationwide survey, which would last until August 30, would cover fee charges of all business or agents engaged in basic telecommunications services, value-added services and postal services since January 1, 2007, the NDRC said in a statement. Inspectors would look for improprieties, such as illegal pricing and excessive fee charges, it said. Some content service providers in China have been found to overcharge their customers, said the commission. The NDRC lowered the country's mobile roaming service charges from March 1 under consumer pressure to entirely abolish them.
China's political advisors called for updating the country's traditional paper-based publishing industry by digital means in light of the rapid development of information technology. A special investigation group, composed of members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), arrived here on May 6 to conduct field research about China's publishing industry. The 11-day investigation in Shanghai and the southwestern Sichuan Province, organized by the Education, Science, Culture and Health Committee (ESCHC) of the CPPCC, will focus on reform and innovation of the publishing industry. In Shanghai, delegates visited the Shanghai Century Publishing Group (SCPG) and Shanghai Xinhua Media Co., Ltd. Both have taken the lead in reforming and modernizing the traditional publishing industry. The SCGP has published many digital products in recent years, including electronic books and an online dictionary and education program. "Digital publishing ushered in a new era of the publishing industry's development," Jiang Shaogao, deputy director of the ESCHC, said at a seminar here on Thursday. "It will profoundly reform the production and consumption concepts of the publishing industry and upgrade the industry," Jiang said.
Ma Shengrong, another member of the CPPCC National Committee, urged the proper protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) in tandem with the accelerated reform of the digital publishing industry. "Despite the rapid progress of digital publishing, corresponding legislation still lags behind its development," Ma said. "If we do not protect IPR properly from the very beginning, the digital industry will not enjoy sound development in the long run," he said. According to a culture "blue paper" released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences early this year, 30 percent of handset users indicated that they would sign up to receive books and newspapers through mobile phones within the next five years. The blue paper predicted that libraries and other users would purchase e-books and digital newspapers valued at more than 1 billion yuan (144 million U.S. dollars) during those five years. It also estimated advertising revenues, linked to e-books and digital newspapers purchased by netizens and handset users, would reach 5 billion yuan in the next five years. The Shanghai part of the study tour ended on Friday, and the delegates travel to Sichuan on Saturday.
President Lee Myung-bak Tuesday (May 6) unveiled Korea's new information technology strategy, eyeing for seizing 10 percent, or 4 trillion won (about $4 billion), of the world's automotive IT market by 2010. "The combination of automobile and state-of-the-art electronic devices and software will create enormous added value in the future. By 2010, the global auto IT market is projected to grow to 40 trillion won," Lee said, speaking to domestic and foreign IT experts at the opening ceremony of the annual Seoul Digital Forum."Automobiles are no longer regarded as part of the machinery industry. They can instead be classified as part of an electronics industry," said the president, vowing to capitalize on the new industrial frontier.Lee said his government will first set up an auto IT innovation center in Korea through partnerships with world-class IT companies and intensively foster small businesses specializing in auto IT technologies."Through such comprehensive efforts, Korea will be able to secure at least 4 trillion won, or 10 percent, of the world's auto IT market by 2010 under the so-called new IT strategy," said Lee.He also forecast that rapidly developing Internet-related technologies are set to open the era of Internet Protocol Television, or IPTV, heralding revolutionary changes in the broadcasting sector. IPTV is a method of distributing television contents over IP that enables a more customized and interactive user experience."IPTV service is expected to create about 10 trillion won in production and about 50,000 new jobs over the next five years," said Lee.
INFORMATION and communication technologies (ICT) can be used in a multitude of ways to improve Philippine education, business and economy. How best to maximize the country¡¯s ICT gains to full advantage and keep up with technological advances will be discussed in the 12th ICT Professionals¡¯ Congress (ICTPC). The 12th ICTPC will focus on how ICT can ¡°Enable the Education,¡± ¡°Empower the Business,¡± and ¡°Enrich the Economy,¡± and will serve as a venue for exploring new technologies, establishing new contacts, and reviewing trends and issues related to the effective integration of ICT covering the Soft Skills, Applications and Infrastructure. It will be held on May 14 to 15 at the Hotel Intercontinental Manila, Makati City, with guest speakers Commission on Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua III, Ayala Foundation EVP Guillermo ¡°Bill¡± Luz and Commission on Higher Education Commissioner Nona Ricafort. The conference will be composed of plenary sessions and regular sessions on education, business and economy, and will feature corporate and product exhibits from event sponsors. The ICT forum is attended yearly by government officials, businessmen and ICT professionals from the academe and industry. Some of the industry partners for this year¡¯s event are JobsDB.com, ePLDT, Globe, and Microsoft. The main event organizer, the Philippine Computer Society, is a premiere organization of over 700 ICT practitioners nationwide founded in 1967. PCS has spearheaded local and international activities which strive to continuously promote, protect and enhance the members of the ICT profession. PCS is a founding member of the Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines as well as the South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation whose other members include national computer societies from Australia, Hongkong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
SINGAPORE: Singapore wants to form a spider-web network of trust to blanket the entire country. Four constituencies - Buona Vista, Canberra, Zhenghua and Marsiling - will help do that. The programme's objective is to promote harmony if racial and religious tensions break out. These constituencies were among some 30 constituencies to receive the Community Engagement Programme (CEP) Ready certification from Minister-in-Charge of Grassroots Cluster CEP, Mr Lim Swee Say, on Tuesday. This certification means the constituencies have developed proper emergency preparedness plans and have a group of influential community leaders who can be mobilised in a crisis. Grassroots volunteers also received a Grassroots Emergency Response Guide Book at the event. With regards to the escape of Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Mas Selamat Kastari, Mr Lim said Singaporeans have passed the resilience test with flying colours as citizens have remained united in confronting this incident as one people. He said: "Even though we've passed this test for the escape of Mas Selamat, we shouldn't assume that we'll always be able to pass the test in the future because future damages could be much bigger. Therefore, no matter how resilient we are today as a community, we must never take it for granted." By the end of this year, there will be a new version of the Grassroots Emergency Response Guide Book, which will include topics like what the CEP is all about and some exercises on how to deal with racial and religious tensions within the Singapore community. This book is expected to be distributed to over 7,000 grassroots leaders in 84 constituencies. (by May Wong)
In a bid to help promote local software development, the Government Information Technology Services (GITS) has teamed up with Software Park Thailand and the Office of Computer Clustering Promotion (CCP) to launch the "IT Cluster Service" scheme which will help outsource software development to local software companies. Published on March 10, 2008. The scheme is a part of the National Science and Technology Development Agency 's IT services. Under the plan, GITS and CCP will act as the project managers, who will receive software development contracts from government agencies which will be subcontracted to small and medium-sized local software companies who are part of the IT cluster. Software Park will play a role as the centre of the software house clusters. The park will lay out the qualification criteria for local software companies. GITS director Sak Segkhoonthod said the organisation expected five to 10 projects to be outsourced to small and medium-sized local software companies through the "IT Cluster Service" project this year.
"We will select local software companies from Software Park's list, which now has about 10 to 15 companies in the cluster. We believe this collaboration will help us provide outsourcing jobs to local software companies. Software Park will play the role of mentor providing guidelines and standards process improvement," Sak said. At an average, about 70 per cent of a system-integration project from one government organisation is likely to be software development. The present trend is that government organisations prefer to spend on system integration projects as opposed to just buying hardware. This translates into more opportunities for the local software industry. From the government's annual IT budget of Bt20 billion to Bt25 billion, about 30 per cent is spent on software development. "Software development in the government market is still full of opportunities for the local software industry. There is a lot of demand. However, the problem is ensuring both quantity and quality for that kind of demand. This collaboration is an attempt of us to take care of that," Sak said. Usually, GITS implements 15 to 30 projects worth about Bt100 million to Bt150 million a year for the government sector. All of them are turnkey projects lasting between two months and two years. However, the average lifespan of a project is about six to nine months.
ISO has just published a standard to increase the security of financial transactions over electronic media. The new standard, ISO 19092:2008, Financial services ¨C Biometrics ¨C Security framework, establishes the security requirements for the implementation and management of state-of-the-art biometric identification technology within the financial industry. The development of computer-based technologies has brought about a revolution resulting in a proliferation of electronic transactions. This has produced a phenomenal reduction in costs and improved efficiency within the financial industry. Trillions of dollars in funds and securities are transferred daily on payment and other financial systems through telephone, wire services and other electronic communication mechanisms. According to ISO 19092:2008, the sheer volume and value of such transactions exposes the financial community and its customers to severe risks from accidental or deliberate alteration, substitution or destruction of data. There is therefore a strong need for an ironclad authentication method.
Biometrics is increasingly considered as a reliable means of identification. It includes technologies such as finger image, voice identification, eye scan and facial image. Its advantage and appeal lies in its convenience and ease of use, its level of apparent security, performance and non-invasiveness.ISO 19092:2008 describes the security framework for using biometrics for authentication of individuals in financial services. It introduces the types of biometric technologies and addresses issues concerning their application. The standard presents the architectures for implementation, specifies the minimum security requirements for effective management, and provides control objectives and recommendations suitable for use by a professional practitioner. It promotes the integration of biometrics into the financial industry and the management of biometric information as part of the overall information security management programme of the organization.
ISO 19092:2008 also addresses the following topics: + usage of biometrics for the authentication of employees and persons seeking financial services by: - verification of a claimed identity - identification of an individual + validation of credentials presented at enrolment to support authentication as required by risk management + management of biometric information across its life cycle comprised of the enrolment, transmission and storage, verification, identification and termination processes + security of biometric information during its life cycle, encompassing data integrity, origin authentication and confidentiality + application of biometrics for logical and physical access control + surveillance to protect the financial institution and its customers + security of the physical hardware used throughout the biometric information life cycle.
¡°ISO 19092 offers a valuable international consensus-based tool to the financial industry that will encourage the secure implementation of biometrics as an authentication method within this sector. This standard is one step ahead, paving the way for the next generation of safer and more reliable financial transactions, increasingly important in today¡¯s electronic era,¡± commented Mr. Mark Lundin, Chair of the ISO subcommittee who developed the standard (subcommittee SC 2, Security management and general banking operations from ISO technical committee ISO/TC 68, Financial services).
Hanoi (VNA) ¨C The Prime Minister has signed a decision to set up a national steering committee on information technology (IT). Under the decision, the steering committee, including a chairman and two vice chairmen, will provide consultancies for the Government in developing strategies to develop the IT industry. The committee will also help the Prime Minister in coordinating and supervising the implementation of IT application and development programmes and projects at ministries, agencies and localities.-Enditem
Bhutan is concentrating to build political will to take ICT (Information Communications Technology) to the next level. The total budget to develop ICT during the ninth five-year plan was almost Nu 80 million, which is actually the cost of building one higher secondary school with boarding facilities. For the tenth plan, the budget has increased to almost Nu 2 billion and that is the same amount that the government would be spending to develop Thimphu's urban area. There is an urgency to increase this budget with the help of properly motivated political will. A number of useful applications have been identified and are in the process of implementation, such as the online issuance of security clearance, the agriculture marketing system to provide market rates and information, online forest clearance and land transactions. 90 percent of all government forms can now be downloaded from the Bhutan portal website. One of the major works was the Thimphu wide area network (WAN) project to connect all organisations and agencies in Thimphu valley through high-speed optical fibre for information sharing. Useful local content for Bhutanese people is also stress to increase the use of computers by people. Within the next five years, the government is aiming to establish IT parks, community information centres in all 202 gewogs in the country, set up e-governance applications, implement national broadband network and reduce internet rates within the next year.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) announced that its three e-Governance projects won National e-Governance Awards 2007-2008 instituted by the Government of India. The MCA-21 project, which creates a paperless, secure and digital environment and undertaken by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs won 'Gold' for 'Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering'. The VAT Information System executed at the Finance Department, Government of Gujarat won 'Silver' in the same category. The Department of Rural Development in Andhra Pradesh won bronze for its portal www.nrega.ap.gov.in as the Best Government Website. The MCA-21 project has been executed in the Build-Operate-Own-Transfer (BOOT) mode to facilitate complete electronic enablement of all stakeholder interaction with the Ministry of Company Affairs. TCS' VAT Information System framework for the Commisionerate of Commercial Taxes, Government of Gujarat has led to increased tax revenue base and collections, improved services to citizens, voluntary compliance, and reduced costs. TCS' NREGA framework, an end-to-end IT solution, has successfully automated Andhra Pradesh Government's Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. A web based data centre aids in the monitoring and review of the Scheme on a continuous basis.
Government has finalised a scheme on e-Governance in civic bodies of cities with a population of one lakh and above.The National Mission Mode Project on e-Governance in municipalities in 423 cities having a population of one lakh and above over a period of five years has been prepared by the Urban Development Ministry, Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. The exercise is aimed at enhancing the preparedness of urban local bodies to approach the market to finance its projects, he said. The scheme has been designed to cover eight services within urban local bodies. The services include registration and issue of birth and death certificate, payment of property tax, water supply and other utilities bills, building plan approvals, grievances and suggestions and procurement and monitoring of projects including e-Procurement. Health programme, accounting system and personal information system are other services which are covered in e-Governance scheme.
New Delhi, March 20: The Indian government Thursday granted approvals to six special economic zones (SEZs), four of them in the IT-ITeS sector. The Board of Approvals (BoA) of the commerce and industry ministry headed by Commerce Secretary G.K. Pillai gave the go ahead. The four IT SEZs are coming up in Karnataka, Haryana and Kerala. Another biotech SEZ to be developed by Vivo Bio Tech Ltd in Andhra Pradesh also received the government's formal nod. A proposal that got in-principle approval is an engineering SEZ that will come up in Maharashtra, courtesy the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corp (MIDC). So far, formal approvals have been granted for setting up 449 SEZs, out of which 206 have been notified, Pillai said.
The Government of India will soon invite tenders from telecom service providers to set up rural networks for which subsidy would be provided from the Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund. Around INR 99 billion fund is lying with the centre. While answering at the Lok Sabha session, A. Raja, Communications and IT Minister of India stated that the government is planning to install 8,000 towers in rural areas, for which subsidy will be given from this fund. He stated that around 35 percent of the geographic area is without mobile telecom services. These all are efforts to enhance the tele-density in the rural areas and for this the USO Fund has been created to lure the operators to go to these areas. Besides installing 8,000 towers in rural areas in the current financial year, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has also proposed to establish another 11,000 towers in the next fiscal. The USO Fund is used to provide fixed telecom services in rural areas, which is now enlarged to include mobile as well as broadband services. Raja also stated that the entry of new telecom players in the mobile services would also lead to greater penetration of services in the rural areas.
Bihar (India) Government has taken encouraging steps to roll out the draft version of the IT Policy 2008. The draft version is all set to put Bihar on the IT map and help in balancing the digital divide in the country. The vision statement articulates that by the end of 2012, Bihar becomes one of the top five e-Governed, IT-enabled, e-Literate States in the Country and is regarded as a preferred destination for IT businesses and is a major supplier of skilled IT manpower. The IT policy goal would be realised by building core IT infrastructure in the State, ushering in e-Governance, providing extensive citizen-centric services, promoting IT education, incentivising IT businesses to set up units in the state, regulating IT services and putting in place institutionalised arrangements for implementation and monitoring of IT activities in the state.
The Government of India has asked private organisations specifically the ICT industry to establish BPOs and call centres in rural areas. While addressing a gathering of dignitaries at the VARIndia IT Forum 2008, Chandra Sekhar Sahu, Minister of Rural Development stated that the growth of India can be achieved if government is able to offer employment to the youth in the rural areas, which comprises 70 % of the population. He urged private corporates to set up their back-end activities in the rural areas by creating BPO and call centre jobs. According to him, corporates could save a lot of revenue as they can engage very cheap labor in these locations. The minister also informed about some of the IT projects undertaken by the government in various states, e.g. the Bhoomi project in Karnataka, e-Seva project in Andhra Pradesh, etc. Currently the government is emphasising on expediting various projects, including creating massive e-Governance infrastructure, National ID, Citizen Databases, GIS and GPS, smart card and Digital content and e-Governance domain expertise.
ISLAMAABD (March 20 2008): Ministry of Information and Technology is seriously considering to provide broadband subsidy under Universal Services Framework (USF) to enhance its very poor penetration, it was learnt. Sources said that a study on Broadband penetration conducted by the IT Ministry exposed poor broadband penetration particularly, when the USF Company is targeting one per cent penetration by 2010. Presently there are only 0.1 million users in Pakistan and 1.5 million new connections are required by 2010 to meet the set target. To realise the broadband penetration, the Ministry has conducted three subsidy options including no broadband subsidy and everything should be left to the market mechanism, broadband subsidy should be handled as part of basic telecom USFC lots and the last that there should be separate broadband subsidy lots. The Ministry has opted for third option of separate broadband subsidy under improved USF Company Lot framework as this seems the best effort to kick off and proliferate broadband penetration in the country with optimal choice. The Ministry realising the benefits and importance of broadband penetration proposed five year programme with 4 to 5 per cent penetration targets by end of 2013. To achieve the above targets an auction process similar to that of the Rural Telephony model would be adopted. The auction process would start with bidding for a region followed by contract signing within 6 weeks of the bidding date. It has been realised that larger number of target broadband connections would require longer time, as such the following target time lines have been proposed. Pakistan is far behind in broadband penetration, despite the fact that government issued an aggressive Broadband Policy back in 2004 with a modest target of 200K till 2007 (at the end of 2007 there are around 115,000 Broadband connections). Although Pakistan has made big stride in the field of telecom, it has been left behind in the field of Broadband Internet.
ISLAMABAD (May 21 2008): Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has devised a strategy to address obnoxious calls, SMS and balance theft by negative minded cell-phone users. Taking serious notice of the plight of cell-phone subscribers, the PTA, as a first step, cautioned these negative elements to shun such practices or they would face consequences. PTA has also sent a strict message to the mobile operators, instructing them to take immediate action against the swindlers on the complaint of a subscriber. PTA has also advised the mobile users to verify any prize announcement from the concerned mobile company. Finding it otherwise, get a complaint registered with the concerned mobile company. The mobile companies have been directed to take action against the offender(s), which includes jamming of SIMS and handsets, without any delay. The Telecom Authority has also sounded a warning to the sender(s) of unsolicited, obnoxious SMSs and phone calls that legal action will be taken against them. The authority extended its assistance to the subscribers by establishing a complaint centre in August last year. It works round-the-clock seven days a week. The complaints are forwarded by the PTA centre to the respective mobile companies for evaluation to be followed by warning to the offenders as the first step. The second and the final step will be the closure of numbers and blocking of SIMS/cell-phones. The PTA, extending ready help, has asked the aggrieved subscribers to register direct complaint at their toll free No 080055055 or 051-9225329-31 ext 155 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The PTA and the mobile companies started the operation with awareness/educational campaigns through electronic and print media. The cell-phone users were made aware that every set owned its specific IMEI number, which if blocked rendered the gadget dead, a piece of scrap. The global mobile system (GSM) uses the IMEI number, identifies valid devices which helps stop the instrument to reach the network. The mobile companies with their equipment Identity Register (EIR) block the handset using IMEI number. The PTA has made it obligatory on the subscriber to provide IMEI number while making a complaint. It may be recalled that IMEI system yielded good results.
The Kyrgyz parliament voted on April 17 to adopt a new law protecting citizens' rights to information, AKIpress reported. Adopted as an amendment to the Administrative Responsibility Code, the new information law was backed by Justice Minister Marat Kaipov who defended it as an important measure to provide Kyrgyz citizens with the right to obtain "non-secret information from government agencies and local government bodies" upon request. The law also imposes administrative penalties, including fines ranging from 500 to 1,000 soms ($15-$30), for any state official refusing to meet the new requirements for providing information, Kabar reported. During the same session, the parliament also adopted legal amendments strengthening the authority of the state ombudsman, including new immunities for the ombudsman's deputies and staff. RG
Internet tariffs are expected to fall down by 30-40% in Azerbaijan by the end of the year. The due announcement was made by Magomed Mamedov, general manager of Aztelekom, who visited Ganja. According to him, Azerbaijan is the only country among the CIS states, where all regions are provided with Internet. Mamedov said currently high quality wideband Internet is used by majority in Baku. The regions mainly use dial-up connection with a lower speed, as compared to wideband internet. Our specialists consider that the fall in prices on Internet services will enable the users to use the wideband net. According to Day.Az through the last four years the Internet tariffs have been reduced for about 7 times. As is reported, Azerbaijan accounts for 30 internet providers with only two of them being state companies.
In an announcement to reporters in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry Akylbek Tyumenbaev said on April 14 that a new electricity-rationing regime will be introduced for at least six months, AFP reported. He added that the regime will impose new restrictions on electricity for homes and "places of entertainment," cutting all electricity for seven hours every night. A less restrictive electricity-rationing regime was introduced last month that reduced the daily supply of electricity to consumers, and cut off all electricity to consumers who have incurred debts for power supplies, as well as to saunas and some other businesses (see "RFE/RL Newsline," March 11, 2008). The rationing is intended to offset a dramatic decrease in the water level of the Toktogul reservoir, which provides 40 percent of Kyrgyzstan's hydroelectric energy, and to deal with the effects of record cold weather. Over the longer term, the government intends to supplement hydroelectric power with electricity generated from coal and oil to meet domestic energy needs. RG
The Kyrgyz parliament adopted on April 18 a new plan to expand national television coverage with a focus on improving access to more remote rural areas of Kyrgyzstan, according to AKIpress. Backed by deputies Begaly Nargozuev and Almazbek Karimov, the plan includes measures to expand broadcasting coverage by installing more powerful transmitters and sets a goal of achieving nationwide coverage by early December 2008. One of the measures calls for a 23 million-som (about $64,000) program to install transmitters in 82 villages. Although technicians from the state-run National Television and Radio Broadcasting Corporation have long struggled to expand television coverage, several areas of the country are limited to receiving television programs from neighboring Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. RG
Unitel LLC (subsidiary of VimpelCom OJSC, rendering mobile communication services under the Beeline trademark in the territory of Uzbekistan) has announced a start-up of the new tariff "My circle" for its corporate subscribers. "My circle" is a unique tariff for corporate clients, without subscriber's fee. "We actively proceed with development of the tariff-line for our corporate subscribers. The tariff "My circle" is intended for those who are not interested in tariffs with included minutes and who want to pay only for real used minutes of communication. "My circle" is the optimal decision for them", commented Andrei Soloukhin, Commercial Director of Unitel. Outgoing call within a corporate group in the tariff "My circle" is equal to US$0.01/min. All other local calls are equal to US$0.03/min, regardless of direction. Incoming calls within the network are free of charge.
Amendments to the Federal Telecommunications Interception Act will be put before the House of Representatives today, as the government seeks to extend the limit of a sunset clause which allows authorities to monitor internal and government communications without a specific warrant. The federal government is hoping to extend current provisions in the act which permit various government and security agencies to intercept communications sent over government networks -- including those sent by the public to the government -- without an interception warrant until 12 December 2009, after they were originally set to expire on 13 June this year. According to a parliamentary briefing paper released last week: "Exemption is provided to the employees of a number of Commonwealth and state law enforcement and security agencies, if they are responsible for operating, protecting or maintaining a network or if they are responsible for enforcement of the professional standards (however described) of the agency or authority."
The proposed amendments have already attracted criticism. "There needs to be accountability when it comes to these extraordinary powers that police are granted and if things are going to be intercepted there needs to be a warrant," said a spokesperson for Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, who opposed other changes to the act last year which permit authorities to access "stored communications" including unread e-mails under a normal search warrant. The spokesperson said the changes -- made by the previous government -- had made it easier for agencies such as the Australian Federal Police to monitor people's online communications, as a standard search warrant "is far easier to obtain than a telecommunications interception warrant". "One of our concerns is that the existing scope of this legislation is already quite wide, and in our view there needs to be more accountability, not less, especially as the changes up for debate tomorrow extend not only to government employees but potentially to members of the public as well," the spokesperson added.
Dale Clapperton, chair of online privacy advocacy group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said that the group prepared an extensive submission to the Attorney General's office last year opposing changes to the legislation and the organisation is "still concerned about the privacy issues which arose as a result of the 2007 amendments". Further amendments up for debate today include changes to technical provisions outlined in the legislation relating to the number and duration of warrants required to intercept communications from various individual devices. Currently, the legislation requires authorities to gain a warrant for each separate type of device it wishes to monitor. However, under the proposed changes warrant conditions will potentially be extended to cover any devices purchased by the individual in the future. "At the moment if an agency wants to monitor your telecommunications they need to seek a warrant for each device, but now it can apply to what you may own in the future," said the Greens spokesperson. "Essentially warrants are there to provide accountability, and any move to water down this accountability is of concern to the Greens and we will continue to watch it closely."
Australia 's digital television switchover today received a boost with the announcement by Senator Stephen Conroy of a $37.9 million strategy to drive Australia 's transition to digital TV. The strategy will ensure that Australia meets the deadline set for digital switchover - 31 December 2013.
The strategy comprises: $8.5 million for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to undertake technical switchover-related projects, including an evaluation of digital TV transmission and reception throughout Australia. $4.8 million for a ¡®Digital Tracker' to assess issues such as public awareness of digital switchover, intention of households to convert and actual conversion rates. $1 million over two years for research into digital reception problems in multi-unit dwellings with a shared TV antenna system. $6.7 million for a logo and labelling scheme to clearly indicate which products are digitally ready, ensuring Australian consumers can be informed and confident about what products will suit their needs. $16.9 million for the Digital Switchover Taskforce, which will coordinate the switchover program within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
¡°The Australian Government is committed to digital television and this funding will help drive a smooth transition,¡± Senator Conroy said. Additionally, an Industry Advisory Group has been established, bringing together broadcasters, retailers, manufacturers, antenna technicians, public and commercial housing agencies as well as government departments. The first meeting of the IAG will be convened on 9 April 2008. ¡°The Government's Digital Switchover Taskforce, headed by Mr Andy Townend, will work with the Industry Advisory Group on a range of issues, including the provision of reliable information to consumers when purchasing digital TV equipment,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°We need to use the valuable expertise of retailers to provide expert and consistent advice to consumers on what digital solution will best suit their needs.¡± ¡°The analogue to digital switchover could well be the largest change on a national scale since the introduction of decimal currency in 1966. It will affect every household and every TV receiver in the nation, including those in VCRs and other recorders,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°These initiatives will ensure Australia completes digital switchover by 31 December 2013.¡±
Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, today welcomed the endorsement of Nationals MP Bruce Scott for the sensible decision to terminate the OPEL Networks contract. ¡°The Nationals Federal MP for Maranoa has a strong understanding of regional telecommunications and I welcome his plain speaking on the OPEL decision,¡± Senator Conroy said. Mr Scott told the Toowoomba Chronicle, ¡°Mr Conroy¡¯s sensible decision to not proceed with the OPEL contract came as no surprise, as the OPEL plan did not provide rural and remote Australia with the necessary infrastructure for telecommunications access.¡± The Government¡¯s decision not to proceed with the OPEL Networks contract, which was announced yesterday, is based on an assessment that it would service only 72% of identified under-served premises.
The Rudd Government has a comprehensive plan to deliver the best available broadband services to every Australian, no matter where they live. After 11 years of failed telecommunications policies that ensured a digital divide between our cities and the bush, it is time for action. That is why the Rudd Government will: Provide new funding of $95 million for the Australian Broadband Guarantee; Implement the recommendations of the Glasson Regional Review, with up to $400 million available from the Communications Fund. Build a high speed, fibre-based National Broadband Network that will deliver a minimum 12 megabits per second to 98% of all Australian homes and businesses, including those in rural and regional areas; and Shortly call for proposals to improve the delivery of high-speed broadband to the 2% not covered by the National Broadband Network.
¡°The Rudd Government understands the concerns that regional and remote Australians have about broadband services. We are committed to ensuring all Australians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed broadband, ¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°The Government has already committed $95 million to the continuation of the Australian Broadband Guarantee for the 2008-2009 financial year. We will be considering changes to the guidelines to ensure that the program delivers the best possible outcomes. There will be full opportunity for all interested stakeholders to have input into the guidelines for the new program.¡± ¡°In addition to this, the Government is continuing to support the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) headed by Dr Bill Glasson. The Committee has been holding public meetings across Australia since February and is expected to develop a comprehensive report on how to improve regional and remote telecommunications for the Australian Government to consider.¡±
¡°The Government will implement the National Broadband Network that will extend into rural and regional areas to deliver a minimum 12 megabits per second to 98% of all Australian homes and businesses.¡± ¡°The Government will shortly call for comments on policy and funding initiatives to improve access to affordable broadband in remote areas of Australia into the future,¡± Senator Conroy said. Senator Conroy today encouraged regional and remote consumers to have their say about the adequacy of regional, rural and remote broadband. The RTIRC is holding public meetings in Queensland at Cloncurry, Richmond and Townsville from 8¨C10 April respectively. Those who are unable to attend one of the proposed public meetings should call or write to the Committee. The Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee was established by the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 to review the adequacy of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, has today called for submissions on policy and funding initiatives to provide enhanced broadband to rural and remote areas. ¡°The Australian Government is committed to improving broadband for all Australians, including the two per cent of homes and businesses which may not be covered by the National Broadband Network,¡± Senator Conroy said. Submissions on remote broadband will be accepted in parallel to proposals to roll-out the National Broadband Network. This consultation process seeks to explore options for those remote areas outside the coverage of the network. ¡°The Government has already committed $95 million for the Australian Broadband Guarantee for the 2008¨C09 financial year,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°This process will explore long-term options that ensure rural and remote areas of Australia have access to the best available broadband services through future-proof telecommunications infrastructure.
This could include enhancing the Australian Broadband Guarantee program to achieve outcomes comparable to the National Broadband Network.¡± Submissions will be considered by the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee, led by Dr Bill Glasson AO, who will deliver a comprehensive report to the Minister in August on ways to improve telecommunications in rural and remote areas of Australia. Submissions are invited from industry, public interest groups and other stakeholders including respondents to the National Broadband Network. It is important to note that submissions are not related to the RFP process and will be considered separately. Submissions should be addressed to email@example.com and be received by 5.00pm AEST June 30. Any enquiries about lodging submissions can also be sent to the email address above.
The NSW government has scrapped plans to offer free Wi-Fi in Sydney, citing spiralling costs and overseas failures for killing the project. NSW Minister for Commerce Eric Roozendaal said yesterday the project would be scrapped after repeated delays with the Expression of Interest (EOI) process and the closure of a number of city-wide Wi-Fi networks overseas "What's clear from the EOI is that the market believes the delivery of free wireless broadband is not practical for the Government at this current time ¡ª based on technical and financial grounds," said Roozendaal in a statement. "The Department of Commerce received 15 responses to the EOI process and while they were diverse and innovative, none could establish a clear benefit for NSW taxpayers," he said. Wireless provider Unwired had been tipped for some time as the leading contender in the bid. The NSW state Labor government first declared its intentions to set up a CBD-wide Wi-Fi network in Sydney in late 2006, and had also planned to establish coverage in other business centres across greater Sydney such as Parramatta, Penrith and Liverpool, as well as Newcastle and Wollongong.
"Universal access to wireless broadband in our CBDs will further boost the state's economy and make NSW more attractive for expanding or new businesses," said NSW Premier Morris Iemma in 2006. However, NSW Commerce Minster Roozendaal yesterday said that the decline of similar initiatives in San Francisco and Paris was a major reason for scrapping the project in Sydney. "The overseas experience is that large-scale Wi-Fi projects have proved ineffective in meeting the needs of local businesses and the community. "Most schemes sponsored by overseas governments have collapsed and require further funding to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. With technology changing so quickly, I cannot expose NSW taxpayers to that sort of risk," said the Minister. Senior telecommunications analyst for research firm IDC, David Cannon, said he was "not surprised to hear these plans have been cancelled", given the cost of deploying Wi-Fi networks en masse. He said Los Angeles had also feted a similar initiative but decided not to go ahead with it.
"The return on investment really is quite feeble, especially in a country like Australia and a city like Sydney, where there's multiple 3G networks and existing hot spots in libraries and cafes," said Cannon. "In all reality they'd [NSW government] be facing very stiff competition from the 3G market, which would arguably provide a better service ... they'd be struggling to compete against that kind of infrastructure," Cannon added. "The popularity of BlackBerry's and other similar handheld devices is already challenging the use of Wi-Fi for portable computers," according to Roozendaal. "Major telecommunications companies now have multiple products out on the market and are already developing and implementing their own wireless broadband services," he added.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, today announced an extension of the Australian Broadband Guarantee program to safeguard the broadband opportunities for all Australians, while the Government continues to implement its broader broadband policy agenda. The Australian Broadband Guarantee program will receive additional funding in the 2008¨C09 Budget which will bring the total program funding up to $270.7 million over four years. ¡°The Australian Broadband Guarantee has played an important role in ensuring high-quality, equitable broadband access for the more remote areas of Australia,¡± Senator Conroy said. The extension of this program for a further four years will provide a safety net for Australians, particularly those in rural and regional Australia, who currently cannot access metro-comparable broadband services, while the Government implements longer term solutions to improve access to broadband services available for all Australians.
¡°The Australian Government is committed to providing Australians with access to high quality broadband services, no matter where they live or work,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°A key plank of the Government¡¯s strategy is the Government¡¯s commitment to establish a National Broadband Network (NBN) to provide high-speed broadband services to 98 per cent of premises and businesses.¡± ¡°However, it is important that all Australians have equitable access to broadband, both while the network is being rolled out, and in those most remote areas that the new network may not cover.¡± ¡°That is why, in parallel to the NBN process, the Government is separately conducting a consultation process on policy and funding initiatives to provide enhanced broadband to rural and remote areas, including those that may fall outside the new network.¡±
¡°This process will explore long term options in order to ensure that rural and remote areas have access to the best available broadband services. ¡°In response to industry and consumer feedback, changes will be made to the Australian Broadband Guarantee to encourage greater terrestrial broadband access and to target Australians living in remote and difficult-to-service ¡®blackspot¡¯ areas.¡± ¡°This will be a new phase for the Australian Broadband Guarantee. The Government¡¯s changes to the Australian Broadband Guarantee and its commitment to funding for four years will encourage the broadband industry to develop more long-term and innovative internet solutions for rural and regional Australians.¡± ¡°There will be greater incentives for industry to take a whole-of-region approach to network deployment. The certainty of funding will also ensure Internet service providers are not hindered from making longer-term plans for building infrastructure.¡± ¡°Finally, it demonstrates that the Government recognises the importance of broadband to the future prosperity of Australia,¡± Senator Conroy said.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced a targeted plan to create a safer online environment for Australian children. ¡°Although the internet has opened up a world of possibilities and benefits to Australian children, it has also exposed them to continually emerging and evolving dangers that did not previously exist,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°That is why the Australian Government has committed $125.8 million to a comprehensive range of cyber-safety measures, including law enforcement, filtering and awareness, over the next four years.¡± The Government¡¯s cyber-safety funding will provide $49 million to law enforcement, ensuring that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Child Protection Operations Team can expand its capacity to detect and investigate online child abuse, with 91 additional AFP members dedicated to online child protection by 2011. The funding will allow the AFP to establish a victim identification and support capacity, to aid in the recovery of child abuse victims nationally and internationally.
This initiative will also provide for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to handle prosecutions and related activities arising from the increased investigations of online predators flowing through from the AFP¡¯s investigations. Central to the Government¡¯s plan to make the internet a safer place for children is the introduction of Internet Service Provider (ISP) level filtering of material such as child pornography. The ISP filtering policy is being developed through an informed and considered approach, including a laboratory trial, extensive industry consultation, and close examination of overseas models to assess their suitability for Australia. ¡°ISPs in a number of European and other countries are already filtering child abuse material. While there may be technical and cost hurdles, the message from other countries is that these can be overcome,¡± Senator Conroy said. A real world ¡®live¡¯ pilot involving ISPs and their customers will follow an Australian Communications and Media Authority laboratory trial due to be completed in June 2008. In addition, the Government is developing a range of measures to help empower children to be responsible online participants. It will provide parents, teachers, trainee teachers, librarians and children with up-to-date, comprehensive and age-appropriate online cyber-safety resources and assistance.
¡°Cyber-safety means helping parents and teachers as well as educating children to be good cyber-citizens,¡± Senator Conroy said. The Government will: overhaul the existing online safety website, making to make it easier to use and ensure it provides the best available information; develop a new web site specifically for children; provide education resources and a dedicated cyber-safety helpline; expand the terms of reference for the Cyber-Safety Consultative Working Group to include all aspects of cyber-safety; support further Australian research into the online environment; and facilitate a Youth Advisory Group to ensure programs remain relevant and on target.
¡°The Youth Advisory Group will advise the consultative working group on cyber-safety measures from a young person¡¯s perspective. This will ensure young people have a clear voice on cyber-safety concerns and solutions,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°Ongoing research into the changing digital environment will assist in identifying issues and targeting future policy and funding.¡± The former government¡¯s National Filter Scheme which made home-based PC filters available via download or from a CD-Rom will be closed to new users from 31 December 2008, with existing PC filter users to be provided with support from the PC filter companies until 30 June 2010. ¡°This program had a very limited take-up and only 20 per cent of those who did download the filter continued to use it,¡± said Senator Conroy. ¡°Funding will be redirected to support ISPs making available a filtered internet service, or ¡®clean feed¡¯, to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible to children.¡±
The Victorian government has hired Deloitte for AU$1.3 million to develop an Australia-wide e-health strategy. The strategy is intended to provide a vision or recommended "future state" for e-health over both public and private sectors for the next five to 10 years, and give advice on what forms of governance will need to be put into place to manage it, according to tender documents. To come up with the strategy, Deloitte will be delving into Australia's current e-health capability in all states, public and private, and the current effects of technology on healthcare. The state of international e-health will also form part of the report. Major initiatives needed to achieve the "future state" will be identified in the work, along with an implementation plan which lays out priorities, outcomes, resource requirements, time lines, costs, benefits, dependencies, risks and costs.
Deloitte is also expected to give Australia a score on how likely it is that it will be able to implement the plan, taking into account factors such as skills required, and suggestions as to how any problems might be eased. The consultants' appointment follows a recommendation from a review by the Boston Consulting Group completed earlier this year and will see Deloitte finishing their e-health plan in September, after beginning work last month. Examples of the technologies which the plan will consider include clinical communication systems such as online referrals and e-prescribing, and electronic health records.
Ahead of the election, with promises for nationwide broadband networks and digital revolutions in schools, the ICT industry could hope the government was on their side. But now the glamour of a sparkling new government has worn off, how ICT-friendly is the Rudd government really? "When you change the government, you change the country," offered former Prime Minister Paul Keating upon his defeat by the Howard-led coalition in the 1996 election. Has the last six months and the Lodge's latest change of inhabitants meant a change in the ICT landscape? The 'yes, but' budget Under the inaugural Labor budget, the previous government's Commercial Ready grants got the chop, saving AU$707 million, while AU$251 million will be spent on the innovation and productivity Enterprise Connect program, while AU$240 million is targeted at a green Clean Business initiative over four years. The small to mid business sector was targeted through a Small Business Advisory Committee to monitor regulatory proposals that may affect SMEs, as well as AU$42 million over four years to start up 36 Business Enterprise Centres. Meanwhile, AU$326 million over four years is to be thrown at the brain drain, financing 1000 Future Fellowships in an attempt to keep mid-career researchers in Australia.
The budget also funded the government's pre-election commitments in the areas of broadband and the National Secondary School Computer Fund. The billion dollar National Secondary School Computer Fund promised new computers and better internet access for all schools across Australia while a 50 per cent rebate on domestic IT purchases tackled the question of affordable computers in homes, both in an attempt to improve Australian computer literacy. The second big pitch to be confirmed in the budget was the AU$4.7 billion targeted at creating a national high-speed broadband fibre-to-the-node network, covering 98 per cent of the Australian population. Federal Finance, Innovation and Communications Ministers Lindsey Tanner, Kim Carr and Stephen Conroy have been doing their best to present the 2008 budget as a win for innovation, technology and communications infrastructure, and so far it seems to be working. Overall, the industry was fairly positive in its response to some of the new initiatives, however, the ICT sector would like to see still more strategic direction backed by spending. The Australian Computer Society welcomed the new investments but called for better long term thinking. It would be a mistake to repeat the kind of forced march to outsourcing we saw under the previous government.
Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum research director "There are some significant wins for the technology sector within the budget and the ACS is a strong supporter of the government's investment in broadband. However, the government, as part of its current investment strategy, also needs to recognise the ICT sector as a major area of future growth, and a powerful industry that is a powerful economic sector in its own right. The challenge for the ICT sector right now is more about focus than funding," said ACS national president, Kumar Parakala, in his budget response. Uncertainty reigns in the form of Gershon, Cutler However, Rudd's big ticket spending increases are being balanced by planned cuts in government procurement spending, as well as questions surrounding the future funding of research centre NICTA. Earlier in the year, Tanner imported Sir Peter Gershon from the UK, to complete a review of ICT procurement practices, aimed at slashing AU$16 billion from the new government's ICT spend ¡ª savings which would more than cover the government's plans for education and broadband. "Gershon's approach in the UK was largely consultative, and provided procedural roadmaps, which dealt with the rationalisation of staff, and asking departments to take responsibility with achieving higher levels of efficiency in terms of the deployment of ICT," said IBRS analyst Guy Cranswick. "Fundamentally it's a review that delivers costs savings while improving front-line capability, mostly through back office consolidation, staff cuts, bringing more services online, and moving people into more productive roles." Recalling the previous government's disastrous experiment with IT outsourcing, Steve Hodgkinson, research director for the public sector at research group Ovum, predicts the current government will...
New regulations governing the size of and noise from telecommunications equipment such as antennas, masts and roadside cabinets have now been approved and will be drafted, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard said today. "The regulations, known as national environmental standards, will allow faster and more cost effective installation of telecommunications equipment because they standardise the rules across the country so there is a level playing field. This is likely to speed up the rollout of telecommunications services, such as high-speed internet and mobile phones, to a greater number of people and businesses and provide greater choice to consumers. "The Labour-led government recognises the importance of facilitating broadband take-up and rollout around the country for our communities and also for New Zealand's transformation into a high-wage innovative export led-economy," Trevor Mallard said.
"There is currently considerable variation between territorial authority district plans in how they control the installation of antennas and cabinets on roadsides. This makes the process time-consuming, expensive and inconsistent for telecommunications companies seeking to install or expand services across several local authority areas. "Local district plan controls will remain for any proposed locations that are near areas that have heritage or high amenity values or areas that local councils specifically want to protect. It is appropriate that any values identified by a community through the local plan process continue to be managed by that community." The national environmental standards for telecommunications facilities will allow for certain types of low impact telecommunications infrastructure to be installed ¨C within strict maximum size and noise limits ¨C and without the requirement to go through resource consent applications. The exceptions to this are any proposed locations for the equipment that are near areas that have heritage or high amenity values or areas that local councils have identified as needing special protection.
The national environmental standards cover: · the erection of roadside cabinets (which can contain equipment for telephones, cable television and for internet access). · the addition of antennas to existing structures such as light poles on roadsides or verges. · radiofrequency fields emitted from antennas and noise levels from roadside cabinets. "The cabinets and antennas are considered to be low-impact telecommunications facilities. Activities that are more significant will need to obtain resource consent from the local council before they can be installed," said Trevor Mallard. "For instance, a telecommunications company may need to apply for and be granted planning permission (resource consent) by a local authority before installing a free standing mast, antennas or cabinets outside of the road. Likewise, a proposed new cell phone tower would have to go through a stringent process of planning approval if the local district plan requires it. "The standards also include a limit on the number of roadside cabinets allowed in one specific location as well as a minimum separation distance to other structures to ensure any potential for cluttering to occur is avoided."
Several changes have been made to the standards following consideration of submissions from the public. These include: · Strengthening links to district plan provisions where specific values such as historic heritage and amenity have been identified as a local issue. · Reducing the potential for street clutter through increased minimum separation distances between cabinets. · Aligning the noise standards with the new Standards New Zealand standard. · Future proofing the standards by not specifying specific types of panel antennas and including allowances for dish antennas. · Limiting extensions to roadside structures to one extension only - to prevent incremental height creep.
"The size limitations for antennas and cabinets contained within the proposed regulations are more stringent than 54 per cent and 82 per cent respectively of those that already apply in existing local government plans. This emphasises the point that the standards are intended to provide a level playing field across the country as opposed to providing new development rights in excess of what already exists," Trevor Mallard said. The standards will now be drafted into regulation and will take effect 28 days after they are gazetted.
The NSW government this week made available A$25 million in funding for ICT research and development. Announcing the funding over five years from 2007-2012, NSW Minister for State Development, Ian Macdonald, said the money will be allocated to Australia's ICT research centre of excellence, NICTA. The funding was made available following an evaluation from the NSW department of state and regional development, which found in its first five years NICTA has generated benefits to NSW totalling A$168 million. NICTA has amassed a technology portfolio of 60 patent applications and has created four new companies with more than 50 employees. Technology developed by NICTA is now in the hands of hundreds of millions of mobile phone consumers through its spin-out Open Kernel Labs. NICTA's researchers are developing a range of practical technologies at its labs at Australian Technology Park such as the Smart Transport and Roads (STaR) project which provides solutions for traffic problems in Australia and around the world.
NICTA CEO David Skellem said research in this field will lead to large economic and environmental benefits arising from better traffic control, more reliable travel times and more efficient incident management. "The centre's research is about problem-solving based on breakthroughs in knowledge and fundamental innovation. It is use-inspired," he said. "It is not research for research's sake." "We work with industry and Government to identify problems that are best solved by ICT breakthroughs and apply our expertise to develop knowledge and technology to solve those problems." Dr Skellern said other projects underway in its two NSW-based labs cover logistics and transactions, as well as solutions for financial services. He said the state government has identified these as key sectors for focus under the 2006 Innovation Statement and State Plan. As a result, NICTA is applying its research efforts to drive fundamental innovation in those sectors. The A$25 million in funding announced today follows an earlier allocation of A$20 million provided by the government for the period between 2002 and 2007. This new agreement means the government has provided NICTA with a total of A$45 million over the decade from 2002 to 2012. Members of NICTA include the Australian National University and University of NSW.
The government is planning to make New Zealand party to the European Convention on Cybercrime, the draft Digital Strategy 2.0 revealed last week. New Zealand already provides in its domestic law for most of the measures outlined under the convention, signed by the countries of the European Union and also by the US and requiring laws against the misuse of computer systems, money laundering, the production and distribution of child pornography and copyright offences. But the convention has some controversial provisions, such as an obligation on member states to ¡°obtain the expeditious preservation of specified computer data¡± sought by another state as evidence of an alleged crime ¡ª even when the act associated with the evidence is not a crime in the state that holds the data.
Fears have been expressed that an autocratic government could pressure a more liberal governments under this provision to provide data on acts the latter would consider protected by legislation, such as the New Zealand Bill of Rights. Civil liberties organisations also fear signatory states could be required to cooperate with, for example, conservative ¡°hate-speech¡± laws. The strategy also sets a timeframe of this year to establish a single National Cyber Crime Centre, to be sited in Wellington. This will provide specialist expertise nationwide and act as a coordination point for New Zealand¡¯s participation in international investigations.
New laws will likely be needed to protect people¡¯s privacy and punish those abusing ID credentials now that igovt, the new government online identity service, has been introduced. Speaking at the conference launching igovt, held in Wellington last week, State Services Minister David Parker said the service¡¯s introduction necessitated new laws and independent oversight ¡ª but he said so only in passing. When Computerworld asked for further details there was an awkward silence while Parker shuffled through his speech-notes, seemingly having to refresh his memory about what he had just said. Sue Boland, who is now with the Department of Labour but who helped develop igovt in her previous Internal Affairs¡¯ role came to the rescue. She said it was ¡°not essential to introduce new legislation but it is prudent.¡± Speaking from the body of auditorium, she said that any new law would ¡°state the purpose of igovt very clearly¡±, so no-one would be in doubt about what constitutes proper or improper use of the service.
The law would also make it quite clear what would constitute a breach of privacy when it came to use of igovt identity credentials, Bolland told the audience at the Managing Identity in New Zealand conference. Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff, who addressed the conference after the minister, made it clear that at least some of the legal push had come from her direction. ¡°I have been promoting the need for legislation and independent oversight,¡± she said. An oversight committee would likely to involve herself as well as a Human Rights Commission representative. The igovt service provides people with their own centralised ID credentials that they can present electronically when dealing with government agencies. This means that only that personal information strictly necessary at the time need be given out. Parker used the example of a student loan application, which involves the applicant getting information from Inland Revenue, Internal Affairs, the Labour Department and their educational institution.
Currently, students have to gather this paperwork manually, despite it being held by government agencies, collate it and then present it to Studylink, another government agency. Using igovt, students could electronically give the various agencies permission to communicate all this information directly to Studylink. Electronic ID credentials can be issued to people once they have presented evidence of their identity based on existing official documents such as a passport. People can also choose to have two or more separate IDs for use with different agencies should they fears agencies correlating information about them ¨C although linking-up the different IDs will still be possible if illegal activity is suspected.
A NZ$350 million five-year funding boost to speed the roll out of faster broadband is among a package of infrastructure measures announced in today's New Zealand budget. In recent times there has been a clamour for quicker broadband speeds and National has promised to contribute NZ$1.5 billion to a public-private partnership designed to see a faster fibre-optic network delivered to most New Zealand homes by 2012. Communications Minister David Cunliffe today unveiled the government's alternative ¡ª a targeted fund aimed at increasing speeds to businesses, universities, schools, hospitals and under-served rural areas. Operating funding of NZ$325 million over five years and $15 million capital funding in the next year would be distributed through the Broadband Investment Fund, which would also be used to improve New Zealand's international Internet connections. Cunliffe said the NZ$340 million contestable fund was designed to maximise competition and "give the best possible leverage for the taxpayer's investment". Of the figure, NZ$250 million would go to urban areas, NZ$75 million to rural, and NZ$15 million to international connectivity. "Accelerating New Zealand on to a plan for widespread deployment of fibre or equivalent fast bandwidth, to the home, and cheaper and faster broadband for all consumers will bring substantial economic gains that will transform New Zealand's economy and society," Cunliffe said.
Another NZ$9.4 million in new spending relating to the government's Digital Strategy was also announced. Cunliffe said, in addition to the new money, NZ$165 million was already going into improved connectivity in the health, education and state service sectors over the next five years and another NZ$35 million into other existing initiatives ¡ª bringing the total promised spend to about NZ$550 million. Finance Minister Michael Cullen said a key part of the government fund was that it was mainly operating funding meaning it could be "technology neutral", supporting a range of possible platforms, unlike National's capital plan. The government has already separated Telecom into separate divisions in a bid to increase competition in the sector and wrung a commitment from it for a "fibre to node" network that would improve speeds to at least 80 percent of homes by 2012.
ICT minister David Cunliffe today launched the long-awaited new industry body to replace ICT-NZ. The minister today signed the establishment rules for the body, dubbed the Digital Development Council, which will in turn set up the Digital Development Forum. ¡°The Forum will be the main agent in this Digital Development Group. It will be an ¡®association of associations¡¯ that brings together a range of organisations with a common interest in digital development. Its members are expected to include ICT users, professionals, suppliers, local government, and community and voluntary, Maori and cultural groups,¡± Cunliffe said in a statement today. The forum and council are expected to help New Zealand become a world leader in using information and technology to realise its economic, social, environmental and cultural goals. ¡°These Digital Strategy goals cannot be realised by government alone,¡± Cunliffe said. ¡°They need to be delivered by a wide range of groups working together."
The forum will set the strategic priorities for the council and monitor the implementation of that body's work programme. The Forum will also elect members to the Council (after the Council¡¯s first year of operation) ensuring the appointees are appropriately representative of the Forum organisations. In its first year, the council is expected to: ¡ª Appoint an independent chair and establish a secretariat (including a GM). ¡ª Develop a work programme and have a signed funding agreement in place with MED by July 1, 2008.
It is also expected to support the establishment of the forum by: ¡ª Developing membership rules for the forum; ¡ª Approving applications for membership to the forum; and ¡ª Developing procedures for the operation of the forum with the objective that those rules and procedures can be adopted by the forum. ¡ª Develop the principles and procedures to govern the forum¡¯s relationship with the council. ¡ª Develop membership rules for the council to ensure members, after the initial 12 months, are appropriately representative of the forum organisations and other interests that support, or contribute to, digital development.
The Council is made up of the independent chair and 10 members. The members were appointed (one each) by the Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand, InternetNZ, New Zealand Computer Society, WIT Group , the 2020 Communications Trust, LGNZ, Business New Zealand, Te Huarahi Tika Trust, the ICT industry and the community and voluntary sector. Members representing the ICT industry and community and voluntary sector have not been formally appointed yet.
Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe today launched the structure that will become an important contributor to New Zealand¡¯s digital future. The Minister hosted the signing of the establishment rules for the Digital Development Council, which will in turn set up the Digital Development Forum. ¡°Together the Forum and the Council are expected to help achieve the government¡¯s vision that New Zealand will become a world leader in using information and technology to realise its economic, social, environmental and cultural goals, to the benefit of all New Zealanders. ¡°These Digital Strategy goals cannot be realised by government alone,¡± Mr Cunliffe said. ¡°They need to be delivered by a wide range of groups working together. ¡°The Council needs to be established first. As the operational arm it needs to get funding released and start attracting members to the Forum.
¡°The Forum will be the main agent in this Digital Development Group. It will be an ¡®association of associations¡¯ that brings together a range of organisations with a common interest in digital development. Its members are expected to include ICT users, professionals, suppliers, local government, and community and voluntary, Maori and cultural groups,¡± Mr Cunliffe said. The Forum will set priorities, engage with Ministers and nominate future members to the Council. It will provide strategic advice and direction to the Council and government on digital matters. ¡°This all-inclusive group is designed to produce the best advice and work programmes possible,¡± Mr Cunliffe said. ¡°It will receive some operational funding from government but will not be tied to the apron strings of any government agency. ¡°I am heartened by the overall response and the commitment of the ICT sector and wider interest groups to achieving our digital potential,¡± Mr Cunliffe concluded. ¡°The way we are doing this is unique to New Zealand and is showing international leadership in the way digital issues are handled.¡±
eGovernment is moving forward in Belgium¡¯s social security system, a progress report to the country¡¯s Council of Ministers says. The ministers approved further measures. The report focuses on the progress of the main eGovernment projects related to social security in 2007. It was produced by the working group ¡°Modernisation of the management of social security¡± which is composed of representatives of Federal departments and strategic cells of the ministries. The working group has already achieved several modernisation projects. Apart from the electronically readable social security card containing the identification number and the social insurance status of its bearer (SIS card), several types of online declarations to social security institutions, made by employers or the self-employed, have already been available.
As regards the immediate declaration of recruitment and discharge (DIMONA) and the quarterly declaration of wages and labour time (DMFA), the report states that both the treatment and the checking of data are regularly following their course. The report also informs on the results of the integrated electronic declaration for foreign workers (LIMOSA), as well as actions carried out in the aim to improve both data quality and errors monitoring. Other projects are still being tested, among which those aimed at granting social security institutions with an access to the data of the Finances department of the Federal government, and vice versa. On the occasion of the report¡¯s presentation, the Council of Ministers agreed on the continuation and upgrade of some ongoing projects while giving the green light for the launch of new ones. Among other measures, the ministers set the deadline of 2010 for the switch to a fully electronic declaration of social risks. They also approved the implementation of a feasibility study within the framework of a one-stop shop for the employment of foreign workers (¡®Working in Belgium¡¯).
The German Interior Ministry has released a new version of the software for WiBe, its method and tool kit for evaluating the economic efficiency of eGovernment investments in ICT. Version 1.3.1 of the WiBe 4.0-2005 software is available immediately, free of charge, for all German public administrations. It can be downloaded from the site of the Interior Ministry¡¯s KBSt (Federal Government Co-ordination and Advisory Agency for IT in the Federal Administration). Or it can be ordered on a CD-ROM. The content of the software has been expanded. It has also been made more user-friendly and flexible. It can now run under both Windows and Linux. Java programming makes it easier to further develop and maintain the application. Installed as a stand-alone version with security management, it can now be used with supported external databases (Oracle, MySQL and MS SQL servers). The new version enables data to be imported from WiBe 21, the Interior Ministry¡¯s detailed ¡°recommendation on the application of economic considerations in the federal administration, particularly in the use of IT¡±. WiBe is an abbreviation of the German word for ¡°economic considerations¡±. WiBe 4.0-2005 can also now export projects and catalogues of criteria in XML. Other updates to the software include changes to the WiBe user manual, the technical manual, the installation instructions and the readme file.
Hungary has launched an on-line database of non-governmental organisations in Hungary, in a bid to enhance links between government and civil society. An August 2007 Hungarian government decree aimed at improving relations between the state and NGOs stipulated that a public database containing information on NGOs should be developed. To achieve this, the Hungarian National Council of Justice (HNCJ) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs agreed to collaborate on developing the database.
This civil society database went live on 8 April 2008. Relying on data fed into the system by the courts, the database is updated on a daily basis. At the moment, there are around 50 000 social organisations and nearly 29 000 foundations in the system. For the time being, only legal information (such as official name, headquarters and branches, type of organisation, activity area, etc.) is available in the system. However, the government decree also makes provision for the updating and addition of extra information to the databases.
According to the chair of HNCJ, annual funds available to Hungarian NGOs amount to some €1-€2 billion. However, the majority of these funds goes to only 5 % of these organisations, so the ideal solution would be to develop a dedicated database covering only these mega-NGOs. The Non-Profit Information and Training Centre (NIOK) welcomed the launch of the database but noted that they have long maintained their own database, which provides much more information on some 11 500 NGOs including their activities, objectives and achievements.
The government of Liechtenstein has reported to parliament on its eGovernment strategy up to 2011. The government wanted to keep parliament informed of progress to date on its IT and eGovernment strategy, as well as on some current changes and updates. Approval is also needed for two supplementary credits in 2008 to pay for the ambitious plan. The extra loans will add up to CHF1 125 000 (approx. €694 700).
It is well worth it, in the authorities¡¯ view. eGovernment, they point out, is ¡°often a synonym for modern and efficient administration¡±. It enables Liechtenstein¡¯s national administration to ¡°supplement the traditional means of service provision with electronic access for a broad section of the public¡±. In recent years, the Internet has contributed to ¡°major qualitative progress in communication between the national administration and its customers ¨C i.e. business, citizens and administrations¡±.
The report, and an accompanying motion put to parliament, analyses the current eGovernment situation in Liechtenstein as well as giving detailed presentations both of strategy implementation and of individual projects. The aim is to create a wide range of user-friendly basic services by 2011. According to the government, the national administration¡¯s clients should, in future, ¡°be able to accomplish as many administrative processes as possible easily and fast by electronic means, without needing any particular knowledge of who is responsible, nor any special technical know-how¡±.
The CERTUM General Certification Authority in Poland, the official centre for the certification of eSignatures and the verification of electronic documents, is recommending the eNotarius validation service. The eNotarius service, developed in Norway, is currently available, through CERTUM, on a non-commercial basis, to all users in possession of a qualified CERTUM certificate. For commercial services, however, it is necessary to first sign a contract with the suppliers, Unizeto Technologies SA.
At present, legal provisions for the use of eSignatures in Poland and the EU provide for the use of several different standards and technologies for the creation of eSignatures. This has an impact on procedures for the validation of eSignatures which are, as a result, rather complex. CERTUM has selected eNotarius as its system of choice for the validation of eSignatures and verification of PKI status. The eNotarius service is based on the DVC (Data Validation and Certification) server, in accordance with the certification policy set out in the Polish Act on Digital Signature. It is currently being audited by the Polish Minister of Economy and is listed in the registry of qualified services relating to eSignature.
In this year¡¯s first phase of Portuguese income tax declarations, electronic submissions have risen by 24 %. The first wave of declarations had to be in by 15 April. This year, 1.9 million of them arrived on-line. That is 370 000 more than for the same period in 2007, when the number of electronic declarations overtook the paper ones for the first time ever. The trend is all the more remarkable because for first-phase declarations (by those whose income is derived solely from waged employment or pensions), there is absolutely no requirement to submit them on-line.
So the rapid shift towards electronic declarations shows that taxpayers have understood the advantages of this method, the Finance Ministry says. One big benefit is that some major sections of the electronic declaration do not need to be filled in at all. These concern information that is already known to the tax administration ¨C notably the income that the declarant gained from pay or pensions in the previous year. Four-fifths of the electronic declarations this year made use of this time-saving shortcut.
On-line users now also get clearer advice on how to fill in the declaration, together with free text search facilities in case of doubt. There is an electronic ¡®facilitator¡¯ to help the declarant, and a calculator. And the system sends the user an ¡®alert¡¯ if statements or values given in the return do not tally with those already known to the tax inspectors. This, as the Ministry delicately puts it, helps to ¡°avoid divergences and a subsequent need for taxation¡±.
The City Council of Bucharest¡¯s ¡®Sector 6¡¯ has become the first to introduce ePayments for local administrative charges and taxes. The Romanian capital Bucharest is divided into six administrative sectors (sectoare in Romanian), each of which has their own mayor and council, with responsibility over various local services and infrastructure. As from the end of April, residents of Sector 6 have the option of paying for their local taxes and services on-line, using a bank card.
This is thanks to the integration of the City Council¡¯s IT system with the Virtual Payment Office system developed by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). This action was intended both to make the back-office more efficient and to improve the quality of public services (front office). The new integrated system was inaugurated on the 22 April 2008. Commenting on the initiative, the Romanian Secretary of State for Information Technology Zolt¨¢n Somodi noted that: ¡°The launch of the integrated IT system represents an important step towards the concept of modern city hall in Romania. All local administrations will see the administration of Sector 6 as an example to follow for the future payment of taxes and fees in a simple and transparent way.¡±
Further initiatives to support the introduction of IT in public administration are expected to be announced later this year, when the Romanian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology will be launching a series of calls for proposals, worth an estimated €75 million, for the development and improvement of eGovernment, eLearning and eHealth activities.
Slovenia¡¯s national government portal eUprava has introduced a new eDemocracy service, which will allow citizens to follow closely the preparation and adoption of regulations, and co-operate in the elimination of administrative barriers. The new service offers the public the opportunity to influence changes in existing legislation, by contributing their suggestions, comments and opinions. Citizens may electronically submit concrete proposals for change, and suggestions on how to help eliminate administrative barriers ¨C which may often also involve changes in rules or regulations.
In addition, the portal provides a direct link to elected representatives, thus contributing to greater efficiency in the democratic process, and to improved communication between the general public and public administrations. The eDemocracy service is also intended to help citizens improve their understanding of the system and how it works, by providing general information on the public administration, democratic processes, and the adoption of laws and regulations at both national and EU level. The eDemocracy service is broken down into four main parts: eliminating administrative barriers; contacting elected representatives; democratic processes, and legislation, legal rules in the EU, public information or elections.
Swiss firms are stepping up their use of eGovernment services, a new survey shows. Commissioned by the federal government, the survey quizzed 1 004 firms in January of this year. In every sector except agriculture, it found a growing trend towards on-line contact with the authorities. Companies with 250 employees or more have increased their eGovernment take-up particularly fast since 2006. But smaller firms with nine employees or less are catching up: 44 % of them now favour the on-line processing of their administrative contacts with the authorities ¨C a 9 % increase over last year¡¯s figure. As well as sectoral information, companies tend to go for the authorities¡¯ on-line provision of accident insurance, legislative texts, administrative directories and business news. Swiss firms¡¯ wish-list for eGovernment includes the expansion of the national administrative directory and more on-line guidance about social insurance, as well as a simplification of value-added tax.
The Swiss cantons¡¯ websites are now better known in business circles. Of those surveyed, 24 % mentioned them (up 7 % on last year), and 15 % were aware of municipal sites (also up 7 %); 34 % said they use the cantons¡¯ on-line services (up 20 %) and 2 1% use those of the boroughs (up 13 %); 74 % rated the cantonal services as very or fairly good (up 4 %); while 65 % said the same about the municipal services (up 3 %). The approval rating for federal eGovernment services also rose to 61 % (up 2%). However, 31 % of those interviewed could not comment on the federal services as they were unaware of them. The health, construction and manufacturing sectors gave eGovernment the highest scores.
People in 23 urban areas can now see a snapshot of noise levels in their neighbourhoods thanks to an excellent new Defra e-Government service. A new Defra website, launched by Environment Minister Jonathan Shaw, provides maps showing the level of environmental noise from major industries, road and rail networks in 23 urban areas in England. [The noise maps are available on the Defra website at this link] The information, covering 80,000 km of roads within urban areas, 28,000 km of major road networks and almost 5,000 km of railways, will be used to draw up action plans to reduce unreasonable levels of noise, where practical. In urban areas these will also include measures to protect designated quiet areas.
Users are able to search by postcode to access maps that show noise levels over an average 24 hour period, as well as during night time hours only. The site also includes information on the number of people exposed to these levels of noise. All member states have to produce maps under the EU Environmental Noise Directive. The maps have been made using computer modelling techniques, based on information from traffic flow, road, rail and vehicle data. The modelling produced noise level results as required by the directive. The data required for calculating noise levels has been collated in partnership with various organisations including the Department for Transport, Highways Agency, Network Rail, various airport operators, and the Environment Agency.
Environment Minister Jonathan Shaw said: "Factors like transport and industry are a necessary part of modern life. But we need to look at what further practical steps we can take to make people's lives more tranquil. "These maps provide the most comprehensive snapshot yet of noise in our country, all at the click of a mouse. They will provide a spring board to go forward and tackle unnecessary and unreasonable noise pollution. "We will use them to draw up action plans to reduce noise where practical from major roads and railways, as well as from urban areas. The plans will include measures to protect designated quiet areas from any increase in noise."
The mapping was carried out during 2006-07 in line with Defra's work to implement the directive. They incorporate the noise maps produced for the 18 English airports that were published last December. The next stage of the Department's work to implement the directive will be to develop action plans. This will include a public consultation. EU Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise ('the Environmental Noise Directive') was adopted on 25 June 2002 and transposed into UK law by way of the Environmental Noise (England) Regulations 2006 which came into force on 1 October 2006. The directive requires Member States to make and publish strategic noise maps for all major roads, major railways and major airports, as well as for agglomerations - large urban areas.
An agglomeration is defined by the regulations which implement the directive as a continuous urban area of more than 20 hectares with a population of more than 250,000 and a population density of more than 500 persons per square kilometre. The boundaries of the agglomeration do not necessarily match those of the local authority with the same name. In some cases the area mapped goes wider than the local authority area, in others areas have not been mapped because the population density was below the threshold level.
The Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI), a nonprofit research institute focused on risk management training and education, has created a new online, analytical tool designed to aid local governments in benchmarking their risk management programs. Data Exchange Dashboards present statistical comparisons via the Internet in user-friendly charts and figures that enable quick comparative assessments with similar organizations. "Government administrators and board members rely heavily on statistics for determining overall performance of an organization's operations," explained Gerard Hoetmer, Executive Director of PERI. "While annual statistics are useful in assessing performance, understanding how a local community's programs compare to other governments is key. We designed these Dashboards to simplify the benchmarking process and help public entities gain valuable insights into their risk management programs."
Data Exchange Dashboards are interactive, Web-based graphic reports displaying data in user-friendly graphs, charts, and meters. These risk managements metrics are color-coded and feature mouseovers to illustrate simply how a public entity compares against a selected benchmark. Dashboards provide a low-cost way for users to compare against peers within the same state, region, and nationwide. Additionally, users can select the type of organization to be compared (e.g., cities, school districts, countries, and transit authorities), as well as the size of the organization. Key risk management metrics featured in Dashboards include: Average Cost per Claim Percentage of Open Claims Average Claim Duration Average Reporting Lag Time Average Cost of Litigated Claims vs. Non-Litigated Claims Total Gross Incurred by Year Total Paid by Year.
In addition, Dashboard users can view incurred claim breakdowns by several factors. For liability data, this would include breakdowns by claim type, attorney involvement, liability type, and department. For workers' compensation, these breakdowns would cover body part, claim benefit type, attorney involvement, cause of loss, and nature of injury. Dashboards are the most recent addition to the PERI Data Exchange, an innovative program that supports public sector organizations in analyzing liability and workers' compensation benchmarking and performance measurement. Public entities, risk pools, third party administrators, and others electronically submit data which PERI maps into a common format. Participants then visit the Data Exchange Website to run reports and access Dashboards. The program is open to all governmental agencies able to supply selected claims and profile data and PERI offers a range of reporting options to meet the needs of a wide range of public sector participants.
The New York State Office for Technology and the New York State Archives, a program of the State Education Department, issued a report last week that examines how the state can provide choice, interoperability and vendor neutrality in electronic document creation while ensuring electronic records are preserved and remain accessible. "A Strategy for Openness: Enhancing E-Records Access in New York State" makes recommendations to promote openness and transparency aimed at ensuring public records remain free from being locked into proprietary systems and software applications. "As the state continues to conduct more and more business electronically, the importance of preserving e-records for historical reference is paramount," said Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, New York CIO and director of the Office for Technology and co-sponsor of the study group, with Christine Ward, state archivist.
"This report is the first step to improve openness in records retention for the state and we expect additional recommendations for technical standards to evolve as we continue on down the openness path," said Mayberry-Stewart. "The report represents the best thinking of an outstanding team of individuals from several state agencies that focused its extensive experience and expertise to address a vital and complex issue facing state government operations," said Ward. "The recommendations in this report will help the state ensure that government electronic records are preserved and accessible to the public." The report recommends establishing a statewide, cross-government Electronics Records Committee to address, in a formal, long-term and collaborative manner, all aspects of electronic record creation, management and preservation.
The committee would facilitate state agency adoption, place the vendor community on notice of the state's strategic direction and long-term commitment for technology openness, and ensure this commitment is institutionalized throughout the state enterprise and survives government leadership transitions. Another recommendation suggests the committee develops and publishes a final open records policy, and begins issuing a series of standards and guidelines for implementing the policy. A workgroup was formed to conduct the research and write the report. The workgroup examined policies from other states and nations, records management of the State Archives, the need for public access, the expected storage life of electronic documents, and the costs of implementation.
Mayor Gavin Newsom announced last week that the Department of Public Works (DPW) has developed a web-based permitting system that allows small businesses to renew their caf¨¦ tables and chair permits online. The new system creates convenient access to city services for small businesses in San Francisco by cutting permit approval times in half and eliminates the need for merchants to visit DPW offices. "Small businesses are the backbone of San Francisco's economy," said Mayor Newsom. "This new online permitting system means they engage a more efficient city bureaucracy while the city provides a necessary customer service that gets passed on directly to residents."
Recognizing that small business owners need to remain in their shops and run their businesses, Mayor Newsom and Supervisor Carmen Chu asked DPW to develop a system that allows merchants to remotely reapply for their permits every year. "Whenever we are able to improve efficiency in city services, it is important that we pass these savings down, especially when it comes to small businesses," said Supervisor Carmen Chu, who sponsored legislation at the Board of Supervisors that streamlines the outdoor dining permit process. DPW processes more than 400 permits annually. The permit allows caf¨¦ and restaurant owners to place tables and chairs on the sidewalk for outdoor dining. Permit processing has been reduced from one month to two weeks. "This new tool highlights DPW's commitment to delivering customer-friendly services to our city's merchants," said Ed Reiskin, Director of Public Works. "By designing a convenient, flexible and responsive online service for permit seekers, we have created a more streamlined process that saves small business owners time and resources."
China's State Council, the country's Cabinet, will make use of the Internet as a standard method of inviting public opinion on draft laws and regulations. In the second half of 2007, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council established an information management system on its official website to collect opinions on draft laws and regulations on a trial basis. The system passed the evaluation of relevant legal departments and experts and scholars from the law circle on Friday. During its trial, the system collected opinions on seven sets of draft regulations and received 16,888 opinions from more than 9,000 people. "The system will help us to collect public opinion more accurately and analyze them more scientifically," said Kong Xiangqing, the office's information center director.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will hold four weeklong on-line job fairs for college graduates in cooperation with the Labor and Social Security and Personnel ministries. The announcement, posted on the MOE website, said that the 2008 Spring National On-line Graduates Recruitment Fair, the first of the four, will be held in late March. The ticket-free fairs will offer such services as information releases and job search advice as well as on-line interviews. The MOE said the number of college students graduating in summer 2008 will reach a record of 5.59 million, 640,000 more than in 2007. According to the MOE, graduating students could participate in remote video interviews with employers, which would be convenient for both sides. The three other fairs are to be held in June, September and December. Job fairs, often attended by thousands of students, are the main channel for Chinese college graduates find employment.
Xiao Liu, a staff member of the Longhua District government, Haikou City, South China's Hainan Province, has recently received xinhuanet.com's special edition of Mobile Phone Newspaper for the annual sessions of China's National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Particularly, Liu is interested in the interactive sector in which questions are solicited for an exclusive interview program. People can join the interview via Fetion, a mobile instant messaging service. So, Liu sent out a message asking his questions about the social security insurance for migrant workers. Liu said with excitement that the Fetion-based interview is a program that can truly go into the inner heart of the common people. All what they want to know, to express or just to chat about can be done via the mobile phone messages. Upon the opening of China's NPC, CPPCC annual sessions, major websites in the nation, including xinhuanet.com, people.com.cn, sina.com.cn and QQ.com, have run more new applications of Internet communication technology, and thus further expanded the channels for netizens to receive news or express views about the sessions. At 9:00, March 3, China's first Fetion-based interview about the sessions was conducted at Xinhuanet.com. Soon after Kang Houming, NPC deputy and also a migrant worker of the No.1 Municipal Works Company under Chongqing Urban Construction Group, entered the studio, numerous migrant workers throughout China fired their questions via the mobile phones.
One of them asked, "I have been a migrant worker for nearly ten years, and yet the balance in my social security account can't be transferred to my hometown. Would you please report my problem to higher authorities?" Kang replied, "I have already put forward a proposal on the matter to enable migrant workers to use a kind of social security account credit cards. Being highly mobile, the migrant workers social security will be effectively ensured if they could use the cards." This first Fetion-based interview was jointly hosted by xinahunet.com and China Mobile. Fetion users can join any of the number group from "888000" to "888099" to interact. By using the chatting tool, all the 85 million mobile phone users across the country can directly participate in discussions or chat. Some users said in their messages that the Fetion-based interview platform has brought them closer to the annual sessions. "Dig" began focusing on news about the annual sessions, trying to select the most popular pieces At 16:20, March 2, a digger dubbed "duyan" posted the news of "the first press conference for the First Session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee" telecast by the central government news websites, inducing a large number of netizens to read and collect the web page. At 16:30, this piece turned up on the home page of the "digg" channel of people.com.cn, becoming the first piece about the annual sessions on its home page.
In the evening of the same day, news stories, such as "the Internet becomes direct channel for public opinion," debuted on the home pages of various dig websites including digg.cn and zhuaxia.com. Thus the diggers have pooled the news about the annual sessions into a new channel of Internet communications of their own accord. The "dig" is a new Internet application that combines bookmarks, blogs, RSS and non-hierarchical editorial control. Its unique feature is that, without full-time website editors, any user can submit articles at his will whereas readers will judge whether the articles could be used or not. The dig websites entered China in 2003, and are still at an initial stage for growth at present. The core idea of the "dig" is to mobilize the public to search for news and let netizens to decide by vote which news stories should be displayed on the home page of a website.
Undoubtedly, the close attention paid by dig websites to news about the annual sessions has shown the Internet's infinite vitality to spread the advanced culture. "Online political assembly" demonstrates netizens' expectations of the sessions During their on-going, netizens' enthusiasm to learn more and talk about the annual sessions is on a constant rise. QQ.com has opened a column named "online political assembly." By 15:00, March 3, netizens have posted as many as 82,819 messages on the column. In fact, many major websites in China have all launched similar columns. People.com.cn opened its "Speak out online," while xinhuanet.com created "I have a piece of advice for Premier Wen." Also, other websites offered similar platforms for their netizens to be involved. These interactive columns have tremendously aroused netizens' zeal to make suggestions or discuss state policies and have created an "open" and "interactive" atmosphere for the sessions. The large numbers of messages posted by them in these columns have fully proved the general public's attention and expectations for the sessions.
China has taken a series of measures to ensure food safety for the Olympic Games, including using GPS to position and monitor the transport and store of food for the event, a senior quarantine official said here on Thursday. Li Changjiang, head of the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said on the sidelines of the First Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) that "food safety is one of important factors for the success of the Beijing Olympics, to which the Chinese government always pays great attention." He said that the Olympic food production will strictly follow "the highest international standards". Strict market permission is imposed for all food suppliers for the Beijing Olympic Games. Food processing companies can be recognized as the candidates of food suppliers for the Games only after undergoing very strict examinations, Li said. Candidates of food suppliers will be examined by officials and experts on spot, he added. Food will be transported from food processing companies to "consumption sites" directly and GPS will be used to position and monitor transport and store to "ensure safety of every procedure", Li said. "We also communicated with counterparts of previous Olympic Games hosts and drew experiences on ensuring food safety from them," Li said. "The above measures will guarantee food safety for the Beijing Olympic Games without the least risk," Li assured. Li wished athletes, coaches, journalists from all over the world not only enjoy a high-level sports spree in Beijing, but also enjoy China's catering culture.
China will resort to satellite remote sensing technologies to monitor land use and protect the legitimate rights of farmers, an official said in Beijing on Friday. Ministry of Land and Resources will start using the high-tech devices this year to detect and prevent illegal use of land, particularly arable land, said vice minister Yun Xiaosu at a press conference during the annual parliamentary session. Yun said his ministry will draw up a satellite map covering the country's 9.6 million square kilometers of territory, to protect arable land from illicit expropriation and safeguard the legitimate land rights of farmers. "The Chinese government has taken legal and policy measures to protect the farmers' rights in land use, particularly land appropriated for farming and building homes," Yun said in response to a question. Meanwhile, the central and local governments have also worked to protect the rights of farmers whose land were expropriated, he said without elaborating. China seized 31,700 land use violation cases in a 100-day campaign starting in September, involving more than 200,000 hectares of land.
The campaign aimed at cracking down on local governments that illegally transferred household land to property developers, and punishing officials who failed to seek permission from higher authorities for land use and those who flouted decrees to expand the size of development zones. China had 121 million hectares of arable land at the end of 2006, or 0.09 hectares per person, down 8.3 million hectares and 0.02 hectare respectively from 1996, and less than 40 percent of the world's average level. The country needs at least 120 million hectares of arable land to feed its 1.3 billion people. "It's vital to the national economy and people's livelihood," said Yun. "But with concerted efforts from all sides, it's quite hopeful to keep the acreage above the minimal line." The Chinese government has quintupled tax on the use of arable land for non-farming purposes and is charging foreign-invested companies as much as their domestic peers to protect farm land and better control land supply. The country's landmark property law, adopted last March, was also aimed at better protecting farmers from land seizures, which frequently caused public anger. The law stresses the protection of arable land, promising strict restrictions in the transformation of land from agricultural use to construction projects.
The Shanghai IT commission has earned an award from the United Nations for improved IT infrastructure and smart IT applications developed by the municipal government. UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang gave the UNPAN Knowledge Management Award to Fu Wenbiao, director of the Shanghai Municipal Informatization Commission, during the Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region, which was held in Shanghai yesterday. The award represented the city's smart IT infrastructure, Qian Xiaoyan, chief manager of UNPAN (United Nations Public Administration Network), said during the forum. Sha also defined Shanghai as one of the most adventurous cities in the ICT (information, communication and technology) sector. "The improvement of the ICT infrastructure influences every sector from macro to the micro, including economy and productivity growth," Sha told the forum.
ICT has been adopted by cities worldwide in medical, transportation and even philosophy sectors to make urban life better, according to Leo Merores, president of the UN Economic and Social Council. In Shanghai, ICT became the No.1 pillar for industry for four years and it contributed 14 percent to the city's total GDP, according to Yang Xiong, Shanghai's executive vice mayor. Half of Shanghai families have been able to access broadband Internet and about one million middle-aged or aged people have been trained to use computers. Meanwhile, the city is upgrading data-sharing networks across the city. The city's international fiber optic capacity accounts for 70 percent of the national level. A new undersea cable connecting China and United States, which connects to Shanghai, will be constructed and is expected to lift the Sino-US communications capacity by 160 times, according to Yang. All speakers at the forum expressed their condolences to victims of the earthquake in Sichuan Province.
The third-generation (3G) mobile phone service is ready for use in the upcoming Beijing Olympics as the high-speed wireless connection service and related products were formally delivered on Monday. China Mobile, China's top wireless operator, and South Korean cell phone producer Samsung presented 15,000 3G handsets, plus data cards and nearly 3 million yuan ($428,600) of calling fees, to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 29th Olympic Games here on Monday. With the offer, work staff and volunteers of the Games can enjoy high-speed data transmissions, which allow them to watch televised games, play videos, and surf the Internet on cell phones. The service is based on the Chinese 3G standard, known as TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access). China Mobile has basically finished construction of the TD-SCDMA network in eight cities, five of which are to host events for the Beijing Olympics in August, including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, said the company. China has promised to provide 3G service for the Games. China Mobile is the sole cooperative partner for the Beijing Olympics in mobile communications services while Samsung is the only one in mobile terminal supply. China Mobile started the commercial trials of 3G services in the country in April. The International Telecommunication Union recognized TD-SCDMA as one of the world's three official 3G standards in 2000. The other two are Europe's WCDMA and North America's CDMA 2000.
The Environment Ministry and the Japan Meteorological Agency have opened a new website to jointly publicize yellow sand information. The ministry and the agency had previously posted yellow sand information on separate websites, making data access by Web visitors less user friendly. Data provided by the weather agency for the unified website are three-day forecasts on yellow sand, relevant data collected at 85 weather observatories across Japan and levels of yellow sand measured through visual observation in China and South Korea. Data offered by the Environment Ministry for the new site include yellow sand data collected at 17 locations both at home and abroad through laser beam. Measurement of yellow sand using laser beam is said to provide more accurate data than visual observation as the beam can detect particles of yellow sand flying up to 6,000 meters high, although haze may be mistaken for yellow sand. Originating in desert areas in East Asia, yellow sand soils laundry and lowers visibility, affecting transportation. Some studies have shown that air pollutants are contained. The new website has a link to an English-language web page of South Korea's environment ministry.
Korea was ranked one of the top 10 countries in terms of network readiness according to the annual report by World Economic Forum produced in cooperation with INSEAD, a leading international business school. The Global Information Technology Report released Wednesday (Apr. 9) revealed in its Networked Readiness Index 2007-2008 that Korea took ninth place among 127 countries/ economies. Korea was ranked in 19th place among 122 countries/ economies in 2006. The report called Korea's rapid climb to 9th place an "impressive improvement," and attributed the latest achievement to a combination of high-quality education, superior labor forces and top-performing research institutions with a sophisticated business sector. This has all led to great innovation and the birth of multinational companies in the country. The report went on to give kudos to government efforts to improve the production and efficiency of information and communications technology and the consistency it has shown in pursuing the policy.
Of three major evaluations, Korea was particularly strong in both Readiness and User Components sections, recording 3rd and 4th place respectively. The records showed Korea was well up in usage and readiness of high technology in all individual, business and government sectors. Korea's weakness however was found in the Environment Component, ranking in 17th place. The report revealed that the country still has room for improvement in the general political and regulatory environment, followed by infrastructure environment such as high expenditure for education. In the mean time, Nordic countries took up most of the top places in the Global Report, with Denmark ranking the 1st for the second consecutive year, followed by Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, Finland, the Netherlands and Iceland. Korea was ranked 20th place (out of 75 nations) in 2002, 14th (82 nations) in 2003, 24th (104 nations) in 2004 and 14th (115 nations) in 2005. This is the first time Korea has made it into the top 10.
A health telemonitoring system supported by government funds will be soon launched in Korea, officials said Friday (May 23)According to the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, it will offer "Ubiquitous Health Service" for the socially disadvantaged in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs.Personal computerized sensors will be operated to continuously monitor the health status of the elderly or ill in their homes, officials said.The service with a budget of 2.95 billion won ($2,770,000) will be offered temporarily free of charge from July to February, ministry officials said.
The government's block on access to websites that carry the controversial Dutch film Fitna is part of an attempt to restrict citizens' freedom in the name of religion, scholars warn. Political and media expert Wimar Witoelar said the government was on the wrong track and had damaged its credibility with the public by ordering the Internet block. "This is a really clumsy move by the government. It shows how the government is exploiting certain religious issues to suppress the freedom of its citizens," Wimar told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. "It's like turning back the clock to the Soeharto era, when the government was always suspicious." Blocked websites include YouTube, MySpace and Rapidshare. Wimar, who hosts the TV program Perspektif and was previously a spokesman for former president Abdurrahman Wahid, said the block revealed the government's failure to understand why and how people use the Internet. "Ninety-nine percent of YouTube users are visiting the site for productive purposes, not to watch Fitna," Wimar said. He said the move showed how easily the government had caved in to those offended by the movie, which has been condemned worldwide.
Political expert Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, from the National Institute of Sciences, said the block could be interpreted as evidence of the government's support for minor extremist groups. "The government's support of the hardliners justifies the view that Indonesian Muslims often overreact to religious issues," Ikrar told the Post. He said the ban on the film and its maker Dutch politician Geert Wilders spoke volumes about the government's immaturity despite the democratic era. "The government's intervention will impede its citizens from becoming mature. The public will never be able to tell good from bad because the government always dictates to them," Ikrar said. He said the ban would not work, but rather would ignite public curiosity about the film and encourage people to find alternative ways to watch it.
"If the government is seriously concerned that movies could destroy this country, it should ban TV soap operas, which often teach young people negative behavior," Ikrar said. The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) said the government's move was a form of censorship that denied the public their right to information, in contravention of Article 28F of the 1945 Constitution. "We need to be selective, but not reactive and arbitrative," AJI chairman Heru Hendratmoko said in a statement. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced a ban on Fitna for disturbing social harmony in the country. The government recently asked 146 Internet service providers and 30 network access providers to block websites that carry the film. The film features images of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the 2004 Madrid bombings, juxtaposed with quotes from the Koran. Ikrar said the government would have done better to ignore the movie. "He (Wilders) is just someone who wants popularity. The government should have ignored him instead of dancing to his tune," Ikrar said.
PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are gripped by election fever, and this time around, the temperature has risen in both the physical and virtual worlds. Political parties on both sides of the divide have seemingly taken to the Internet like ducks to water. Messages and appeals are being sent out online in a manner unseen in previous general elections. It's clear that no one is taking for granted, even though recent surveys have shown that Malaysians still rely largely on the traditional media ¨C television and newspapers ¨C for political news and information. But it's not only the parties and candidates who have invaded cyberspace with slick websites aimed at garnering support from the Net generation. Several individuals have also launched election-related forays online, riding on the excitement that unfailingly surrounds a general election each time one is held.
Online avenue One such website is Malaysia Votes (www.malaysiavotes.com), which was launched on Feb 20, just a few days before nomination day. The prime movers behind the website are former newspaper journalists Jacqueline Ann Surin and Cindy Tham. Combined, they have more than two decades of experience working as reporters ¨C Surin was assistant news editor with The Sun while Tham was assistant editor with The Edge. Both left their respective publications earlier this year to get Malaysia Votes off the ground, but it wasn't a spur of the moment decision, according to Surin. Since last year, Surin and Tham had been mulling the idea of setting up a online news site because of political and government restrictions the two said they faced during their time at The Sun. ¡°We figured that under present circumstances, it was unlikely that the Printing Presses and Publications Act would be reviewed or repealed, so the only way to continue practice the sort of journalism that we believed in was to go online,¡± she said.
Malaysia Votes was exclusively set up to cover the 2008 general election. It aims to provide news about the main issues faced by the nation as it heads to the polls. The site is zeroing on hot seats across the country and the battle for Kelantan. Surin, Tham and Danny Lim ¨C a former senior writer with Off The Edge magazine who left recently to join the two ¨C write much of the content, but external contributors have chipped in as well. Recent contributors include Dr Mavis Puthecheary of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Maria Chin Abdullah of Women's Development Collective, a non-governmental organisation. ¡°We don¡¯t aim to cover every single news event or political party or candidate because it would be impossible with our limited resources, so we are very focused on niche areas,¡± said Surin. Malaysia Votes will also ¡°offer as much analysis as possible¡±. ¡°If they wanted to read straightforward news reporting, they can easily get it from the traditional media, and obviously we can¡¯t compete in that area,¡± she said. It has only been about two weeks old, but the site has already become a non-stop endeavour for the site's founders. ¡°It¡¯s 24/7 ¨C from the moment we wake up in the morning to after midnight most nights.¡¯¡¯
Part of the reason, as any reporter knows, is the considerable effort required in covering elections. ¡°It is also just the three of us multitasking and managing everything: the site, interviews, press conferences, getting people to write for us, writing and editing. It¡¯s been very intense,¡± said Surin. But the effort has been rewarding on several levels so far. ¡°We¡¯ve received loads of feedback, mostly very encouraging, but we¡¯ve also received brickbats,¡± she said. Much of that came after they published an interview with Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who is running for the Rembau parliamentary seat. Surin ascribes it to what some Internet users believe alternative online news sites should be about. ¡°I think some people just assume that because we are online, we have to be anti-establishment and carry only a particular point of view. But we¡¯re a news site that aims to be fair, accountable and factual about all legitimate stakeholders in this general election,¡± she said. Such ¡°controversial¡± items have no doubt helped attract attention to the site.
The site received more than 61,000 page views and about 18,000 unique visitors for the seven days after it was launched. It currently averages about 3,000 unique visitors a day. While it is encouraging, the site's founders said they viewed success as not just in the numbers. ¡°Our goals were to report as independently and fairly as we could on the elections, in the areas that we promised we would try to cover. I think we¡¯ve managed to keep that promise so far despite our limited resources. We¡¯re glad Malaysia Votes has been able to create and provide that kind of space for readers,¡± said Surin. And it won't just stop there. A plan is in the pipeline for a full-featured news website after the elections, ¡°a visit to the spa at a beach resort, and our collective recovery from exhaustion.¡± ¡°Malaysia Votes is the beginning of a bigger online news site project that we are planning to launch in the next few months. We still need to put in more thinking and research so that we get the business model and branding right, so once this is over, Cindy and I will concentrate on setting up our company and the news site,¡± said Surin.
An insider view That would put them in competition with Malaysian Insider (www.malaysianinsider.com), a news website that went live on nomination day. The site is the brainchild of Png Hong Kwang, former executive editor of editorial production at New Straits Times, and Sreedhar Subramanian, former chief operating officer of NTV7. Cluttered as the alternative media scene might seem to Malaysian Internet users, the site's founders believe there is still an under-served niche for it. On one side you have the bloggers, who I think champion narrow causes, and on the other side you have online newspapers like Malaysiakini, which I feel has a strong anti-establishment bent, so there is an untapped middle ground between the two,¡± said Png. It's barely two weeks old, but Malaysian Insider already has the looks of a full-blown news site, with sections featuring local news and politics, opinions, sports, entertainment, and foreign news.
The site also carries the works of cartoonist Cheah Sin Ann and exclusive articles from motoring blogger Paul Tan. The site aims to provide to offer ¡°an unvarnished take on events and personalities in Malaysia.¡± ¡°We will strive for balance, although I understand that not everybody is going to agree with what we publish,¡± said Png. Much of the current content is focussed on the elections, which is the result of the decision to launch the site during the period of the general election. ¡°You don't have to be genius to see that it makes perfect sense to go live in the middle of all the excitement,¡± said Png. Malaysian Insider currently has about 10 people on board, including writers, contributors and site administrators, and is looking to add more reporters to its full-time staff. Png could not provide any statistics on the site, but said he hoped Malaysian Insider's focus on ¡°the unvarnished truth¡± would translate into page views and eventually revenue via advertisements on the site. ¡°I think we can be self-sustaining after about a year, and of course, we would like to be profitable eventually,¡± he said. (by Raslan Sharif)
DECISION makers in the public sector should come out in force to attend this year¡¯s IT Architects Regional Conference, according to International Association of Software Architects (IASA) Asia-Pacific chairman Aaron Tan Dani. He said it is particularly important that representatives from the public sector attend ITARC ¡®08 because the Government needs to understand the importance of an integrated software architecture throughout the public sector. ¡°This will overcome the longstanding problem of ministries having silos of information isolated from each other, and also allow for better integration of public services. This will help serve Malaysians better and improve the nation¡¯s competitiveness as a target for foreign investors,¡± Dani added. This year¡¯s conference, with the theme ¡°Kick Your Skills Into High Gear,¡± is part of IASA¡¯s annual series of regional conferences. It will be held at the Legend Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on April 22 and 23. ITARC ¡®08 features tracks dedicated to enterprise architecture, infrastructure architecture, software architecture and the fundamentals of software architecture. IT architecture, as defined by IASA, is the function of designing an organisation¡¯s IT processes, hardware and software platforms to align with the organisation¡¯s activities and objectives. IASA Malaysia president Dr Timothy Nam said his organisation would be forming special interest groups (SIGs) related to these areas. He believes the SIGs will encourage local IT architects to get together on issues of importance to their industry, as well as help nurture ideas and affirmative action. He hopes the conference attendees will step forward to help form these SIGs.
Among key speakers scheduled for the conference are IASA Global president Paul Preiss, Thailand¡¯s Office of Management and Development director Rom Hiranpruk, Singapore¡¯s Defence, Science and Technology Agency chief information officer Chau Chee Chiang, and Microsoft Corp director of architecture strategy Giancarlo Carraro. The attendance fee for ITARC ¡®08 is RM500 for IASA members and RM700 for others. The event is supported and endorsed by the Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) and the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (Pikom). Those interested in attending should call Irene or Ivan at 017-219-3377, or send an e-mail to malaysia firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the conference is available at www.itarc.org. The first regional conference was held last year in Kuala Lumpur and drew 520 attendees, Dani said. ¡°This year, we¡¯re hoping to get around 600 attendees. So far, we have signed up about half that number,¡± he added. (by H. Amir Khalid)
Last March 4, the Diliman, Quezon City campus of the University of the Philippines held its annual student council elections. Five of its 25 colleges and institutes computerized their polls. These were the College of Engineering, College of Business Administration, College of Mass Communications, Institute of Library and Information Science, and College of Statistics. For still undetermined reasons, the National College of Public Administration and Governance decided at the last minute to retain the manual method of voting and counting of ballots. Unfortunately, there were insufficient numbers of University of the Philippines Linux Users Group members to configure on time the Halalan system for the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Since UP is the bellwether for possible social and political trends in the Philippines, it would be best to examine more closely the implications of this pioneering effort at computerized elections.
As expected, voting and counting of ballots were faster when automated. UP Diliman Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Elizabeth Enriquez said in a telephone interview that computerized voting took only an average of two minutes for each voter as he or she pointed and clicked with the mouse on the names of candidates of his or her choice listed on the computer terminals. Results were tabulated and announced within 20 to 40 minutes after voting centers in the five colleges closed at 5 p.m. or 7 p.m., the latter time being for colleges with graduate students. In contrast, manual counting results in the other 20 colleges and institutes were known only at around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., as has always been the case for decades. This is despite the fact that only around 10,000 of the slightly over 22,000 students in UP Diliman voted in this year¡¯s elections. Today¡¯s UP students, unlike earlier generations of the university, are hardly interested in campus and national political affairs. But Enriquez told this writer a good number of the voters remarked in Filipino, ¡°Wishing that national elections were computerized as well.¡±
She later asked UNPLUG President John Bitanga, a 20-year-old computer science major, if the Halalan system their organization had written and configured could be used also by the Comelec. He replied that voters would first have to be computer literate. The UP administration did not spend a single centavo to computerize the student council elections. The hardware and peripherals used were those already in the colleges¡¯ computer laboratories. Four of the participating colleges used Halalan, a student council electoral software UNPLUG members had developed running on Open Source. The College of Statistics used its own electoral system, an Excel program integrated into the college¡¯s SAS relational database and PHP Web scripting platforms. Its developer was Ryan Lansangan, a junior faculty member of this college who doubles as its webmaster.
As the UP experience shows, neither funding nor highly sophisticated technologies are the primary factors for the success of computerized elections. Rather, it is the willingness of the voters to use the system. Such willingness comes from the voters having already been exposed to computers and not technophobes themselves. As Enriquez told this writer, ¡°I suppose all UP students today are computer literate.¡± This implies that the Comelec would probably have to introduce computerized elections in the Philippines on a gradual basis, over three national elections perhaps. Early adopters would have to be in Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas where PCs and Internet caf¨¦s are now common sights. The next national elections will still be in May 2010. But it would be worthwhile for the country¡¯s leaders to examine UP¡¯s experience in computerizing its student council elections. (by Ike Suarez)
By 2010, public officers will enjoy an agile infocomm environment that promotes innovation and enhances productivity at work, with the establishment of a Standard ICT Operating Environment (SOEasy) for the public sector. The S$1.3 billion SOEasy (Public Sector) tender was awarded to oneMeridian, the consortium led by EDS International. The other key members in the consortium include Alcatel-Lucent, Avanade, Cisco Systems, Frontline, Microsoft, Singapore Computer Systems and SingTel. The SOEasy will enable public officers to work together as One Government and improve overall operational efficiency in the public sector. Emphasising this outcome, Mr Lim Hup Seng, Deputy Secretary (Performance) of the MOF said, ¡°SOEasy will allow more than 60,000 public officers to enjoy a robust, connected, innovative and agile infocomm environment.¡±
Greater Efficiency, Cost Savings, Collaboration, Mobility and Agility SOEasy will consolidate infocomm services into a single environment which will allow government agencies to achieve greater efficiency in infocomm usage and cost savings. This involves harmonising desktop, messaging and network environments across all government agencies. Agencies can then fully utilise and benefit from integrated infocomm services and allocate resources optimally resulting in operational efficiency that will bring about S$500 million cost savings to the Government. This translates to an average of 28% over current infocomm expenditure for equivalent services. SOEasy will introduce collaborative tools such as instant messaging, desktop video conferencing services and whiteboard sharing that will enable public officers to easily connect and collaborate within and across multiple agencies. Individual public officers can also look forward to greater mobility at work as they can seamlessly access government resources from anywhere and anytime. All users will enjoy smooth and swift delivery of infocomm services, such as more regular and non-intrusive security updates. This will enable the government to respond faster to the changing infocomm environment.
SOEasy Tender Evaluation & the Awarded Bid ¨C oneMeridian Commenting on the tender bids, RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer of the IDA said, ¡°We are pleased with the quality of the proposals submitted. The proposal submitted by oneMeridian offered the most compelling infocomm solutions that fits our purpose and is the best value for money.¡± With SOEasy being the biggest government infocomm project in terms of scope, scale and value, a rigorous and thorough tender evaluation was conducted throughout the 2-stage Selective Tendering process. The 2-stage Selective Tendering consists of a Pre-Tender Qualification Stage and Tender Cum Qualification Notice Stage. In the Pre-Tender Qualification Stage, consortia were qualified based on financial strength; expertise and deployment track record; programme management; and technical competencies to deliver SOEasy. Subsequently, the qualified consortia were consulted on the draft SOEasy specifications to enable the Singapore Government to fully exploit emerging infocomm technologies and leverage on industry best practices. In the Tender Cum Qualification Notice Stage, companies that were not qualified during the Pre-Tender Qualification Stage could be considered for qualification. However, no new submissions were received.At the close of the Tender Cum Qualification Notice Stage, four bids were submitted by the qualified consortia1. All tender bids were evaluated on technical merits before price to ensure that technical evaluation was conducted without price influence. The bids were rigorously and carefully evaluated by a multi-agency evaluation committee comprising 53 members.
SOEasy Implementation Timeline SOEasy will be implemented in phases for a total of 74 government agencies, excluding the Ministry of Defence which has developed their own system, and Ministry of Education (Schools) which will be building a separate system. By July 2009, the first batch of government agencies such as MOF, MICA and IDA will enjoy the full benefits of SOEasy.The tender was earlier scheduled to be awarded in October 2007. The evaluation took more time given its complexity. The SOEasy will be fully implemented on schedule by 2010. Major SOEasy implementation milestones have remained unchanged. Some adjustments to the timeline have been made to take into account the delay in the tender award. In particular, the transition schedule of government agencies has been adjusted to even out the implementation workload.
Thailand is set to roll out a paperless eCustoms system in May which is hoped to help reduce paperwork and increase national competitiveness, while increasing transparency and helping to provide better information for key government decisions. Making the announcement to journalists, Customs Department Director General Wisudhi Srisuphan explained how the system first started trials in January, and is "about 88 percent done" for export-related documents and about 25 percent done for incoming documents. To date, the trials have centred on the 50 or so land-based border checkpoints with neighbouring countries, but the real test of the system will come on May 1, when the system goes live at the air and sea ports that cover over 90 per cent of trade. Some 300 million baht has been invested in the system since work began in 2005 with a further 35 million baht a year for maintenance. The contractor is Yip In Tsoi, which was also the main sub-contractor for the Customs Department's previous EDI (electronic data interchange) system, years ago.
Wisudhi said that the value of the system was hard to pin down in terms of money or time saved, but it was the big picture about the country's competitiveness where Thailand had the most to gain. He claimed that the reduction of red tape for business had meant that Thailand now ranked 15th in the world for investment friendliness and that in Asean, it was second only to Singapore for ease of dealing with Customs. He noted that up-to-the-minute information and transparency will help the government make better decisions when it comes to the signing of Free Trade Agreements, for instance. Moving forward, the work is focussed on simplifying the G2G (government to government) back office links. "Last month we were appointed the main host to coordinate and automate the document flow between the 26 government agencies. We will create a system and when any agency is ready, they can plug in to us. Later, we will focus on G2B (government to business)," he said.
A pilot project involving four other agencies; two under the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs; will be the first to be launched. The idea is to automate workflow between each agency and cut down on the need to re-enter the same data at each step. The system runs on the Government Information Network operated by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. For digital signatures, it is designed to work with any Certificate Authority (CA). To date, only CAT Telecom and TOT Corporation have registered themselves as CAs with the eCustoms system. Foreign digital signatures are recognised if they have a recognition agreement and are recognised by TOT or CAT. Today, over 26,000 importers, exporters, freight forwarders and handlers are already registered for the system. Customs has two redundant data centres, albeit at the same site. A new off-site data centre is planned, with a 400 million baht budget, for the actual physical building (but not IT) infrastructure within the next two years.
A workshop titled "Sharing of e- Governance Success Stories in Bangladesh " was held on Wednesday at the NEC committee room here. Planning Commission member Mohammad Shah Alam attended the function as chief guest while ERD additional secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin was special guest. Organized by Assistance to SICT for Strengthening Planning Division, ERD and IMED through ICT (ASICT), it was chaired by Dr Md Delawar Hossain Khan, National Project Director, ASICT. The project is being supported by UNDP. Aminur Rahman, Deputy Secretary of Land Ministry, gave a presentation highlighting the experiences in using the information technology in the land management in the Demra Circle. Officials of the Planning Commission, ERD and IMED took part in the discussion and shared their experiences. Important points that were highlighted during the discussion included the necessity to ensure longtime sustainability, high level support and commitment on part of the government personnel. Institutional change and attitudinal change were also emphasized as factors for the successful implementation of e- governance initiatives.
C Chandramouli, State Information Technology (IT) secretary of Kerala, announced on Thursday that under the State's e-Governance programme, every third of the village in the state will have Internet-enabled kiosks within 11 months. He stated during the inauguration of the inter-collegiate techno-cultural festival 'Mindcraft 08' at Karunya University that there will be 5,400 Internet-enabled kiosks in the state. There are plans for establishing an IT park in Coimbatore. The work on the same will start by the mid of this month. Moreover, there are also plans for the starting IT Parks and townships in places such as Tiruchy, Tirunelveli and Madurai. He added on that technology should be used in the best possible way for the benefit of the mankind.
The state of Karnataka launched a state-of-the-art Electronic Stamping (e-Stamping) facility in collaboration with the Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL). Launching the facility, Governor Rameshwar Thakur said "the measure will certainly facilitate both good governance and prevention of corruption." Initially the e-Stamping will be available at select sub-registrar offices at Gandhinagar, Jayanagar, Shivajinagar, SHCIL offices, Koramangala, Jayanagar, Malleswaram and Lawyer's Association at Civil Court Complex. The government and SHCIL plan to roll out the facility across the state later. SHCIL Chairman and Managing Director R C Razdan said "the corporation was in advanced talks with Maharashtra, Delhi, Bihar and Tamil Nadu for establishing e-Stamping facility." Under the facility, those registering properties and other documents could make payment of stamp duty and registration charges to SHCIL.
Soon State Bank of India (SBI) will provide banking services through e-Gram project, the Gujarat Government-pioneered e-Gram project, which aims to provide e-Governance services in villages. SBI will provide checking of account balance, deposits, loans insurance and other banking services through the Internet. With this service people from rural areas who live far away from a bank branch will be able to avail of banking products without having to personally visit the nearest branch. The bank is looking at targeting more than 5,000 rural ICT kiosks in the next one year to double up as its banking facilitator. Under the Reserve Bank of India guidelines, banks are permitted to use the services of non-governmental organisations/self-help groups, microfinance institutions and other civil society organisations as intermediaries in providing financial and banking services through the use of business facilitator and correspondent models. The initiative will enable villagers to start a bank account with deposit amount as low as INR 50. People can also maintain their account with zero balance. SBI has also signed an MoU with India Post to act as a facilitator for 50 post offices in a pilot project at Surendranagar, Anand and Bharuch districts in Gujarat. It has also signed up with Gujarat Agro Industries Corporation to market the bank's products in 700 outlets of the 1,200 outlets in the state.
The National Mission Mode Project on e-Governance in municipalities has been finalised in 423 cities with a population of over one lakh or above over a period of five years by the Government of India. Ajay Maken, Minister of State for Urban Development stated that the scheme will cover 8 services within urban local bodies. The total estimate of the scheme is 676 crore. The scheme will include services such as registration and issue of birth certificate, payment of property tax, water supply, grievances and suggestions and procurement and monitoring of projects including e-procurement. Five of the mega cities ¨C Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore will be covered under the central sponsored scheme of infrastructure development. Moreover, the health scheme includes accounting system and personal information system and licenses and solid waste management. It is also stated that the implementation will be first started in 35 cities and towns as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). The scheme aims at preparing the urban local bodies to approach the market for funding its projects.
In e-Governance readiness, India has fallen from a rank of 87 in 2005 to 113 in 2008 on e-Government readiness. According to the UN e-Government Survey 2008, India has slipped 26 places in the last three years and been overtaken by countries like Maldives (ranked 95), Sri Lanka (101) and even Iran (108). Sweden has surpassed the United States as the leader in the overall e-Readiness index, with Denmark, Norway coming in second and third respectively. The US slipped to fourth place. Pakistan and Bangladesh have both improved and climbed to 131(from 136) and 142 (from 162) respectively. The fourth edition of the UN survey measures the progress made by various member states in drawing and implementing e-Government policies to improve public services. It uses e-participation and web assessment as two broad categories to rank countries on the basis of e-Information, e-Services and e-Tools provided by their governments to meet the demands of transparency and accountability voiced by citizens. In the e-Participation index, India was ranked 49 globally, whereas in the web measurement assessment, which measures the online presence of national websites, with those of the ministries of health, education, welfare, labour and finance of each country, it was ranked 54.
According to Dataquest-IDC e-Gov Survey 2008, Delhi is the best e-Governed state of 2007 followed by Goa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab featured in the top 10. Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, was ranked sixth overall. Meanwhile, Jharkhand was named the worst e-Governed state of 2007, preceded by Gujarat and Haryana. The study also shows that Gujarat had the most drastic fall ending at number 19 in 2007 from number 4 last year. With citizens and businesses reporting low satisfaction levels, the overall e-Governance scores of Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Haryana also fell as compared to last year. The study also shows that the citizens of Delhi are most satisfied with e-Governance initiatives. Delhi has topped nine of the 14 parametres in the category. Himachal Pradesh bagged the second spot followed by Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
Small states like Haryana, Jharkhand and West Bengal are ready to roll out of the Centre initiative of National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), while the more developed states like Maharashtra and Karnataka are lagging behind in implementing the NeGP plan in India. According to R. Chandrashekhar, Additional Secretary, IT Department, out of 4,562 proposed common services centres (CSCs) in Jharkhand, around 4,506 are already completed, while in Haryana 920 out of the 1,159 are ready. The remaining work in both the states is likely to be completed by the month-end. West Bengal is likely to complete its roll-out by May end. In fact, Bihar, is also progressing well and would complete the rollout by October, almost six months ahead of UP, which is slated to complete the process in March next year. However, Uttar Pradesh is lagging behind in implementing NeGP plan. He also stated that of the total 80,000 CSCs to be operational throughout the country by the end of this fiscal, 8,000 are already operational. The state government has chosen six districts to implement the project on a pilot basis.
Government of India's decision to launch Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation (CPHEEO) website is sure to help all those who seek information related to urban water supply and sanitation. The rapid growth of IT sector and its relevance in water supply and sanitation sector led to the task of CPHEEO website launch initiated in May 2005. The website has links to CPHEEO-approved data collection formats which can easily be accessed by cities and towns to update the data periodically. Efforts to make the dynamic part of website operational is also on. This includes a proposal for launching a scheme that would set up MIS cells at CPHEEO and state level. This scheme is forwarded by Working Group on Urban Development and has been accepted by Steering Committee in Planning Commission.
In order to improve its e-Governance, the Government of Tamil Nadu has a launched a website for online processing of land documents. The website was launched at a regional review conference organised jointly by the Land Resources department and Union Ministry of Rural Development. The website 'www.eservices.tn.gov.in' will have all details such as patta pertaining to lands of individuals. So far INR 32 billion of land resources having full details of the owner/enterprise across the state have been registered on this website. The website which is to be launched in interior districts of Tamil Nadu in a phased manner will be covering the entire state soon. Initially it has been launched in Dindigul, Vellore and Coimbatore. The government has planned to launch it initially in 11 states across the country and as of now it has been completed in Karnataka, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and now in Tamil Nadu. This kind of e-Processing of land resources has already launched in various states and also in other countries, including England, Australia, Thailand and Kenya.
According to the Global Information Technology Report 2007¨C2008 produced by the World Economic Forum, Sri-Lanka has received 79 rank in out of 127 nations in terms of the most networked economies in the world in its Networked Readiness Index. In the 2006 ¨C 2007 Report, Sri Lanka had been ranked 86 out of 122 nations and ranked 83 out of 115 nations in the 2005¨C2006 report. The index was compiled based on assessments on an individual nation's market, political and regulatory framework, infrastructure and on individual, business and government readiness and usage. In terms of individual criteria and categories, Sri Lanka was ranked 45 in terms of venture capital availability, 59 for financial market sophistication, 52 on the extent and effect of taxation, 58 on the effectiveness of law making bodies and 64 on laws relating to ICT. Moreover, Sri Lanka was ranked at 47 on government prioritization of ICT, 53 on government procurement of advanced technology products, 44 on the availability of scientists and engineers and 40 on the quality of scientific research institutions. Sri Lanka was also ranked 88, 87 and 58 on individual, business and government readiness and 104, 50 and 83 in terms of individual, business and government usage. Denmark was top ranked on the index followed by Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and Singapore while the African nation of Chad came in last. The United Kingdom was ranked at 12 while India was ranked at 50.
ISLAMABAD (May 18 2008): Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday said Pakistan is yet to reap the benefits of Information Technology that has played an important role in the socio-economic development of the world. The Prime Minister, who came to address the World Telecommunication Day, here on the theme of "Connecting Persons with Disabilities: ICT Opportunities for All", was greeted by protesting employees of the two leading telecom operators against what they said unjust practices of the employers. The employees of one telecom company were protesting against cancellation of their franchises by their operators, who recently took over Paktel whereas staffers of main fixed line operator were protesting for not being given basic pay scale with their protest entering 13th day, a number that reminds of "Chicago tragedy" with reference to workers. The ceremony was organised by the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) in collaboration with the Ufone and the Warid Telecom. Addressing the ceremony, Gillani said special persons must be helped to explore and employ these technologies for self-reliance, and urged all stakeholders to make a difference in the lives of special people, urging the industry to be pro-active to fully exploit the resources for persons with disabilities and introduce equipment that caters to the needs of such people. The ICT sector is considered the engine of socio-economic development all over the world and its benefits should be within the access of marginalised segments of the society, including physically-handicapped people, he said.
The theme of International Telecommunication Union, he said, was more relevant to Pakistan in the perspective of massive earthquake of 2005 that left a great number of people disabled. To get these people into the mainstream, there was a need to introduce special projects for them and enable them through ICT equipment to become a productive force, he added. "Today, the world is full of opportunities with ICT playing an important role in increasing the productivity of human resources. These technologies can also serve the cause of taking the persons with disabilities into the mainstream human resource pool", he said. These persons should be enabled to harness the advancements of ICT industry and must be helped to explore and employ these technologies for self-reliance, he added. Information Technology Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said there are approximately 88 million fixed, wireless and cellular mobile telephone connections while about a large number of users were benefiting from over 3.5 million internet connections with broadband connectivity speed. He said his ministry initiated consultation with the Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education and NGOs for the formulation of special initiatives to empower the persons with disabilities through ICT gadgets. Later, the Prime Minister formally inaugurated the new service 'PTCL Smart' and distributed awards to the winners of an essay competition organised by the Wateen Telecom.
In India, Chattisgarh is enabling a 'digital government' by empowering private citizens as agents for delivering government services to citizens (G2C) through the Chattisgarh Online Informatics for Citizen Empowerment (CHOICE) program. Chattisgarh Infotech and Biotech Promotion Society (CHIPS), the e-Governance implementing agency stated that the state will expand these offerings to make the government services available anywhere and anytime. CHOICE is built on open source, which provides a one stop solution to 130 service, including G2G, G2B and G2C services. It also provides e-Payment facility for CSEB electricity bills and covers various government departments like the collectorate, municipality, police, Raipur Development Authority, PWD, and Education. Recently, CHOICE has been implemented at 50 centres in Raipur and soon it would be extended to five more districts. The government is aiming to cover all districts by the end of year 2009.
The government of Punjab, India is moving towards e-Governance. The government will open Bikri Kar Seva Centres to enable e-Filing of returns by dealers. These centres will also file VAT 35 and VAT 36 forms on the web, so that dealers/transporters would be able to file data at the information collection centres before actual arrival of goods. The state government has already connected all its excise and taxation offices for online working. The state has approved e-Procurement policy and framework and soon it would be implemented. The government is also implementing the computerisation of land records on BOOT basis, while the computerisation of driving licenses and registration of vehicles has already been rolled out in the state.
The Government of Orissa, India, is planning to computerise courts of all districts with full support from the central government as a part of its e-Governance programme. The central government has earmarked INR 385 million for comprehensive computerisation of district and sub-ordinate courts. According to the 2004-05 estimate, the state has 482 district and sub-ordinate courts. Once the Finance Department approves the proposal, the State government will assess the actual financial requirement. The computerisation programme of the courts would be completed within three years. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) will be the executing agency. The State Government is planning to extend the e-Governance programme to gram panchayats.
The Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) is continuously moving towards e-Governance. Recently ICTA has launched 16 more websites under the Government Web Portal. In the first phase of the Government Web Development project, information regarding government services is easily accessible online. The next phase of the project incorporates online government as well as receive government services online. The new government website include Department f Motor Traffic, Ministry of Road Development, Ministry of Science and Technology, Water Resources Board and the Government Information Centre.
Today on Tuesday April 23, 2008 Ministry of Communications and IT laid the foundation stone of the technical/administrative building in the Mahtab Qala area of Kabul city. The Ceremony was held including H. E. Eng. Barialai Hassam Deputy Minister Technical and other senior officials of the Ministry. mbu.jpgThere will be 12 luxury technical and administration rooms at a total cost of 4709813 Afghanis which will be paid from the developmental budget of the Ministry of Communications and IT said H. E. Eng. Barialai Hassam Deputy Ministry Technical while laying the foundation stone of the building. According to the officials of the Ministry of Communications and IT, the MCIT contracted with a private construction company and hope that the mentioned construction company will complete the building in six months.
The Democratic Party of Azerbaijan intends to use new political technologies at the forthcoming presidential elections. The due announcement was made by party chairman Sardar Jalaloglu. He said the technologies will correspond to the situation in the country. "We are in process of talks with the US National Institute of Democracy for execution of new technologies. Moreover, we intend to use the experience of foreign countries for introduction of new technologies. We will initially try to apply the technologies they propose. We hope our party will win presidential elections with their help", Jalaloglu noted.
A senior official declared Iran¡¯s willingness to share technical expertise in the field of telecommunications with other countries. ¡°Tehran aims to increase international and regional cooperation in the telecommunication sector, particularly with countries that share cultural similarities with Iran,¡± said Deputy Minister of Communications and Information Technology Kamal Mohammadpour. ¡°Development of regional countries depends on their ability to work with each other,¡° he said while addressing the opening session of an international course titled ¡¯Optimal Use of Spectrum in Cellular Networks¡¯ in Isfahan, ISNA wrote. Mohammadpour further called on members of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to expand regional cooperation.
The Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Uzbekistan has launched the project on the development of an electronic system of epidemiological monitoring of infectious diseases. The project is financed through a grant of US$40 million provided by the International Development Association for the Health-2 Project, CA-NEWS reported. The system being developed will be supported by over 200 offices in all regions of the country that will collect the data on the epidemiological situation with regard to all infectious diseases. The data will then be sent to the server in the Centre of State Sanitary-Epidemiological Inspectors on daily basis. The launching of the electronic system of epidemiological monitoring will allow the ministry to raise the efficiency of decision-making to prevent mass spread of diseases and reduce the spread of infectious diseases, the authors of the project said. Today Uzbekistan already has an electronic system for monitoring tuberculosis, which relies on all tuberculosis clinics, and an electronic data base on HIV-infected.
The New South Wales Cabinet has approved new powers for police designed to help them track terrorist threats, fraudsters and paedophiles through computer networks. The proposed laws would allow police to search computers networked to those listed on a search warrant. Police could also seize computer hard drives and memory sticks for up to seven days. Police Minister David Campbell says police are currently only able to search computer hardware found on a premises named in a search warrant. He says with the changes, they will be able to go a step further and search other networked computers, regardless of where they are located. "What we know is that there are organised crime gangs who use the internet and other forms of technology to hide their crimes," he said. "There's also the ongoing concern of pornography over the internet, and these proposed new powers for police will give police an even playing field."
Mr Campbell says the measures are needed to address the changing nature of cyber crimes. "As computer technology improves and becomes more sophisticated, the [State] Government is determined to give police the power they need to deal with that sophisticated crime," he said. "This is about making sure that police can keep up with the crooks and bring them to justice..."Whether that's gang-related or fraud-related, or whether it deals with those who pedal child pornography, police will have additional powers to keep our community safer." Queensland Police yesterday announced a two-year investigation involving police from Australia, the United States, Europe and New Zealand has led to the arrest of 22 people, accused of sharing violent and sexual material over the internet and involving 40 children. Two Australians are among those arrested in the global network.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, today announced the Panel of Experts to assess proposals to build the National Broadband Network. The Panel will be chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Ms Patricia Scott. The other members of the panel are: John Wylie, Lazard Carnegie Wylie CEO. Tony Mitchell, Allphones Chairman. Laureate Professor Rod Tucker, University of Melbourne. Professor Emeritus of Communications, Reg Coutts, University of Adelaide. Tony Shaw, former Australian Communications Authority Chairman. Dr Ken Henry AC, Treasury Secretary.
¡°The Panel will bring a fine blend of technical, regulatory, business, investment and policy skills and experience to the process,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°The Government will formally call for innovative and competitive proposals to roll-out the new network with a view to having construction underway by the end of 2008.¡± The Panel will be supported by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, with support from other key departments and specialist advisors in relation to economic regulation and technical, legal and financial and commercial issues. The terms of reference for the Panel are attached. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will provide advice on pricing and competition issues and deliver a written report to the Panel. Further detail on the role of the ACCC will be set out in the Request for Proposals (RFP). The Panel will receive submissions from industry and the public to assist in the development of the RFP documentation. Submissions will be received until 30 March 2008.
The new network is expected to: deliver speeds of at least 12 megabits per second; use fibre-to-the-node or fibre-to-the premises architecture; be available to 98 per cent of Australian homes and businesses; have uniform wholesale pricing that offers consumers real value for money; and provide open access to wholesale broadband services on transparent, equivalent and genuinely pro-competitive terms and conditions.
¡°The Australian Government is moving quickly to fulfil its election commitment to support the roll-out of a new national high-speed fibre broadband network, by investing up to $4.7 billion,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°The Government will be inviting submissions from interested parties on the appropriate policy and regulatory framework for the future.¡± ¡°The competitive assessment process will be open and transparent, with opportunities for industry and community input,¡± Senator Conroy said. The Government will also ensure that people who may not have access to the new fibre network will have access to the best new fixed line, wireless or satellite technology. The Rudd Government believes that all Australians are entitled to access first class broadband ¨C no matter where they live or work.
¡°Today I am pleased to announce that more Australians in remote communities will receive metro-comparable broadband with the Government announcing an additional $95 million for the Australian Broadband Guarantee program in 2008-09,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°At the same time as it issues the request for proposals, the Government will also call for comments on policy and funding initiatives to improve access to affordable broadband in these remote areas into the future.¡± The Minister for Education is progressing the Government's complementary Fibre Connections to the Schools initiative. As a first step, this process will involve an audit of broadband access in all Australian secondary schools. ¡°These great nation-building broadband initiatives of the Government will progress together in a co-ordinated way¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°The announcements made today clearly demonstrate the Government's commitment to breaking down the digital divide and securing Australia's broadband future. This investment by the Government will accelerate our transition to a digital economy and ensure that Australia is well placed to be part of the exciting world of the future.¡±
The Federal government has released a report claiming that the Internet is now the preferred method for Australians to contact the government -- but there's always room for e-government improvement, according to Federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner. According to a study by the AGIMO, 41 percent of respondents said the Internet was their preferred channel, even though many still do not use the Web as their primary form of communication with the government. "Many people use non e-government channels even though these are not their preference. Most people would prefer to contact government using an e-government service, indicating a potentially strong future for greater e-government use," the report said. Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, described the Internet as "indispensable" for the delivery of government services to the Australian public. "Use of the Internet to access government services has changed significantly since these reports began in 2005," he said in a statement.
"As the report shows, 25 percent of people now conduct all or most of their dealings with government over the Internet, up from 14 percent in 2004-05. Three in five people -- or 59 percent -- used the Internet to access government services in 2007, a 20 percent increase compared with 2004-05 usage rates," he said. In addition to assessing the overall use of e-government services by the public, the report identified an emerging issue associated with the length of time it took for users to receive a response after contacting government online, with AGIMO finding it to be the most common cause for dissatisfaction with e-government services. The report states: "People are less satisfied, however, with the amount of time it took to receive a reply to an enquiry (84 percent), a result also consistent with previous studies." "However people prefer to access government services, this report provides a solid foundation for governments and agencies at every level to improve how their services are delivered," said Tanner. Information from the report will also be given to British procurement expert Sir Peter Gershon, to assist in his independent review of the use of ICT across Australian government.
Greg Combet, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Procurement, today announced that the Department of Defence has signed a $162 million contract with Telstra for the provision of a range of voice telecommunication services. The six-year contract covers the provision of mobile phones, fixed line voice, fixed line data and broadband services provided by the Chief Information Officer Group to Defence users. Mr Combet said the contract had been negotiated as a work order under the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) Whole of Government Telecommunications supply arrangements. ¡°I want to congratulate Telstra for being chosen as the preferred supplier based on value-for-money comparison,¡± said Mr Combet. ¡°This contract is anticipated to result in a cost saving to Defence in excess of $13 million per annum, and an improved level of service to Defence staff compared with previous contracts,¡± Mr Combet said.
NSW prison inmates will soon be able to use Webcams to talk to their lawyers over the Internet, the NSW government says. The trial program, to start next month, will be run by the NSW Department of Corrective Services and involve a number of Sydney law firms. NSW Justice Minister John Hatzistergos said computer Webcams provided an alternative to telephone conversations, allowing inmates and lawyers to speak face-to-face without having to be in the same room. "Currently lawyers have to travel to prisons to see their clients to prepare for court cases," Mr Hatzistergos said in a statement. "Webcams will give lawyers better access to their clients, especially those incarcerated in rural and regional areas. "The Webcam communications will be encrypted to ensure those conversations do not constitute a security breach." The trial would not require funding as many NSW prisons were already equipped with audio-visual equipment used to connect jails with courts, he said.
Digital audio technology for recording and transcribing evidence has been introduced by the High Court in Wellington and Auckland. It is estimated that this technology will reduce court hearing time by between 20-30%, which will assist case throughput. "For the Record or FTR, provides a high quality recording of the evidence which is then relayed to transcription staff located outside of the courtroom to be typed up as the trial proceeds. This is another demonstration of the Labour-led government's drive to modernise the court system to improve access to justice for all New Zealanders," Court's Minister, Rick Barker said. "The evidence given at a recent high profile murder trial at Wellington High Court was transcribed using the new technology and this was a key factor in reducing the length of the trial from an expected eight weeks to four weeks. The trial time was cut in half and I am certain that this was appreciated by all involved.
"This new technology makes the experience of giving evidence easier for witnesses and a better experience for everyone in the courtroom. It also means trials can proceed more quickly. FTR allows witnesses to speak at a normal, uninterrupted speed and the transcript is printed in the courtroom within 30 minutes of the evidence being given. ¡°New technology is enabling courts to work more efficiently for the benefit of all court users¡±, Mr Barker said. Although digital evidence and recording technology has been used in the District Court for some years, until now, its use in the High Court has been limited to two courtrooms in Auckland. 17 High Court courtrooms and 20 additional District Court courtrooms will be progressively equipped with FTR over the next two years, as well as upgrading the FTR systems already being used in the District Court. To further improve efficiency, transcription services are moving to being nationally managed. Mr Barker opened Transcription Service Centres in Wellington and Auckland late last year. From June, these Service Centres will begin being linked to local court based transcription staff across the country. Access to a larger, national team of transcription staff means courts will be better resourced to process increasing workloads.
Newly appointed New Zealand government CIO Laurence Millar made his first post on the State Services "In Development" blog yesterday, sharing his ideas about transformed government. Millar writes that technology has always been disruptive and that information technology can be a catalyst for change in government. "There is an increasing expectation of individual New Zealanders for instant access to government information and services in the same way as from the private sector," he writes. He writes that recent Nielsen research shows that out of every 100 people here, 84 have access to the internet and 71 use the internet at least once a month. "Of internet users, 68% used online banking in the last month, 57% used online banking in the last week, 44% used the Internet to buy airline tickets, 33% had bought books, 29% had bought clothing, accessories or shoes and 29% had bought event tickets. "By contrast, only 7% of people¡¯s last interaction with government was online."
He says transformed government is designed around the New Zealander so that information is provided once and used wherever alllowed and wherever it is needed. "A classic example of this would be a change of address which would be applied to all government systems where there is information stored about you," Millar writes In business, this means standard business reporting so agencies can use the information they need from standard information supplied. "This provides convenience and satisfaction to the New Zealander and streamlines the operation of government by reducing the amount of work that needs to be done, and increasing the accuracy of the data held," he writes. Millar adds that value for money from spending on information systems can be improved by using the same systems across multiple government departments ¡ª a build once, use often approach. "It can also be achieved by changing government systems so that information is accessed from the single authoritative source within government. A register of company directors, or building practitioners or eligible students ¡ª all can be used to improve the quality and reduce the amount of effort to maintain the same data in different agencies."
Millar says trust in government can be improved by using technology to enable effective dialogue between policy makers and citizens. "This can use a variety of emerging techniques including collaborative authoring, wikis, and electronic consultation," he suggests. He writes that SSC has identified three indicators of success for management of information: grouping of services that apply technology to allow an individual ¡ª from one place at the same time ¡ª to access multiple programmes channel synchronisation of government transactions within an agency or across government the extent to which technology supports a user having to give the same information to government only once.
A public consultations information portal start-up has got off to a promising start, registering 100 subscribers in its first five days of operation. Launched last week, the website provides access to publicly advertised consultations which are open for submissions. These are often hard to track down ¡ª which is what gave Public Consultations¡¯ managing director, Tony Quickfall, the idea for the site. The website collects this information, which is normally listed on organisations¡¯ websites and in newspapers, and brings them together in one place. Public Consultations monitors 80 local newspapers and over 200 websites. The information is picked up and manually loaded into the website¡¯s database, says Quickfall. Access to basic consultation information, such as submission closing dates, is free, he says. The website also features a search engine, while advanced features ¡ª for example email alerts and advanced search ¡ª are available to subscribers only. If a user has saved a previous search in a particular area, such as bills, an email will be automatically sent when related consultations are posted on the site.
Designed and developed by Wellington-based 3months.com, the website covers all 86 local authority councils and 130 government ministries, departments and organisations, says Quickfall. Consultations monitored include publicly notified resource consents, draft plans, strategies, policies and new bills. Consultations are monitored regularly and the website updated daily, he says. Quickfall has a background in resource-management and planning-consultation, and the idea for the website was sparked by the difficulty he had finding information about public consultations himself. He found himself constantly having to make phone calls to government departments, some of whom would put him on an email list, while others would ask him to call back at a later date to get the information. He also had to search for information in newspapers and online. The database, combined with a search engine, could help reduce the business cost of monitoring consultation information, says Quickfall. Quickfall¡¯s site aims to benefit those businesses and professions interested in monitoring consultations or making submissions, as well as industry sectors such as building, construction and retail.
A sea-level gauge installed at the Port of Tauranga this week will form part of a national network of gauges for monitoring tsunamis, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and GNS Science announced today. The Tauranga installation is the fifth in a planned network of gauges at 20 sites around New Zealand. Five gauges will be on offshore islands, with the rest at coastal locations. LINZ is overseeing the project in partnership with GNS Science, which is installing and operating the network (scheduled for completion in 2010). The gauge in Tauranga is being attached to an underwater pile on the tug boat berth. Sensors inside the gauge measure changes in water pressure which relate directly to the wave height above the instruments. ¡°The gauges at coastal locations such as Tauranga will detect first landfall of tsunami waves,¡± said LINZ¡¯s Manager Geodesy Graeme Blick. ¡°They will also enable an ¡®all-clear¡¯ to be given if a large undersea earthquake has not produced a tsunami, or if a near-shore earthquake has generated only a small wave.¡±
The instruments on offshore islands will give information about the size and possible arrival times of incoming tsunamis from distance sources. Instruments in the network send continuous data by radio to GNS Science in Lower Hutt where the wave height information is freely available through the GeoNet website. In the event of a tsunami reaching the coast, information from the network will be provided promptly to New Zealand civil defence agencies so they can focus their response on areas that have been affected most. Director of the GeoNet Project at GNS Science, Ken Gledhill, said the sea-level measuring network was an important part of a tsunami monitoring system that consisted of seismology, sea-level measurements, computer modelling, and historical information on seafloor earthquakes. ¡°Tsunami are an important international issue, and this network will contribute to the international effort to provide tsunami warning around the Pacific,¡± Dr Gledhill said. The information the network records will be shared in real time with tsunami warning centres around the Pacific. A panel of specialists from the National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, the University of Waikato, LINZ, and GNS Science chose the locations for the gauges.
Despite a long-term future marked by commoditization, enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies will surge over the next five years, growing 43 percent each year to reach $4.6 billion globally by 2013, according to a new report by Forrester Research. The five-year Forrester forecast includes a breakdown of future business spending on technologies such as social networking, RSS, blogs, wikis, mashups, podcasting, and widgets, as well as an analysis of enterprise Web 2.0 spending across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Forrester believes that Web 2.0 technologies represent a fundamentally new way to connect with customers and prospects and harness the collaborative power of employees. Large enterprises such as General Motors, McDonald's, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, and Wells Fargo have all made heavy use of these tools, and 56 percent of North American and European enterprises consider Web 2.0 to be a priority in 2008 according to a recent Forrester survey.
"Software firms can make money selling enterprise Web 2.0 software, but it will not be an easy road to hundred-million-dollar run rates," said Forrester Research Analyst G. Oliver Young. "The market for enterprise Web 2.0 tools will be defined by commoditization, eroding prices, and incorporation into enterprise collaboration software over the next five years. It will eventually disappear into the fabric of the enterprise, despite the major effects the technology will have on how businesses market their products and optimize their workforces." The key question for software firms is who pays for Web 2.0 in the enterprise? Three challenges face vendors: IT shops are wary of what they perceive as insecure, consumer-grade technology; ad-supported Web 2.0 tools on the consumer side have set "free" as a starting point; and Web 2.0 technologies enter a crowded space dominated by legacy software investments.
Currently, large businesses are spending more on employee collaboration tools than customer-facing Web 2.0 technologies, but Forrester expects that trend to reverse by next year. By 2013, investment in customer-facing Web 2.0 technology will dwarf spending on internal collaboration software by nearly a billion dollars. "Social Computing and Web 2.0 marketing are still in their infancy; and in general, the market is still in an experimentation phase," said Young. "In the long run, the effect of Web 2.0 will be enormous. But what may prove to be of more value to vendors will be the skills of running a successful software-as-a-service (SaaS) business. For the vendors that do it well, disaggregating expertise about the medium from Web 2.0 content is likely to provide far more value than wikis and blogs ever did."
The global marketplace for information and communications technology (ICT) will exceed $3.7 trillion this year and will top $4 trillion by 2011, according to Digital Planet 2008, a study released by the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) on the first day of its World Congress for Information Technology. Slowing economies in developed countries will lead ICT spending into a period of slower growth through 2011. However, strong demand in 2007 will spill over into 2008, resulting in annual growth of 10.3% in both years, down from a peak level of 12.3 percent in 2004. Growth in overall ICT spending is projected to decline to 3.6 percent by 2011. WITSA's semi-annual World Congress opened today in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bringing together several thousand industry leaders in the premier global gathering for IT.
"Global demand for ICT is growing; it remains a lifeline for economic growth across all industries and in all economies," said WITSA Chairman George Newstrom. "It remains critical for the private and public sectors around the world to work together to address the business and policy issues that collectively impact the ICT market. WITSA's focus on trade policy, Internet governance, and other policy priorities is key to meeting our shared goal." Among other key findings of this year's Digital Planet report:
- In spending by country, the top 10 ICT spending countries are, in descending order: the United States, Japan, China, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Brazil, Canada, and Spain. - In 2008, China jumps to third place from fifth place in 2006, surpassing Germany and the United Kingdom with spending of $327 billion. - The Americas will grow the slowest of the three broad regions charted in Digital Planet, at 4.0 percent annually between 2007 and 2011, while ICT spending in the Asia-Pacific region and the Europe, Africa and the Middle East region will grow annually at 10.5 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively. - The communications technology sector of the ICT industry continues to dominate ICT spending, comprising more than 57 percent, or $1.9 trillion of all ICT pending in 2007; - The consumer market comprised nearly 29 percent of ICT products and services in 2007, with $993.8 billion in spending, while spending by business and government accounted for 71 percent, or $2.4 trillion. - Among 14 vertical industries, the communications sector led spending at $403.6 billion, or 11.5 percent, followed by financial services, at $334.5 billion, or 9.5 percent.
WITSA produces Digital Planet biennially, using data provided by Global Insight. The report covers the world's 75 largest ICT buying nations in six regions. ICT spending is measured at the national level, by 14 industry segments plus consumer spending, and by four technology categories.
Governments and business must work together more effectively and urgently to meet the growing demand for Internet addresses and secure the future of the Internet economy, according to a new OECD report. With nearly 85% of all available Internet addresses already in use by May 2008, experts believe that, if current trends continue, addresses will run out by 2011. This could mean that new Internet users or mobile devices will not be able to access the Internet. The answer, says the report, is Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) which will provide an unlimited number of addresses and help drive the rollout of broadband, Internet-connected mobile phones and sensor networks, and new Internet services. Governments and business should raise awareness of the need to start preparing now for the move from today''s Internet Protocol version 4 to IPv6 and explain to Internet Service Providers and IT professionals that the move is a commercial and social opportunity, not a financial burden. Service providers have to date been reluctant to invest because customer demand for IPv6 is low.
Governments could play a role as a large user of Internet services by stimulating demand for IPv6 through their own procurement policies and public-private partnerships in IPv6 research and development. The report also considers the alternative to a widespread adoption of IPv6 whereby some regions adopt it and others merely adapt IPv4 as a short-term solution. This, it warns, would impact the economic opportunities offered by the Internet with severe consequences in terms of stifled creativity and deployment of new services. Some countries have taken a lead in deploying IPv6 networks. The Japanese telecommunications firm NTT, for example, uses IPv6 to connect thousands of earthquake sensors via a computer system that sends automatic alerts to television programmes and turns traffic lights red. This type of application requires millions of addresses so cannot work on today''s Internet but already does on IPv6. The United States government has set June 2008 as the deadline by which the Internet network of every government agency must be compatible with IPv6.
The European Commission is also funding research projects and looking at ways to speed up deployment. Korea, the venue of the forthcoming OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy, has committed to converting Internet equipment in public institutions to IPv6 by 2010 and to installing IPv6 equipment in every newly built communications network. The Chinese government has begun rolling out an IPv6 network, called China Next Generation Internet, and will use the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to test mobile devices and intelligent transport and security systems running on IPv6. The report is available on the OECD''s website at www.oecd.org/sti/ict and a podcast on the issue is available here.
To fill vacancies, Ruffolo said, companies have resorted to courting foreigners enrolled in engineering and IT courses in the U.S. and Canada. Deloitte, for instance, has approached foreign students at Stanford University and offered them positions in the company, said Ruffolo. "We have no choice but to do this if we want to maintain growth." Government restrictions on foreign workers are also compounding the problem produced by a tight labour maket, said Ruffolo. He said most CEOs polled "are concerned that government restrictions on employment visas will prevent them from obtaining the overseas talent they need." For instance, he said, despite an IT labour shortage in Canada , the immigration department continues to make it difficult for foreign trained professionals work obtain working or immigration visas. Since immigration rules make it hard to actively recruit foreign-trained professionals from overseas, companies resort to establishing offshore branch offices or "centres of excellence" in foreign lands, Ruffolo said. While, currently, less than half of the companies offshore some operations, 55 per cent of the CEOs plan to offshore in the next five years to achieve growth. Cheaper labour and material cost in countries such as India make it easier to build remote offices there. The offshore locations are staffed by local IT professionals who are paid at a lower rate than their North American counterparts. Another trend recently catching on is the use of foreign contract workers, said Ruffolo. "This has been building up in the U.S. for the past five years and has caught on in Canada about 12 months ago." Using this method, corporations hire an overseas staffing firm, such as Tata Consultancy Services of Mumbai, India, to provide them with foreign IT personnel. (by Nestor E. Arellano)
Most African countries are slow in channelling information technology towards economic and social benefits, the latest global e-readiness report shows. The e-readiness rankings by the Economist Intelligence Unit allow governments to gauge the success of ICT strategies against those of other countries and provide corporates with an overview of the world's most promising investments locations. In this report, North America was ranked the best garnering 8.72, followed by West Europe 8.16, Asia-pacific 6.34, Central and Eastern Europe 5.54, Latin and Eastern Europe 5.33. East Africa scored 5.14. Factors guiding the rankings are connectivity, business, legal, social and cultural environment, government policy and consumer trends. "The rankings illuminate the factors that are driving or inhibiting a country's progress from using ICT to advance economic and social developments," says Peter Korsten, global leader of IBM Institute for Business.
In terms of electronic preparedness, the United States is now the global e-world readiness leader with a score of 8.95 followed by Hong Kong. South Africa is the most prepared in Africa at number 39 out of the 70 ranked states. No East African country features in the list. Economist Intelligence Unit considers mass access to infrastructure as the foundation of e-readiness. Regional research firm, Research ICT Africa, attributes the low ranking of African countries to failure to deregulate telecoms markets enough so that competition can bring mobile services down. The organisation takes specific issues with fixed to mobile interconnection rates, which it claims, are 80-100 per cent higher than global trends. Markets with atronomical rates include Kenya, Benin and even South Africa. Mr Paul Kukubo, the chief executive, ICT Board of Kenya, said the country can borrow the best practices in legal matters from South Africa. Mr Kukubo adds that data and property regulations are needed to protect local investors and attract foreign ones. To be at par with the trends of competition, observers say that countries like Kenya need to tackle tax regime, start up financing, and labour costs.
Austria¡¯s new e-Auktion site is set to revolutionise local authority procurement ¨C and cut costs. Boroughs can now put their building, supply and service needs up for electronic auction via a new portal, which also permits further bargaining before a contract is signed. Average savings to local taxpayers should be around 10 %. Austrian law regulates local authority procurement rather strictly. At the end of a procurement process, the contract must go either to the cheapest or to the best current bid, and further bargaining is generally prohibited. But electronic auctions are specifically excluded from this rule. Further offers from, and bargaining with, all participants may take place on-line. EU-wide studies suggest that the savings achieved by local authorities through procedures of this kind will average between 8 % and 12 %.
Apart from these regulatory and financial advantages, fans of the new system point to its user-friendliness. It also promotes transparency in local government procurement, while opening up municipal contracts to a geographically wider range of potential bidders. And once in place, an eAuction system can of course also be used for other, more minor purchases which are not subject to statutory tendering requirements. The new eAuction facility was developed by Joachim Grieber of Austria¡¯s Kufgem Kommunal Consulting, who drew on his 18 years of experience as a local mayor. No licensing or registration costs are involved.
Latvenergo, the national electricity company of Latvia, has created a new web portal providing a whole new range of on-line services for its clients. The new portal has been created in order to facilitate communication between Latvenergo and its clients, at any time of day or night. Once the client has registered on the portal, they will be able to access all information concerning their account via the on-line service, which is available 24 hours a day. The answers to the majority of questions posed can also be found on-line, reducing the need to visit or call the customer service centre.
One of the key services of the new portal is the possibility to apply for automated average billing (AAB). With AAB, clients are charged the same amount every month based on an average of their consumption over the past six months. The test version of this option has been available since the beginning of the year and the data shows that more than a thousand AAB contracts have already been concluded. This service in particular is expected to become very popular with internet users. In order to access the new portal, the client can either connect using the internet banking services of two major Latvian banks (Hansabanka and SEB Unibanka), or create a portal user profile and receive a user name and password. Latvenergo¡¯s objective was to provide customers with easy and comfortable access to their services, and it expects the portal to continue expanding its services over time.
Zanzibar, the Government's strategic eMarketplace and Purchase to Pay (P2P) system, has picked up a top prize at the prestigious 2008 MCA Management Awards dinner held in London on April 28. The Zanzibar Managed Service, operated by OGCbuying.solutions and delivered by ProcServe, won outright in the Management Consultancies Association's Operational Performance category. The accolade follows a period of significant growth in the use of the eProcurement tool by public sector organisations. The Welsh Assembly Government recently announced the launch of its xchangewales online purchasing system, based on the Zanzibar platform.
Meanwhile the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has confirmed that it is to make OPEN - the online marketplace for schools, also based on Zanzibar - ready and available to all 20,500 schools in England from Spring 2008. And the Department for Communities and Local Government chose Zanzibar to support their drive towards improving their procurement processes. By bringing together government contracts in a single platform, Zanzibar enables collaboration across all public sector buying organisations and provides access to the best pricing and transaction-ready suppliers.
Robert Knapman, Director of eCommerce, OGCbuying.solutions, said: "We are delighted to have won in this category. The team have worked hard to deliver this groundbreaking service, so this is a fantastic reward for all the hard work. "eProcurement generally and Zanzibar in particular are at the heart of OGCbuying.solutions' new category management approach to collaborative procurement. "Zanzibar mobilises public sector buying power. It makes eProcurement easier, it's flexible, it can be adopted speedily, it widens engagement and provides control for users. And, because we have been through a rigorous development period with the inevitable technological challenges, we now have a tried and tested, leading edge product."
Zanzibar - the basics For public sector buyers in England Wales and Northern Ireland Zanzibar delivers: > An electronic marketplace that can operate alongside existing electronic procurement processes > The ability to exchange electronic documents with suppliers, including purchase orders and invoices > An electronic supplier catalogue system that allows suppliers to create catalogues and allows buyers to approve and access suppliers content and pricing > Access to collaborative contracts across all government organizations > An optional purchase to pay system, or the ability to connect easily to existing purchase to pay systems, including Proactis, SAP, Oracle, Cedar, Sage, Agresso, Belmin, and many others > A secure, hosted and managed service, with ongoing support for buyers and suppliers > Detailed procurement management information and reporting tools
Public sector organisations benefit by: >Reducing costs and errors by eliminating administrative and manual procurement process, including catalogue management and paper transactions >Enabling better value for money decisions by providing access to extensive supplier pricing and product information >Improving procurement visibility by supplying comprehensive management information and reporting on spend levels and patterns >Removing the risk of joining Zanzibar by providing a solution that has been thoroughly tested and approved >Delivering robust marketplace and electronic transaction functionality without the need for a capital outlay or dedicated IT resources
Getronics, one of the world's largest providers of IT services, will meet with attendees of the Gartner Outsourcing & Vendor Management Summit to discuss how its Mexico operations can stabilize clients' fluctuating sourcing costs. The Summit runs May 19 - 21, 2008 in Washington, D.C. at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center. Many U.S. companies are experiencing unexpected cost increases in their IT services from offshore sourcing providers or their own offshore subsidiaries, called captives. The reason? Global inflation is combining with declining exchange rates for the U.S. dollar, resulting in drastic shifts and variability in costs when finally reflected on financial reports. The lack of predictability makes it difficult for CIOs to project costs accurately, an unpopular practice among CFOs and CEOs. "Looking at changes in exchange rates and IT labor rates, it is easy to identify economic shifts of 30 percent or more between some serving and receiving country pairs," said Nicholas Brigman, Director of Market Research at Getronics. "For U.S.-based companies, Mexico and other Latin American countries are more suitable and stable destinations for IT services based on exchange rate variability and similar inflation rates."
Getronics has long made it a point to identify and establish multiple nearshore service centers to protect clients from volatility. For instance, the company recently celebrated the 6th anniversary of launching its Global Service Center (GSC) in Mexico City. Through these and similar initiatives, Getronics' global service delivery model can meet clients' cultural needs and create global resilience. "Where India has been a top sourcing location in recent years, Mexico is leaping forward as a stable alternative for U.S. businesses," said Luis Sanchez, Director of Mexico GSC for Getronics. "Our location is closer to the clients we serve and our people are committed to world-class excellence. We consistently earn high marks for our services and just recently we were selected as one of the best places to work in Mexico." Getronics has partnered with the "Tecnol¨®gico de Monterrey" (largest private university in Mexico) to drive IT curricula and certifications -- an important step in producing top quality IT professionals to meet growing demand. Getronics executives from the United States and Mexico will be available in the Mexico IT Pavillion to discuss the wide range of sourcing options and services it offers.
During a 2003 workers' compensation board meeting in Vancouver, Canada, Steve Barnett, vice president and assistant chief financial officer of Work Safe BC (WSBC), started chatting with Valerie Adamo, CIO of the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The two executives found they had a common business interest: the desire to revamp their work force database and operations systems. Their conversation eventually led to a highly successful public-private partnership (PPP). "We found it was a good fit between us and Ontario collaborating," Barnett said. "That's unique because Ontario and British Columbia (BC) are a long way apart, and we tend to view ourselves as unique. But it didn't take long to understand we're in the same business and we do things similarly - so it became natural."
WSBC and the WSIB are the workers' compensation agencies for British Columbia and Ontario, respectively, but they also perform other services, such as workplace injury prevention programs, and health-care and rehabilitation monitoring. At the beginning of the collaboration, WSBC and the WSIB had systems that were built in the late-1980s, which lacked a comprehensive intelligence- and evidence-based case management system. Instead, they focused solely on paying workers' benefits. The WSBC had five legacy systems and several other reporting applications that made streamlining and integrating information a challenge. Instead of building a new case-management system from the ground up, the partners decided to look for software vendors willing to commit to a PPP - a collaboration between municipal and private institutions in which each partner shares the risks and rewards of corporation.
"We looked at it and said, 'If we build it together and split the cost, we'll still be ahead because we're sharing the cost,'" Adamo said. "My team has expertise in vendor management, contracts and negotiations, and deal structuring. BC took the lead to determine the requirement process and how we would get the job done."The team researched vendors and found Curam Software, which provides enterprise social-management solutions. Curam's social-justice and benefits programs were similar to the case-management solutions the PPP was seeking. Although Curam didn't have a workers' compensation product, the company had a product suite with vertically integrated solutions that included unemployment insurance and food stamps. Adamo and Barnett determined there was enough content in Curam's software for a successful customization.
The Dublin, Ireland, software company agreed to a public-private partnership with the WSIB and WSBC to develop the Curam Workers' Compensation solution, which enables workers' compensation agencies to effectively manage end-to-end claims by providing comprehensive and efficient benefits-delivery capabilities. Although the WSIB and WSBC agreed to pay development costs, and Curam would own the software, the two public organizations established a royalty agreement to receive lower support costs whenever Curam sells the new software. Another benefit for the municipalities was future software development by the company's experts at reduced cost.
In today's fiercely competitive hiring environment, Canadian companies are coming up with creative strategies to attract and keep the best IT talent. Whether it's incenting staff to poach skilled friends currently working for competitors, or offering telework facilities, businesses are doing whatever it takes to attract highly skilled professionals. ¡°Organizations are definitely feeling the pinch,¡± says Terri Joosten, CEO at CareerDoor Inc., a Toronto-based firm that helps employers identify and recruit hi-tech professionals.
The market today resembles what it was two years before the dot-com bust, said Joosten. Canadian firms, she said, want to take full advantage of what the Internet has to offer. And that's creating new opportunities for IT professionals. However, for prospective recruiters, Joosten believes several factors are converging to make the situation very challenging.These include: the shortage of IT graduates and an employment rate that's at a 30-year low. When you factor in baby boomers leaving the workforce, there simply aren't enough people to fill those vacated positions, she said. Another industry insider echoes these views.
Fewer people are entering the growing hi-tech market and more people exiting it, noted Igor Abramovitch, a manager with Robert Half Technology at the firm's North York, Toronto branch. He said the survey of chief information officers (CIOs) recently done by his firm confirms this. Fourteen per cent of the CIOs polled in that survey plan to add IT staff and three per cent anticipate personnel reductions in the second-quarter of 2008. The findings have been presented in the latest Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. Robert Half Technology provides IT consultants and staffing services on a project by project, or full-time basis.
Abramovitch says that the IT hiring market in Toronto has remains strong and in an increasingly competitive environment, ¡°companies won't have much choice but to look for alternatives.¡± What are these alternatives? They ¡°go beyond headhunting and putting an ad in the newspaper,¡± according to author, entrepreneur and leadership coach Jim Welch. Welch writes and speaks extensively on how to recruit and retain good employees. He works as a consultant with various large companies developing such strategies. While he would not specify which companies are using what strategies, he provided an overview of the most effective techniques.
China's largest fixed telecom service operator China Telecom is accelerating Wi-Fi deployment and plans to launch a new round of bidding for procuring wireless network equipment in 21 provinces, Shanghai Securities News reported. The large-scale deployment indicates the business focus of China Telecom is moving to the wireless network sector, which further indicates the company may abandon PHS service in 2009, said an industry insider. Reports said China Telecom will take over the CDMA network of China Unicom in China's telecom industry reshuffle. After that, it will transfer its PHS users into CDMA users smoothly through marketing tactics, the insider predicted. The source added that deployment of wireless network will lift the customer loyalty for China Telecom, which will sharpen the competitive edge of its mobile service.
Revenue among Shanghai's information technology industry grew 24 percent annually in 2007, marking the fourth year that IT has become the city's top industry, officials said yesterday. Shanghai's IT industry revenue was 741.7 billion yuan (US$104.7 billion) in 2007 and IT exports were worth US$53 billion, 37 percent of the city's total exports. Software, integrated circuits, telecommunications and online games are the major drivers of the city's IT industry, said Zhou Weidong, general secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Informatization Commission. "We especially welcome firms to set up research and development facilities in Shanghai to improve the city's innovation," Zhou said. Shanghai has a national software and semiconductor industry zone in Pudong's Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, which is the local version of Silicon Valley. Software giant SAP, telecom equipment makers ZTE and Huawei, and online game leaders Shanda and The9 are among top companies to have established research centers there.
By the end of 2007, Shanghai's mobile phone penetration rate was nearly 100 percent and the family computer penetration rate reached 104 percent, which meant many families had two or more computers, the commission said. Shanghai had 17.70 million mobile phone users among 18.58 million local residents, along with 3.28 million family broadband users and 10.46 million fixed-line phone subscribers, according to the commission. This year the government will encourage the development of technologies including integrated circuits, flat-panel displays, 4G telecommunications and solid-state lighting. The government will push network construction among hospitals to further share data, including patients' blood tests and X-rays. Meanwhile, Shanghai will launch an IC card to one million senior residents, which allows them to take buses for free and helps bureaus calculate subsidiaries to bus operators, Zhou said.
China, home to the world's biggest internet population, will see its online economy double as a percentage of GDP in three to four years, as e-commerce develops, an official told Reuters on Thursday. Cai Mingzhao, the vice minister of the State Council Information Office (SCIO), which oversees the internet, expects the country's online users to reach 300 million by the end of this year from a current 230 million. "The Internet sector accounts for about 7 percent of China's GDP. As the internet penetration rate increases and e-commerce becomes more popular, that share should more than double to 15 percent," said Cai. China had a roughly 17.7 percent internet penetration rate as of February, compared with a global average of 19 percent and 70 percent in the U.S. That is expected to grow to 23 percent by the end of this year. China's 600 million mobile users will further boost internet usage when its telecom carriers launch third-generation mobile phone services later this year. Cai expects the online industry to boom as payment systems and credit systems are established. He said Internet groups were currently focusing on expanding their user base, but would in time look to adopt paid-for models for premium content such as downloading videos.
The nation's first hospital digital operation platform, allowing doctors to check a patient's medical records on one system within half a second and carry out simulated surgery, passed examination of Shanghai Science and Technology Commission yesterday. The system will be launched in the Renji and Huadong hospitals and Shanghai Chest Hospital for pilot practice within two to three years. Then a citywide network connecting more hospitals to share patients' information will be established after the platform is perfected. The system, called Domain Operating Platform, was developed at Renji Hospital, which started a pilot trial at its cardiac surgery department two months ago. Doctors have treated more than 200 patients using the new system and reported good results. "Because of technology limitations, hospitals have more than four computerized systems to collect information on different kinds of checkup. Doctors have to visit each system to get one patient's information.
This platform integrates all information in one system," said Fan Guanrong, president of Renji Hospital and chief of the developing group. "Whenever entering a patient's name in the computer, doctors can know all his or her previous medical reports and treatment, instead of checking various paper reports. A comprehensive understanding about a patient's situation can improve accuracy of doctor's diagnosis and further ensure patient's safety." Meanwhile, the system also allows interns to conduct surgery on a model, which simulates the experience of operating on an actual patient. The surgeon uses a computerized surgery tool, which links to sensors on the model to simulate the entire surgery process. "Medical students and interns must get experience by doing a lot of animal experiments and participating in actual surgery. However, animal experiments are costly and human patients refuse to have an intern involved in their surgery," Fan said.
China's main mobile phone company said Friday it will launch trial service of the homegrown Chinese next-generation standard next week, possibly moving the huge market closer to the long-anticipated rollout of new services. Companies expect a multibillion-dollar wave of spending on equipment once China awards licenses for third-generation, or 3G, service. But Beijing has delayed a decision while it tries to develop its own system to compete with global standards. China Mobile Communications Corp. said in a statement it will test the standard, known as TD-SCDMA, by issuing 20,000 phones and 5,000 data cards on Tuesday in Beijing and seven other cities. The statement gave no indication how long the test would last, whether it would be expanded to other areas or when licenses might be awarded. China has the world's biggest population of mobile phone users, with some 520 million subscribers, and standards decisions could have a far-reaching impact on the equipment market. Third-generation mobile phone standards are meant to support features such as video and Internet access. Beijing has been trying to create its own standard since 2001, hoping to create opportunities for its telecoms companies and reduce the need to pay license fees to developers of the global standards, known as WCDMA and CDMA-2000.
China also has approved those standards for use. The 3G decision comes as regulators are believed to be preparing to restructure China's telecommunications industry. The overhaul is expected to reassign mobile and fixed line assets among the main state-owned phone companies in an effort to create healthier competitors. The government has given no time frame for the changes. The government said previously it hoped to have a 3G network in place before the Beijing Olympics open in August. Suppliers such as Nokia Corp. and Motorola Inc. say they are ready to produce equipment based on the Chinese standards once the government picks carriers to receive 3G licenses. TD-SCDMA has failed to attract users abroad, but industry experts say regulators are pressing Chinese carriers to use it alongside the global standards. Chinese Mobile and its main rival, China Unicom, have declined to comment. Chinese news reports say they are reluctant to use TD-SCDMA because it doesn't work as well as the global standards. U.S. officials say China has promised to let carriers pick their 3G standard but express concern they are being pressed to use TD-SCDMA. They say that would violate Beijing's free-trade commitments.
Print story Email to a friend Font size:BEIJING, April 21 (UPI) -- A Chinese research firm said China has surpassed the United States as the world's largest Internet market based on number of users. BDA, a firm based in Beijing, said data from the China Internet Network Information Center indicated China had an Internet population of 210 million at the end of last year, compared to 216 million in the United States. "Based on these sources and the assumption that these markets have continued to grow in 2008 to date at the same rates that they grew in 2007, we can conclude that China has by now comfortably surpassed the United States as the world's largest Internet population," Bin Liu, BDA's chief media analyst, said in a statement. BDA estimated revenues from China's online games sector totaled $1.88 billion last year.
The latest statistics from the newly established Ministry of Industry and Information revealed that the country's electronic and information industry increased 18.6 percent in terms of gross product in the first quarter this year, 10 percentage points behind the national average for industry growth, the official China Securities Journal reported yesterday. State-owned enterprises and those with annual sales of over two million yuan in the electronic and information industry realized a total of 1.06 trillion yuan ($151.65 billion) in output value in the first three months of 2008, up 18.6 percent from the same period of last year. The total sales revenue saw a 19 percent year-on-year increase, and the software industry gained 139 billion yuan from sales, up 28.7 percent. It is a continuing trend as the electronic and information industry began to cool down in 2007. Gao Sumei, assistant inspector at the Ministry of Industry and Information, said it is because the industry has begun a period of structural adjustment following years of sizzling growth. "Some conventional markets like home theater, DVD and CRT television keep shrinking, and the flat panel TV industry has yet to drive the market despite eye-catching developments," said Gao.
Meanwhile, the investment environment is improving among China's neighbors such as Vietnam and India, which drew more foreign investment from China, Gao analyzed. The American and European markets are major destinations for China's exported electronic products. The industry's overall export growth rate dropped eight percent, dragged down by a drop of 24 percent in export growth to the United States, a drop of 44 percent to the Netherlands, and a drop of 28 percent to Britain. "Slowdown of the American and the European economies and soaring domestic production costs also more or less stalls the pace of China's electronic industry. A number of medium and small enterprises around the Pearl River Delta have closed," said Gao. Statistics show that investment in the electronic and information industry also cooled down in the first quarter. Fixed asset investments in projects of over five million yuan totaled 50.79 billion yuan during this period, up 22.7 percent year on year, 5.2 percentage points lower than the same period in 2007 and 4.1 percentage points lower than the national average growth. Foreign investment in the sector totaled 46.9 billion yuan during this period, a drop of 2.6 percent year on year.
China's largest internet jobs firm has reported a 27 per cent rise in revenues from its online recruitment services in the first quarter. Total revenues at 51job Inc for the first quarter were $33.7m, an increase of 17.9 per cent from the same quarter in 2007. ''We achieved better than expected profitability in the first quarter despite greater spending on sales and marketing activities," said Rick Yan, president and chief executive at 51job. "We are also pleased that revenues exceeded our forecast, especially in light of public concerns regarding global economic conditions and the uncertain impact of new PRC labour regulations on recruitment budgets in China." Online recruitment services revenues for the first quarter of 2008 grew 27.4 per cent to $11.2m. The increase was mainly attributable to the growth in the number of employers using the company's online services, according to figures supplied by 51job. Unique employers using the company's online recruitment services increased 25.8 per cent to 60,461 in the first quarter of 2008, compared with 48,070 in the same quarter of the prior year. Online revenues are growing considerably faster than traditional print revenues. Print recruitment advertising revenues for the first quarter of 2008 increased 7.8 per cent compared to the same quarter a year ago to reach $17.5m. The increase was primarily the result of a greater volume of advertisements in 51job Weekly, the company's widely distributed free newspaper. ''We view 2008 as an important year of investment for 51job and are dedicating significant resources aimed at strengthening our brand, improving customer service, developing new products and increasing efficiency," said Yan. "We believe these efforts will enable us to extend our market leadership position and build a solid foundation for long-term growth."
Although Chinese handset makers are struggling in the second-generation mobile terminal market, they seem set to turn the tables in the battle for third-generation (3G) mobile terminal customers. Competitive Chinese telecom manufacturers, such as ZTE, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, and Amoi Electronics Co Ltd, have made their presence felt from North Africa to Asia-Pacific regions, and in some high-end markets like Europe and North America, earning almost a 10 percent stake in the world 3G wireless terminal market, according to a Third Generation Wireless White Paper issued by In-Stat, a leading telecom industry research institute. The paper said Huawei and ZTE outperformed other Chinese cell phone makers last year, with output volumes of 22 million and 13 million 3G terminals respectively, almost nine percent of the global 3G terminal market. Huawei's sales revenue hit $2.6 billion in 2007, with 70 percent from overseas markets, and it successfully broke into markets in the United States and Japan. Huawei delivered eight million memory chips last year, the highest in the world.
ZTE ranked the 6th in the world in terms of handset sales volume. Its sales revenue was $2.5 billion last year, 78 percent of which came from overseas. ZTE's 3G terminal products have made inroads into over 60 countries, and the company has established partnerships with many top 10 operators globally such as Telefonica De Espana, Telstra Corp and Hong Kong-listed Hutchison Whampoa. Although Amoi is losing shares in the domestic market, its foreign 3G market grew faster than ever, based on its cooperation with Hutchison Whampoa, France Telecom and Vodafone. In-Stat's paper predicted that overseas orders would account for 40 percent of Amoi's shipment in 2008, and 75 percent of those exported would be 3G and intelligent mobile phones. In-Stat believes that flexible customization strategies, immediate response to the markets, low cost and promising research capacity are key to Chinese 3G handset makers' success. Huawei and ZTE, for example, cut the research and development period on their customized models by almost four months compared with non-customized models, and they save 30 to 40 percent of marketing costs by customizing models directly for those telecom operators. However, the paper also said Chinese 3G wireless manufacturers are still catering to mainly low-end niches by vying for orders from overseas telecom operators. Gaining position in the high-end markets, which are much more profitable, is still the challenge for these firms.
Tokyo, May 10, 2008 (Jiji Press) - Competition to grab customers for foreign exchange margin trading services is intensifying among online banks in Japan.The high-risk, high-return currency trading is quickly gaining popularity among investors in the country because it can be started with only a small amount of margin money.Already a number of specialized trading firms are active in luring those money-hungry individuals, and the four Internet-only banks in Japan, too, do not want to miss the chance.Of the four, Japan Net Bank launched foreign exchange margin transaction services in March 2006, followed by eBank in November 2007.Banks have a competitive edge over small specialized trading houses thanks to their strong creditworthiness and easy transferability of funds between deposit and trading accounts, an eBank official said.
Sony Bank, which started foreign currency-denominated deposits shortly after its launch in 2001, will offer foreign currency margin trading services from Monday.The online banking unit of the Sony Corp. <6758> group finds it necessary to begin the margin trading services in order to hold customers who are no longer satisfied with returns on their foreign currency deposits and looking for highly lucrative investment opportunities, a Sony Bank official said.Another Internet-only bank, SBI Sumishin Net Bank, which was established in September 2007, is preparing to join the race this summer.
NEC Corp says that NEC Deutschland GmbH (NEC) has been selected by Swiss TV broadcasting system operator Swisscom Broadcast AG (SBC) to establish a DVB-H broadcasting network. The mobile TV network is scheduled to commence operation in four major Swiss cities in time for the European football championship 2008. NEC¡¯s broadcasting technology will ensure constant broadcasting quality and reliable network operation.SBC, a full subsidiary of Swisscom AG, holds the DVB-H license for the operation of mobile TV in Switzerland. SBC will make the transmitters available to mobile communications providers so that they can develop mobile TV services. Initially, the broadcasting service will be launched in the Swiss cities of Zurich, Bern, Geneva and Basle in time for the European football championship 2008. NEC will be supplying 19 transmitters that are required for the project.One of key features in DTL-10, NEC¡¯s digital broadcasting transmitter, is the Adaptive Digital Corrector (ADC), which adjusts and keeps best performance automatically to provide viewers with constant high image quality on their mobile phones. The failsafe and compact DTL-10 systems are available from 30W output power up to 1500W and they come with an air cooling system.In addition, NEC is providing PASOLINK NEO point-to-point wireless access systems for the IP transmission of Mobile TV contents. Pasolink systems enable the transmission of large volumes of data via point-to-point wireless connections.
Web video provider Brightcove is entering the Japanese market by creating a local subsidiary with a group of big Japanese media players. The new unit, Brightcove KK, is backed with $4.9 million from Brightcove and four local partners: Dentsu, Japan's largest ad company; content delivery network J-Stream; media conglomerate transcosmos; and interactive ad company Cyber Communications, Inc. (CCI). With high-speed Internet connections in more than half of Japanese homes, Brightcove plans to capitalize on a fast-growing audience for online video. Only recently, however, have Japanese media companies and brands begun to view video as a viable option because of falling broadband costs and more flexible rights management rules, according to Brightcove Chairman and CEO Jeremy Allaire. "Media companies (in Japan) have dabbled in it, and now they're looking at it as a real business," he said. "Brand marketing companies and TV and display advertisers would very much like to shift dollars into the Web." Launched in 2005, Cambridge, Mass.-based Brightcove powers online video for scores of prominent U.S. media brands, and marketers including the Discovery Channel, HBO, About.com, General Motors and Time Inc.
Now it wants to do the same for their Japanese counterparts. Allaire added that the partnership formed with top Japanese media and distribution companies will help smooth Brightcove's move into the market. In particular, Dentsu, J-Stream, and CCI, will act as sales agents for Brightcove KK, along with its U.S. parent. "Japanese business culture is very different than U.S. or European business culture," Allaire said. "There's an enormous premium in doing business with well-established brands in Japan." The nearly $5 million initial investment should be sufficient for Brightcove's Tokyo-based offshoot to ramp up operations over the next 18 to 24 months, said Allaire. While Brightcove also maintains a small presence in Beijing, the company has no immediate plans to expand elsewhere in Asia. "We believe there are many other strong geographies in Asia for Brightcove, and those are things we'll be looking at over time," Allaire said. Besides the U.S. and Asia, Brightcove also has European outposts in London, Brussels and Berlin. It has raised about $87 million in private financing to date, including a $59.5 million round in 2007 from investors including The New York Times Co. and top investment manager AllianceBernstein L.P.
Homemaker Yu-jin, 57, turns on her computer and opens an Internet browser, where a small red pen-shaped icon appears at the side of the window. Whenever she finds unfamiliar English or Korean words on the web, she drags the red pen onto the word, or simply double clicks the word itself, and a small window containing the meaning or explanation of the highlighted term appears.This pen-shaped icon is provided by the online dictionary of Yahoo Korea (kr.yahoo.com), which was designed to help users better understand any English, Korean or Chinese words or subjects by providing information from online dictionaries and encyclopedia.Such online service programs, customized and developed by Korean units of international companies, are winning global recognition, thanks to Korea's advanced information technology and development know-how.Yahoo Korea, one of the most popular local websites along with Korea's local web portals Daum and Naver, is one of the leading firms to win recognition for its localized Internet service. In June 2006, Yahoo Korea launched its ¡°Yahoo Mini Dictionary¡± service that allows users to use its online dictionary service by downloading the software program. Through the ¡°Mini Dictionary¡± service, users can use online dictionaries -- English-English, Korean-English, Chinese characters -- and encyclopedia service provided by Yahoo Korea without having to open an Internet browser window and access the online dictionary website.
As its Mini Dictionary service has received favorable responses among users, Yahoo Korea exported its Mini Dictionary program to Yahoo's Chinese unit in December last year, which recorded more than 300,000 downloads among Taiwan and Hong Kong Internet users within less than a month.Another unique search engine Yahoo Korea recently exported overseas is its location service ¡°Yahoo Geogi,¡± meaning ¡°there¡± in Korean. This location service, developed by Yahoo Korea, enables users to find information, ranging from good restaurants, museums to sites for weekend getaways, about any designated area in Korea. Yahoo Korea has exported its location search engine to Yahoo United Kingdom and Germany. Last year, it also exported ¡°Life Map¡± UCC service program to Yahoo's Chinese unit. Life Map UCC service lets users upload photos of any area on a map and share information and impressions of places users have visited.Yahoo Korea started its operations here in September 1997 and has since launched diverse services including email, blog community and online news. In October 2007, president of Yahoo Susan Decker said Korea is one of its ¡°most important¡± markets during her visit to Korea.
Microsoft Korea's "e-Approval" program, an online payment system localized for Korean users, is also being exported to other countries. This electronic payment program, developed by Microsoft Korea, has been included in Microsoft's 2007 Office program and introduced to China and Japan in November 2006. Users residing in Asia can use this online billing system by installing the 2007 version of Office.In March 2005, Microsoft opened its Mobile Innovation Lab at the headquarters of its Korean affiliate in southern Seoul to develop technology for wireless devices, which became the first mobility research center Microsoft has built outside the United States. Due to the high Internet penetration and advanced IT technology, Korea has served as the world's testbed for many futuristic IT and mobile applications, with more than 36 million of the country's total population of 48 million carrying at least one cell phone.In September last year, Korea's high-speed Internet penetration rate (the number of broadband subscriptions per 100 citizens) exceeded 30% for the first time, according to the Korean government.
Business investment in the information technology (IT) sector will increase by double digits this year as local companies scramble to expand production capacity to meet a surge in demand, the government said Thursday (April 10).The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said local IT companies plan to invest 22.5 trillion won ($23.0 billion) to upgrade existing facilities and expand output capacity in 2008, up 10 percent from the year before.It said investment in display panels is expected to double from 2.7 trillion won to 5.4 trillion won. This surge, the ministry said, reflects a need to meet sharp global growth in demand for liquid crystal displays and organic light-emitting diode panels.Korea is the world's No. 1 manufacturer of LCDs.The government's top industry policymaking body also said investment in electronics parts could jump 32 percent to 4.9 trillion won this year from 3.7 trillion won in 2007.This is a reflection of sharp growth in exports of Korean-made parts to overseas markets including China. These parts are used as components to make finished goods that are exported to third countries or brought back for sale in the Korean market.
The ministry, however, said that because of the drop in demand, facility investment in semiconductors is expected to dip 7.9 percent to 10.9 trillion won from 11.8 trillion won last year.Knowledge economy minister Lee Youn-ho, meanwhile, told members of the Korea Electronics Association and the Korea Electronics Industries Cooperative that the Lee Myung-bak administration will do its utmost to scrap administrative red tape that the business sector claims is hindering investment. He added the expansion of tax breaks is being considered at the government level.Government policymakers and the business community are currently working to develop a new long-term development strategy for the IT sector that is to be announced in late June.
Samsung Electronics Co. said Tuesday (May 6) it has forged an agreement with Intel Corp. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to unify their chip-making standards aimed at larger production.The agreement calls for cooperation in introducing 450-millimeter wafer production facilities starting in 2012, in order to move away from the current production of 300-millimeter wafers, Samsung said in a statement.Larger wafers make a more efficient use of energy and water, letting companies produce chips for less money. The current 300-millimeter wafer production technology was introduced in 2001.Alongside an increase in chip production, the introduction of larger wafer production facilities will also help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the statement."The three companies plan to cooperate with wafer providers and other chip makers to facilitate chip production using 450-millimeter wafers," Byun Jung-woo, managing director at Samsung's manufacturing division, said.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are now much nearer to being able to pay for many of their purchases by just touching a handphone to a payment terminal. Maxis Communications Bhd has concluded its three-month Near Field Communication (NFC) pilot ¨C a test of one technology that enables such electronic payments. It said it would launch its commercial service in the second half of the year. NFC technology leverages on a short-range wireless connectivity standard that is now embedded in certain handsets that enable users to turn their phones into electronic wallets. Most, if not all, of the 100 users in the trial run gave it the thumbs up for convenience, ease of use and speed, said Jon Eddy Abdullah, chief operating officer at Maxis, at a press conference recently. The pilot was conducted in the Klang Valley in October last year. Maxis roped in several partners, including Maybank, Visa payWave, Touch n¡¯ Go, RapidKL and cellphone manufacturer Nokia, for the test. How quickly this method of payment picks up among Malaysians depends on several factors, such as the availability of NFC-enabled mobiles. For the pilot, participants were provided with the Nokia 6131 handset ¨C the only commercial model in the world embedded with NFC technology at the time. More brands are expected to offer NFC-enabled models as electronic payment services start to gain popularity.
Maxis said the participants used the phone to make payments at stores having the Visa payWave reader, as well as Touch n¡¯ Go terminals in LRT stations, RapidKL buses, highway toll plazas and selected carparks during the trial. ¡°The users also indicated that they would like more options and advanced functionalities,¡± said Eddy, but he did not elaborate on these features. Maxis is equally enthusiastic over the prospects of NFC technology. ¡°It will enable us to take M-money (the company¡¯s mobile commerce payment service) to even greater heights,¡± he said. ¡°This will also further strengthen our position as a leader in the (local) mobile commerce space,¡± he added. It also has plans to employ NFC technology in ¡°smart posters,¡± where users can hold their handsets up to say, a poster of a rock concert, to receive more information on the event via the phones. They would be able to find out the band¡¯s profile, download sample video clips, and even purchase tickets to the concert through their cellphones. Previously, electronic payment services in the Klang Valley were limited to buying a softdrink from a vending machine and paying for it via a handphone. This, however, didn¡¯t seem to interest many Malaysians. (by Zam Karim)
The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is today starting the pre-qualification exercise for the Request For Proposal (RFP) for the Operating Company (OpCo) of Singapore¡¯s Next Generation National Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN). This follows the launch of the Next Gen NBN Network Company (NetCo) RFP on 11 December 2007 and is part of IDA¡¯s continued engagement with the industry to roll out the Next Gen NBN. Parties interested in participating in the OpCo RFP can now apply to be pre-qualified by completing and submitting the administrative forms via the Government online procurement portal, GeBIZ (www.gebiz.gov.sg). The pre-qualification criteria, similar to those for the qualification for the NetCo RFP, can be found in the procurement document and includes considerations such as financial strength and deployment track record for network projects similar in scale and nature to the Next Gen NBN. This pre-qualification process opens today (3 March 2008) and closes in 14 days (17 March 2008).
The OpCo will work hand-in-hand with the NetCo to deploy the Next Gen NBN infrastructure. The OpCo is responsible for implementing the ¡®active¡¯ infrastructure of Next Gen NBN and managing the flow of ultra-high-speed broadband traffic on the ¡®passive¡¯ infrastructure that is designed, built and operated by the NetCo. The OpCo will offer wholesale broadband access to downstream Retail Service Providers (RSPs), which are the companies that will in turn be providing Next Generation Services to end-users. The OpCo RFP tendering exercise is scheduled to be called in the second quarter of this year and complements the ongoing RFP process for the NetCo. Both the NetCo and OpCo RFPs have been formulated by the IDA after an extensive year-long consultation and studies of deployments internationally. IDA expects to award the NetCo RFP and the OpCo RFP in the third quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 respectively. The Next Gen NBN when ready, will be capable of delivering speeds of up to 1Gbps and beyond, offering pervasive ultra-high speed connectivity by 2015, although consumers can begin to look forward to
The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) will launch its SME Infocomm Package (SIP) in May to provide local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with affordable IT packages that come with one-stop helpdesk and advisory services. Under the scheme, IDA will co-fund the first 5,000 SMEs that sign up for SIP. These SMEs could pay as little as S$800 for a package comprising a computer preloaded with software such as the operating system and antivirus applications. Also included in the package are web development services that will be available for S$50 or less. The scheme is expected to help SMEs benefit from cost-savings when they invest in basic infocomm equipment and services.Sources: "More funds to be invested to develop talent in IT sector", Channel NewsAsia, 29 February 2008 "Govt to spend $70m on infocomm sector", The Straits Times, 1 March 2008 "Govt lends SMEs bigger IT helping hand", The Business Times, 3 March 2008.
Under the Domain Name Reservation initiative launched in December 2007, new small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will find it easier to reserve a '.com.sg' and '.sg' domain name. The initiative was introduced by Singapore Network Information Centre (SGNIC) in collaboration with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). The start-ups will be able to reserve their domain name when registering their business entity electronically with ACRA's BizFile. In a promotion valid till December 2010, all businesses or companies without an existing '.sg' domain name are entitled to a S$30 discount for their first-year of registration. Source: "Scheme for SMEs to go online and grow globally", The Business Times, 4 March 2008
SINGAPORE -- Suppliers of goods and services billing the government of Singapore will need to submit their invoices electronically starting May 1 as part of a plan seeking to extend the reach and quality of e-services, the Ministry of Finance said. The system enabling suppliers to submit their invoices to ministries and statutory boards via a common online portal will "enhance the efficiency" of transactions, a ministry statement said on Wednesday. Citing the benefits, the ministry said, "Suppliers can expect prompt payment in accordance with agreed terms." "E-Invoicing eliminates the risk of misplacement of hardcopy invoices," it noted. Briefings have been conducted with suppliers to facilitate the phasing in of the system. There will be a transition period of six months until October. "A small group of suppliers who may face practical constraints in doing e-Invoicing" are excluded from the system at this stage, the ministry said. They include vendors registered or located overseas, newspaper delivery agents, bus operators and canteen operators.
HCM City (VNA)- Global information technology (IT) giants on May 14 flocked to a Ho Chi Minh City symposium to find out how Vietnamese small- and medium sized enterprises¡¯ (SMEs) use IT. The symposium attracted companies including Microsoft, SAP, HP, Eaton-MGE, HPT Software, Global Cybersoft and Oracle. Microsoft SMEs Department Marketing Director Pham Tran Anh said his company intend to provide programs to support SME¡¯s in finding software solutions and investing in copyrighted software. The offer is considered a symbol of appreciation for Vietnam ¡¯s success in reducing the rate of copyright violations, from 92 percent in 2003 to 88 percent in 2006, and implementing its commitment to the international community. IDG reported that sales of computers in Vietnam increased by 34 percent year on year since the beginning of 2008, ranking second in the region after Indonesia. Meanwhile, sales of servers surged 65.2 percent, topping the Asia-Pacific region. Such statistics are seen as indicators of strong growth in the application of information technology and telecommunications among enterprises. IDC predicts Vietnam will emerge as the region¡¯s most dynamic IT market from 2007-11, with an annual growth rate estimated at 7.9 percent. The exhibition-symposium in SME¡¯s IT use will close on May 15.-Enditem
Intel Corporation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the education ministry for supplying 1,000 personal computers to schools in Bangladesh¡¯s 64 districts as part of its plan to introduce information technology based education programme in the country. Following its announcement made last September for introducing Intel World Ahead Programme in Bangladesh, Intel has also signed MoU with other agencies to ensure cost effective Internet connectivity at these schools. Intel's World Ahead Programme General Manager John E. Davies, who is spearheading the assignment, is currently visiting the country to give the programme a kick-start. ¡°Understanding a country takes six to 12 months. But when it gets going, the programme speeds up with the help of right partners to implement it," Davies said. Intel is also discussing with the education ministry about accommodating its education content in the curriculum and how to train the teachers for the World Ahead Programme. Davies noted that the cost of Internet connection in Bangladesh is incredibly high compared to the rest of the world. This is why Intel is looking for other ways to provide education contents in the most cost effective way. "For instance, there could be local caching service. Contents like math or science may be kept in the local server so that students can access them without any Internet connection," he said. Intel has signed agreements with Grameen Solutions and Bangladesh Telecentre Network to set up telecentres that will offer an array of services to the public. Intel will be offering a model to help the country's goal of setting up 40,000 such centres across the country by 2011. "The personal computer will be a service delivery platform for farmers, workers, students and all kinds of people.
They can have interactive telemedicine services, register land, file application for passport, access market information, library and other things," Davies said. Some of these services are already being provided by different agencies. "Our model will accommodate future demands and technological requirements," he added. The other issue Intel is looking at is how to provide cost effective computers to rural students. Intel has already developed low power computer processors which helped manufacturing of the second generation $250 "Classmate" computers, shock-proof and spill-proof PCs for students. This price tag is half of that of notebook computers. Davies said the third generation processor "Atom" for Classmate PCs will be available from July next and it will make these computers more powerful and cost efficient. "These computers will encourage kids to go to school," he said. "Intel's SKOOL is a package of program that combines math, physics, chemistry, biology etc. This will be made available. We will have it converted in Bangla. We are looking for partners to do it," he said. Davies noted that in the last four years, Intel has given 40 million computers to different countries under the World Ahead Programme and trained five million teachers. "This programme is evolving continuously," he said. Last September, Intel Corporation Chairman Dr Craig Barrett announced introduction of its World Ahead Programme to be implemented in Bangladesh jointly with Grameen Solutions in collaboration with the government. Dr Barrett noted that ICT gives four impacts on the society--education, economic development, healthcare and e-governance.
The Indian Railways is planning to introduce human resource management functions to an IT platform in the department. In this regard, the Indian Railways is adopting a new bidding process for interested IT firms. The Railways has decided to implement the project on a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT) basis. The adoption of BOOT model will spare Railways from making any heavy upfront investments. From a Railways perspective, the cost would be spread over a longer period and subject to satisfactory project implementation. This is the first software project for the Railways to be taken up on a BOOT basis. IT companies like SAP and PeopleSoft have applied for the project. Also IT firms that that have envinced interest in implementing the project include TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, Siemens, Microsoft, IBM and CapGemini. The project will help the Railways serve its 1.4 million employees and one million pensioners in a better manner. The project would also have specially designed e-learning packages. The project will also identify staff who have not received specific trainings and arrange trainings accordingly. The IT arm of Indian Railways, CRIS, would be implementing the project. The Railways is preparing the bid document and finalising the qualifying criteria and service level agreements for bidders.
Salem Corporation is moving one step ahead in making paperless administration with the launch of computerised tax collection centre in Salem. Soon Salem residents will be able to pay their property tax, professional tax, water charges and various other fees through online using credit cards. The corporation has also launched a new website www.salemcorporation.gov.in with more facilities and user-friendly menus. The Corporation has already begun computerised tax collection and online registration of births and deaths. The website will facilitate online registration of grievances, downloading of tender documents and various applications and self-assessment of property tax, besides providing information about various schemes and activities of the civic body. Through the website, hospitals can also register births and deaths online. The civic body is also holding talks with banks in the city to enable people to pay the taxes through the banks. It is developing applications for speedy issuance of building plan approvals, registration of grievances through SMS and renewal of various licences. Later on the civic body is planning to introduce bio-metric attendance system for civic officials, payroll applications and online tendering system.
Civic Body, Bombay Municipality Corporation (BMC), India partnered with Sify to allow citizens of Mumbai to easy access to range of services, like payment of water and property tax, renewal of licences. Under this partnership, BMC will provide these services through its 250 i-way cyber cafes across Mumbai. The tie-up will allow citizens of Mumbai easy access to a range of services, from lodging a complaint and tracking its status, payment of water and property tax, to renewal of licences and applying for birth/death certificates, at their time and bidding. Currently, the Citizens Facilitation Centres at the 24 ward offices are open only from 9 am to 2 pm on working days. The cyber cafes located at an average distance of 4 km will be open from nine to nine everyday, including holidays and Sundays. Citizens who have account in State Bank of India, Axis Bank, Union bank and the Industrial Development Bank of India can also make online payments. According to the partnership, all cafes have to display the BMC logo along with a list of various services and charges, the fee charged per transaction and precautions to be observed by users while making online payments.
Within a month Andhra Pradesh will digitise all the land records in the state. This is expected to bring about transparency and fairness in land deals. The scanning of land records have almost been completed and they are in the process of being hosted on the website. To discuss various issues related to survey, records and titles an international symposium was organised on "Contemporary trends in Cadastral Surveys and Land Titling" by the Department of Land Resources, Government of India and the Department of Survey and Land Records, Government of Andhra Pradesh on 28th and 29th of April. The deliberations of this symposium is sent as recommendations to the Government of India to formulate a national policy.
Ctrl S Data Centers Ltd., the Pioneers in Tier IV data centre In India, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IBM. Under the terms of the MoU, the scope will include, marketing of data centres to customers, channels, and franchisees across India. The MoU with IBM will give Ctrl S a national footprint, enabling the company to provide state¨Cof-the art data centre services to a wider customer base. The customers of Ctrl S will now enjoy the benefits of having a single point of contact for all their data centre needs. This symbiosis is all set to bring about a revolution in the data centre market, with Ctrl S coming to table with top quality data centre solutions and IBM with its experience, reach and expertise. Ctrl S Data Centers Ltd. is promoted by the Pioneer Group along with IDBI and Och-Ziff- a New York based global fund. The group has interests in IT and Property Development, and has existing relationships with 20 of the top 100 organisations in India
ISLAMABAD (May 11 2008): Acer Computers Pakistan and Middle East recently held two extravagant events, Acer Channel Awards 2007 and launch of Acer Incentive programme 2008 in Lahore and Karachi. Jacob Varghese, Regional Manager, Acer Computers Pakistan and Middle East specially came to Pakistan for the said events. According to Country Manager Zahid Mehmood, the company is in process of finalising development partnership with a social organisation based in Pakistan, UAE, Canada, and UK. The organisation, which Acer was going to support the areas of education, technical education, and health. "Therefore Acer is joining them in discharging its corporate social responsibility," he added. He said around 150 participants of Acer Active, Acer Points, Acer Distributors and Executive Team and AME Team participated in the events. Acer Awards were given to top three dealers on the basis of performance from selected cities.
ISLAMABAD (May 27 2008): President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), Muhammad Ijaz Abbasi, in a meeting with Director Enforcement Colonel Shafiq Abbasi, has underlined the need for taking strict measures to control spread of mobile SIMs to unidentified persons. According to a press release, he said there was no policy for the issuance of restricted number of SIMs to individual user, as a result single individual users have got issued large number of SIMs on single name. He said that crime rate was increasing because of issuance of a large number of SIMs to unidentified persons, adding that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) should devise a clear policy for the issuance of SIMs to identified person through verification by Nadra. President ICCI suggested that before providing a connection, online verification should be done and maximum Five SIMs may be allowed to one user. Muhammad Ijaz Abbasi said that automatic activation of answering machine on PTCL landline on not attending a call is totally unjustified, because on this the caller has to bear call charges. He said that PTCL should provide this facility on demand only, and it should be removed from all landline numbers, the press release added. He further said that charges on local landline calls two rupees per two minutes by PTCL put a burden on the monthly bills and demanded that duration should be increased to 5 minutes instead of 2 minutes. President ICCI assured of his full cooperation to PTA for controlling issuance of SIMs to unidentified persons and stressed that no company or franchisee should be allowed to allot a SIM to unidentified person. Shafiq Abbasi, Director Enforcement told the ICCI president that mobile companies have issued a huge number of SIMs to unidentified persons and it is becoming difficult to trace out the exact user of SIM. He said PTA has cancelled the license of about 10 franchise companies, to control circulation of SIMs of unidentified persons and informed that according to a survey 60 per cent crimes were managed through mobile phone. At the end of the meeting PTA and ICCI singed an agreement to instruct mobile companies to put a check on the issuance of SIMs to unidentified persons, it added.
Afghanistan¡¯s Ministry of Communications and IT (MCIT) has published a Request for Expressions of Interest (REI) in the sale of 80% of fixed line incumbent Afghan Telecom. Interested parties have until 4 April to register their interest. According to TeleGeography¡¯s GlobalComms database Afghan Telecom operates a digital network in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif where national and international satellite links have been established. Kabul has a 12,000 capacity fixed line switch with around 7,000 active lines, while Herat has a 60,000 fixed line system and Mazar the capacity for around 4,000 connections. AT also operates an analogue system in the capital with an estimated 8,000 lines; work is underway to convert these to digital. There is a VSAT network between Kabul and four main cities, currently being expanded to additional provincial capitals. In March 2007 the MCIT posted an investment opportunity on its website for the reconfiguration of Afghan Telecom's legacy CDMA and fixed line network. According to the government body, AT has a CDMA network with a capacity of 225,000 lines (via 85 BTSs) and 101,400 fixed lines, which it required to be split into two separate networks. The first will become a national wireless pre-paid CDMA network and the second will offer fixed line voice and data services in six provinces, in addition to CDMA based wireless services.
Azerbaijan¡¯s third biggest cellco by subscribers Azerfon, which trades under the Nar Mobile name, has inked a contract with Ericsson for the supply of base stations and switching equipment, worth around USD100 million. The new kit will enable the operator to increase its capacity to 1.5 million subscribers and expand coverage to 95% of the population. Azerfon launched GSM services on 21 March 2007, making it the market¡¯s most recent entrant. According to TeleGeography¡¯s GlobalComms database, it had signed up an estimated 500,000 customers by the end of 2007, after just nine months of operation.
Zain Iraq, the country¡¯s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has contracted European vendor Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for a USD150 million job to expand capacity and simplify and modernise the existing core network. Further details were not provided. According to TeleGeography¡¯s GlobalComms database, Zain Iraq was formed at the end of 2007 when cellco MTC Atheer adopted the corporate brand of parent company, the Zain Group of Kuwait, formerly MTC. MTC Atheer won a 15-year national cellular licence in August 2007 for USD1.25 billion. The parent company acquired rival Iraqna from Egyptian group Orascom late last year for USD1.2 billion, and has since consolidated the two networks. The unified infrastructure served well over seven million customers at the end of 2007, a market share of 57%.
Russian cellco MegaFon intends to bid for Iran¡¯s fourth national mobile licence when it becomes available, following the opening of a branch office in Tehran (reported in CommsUpdate yesterday). The Iranian government is expected to offer a new mobile licence later this year, with the new licensee competing with established operators TCI, MTN Irancell and Taliya.
Russian cellco Vimpelcom has announced that its Kazakhstan subsidiary KaR-Tel has signed a management agreement with Sky Mobile in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. Sky offers GSM services under the banner Bitel and was Kyrgyzstan¡¯s leading cellco by subscribers at the end of 2007, according to TeleGeography¡¯s GlobalComms database, with 1.13 million customers and a 59% market share. Pursuant to the agreement, KaR-Tel will exclusively assist in the operation and management of Sky 's network and the provision of products and services in Kyrgyzstan. After a five-year ownership dispute involving several large Russian and Kazakh firms, Vimpelcom claims that Sky Mobile is now 100%-owned by Crowell Investments, which also owns 50% less one share of KaR-Tel's parent company, Limnotex Development. Vimpelcom indirectly owns the remaining 50% plus one share of Limnotex. In February 2008, Vimpelcom lent Crowell USD350 million for 18 months at an interest rate of 10% per annum. As collateral, Crowell granted Vimpelcom a security interest over 25% of the shares of Limnotex, and two call options over the entire issued share capital of Sky Mobile. The ownership of Sky Mobile is still disputed by Russian group Mobile TeleSystems (MTS).
Russian wireless group Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is reported to be discussing the acquisition of a majority stake in Tajikistan¡¯s largest cellco by subscribers, Babilon. Bezkhod Faizullayev, 60% owner of the Tajik cellco, has confirmed talks are ongoing but declined to provide further details. If negotiations are successful, the purchase would give MTS a footprint over much of the CIS region, with existing coverage of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan and Armenia. Babilon was reported to have around 700,000 wireless subscribers at the end of last year.
Presentation of new computer technologies and video system produced by China¡¯s Huawei was held at secondary school # 86 in Dushanbe on May 13, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE). The source at a MoE said the presentation had been held by Huawei representative, Mr. Ma Guani, who has been on his working visit to Tajikistan. During the presentation, it was noted that use of such technologies helps control internal activity of educational facility and conduct open lesson. Last year, during President Rahmon¡¯s visit to China, Huawei donated more than 100 computers to the MoE. The computers were distributed to school # 86 in Dushanbe, two schools in Qurghon Teppa and the center for gifted children in Dushanbe, the source said. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd is the largest networking and telecommunications equipment supplier in China and one of the world leaders in this industry. Established in 1988 by Ren Zhengfei, Huawei Technologies is a private high-tech enterprise which specializes in research and development (R&D), production and marketing of communications equipments, and providing customized network solutions for telecom carriers.(by Mavjouda Hasanova)
Avea, the smallest of Turkey¡¯s three cellular operators, says it expects mobile number portability (MNP) to finally be implemented in October this year. The cellco is predicting that ten million users will change their service provider. ¡®Number portability is important especially for young operators in the market,¡¯ Cuneyt Turktan, CEO of Avea, says. MNP was originally expected to be introduced last year but was postponed when the country¡¯s largest mobile operator, Turkcell, said that number porting systems were not ready.
The Turkish government could postpone the planned initial public offer (IPO) of shares in Turk Telekom should market conditions not be favourable. A report from local newspaper Zaman quotes Transport Minister Binali Yildirim as saying: ¡®If the market is dead we will not do the offering. If the market is lively it will be carried out. The basis of the IPO is the public interest and we will look at that.¡¯ The government is planning a sale of around 15% to 20% of Turk Telekom¡¯s stock in May. A 55% stake has already been sold to Dubai-based telecoms investment firm Oger Telecom.
Turk Telekom is to sue the country¡¯s largest mobile operator, Turkcell, for offering anti-competitive service packages. The fixed line telco claims that Turkcell is pricing its packages below the termination fees charged to other operators, making it impossible for rivals to compete on an equal footing, Reuters reports. Turk Telekom is Turkey¡¯s dominant wireline operator and is also present in the country¡¯s cellular market through its part-owned subsidiary, Avea. Turkcell has yet to comment on the charges.
In the pre-Internet era one needed to wait in long queues and even to spend a whole night in front of the box office just to get one ticket for local or international events but as online ticketing gains popularity, all one needs for hot tickets these days is Internet access. There is tough cyber competition between customers ¨C especially for football match tickets ¨C since only 10,000 tickets are available at most. It is estimated that the total volume of the ticket sales market is $10 million ¨C including call centers, mobile phones, kiosks, ATM's and online ticketing. $9.4 spent per ticket: The average amount of money paid by Turks per year is relatively low compared to other parts of the world. Turks paid only $9.4 in 2005 compared to $12.1 paid by Egyptians, $15.4 by Greeks, $323 by Russians and over $1,000 by Americans, according to a report by online ticket Web site Biletix in October 2005. The Biletix report predicted that Turkey's ticket sales must amount to at least $68 considering that Turks spend $2.39 on CDs on average. In any case online ticketing as a developing market requires further investment.
¡°We sign deals with football clubs for three years, whereas only one-year deals can be signed with theaters. We sold approximately 1 million tickets last year and expect to sell the same amount this year,¡± said G§îlseren Onan§Ù, the largest shareholder of TicketT§îrk, one of Turkey's online ticket providers with a market volume of 20-25 percent. ¡°The growth of TicketT§îrk heavily depends on the growth of concept developers and organizers. However, there has been no remarkable growth in the sector within the last four years when we first started to operate. The market is occupied by oligopolies which does not allow new investors to enter,¡± she said. Kemal Erdine, vice chairman of Biletix, said online ticket sales are a part of the entertainment industry. ¡°Similar to tourism agencies that promote plane tickets, we sell tickets for events. In doing so, the most important part of the job is done by professionals. As it costs a lot to sell tickets through call centers, Internet and ticket offices, not every organizer can afford the financial burden,¡± said Erdine. 'Biletix an example of administrative success': Biletix was established by two Canadians, Dave Dorner and Ali Abhary, with the partnership of Turkey's largest conglomerate, Ko§Ù Group, at the end of 1990s.
It was sold to an American entertainment ticketing and marketing company, Ticketmaster, in 2006. ¡°Biletix is an example of administrative success which has to be a lecture topic,¡± said Erdine. Ko§ÙSistem and Ko§ÙNet provide technical infrastructure for Biletix, even though the partnership between the two companies came to an end couple of years ago. ¡°Ko§Ù Holding has infrastructure investments in the field of information technology. Thus, Biletix does not fit with the strategy of Ko§Ù Group. Also, it became to our advantage to be transferred to Ticketmaster,¡± said Erdine. Ticketmaster, which prefers not to change the company title in its service area, operates under the name of Biletix, which has become a benchmark in Turkey. Biletix has two main rivals today. One is TicketT§îrk, established in 2004; the other is Reysa§ð-owned MyBilet that started to operate in 1999. Biletnet, which is mostly responsible from the sales of State Opera and Ballet's tickets, drags behind in the competition. These companies sell tickets for cultural activities in general, such as cinema and concerts, as well as sports activities including football and basketball in particular.
The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), §¿§ð Sanat Arts and Culture Center, Akbank Art Center, Borusan Culture and Arts (BKS) and Cemal Re§ðit Rey Concert Hall, including some other companies that organize popular cultural events in different cities are the foundations that ticket companies mostly work together. Turkey's biggest cities, Istanbul, §¿zmir and Ankara, provide the greatest demand for online ticket sales. The Aegean and Mediterranean coats also attract demand, especially in the summer. The online ticketing service will eventually grow as the number of activities in different regions increases. Low demand for tickets to fairs: Biletix sold tickets for the Information Technologies Fair once as well as for the Boat Fair and the Automobile Show, said Semiray Karako§Ù Onur, director of retail sales and the call center at Biletix. ¡°The fair business in Turkey is something that we do not know well. But we can sell their tickets if they come with such a demand,¡± she said. Besides, fair organizers in Turkey distribute several invitations, which make it unappealing for ticket companies to enter this market as there is not sufficient demand for them to make profit. Whereas in Europe, people follow fairs regularly and buy tickets several days in advance, said Erdine.
As the Turkish Competition Board (RK) does not allow deals longer than five years, most of the ticket companies have to sign one and/or two-year deals with the organizers, except ones like MyBilet, which is also responsible from the provision of software service to cinemas. Prestige for the company: ¡°State Opera and Ballet sells half of its tickets online. We don't charge a service fee but only small amount for technical infrastructure that we offer. This will be prestigious for our corporation. However, we cannot sell that amount of concert tickets as we sell in cinema and theaters sectors,¡± said Leyla §¾nal, responsible of marketing department at MyBilet. ¡°MyBilet's annual ticket sales totaled 2.14 million last year, while the company reached 74 percent of this amount in the first four months of this year,¡± she said. Having more than 40 ticket offices, Biletix aims to increase the number of box offices in tourist regions depending on the number of summer organizations. Some 60-65 percent of total tickets are sold at retail sale points. Meanwhile, Internet sales cover 25 percent, while call center meets 15 percent of overall demand. Football matches meet half of annual sales, while other half comes from arts activities. ¡°The market volume is approximately 10 million when cinema tickets are excluded. We predict that three major ticket companies sell and distribute 45 percent of total tickets through online sale system,¡± said Onan§Ù.
Russian company MTS has started to provide internet services for its subscribers in Turkmenistan, Prime Tass reports quoting Dmitriy Shukov, head of the MTS Ashgabat office. According to him, 300 enterprises and organizations of Turkmenistan can access internet through GPRS/EDGE. MTS plans to offer internet services to physical persons in May 2008. MTS has also applied to a relevant body for a license to introduce Wi-MAX in Turkmenistan. MTS has been instructed by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedoov to ensure that every citizen of Turkmenistan have got an access to internet, Dmitriy Shukov said. MTS has secured a share of 85% at the cellular communication market of Turkmenistan. The number of MTS subscribers has reached 476,7 thousand. MTS covers up to 33% of the country's territory. It is expected that MTS will invest US $ 70 million in 2008 to develop cellular communication in Turkmenistan.
Web Media Services, one of the largest Russian independent satellite operators, will participate in joint programs to develop telecommunication infrastructure in Uzbekistan. The company, which provides services under the HeliosNet brand, plans to invest up to USD 20 million in the Uzbek economy during three years. The announcement was made at the seminar in Tashkent organized by the Commerce and Industry Chamber of Uzbekistan and Web Media Services. HeliosNet provides services related to organizing corporate networks, IP telephony, videoconferencing, distance education and high-speed internet access.
Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, today met with the Industry Advisory Group, charting the transition to digital television. ¡°Digital switchover will be finalised by the end of 2013, however we still need to convert the nearly 60 per cent of Australians who currently do not receive digital free to air broadcasts,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°There is a global trend towards digital television and it is important Australia is not left behind. The Digital Switchover Taskforce has been established to ensure a strategic approach and the Industry Advisory Group will play a key role supporting and advising its efforts.¡± ¡°Broadcasters, retailers, manufacturers, antenna technicians, public and commercial housing agencies as well as government departments all have a role to play in the digital TV switchover.
Analog televisions, VCRs and other analog recording devices will need to be upgraded, in order to receive and record digital free to air broadcasts,¡± Senator Conroy said. The Industry Advisory Group comprises representatives from the broadcasting, manufacturing, retail, regulatory and property management sectors (see full list see below). ¡°The Digital Switchover Taskforce will partner with industry to provide reliable information to consumers in the lead-up to digital switchover. The Industry Advisory Group will contribute on a range of issues, including a detailed switchover timetable, communications, research and practical implementation,¡± Senator Conroy said. Last month, the Rudd Government announced a $37.9 million strategy to ensure a smooth transition to digital TV.
The strategy comprises: $8.5 million for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to undertake technical switchover-related projects, including an evaluation of digital TV transmission and reception throughout Australia. $4.8 million for a ¡®Digital Tracker¡¯ to assess issues such as public awareness of digital switchover, intention of households to convert and actual conversion rates. $1 million over two years for research into digital reception problems in multi-unit dwellings with a shared TV antenna system. $6.7 million for an awareness campaign ensuring Australian consumers can be informed and confident about what products will suit their needs.
$16.9 million for the Digital Switchover Taskforce, which will coordinate the switchover program within the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. Digital switchover is important for all Australians as it not only provides access to such things as better picture and sound quality and additional channels but it will also free-up spectrum which can be used for the delivery of new and improved broadcasting and communications services.More information on the digital switchover program can be found at www.digitalswitchover.gov.au
A lack of a suitable record-keeping web content management system has led one Queensland local government council to develop its own application, which has since been released as an open-source project. Thuringowa City Council in mid-North Queensland was looking to deploy an enterprise content management system with the same capacity to keep records of web content with similar integrity as other types of more regulated content like email and financial documents. However, when the idea surfaced three years ago, there was no significant budget for such a project and council did not perceive the project as a huge requirement. The council's web developer, Scott Barnett, then evaluated a number of open-source ECMs and discovered that the main constraint among them was a lack of support for record keeping. "We ended up saying it would be too difficult to modify an existing application as they couldn't publish binary files in a record keeping environment," Barnett says. To solve the problem, Barnett, with support from his employer, began development of the Stronghold CMS with open source components to ensure records for web documents were supported inside the application.
"We developed a beta and presented it to management and they thought it was cool and started saying we needed it yesterday," he says. After an initial pilot phase, Stronghold went into production about two years ago and there are now some 50 people using it throughout the council. "It's been a frustrating journey from our perspective, as a lot of content systems were designed with technology in mind, but we are concerned with publishing and business processes," Barnett says. Stronghold is written in PHP, with the primary database being PostgreSQL. Support for Oracle, MySQL, and SQL Server will be in the next release which is due this month. Barnett describes Stronghold as providing wiki-style editing of documents, but more user-friendly, as wikis have no standard way of storing the data which may need to be retrieved in the future. Once developed, the council did not want Barnett to work on Stronghold full-time so, after some deliberation, the decision was made to release the application as an open-source product under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3.
"The council was very apprehensive to release it as an open-source project and approval had to come down from executive level," he says. The project has since been transferred to Sourceforge.net's application repository, but as it is still new, most development is still being done by Barnett. "We are waiting for a few big organisations to deploy it," he says. "It's really early days, but there is lots of interest." Stronghold is meant to be an encompassing system for all websites and is designed so it takes care of all web technology for external-facing content. It also features an import spider which can be pointed to an existing Web site to import it into Stronghold. Barnett says Stronghold abstracts the dynamically generated data from the presentation so an organisation can have a completely different design standard that skins the site. Thuringowa is preparing to merge with the larger Townsville City Council as part of a local government amalgamation program and Stronghold is set to replace an in-house web CMS at the merged entity. "The amalgamation has already begun, but they [Townsville] were very hesitant to deploy anything open-source and there is still a lot of fear," Barnett says. Stronghold will be deployed on Microsoft's SQL Server database on Windows Server at Townsville.
New Zealand has again placed 22nd in a global survey that ranks countries on their ability to benefit from new information and communications technology. The World Economic Forum's annual information technology report compiles information from 127 countries and aims to assess the impact of IT and telecoms on their development and competitiveness. Switzerland-based WEF considered the business and regulatory environments in the countries it covered, the readiness of individuals, businesses and government to exploit opportunities and actual usage of the latest IT and communications technology (ICT). New Zealand's 22nd placing is no change from last year's survey, although the ranking fell from 21st in the 2005/06 report. One area where the Kiwi ICT environment fell down badly was in the category ranking quality of ISP competition - with a ranking of 106. New Zealand came second to the Netherlands in terms of internet saturation, with 6.32 internet users per 100 inhabitants. A category that counts the number of procedures needed to start a business saw New Zealand tied with Canada and Australia in first place. But overall, Denmark topped the list for the second year in a row. Australia came in at 14th place, improving on last year's 15th. Seven of the top 10 in the WEF's so-called networked readiness index were European. The United States was ranked fourth and Singapore fifth, with South Korea leaping to number nine from 19 last year, displacing Britain. "The successful experience of the Nordic countries, Singapore, the United States or Korea shows that a coherent government vision on the importance of ICT, coupled with an early focus on education and innovation, are key not only for spurring networked readiness, but also to lay the foundations for sustainable growth," said Irene Mia, a senior WEF economist and co-editor of the report. The WEF said it used public data in compiling its report as well as conducting its own survey of executive opinion on institutional and business environment issues, in conjunction with leading research institutes and business organisations. This year's survey was sponsored by Cisco, the world's biggest maker of internet routers and switchers.
InternetNZ (the Internet Society of New Zealand Inc) is pleased that New Zealand has slightly improved its broadband ranking in the latest OECD Broadband Statistics Report. The statistics, for the half year to December 2007, show New Zealand now places 19th of 30 OECD countries in broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants. 18.3 out of 100 inhabitants now have a broadband connection, compared with the OECD country average of 20. There are 757,132 broadband subscribers in New Zealand. InternetNZ Executive Director Keith Davidson attributes the lift in New Zealand broadband subscribers to recent regulatory reforms, which InternetNZ has lobbied long and hard for. ¡°Over the course of the last year InternetNZ has made extensive and detailed submissions to Government on the operational separation of Telecom.
¡°Separation Day has now occurred and we expect this will result in a more competitive telecommunications market, which should be reflected in subsequent OECD broadband statistics.¡± Davidson is encouraged by figures showing New Zealand is the 6th fastest growing OECD country in terms of broadband penetration. There has been a net increase of 4.37 subscribers per 100 inhabitants. ¡°If New Zealand maintains this rate of growth then it will continue to slowly improve its position relative to other OECD nations. But, to fully leapfrog into the top half of the OECD, substantial investment and subscriber uptake in a ubiquitous open access fibre network is required. ¡°Fibre accounts for 8 percent of all broadband connections in the OECD, but in New Zealand fibre connections are negligible.¡±
AUSTRALIAN IT industry groups have begun a drive to reshape government information and communications technology policy, launching a 10-year vision for the sector. 'Brochure-ware': Bruce McCabe The document, issued by the National ICT Industry Alliance, lays out 12 targets that the organisation believes are essential for Australia's economic prosperity, including the development of a national, high-speed broadband network. The paper, known simply as the 10-year ICT strategic vision has, however, been dismissed as "brochure-ware" and has been criticised, along with previous industry statements, as not offering concrete plans for encouraging innovation in Australia. NICTIA president Tony Hill acknowledged that previous ICT industry vision statements had failed to spur change, but said the outcome would be different this time, thanks to the number of technology industry organisations that had backed the paper. "Twenty organisations in the ICT sector in Australia have come together for the first time to launch a strategic vision, and we think that's a very powerful message to the Australian community and governments," Mr Hill said. Organisations that have backed the statement include the Australian Computer Society, Internet Industry Association, and the Australian Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association.
Notably, the Australian Information Industry Association has not endorsed the vision despite sharing many of the views contained in the document. NICTIA lays out 12 goals it considers critical to ensuring that Australia's technology industries remain competitive in years to come. These include: Development of a national ICT brand supported by the state and federal governments. Regulatory policies that do not impede innovation and investment in high technology. Collaboration between the industry, governments and the education sector to produce a world leading ICT skills base. The emergence of small and medium enterprises capable of competing successfully in global markets. Construction of national broadband infrastructure. NICTIA does not provide any strategies for achieving its vision. Mr Hill and ACS president Philip Argy instead said that they wanted the document to become a "touchstone" that governments referred to when developing policies. S2 Intelligence managing director Bruce McCabe applauded the industry groups for delivering a unified vision, but labelled the statement "brochure-ware" and argued that the industry needed to use its newly combined voice to make compelling arguments.
"We love our vision statements and positioning frameworks and we're long on them because they're easy to write," Mr McCabe said. "But the big question is, what's the plan?" Mr McCabe suggested specific strategies could include shifting the focus of research in university computer science departments to developing commercially relevant technologies, and encouraging investment in growth areas such as sustainability. He said ICT industry groups needed to demonstrate the importance of technology to the broader community and be more effective as a voting block. "Don't talk about the ICT industry," Mr McCabe said. "No one cares. Talk about healthcare. Talk about the future of the economy and how broken it's going to be if we don't get it right. Get it relevant to the wider community, get specific about what you want to see in hard policy before the election. Challenge both parties to come up with it, and challenge everyone to vote with those that do." Software engineer and vocal ACS critic Tony Healy delivered a more scathing review of the vision statement. "This is a useless document promoting concepts dear to the hearts of bureaucrats. They want central planning, red tape and government funding," Mr Healy said. "None of those moves will improve Australian innovation. The fact is that world-class innovation, like Google, stands on its own feet. It doesn't succeed through marketing."
Broadband wireless access (BWA) services will be boosted by the new allocation of 2.3 GHz spectrum, Communications Minister David Cunliffe says. "Management rights bands in the 2.3 GHz spectrum band will be allocated as soon as practicable, enabling emerging wireless broadband technologies such as WiMAX," the minister said. "BWA technology for this band is only just starting to become available. It is critical that we create the right conditions for its future deployment by giving a range of players the opportunity and the certainty they need to make a long-term investment." Details of the proposed auction are now available for comment prior to final government decisions being taken on the auction arrangements. The overall process of increasing spectrum availability for BWA services was announced in December 2006 with the publication of a series of Cabinet decisions. "This announcement gives more details on the specific auction arrangements and timing for the 2.3 GHz band. "While some of the spectrum rights to be allocated may not commence until 2010, the early auction will allow purchasers to plan their implementation with certainty. "We need advanced broadband services and wireless technologies are a part of the overall mix that can help us achieve this. This allocation of spectrum is an important step in allowing industry to plan and build the necessary infrastructure." The minister encouraged people with an interest in the area or companies that might provide such services to read the Auction Proposal and to submit comments.
Pattaya, Thailand, 11 March 2008 ¡ª The 8th annual Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-08), chaired by General Choochart Promphrasid, Chairman of the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), opened in Pattaya, Thailand, to explore new regulatory measures aimed at encouraging investment and growth in information and communication technologies (ICT). The Minister for Information and Communication Technology of Thailand, Mr Mun Patanotai delivered an address on behalf of Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej at the opening of the Symposium. "The Government of Thailand emphasized the development of basic infrastructure for information technology, such as extensive and adequate high-speed communications networks at appropriate, fair and competitive prices," said the Prime Minister in his statement. "This would serve as the main network supporting Thailand¡¯s development into a knowledge-based society, reducing the urban-rural divide and enhancing national competitiveness." GSR-08 has been organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) and NTC of Thailand.
Heads of national regulatory authorities and policy makers from both developed and developing countries meeting in Pattaya until 13 March will focus on widespread and affordable broadband access. They will also explore issues related to: liberalizing of international gateways opening access to submarine cable networks passive sharing of mobile towers and rights of way for fibre backbones to reach rural users reduced costs through promotion of active and passive network sharing in a competitive environment to provide real consumer choices the goals and role of functional separation regulating international mobile roaming rates improving spectrum practices to promote IMT services sharing end user devices and innovative applications in developing countries addressing new regulatory issues raised by IPTV and mobile broadcasting
APEC Ministers prepare to meet in Bangkok, later this week (23 - 25 April 2008) to address challenges in telecommunications and information. With free trade and investment as goal, the swift flow of information between economies is critical. To this end, APEC has already tripled internet access since 2000. Nonetheless, access and expertise still varies between economies and Ministers have determined to reduce these disparities. Explains Mr. Worapat Tiewthanom, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Thailand, "Universal access will maximize opportunities for trade and investment; this will have a positive effect on both macro- and micro-economies." Access to the internet enables small to medium enterprises to participate in a global forum, expanding their range of business opportunities exponentially. This year, APEC has incorporated a social dimension to its agenda and this will be a significant element in this week's talks. For example, better and more consistent regional infrastructure may be used as a vehicle to address long-term challenges, such as climate change. Offers Dr. Arnon Tubtiang, APEC Working Group Chair: "It's quite an interesting dynamic: in a global context, prosperity - and even survival - depends on the ability to exchange knowledge and to make progress toward shared goals. So it is imperative that regional telecommunications be efficient, consistent and coordinated." Key issues of discussion among Ministers this week will include: reliable technical infrastructures; universal access; ICT skills education; the prevention of cyber crime and abuse; and policies conducive to competition and consumer information.
The following correction appeared in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Saturday March 31 2007. The claim in the article below was wrong. The mobile banking system may be the first in Africa but two companies, Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, have been operating money transfers in the Philippines since around 2005. The ping of a text message has never sounded so sweet. In what is being touted as a world first, Kenya's biggest mobile operator is allowing subscribers to send cash to other phone users by SMS. Known as M-Pesa, or mobile money, the service is expected to revolutionise banking in a country where more than 80% of people are excluded from the formal financial sector.
Apart from transferring cash - a service much in demand among urban Kenyans supporting relatives in rural areas - customers of the Safaricom network will be able to keep up to 50,000 shillings (¡ê370) in a "virtual account" on their handsets. Developed by Vodafone, which holds a 35% share in Safaricom, M-Pesa was formally launched in Kenya two weeks ago. More than 10,000 people have signed up for the service, with around 8m shillings transferred so far, mostly in tiny denominations. Safaricom's executives are confident that growth will be strong in Kenya, and later across Africa. "We are effectively giving people ATM cards without them ever having to open a real bank account," said Michael Joseph, chief executive of Safaricom, who called the money transfer concept the "next big thing" in mobile telephony. M-Pesa's is simple. There is no need for a new handset or SIM card. To send money you hand over the cash to a registered agent - typically a retailer - who credits your virtual account.
You then send between 100 shillings (74p) and 35,000 shillings (¡ê259) via text message to the desired recipient - even someone on a different mobile network - who cashes it at an agent by entering a secret code and showing ID. A commission of up to 170 shillings (¡ê1.25) is paid by the recipient but it compares favourably with fees levied by the major banks, whose services are too expensive for most of the population. Mobile phone growth in Kenya, as in most of Africa, has been remarkable, even among the rural poor. In June 1999 Kenya had 15,000 mobile subscribers. Today it has nearly 8 million out of a population of 35 million, and the two operators' networks are as extensive as the access to banks is limited.
Safaricom says it is not so much competing with financial services companies as filling a void. In time, M-Pesa will allow people to borrow and repay money, and make purchases. Companies will be able to pay salaries directly into workers' phones - something that has already attracted the interest of larger employers, such as the tea companies, whose workers often have to be paid in cash as they do not have bank accounts. There are concerns about security, but Safaricom insists that even if someone's phone is stolen the PIN system prevents unauthorised withdrawals. Mr Joseph said the only danger is sending cash to the wrong mobile number and the recipient redeeming it straight away.
The project is being watched closely by mobile operators around the world as a way of targeting the multibillion pound international cash transfer industry long dominated by companies such as Western Union and Moneygram. Remittances sent from nearly 200 million migrant workers to developing countries totalled ¡ê102bn last year, according to the World Bank. The GSM Association, which represents more than 700 mobile operators worldwide, believes this could quadruple by 2012 if transfers by SMS become the norm. Vodafone has entered a partnership with Citigroup that would soon allow Kenyans in the UK to send money home via text message. The charge for sending ¡ê50 is expected to be about ¡ê3, less than a third of what some traditional services charge.
Africa should spruce up its e-health services to ensure improved access to health services as a fundamental human right, argued delegates at the IST-Africa Conference in Windhoek, New Era reports. It is estimated that more than 33 million people are HIV infected, and that 90 percent of these people are living in settings with limited resources. In Africa, this health pandemic is considered the most important health challenge. By December 2003 the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS launched the '3-by-5' initiative to help low- and middle-income countries provide treatment to three million people living with the disease by the end of 2005. According to Maria Zolfo from the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITMA) in Belgium, although the '3-by-5' target has not been met yet, the global efforts to scale up access to anti-retroviral treatment (ART) has brought positive changes worldwide.
At the end of 2006 more than two million people living with HIV are treated with ART in low- and middle-income countries. "Telemedicine is a way to assist delivery of care in remote areas," said Zolfo. Telemedicine is considered as one of the fastest growing areas of information, communication and telecommunication (ICT) applications that are used in the health sectors for services enhancement. It started in the 1920s, but has since evolved, and its use in developing countries is reported to be on the increase. According to studies, it offers a wide range of benefits, including accessibility to health services, efficiency, improved professional education, quality control of screening programmes and reduced healthcare costs. With the necessity to support doctors in low resource settings to treat patients with newly introduced ARTs and to offer good standard of care for opportunistic infections, Zolfo said the ITMA - a leading institute providing training, research and assistance in tropical medicine and health care in developing countries - has introduced and set up a computer aided training programme for healthcare providers working in low-resourced areas.
The Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008 underlines the substantial progress the Middle East is making in ICT, spearheaded by the Gulf States. The Gulf States are increasingly emphasizing the role of ICT for national development, both as a key infrastructure and as a promising sector in view of diversifying their economies away from oil. As a whole, the Middle East stands out as having made the most progress in networked readiness over the last seven years and having recorded the largest growth in Internet users as citizens accessing the Web soared by more than 600%, three times the world¡¯s average increase. Published for the seventh consecutive year with record coverage of 127 economies worldwide, the Report has become the world¡¯s most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on the development process and the competitiveness of nations. The findings of the Report highlight significant improvement in the rankings of most of the Middle Eastern countries, with Qatar (32nd), Bahrain (45th) and Jordan (47th) at the forefront. Kuwait (52nd) also climbed four positions in a constant sample from last year.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), unchanged from last year at 29th place, continues to lead the Gulf States in networked readiness, owing to a leading government role in ICT promotion as witnessed by the excellent marks the country obtains in government readiness and usage. Four newly included countries from the region were included this year. Saudi Arabia and Oman enter the rankings at 48th and 53rd, respectively, while Libya and Syria are ranked at 105th and 110th, respectively. ¡°The findings of this Report mark a ¡®step change¡¯ for the region, illustrating a continuing shift towards dynamic and sustainable economic development,¡± said Soumitra Dutta, Dean, External Relations and Roland Berger Chaired Professor in Business and Technology at INSEAD in France. ¡°But, even more important, they indicate that if the Middle East maintains its current trajectory it will reap the benefits of increasing competitivity; able to take on other world economies, attract investment and create the millions of jobs necessary for a fast-expanding population and improving standards of living.¡± Some Gulf States, such as the UAE, stand out in their efforts to promote and leverage ICT. For instance, Dubai¡¯s e-Government Initiative, started in 2000 and fostering ICT implementation in the country, has been recognized as a success story by practitioners and is an integral part of Dubai Vision 2010, which aims to establish Dubai as a knowledge-based economy by leveraging tourism, ICT, media, trade and services.
The European Commission has opened a detailed investigation under the EU Merger Regulation into the proposed acquisition by Finnish company Nokia of Navteq, a US company. Nokia produces mobile phone handsets and Navteq is one of two producers of navigable digital maps, a crucial input for navigation services that can be distributed via mobile handsets.
The Commission's initial market investigation has indicated that the proposed merger raises serious doubts with regards to vertical competition concerns. A decision to open an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the final result of the investigation. The Commission now has until 8th August 2008 to take a final decision on whether the proposed transaction would significantly impede effective competition within the European Economic Area (EEA) or a significant part of it. Nokia is active in the provision of navigation services and manufacturing of mobile phone handsets where it is the world market leader. The US company Navteq is one of only two producers of navigable digital maps which offer complete coverage of Europe and North America (the other producer is the Dutch firm Tele Atlas).
After a preliminary review, the Commission has identified serious doubts about the compatibility with the Common Market of the acquisition by Nokia of Navteq because it might, in the light of the duopoly market for navigable digital maps and Nokia's strong position on the market for mobile handsets, lead to a significant impediment of competition within the EEA. The Commission's in-depth investigation will focus, inter alia, on assessing whether the transaction would increase the costs of navigable digital map for other companies providing navigation services on mobile handsets or limit their access to these maps, and as a consequence harm consumers. This operation raises some issues similar to another vertical merger, involving the proposed acquisition of Tele Atlas by TomTom, a Dutch company manufacturing portable navigation devices and selling navigation software for mobile phones. The proposed TomTom/Tele Atlas transaction is currently under review by the Commission.
In order to serve its patients better, the East Tallinn Central Hospital has become the first in Estonia to introduce an ePatient portal. The iPatsient (ePatient) portal, which started its pilot phase in November 2007, has just come fully on-line. With this milestone, East Tallinn has become the first hospital in Estonia to introduce such a system. So far, nearly 1 000 people have used it. It is the forerunner of the eHealth project set to start nationwide this autumn. Patients can access the portal from the hospital¡¯s website. For security reasons, an ID card is required to log in to the system ¨C this is the only form of authorisation that can guarantee the full security of medical records. Through the portal, patients can view their medical records, book doctors appointments and pay consultation fees. It is also possible to order an appointment reminder via SMS or email or both. The software for the portal was developed as a collaborative effort between the hospital and GenNet Laboratories. A special is available to demonstrate the use of the portal, in addition the employees of the hospital can help interested patients to familiarise themselves with the system.
Greece¡¯s second city, Thessaloniki, has inaugurated its new network of ¡®smart¡¯ buses and stops as part of its drive to modernise its public transport system. The new bus stops use a sophisticated ICT system to enable passengers waiting for a bus to follow its route in real time and informs them how long the wait for the next bus will be. Commuters can also keep themselves amused while they wait with up-to-the-minute information on their bus¡¯s speed and even its tyre pressure.
Once on the smart bus, a screen and a recorded voice tells passengers what the next stop is in both Greek and English. In addition, the new ICT system can provide rapid and accurate information on scheduled road works, as well as unexpected events, such as accidents and traffic jams. ¡°Today we cut the red ribbon for the launch of the smart bus stops of Thessaloniki,¡± intoned Greek Minister of Public Transport Konstantino Xatzidakis at the inauguration ceremony on 10 April 2008. ¡°What I really want is for Greece to lead the way in the European Union¡¯s public transport sector; and that is the direction of the Ministry¡¯s efforts.¡±
Thessaloniki¡¯s Organisation for Urban Transportation implemented this ICT project in two stages. First, a system to track vehicles and handle their circulation was set up. Second, the project installed the necessary technology to enable the smart buses and stops to show of their intelligence. The first phase was financed entirely by the Organisation itself (nearly €900 000). The second phase, which is estimated to have cost approximately €2.5 million, is co-funded by the EU and Greece¡¯s Public Investment Programme (75 % and 25 % respectively).
Greek local authorities have embarked on Digital Municipalities, a project aimed at modernising their services and bringing them into the eGovernment age. Greece is joining other European countries in its bid to revolutionise local government by providing eGovernment services to citizens. Greek municipalities have arrived at the conclusion that their current resources are not enough to cope with the needs of the future. The fact that young voter turnout at the March municipal elections was, once again, negligible reflects a disinterest in regional government. Municipalities need to modernise in order to survive and what better way to modernise than to go digital.
The municipality of Trikala is an eGovernment trail blazer in Greece. It was the first Greek local authority to go digital. However, it is no longer necessary for municipalities to go it alone. The recently launched Digital Municipalities project, which is coordinated by both the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece and the Institute of Regional Self Government, was established in order to help this process along. The programme has three objectives. The first objective is to familiarise municipality staff with the new technologies. Then, comes the technical part which involves learning how to use the new hardware and software. And, finally, all this knowledge is put into practice.
Some 60 seminars, at the prefecture level, are foreseen under the first phase of the programme, four of which have already taken place: on 17, 18, 20 and 21 March 2008. The second phase will be achieved with the help of specialised seminars within the municipalities. Finally, for the last phase, 15 hour-long, hands-on training sessions are planned for interested staff. So, in concrete terms, what does going digital for municipalities actually involve? It entails the creation of municipal web portals from where all citizens will be able to request and receive certificates and official documents signed electronically. These portals will also enable them to to make complaints and suggestions (and get answers to their inquiries). There is also the possibility for citizens to follow sessions of the municipal council, to participate in referenda electronically and access the eHealth system. Therefore, it could be said that going digital really means making citizens¡¯ lives easier.
The government of Alberta is set to launch a variety of initiatives aimed at improving the public health system. The action plan that the government has outlined includes the introduction of new technologies to help Albertans access and understand the health system, which will be announced over the next nine months. Alberta's Minister of Health and Wellness Ron Liepert said that Alberta's public health system is good, but needs to be made more accessible.
"We've set out an ambitious plan to make the necessary decisions and changes to build a better health care system that will be there for people when they need it," said Liepert in a released statement. The plan calls for immediate action in areas including: - Mandatory accreditation and reporting for all Alberta health service providers and facilities. - Monitoring for compliance with province-wide infection prevention and control standards. - Address workforce-related issues and support for continuing care. - Develop a patient navigator system to improve access to health services and continuity of care. - Expand the role of pharmacists in preventing and managing chronic diseases.
With respect to the health care workforce, the plan outlines that the Ministry of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology will work to create new education seats for physicians, registered nurses and other health professionals. Beginning in 2010, Career and Technology Studies health care pathways will provide opportunities for high school students to obtain post-secondary certifications in health occupations. "Out top priority is to improve accessibility and the future sustainability of the health system," said Liepert. He added that they will be building on policies outlined in the 2006 Health Policy Framework - Getting on with Better Health Care. "The outcome of the plan is a sustainable, effective and efficient health system that provides quality patient-focused care to Albertans." Funding and legislative changes for action plan initiatives will be outlined in the 2009/10 provincial budget and the 2009 spring session of the Alberta Legislative Assembly.
Lower-income farmers in remote villages are expected to be able to use their mobile phones soon to gain access to rural financial services. The change in the nature of rural finance will start by making banking services immediately accessible by mobile phone. Farmers and entrepreneurs will also be able to use mobile communications to get up-to-date market information. Affordable, innovative mobile solutions for rural residents are being explored by a project jointly initiated by Ericsson and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), launched in Beijing on Saturday. "There is huge potential for mobile phones to transform people's lives in the developing parts of the world," said United Nations Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in China Khalid Malik. "By opening the doors to concrete, innovative, affordable and effective mobile services, we can provide a whole range of tools to better meet the needs of the poor."
The project aims to overcome geographical isolation in the countryside, which has made access to rural financial services such as getting credit, sending remittances or making deposits expensive and difficult for people in rural China. The three-year project will also explore ways for mobile telephone and networks to improve access to health, education and financial services. Identifying promising ways to use mobile technology to achieve social objectives and develop pilot projects is still in progress, as the country's mobile banking services are still mostly in urban areas. However, Mats Olsson, president of Ericsson China, said that China is an ideal place to develop new technologies and services with widespread mobile network coverage and use of mobile phones. China is the No 1 country in terms of mobile phone users with its more than 556 million users by January this year, official statistics showed. "This type of innovation at the frontier is precisely what this new partnership aims to foster," Malik said. "By uniting UNDP's vast experience in development with Ericsson's cutting-edge telecoms expertise, I am confident that we can find solutions that really make a difference - for China and for the world."
Yahoo! China said yesterday it plans to match university students who are seeking jobs with its parent's vast network of corporate clients as it bids to revive its business by introducing new products amid fierce competition. The portal, which is being restructured, will also integrate its online search, community and news services under a unified platform to build the country's biggest online "living city," it said in a release. Yahoo! China, controlled by the nation's No. 1 e-commerce firm Alibaba.com, is beefing its muscles to compete in China's Internet market as Baidu and Google introduced services, including online map searches and spreadsheets. The new section, called "3-D Resume," was launched this month for university graduates to seek jobs or internship by using texts, graphics, music and videos online to promote themselves to potential employers, the portal said. The initiative is expected to expand the portal's popularity among college students, whose information will likely be exposed to millions of Alibaba's corporate clients. "Through our communication with more than 20 million small- and medium-sized firms on Alibaba, their biggest concern is lack of talent," said Jin Jianhang, president of Yahoo! China. "The 3-D resume will provide the channel." Alibaba will support fully the portal's expansion, which "will enable Yahoo! China not to worry about funding."
The Internet population in China reached 221 million by the end of February, which outnumbered the figure in the United States to rank the first in the world, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information. The number was 210 million by the end of last year, only 5 million fewer than the U.S. Internet users then, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). Despite rapidly increasing Internet population, the proportion of Internet users among the total population was still lower than the global average level, the ministry said, without giving specific figures. The proportion was 16 percent at the end of 2007, compared with19.1 percent of the world average, the CNNIC said.
The online population in China's rural areas grew 127.7 percent last year, outpacing the 38.2 percent urban expansion, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). About 29.17 million out of the country's 73 million new netizens, or 40 percent of the total, were from the countryside, taking the total Internet population in rural areas to 52.62 million. CNNIC attributed the expansion to strong economic growth and government support for rural network construction. However, it said, most Internet surfers are still from cities, because rural residents tend to have lower incomes and less education. Among rural residents who have yet to go online, 53.3 percent don't know how to use computers or the Internet and 23.1 percent lack Internet facilities. Lack of access is the major problem: 25.52 million, or 48.5 percent of the rural Internet population, have to browse at Internet cafes, according to the report. Lower-income adolescent men -- those in middle schools and high schools -- comprised most of the rural netizens, it said. The report also showed that 61.4 percent of rural netizens go online to get news and 56.6 percent use search engines, 15 percentage points and 18 percentage points, respectively, fewer than urban areas, said the report. China's Internet population outnumbered that of the United States at the end of February, reaching 221 million. The proportion of Internet users among the population in China was 16 percent at the end of 2007, lower than the 19.1 percent global average.
People who take Beijing subway lines 1 and 2 will soon be able to use their mobile phones on the train. Starting late June, both the lines will have access to cell phone networks, China News Service reports. The civilian communication reconstruction project for subway line 1 and line 2 started on August 31, 2007. Now, engineers and technicians are debugging all the equipment to ensure the project is completed on time. Construction of the Beijing subway started in 1965. Now, the city has five subway lines. Passengers using the newest line 5, which started operations late last year, have always been able to use their mobile phones on the train.
The official website for Air China has opened its online check-in service in Hong Kong. From 18:00 one day before departure time until three hours before departure time, passengers purchasing e-tickets can log on to the official website of Air China at airchina.com.cn to select their favorite seats and print boarding passes on plain A4 paper. The A4 boarding pass paper ticket in Air China's online check-in service contains the two-dimensional bar code approved by the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of the International Air Transport Association. With the A4 boarding pass, passengers may directly go to the waiting lobby after completing identification confirmation procedure at the boarding counter in the Hong Kong airport. This service is applicable to international flights departing from Hong Kong, as well as international and domestic flights departing from more than 37 domestic airports. No counter confirmation is needed in this service. The Self-CKI system in Beijing Capital International Airport also supports online printing of boarding passes. Passengers may select seats on the website and print boarding passes in the airport. The 24-hour staff check-in service for Air China's sales hotline, which is available seven days a week, is now cancelled. The online check-in service for Air China e-tickets not only eases the pressures of passengers at airport boarding counters, but also offers more convenience and efficient check-in service for passengers.
Shanghai is about to experience a wireless revolution. Everything from viewing e-mails in your hotel's swimming pool to downloading new songs directly into your MP3 while riding on the Metro will be a part of everyday life. Shanghai will join the list of existing wireless metropolitan hubs: Hong Kong and, in the United States, Austin, Texas; Orlando; and San Francisco. The city aims to become wireless before World Expo 2010 and local telecommunications carriers have fastened the pace to achieve the target. Shanghai Mobile and Shanghai Telecom both signed with Putuo District yesterday to expand wireless coverage for the first time within the region of Inner Ring Road, the central part of the city. Previously, carriers signed with governments in suburban areas on the "wireless city" initiative, including Baoshao, Minhang and Nanhui districts and the Chongming County. Today, Shanghai Mobile will sign similar agreements with Xuhui District where the major Olympic stadiums are. After the project is completed, people will be able to access the Internet through various devices such as mobile phones, laptops, PDAs or other Wi-Fi built-in devices such as iPod Touch. "As a modernized city, Shanghai should have a wireless Internet network without a limit of space or time," said Zhou Weidong, secretary general of the Shanghai Municipal Informatization Commission.
The number of wireless Internet hot spots in Shanghai will hit more than 3,600 by the end of this year - triple last year's level. China Telecom will establish an additional 2,000 Wi-Fi hot spots this year from an existing 1,000 now. Shanghai Mobile will establish 666 more Wi-Fi hot spots this year from the current 100 to 200 Wi-Fi sites. Under the wireless city project, Wi-Fi services will be available in hotels, universities, shopping centers, commercial buildings, Olympic and World Expo sites. In future, more personal users will enjoy wireless services for video downloads, Internet browsing and data sharing, just like the family broadband services. Shanghai Telecom, the first player in the wireless project, has used services to issue wireless video monitoring for the police. Shanghai Mobile has developed solutions for logistics, education and health care sectors. In 2007, China's WLAN (wireless local area network) equipment market revenue was US$142 million, with 56.7 percent growth year-on-year, ranking the No. 1 position in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan. The market revenue is expected to reach US$197 million this year and US$498 million in 2010, according to IDC.
"The major WLAN users in China are enterprise clients but the service becomes popular in the consumer sector as sales of laptops with built-in Wi-Fi climbs here," said Yi Feichun, IDC's analyst. In the city, carriers adopt various methods such as WiMax, 3G and current mobile networks to construct wireless networks, besides major stream Wi-Fi (802.11 standard). Shanghai Telecom said it was considering adopting WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), a wireless broadband access technology built on the 802.16 standard. WiMax is considered the next revolution in wireless, and the hot spot can deliver capacity of up to 40 megabits per second in a wider range, compared with Wi-Fi's 11Mbps. Intel Corp will invest US$500 million in Taiwan mainly on WiMax. It is also in negotiations with carriers and the governments to be involved in the wireless city project, according to Sean Maloney, Intel's executive vice president, who visited Shanghai last month. Shanghai Mobile plans to set up 3,000 3G base stations in Shanghai this year.
An online public memorial ceremony will be held Sunday afternoon for those who died in the devastating May 12 earthquake. The ceremony, jointly launched by major websites including www.chinaspirit.net.cn, www.xinhuanet.com and www.sina.com, will be formally launched at 2:28 p.m. at www.china5000.org.cn. The ceremony will last one day, after which an online museum will come into existence permanently to remember those victims. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake on May 12, which rocked southwestern Sichuan Province and areas around it, has claimed more than 28,800 lives. People can lay virtual wreaths for the dead and leave online messages to express sympathy to victim's families and encourage them to come out from the shadow of calamity. Organizers also called on the participants to suspend recreational activities for one day to show their condolences to the dead. As of 2 p.m. Saturday, the death toll from the quake had risen to 28,881 nationwide, while 198,347 people were injured. About 50,000 people were estimated dead during the calamity.
"I'm a Malaysian. My mom is one of a 26-tourist group to Sichuan. Her name is Yong Chew Ngor, please contact me at email@example.com," reads an internet message Monday. The message is posted on "Looking for relatives through Internet" -- a website section organized specially for survivors of China's Sichuan earthquake of 8.0 magnitude that killed over 32,000 people already. Now many hundreds of people have already left their messages on it, looking for their lost relatives in the quake areas or trying to contact friends outside. The fast-moving network is a powerful source of firsthand accounts of the disaster, as well as rescue efforts and pleas for help in the current disaster. Facing the dreadful quake, netizens have made good use of information technology, created sites and launched various programs. Due to the dampened transportation and communication, netizens proposed to offer possibly detailed information so that rescuers can offer their help at an early time. A netizen called "Yuanqing" published his phone number and more than 20 people's names and phone numbers, writing that "If you are alive, please call your family member or friends to say that you are safe; if you happen to have news about these people, please call me." "Maples all over Mountains" -- another netizen -- issued 100 rescued victims' names and ages gained from a Chengdu hospital, hoping to console their relatives throughout the world: "your loved ones are alive." "Stories that move you" is another welcome section on the web.
Netizens lose no time to read the stories such as those about teachers who sacrificed themselves in protecting their students at the last minute of their life, or information about medical staff, rescuers who tried every effort to save the victms, and news about Chinese government top leaders encouraging on the spot the people stranded under the toppled buildings. Donation proposals have also been made as China's Red Cross' phone number and many other hotlines are posted. People can deliver their money as soon as they want. Many Chinese netizens propose adoping children who lost their parents in the earthquake. A netizen in central China's Hunan province has already submitted her adoption application to the civil affairs authorities in Sichuan Province. Along with her are more than 300 other loving netizens from across the country. For those survivals who lost their relatives and residence or who witnessed bloody death in the disaster, psychological trauma might be equally fatal. Netizens' advices for psychological treatment for them have been collected and published on the websites. Psychological treatment, the netizens suggest, could offer a lot to the victims not only in overcoming the present difficulty but a better understanding of future life. So far, 113,080 Chinese soldiers and armed police have been mobilized to help with rescue operations.
China¡¯s vast population of internet users has taken the hunt online for the 40,000 people still missing after the devastating earthquake that struck Sichuan province last week. Dozens of forums and websites have sprung up for users to post names and photographs of their missing family and friends in the hope that among China¡¯s 210 million netizens, someone will have news of their loved ones. Eight days after the 7.8-magnitude quake struck, the confirmed death toll has risen to just over 34,000 and is predicted to exceed 71,000. Liu Qibao, Sichuan¡¯s Communist party chief, said that 9,509 people were still believed to be buried under the debris, and 29,418 others were missing. ¡°The women I love most in the world is in Sichuan,¡± wrote Zongxu0711 on a forum called Let¡¯s Search For Earthquake Survivors. ¡°She is called Ren Ying¡Baby, are you reading this? Perhaps you thought I had forgotten you, but I haven¡¯t. After all these years, you are still in my heart.¡± He continued: ¡°If you are dead, I want to be with you. If you are still alive, I only hope you are not married so we can give things another go.¡± Zongxu0711 gave out his phone number: ¡°I¡¯ll be waiting for you at Tianjin train station. I know you¡¯ll call.¡±¡± At another forum called ¡°Your loved ones are our loved ones¡±, a desperate husband searched for his wife. Underneath a photo of the 35-year-old woman with the couple¡¯s young child, Applebamboo wrote: ¡°If any of you have seen my wife, please get in touch with me immediately. ¡°She was on a trip to Jiuzhaigou at the epicentre of the earthquake when we lost contact.¡± On a recently created website called People Search, users can log details of those they are searching for on an automated form.
To the side of the page, the names of the registered missing scroll upwards like never-ending film credits. ¡°Apart from money, material goods and blood donations, information is also valuable,¡± wrote the website¡¯s founder. ¡°Let it become another kind of rescue tool. ¡°Wherever you are, we will find you.¡± Many of the posters on these forums and websites will never receive the good news they are hoping for. A lucky few however, may. Even as it reaches 120 hours past the 72-hour ¡°golden relief period¡±, beyond which, buried earthquake victims struggle to keep going without food and water, rescue workers are still uncovering a slow trickle of survivors. The Chinese state news agency reported today that a 31-year-old man had been pulled out alive from a flattened power plant in the early hours of this morning after a 30 hour rescue operation. Ma Yuanjiang, the director of the plant in the small town of Yingxiu, near the quake¡¯s epicentre, had been buried for 179 hours. He was the second survivor to be found alive more than one week after the earthquake. Nine hours earlier, Peng Guohua, a miner, was rescued. He was transferred to a military medical team in Mianyang and is said to be in a stable condition. A total of 6,375 survivors have been dug out from quake debris, the Chinese authorities said this morning, and 360,159 people have been relocated to safer ground away from the ruins of their homes. The death toll is expected to exceed 50,000, and millions have been left homeless.
Over the next five years, more than 30 percent of mobile phone subscribers in China will read books and newspapers through their handsets, a report has predicted. The China's Cultural Industry 2008 report, released Wednesday by the think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Shanghai Jiaotong University, also said that by then, 90 percent of Chinese newspapers will have digital editions. The report said digital publication harbored enormous market potential in China. In 2007, the number of the country's internet users through mobile phones reached 45 million, jumping 2.26 times the previous year's total. Sales from digital content services and advertisements would top 5 billion yuan (710 million U.S. dollars) in five years, The Beijing News Thursday quoted the report as predicting. Mobile phone users in China have totaled over 555 million as of January this year. In that month alone, 8.48 million new subscribers were recorded, according to official figures.
Tokyo (ANTARA News/PRNewswire-AsiaNet) - comScore, Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released its March 2008 rankings of the largest and fastest-growing Internet properties and site categories in Japan, based on data from the comScore World Metrix audience measurement service. With the past school year coming to a close in March, many people in Japan turned to the Web to prepare for the new school year and to research graduation celebrations and trips. Online gaming destinations Konami and NHN Corporation also experienced increases as spring. vacation meant more time for online games."The end of the school year is a busy time for people in Japan, as many plan graduation celebrations or their spring breaks in March before returning to classes in April," said Maru Sato, Managing Director of comScore Japan. "Travel sites such as Jalan.net and Mapion.co.jp saw traffic increase as people prepared for their vacations, while restaurant navigation destination Hotpepper.jp and entertainmentdestination site Walkerplus.com also experienced significant gains."
Engineers testing a recently launched Japanese data communications satellite have succeeded in establishing a two-way Internet link running at 1.2G bps (bits per second) each way, they said Monday.The speed represents a record for satellite communications, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology.The tests were carried out on May 2 as part of verification of the Kizuna satellite. In the tests data was transmitted on two 622M-bps channels both up to the satellite and down to a receiving antenna. Together the combined data transmission speed was 1.2G bps.Kizuna was launched on Feb. 23 and is intended to provide high-speed Internet links to homes and offices in remote areas, to organizations as a back-up during natural disasters and to improve regional communications links in Asia.
One of the satellite's special features is an on-board Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) switch. In other satellite Internet systems data sent to the satellite has to be sent to an earth station, demodulated, switched to its destination and then remodulated and sent again via the satellite to reach its destination. With a switch onboard the satellite is capable of doing all this in space thus making more efficient use of the available frequency spectrum, according to JAXA.Tests carried out in March and April verified uplink communications at 1.5M bps and downlink at 155M bps using a compact 45-centimeter antenna and both up and downstream at 155M bps using a larger 1.2-meter dish. At the time JAXA said the 155M-bps downlink was the fastest in the world achieved with such a small-size antenna.
Broadband service provider Acca Networks Co said Monday it will launch data communications services in June by leasing the network of EMobile Ltd, a mobile phone service affiliate of eAccess Ltd.The new services will be offered at speeds of up to 7.2 megabits per second, Acca Networks said. EAccess, also a broadband service provider, is the top shareholder of Acca Networks.
Major social networking service provider Facebook Inc of the United States on Monday announced the launch of services in Japanese. Speaking at a news conference, Facebook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg expressed hope that more people will utilize the site, which he said is highly safe, to share information with friends.Unlike other SNS sites, most Facebook users use their real names rather than nicknames. Users of the services offered by the Palo Alto, California-based company can disclose information, such as profiles, diaries and photos, to designated people. Facebook¡¯s launch of Japanese services is likely to stoke competition among SNS providers including Mixi, the largest provider in Japan with a membership of 14 million people.
MySpace launched new services in Japan on Tuesday a day after Facebook launched a Japanese version amid growing competition here between social networking sites.MySpace said it was partnering with 33 companies in Japan to create and encourage new stars and strengthen its support for the 55,000 artists and professionals who are registered with the site."Due to this partnership, we will energise the market by offering opportunities to young creators to release a CD, produce or participate in various events," it said in a statement.MySpace's partners include some of Japan's largest recording companies EMI Music Japan and AVEX Entertainment, as well as the music shop HMV. They will organise auditions and talent shows to seek out new artists.MySpace entered the Japanese market in 2006 in a joint venture between News Corp. and Japanese Internet giant Softbank Corp., hoping to entice customers away from Japan's hugely popular online social networking site Mixi.It launched an online video sharing service last year to entice customers away from YouTube.Rivalry in Japan's online social world is heating up after Facebook's entry into Japan on Monday.Facebook Japan is expected to reinforce access to the site through cellphones, which is a priority for Japanese users. Mixi's success has been helped by its mobile phone service for its 14 million and more users.Last month, the blockbuster US microblog Twitter, on which users can post no more than 140 characters, launched a Japanese service after one-quarter of the world's access to Twitter in February originated from Japan.
The Korean Web site of the U.S. Internet search engine Yahoo has opened an English Web site providing information and news on Korea, the company said Monday (Apr. 21).The Web site, dubbed Inside Korea, at http://kr.yahoo.com/insidekr/insidekr.html provides news and general information including travel, housing and employment information on Korea, Yahoo! Korea said.The information is gathered from the English contents of state and private agencies, including the Culture Ministry and English news outlets.Yahoo! said it plans to strengthen the contents of the Inside Korea Web site and is looking at launching similar Web sites in other languages as well.
The use of Internet banking in Korea rose 3.6 percent in the first quarter from three months earlier as people increasingly went online to make financial transactions, the central bank said Monday (Apr. 28).According to the Bank of Korea, Internet banking transactions reached an average 21.2 million per day in the January-March period, compared with 20.4 million the previous quarter. The number 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 46.9 million as of the end of March, up 5 percent from three months earlier. It was the first time that the number of online banking subscribers surpassed the 45 million mark. The majority of the transactions were conducted via computer, but mobile banking, or banking services via wireless handsets, accounted for 4.2 percent of the total. Transactions based on mobile banking rose 4.1 percent on-quarter in the first quarter, the central bank said.Korea leads the world in broadband usage, with over two-thirds of its people using the high-speed Internet.
According to reports in the Korea Times, the Korean Internet group NHN has been penalised for "...its antitrust behaviours and dubious online gambling business." The newspaper reports that the Fair Trade Commission ordered NHN, which operates the giant Naver portal and the Hangame online gaming site, to pay 227 million won (almost GBP 111 000) in antitrust fines last week after accusing the group of monopolistic practices in the Internet market. The FTC will be keeping a close eye on the group's future activities.It is the first time that the FTC has acknowledged NHN's monopolistic status in the Internet market, the newspaper reports. Many expect that the company will be the subject of further prosecution if the FTC and other government agencies take additional corrective action. NHN accounted for 48.5 percent of the Internet portal market in terms of 2006 revenue, mainly through the Naver portal which processes more than 70 percent of search enquiries from Koreans. Kim Taek-jin, founder and CEO of NCsoft, an online game company, and Ahn Chul-soo, founder of computer security company Ahnlab, are among the people who have been critical of NHN's behaviour, accusing it of not allowing access to the Naver database by other search engines.
It appears that Naver is not taking the hit lying down, issuing a press statement vowing to take the issue to a court of law, and hiring the largest law firm in Korea as its legal representation. The company's position is that it is unfair to regard the Internet portal industry as a monopolistic market because there is no entry barrier to new players and its services are basically free. The report suggests that further damage to NHN could result if the government starts to probe its online gambling activities at Hangame, where it is claimed that users play poker and blackjack against each other, using cyber currency. This, it is alleged, can be easily cashed out via online black markets. The police have been asked by unidentified NGOs to investigate this aspect of Hangame's operations, amid claims that the site is deliberately fostering illegal activities.
LG Electronics Co., Korea's No. 2 consumer electronics maker, said Wednesday (May 7) it has released the world's slimmest liquid-crystal display (LCD) television.LG's 42LG61 model, dubbed the Scarlet Super Slim, is a high definition LCD television with a thickness of 44.7 millimeters, thinner by half than the company's slimmest previous offering of 105 millimeters, the company said.It was awarded the Innovation 2008 Award at the International Consumer Electronics Show held earlier in the year.The model, with an ultra-slim deep chassis and internally built-in invisible speakers, is sold at a suggested retail price of 2.5 million won ($2,454).Korea is the world's largest maker of high-end televisions, with LG Electronics ranking as the No. 2 seller of televisions in the world last year, with a market share of 11.4 percent, next to Samsung Electronics Co., according to market researcher DisplaySearch.
Starting soon, all non-citizens in Korea -- including residents, tourists and short-term visitors -- will be able to use services available on the Internet more freely, thanks to an expanded identification-verifying service. The Ministry of Justice said Sunday (May 18) that it plans to expand the identification-checking service for foreign travelers and other short-term foreign nationals in order to allow them to have more access to Korean websites that often require ID numbers to verify real names for online membership. Due to this requirement, foreign nationals staying in Korea for short periods without numbered residence cards, including diplomats and tourists, have had difficulty using Internet banking and other services available on the Internet. To tackle this inconvenience, the Korea Immigration Service under the Justice Ministry will introduce a new ID checking system in cooperation with the Korea Association of Information & Telecommunication (KAIT).
Short-term visitors will be asked to enter their names, passport numbers, dates of birth and nationalities when they register on the system. Once registered, tourists and short-term visitors will be able to access Internet services provided by website operators that have registered with KAIT to allow foreigners to use the new ID checking system in completing the membership sign-up process. Website operators can add the function from May 20 and the Justice Ministry says it will encourage more companies to register with KAIT. For more information, call KAIT (02) 580-0571. Also, companies planning to access the database system can inquire at (02) 580-0572/0578.
The classroom full of fourth graders was busy with their Classmate PCs when teacher Hary Pujianto told them to get ready to answer five multiple-choice questions on their respective computers. Ignoring the children's cries, Pak Hary immediately clicked the mouse and the students had two minutes to finish the quiz on their PCs. "After two minutes, we can immediately see their answers. The grade also comes out immediately," Hary said, pointing to his laptop. It was a simulation by Menteng 03 state elementary school's computer laboratory. The school received Classmate PCs from Intel Corp. as part of the company's cooperation with Indonesia's Education Ministry to boost e-learning in the country. Gunung 05 elementary state school received similar assistance. On Thursday, Intel signed agreements with Education Ministry on the Intel World Ahead program. Intel, the world's largest computer processor manufacturer, has committed to help the government by providing affordable PCs with its latest generation of microprocessors in a move toward greater access to the Internet for students.
After the signing, chairman of the board of Intel Corp., Craig R. Barrett, met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Presidential Palace to discuss the US$200 personal computer program that will support the education sector in lowering the PC-to-student ratio from 1:3,000 to 1:20. "We discussed with the President the prospect of low-cost PCs with our next generation of microprocessor that will be released in June. We'll be working with Indonesian manufacturers to produce the PCs," Barrett said after the meeting. Presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal said the President appreciated the cooperation between Intel and the government and expected the low-cost PCs to be available soon for Indonesian students. He said the President's meeting with Barrett was a follow-up to last week's meeting with Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, during which they discussed free software for the low-cost computers. "The President is very glad the government is able to move on its plan to procure computers for educational purposes at $200 per unit," Dino said. Communication and Information Minister Muhammad Nuh said the government invited local computer manufacturers to produce the low-cost PCs. Earlier, Education Minister Bambang Sudibyo said Indonesia hoped to provide 20-unit computer laboratories in every school in the country by 2016. "With affordable computers like Classmate PCs it will cost a school about Rp 50 million (US$5,405) to set up a computer laboratory. In the long run, we hope each teacher and each student can have their own laptop," he said.
To support the move, the Education Ministry has been developing local content, facilitating schools and universities to develop their own content and developing e-books. Barrett said Intel has started to donate 4,000 PCs in Indonesia over a four-year term, with 625 units given away to 33 schools this year. "Intel has also targeted to teach 10,000 teachers in Indonesia this year through our Intel Teach program. The teacher is the one who makes magic. The computer is just a tool. How to use the tool is more important," he said. To optimize the use of computers, Barrett named four important keys, namely accessibility, connectivity, local content and education enhancement. "Indonesia should accelerate the number of Internet subscribers as the Internet penetration in the country is less than 10 percent with the number of those having access to broadband just 2 percent. And it is still expensive," he said. Fourth-grade students Amanda and Venna said they could use the Classmate PCs not only to search data and browse websites. "We can also chat with our friends and play games," they said. Hary said the students were eager to start e-learning and "they are reluctant to leave the computer lab even after the session has finished".
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia exhibited the strongest ¡°seat growth¡± for callcentres in the Asean region last year, said Catriona Wallace, president of research organisation Callcentres.net. She expects the double-digit growth to continue over the next two years due to the multilingual capabilities of Malaysian workers. According to a report compiled by Callcentres.net, the opening of new callcentres and the expansion of existing centres contributed to the 17% growth experienced by the country. ¡°The growth is higher than the regional average of 15%,¡± said Wallace, adding that the 2008 Asian Contact Centre Industry Benchmarking report also states that the seat growth in Malaysia will double next year. Callcentres are facilities with phone operators, computers, and client databases. These centres handle large numbers of incoming and outgoing customer care and marketing calls. A ¡°seat¡± refers to a workstation in the callcentre which an employee works from. India and China enjoyed a 10% and 19% increase in their already huge callcentre industries respectively over the same period. ¡°Malaysia cannot compete with India for multinational contracts, but it can provide callcentre services for (clients in) China, India and even Indonesia,¡± Wallace said.
However, she believes, human resource in Malaysia's callcentres needs to be bolstered with the latest technologies to achieve that goal. There are many challenges to be faced, one of which is staff turnover at the callcentres. ¡°Staff turnover is 32% per year at smaller callcentres and at the larger ones ¨C those with more than 100 seats ¨C it can go up to 39%,¡± said Wallace. She attributes the high turnover rates to callcentre employees not seeing a proper career path, low remuneration and mundane tasks. ¡°The average employee only earns RM16,884 a year in Malaysia,¡± she said. ¡°The average callcentre worker lasts just 20 months and half of them will not work at a callcentre again after they leave.¡± She said this is a huge challenge to Malaysia because it has a relatively small population and tight labour pool when compared to outsourcing giants like India and China. Then, there's the cost of replacing every callcentre worker that leaves to be considered. ¡°This works out to RM3,276 per worker, which includes the cost of training, loss in productivity, and other related costs,¡± she said.
Wallace said callcentre companies could invest in technology so that mundane tasks can be automated, freeing workers to perform more challenging jobs. Also, do away with antiquated PABX (private automatic branch exchange) phone systems. Have an Internet-based system, which is more efficient and would mean that workers could do their jobs from the comfort of their own homes. ¡°Happy workers are always more productive,¡± she said. Callcentres.net's report also states that callcentres in Malaysia do not seem to be as focused on revenue generation as those in other countries, such as India and the Philippines. Only 42% of Malaysian callcentres are profit centres, said the report, compared to India where 91% of its callcentres are turning a profit. To become a profit centre, a callcentre must go from a reactive service culture to one that can identify and meet customer needs, according to Wallace. Callcentres.net surveyed 539 executives representing 2,488 callcentres in Asia to compile its report. For more details, go to www.callcentres.net. (by Steven Patrick)
SMART-COMMUNITY developer i-Berhad¡¯s i-City has been awarded MSC Malaysia Cybercentre status by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. i-City is an RM2bil ICT (information and communications technology) based commercial development project in Shah Alam. The project is in its second phase of development. With i-City now an MSC Malaysia Cybercentre, ICT companies with MSC Malaysia status can locate themselves in the area. i-City is an integrated township, comprising a shopping mall, shop-offices, office and retail suites, hotels, apartments, datacentre, and innovation centre. The first phase of 44 units of shop-offices has been completed, and the entire project is expected to be completed in five years. i-Berhad envisions i-City to be a digital city and connected via a giga-speed fibre-optic network. It claims that i-City is the only commercial property in the country with a ¡°last-mile¡± fibre-optic connection. MSC Malaysia is a national initiative spearheaded by the Government to promote both the national ICT segment and to provide a test-bed for the global ICT industry.
PETALING JAYA: Donations to The Star Myanmar Relief Fund for the victims of Cyclone Nargis can now be done online. The public can log on to www.thestar.com.my/donation for details on how to donate. Generous gesture: Mohd Shukri (second from left) presenting a mock cheque for RM100,000 to Ngiam while Effendy (left) and Wong look on at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya Thursday. Yesterday, the CIMB Group donated RM100,000 to the fund. The donation was made through the group's corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm, CIMB Foundation. According to group corporate communications head Effendy Shahul Hamid, the effort reflected the group's reaction to people in their time of need. ¡°We will continue to support when we feel there is a need for it,¡± he said after presenting the mock cheque to Star Publications (M) Bhd executive director and group chief operating officer Datin Linda Ngiam and The Star group chief editor Datuk Wong Chun Wai at Menara Star. The foundation's chairman Datuk Mohd Shukri Hussin was also present. ¡°We saw what The Star is doing with Mercy Malaysia and thought it was a good partnership,¡± Effendy said. ¡°Mercy Malaysia has always been one of the first to reach the ground when natural disasters hit and we want to ensure that the money reaches the people of Myanmar,¡± he added. Donors should provide their full name and a valid postal address. Mercy Malaysia will issue the tax-exempt receipt. To date, the relief fund stands at RM1,476,598.56. (by Myanmar Relief Fund)
IP E-Game Ventures, an online gaming subsidiary of IPVG Corp. and GMA New Media Inc. (NMI), the digital media arm of GMA Network Inc., announced the launch of I-Play Inc., a joint venture company, on Tuesday in Taguig City. I-Play, with an authorized capital stock of P800 million and an initial paid-in capitalization of P200 million, is a 50-50 joint venture of IP E-Games and GMA-NMI, which aims at evolving and promoting casual online gaming and its digital content development. It will be focusing on designing and maintaining casual online gaming and casual online gaming-related portals offered to all Filipino gamers. ¡°GMA-NMI¡¯s unique position of being both a media company and a technology company will certainly be played to the hilt in this partnership,¡± said Judd Gallares, president of GMA-NMI. ¡°In combining the creativity and speed of digital with the broad reach and appeal of traditional, we¡¯ll be breaking new paths in gaming,¡± he said.
In a media briefing, IPVG CEO Enrique Y. Gonzalez said the future of online gaming in the country lies in casual gaming for it appeals much to the general Internet users. He said, casual games, besides its simple mechanics, are ¡°easy to learn and easy to master.¡± He added that among the four million Filipinos engaging into Internet gaming in the Philippines, 45 percent of them are casual gamers. With its partnership with GMA-NMI, Gonzales is hoping that they could multiply the numbers by two to three folds over the next few years. Gonzales said this collaboration will provide Filipino online gamers a unique experience. I-Play will localize, integrate local themes, artists, and local contents in the Philippines, which he said something never been done in the country. The first two casual games currently offered are Audition Dance Battle and O2Jam where they integrated local artists to it. In O2Jam rhythm casual game, casual gamers can play the game to the tune of the songs of some local artists such as Sugarfree, Sandwich, and among others. Felipe L. Gozon, GMA chairman and president, told reporters that through I-Play,Filipinos will be having ¡°a new way of experiencing the Kapuso brand, a new way of engaging the audience and bringing the shows and stars closer to viewers.¡± I-Play envisions itself to be the number one casual gaming publisher in the country and to bring casual gaming mainstream. -- Cris-Ann G. Odronia
The number of Internet users in the Philippines is estimated to reach an estimated 24 million Filipinos this year, according to a statement by the Philippine chapter of the Business Software Alliance, as it cited statistics released by the media and market research firm, ACNielsen. The BSA statement furnished reporters who covered the trade association¡¯s recent launch of its B4uSurf Website at the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City was intended to educate youths, parents, teachers, and school administrators on the concepts of IPR, cyber-ethics ,and cyber-safety. The statement attributed the growth in the number of Internet users to the growth in the number of cybercafes in the Philippines and availability in the market of low-cost computers. However, no data was given on the number of such cafes. ¡°These millions of Filipino Internet users should be given enough information that will not only allow them to maximize their use of the Internet, but also be able to protect themselves from the apparent risks present in the Internet,¡± the BSA statement said. At the launch, BSA Asia Director for Anti-Piracy Tarun Sawney said the availability of affordable computers meant that the number of Internet computer users in the Philippines could increase by 50 percent every two years, as he again cited ACNielsen reports. He noted that according to ACNielsen, there were 14 million Internet users in the Philippines in 2006, 7.82 million in 2005, and 2 million in 2000. He further quoted a report, the Young Filipino Internet Report in 2007 saying that research, social networking, and gaming are primary reasons why Filipino youths use the Internet. The BSA event formed the Philippine leg of a region-wide campaign to put up B4USurf sites in various countries. Similar sites had been launched recently in Singapore, China, Malaysia, and Taiwan. (by Ike Suarez)
Can't find those noodles in the supermarket? High-tech shopping carts to be launched in Singapore might show you the way. Dubbed "MediaCarts", the carts will be deployed in a pilot project for the first time in Asia at a new branch of Singapore's Cold Storage supermarket chain to open later this year, a statement said Wednesday. The carts can sense their location in the store and trigger advertisements for nearby products. Promotional messages are displayed on an LCD screen as the cart is pushed around the store, said a press release from Cold Storage and Media Cart Asia, which is providing the system. Shoppers can use the screen to find items they want by showing a map of the store with the products' location, it said. "The system also allows the shopper's movement within the store and purchasing behaviour to be traced," the release said. Media Cart Asia, which holds exclusive rights for the smart shopping cart in Asia, on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with Cold Storage for the pilot project, it said. The technology has been licensed from Media Cart Holdings, which first tried out the cart at ShopRite stores in the United States. MediaCarts are to get their try-out at the Cold Storage outlet in Fusionopolis, a research and technology centre, in the third quarter of this year, the press release said.
WISEPORT Receives Strong Endorsement From Maritime Community The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and QMax Communications Pte Ltd (QMax) have jointly set up and launched the WIreless-broadband-access for SEaPort, or WISEPORT, project. With the infrastructure in place ships can now enjoy wireless mobile broadband connectivity while operating in the Port of Singapore, up to 15km from Singapore¡¯s southern coastline1. Aimed at enhancing the pro-enterprise environment for the maritime industry, WISEPORT is the first project to be launched under the Infocomm@SeaPort Programme - a three-year S$12 million joint initiative by the MPA and IDA to promote the use of infocomm technologies in the port and maritime community. It leverages on the Mobile WiMAX wireless broadband network to benefit the industry in a variety of important ways. These include improving operational and business efficiencies, enhancing human communications and opening doors to new business opportunities that were previously hindered by high satellite communication costs. Activities that had to be done onshore, such as regulatory filings, electronic data exchanges and access to Internet-based applications, can now be replicated offshore.
Since it was announced last September, shipyards and marine engineering companies, shipping lines, terminal operators, technology companies and government agencies have expressed interest to participate in the WISEPORT project. Among them are leading companies and organisations such as Shell, APL, Global Marine Transportation and Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI).Commenting on the strong interest from the maritime community, Chief Executive of MPA, BG(NS) Tay Lim Heng, said, ¡°We are very pleased with the interest and industry support for the WISEPORT project. WISEPORT will greatly enhance communications and operational efficiencies, as well as facilitate the development of new businesses. This strengthens the overall pro-enterprise environment of our maritime sector. The MPA will continue to partner the industry, as well as various maritime stakeholders, to develop and implement new initiatives to further Singapore¡¯s growth as a global hub port and maritime centre.¡± RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer of IDA said, ¡°IDA¡¯s collaboration with MPA and the industry innovatively uses infocomm to help the maritime community achieve even greater operational efficiency and higher service quality. With WISEPORT, Singapore is now the world¡¯s first mobile WiMAX ready seaport. This builds on IDA¡¯s iN2015 masterplan to use infocomm to transform key economic sectors in Singapore, while further strengthening the country¡¯s position as a global transhipment hub.¡± QMax is the appointed operator for the WISEPORT services. Over the past few months, QMax has been working with the MPA and IDA to finalise the project based on feedback from the maritime community. More than 250 accounts have been subscribed to, even before the official launch of WISEPORT. MPA, IDA and QMax will continue to work closely with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI) to further reach out to the maritime community. ¡±With strong support from both academic and commercial entities such as the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, NUS¡¯s Tropical Marine Science Institute, APL Pte Ltd and Shell, we are confident that our Wireless Broadband Service will be well received by the maritime industry. We have set an initial target of 500 maritime subscribers for the pilot year of the WISEPORT programme and to date we have already achieved half of our original target prior to the launch of this initiative,¡± said Alex Tan, Director of QMax. QMax is offering free 512kbps unlimited data access plan during the first year of the WISEPORT launch. Subscribers to this special package will each receive a thumbdrive-sized WiMAX modem which can be used to access wireless broadband anywhere from the southern port waters and offshore islands to mainland Singapore (currently limited to coastal areas such as Tuas, Jurong, Pasir Panjang and Tanjong Pagar).
SINGAPORE: Shopping is almost a national pastime, but it is not limited to the malls. A recent survey of over 26,000 internet users showed that eight in ten Singaporeans shopped online. Among them, about 40 percent had done so in the last month. The latest Nielsen Global Online Survey also showed that over 85 percent of the world's online population made a purchase via the internet. This represents a 40 percent increase in the number of users in the online shopping market over the past two years. South Korea was ranked top in the survey, with the highest percentage of online shopping at 99 percent, followed by the UK, Germany, Japan and the US. Singapore, being one of the most connected countries in the world with over 66 percent internet penetration, has also contributed to the growth. The survey showed that globally, the most popular items bought online included books, videos, airline tickets and clothing. In Singapore, travel-related products came in tops, followed by clothing, event tickets and books. The National Association of Travel Agents (NATAS) said it would explore ways to leverage on technology, such as setting up an online portal where members can sell their tour packages.
In fact, travel business volume from the internet sales has risen from 5 percent in 2003 to about 20 percent now. Robert Khoo, CEO of NATAS, said: "The outbound market is probably worth around S$5 billion or so, combining ticket sales and outbound package tours. So you're looking at 20 percent or S$1 billion worth of business. More and more people want to book free-and-easy packages; internet seems to be a very convenient way to do so." Supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice also has plans to beef up its online service. The company is expected to spend over S$1 million to improve its internet infrastructure and logistics within a year. Seah Kian Peng, Managing Director of NTUC FairPrice, said: "We are also looking at increasing the range. Currently, it's limited to the dry goods, the groceries. What we hope to do, going forward, is to increase and include our fresh food offerings as well." NTUC FairPrice raked in about S$1.6 billion in turnover last year. Without revealing the actual figures, the company said online business made up only a small portion of the revenue even though online shopping saw a growth of 80 percent. (by Wong Siew Ying)
Most people would find it very useful to access the information they want at any time and anywhere just by the click of a computer mouse or by using a simple voice command. Instead of digging into tonnes of websites scattered round the Internet, or wading through books at libraries, people will soon be able to access all kinds of knowledge just by clicking on a mouse, and the computer in front of them will serve up what they really need. That's the vision of a group of technologists at the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec), who are trying to develop what they call knowledge engineering. Knowledge engineering is developing, building and maintaining knowledge-based systems and technology, such as software engineering, artificial intelligence, databases, data mining, expert systems, decision-support systems, geographic information systems as well as natural-language processing. All are crucial to make the concept of knowledge engineering a reality. Using knowledge-engineering technology, people would be able to get access to information easily and efficiently, said Nectec's deputy director Asanee Kawtrakul, who oversees the development of a knowledge-engineering technology roadmap. With this new technology, people could search for information and get the result they really need, she said. She added that as there is now a huge amount of information scattered in many places and it's very difficult for people to access the details they require, the idea is to apply technology to manage the unstructured information into newly structured data and allow people to access and use it more easily and efficiently. "We now face an information pollution problem - we have a lot of information but we cannot use it effectively. We hope to use technology to turn the pollution into knowledge," she said.
As the development of knowledge-based systems is crucial for the country's development, especially with plans to move towards a new knowledge-based society, Nectec has a roadmap to develop knowledge engineering technology with the hope of creating a technology foundation to further develop knowledge-based systems for the country. The roadmap is to set the direction for the development of knowledge-engineering technology for the next five years. Nectec has plans to develop the technology in three steps - short-, medium- and long-term plans. The short-term plan is about the development of fundamental technology and basic research for knowledge engineering. This plan is set for two years. Asanee said in this period, the aim was to eventually develop a digital library where people could access and sort structured information easier and faster. The plan was to develop the necessary technology for content management, especially for both information collection and accessing. Text-processing technology such as optical character recognition, which converts scanned documents into text; speech processing technology to turn speech into text files; as well as image-processing technology; will play an important role in the data-collecting process. For easy access, technology to develop intelligent searches is also required. She said the mid-term plan would cover the development of a better digital-library system and make the system able to automatically summarise. This phase will start in the third year.
In the long-term plan, the centre hopes to develop a knowledge-based system prototype that can allow people to search for any kind of knowledge through text, voice and images. Technology development in this phase will also cover artificial intelligence to make the system's processing smarter, so that it can find, screen and present the results to match a user's need. "Today, when people search for information on the Internet, they have to sort through all the information they get from the search results. It actually takes so much time until they get what they want. We hope to develop what we call a question answering system, which can answer people's questions. They just ask the system and it will them help them find the best result," she said. In addition, the roadmap also puts the development of speech-to-speech translation technology in the pipeline. As the technology can translate speech from one language to another automatically, it can help people, even they talk different languages, to understand each other, and this will reduce language barriers in communication. Nectec will use the roadmap as a guide for technology development in the area to help the country build a knowledge-based society.
Jack Welch said, "When the rate of change inside the business is exceeded by the rate of the change outside the company, the end is near." Today's markets are incredibly evolved. Ideas and structures are developed in ways that precisely respond to the competition. Speed is driven by the rapid developments in communications technology. The world is getting smaller and distances are getting shorter. Siam City Cement (SCCC) is one of the companies in the fast-changing market. We have established, developed and improved our products and services to respond to the needs of consumers by being solution providers. In 1999, Holcim, one of the world's largest cement producers, acquired a 25-per-cent stake in SCCC. The acquisition led to SCCC having an efficient strategy, aimed at becoming cement industry leaders. The first chief executive of SCCC from Holcim, Paul Hugentobler, in his statement of aspirations and core elements, said the company would work towards "becoming the leading domestic cement supplier in Thailand through total cost leadership, and superior marketing and distribution approaches achieving above-industry profitability".
The company was directed to make "information and knowledge throughout the organisation a source of competitive advantage". We selected online sales, an effective and efficient way to reach customers. In order to optimise results, eligible customers were identified based on criteria such as being a key account and having Internet access. In 2000, SCCC executives dressed up as astronauts to represent their role of pioneers in "Websales" in Thailand. Before the roll-out period, the pilot customers were requested to test the new online-purchasing software and provided feedback. SCCC employees were trained. Once the business requirements and feedback from customers were gathered, the project infrastructure was configured. Currently, 318 customers order cement online, approximately 75 per cent of our total orders. Thus, the new system provides better service to customers. SCCC pioneered e-commerce in the cement industry. Online sales was the tool to help SCCC get a new image consistent with the B2B model of the information technology age. Online sales also provide an excellent customer experience, and is the best practice to enhance business performance and achieve company growth and profitability goals. Ease of use is the key success factor in online sales implementation.
With new developments, shoppers will have an efficient experience using a supermarket that will know their needs. Asina Pornwasin reports on the future store You're running out of shampoo, bath cream and toothpaste, so it's time to go to the supermarket. To make sure that you won't forget all the necessary things, you pick up a key chain which is like a member card, and is equipped with a bar code scanning feature, to scan the product item and everything else you want to buy. Welcome to the future store, where shoppers will find a more convenient way to shop. Forget all about jotting down a list of items on paper. With the new future store concept, all your shopping lists can be electronically sent in advance to the supermarket. Once you get there, just tap the member card, and all your lists will be loaded to a display device on your shopping cart. The cart will then guide you to where your products are stocked. "Shoppers' lifestyles in the new era are going to change," said Fredric Lam, manager of the IBM retail innovation centre. "New technology developments will make the supermarket smart enough to facilitate customers with more convenience when shopping." Member cards equipped with barcode scanning features are the first gateway to make your shopping experience more convenient. "With this," he said, "shopping lists on paper will become something of the past as people in the future will use the card to tap the product to record what they want to buy."
Network infrastructure is also necessary to allow people to send their shopping lists to the supermarket, and once they get there, technology will help them retrieve their information. In the supermarket, various kinds of technology will be available. For example, a new personal shopping assistant (or PSA) will allow shoppers to view their electronic shopping list. PSA, an 8.4-inch display device, will communicate directly with the supermarket's server through Bluetooth wireless, Wifi, or infrared connections. Lam explained that once people come to the supermarket and tap their member card at the gate, their information, including member ID, shopping record, and the latest shopping list, will be sent from the central server to the targeted PSA. There is still more information offered through PSA, he added. Not only will it show a shopping list, it will show shoppers the location of the product's shelf so they can go direct to the right place. Meanwhile, with the utilisation of technology, the supermarket can also send its promotional information direct to the PSA. "The promotion can pop up on the PSA screen when shoppers walk past the shelves to pick up their goods, and this way the supermarket can offer customised marketing to each individual," he said. Technology will also revolutionise the payment system. Lam said in the future store, people can forget all about standing in a long queue to make a payment, as they can pay for products via a self-checkout system.
The system will automatically detect each product item, and then summarise the total amount of payment. The system can detect each product by shape and weight to check that the product is the same as the barcode or RFID tag. "This is to prevent cheating," he added. For the payment process, instead of paying with cash or a credit card, shoppers just put their finger on the fingerprint scanner to make a payment. Lam explained that in the self-checkout counter, the system is online and connected to the shopper's bank account. Therefore, once they put their finger and password on the scanner, the system will automatically ask the bank's system for approval for that transaction. The new self-checkout system will also help the supermarket to keep records of their customers, and it can use this information to improve their loyalty programmes and to develop new campaigns or promotions specifically for individual customers. In turning an existing supermarket into a new future store, Lam said supermarket operators can upgrade the system step by step. "To make the new future store, it does not mean that supermarkets have to change their existing technologies and systems totally. They can select the application they want to use first and change it gradually," he said.
HCM City (VNA) ¨C The Ministry of Science and Technology officially put the Vietnam Research and Education Network (VINAREN) into operation nationwide on March 27. VINAREN is a non-profit network that supports Vietnam ¡¯s research and training activities by connecting to research organisations, universities and libraries worldwide. The network link-ups have been made to assist in information sharing and to boost cooperation. The network also provides high-speed and effective internet services using links with up to 155 Mbps capacity. VINAREN now has three regional network operation centres in Hanoi , Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang city and 50 members.-Enditem
Online public grievance redressal system called e-MODOP has been launched by the Government of Nagaland. Through this system the people of Nagaland can seek redressal of their grievances and also keep the government officials informed about their problems. Launching the portal H.E. the Governor of Nagaland K. Sankaranarayan called on the concerned officials to be prompt in redressing and answering the queries coming through this portal and said that "they should be categorical in their replies showing transparency and accountability." Speaking on the occasion, Advisor to the Governor RS Pandey said that with the launch of the e-MODOP the responsibilities of government servants have increased. The state government informed that through this system, citizens can submit their grievances online. Upon successful submission, a unique grievance number is generated and provided to the complainant. The citizens can track the action taken on the grievance with the help of their unique grievance number.
A national interactive portal on disability was launched by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) on Wednesday to provide information for persons with disability and various stakeholders involved with disability rehabilitation such as NGOs, policy makers, caregivers, service providers and the public at large. The RCI initially was a registered society under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment and in 1993, it was made a statutory body in order ensure proper standardisation and acceptance of the standards. The portal is divided into three parts. The first part will be on National Disability Register that will provide statistical information on the disabled population. The second part is on the resources such as online courses, catalogues knowledge repository of audio video and Braille files in Indian languages, books related to disability and news magazine. The third part is proposed to have a Grievance Redressal mechanism through Web Court. It will redress the complaints related to Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, National Trust and Rehabilitation Council of India. The Portal will also provide transaction assistance, information related to employment opportunities, availability of funds, purchase of appliances and devises for the persons with disability, redressal of grievances, undergo training, research and study.
Gujarat (India) state government for the first time, has asked the home department to start accepting people's police complaints by e-Mail. Initially the e-Mail facility has been launched in three districts of Gandhinagar, Mehsana and Sabarkantha and later on it will be available all over the state as computerisation of all police stations is in full swing. Once the district superintendent will receive the e-Complaint, s/he will send a copy of the print-out to the nearest police station. An officer will visit the complainant's home and take his signature for registering an FIR before starting the investigations. The copies of the FIR as well as e-Complaint will also be sent to the concerned court and respective DIGs to monitor the process.
Chief Minister of Kerala V S Achuthanandan said Kerala will be declared as India's first e-Literate state by the end of the year. The State Government launched an ambitious project called Akshaya in 2003 to address the issue of digital divide and the backward Malappuram district became the first e-Literate state, with at least one member of a family learning basic computer skills and earning an e-mail ID. He further said that "Thiruvanananthapuram and Kochi have emerged as one of the most attractive IT destinations in India. Many nationally and internationally renowned companies have already come forward with requests for space. We are developing parks in all districts in a hub-and-spoke model - the hubs will be Thiruvanananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode and spokes will be in place in all the remaining districts. Work has commenced on the state government's plan to develop Kochi and Thiruvanananthapuram as the foremost IT locations in the region. The Technocity here and the Smart City in Kochi are global standard initiatives with most modern state-of-the-art infrastructure. The telecom density in the state is double the national average with electronic exchanges and fibre-optic cables running up to village level."
Coal India will launch e-Auction for forwards contracts coal from March 28, 2008 to offer mostly high-grade coal from underground mines. Similar roadshows will be held across the country by organising the second event in New Delhi on 31 March 2008. As per the auction schedule, the second forward e-Auction would be held on March 31, in which coal from Northern Coalfields Ltd. would be offered. This will be followed by the offer from Mahanadi Coalfields on April 7, from Central Coalfields on April 10 and from Eastern Coalfields on April 15. Ahead of the auctions, mock sessions would be held on Mar 24-25 by MSTC, one of the selected auction service providers. The coal on offer would be priced higher than current spot prices, as the quality would be better.
Orissa (India) based firm Cybertech Software Multimedia Pvt Ltd ( CSM) has created a single data base of 10.68 million children in the entire Orissa state for sharing with other departments in a first of its kind of e-Governance project, e-Shishu. A new site, www.opepa.in which includes the entire data base has also been created for the purpose. The state is taking this movement under the Sarva Sikhsya Abhiyan (SSA) in the state and the Orissa Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) has been selected as primary implementing agency. e-Shishu project includes codified household, school, teacher, child information in the state. The database also includes geographic, demographic and educational details of the age between 0 and 14 years. The main objective of the project is to collect information of children from each house in all the villages across the state. The project is mainly time-bounded project and OPEPA, being the monitoring agency, required a weekly progress report which was realised to be a necessity for an effective communication system under E-Sishu. The government has established an intranet system across Orissa in Gajapati, Rayagada, Nawramgpur, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Bolangir, Sonepur, Boudh, Khandamal, Sambalpur, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sundargarh, Angul and Deogarh. The state government has also developed a real-time web based project monitoring system to keep tabs on the weekly progress in terms of financial and physical achievement, civil work and disbursement of different progress reports. The school data was mapped with the help of existing data based for future update through web-based solutions, generating reports required for planning and budgeting field surveys from different data base.
Senior citizens in Madurai, Tamil Nadu (India), who wait in long queues for disbursal of pension will now be able to get instant pension. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) of Madurai has developed a software for 'computer mustering' that will facilitate instant identification of the pensioner and disbursal of pension. The new software would enable storing of scanned image of pensioners and provide for verification with the entry of Pension Pay Order (PPO) number. Online mustering will help in speedy disbursal of pension. Pension books will be returned to the pensioners immediately. So far, NIC has digitised 26,546 photographs of pensioners maintained in 1,200 audit volumes. Citizens can approach any of the 25 users such as Treasury Officer, Additional Treasury Officer and others. As per usual practice, identification of pensioners would be done manually by verifying registers. The process would take hours as the district handled 26,546 pensioners through different treasury offices.
Soon Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) will provide birth and death certificates, payment of municipal taxes and other civic facilities via e-Nagrik Seva Kendras. Soon citizens of Ranchi will be able to get birth and death certificates and other payment of taxes with the click of mouse. In the first phase, RMC have identified 17 wards to set up the kendras. With e-Nagarik kendras, citizens would be able to download forms for applying for birth and death certificates and monitor the status of their applications. Apart from this, the kendras would also offer details of various government schemes. After the implementation of the project, it will bring various e-Governance services at the doorstep of ordinary citizens. e-Nagrik ekndras would be operational in all 55 wards of the state capital.
Journalists have been issued new electronic press accreditation cards by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of India. These new tamper proof electronic cards have security features like electronic signature of PIB and Home Ministry officials and are valid for two years. These cards are colour coded in four categories ¨C yellow for correspondents, pink for cameramen white for technicians and blue for editors. This step is expected to benefit over two thousand journalists.
In an effort to check misuse of passports in the present format, e-Passports carrying biometric information in a chip will be introduced by the Government of India. According to a government order, the e-passports will initially be introduced for diplomats and officials, while it will be made available to common people by May 2009. Besides having entire personal information, including finger-prints, of the person carrying such passport, it will also help the authorities keep track of the movement of the persons. The decision to issue such passports comes after days of trials by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and IIT (Kanpur), which had been tasked by the government to work on the project
Soon, the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will outsource the work of e-Ticketing service. This initiative will help those people who do not have access to computers and cyber cafes to get ticket printouts. The corporation is tying up with different government institutions, International Air Transport Association (IATA) agents and other private players so that certain amount of tickets can be booked by an alternative method through a cash card called 'Itz'. The IRCTC would be giving the facility at post offices and other public dealing offices. The service provider gets a commission of INR 5 per ticket. Under the present arrangement, a password on the cash card enables a user to have a computer generated railway ticket. But it was not possible for everyone to buy the cash card. With the help of new arrangement, tickets with waiting list can be obtained in form computer generated ticket. The limit for each agent to book 10 to 15 tickets in a day would soon be extended to 25 tickets a day. The IRCTC has received request to extend the facility to Phagwara, Hoshiarpur, Nahan, Solan, Uttarakhand and other towns in hilly areas. In the northern region, the facility of e-Ticketing was presently available at 18 locations in urban centres, which was now being extended to small towns and non-urban areas.
Rehman Malik, advisor to Prime Minister for Interior while inaugurating National Database and Registration Authority's (NADRA's) 'e-Sahulat' project said "land revenue records all over the country would be computerised to ensure transparency, remove public grievances and to bring the country at par with the systems of developed countries like USA and Japan." He said that the computerised data of criminals and health record would also be maintained to overcome flaws of the system. "Government is striving to provide maximum self employment and business opportunities to enterprising youth of the country and projects like 'e-Sahulat' will be a big leap forward in this direction. He urged the public and private sector organisations to come up with bright ideas like e-Sahulat by NADRA which would definitely help in eradicating poverty and unemployment from the country which are the root causes of all social evils. While handing over the licenses to around 1200 franchisees of Lahore, Islamabad and Multan regions for first phase of the project, Rehman Malik said that one of the top priorities of the present democratic government is to facilitate the masses using the latest technology. So far 8 million bills, worth PNR 6.7 billion have been submitted under NADRA's Kiosk project which is a testimony of public confidence in NADRA. NADRA had received as many as 4,403 applications across Pakistan and in the first phase 1,200 franchise licenses have been issued. Chairman NADRA said that e-Sahulat scheme provides a single platform for each citizen enabling use of multiple services through CNIC. The biggest advantage of e-Sahulat is its 24/7 availability. Under the scheme, franchises will collect utility bills, dispense pins for scratch cards (mobile phones, calling cards) and will also be able to carry on line verification (VERISYS).
All the General Post Offices (GPOs) of Pakistan have been computerised, while PC-1 for automation of 12,000 post offices has been sent to the government for approval, a source in Pakistan said. Automation of the institution under a new initiative would provide latest and modern postal services to the customers. Under this facility, the instant cash transfer facility will also be introduced in these offices. Under the modernization plan all post offices would be inter-connected and inter-linked and people even in remote areas would be able to transfer cash to anyone anywhere in the country where a post office is functioning. A new courier service will be opened for which a comprehensive plan has been prepared to make it compatible with private courier services. This step will greatly benefit people especially those living in remote areas. The government is also planning to open citizen information/telecentres in all post offices of the country under e-Governance plan which will enable people to access post offices from where they will have the facility to get any kind of information about public and private institutions or download application forms required for some specified purpose. Postal staff will collect utility bills from people's residences which will spare consumers from the trouble of standing in queues. Initially, the plan will be launched in Karachi and later extended to other cities. Under micro-financing scheme, post offices will start disbursing small loans.The scheme will soon be launched in rural Sindh and southern Punjab. There is also plan to open mobile post offices in the country. Mobile post offices will provide postal and other allied services in emergency situation in areas where normal services get disrupted due to any reason, as it happened in the 2005 devastating earthquake. These post offices will be mounted on vehicles which will be immediately moved to such areas.
The establishment of e-banks will not only reduce manpower costs but also will lead to the development of Iranos banking system. Central Bank of Iran has expressed readiness to issue permits to establish two e-banks in the year to March 2009, disclosed CBI deputy governor for modern technologies. Mohammad-Hossein Mehrani told IRNA that Iranian experts are currently involved in preparing necessary grounds for the proposed banks. Once operational, e-banks will offer banking services both within the country and abroad, he said. e-banks would have no branches and their activities will be conducted from headquarters, he added. The establishment of e-banks, he said, would not only reduce manpower costs but also lead to the development of Iran¡¯s banking system. E-banks capitalize on the latest IT technology with emphasis on settlement services.
Electronic banking means 24-hour access to cash through automated teller machines (ATMs) or direct deposit of paychecks into current or savings accounts. Use of electronic techniques in the banking system is one of the sections of policy making-supervising package of CBI in the year to March 2009, Persian daily ¡¯Sobh-e Eqtesad¡¯ quoted the CBI deputy as saying. Operations of the two proposed banks would be in electronic form, he elaborated. ¡°Since these banks would not have any physical branches and all operations will be conducted electronically; no human force will be involved and everybody could have equal access.¡± Underlining that permits for e-banks could also be issued for the private sector, he said, ¡°There are a number of applications for setting up such banks and we are creating the framework.¡± He further disclosed that the infrastructure of banking operation would undergo change.
In addition, CBI has received offers to use cell phone system in this project, the official pointed out. CBI has emphasized on launching the center for controlling and supervising transactions by promoting the use of credit cards, facilities for electronic payments and e-money. Mehrani referred to digital signature as one of the other programs envisaged under the CBI supervising-policymaking package. Electronic signature would facilitate trade, enabling the verification of the client¡¯s identity. CBI will supervise the implementation of e-banking guidelines, he said, explaining that the articles of association for e-banking have been ratified and would become binding in the year to March 2009. Credit cards are to be issued for customers as an identity and all applicants could have a credit card in the initial stage, Mehrani pointed out.
To promote the culture of e-banking, customers would have to pay banking charges for physical referral to banks, he said. This is while, no charges would be imposed in the e-banking system, he added. The banker put the number of utility bills issued during a two-month period as follows: about 50 million for fixed phones and cell phones, 22 million for electricity, 18 million for water, 10 million for gas and seven million for wastewater. These bills should be paid electronically, he underlined, noting that it would have a direct impact on the use of banknotes, travelers¡¯ checks and paychecks. The government has announced that the number of ATM and Point-of-Sale (POS) cards will reach 12 million by the end of the Fourth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2005-2010).Thousands of ATMs are currently linked to domestic e-banking network, known as Shetab. Fast system cooperation with other countries would be expanded, Mehrani concluded. CBI plans to expand these systems to cover African and the Far East Asian.
National company Uzbekistan Airways will start the sale of electronic tickets from 1 June 2008, deputy commercial director Vladimir Filipas told UzA. All major airlines carrying out international flights are moving to electronic tickets this summer, which is a new standard of service pursued by the International Air Carriers Association (IATA). The electronic ticket is a new method of processing the sale of passenger carriage in which all information is stored in the database of the airline¡¯s automated system. The passengers will now receive an itinerary receipt printed on an ordinary sheet of paper and containing all the information that is usually included in the air ticket. The e-ticket can be purchased either personally or via the Internet or by telephone. In case of a loss, a passenger may recover it while registering at the airport through an automated system.
A spokesperson for WSN told ZDNet.com.au today that what the councils do with the data collected from the devices is their business, but the technology is also there to "ensure bins are collected on time". According to Randwick City Council's spokesperson, residents' response to the initiative has been positive so far, and the "only individual whose done anything is the guy who contacted the Herald." The spokesperson said the council needed to reconsider its waste management strategy as Randwick is home to -- or borders on -- a number of areas with large numbers of itinerant residents, such as students at the University of New South Wales, and those visiting backpacker hub, Coogee, where garbage collection and management has proven to be a problem. "Those areas have proven to be a challenge when it comes to waste management, we want to use the data collected from the RFID [devices] to get a better understanding of what's going on there and develop an information campaign to assist those residents," said the spokesperson. "Ultimately it's about making things more efficient so that we can direct waste away from landfills."
Remote area emergency and health services are being enhanced through a broadband development project jointed funded by the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments. ¡°The Bush Medivac Western Australia project will deliver improved emergency and health services to Australians living in regional and remote areas by providing state-of-art terrestrial and non-terrestrial broadband network infrastructure,¡± said Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. ¡°This project highlights the Australian Government's commitment to working cooperatively with the states and territories to deliver productivity and life-changing capabilities to our most remote citizens and communities using broadband.¡± ¡°The Australian Government is committed to delivering world-class, high-speed broadband services and applications to all Australians, no matter where they live or work,¡± Senator Conroy said.
Bush Medivac WA was launched today by Senator Conroy and WA Industry and Enterprise Minister, Francis Logan, in Bunbury, Western Australia. The project will use innovative broadband technology applications and devices that will enable the integration of West Australian health and emergency service organisations' communication systems. This will enhance the communications and coordination capabilities of all major health and emergency services for day-to-day operations and in preparation for any major incident or disasters. The upgrades are expected to increase the operational efficiency of health and emergency service organisations in Western Australia significantly by providing increased support for regional and remote communities. The Australian Government through the Clever Network program is providing $9.28 million in funding for the project. The West Australian Department of Industry and Resources and its consortium partners are contributing a further $12 million.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced the release of a discussion paper, as part of an investigation into the accessibility of electronic media for people with a hearing or vision impairment. The discussion paper: identifies existing regulatory requirements and indicates current levels of captioning and audio description for Australian electronic media outlines arrangements in a number of overseas jurisdictions and invites comments on a number of key issues, such as the adequacy of current captioning and audio description levels and appropriate future targets.
Existing targets for the captioning of television programs contained in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, and separately developed by the television broadcasters in consultation with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), are now being met. ¡°While it is great to see that existing targets are being met, we must keep informed of community expectations and overseas practices in this area,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°In light of the many changes in technology and media consumption practices, this discussion paper considers access for people with a hearing or vision impairment to television, film in cinemas and on DVDs, and the internet.¡± ¡°Public input is an important element of this investigation process. I encourage the media industry, people with a vision and hearing impairment, and representative groups, to actively participate in this investigation by providing their comments.¡± Submissions are to be made to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy by 13 June 2008. Further details about the investigation, and how to make comments, can be found at www.dbcde.gov.au
For those who are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment please contact the Department through the National Relay Service: TTY users phone 133 677 then ask for 02 6271 1000 Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech relay) users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 6271 1000 internet relay users connect to www.relayservice.com.au and then ask for 02 6271 1000 A full report of the investigation is expected to be prepared and tabled in Parliament in late 2008.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, welcomes the commitment from consumer representatives to establish a peak telecommunications body representing the diversity of consumer interests. Senator Conroy and telecommunications consumer stakeholders met today to discuss ways to make consumer representation in telecommunications policy making more effective. ¡°Telecommunications consumers face an environment of continual technological change, globalisation, evolving market structures and new business models,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°We need well-informed consumers to make well-informed product and service choices and I heard a lot of very interesting views today from a range of stakeholders from consumer representatives, industry and other government bodies. ¡°Addressing consumer issues is a challenge but the first step to tackle it will be to improve current consumer representation strategies to give consumers a stronger unified voice. ¡°Working together to empower consumer representation and to improve the interface between consumer groups, industry, and strengthen the self-regulatory regime will result in better outcomes and better informed consumers. ¡°Better informed consumers will result in better outcomes for industry.¡±
The federal government is being pressed to fast-track a national scheme for recycling Australia's growing pile of electronic waste. Major consumer electronics manufacturer Panasonic is concerned the problem is spiralling out of control without a coordinated national program for dealing with "e-waste". Two million old televisions will end up in Australian landfill this year, releasing a toxic mix of substances including lead and mercury into the environment, the company estimates. "E-waste is one of the most significant environmental issues facing Australia and the time to begin implementing a national television recycling scheme is now," said Panasonic Australia managing director Steve Rust. "The more a national initiative is delayed, the more dire the consequences for the Australian environment." Panasonic has joined industry groups such as Product Stewardship Australia in calling for a national scheme. Panasonic's parent company, Matsushita, is heavily involved in Japan's mandatory home appliance recycling program. A number of small-scale e-waste recycling programs are operating in Australia, including Victoria's Byteback scheme.
But a coordinated national program is imperative, Mr Rust says. "It is unrealistic for the burden of this problem to be borne by individual local councils, manufacturers or recycling organisations," he said. "This is a significant logistical and educational challenge that needs the full attention of the federal government." Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the government is currently working towards a solution for Australia's e-waste. "The Australian government and Environment Protection and Heritage Council are actively working with industry on a range of product stewardship options such as voluntary codes of conduct and recycling schemes," Mr Garrett said. "Considerable effort is being made with groups like Consumer Electronics Suppliers Association to address issues such as the use of hazardous substances in electronic equipment. "Industry is also working with staff from the Commonwealth Environment Department on the development of a voluntary code of conduct for the industry to move away from using hazardous materials in their products."
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Doing your bit for the environment will now be even easier thanks to the Rudd Government¡¯s investment of $3.0 million to develop the One Stop Green Shop online environmental resource for schools, businesses and families. ¡°The One Stop Green Shop will provide the Australian community with a single window to all federal, state and local government environmental programs for sustainability at home,¡± Mr Garrett said. ¡°There are eight million households in Australia, and domestic greenhouse gas emissions currently account for around 20 per cent of Australia¡¯s total emissions. ¡°While there¡¯s increasing information and programs to help households reduce emissions, it¡¯s distributed and sometimes duplicated across different locations and levels of government.
¡°This new web portal will bring the information to schools, businesses and families in one easy location.¡± Mr Garrett said the website would see all levels of government working together to meet the challenges that communities, households and families are facing on the domestic front. ¡°There¡¯s a clear willingness in the community to save energy and water, but not having ready access to accurate information can present a major barrier.¡± The One Stop Green Shop will provide practical information such as tips that will help a household reduce their environmental footprint, as well as a guide to government environmental programs for individuals, families, schools and businesses. ¡°This is an important tool to enable real action in the community,¡± Mr Garrett said. ¡°Together we can all help to address climate change.¡±
The 2008 Budget, to be released on May 22, is expected to deliver new investment for health sector ICT, and also new levels of centralised control over District Health Board ICT. A February 13 budget statement from finance minister Michael Cullen contained no mention of health investment, but, health and communications minister David Cunliffe is hinting at major changes in the way ICT is delivered to the sector. In an address to a health leadership forum on May 1, he said it was time to change the way the Ministry of Health operated within the broader sector. He said the ministry should move to a stronger role of central leadership and, rather than being primarily the minister¡¯s advisor, should be the government¡¯s leading agent of change within the system. ¡°Long-term productivity and quality gains depend crucially on improved flows of clinical operational information between providers,¡± Cunliffe said. ¡°Relevant clinical information should follow the patient wherever possible to facilitate seamless interaction along the patient care journey.
¡°DHBs must be networked with high-speed connectivity and interoperability to enable the sharing of data and the benefits of telemedicine. Achieving these gains will require a long-term and centrally coordinated approach to investment in information and communications systems.¡± Computerworld asked for further detail on the plan but was told this would have to wait for the Budget. There are numerous projects planned or in train in the health sector including major rebuilds of systems under the Ministry of Health¡¯s National Systems Development Programme. One health sector insider, who did not want to be named, suggested to Computerworld the Budget could contain announcements about any of these or none of them. For political purposes almost anything could be announced, the insider said, but a likely contender would be the creation of a health shared network. However, some question the benefits of such a project, especially given the Government Shared Network appears capable of doing the job, especially given its already high security profile.
A new online privacy and data protection consultancy firm called 80/20 Thinking is partnering with the internet rights network Association for Progressive Communications (APC) to support initiatives in developing countries that are working towards strengthening democratic processes and civil liberties.
Managing Director of 80/20 Thinking, Simon Davies, long-time privacy and consumer rights advocate, approached APC and asked whether the association would agree to manage and distribute 50% of their new company¡¯s profits. 80/20 Thinking is a network of advisors and consultants helping organisations such as Facebook, Yahoo, and AOL to deal ¡°proactively and ethically with the challenges they face,¡± the company¡¯s website says.
80/20 Thinking provides a wide spectrum of privacy training and services, from the creation of Privacy Impact Assessments through to in-company, consulting services, risk assessments and general enrollment training courses. ¡°We not only have access to the best academic, technical, media and professional networks, but we provide our clients with the opportunity to engage constructively with their critics,¡± it continues.
The mandate of the company is to help organisations develop a robust, responsive and informed view of privacy in an age where the topic is more and more in the news. APC has worked with some of 80/20s professionals during the United Nations initiated Internet Governance Forum in the last two years. Also, online privacy and security trainings in Asia have been conducted in collaboration. APC¡¯s Karen Banks has worked with Davies and Gus Hosein (senior consultant with 80/20 Thinking) since the late 1990s on internet rights and civil liberties issues. ¡°Over time, they have become strong allies of APC. What we really value about our relationship with Simon and Gus is the informal but priceless advice they have given APC and individual APC members around issues such as privacy, surveillance, data retention, biometrics and cybercrime.¡±
APC will covenant 50% of ongoing profits of the newly created firm. ¡°We believe this is an interesting opportunity for APC that offers a form of independent income that we can be used to further our internet rights agenda,¡± Banks said upon engaging in the partnership with APC¡¯s board approval. The Association for Progressive Communications puts out an Internet Rights Charter available in almost twenty languages. It is being acted upon by its fifty members who are active in almost forty countries. Information about the 80/20 company, its work, its people and ethics, can be found here: http://8020thinking.com
As the global community marks World Intellectual Property Day 2008 (26 April), an eight-country African research network is being launched with a mandate to investigate the relationship between copyright and education in African countries. The network, called the African Copyright & Access to Knowledge network (ACA2K network), is a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda, supported by a team of international advisors.
Between now and early 2010, the ACA2K team will gather research evidence, and engage with policymakers, in an effort to ensure maximum use of copyright law flexibilities that have the potential to increase learning materials access in the study countries. Access to both digital and hard-copy resources will be probed. The ACA2K network comes out of the access to knowledge (A2K) paradigm within the intellectual property field ¨C a paradigm which regards the protection and promotion of user access as a central objective of copyright law. The A2K approach seeks an appropriate balance between the rights of content users and the rights of the content rights-holders, with particular attention to the types of balancing necessary in developing country contexts. Elements of this approach connect with the World Intellectual Property Day focus on ¡°encouraging creativity,¡± from a clear developing world perspective.
The eight initial study countries have been chosen to provide a wide range of African contexts, in terms of legal, linguistic, cultural and historical experiences/traditions. The ACA2K network also has a clear focus on the opportunities and challenges offered by the digital, Internet era ¨C in which there are greater opportunities for learning materials access, but also new technological, legal and behavioural barriers. Over the next two years, ACA2K researchers in each of the eight study countries will investigate the ¡°copyright environment¡± (policies, laws, regulations, practices, perceptions) in their respective countries in relation to access to learning materials by their countries¡¯ learning communities, with a particular emphasis on tertiary university learning environments.
Of central concern to the network is to find out which copyright law flexibilities are being deployed in each of the study countries, and the effects these flexibilities have in these countries. Examples of important possible flexibilities are legal exceptions, limitations and regulations that cater for: · use of learning materials in teaching, research, learning · distance education · adaptation and use of learning materials by the sensory-disabled · local-language translations of learning materials · affordable local pricing of materials
Also of concern to the network are the gender dynamics at play in the national copyright environments and at play in the realities of access to learning materials, both digital and hard-copy. After the completion of the country studies, there will then be a comparative review of the findings across all of the countries, and presentation of research findings and policy recommendations through a National Policy Dialogue Seminar in each country.
The ACA2K network is supported by Canada¡¯s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and South Africa¡¯s Shuttleworth Foundation, and managed through the LINK Centre, Wits University, Johannesburg.The network held a Methodology Workshop in Johannesburg in January 2008, and has just finalised a Methodology Guide. The Guide is the roadmap for the project¡¯s research and policy engagement activities between now and early 2010. The ACA2K Methodology Guide and other information on the project can be found at the ACA2K¡¯s website: www.aca2k.org (by Asma Hassan for ACA2K)
When news broke last week that Algerian hackers had reportedly attacked the Bank of Israel web site, law enforcement officials in Algeria recognised the incident as the latest in a long series of "cybercrimes". Hackers both inside and outside Algeria have repeatedly broken into servers, sending out viruses to destroy data. The president's official site was blocked for several days, and newspaper websites such as that of La D¨¦p¨ºche de Kabylie have either been hijacked or, like the site of daily El Fadjr, "infected" for several months. The Algerian government is now taking aggressive action. Law officers are working to shut down websites used by terrorists to incite others to violence, fundamentalism and hatred. They are also cracking down on swindles, pirating, fraud, money laundering, and illegal access to IT systems and networks.
Cybercriminals use their expertise to spy, defraud, steal and destroy data, or worse, entire IT systems. Few statistics on cybercrime are available, but there is no doubt about its extent. Perpetrators are not just attention-seeking youths; they are also highly-organised "cyber-delinquents", responsible for sophisticated crimes often carried out at an international level. Cybercrime takes three different approaches, experts report. The first relates to content, which can be defined as the intentional distribution of illegal images or text over the internet. More specifically, this means content of a racist or xenophobic character¡ªor child pornography. There are also attacks on intellectual property, such as posting free music downloads, offences linked to information and communication technologies, deliberate attacks on networks and databases, spreading viruses and forwarding passwords or access codes. Finally, there is financial cybercrime, such as bank card fraud and the illegal collection of bank details.
As Google Street View prepares to launch in Europe, the EU's data protection supervisor Peter Hustinx has urged Google to respect local privacy rules. Although he hasn't been in direct contact with the Internet search giant about Street View, Hustinx is very aware of it. "Street View is only available in the U.S. still, but I understand that it will work differently when it's launched in Canada, so there is a capacity to deploy the service in different ways to suit different privacy laws," Hustinx said in a press conference, adding: "I'd encourage Google to work closely with European data-protection authorities too." "Taking pictures on a street isn't in itself a problem but taking pictures anywhere can be. We have sent a very strong message to Google and other Internet search companies in our report on search engines about complying with European privacy laws," he said. "The same applies here. Respecting data-protection laws is central to Google's business. Success or failure for them in Europe will depend on them respecting the laws. They are smart, I'm confident they won't ignore the laws," Hustinx added.
Last month, cars daubed with the Google logo, carrying what looked like sophisticated laser scanning photographic equipment on their roofs were spotted on the streets of Milan and Rome in Italy. Earlier this month, similar vehicles were seen in some French cities too. Google's global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, wrote in a blog that the company will respect local laws as it rolls out the Street View service in countries outside the U.S. "In other parts of the world local laws and customs are more protective of individuals' right to privacy in public spaces, and therefore they have a more limited concept of the right to take and publish photographs of people in public places," he wrote.
The feature has already sparked some controversy in the U.S., where Street View is available for several cities including San Francisco. The photographic images of the streets often include pedestrians on sidewalks or in cafes, and car license-plate numbers are clearly visible. In the U.S. Google will remove images of people if they ask it to do so. However, this retroactive action isn't likely to satisfy Europe's data-protection authorities.
For this reason Google is considering installing blurring technology that would make distinguishing features such as faces and number plates unrecognizable. "We would only consider such action if the process of blurring could be automated," Google's policy communications manager, Jon Steinback, said in a phone interview last month. One alternative would be to reduce the resolution of the whole image to protect people's privacy, Steinback said, but this would compromise the quality of images for everyone and is seen as a last resort to placate local privacy authorities. Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference to unveil his annual report on data protection in the E.U., Hustinx said that broadly, Google does take European data protection seriously. "I am encouraged, but compliance with our rules remains a challenge for Google and requires a commitment from the company," he said.
Britain is under increased threat from state-sponsored cyber attacks, the government says, and it plans to spend on IT to tackle them. Announcing the publication of the first National Security Strategy for the U.K. last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the government will "modernize its interception capability." Terrorism, nuclear attack, natural disasters and international crime are among the emerging security threats the document details, but it also mentions large-scale cyber attacks -- like that which hit Estonia in 2007.
The Cabinet Office paper says state-sponsored or terrorist cyber attacks are a growing threat and the Internet is a target for attackers. "As economies and societies grow increasingly dependent on national and global electronic information and communication systems, it becomes even more important to manage the risk of disruption to their integrity and availability through cyber attack, whether terrorist, criminal, or state-led," it stated. "Diversity of systems can provide resilience, but can also lead to increased complexity and interdependence, making the whole more vulnerable to attacks or accidental shocks."
Brown said a new approach to national security was needed. "New threats demand new approaches," he said. "A radically updated and much more coordinated response is now required.¡± I can confirm that to meet future security needs we have set aside funds to modernize our interception capability; that at GCHQ and in the secret intelligence service we are developing new technical capabilities to root out terrorism; and that the new Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure set up last year will provide a higher level of protection against Internet or cyber-based threats." The document also said the government will work with international public and private sector partners to protect its critical national infrastructure, such as utilities, from cyber attack. However, it does not provide specific details of where funds will be invested.
The online directory page of Macao's Public Administration and Civil Service Bureau (SAFP) was hacked last Saturday, but has resumed normal operation hours later that day, according to a press statement released on Monday by the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government. The SAR government said in the statement that since the hijacked website only provides public information, it dose not concern any leakage of internal information. However, Macao's Judiciary Police has launched an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, the SAFP will run a security assessment of the government websites and will step up online security monitoring, according to the statement. Lasting for at least four hours the web page, which is linked with the government's portal www.gov.mo, displayed an emblem of a rose and crescent moon with the inscription "We love Mohammed", and the hacker even signed the page with an email address, a13m@ bsdmail.org a Macao Daily Times report said. Websites in Macao had generally low security measures as "it was not a common place for hacking activities," the daily quoted Justin Wan Si-un, Information Technology Manager of the Macao Inter-University Institute, as saying. He added that confidential information which will be uploaded in the Legal Affairs Bureau's upcoming real estate registry website could be at risk of being stolen if the government did not strengthen internet security.
Chinese authorities have announced that 62 Websites will face penalties either for broadcasting online audio and video programs with banned content or for providing the service without state permission. The State Administration of Radio Film and Television said in a circular yesterday that these sites were found to have violated relevant regulations as a result of a two-month inspection, which concluded on February 20. They were punished for broadcasting obscene, fear-inspiring or violent content or programs that might endanger national security and interests, or for offering such services without the required qualifications or certificates, the circular said. The administrations banned 25 Websites, including the popular www.mopvod.com, from providing audio and video services as they had offered the services without authorization and had frequently broadcast illegal programs. Another 32 sites, including the well-known www.tudou.com, were warned over minor violations such as airing illegal programs less frequently. The cases of five others, which had no qualifications to provide audio and video services online but still did so, were transferred to telecommunications authorities. Under new regulations that took effect on January 31, Website operators must get a license before airing audio and video content. In July 2004, the SARFT enacted regulations to certify audio and video programs on the Internet and other networks.
The Chinese government is to crack down on illegal online map and geographical information websites, claiming they threaten state security, said an official of the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) on Tuesday. Eight departments, including the SBSM, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Public Security, said they would tighten supervision over online map and geographical information service websites. Min Yiren, deputy director of the SBSM, said almost 10,000 online map websites operated in China, most of them showing maps without approval. "Some websites publish sensitive or confidential geographical information, which might leak state secrets and threaten national security," Min said. He said those websites would be closed down. Foreign organizations and individuals engaging in making and publishing online maps in China would also be stopped. The campaign would also target websites that made mistakes such as labeling Taiwan a "country", wrongly drawing national boundaries, or omitting important islands including the South China Islands, Diaoyu Islands and Chiwei Island, said Min. These websites would be punished and required to make corrections, he said. A hotline has been set up for the public to report illegal websites. The SBSM put 418 Chinese and world maps on its website for the public to check and download. Last year, China issued a regulation restricting surveying and mapping by foreigners to protect national security. It stipulated foreign organizations and individuals who intend to engage in surveying and mapping must obtain approval from the central government and accept supervision from local governments.
About 353.8 billion junk text messages were sent in China in 2007, up 92.7 percent year-on-year, the anti-spam committee of the China Internet Association said on Tuesday. Illegal and fraudulent messages accounted for 49.7 percent, while ads made up 45.48 percent. Group spam companies accounted for 36.67 percent of the total, service provider firms made up 32.18 percent and net operators 20.75 percent. At the end of 2007, China's cell-phone users topped 500 million.
China announced on Friday it had shut down 23 websites for illegal drug sales and false advertising of drug products, the country's pharmaceutical authority said. The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) publicized a list of 25 websites found in its latest inspection. The sites either sold counterfeit drugs or publicized illicit content, such as false, exaggerated or misleading information regarding cures to various ailments. All the cases for the sites, most disguised under the names of certain hospitals or medical institutions, were transferred to the former Ministry of Information Industry for punishment, the administration said. Apart from two sites set up overseas, gxy333.cn and gxy8899.cn, the other sites, including httnb.com, have been shut down. The former Ministry of Information Industry ordered relevant Internet access service providers to enhance their management to ensure these sites would not be reconnected to the web in future, according to the SFDA. The administration also warned the public to be alert and avoid falling victim to similar websites. Since July, China has run an advertising campaign against illegal drug ads to tighten its supervision. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce is responsible for punishing violators and the SFDA is in charge of approving drug ads. Earlier this year, the country's authorities ordered the closure of 51 websites found to be carrying illegal drug adverts.
A network "Civil Society Control for Fair Election" has been set up by NGOs including the Open Society Forum, the "Voters Education" center, the Glob International, the Philantrophy Center for Development. The Human Rights Devoloplment Center and the Midas center. The network is established in order to ensure the civil society control and participation in improving the openness of the 2008 national elections by representing the rights and interests of voters. A memorandum on cooperation is signed by the NGOs. They will put the control in five main directions such as financing of elections campaign, list of voters, openness of electoral districts, procedure of voting papers and operation of the media means.
PETALING JAYA: Losing about US$2.3bil (RM7.5bil) in revenue to cyberspace pirates in 2005 is good reason enough for the Motion Picture Association (MPA) to fight back. Though the film industry¡¯s umbrella body could not provide more current data, it is making sure that the losses do not increase and plans to shut down more websites distributing pirated movies. One of the methods employed is to work with Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The Malaysian Federation Against Copyright Theft (Mfact), which a representative of the MPA, is working with the ISPs such as TMNet and Maxis Communications Bhd to take these sites down. ¡°Last year, we managed to close down 18 sites and we managed to close down five more so far this year,¡± said Suzyhazra Mohd Nor, an Internet investigator with Mfact. Suzyhazra said closing down an illegal site could be completed in as fast as two weeks as Mfact only needs to approach the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) to do so. However, more time is needed if the case is a difficult one, she added. She said Mfact would usually need about a week to gather evidence on a suspicious site before approaching SKMM. ¡°Once everything is in place, the site will be closed down,¡± she said. Studies done by Mfact also shows that Internet piracy has declined since January last year but it experienced a rise between the second and third quarters of 2007.
Suzyhazra said Mfact discovered five Internet piracy sites between January and March 2007. In the second quarter the number increased to 12 and in the third quarter it was 13 but dipped to seven cases in the last quarter of 2007. The success rate for closing down such sites have also been good as Mfact managed to close down several sites every quarter. So far Mfact has encountered only one case in January and it is working to close 15 more cases from last year. ¡°We are still gathering evidence against these sites,¡± Suzyhazra said. Previously, Mfact also requested the help of retail sites such as Amazon.com and eBay to help in their fight against Internet piracy. Mfact¡¯s country manager, Nor Hayati Yahaya, said in an article last year that it conducted sting operations with the popular e-commerce sites. ¡°However the sting operation is now being handled by the MPA headquarters in the United States as well as the regional office in Singapore,¡± Nor Hayati said. She was speaking to In.Tech after the introduction of two new sniffer dogs by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (MDTCA) to help smash piracy. ¡°They will take over their predecessors¡¯ duties and it will be a hard act to follow,¡± she said. Last year, two Labradors named Lucky and Flo, helped the MPA and the MTDCA make 26 arrests and seize more than US$6mil (RM19.8mil) worth of pirated optical discs and replicating machines. The two new Labradors, Paddy and Manny, were donated by the MPA early last week. (by Jo Timbuong)
Chief Justice Reynato Puno cites rising identity theft cases in the US, passing of related laws in Europe. SUPREME Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has called on Congress for the crafting of tougher protective laws on personal information privacy to serve as deterrent against identity thieves. Puno made the appeal in the wake of advances in global information technology, making it easier for criminals to steal one¡¯s identity. He warned that identity theft could become a real problem soon, unless measures are immediately put into place to avert it from becoming a national problem, similar to what is happening in other countries. He cited in particular the identity theft problem in the United States, which, he said has already become among the ¡°fastest growing financial crimes with more than 500,000 victims each year¡±. ¡°The internet is a tool that made it easier and cheaper to access data on just about anyone. Identity theft is a violation of the right to informational privacy and may cause one to become burdened by the wrongful use of his personal information,¡± he pointed out. Identity theft occurs ¡°when an individual appropriates another¡¯s name, address, social security number or other identifying information to commit fraud¡±. He stressed that lawmakers should band together to create tougher laws, which can be used to punish these erring individuals, and to prevent them from using the internet and computers in their dirty work.
To support writ of habeas data The Senate and the House of Representatives, he said, should now work together for tougher informational privacy laws in support of the writ of habeas data. ¡°The promulgation of the writ of habeas data is but a small step to protect the informational privacy of the Filipino individual. More need to be done,¡± he said. Informational privacy is defined as ¡°the right of individuals to control the flow of information involving them,¡± while the writ of habeas data is ¡°a procedure designed to safeguard individual freedom in the information age¡±. He likewise pointed out that the Philippines has an outdated law on data or information transfer. He said that while Presidential Decree 1718 contains exceptions for exportations of information that are matter of form in connection with business transactions, that law cannot be implemented because of the lack of rules and regulations in its implementation. ¡°In other countries, privacy protection has become an impetus for modern laws that protect data and information. The United Kingdom has promulgated their Data Protection Act of 1998 and Australia has promulgated their Privacy Act of 1988. Today, all member countries of the European Union are required to legislate to ensure that citizens have a right to privacy, through the regional governing body,¡± Puno stressed. (by William B. Depasupil)
SUBANG: The Business Software Alliance (BSA) launched a website this week to help teachers, parents and children learn about the hazards they could face when they go on the Internet. The site at www.b4usurf.org provides information, entertainment and educational content aimed at young people, as well as guidance for parents and teachers about dangers such as sexual predators and identity thieves. It also educates them about the importance of respecting intellectual property when downloading songs, video and other entertainment. B4Usurf offers sample lesson plans for teachers, as well. It also provides parents with tips on how to guide and monitor their children¡¯s surfing activity, as well as information on how to protect one¡¯s PC from online fraud, spam, viruses, worms and trojan programs. The site was also launched in Singapore, China, the Philippines and Taiwan during the past few weeks and will be launched in India and Hong Kong by year-end, said BSA director of antipiracy for Asia, Tarun Sawney. Local-language content is available in all countries where the website has been launched.
¡°The project has been well-received by education officials across the region, but the hard work of promoting safe and responsible Internet usage by the young still lies ahead for BSA and its partners in the initiative,¡± Sawney said. In particular, BSA needs to keep working with education officials in countries around the region to convince schools and parents to use the website and provide feedback on its content and effectiveness, he said. APIIT Education Group managing director Parmjit Singh said: ¡°It is our duty as educators to provide a safe learning environment by developing policies to govern how the Internet is used within the school environment and at home.¡± ¡°More importantly, we place a high priority on a cybersafety educational programme for students and teachers,¡± he added. APIIT hosted the launch of the website at its smart school here. In a speech delivered by his special officer, Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong praised APIIT for taking part in the BSA campaign and urged other schools to follow in its footsteps.
Significant segments of the Philippine IT sector have taken the first step to press Congress to enact a data privacy and security law, it was learned by Tech Times. Preliminary results among these segments¡¯ members show strong preference for creation of an office of Privacy Commissioner, a government body to protect data privacy rights, according to a report by the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BAP) external affairs Executive Director Cathy Ileto. ¡°BPAP in partnership with the CICT and DTI are currently working on a position paper, and later a draft bill that will address the industry issues concerning data privacy and security,¡± said an explanatory note by Ileto accompanying a copy of the report e-mailed this reporter. CICT refers to the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, the government agency responsible for the country¡¯s IT policies, while DTI refers to the Department of Trade and Industry. The Data Privacy Technical Working Group with representatives from the public and private sectors¡ªBureau of Internal Revenue, Philippine Internet Commerce Society (PICS), Chief Information Officers, professional association of government CIOs, along with BPAP, CICT, and DTI¡ªdid the survey, according to the e-mail by Ileto. Very strong support exists for vesting in the proposed office of the Privacy Commissioner, ¡°the power to investigate, prosecute, and resolve violations of data privacy, which includes the power to impose fines and damages, as well as to publicize violations of privacy,¡± said the report. It added that respondents also strongly supported criminalization of data privacy rights violations.
Atty. Claro Parlade, a lawyer who enages in cyberlaw practice locally wrote the report. The Data Privacy Technical Working Group assigned to his law firm Parlade, Hildawa, Parlade, Eco, and Panga Law Offices, the actual field work for the survey. Atty. Parlade, currently in Sydney, told Tech Times via e-mail that 79 percent of respondents favored creation of the post of Privacy Commissioner. Such a Commissioner should have powers to investigate privacy violations, according to 94percent of respondents who also batted for criminalization of such acts. Atty. Parlade said the survey would guide the Data Privacy Technical Working Group in crafting a proposed legal and regulatory framework for data privacy. Of 100 persons sent survey forms, 70 responded to the questionnaires with respondents coming from BPAP, IT Association of the Philippines (ITAP), PICS, and the Americian Chamber of Commerce. Survey forms to be sent in the immediate future to members of other industry and trade groups involved in the processing and use of large amounts of information. Some other preliminary results from the respondents were the following: Privacy regulations should take the form of a law; Various industries should have self-regulation with regard to data privacy; Government should impose security standards; There should be in place a comprehensive set of rules on all usage of personal information by 3rd parties; And, there should be a law compelling businesses to report security breaches in information systems or theft of personal information. According to Ileto, this time in a telephone interview with Tech Times, ¡°a data privacy law is needed by the Philippines in order for the country to sustain its momentum in becoming a global hub for outsourced e-services.¡± Adding, ¡°such would retain the confidence of possible clients from abroad seeking to hire service providers here.¡± (by Ike Suarez)
The threat of cyber-terrorism is growing and most countries are vulnerable to attacks that can shut down critical infrastructure, global experts told a conference here Tuesday. "The hard reality is that (information technology) has become a tool for cybercrime and cyberterrorism," said Hamadoun Toure from the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union. "Cybersecurity must be the cornerstone of every aspect of keeping ourselves, our countries and our world safe," he told the conference, which the Malaysian hosts are billing as the first on cyber-terrorism and security. Toure dismissed as a dangerous myth the idea that events in the virtual world have only a limited impact on the physical world, saying that technology has "changed the dynamics of terrorism". Small groups or even individuals are capable of gaining control of millions of computers "which can be used, for instance, to launch denial-of-service attacks on a nation's critical infrastructure," he said. Malaysia said it was launching a global centre to combat cyber-terrorism which will provide an emergency response to high-tech attacks on economies and trading systems around the world.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the centre, which is expected to be built by the end of the year at the nation's IT hub of Cyberjaya, south of Kuala Lumpur, will be funded by governments and the private sector. "Every aspect of our daily lives, from communications, public utilities, financial networks to national defence... are highly dependent on information and communications technology to function," he told the conference. Abdullah said the threat of cyber-terrorism could no longer be ignored by governments, especially in the most "wired" parts of the world. "The extent of harm and damage that these cyber-threats can pose to our societies and nations should never be underestimated. Any vulnerability can easily be exploited to bring about truly catastrophic consequences," he said. Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of Russian-based anti-virus experts Kaspersky Lab, said the number of cyber-criminals had leapt more than tenfold since last year. "This means the Internet environment is getting more dangerous... there's nothing to stop them," he said. David Thompson, chief information officer of anti-virus systems manufacturer Symantec Corp., said that the risk of cyber-terrorism grew as nations became more developed. "Most countries are vulnerable to cyber terrorism, it's just that some are more prepared than others," he said.
MAKATI CITY, Philippines -- The best way to battle software pirates is to sustain educational activities targeting end-users, the newly named Philippine committee chair of the Business Software Alliance (BSA) said in an interview with INQUIRER.net. Celine Conti, who previously worked for Microsoft Malaysia for close to three years as anti-piracy manager, said her experience showed enforcement alone would not address software piracy. "We should make it harder for people to pirate software through educational campaigns," she said, noting that BSA's education efforts target corporate end-users of software. Conti has had stints with different computer companies, including Integrated Computer Systems, Alcatel, Intel, Microsoft Philippines and Autodesk. Two months ago, she joined Autodesk Philippines as license compliance manager. She believes that corporate software piracy remains a bigger concern than retail, but that this is changing as more people continue to have access to broadband Internet. "Software licenses sold on the Internet are often counterfeit because they are priced so low. Yes, it's easier for people to gain access to software via the Internet, but it's a double-edged sword," she said.
Conti admitted that conducting enforcement activities to protect software copyright is tough. To encourage compliance, companies like Autodesk are now pushing initiatives, such as the "legalization offer," which gives companies a chance to switch to legitimate software without threat of legal prosecution, she said. The legalization offer is one of many strategies that are part of the BSA blueprint to bring down software piracy rates, Conti said. For the Philippines, she said that she hopes to encourage more cooperation among government enforcement agencies, the justice department and the industry itself in the enforcement of intellectual property rights. "The private sector can only do so much," she said. As part of its continuing educational initiative in the country, the BSA is planning to initiate "discussions" with local judges on dealing with intellectual property violation cases. Conti said that the BSA will bring an expert from Thailand to discuss the benefits of establishing special intellectual property courts in dealing with IPR cases. The Philippine committee, which is the governing body that oversees BSA activities in the Philippines, was previously headed by Malaysia-based Ronald Chua. (By Erwin Oliva)
For the first time ever, high-school students in Thailand and Japan met and studied in the same class through real-time distance learning with no language barriers. Pongpen Sutharoj reports. It was an exciting day for a group of high-school students at Nawamintrachinee Mae Hong Son Industrial and Community Education College as they experienced something they had never seen before. Living in a remote area, the children had the chance to enjoy a modern class where their learning was no longer limited to the class, but open to the world. The teacher, meanwhile, was able to conduct a lesson for not only local students but also other children thousands of miles away. The college is the first pilot site for Thai Computational Linguistics Laboratory (TCL), a Thailand-based research unit under the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Japan to conduct an experiment in utilising technology to deliver distance learning to Thai and Japanese students remotely. As the project was conducted between high-school students in Mae Hong Son and Kyoto, Japan, which uses a different language, a key technology adopted for the experiment was not only high-speed Internet and video conferencing but also machine translation (MT), a technology that eliminates the language barrier.
MT is a computer software technology to translate text or speech from one language to another automatically and for this project, a research team at TCL developed MT technology to facilitate automatic text translation between Thai and Japanese languages. The project was conducted as part of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec)'s IT Valley Project. During a cold morning in early February, a team from TCL and Nectec went deep into the valley to set up a system to conduct real-time distance learning, linking the two countries' students together. Video cameras, an editing system, computers and software technology as well as an Internet connection were prepared to turn the college's traditional classroom into a modern one. Despite having prepared the project for months, the team still felt nervous on the day of the experiment. Virach Sornlertlamvanich, the co-director at TCL who initiated the experimental project, admitted that it was really exciting and challenging for his team to ensure everything went smoothly. "We faced many problems during the setting-up process, especially the Internet connection. As the connection to Higashiuji High School in Kyoto was blocked for security purposes, we could not make a direct connection so we had to find ways to re-route the signal to make the link work smoothly," Virach said.
At 11am, the distance-learning class started on the Thailand side with a 25-minute lesson about Thai Yai traditional costumes and a costume showcase. The class then came back after lunch with Kyoto's Higashiuji High School talking about the historic city of Kyoto, with a traditional Japanese dance show. During the class, children from both schools paid attention to the lesson and they later had a chance to greet, talk and discuss interactively between the countries, without any language barrier. "They understood each other well and this was a key part of our experiment," Virach said. "To remove the language problem, our machine-translation technology helped them understand each other's comments even though they talked in different languages." While the teacher taught the class in Mae Hong Son, every word was typed into a computer system and then sent to TCL's machine-translation server at Thailand Science Park in Pathum Thani province for automatic translation. The translated text was then sent back and incorporated into a video real-time broadcast, which was shown with Japanese subtitles. This allowed the students with two different languages to better understand the lessons. Virach said the system also worked similarly on the Japanese side.
The system translated Japanese text into Thai and the students in Mae Hong Son were able to understand what the Japanese students were talking about from the Thai subtitles. "The translation loop took only a few seconds so all the content was translated in real time," Virach said. The integration of new technology into a teaching and learning system really excited Aroon Norasih, the college's teacher who has more than three decades of teaching experience. As the conductor of the first distance-learning class in this project, she said the technology opened up a whole new world for her students to get in touch with the outside world. "It's really exciting to have this kind of teaching and learning system. We can see the children were more enthusiastic to learn new things as they could see many things which were far away from them," she said. The teacher realised that the new technology really helped her students, who were mostly hilltribe people, to meet new friends in another country. "They shared new ideas and culture and this stimulated their learning system," she said. After the class, students from the two sides enjoyed asking questions of each other. They greeted their new friends, asked and answered questions and laughed together even though they were separated by thousands of kilometres.
"It was a really good experience for me," a young girl said after the class. "I could see new friends from Japan and understand their culture. It was very exciting and great fun." For Virach, even though the experimental project worked out fine for teachers, students and the project team, as the technology translated to and from Thai and Japanese language correctly, he saw there could be more development of machine-translation technology if it was to be adopted for use in real distance learning. "This experimental project was the first step to show practical use of the lab's MT technology. We hope it can be integrated with mass applications," he said. After this test, Virach plans to integrate the machine translation technology with instant messaging and e-mail applications to help people talk and understand other languages more easily. "We hope that a plug-in version of Thai-Japanese machine translation, which can be used with the two applications, will come out by the end of this year," he said. Virach's ultimate goal is to integrate his machine translation with speech technology, so instead of needing people to type spoken sentences into text for translation, the machine would be able to convert speech into text and then translate what people are saying into another language instantly. This system would be more appropriate for use with distance learning, he said.
The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy Planning (OTP) has initiated a pilot project to track vehicles carrying dangerous substances throughout Bangkok and nearby provinces. Chamron Tangpaisalkit, director of the Transport Safety Bureau at OTP, said there was a high risk of harm to people if these vehicles were involved in accidents without the correct way of dealing with the situation. The objective of the project is to keep all vehicles containing seven of the nine dangerous substances listed in the United Nations' dangerous substances categories under real-time tracking. The dangerous cargoes are gases, flammable liquids, flammable solids, oxidising substances and organic peroxides, poisonous and infectious substances, corrosive substances and miscellaneous substances. One hundred pilot vehicles will be equipped with global positioning system (GPS) and mobile GSM technologies with labels containing numbers to identify the category of substances. These vehicles will be tracked via satellite by OTP officers 24 hours a day.
Information will include the company name of the vehicle's owner, vehicle identification, the current speed of the vehicle, the destination, route and time. To make the tracking more effective, apart from micro-controllers in the vehicles, the Transport Safety Bureau will have computer systems installed with 1:4,000 ratio maps of Bangkok and 1:50,000 maps of nearby provinces, and other software applications that enable the officers to track and develop reports in various forms. "The project came from concerns about safety as there are many vehicles carrying dangerous substances on the roads. Each kind of substance, if released from the vehicle, requires a specific alternative substance to remedy the situation. It is important that we know what substance is in each vehicle in case it gets into an accident so we will be able to take effective action," said Chamroon. "The system can immediately contact other emergency services to inform them and request cooperation." The system also broadcasts alerts when a vehicle gets into an accident or when the driver breaks the speed limit or parks too long.
"With GPS and GPRS technologies the vehicles will always be in the tracking eye and that plays an important role in providing more safety for people on the roads," said Chamroon. Almost 30 companies have joined the pilot project. All are small third-party providers of just a few vehicles for transporting dangerous substances. Truck owners or the tracking service's clients can track only their own vehicles via the Internet at www.otp-tracking.com. They cannot see the vehicles of the others. There are about 2,000 vehicles containing dangerous substances in Bangkok. This number excludes 10-wheel vehicles carrying oil for the oil companies and pickup trucks carrying liquid fuels or gas for cooking. "We plan to expand the system to cover these vehicles in order to develop the most effective tracking system for public safety," said Chamroon. The project will run for one year. He said that in the next couple of months, the OTP would propose a study of the pilot project to the Transport Ministry for consideration of regulations to handle the matter in the future. The project also aims to develop further applications to allow officers to know the real-time status of a particular vehicle, such as the remaining oil and the current status of the vehicle's engine. To turn this idea into reality requires more technologies, for example, radio frequency identification and sensor technology.
Ha Noi (VNA) ¨C Information technology experts say network security for Vietnamese government and organisations alike is becoming increasingly crucial for the country as it integrates into the international economy. Speaking at an international network and data security conference held in Ha Noi on March 19, Bach Khoa Internetwork Security Centre reported that last year more than 80 percent of local agencies and business websites were at risk of being attacked. They said more than 33 million computers were infected with viruses, causing a total loss of up to 2.4 trillion VND (150 million USD). Last year, IT and communication in Viet Nam boomed and this year it continues to enjoy a high growth rate, holding strong potential for development. Deputy Minister of Public Securities Dang Van Hieu said the two-day conference, dubbed Security World Viet Nam 2008, is a vital opportunity to assess Viet Nam ¡¯s potential and put forth appropriate measures in network security and data protection in the country. After a decade of internet services, the country now has more than 5 million internet subscribers and 18.2 million regular users, accounting for nearly 21 percent of the total population. The Security World Viet Nam conference aims to bring together government, organisations and experts in implementing IT and communication where information security is an important factor. Along with the conference, an exhibition showcasing security control, alarm equipment and advanced cameras is being held.-Enditem
Sarah Brown is unusually cautious when it comes to social networking. The college sophomore doesn't have a MySpace page and, while she's on Facebook, she does everything she can to keep her page as private as she can. "I don't want to have to worry about all the different online scandals and problems," says Brown, an education major at St. Joseph College in Connecticut. She'd like to control her personal information and keep it out of the hands of identity thieves or snooping future employers. "It's just common sense." It sounds like her info is locked down and airtight. But is it? Turns out, even the privacy-conscious Sarah Browns of the world freely hand over personal information to perfect strangers. They do so every time they download and install what's known as an "application," one of thousands of mini-programs on a growing number of social networking sites that are designed by third-party developers for anything from games and sports teams to trivia quizzes and virtual gifts. Brown, for instance, has installed applications on her Facebook page for Boston Bruins fans and another that allows her to post "bumper stickers" on her own page and those of her friends. It's a core way to communicate on social networking sites, which allow friends to create pages about themselves and post photos and details about their lives and interests.
Pople often think Facebook profiles and sometimes MySpace pages, if they're set as private, are only available to friends or specific groups, such as a university, workplace, or even a city. But that's not true if they use applications. On Facebook, for instance, applications can only be downloaded if a user checks a box allowing its developers to "know who I am and access my information," which means everything on a profile, except contact info. Given little thought, agreeing to the terms has become a matter of routine for the nearly 70 million Facebook users worldwide who use applications to spruce up their pages and to flirt, play and bond with friends online. News Corp.'s MySpace, which has about 117 million unique visitors each month, recently added an applications platform, giving developers access to the profiles of anyone who downloads them. Unlike Facebook, though, MySpace users don't have to include their names on their profiles. So what do these third-parties do with the information? Sometimes, they use it to connect users with similar interests. Sometimes, they use it to target ads, based on demographics such as gender and age (something Facebook and MySpace also do).
Facebook and MySpace say they hold application developers to strict standards -- and boot them if they don't comply. They also point out that some information, such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers, aren't made available. But experts who track online security issues think there's too much personal information flying around out there, with few guarantees that it's safe. They also think social networkers have little understanding where their information goes and how it's used -- and as a result, have a false sense of security. "I suspect that there's a whole lot of clicking without a lot of thinking," say Mary Madden, a senior research specialist at the Pew Internet & American Life Project who studies privacy issues. "So much of this sharing happens in a way that users don't see the consequences. It's kind of a big, black hole." Part of the risk stems from Facebook applications being created by anyone, some of them tech-related companies and others individuals with know-how. And they could be anywhere in the world, as is Jayant Agarwalla, co-founder of Facebook's popular Scrabulous application, a takeoff on the game Scrabble. Reached by e-mail, he says Scrabulous does use demographic information to target ads that show up as a person plays the game. But Agarwalla, who's based in India, stresses that information is provided in "real time" and not stored. "In my humble opinion, users have nothing to worry about," he says.
Some would argue that it's much like trusting an online vendor with your credit card information. Still, it's an honor system, says Adrienne Felt, a computer science major at the University of Virginia. A Facebook user herself, she decided to research the site's applications and even created her own so she could see how it worked. Most of the developers Felt polled said they either didn't need or use the information available to them and, if they did, accessed it only for advertising purposes. But, in the end, Felt says there's really nothing stopping them from matching profile information with public records. It also could be sold or stolen. And all of that could lead to serious matters such as identity theft. "People seem to have this idea that, when you put something on the Internet, there should be some privacy model out there -- that there's somebody out there that's enforcing good manners. But that's not true," Felt says. Last year, Facebook users revolted when the company started using a tool called Beacon, which tracked its users' purchases and actions at dozens of websites and then broadcast the data on the pages of the users' friends. Beacon has since been scaled back. By comparison, the issue of personal information going to application developers, both on Facebook and now MySpace, has remained relatively quiet. Jonathan Gaugler, a 26-year-old New Yorker, is one who finds targeted ads on his Facebook page a bit too invasive. "Getting married? Do your registry here!" read one recent ad that showed up. Another on his fiancee's page was advertising for egg donors for fertility clinics. "Creepy," Gaugler says. He keeps his Facebook activity to a minimum as a result -- and rarely downloads an application because he doesn't want to be further targeted.
But many others are much less cautious, seeing the risk of social networking "as low and the reward as high," says Patricia Sanchez Abril, an assistant professor at the University of Miami's business school who studies privacy law. "It is the chosen mode of communication of everyone they know. So if you're not in it, you're just not in the loop," she says. "There's a lot of peer pressure." What they don't realize, she adds, is that there is little legal backup if their information is used in a way they didn't intend. "This is an area that's completely unregulated. Yes, there are contracts. But if the receiving end doesn't abide by the contract, you're still out of luck," Abril says. And applications, she notes, are only one worry when it comes to online threats. A social networker's friends can, for instance, give access to personal information or photos in a profile. That happened to the call girl involved in the recent sex scandal with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Researchers at Indiana University also published a study last year showing how they "scraped" information from students' social network profiles. Posing as people's friends, they then used the information to fool the students into providing their university ID and password on a bogus external website. Whether the profile is private or not, users should limit the information they post, said Tom Jagatic, one of the researchers and now a senior information technology consultant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
New Delhi, April 16: In the wake of increasing incidents of cyber crime, the central government has formulated Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to provide reactive and proactive support to counter cyber crimes in the country. "The home ministry is implementing a project called Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA) in all states in a phased manner as part of the modernisation of police force," Minister of State for Home Affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal told parliament in a written reply Wednesday. There has been dramatic increase in the incidents of economic frauds through phishing, e-mail scams, piracy and data thefts on targeted organisations and network infrastructures and countries using internet services. The focus of the scheme, which is supplementing the efforts of the state governments, is on strengthening the police infrastructure by way of construction of police stations, equipping the police with the required mobility, modern weaponry, communication equipments, forensic set-up, computerisation etc.
New Delhi, Apr.16: The Union Home Ministry has urged all State Governments to tighten laws relating to cyber crimes in the wake of reports of criminals committing economic frauds through phishing, e-mail scams, piracy, data theft and launching of denial of service attacks onto targeted organizations, network infrastructures and countries, using internet services. Minister of State for Home Shakeel Ahmed told Parliament in a written reply that as matters related to policing were a State subject, State Governments have a responsibility to modernize their forces and to establish cyber police stations for cyber crime investigation. He said that the Union Home Ministry is implementing a project -- Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA) -- in all States in a phased manner, under the Modernization of State Police Forces (MPF) Scheme. He said that the Government has also set up Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to provide reactive and proactive support to the cyber incidents in India, besides, introducing a Bill to amend the Information Technology Act, 2000, in the Lok Sabha on 15.12.2006 to provide for insertion of legal provisions to address various computer crimes.
India is silently suffering from cyber warfare. China has mounted daily attacks on Indian computer networks both government and private. These attacks are not like hacking or phishing; they are more sophisticated and there is a complete method behind cyber war fare. Cyber warfare is not routine activity, it is threat from China and it is more real than from other countries. Chinese are constantly scanning and mapping India's official networks. They have idea how to disable the networks or distract them during a conflict. Few months back, China has attacked on National Informatics Centre (NIC), which was aimed at the National Security Council, and on the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). They are using three main weapons in use against Indian networks; BOTS, key loggers and mapping of networks. According to government sources, Chinese hackers are acknowledged experts in setting up BOTS. A BOT is a parasite program embedded in a network, which hijacks the network and makes other computers act according to its wishes, which, in turn, are controlled by "external" forces. The controlled computers are known as zombies. According to official sources, there are close to 50,000 BOTS in India at present ¡ª and these are "operational" figures. The term 'Key loggers' is software that scans computers and their processes and data the moment you hit a key on the keyboard. In this the information immediately is carried over to an external controller, they know if one can change their password also. Mapping or scanning networks is done as a prerequisite to modern cyber warfare tactics. MEA has a three-layered system of computer and network usage; only the most open communication is sent on something called 'e-Grams'.
The Administration of Chandigarh has launched the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) in order to ensure the safety and security of people via advanced means of Information Technology (IT). The cell will check computer related crimes like unauthorised access to a computer, online banking fraud, "phishing", sale of illegal articles like wildlife products, drugs, pornography, online gambling, e-mail spoofing and cyber stalking. The CCIC cell has been launched by the Chandigarh Police in collaboration with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) and Punjab Engineering College at Chandigarh. The cell has established online service link with Google and Microsoft Corporation in the US. Encase Forensic and cyber check suite softwares have been installed in this cell for analysing the captured data of suspect hard-disk of computer, while Cell-DEK software has been installed for analysing data of captured mobiles.
ISLAMABAD (May 12 2008): The word 'cyber crimes' usually raise eyebrows among the computer users, IT experts and especially among the countrymen where majority of the people are not familiar with the relevant laws. The number of Internet users is growing very rapidly worldwide. An estimate show that 70 percent information is now digital and there are about 800 billion pages on the web. This vast invasion creates potent threats and vulnerabilities to cyber crime. In our country, cyber crime laws are wide ranging which are required to be implemented rigorously. The Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002 and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance, 2007 are some of the steps taken to control this menace. The latest ordinance is aimed at fighting cyber crimes under which accused could be jailed for more than seven years fined up to one million. Under the ordinance, a tribunal with the name of Information and Communication Technologies, would hear cases of crimes registered under cyber crimes. "As soon as possible after the commencement of this ordinance, the federal government shall, by notification in the official gazette, constitute the Information and Communication Technologies Tribunal whose principal seat shall be Islamabad," the ordinance says. The tribunal would work under section 193 and 228 of Pakistan Penal Code 1960. The tribunal would have the status of a court and will work under section 480 and 482 of Pakistan Penal Code. The tribunal would comprise seven members, headed by a Chairman with principal seat at Islamabad.
The Chairman may constitute benches of the tribunal and unless otherwise directed by him a Bench will consists not less than two members. A bench will exercise such powers and discharge such functions as may be prescribed with at least one Bench in each province. The ordinance while carrying 18 different offences will be affective in curbing cyber related crimes. According to the text of the ordinance, accessing any electronic system or electronic devices without permission would legally be a crime. Before the promulgation of the new ordinance, Federal Investigation Agency dealt with fraud and cyber crime under the Electronic Transaction Ordinance, 2002. It was a reporting centre for all types of cyber crimes and provided necessary technical support in making systems secure. It provides timely warning of cyber threats to all concerned and advises on recovery techniques after the actual cyber attacks. But ignorance of the intricacies of information technology and the related laws usually lead to susceptible misinterpretation. For example, online transactions are common phenomenon all around the world, which is imperative for the companies to have foolproof security. Kaneez Akhtar an IT expert said "Security flaws or vulnerabilities in software should be the first responsibility of a software developer." But ironical, the end receivers are the users who have to endure mental agony and financial loss. It is the joint responsibility of all stakeholders especially the cyber business companies to co-ordinate with each other and help eradicate this menace.
ISLAMABAD (May 19 2008): The word 'cyber crimes' usually raise eyebrows among the computer users, IT experts and especially among the countrymen where majority of the people are not familiar with the relevant laws. The number of Internet users is growing very rapidly worldwide. Estimate shows that 70 percent information is now digital and there are about 800 billion pages on the web. This vast invasion creates potent threats and vulnerabilities to cyber crime. In our country, cyber crime laws are wide ranging which required to be implemented rigorously. The Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002 and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance, 2007 are some of the steps taken to control this menace. The latest ordinance is aimed at fighting cyber crimes under which accused could be jailed for more than seven years or fined up to one million. Under the Ordinance, a tribunal with the name of Information and Communication Technologies would hear cases of crimes registered under cyber crimes. "As soon as possible after the commencement of this ordinance, the federal government shall, by notification in the official gazette, constitute the Information and Communication Technologies Tribunal whose principal seat shall be Islamabad," the Ordinance says. The tribunal would work under section 193 and 228 of Pakistan Penal Code 1960. The tribunal would have the status of a court and will work under section 480 and 482 of Pakistan Penal Code. The tribunal would comprise seven members, headed by a Chairman with principal seat at Islamabad. The Chairman may constitute Benches of the Tribunal and unless otherwise directed by him a Bench will consists not less than two members. A Bench will exercise such powers and discharge such functions as may be prescribed with at least one Bench in each province. The ordinance, while carrying 18 different offenses, will be effective in curbing cyber-related crimes.
According to the text of the Ordinance, accessing any electronic system or electronic devices without permission would legally be a crime. Similarly, accessing, destroying, hacking and sabotaging any criminal data set up by any organisation or the government, or committing a fraud using an electronic system or Internet, or making unauthorised changes, or using someone else's code or password to access information, or to harass anyone using Internet, or to transmit immoral matter or images, or using electronic system, device or Internet, or to participate in a terrorist or destructive activity are all crimes. Before the promulgation of the new ordinance, Federal Investigation Agency dealt with fraud and cyber crime under the Electronic Transaction Ordinance, 2002. It was a reporting centre for all types of cyber crimes and provided necessary technical support in making systems secure. It provides timely warning of cyber threats to all concerned and advises on recovery techniques after the actual cyber attacks. But ignorance of the intricacies of information technology and the related laws usually lead to susceptible misinterpretation. For example, online transactions are common phenomenon all around the world, which is imperative for the companies to have foolproof security. An IT expert Kaneez Akhtar said: "Security flaws or vulnerabilities in software should be the first responsibility of a software developer." But ironical, the end receivers are the users who have to endure mental agony and financial loss. It is the joint responsibility of all stakeholders especially the cyber business companies to co-ordinate with each other and help eradicate this menace. "Co-ordination is a must for all the people concerned because individual efforts would not bring that respite required in the country," Jabar Baloch, an executive director of IT company in G-8 commented.
Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, today in the final week of Fraud Fortnight, reminded consumers to protect themselves from online scams. Running from 24 February to 8 March 2008 the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce's two-week fraud awareness initiative, Fraud Fortnight, aims to raise awareness about deceptive and seductive scams and educate people on how to report them. ¡°Fraud Fortnight is a timely reminder to consumers that scams can come in many forms such as emails,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°Hoax or phishing emails are email messages used to gain access to personal information for illegal purposes, such as transferring funds or purchasing goods.¡± ¡°These fraudulent emails are increasingly sophisticated in their design and can be difficult to recognise,¡± Senator Conroy said.
Hoax and phishing emails appear to come from legitimate businesses such as banks and other financial institutions and are designed to trick people into disclosing personal data such as bank account details, passwords or credit card numbers. This information is then used to withdraw money from their account or make unauthorised purchases. It is also common for phishing emails to contain links to a website that is a convincing replica of a financial institution's home page. ¡°Be very suspicious of emails and websites from unknown origin, particularly ones that promise you money, good health or a solution to all your problems. A simple way to remember is ¡®if in doubt, don't give it out',¡± Senator Conroy said.
The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce is distributing fact sheets and brochures during Fraud Fortnight to educate consumers on what to do if they are faced with a potential scam. To find out more about scams and to report scams visit www.scamwatch.gov.au or call SCAMwatch on 1300 795 995. Fraud Fortnight is an initiative of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce. Established in March 2005, the Taskforce is comprised of 18 federal and state government regulatory agencies and departments that have a responsibility for consumer protection in relation to frauds and scams.
The government plans to reform Australia's 20 year old privacy laws so they are better placed to deal with the Internet age, according to Senator John Faulkner, who highlighted issues such as social networking sites and online retailers. Faulkner highlighted how privacy is changing: "Most Australians think they know what privacy means -- and probably have views as to how their privacy ought to be protected and preserved. "Unfortunately privacy isn't that simple. Today, privacy can be compromised not only by the ways in which governments and corporations store and manage information, but also by a casual Facebook posting by a friend-of-a-friend, or by the record keeping practices of an international online retailer, or an auction site with servers located in several jurisdictions," he said.
There have been major changes since the Privacy Act was written in 1988, said Faulkner, who highlighted the ease at which information can cross international borders. But this data flow is necessary, he said, calling it "the life blood of modern business". Business and social networking have ensured cross-border communication has become "a fact of life", he said, just as jurisdictional limitations in dealing with cross-border flows are a fact of life. "Cross border information flows are, by their very nature, an issue that cannot be addressed by just one state or even just one international organisation," he said. "The release of the ALRC's final report at the end of May will provide an opportunity for the Government to tackle the challenge of privacy reform and build a privacy regime to serve modern Australia," said Faulkner.
The Federal government and patent agency IP Australia have launched a new open, online database featuring almost 20 years' worth of the country's patent application records, in a bid to make it easier for inventors to check if someone else has already had their light bulb moment. The AusPat database, launched this week as part of a joint initiative between the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (DIISR) and IP Australia, will allow researchers and the innovation industry to crosscheck patent applications with records dating back as far as 1979. "We developed the database entirely in-house. There were existing services but they were spread between two separate databases ¡ª AusPat has combined them in one interface," David Johnson, IP Australia CIO, said. Johnson told ZDNet.com.au that the organisation engineered the new database by combining its mainframe ¡ª which held all of its bibliographic patent data, with its mid-range system ¡ª where all of the patent specification data was stored. According to the DIISR, the AusPat database has consolidated patent information and records previously spread across several unconnected databases, after the Department and IP Australia consulted with inventors and industry experts extensively ahead of the project to ascertain what the major difficulties with the patent application process were. "Some of our toughest critics in the past have already given us some good feedback about AusPat, but we go out to them and got them involved at every stage of the development," said IP Australia's Johnson.
Federal Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr, said that he expects the new system to make patent searching less time consuming. "Searching patent information is a crucial step in any innovation process. It tells you what has already been invented and protected, which can save inventors a great deal of time and effort," he said in a statement. "If you are in the business of innovation or have an idea and want to see what has already been protected in that particular area, then I¡¯d recommend using AusPat very early on in the process," Carr added. IP Australia's Johnson said that the database is divided up according to types of technology, and employs some search approximations similar to Google ¡ª such as a fuzzy logic ¡ª which takes into account potential spelling mistakes in a user's search terms. The Minister's office revealed that AusPat is just the first in a number of other planned initiatives with IP Australia to assist inventors and businesses with the patent search process. "This organisation has been around since 1904, so we're trying to electronically capture everything back to the year dot," said Johnson, revealing some of the details of the agency's next project, which according to Johnson will be online by next year. "We'll be converting from all types of materials such as microfiche, paper and film, so it should keep things interesting," he said. IP Australia will also be working on uploading historical patent opposition data on to AusPat, with Johnson saying his aim is to include "as much information and as much specific detail about individual patents on the database as possible".
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced the members of the Cyber-Safety Consultative Working Group as part of the Government's $125.8 million program to improve online safety for children. ¡°The Group will consider those aspects of cyber-safety that Australian children face, such as cyber-bullying, identity theft and exposure to illegal and inappropriate content,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°It will also provide advice to the Government on priorities and measures required by government and industry to ensure world's best practice safeguards for Australian children engaging in the digital economy.¡± ¡°The Consultative Working Group is a key component of the Australian Government's $125.8 million Cyber-Safety plan.¡± The Group will have representation from community groups, internet service providers, industry associations, business and government. The first meeting of the Group is scheduled for late May 2008.
¡°Government policy needs to be responsive to the evolving online world and the widespread use of new technologies in the digital economy. The Group will assist Government to prioritise its responses,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°I thank the members of the Group for their commitment to assist with the vital work of protecting Australian children in the online environment.¡± A Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee will also be established to investigate and report on cyber-safety issues. ¡°The Australian Government is committed to working closely with industry to address any concerns about implementing the cyber-safety plan. These concerns will be carefully considered and will inform implementation of the Australian Government's comprehensive cyber-safety policy,¡± Senator Conroy said.
Former privacy commissioner Malcolm Crompton says governments are not doing enough to attract citizens to use their online services due to an overly risk-averse and closed-minded approach to liability and privacy. Crompton, now managing director of consultancy group Information Integrity Systems, told the CeBIT conference in Sydney yesterday that agencies looking to "gain the wisdom of the crowd" using Web 2.0-style online services will only succeed if citizens feel completely comfortable with the privacy implications of the service. Most of the government's current approach to producing online services, he said, is centred on managing their own liability. "Where is the citizen in this level of thinking?" he asked. Crompton said that too often citizens are asked to provide an exhaustive amount of evidence of identity and asked to give broad consent for that information to be used at the agency's discretion. This approach, which places all the risk in the hands of the user and all the control in the hands of an agency, has created what Crompton terms a "trust deficit" in terms of how citizens engage with the government. When asked for too much information, too much consent, and without being reassured by any statement of accountability on the part of the agency, the citizen will choose either not to engage or to engage in an unproductive way ¡ª by falsifying information, for example.
"How many times have you all lied in an online form?" Crompton asked the forum, relating a story about how he often poses as a penniless elderly woman when filling in online forms, to avoid "being marketed to". Crompton said Web 2.0 users will act with such defiance when they feel their privacy is being impinged upon. Some 700,000 Facebook members petitioned, for example, when the social networking site made a change that allowed for the dissemination of information about a user's relationship status. Similar controversy erupted when the social networking site first launched its Beacon advertising service. Users will react positively to online services, on the other hand, if three key concerns are addressed: control, fair risk allocation, and accountability. If a user doesn't have control of their own information, they won't participate, Crompton said. A user's private information has to be available to them ¡ª a principle enshrined by the Privacy Act. Risk also has to be allocated fairly between provider and user of the service. If it isn't, the user will not engage with the service, he said. To illustrate where risk allocation is unfairly weighted in favour of the agency, Crompton displayed the sign-up page to Medicare's online services. The terms and conditions seek an exhaustive amount of information about the user, he said, but Medicare claims no responsibility of its own.
"The responsibilities of the user seem reasonable," says Crompton. "But there are a lot of nots in the list of what Medicare is responsible for. They are not liable for any claim, any loss, any liability incurred, and so on and so forth. These clauses might be good for the lawyers, but they are not a great way of attracting consumers. You would think that if Medicare wanted you to use these online services and thus become more efficient, then it would take on a greater share of the risk than that." Crompton said organisations should compensate for any occasion they can't give the citizen choice or control ¡ª such as paying tax to the ATO for example ¡ª by strengthening accountability and transparency. "If we are truly to capture the wisdom of the crowd, I would suggest that all government departments have some work to do in this area," he concluded.
Cybersecurity will be a priority under the Australian prime minister's new National Security Division which has been dubbed Australia's equivalent of the US Department of Homeland Security. Secretary of the department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Peter Shergold says the new division will oversee all security agencies and national infrastructure initiatives and will set the policy agenda. "It is the number one agency for the commonwealth with regards to security matters and IT is a component of that; the division will make sure cybersecurity is included in policy," he says. While the US Homeland Security department bought together immigration, the coastguard and other agencies, Shergold points out that it excludes the FBI whereas government agencies in Australia including the Attorney General's department, Defence, ASIS and the Australian Federal Police will be reporting to the new division across the board.
"Some say we needed a super department in Australia to coordinate across agencies as a counter-terrorism measure to reinforce a whole of government approach to national security issues," Shergold says, adding that getting the government's own house in order to ensure government IT systems were secure was the first priority. Reporting will occur via the Secretaries' Committee on National Security which meets once a month with reports prepared for the National Security Committee of Cabinet which is chaired by the Prime Minister John Howard. Shergold says the new division is an expansion of the existing International Division and will be staffed by about 30 people.
While all eyes were on the top line investments and tax cuts in this year¡¯s budget, departmental line items reveal significant investment in core IT systems and espcially in government information security. One big winner was the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which gained a 20% budget increase from just over $40 million to $48.9 million. The New Zealand Police was also granted a further $1 million to enhance IS system security.Last year GCSB announced that the New Zealand government had been the target of hacking attempts by overseas governments. Spending on the National Health Information Service has been boosted from $65.4 million to nearly $79 million, delivering on signals the Minister of Health, David Cunliffe, gave before the Budget. Cunliffe said he wanted the Ministry of Health to take more of a leadership position in delivering health ICT. Among other ICT-related votes, the government has budgeted $7 million over three years to build New Zealand¡¯s 3D digital graphics development cluster, $3 million in the first year and $2 million for each of the following two years.
Internal Affairs was voted $6.7 million to cover its Passport Redevelopment System. In addition to its security funding, the New Zealand Police was also voted $3 million to reimburse telecommunications providers for costs incurred in complying with the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act 2004 and $15 million for the replacement of its radio network. A further $1 million was budgeted for its ¡°Car as a Station¡± project to fit police cars with new ICT technologies. However, the big item in this year¡¯s budget for the ICT sector was undoubtedly the broadband investment, made in response to National¡¯s $1.5 billion plan. The government is investing $500 million over five years for fast broadband as part of what it describes as the ¡°first five-year downpayment for a 10-year plan¡±. The new Broadband Investment Fund was granted $325 million for operating and $15 million capital funding over that period.
Operating funding of $250 million over five years has been earmarked for delivering high bandwidth services to businesses and users in the health and education sectors, described as ¡°urban¡± investment. $75 million over five years has been set aside to extend broadband into ¡°underserved regions¡± with a further $15 million to support another international cable. Health, education and other public service sectors have been voted $160 million over five years for enhanced networks. Finally, $9.4 million went to support the Digital Strategy 2.0 and the new Digital Development Council and Forum.
¡°Towards a code of good practice building on the principles of WSIS and the Aarhus Convention¡± 23 May 2008, 14:00-17:00, Room C2 ¨C International Telecommunications Union Headquarters, Geneva The Stakeholder Consultation on Public Participation in Internet Governance will discuss the results of the exploratory research into a ¡°Code of good practice on public participation, access to information and transparency in Internet governance¡±, undertaken through a trilateral initiative of the Council of Europe, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), initiated at the 2nd Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janeiro in November 2007.
The aim of the proposed ¡°Code of good practice on public participation, access to information and transparency in Internet governance¡± would be to enable all the institutions which play a role in some aspect of governing the Internet to commit to ensuring transparency, public participation (of all stakeholders) and access to information in Internet governance. The objective of the consultation is to present some initial research, consider the purpose and scope of the proposed instrument and discuss with panellists and participants its possible opportunities, limitations and risks. Any related initiatives in the field of Internet governance, such as on participatory issues, human rights including freedom of expression, content control, as well as the proposed Internet Bill of Rights, should be discussed and analysed with respect to their compatibility or complementarity with the proposed instrument. The consultation also aims to identify other interested stakeholders from different stakeholder groups with a view to associating them with the initiative. It will lay the groundwork for a proposed workshop to be held at the 3rd Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Hyderabad, India, 3-6 December 2008, which will present a concrete proposal for the envisaged Code of Good Practice.
Focus on connecting persons with disabilities Cairo, 14 May 2008 What: Press conference When: 15 May 2008, 15:00 after World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2008 Ceremony at 13:30 (in Cheops Auditorium) Where: Press Centre, Sakkara 1, Cairo International Convention Centre Why: Closing of ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2008 Theme: Connecting Persons with Disabilities
Who: Dr Hamadoun Tour¨¦, ITU Secretary-General Dr Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications & Information Technology, Egypt Laureates: World Telecommunication and Information Society Award Cheick Diarra, Microsoft Africa Chairman Fernando Langrana, Executive Manager, ITU TELECOM
Media accreditation Accreditation for media and industry analysts for ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008 is available here . All journalists and industry analysts who wish to gain full access to information and benefit from media services for this event need to be accredited. Accreditation to ITU TELECOM AFRICA 2008 will also provide access to the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day celebrations and award ceremony at the Cheops Auditorium on 15 May at 13:00.
Africa: A Continent on the Move Cairo, 12 May 2008 ¡ª President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt inaugurated TELECOM AFRICA 2008, which opened to the public today in Cairo, Egypt. A major showcase for cutting edge information and communication technologies (ICT) that includes an industry exhibition, ITU TELECOM AFRICA presents a unique forum for brainstorming and an important networking platform for both governments and the private sector to chart the future course of the ICT industry.
Some 200 companies from 45 countries, including several from outside the African region, are exhibiting products, applications and services. Around 70 heads of international companies and 50 ministers along with key regulators and investment bodies are attending the event from 12 to 15 May. ITU TELECOM AFRICA has already attracted over 5000 participants from 93 countries, marking a record since the event was opened to countries from outside the region, and includes 600 Forum participants and 200 media. While the exhibition underscores the latest developments in the ICT market, the Forum sessions offer both regional and global insights on Africa¡¯s position in the ICT sector, its unique market drivers, and the host of factors critical in sustaining its most effective enabling environment. The 30 Forum sessions cover topics such as public-private partnerships, entrepreneurial success stories, capacity building and cybersecurity. Over 150 speakers will participate in the Forum sessions, which also include the Youth Forum and the Telecommunication Development Symposium.
No fewer than 200 exhibitors across the globe are expected to be part of a three-day 2008 Africa Information Technology Exhibition (AfrITEx2008) strategic conference to be held in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, starting on Wednesday, reports All Africa.com. The event, which will be hosted by the National Information Technology Development Agency in collaboration with DASMedia, is also expected to attract over 5 000 industry leaders and stakeholders from across the African, American, Asian and European continents "to learn, network and showcase the best in ICT". Telecommunications and GIS will take the centre stage on the first day of the conference; e-government, e-banking and e-commerce for the second day; and hardware, software and systems integrations on the last day.
KickStart selects Serenic Serenic Navigator and integrated business operations solutions have been selected by KickStart International, a multinational non-profit organisation that develops and markets new technologies in Africa to help millions of people emerge from poverty, says Fox Business. KickStart supports sustainable economic growth and employment through its low-cost technologies used for irrigation and agricultural production. Its MoneyMaker products are purchased by local entrepreneurs in African nations, who use them to establish new, highly profitable, small businesses. In addition to promoting small enterprise development, KickStart's technologies, expertise and methods are widely applied throughout Africa to support programmes in agriculture, shelter, water, sanitation, health and relief.
African ICT industry is booming Africa has been the fastest growing market worldwide in communication technology over the past three years, according to the head of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union, states AllAfrica.com. Speaking at the opening of a major trade fair for the African telecommunications industry in Cairo on Monday, Hamadoun Tour¨¦, secretary-general of the ITU, said the African ICT industry "is an exciting place to be¡±. A report released at the event by the ITU said growth in Africa's mobile telephone sector had "defied all predictions". Africa had 65 million new subscribers in 2007 alone and mobile phone penetration has risen from just one in 50 people in 2000 to one-third of the population today.
The high level eHealth 2008 Conference in Portoroz, Slovenia, hosted by the Slovenian Presidency of the EU and the European Commission, concluded on 7 May 2008 with the ¡°Portoroz Declaration¡±. According to this declaration, ¡°The Member States and the European Commission commit to support together the deployment of high-capacity infrastructure and infostructure for health and social care information networks and services such as telemedicine (teleradiology, teleconsultation, telemonitoring, telecare), ePrescription and eReferral. With continued commitment from all the actors involved, European-wide cooperation on electronic health services will lead to the successful formation of a European health information area. As a result, the health of European citizens and the sustainability of European health care systems will benefit considerably.¡±
The conference, held under the theme ¡®eHealth without frontiers¡¯, was the sixth in a series of high-level eHealth conferences that have taken place since 2003. This time, the focus was set on modern solutions aimed at eliminating the various barriers in the European healthcare, such as those between healthcare providers, regions and states, or communication difficulties among the various players in healthcare systems.
Suzhou in Jiangsu Province will host the IC China 2008 event in September, promoting the world's most advanced integrated circuit technologies and equipment. Organizers said the show, with an area of about 30,000 square meters, could stimulate China's electronic information industry. "China is still weak in the integrated circuit (IC) industry compared with its counterparts in Western countries, so the industry still needs support," said Xu Xiaotian, secretary general of the China Semi-conductor Industry Association, yesterday. China generated IC sales of more than $17 billion last year, up 24.3 percent over 2006, but the figure accounted for only 7 percent of the world's total sales. Local insiders said China's electronic information industry maintained steady growth last year, with an increase rate of 18 percent. "The industry is expected to still enjoy normal development this year," said Wang Bohua, deputy director general of the Department of Electronic and IT Products under the Ministry of Information Industry. Suzhou is one of China's several IC design and manufacturing centers with 100 IC companies generating 30 billion yuan ($4.1 billion) every year there. Its IC business occupies 17 percent of China's whole IC industry and its packaging and testing industry make up 28 percent of the country's sales of the kind, said Chang Liang, secretary general of Suzhou IC Industry Association. As the most influential show among China¡¯s semi-conductor industry, IC China will provide a platform for participants from home and abroad for exchanges about the world's most advanced semi-conductor technologies and products, Chang said. Several summits on IC technology and industry will be held during the show to push forward the development of the world's electronic industry, he said.
Microsoft China plans to set up an IT training center in Wuxi to turn out skilled professionals to work in the city's emerging IT industry. Microsoft (China) Co Ltd and the Wuxi government on Sunday signed a deal to establish the training program. Wuxi New District, the city's hi-tech zone, will provide infrastructure for the training center, while Microsoft will bring the technical platform and program. The center is expected to offer professional IT training to 10,000 students a year. Yang Weize, Party chief in Wuxi, said it is committed to developing the city into the country's leading outsourcing center. Wuxi plans to have 100 companies providing international outsourcing services and exporting software by 2010. Each company will employ at least 2,000 staff and will have an export volume of $30 million. "We are delighted to have Microsoft as a partner to help us in our endeavor," Yang said. The Wuxi official went to India's Bangalore last month to seek cooperation with the city's outsourcing companies as well. "We believe Microsoft's experience will help us develop a large pool of IT professionals in Wuxi," he said. Zhang Yaqin, head of Microsoft (China), said the company is willing to help Wuxi achieve its outsourcing goal. Yang said Wuxi's solid industry foundation and overseas business network will help it develop a strong outsourcing service industry. Wuxi is 90 minutes' drive from Shanghai and is considered one of China's top 15 most economically developed cities. The city's per capita GDP is expected to surpass $10,000 this year and the manufacturing industry still dominates the local economy.
Hong Kong Electronics Fair's spring edition and the International ICT (information and communications technology) Expo, two major fairs in the industry, opened on Monday in Hong Kong to kick off the spring sourcing season. The twin fairs, with various consumer electronics products, ICT design and services, opened at the same time at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The fairs were both organized by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and attracted a total of over 3,000 exhibitors from some 30 countries and regions, organizers said. The Electronics Fair, with separate editions in spring and autumn respectively, was the largest of its kind in Asia. The spring edition attracted 2,500 exhibitors from 24 countries and regions, including new exhibitors from the neighboring Macao Special Administrative Region, as well as Brazil, Israel, Romania and Thailand. The ICT Expo featured more than 580 information technology suppliers and software applications developers. Seven thematic zones were set up to cover enterprise solutions, network and mobility, digital living and multimedia, home-grown innovations, IT outsourcing, e-logistics and retail technologies, and trade related services.
Speakers at industry seminars will highlight emerging trends such as embedded software, IT outsourcing, retail technologies, Wi- Fi, and multimedia. Businessmen from different continents crowded the halls as well as foyers of the Convention and Exhibition Center Monday. Youths handing out pamphlets and brochures related to the sourcing season were seen on passageways near the center. Frederick Ma, secretary for commerce and economic development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, said the two fairs have strengthened Hong Kong's role as the world marketplace for electronics and ICT industries. "Last year the electronics industry accounted for nearly half of Hong Kong's total exports. The ICT industry, with over 9,000 companies employing about 75,000 people, contributed approximately50 billion HK dollars (6.41 billion U.S. dollars) to our GDP. There is no doubt that these two industries have underpinned Hong Kong's economic success over the years," Ma said at the joint opening ceremony of the twin fairs. The HKSAR government will promote advanced technology and innovation and develop Hong Kong as a hub for technological cooperation and trade, he added.
A forum on copyright protection will be held in Seoul this month, organizers said Friday (Apr. 18).The Seoul-based Copyright Protection Center said the Global Copyright Protection Forum 2008 is scheduled to be held on April 25 with the participation of overseas experts.Ted Cohen, CEO of TAG Strategic, a digital media and entertainment solutions advisory group, and Michael Schlesinger, CEO of the International Intellectual Property Alliance, were invited to speak, it said. A panel will also discuss how peer-to-peer networks can allow file sharing without copyright infringement, the organizers said.
The logo of the OECD Ministerial Meeting, June 17-18, 2008.A number of the world's leading figures in the Internet and telecommunication industry will gather in Seoul next month to share their views before more than 40 ministers from industrialized countries about how the Internet should and will change the world.The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy is to be held at the COEX exhibition complex in southern Seoul on June 17-18. Forty-two ministers from 37 countries and 41 influential figures from business and academic sectors will attend.Leaders and representatives of 14 international organizations, including OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria, who will chair the event, and Secretary General of International Telecommunication Union Hamadoun Toure will also be among the participants.
Other participants include Katsuaki Watanabe, president and CEO of Toyota Motors; Barbara Dalibard, CEO of France Telecom; Jim Balsillie, CEO of Research in Motion, the maker of Blackberry phones; Mitchell Baker, chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation, the creator of the Firefox Web browser; Vint Cerf, vice president of Google; Chey Tae-won, chairman of Korea's SK Group; President of KAIST Suh Nam-pyo; professor of Stanford Law School Lawrence Lessig, and professor of Columbia Law School Tim Wu.
¡°The goal of the OECD ministerial meeting is to make policies for economic growth via the Internet, so we suggested convergence, creativity and confidence as the main topics,¡± said Choi See-joong, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC), which will co-host the meeting with the OECD. Choi will deliver the opening remarks on June 17, followed by opening speeches by Viviane Reding, European Union Commissioner for Information Society and Media, and Kevin Martin, U.S. Federal Communications Commissioner.The upcoming gathering holds even greater significance for Korea, an IT superpower built on high Internet penetration and advanced IT technology, since this is the first such meeting held in Asia and the largest OECD ministerial meeting ever.
The Korea Communications Commission expects that the meeting will set international standards that will decide the future direction of the world's IT policies for the next ten years. The last OECD IT Ministerial Meeting did just that on the topic of electronic commerce in Ottawa, Canada, in 1998, when the Internet was still emerging as major new medium for communications.At that meeting, OECD Ministers established policies promoting online activities in areas such as privacy, security, taxation and consumer protection. Ten years since the Ottawa Ministerial, the global Internet economy has grown remarkably, and the Internet has become a critical infrastructure, which the world depends on to support economic growth and social development.
All 30 OECD member countries are sending their Internet and communications ministers to Korea, as well as 12 non-member countries, including Brazil, India and Russia.Meanwhile, on the sidelines, the KCC plans to debut the world's first Wibro-based Internet telephone developed by local technology during the two-day gathering. It will provide Wibro-enabled handsets to ministers and minister-level participants to let them experience Wibro-based mobile Internet telephony, according to the KCC.Other side events include the World IT Show on the theme of ¡®Future of the Internet.' It will be held from June 17-20 by Korea's Broadcasting & Communications Commission.
PETALING JAYA: The organisers of the World Congress on Information Technology 2008 (WCIT 2008) are bracing themselves for a huge turn out ¡ª for what they claim may be the largest WCIT ever to be held. ¡°With more than 2,700 delegates expected to attend, it will be the largest gathering in the congress¡¯ 30-year history,¡± said WCIT 2008 Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Dan E. Khoo. He said 1,900 delegates were at the previous WCIT, held in Austin, Texas, in 2006. Khoo was speaking at a WCIT 2008 media day at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur last week. WCIT 2008 will take place at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from May 18-22. In conjunction with the international congress, 13 satellite events will take place at the same venue. Among them is the International Advisory Panel meeting ¡ª an international body set up in the late 1990s to provide counsel to the Government on legislation and policies to develop MSC Malaysia-specific practices, and to set standards for multimedia operations. Then, there¡¯s the United Nations Global Alliance For ICT (information and communications technology) and Development conference which will discuss the ¡°digital divide¡± ¡ª that gap between the technology haves and have-nots. Others include a global summit organised by Mobile Monday ¡ª a mobile industry special interest group ¡ª which will discuss marketing over mobile phones and other consumer-privacy issues, amongst other topics; and the World Cybersecurity Summit.
Other highlights C.J. Ang, president of Pikom (the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia), said WCIT 2008 and the satellite events will attract at least 50,000 participants in total. Handling such a crowd, he said, would not be a problem because Pikom has dealt with masses in the region of 100,000 during its annual PC Fair computer cash-and-carry events nationwide. Ang said the organisers have taken security measures to ensure the safety of the delegates during the congress. ¡°We have involved the Royal Malaysian Police in our planning,¡± he added. Pikom expects WCIT 2008 to bring about US$100mil (RM330mil) worth of foreign direct investments to the country. Ang said several deals will be finalised between local technology and services companies and their global counterparts during WCIT 2008. ¡°You can expect daily announcements on these deals during the event,¡± he said, adding that the agreements involved players in various sectors, including digital-content creation, as well as software and services.
Key speakers Chief Internet evangelist and Google vice-president Vinton Cerf is scheduled to speak at WCIT 2008; his topic is ¡°Tracking the Internet into the 21st Century.¡± Cerf tested the first Internet hookups in 1969 when he was a graduate student at UCLA. As a professor at Stanford University in the 1970s, he led a team that invented the protocols, known as TCP/IP, that now serve as the Internet¡¯s basic communication tools. Known as one of the Internet¡¯s founding fathers, Cerf will be joined by other high-profile speakers, including scientists J. Craig Venter and Craig Lee, mobile advertising expert Mark Wachter. Venter¡¯s paper is titled ¡°From Human Health to the Environment ¡ª Get a Glimpse of Future Technology-Enabled Healthcare.¡± He has received numerous honorary degrees, public honours, and scientific awards, including the Financial Times Man of the Year Award and Time Magazine Man of the Year (runner up). Lee, a senior scientist in the Computer Systems Research Department of The Aerospace Corporation, will be presenting a paper on grid-computing technology.
Show and tell WCIT 2008 includes a technology showcase that will be held in a 100sq ft area of the convention centre. Pikom and the Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) ¡ª custodian of the MSC Malaysia initiative ¡ª have reserved booth space. Aside from these, the showcase will also feature 300 booths by foreign delegates to WCIT 2008. Pikom said the response to its call for exhibitors was overwhelming. ¡°We had to turn down last minute requests to set up booths because the area was full,¡± said Ang. WCIT 2008 is organised by MDeC and Pikom, with support from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The congress, held every two years, is under the patronage of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance ¡ª a consortium of 60 ICT industry associations worldwide. (by Jo Timbuong)
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian individuals and companies can now opt for the shorter ¡°.my¡± website addresses ¡ª instead of the traditional ¡°.com.my,¡± says Mynic Bhd. Mynic, provider of Internet registry and addressing services in Asia Pacific, has officially launched its second-level .my domain name service. ¡°We have 10,000 names (registered) since we began this service in March. Ninety per cent of these are companies and the remainder are individuals,¡± said Shariya Zulkifli, director of Mynic. Some of the prominent companies that have registered are Multimedia Development Corporation (custodian of the MSC Malaysia initiative), software maker Microsoft Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Maybank Bhd, oil and gas giant Petronas Sdn Bhd, and Sime Darby Bhd which manages oil-palm plantations. ¡°We normally get about 1,000 applications a month for .com.my addresses. But since we began the second-level domain service, applications for both addresses now total 3,000 a month,¡± claimed Shariya. It costs more to register for the shorter domain name ¡ª RM120 per registration, compared to just RM80 for the .com.my address. ¡°This is because .my is a premium service,¡± explained Shariya. ¡°It¡¯s short and snazzy.¡± It is the trend now for shorter website addresses because these are easier to remember, said Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM) chairman Datuk Dr Halim Shafie in a speech read out by SKMM senior director Amarjit Singh at the event. The .my domain may also make it possible for individuals and organisations that could not register under .com.my to get the addresses of their choice, according to Mynic. Also, it said, the elimination of categorisation in the shorter domain name allows businesses and individuals to cut across industries and still be relevant online. ¡°It simplifies things. Take Germany, for instance, it only has second-level .de addresses,¡± Shariya added. Second-level domain names can only be signed up for by Malaysian citizens and businesses registered in the country. (by Steven Patrick)
Sybase, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise infrastructure and mobile software, recently announced that the Philippines' Land Transportation Office (LTO) has selected Sybase IQ as the foundation for its upgraded computer system, in order to consolidate databases, speed transaction processing and cut customer waiting time. As a Division of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the LTO currently utilises several databases each addressing different tasks, including: the issuance of driving licences and motor vehicles registration; settlement of traffic cases; and collection of revenues. LTO's information and data appear on separate sites and databases. LTO could not access information immediately. "Rapid growth in the number of private and commercial vehicles throughout the Philippines has brought about an increase in transaction volume - which we expect to steadily rise in the coming years," said Reynaldo Berroya, DOTC Undersecretary for Telecommunications and former LTO Chief. "We needed to build a transaction processing system to manage this huge amount of information, as well as providing effective data analysis - all in a timely fashion."
Miguel Dalawampu, Stradcom Vice President - Technical and Information Technology Operations Division explained, "When selecting an enterprise data warehouse platform, Sybase IQ stood out because of its excellent performance, reporting and ad-hoc query characteristics. Data compression is also a significant factor because the LTO has large volumes of records that must be held for long periods, in order to meet government regulations." Stradcom Corporation, the exclusive service provider for the LTO IT Project, together with the LTO, selected Sybase IQ based on the features it provided and on its performance, which matched their service requirements. Sybase IQ is the centerpiece of a new data warehouse infrastructure, which sits alongside the existing Sybase ASE computer system. "Sybase IQ is designed for rapid reporting and data analysis and makes a perfect complement to the existing transaction-oriented Sybase ASE database," said Ramon Reyes, Stradcom Vice President for LTO Business Operations and Client Management. "We are very comfortable with the new system and confident that it will meet the needs of the LTO." Stradcom believes that technology should be used to improve government's services to its people. Reyes, pointed out the LTO - IT project stands to benefit as new technology comes in. "In the bigger picture, it is the Filipino people who will enjoy the benefits of better service and for us, that makes good business sense," Reyes added.
NICE Systems, the leading provider of Insight from Interactions solutions and value-added services, recently sponsored the "Insight for High Performance 2008" seminar at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Makati City. The seminar, entitled "Insight for High Performance", featured key presentations from the business research and consulting firm Frost and Sullivan's Shivaru Shukla and eTelecare Global Solutions Inc.'s vice president, Rick Pusag. Pusag specifically discussed best practices for improving overall business performance by deploying advanced contact center solutions. The seminar ¨C targeted to CEOs, business executives, contact center managers, sales and marketing executives, operations executives, CIOs, CTOs, and technology strategists ¨C was organized to help enable attendees gain insights into how leading companies tap the overall value of their contact centers, align people, processes and technologies around business strategies and goals. The organizers also hope that the attendees were able to learn how companies optimize operational efficiencies and extract insights from customer interactions to achieve better results.
"We are delighted that senior contact centre executive such as eTelecare's Mr. Pusag took the time to speak at our seminar and share with us how they are leveraging the latest contact center technologies and solutions to address their organization's most critical needs," said Doron Ben-Sira, President NICE APAC. "Our seminar is all about empowering organizations and their contact centers with the ability to drive performance, improve operational efficiencies, and drive strategic initiatives ¨C such improving customer retention and marketing effectiveness," Ben-Sira added. Using NICE SmartCenter contact centers are able to gain a single view of their business, improve efficiency, effectiveness and quality of customer service, whilebetter aligning their objectives with the enterprise. Leveraging the synergies of the NICE SmartCenter solutions, including liability recording, quality management, interaction analytics, customer feedback, and workforce and performance management, unified in open SOA-based (Service Oriented Architecture) framework enables contact centers to improve performance at three key levels ¨C agent, operational, and enterprise. Furthermore, NICE SmartCenter provides offshore outsourcers a competitive edge in ensuring the highest quality of service to their clients' customers. Since the NICE solution is web-based, outsourcers can enable their clients with cost and time efficient capabilities in monitoring agent skills sets, e.g. courtesy and communication skills, while improving the quality of service their customers are receiving, without actually having to come to the off-shore site.
The 2008 CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia will be held in Singapore at Singapore Expo on 17 ¨C 20 June. Reflecting the synergistic trend in the infocomm and digital media industries, CommunicAsia2008 and BroadcastAsia2008 will embrace convergence of the digital multimedia technology and entertainment value chain like never before. Visitors will not only get to see leading-edge enabling technologies and business solutions designed to enhance enterprises¡¯ mobility and users¡¯ lifestyle, they will also get to meet with representatives from telcos and mobile operators, ISPs, enterprises, system integrators, broadcasters, post/production studios, animation houses, computer graphics producers, as well as content owners and developers. The shows will also feature discussions on ¡®hot¡¯ topics and issues by industry thought leaders and business luminaries. They are expected to once again serve as vibrant platforms where sellers and buyers congregate, network, and exchange industry best practices. ¡°We are very excited to be able to bring CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia to the industry once again,¡± said Victor Wong, Project Director at show organiser Singapore Exhibition Services (SES). ¡°It is very heartening to know that exhibitors, visitors and delegates alike find the shows relevant and are able to gain valuable in-roads to multiple markets across Asia. Participants have also given us feedback that the event is an ideal launch pad for introducing products and solutions to the regional media.¡±
A truly international event, CommunicAsia and BroadcastAsia attracted a total of more than 68,000 attendees last year, 50% of whom were from overseas. The visitors were treated to a wide spectrum of ICT and media innovations, put on display by over 2,400 exhibiting companies from 65 countries/regions. Already, more than 80% of the exhibition space has been snapped up this year. More leading companies showcasing technologies ranging from 3G, LTE, WiMAX, Broadband, FMC, FTTH, NGN, IP Technology, IPTV, Mobile Entertainment, Satellite and Security are expected to come in for CommunicAsia2008 when it draws closer to June. BroadcastAsia2008 will feature some of the hottest technologies in the market, including Broadcasting-to-Handheld, Digital Media Asset Management, Immersive Tech, HD Technology, IPTV, Mobile Entertainment and Professional Audio Technology. CommunicAsia, BroadcastAsia, InteractiveDME, EnterpriseIT, CG Overdrive, as well as various inter-government meetings, are part of the Infocomm Media Business Exchange (imbX). imbX is Asia¡¯s largest infocomm and media event that fortifies Singapore¡¯s position as a leading infocomm and media hub. It brings together business leaders, companies and industry professionals to showcase their latest innovations, network, exchange ideas and tap new markets.
Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) announced Friday the launch of the Global Delivery Platform (GDP), which will provide full end-to-end network performance monitoring. The telecom giant said in a statement that "It is the first managed Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network (IP VPN) platform in the world to provide full end-to-end network performance monitoring for corporate data services across multiple partners' networks." With the new platform, customers can have comprehensive network performance assurances and faster fault restoration, said SingTel. Customers can also enjoy convenient round-the-clock access to real-time network performance statistics via an online portal provided by SingTel. The platform offers end-to-end network visibility into many Asian, European and U.S. cities. Bill Chang, SingTel's executive vice president of business, said, "The ability to monitor the performance of the entire network, including our partners' infrastructure, is a breakthrough." Most service providers today deploy IP nodes only in a few "gateway cities" in a country and do not provide network visibilitybeyond these locations. The new platform can access more cities, "this is extremely useful for customers that have businesses in multiple cities within a large country," said Chang.
In the near future, about 50,000 customers of Thailand's giant service industry operator, the Minor Group, will notice a new level of personalised attention from the group, offering favourite products and services, according to their lifestyles. It's all part of a radical change in the Minor Group's use of information technology. It has decided to outsource its entire IT back-end systems and infrastructure to IBM Thailand to allow the group's own IT team to concentrate on its front-end systems, in order to create new personalised services for its many customers. Chairman and chief executive William Heinecke said the deal involved full-scale IT outsourcing and application management services from IBM Thailand for 10 years. This will cover core applications, infrastructure, and the whole back-end systems of the Minor Group, including those of hospitality, leisure and restaurant operator Minor International and the distributor of lifestyle products and contract manufacturer Minor Corp. The move aims to prepare the Minor Group's IT infrastructure and management to support business expansion by enabling greater availability, flexibility and optimum efficiency.
The company is planning to invest more than Bt10 billion over the next five years in acquisitions both inside and outside of Thailand. The expansion aims to ensure annual growth of 20 per cent. "The outsourcing will allow us to enhance our IT systems and infrastructure much quicker and more cost-effectively than working on our own. It will also allow us to focus on our core business opportunities that will help us to achieve double-digit growth over the next five years," Heinecke said. Minor International's chief information officer Neil Hampshire said the group had done an extensive analysis to identify what it needed from IT systems. Then it had developed a clear strategy and plan for outsourcing. The outsourcing covers all of its operational and support requirements, including data centre and disaster-recovery service, network services, end-user support, application enhancement and maintenance service. It will provide greater flexibility and security for future applications. "IBM will take care of enterprise resource planning, operational systems and back-end systems such as payroll, financial, human resources, warehousing, communication and collaboration systems as well as providing 24x7 support. The services assure us of technical support at an agreed level which will be measured against a comprehensive Service Level Agreement," Hampshire said.
A transfer period of 12 to 14 months has been provided for moving the Minor Group's key IT systems to IBM's data centre. About 40 IBM's specialists will work closely with Minor's IT staff to create ways of using IT to drive the group's competitive advantage as well as supporting its 18,000 employees in delivering excellent products and services. Hampshire said the group would take care of its own front-end system, including point of sale, property management and customer relationship management. "We will take care of customer databases ourselves. We will use this information by integrating our customer database across businesses, to enhance our uniqueness and the personalised experience of our customers," he said. Minor International is Thailand's largest food-service operator, having more than 700 outlets under The Pizza Company, Swensen's, Sizzler, Dairy Queen, Burger King, LeJazz and The Coffee Club brands. It is also a leading hotel operator, with 16 hotels and more than 2,400 rooms under the Marriott, Four Seasons, Anantara, and Minor International brands in Thailand, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. In addition, it is one of the largest spa operators in the Asia-Pacific region, with 23 spas. Minor Corp is a leading distributor of international lifestyle brands in Thailand, focusing mainly on fashion, cosmetics and education and including Esprit, Red Earth, Bossini, Timberland, Charles & Keith, JeansWest, Bloom, Laneige, Tumi, Henckels, Time Life and World Book.
JCSSE is an international conference held annually in Thailand that provides a central forum for experts and developers to promote, share and discuss various issues and developments in the broad field of computer science and software engineering. Information: 03-427-2923, fax 03-427-2923, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. ITU Telecom Asia 2008 will be held from September 2 to 5 at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani. Information: 02-833-5061.
TRAINING NT Infonet will hold training courses as follows: - Super Advanced Technique in Outlook, on April 23. - Super Advanced Technique in Word, on April 28. - Super Advanced Technique in Excel, on May 6 - Inside PivotTable in Excel, on May 7. - Organising and Using Advanced Feature Email in Outlook, on May 9. - Creating Flowchart and Organisation Charts with Visio, on May 12. - Using PowerPoint for Executives, on May 13. - Creating Database Analysis Reports with Excel, on May 14. - Managing Personal Information with MS Outlook, on May 15. - Using Advanced Features in Excel, on May 20. - Introduction to MS Access, on May 21 and 22. - Using Advanced Functions in Excel, on May 23. - Inside Using Query in MS Access, on May 29. Information and registration: Visit http://www.ntinfonet.com/ or call 02-380-3421/2.
Aptech-Arena will organise a series of training courses as follows: - Professional Presentations with PowerPoint, on April 25 and 28. - Sound Editing and Mixing with Sound Forge, on April 25 and 28. Information: 02-6515-901 or 08-1550-5002.
ACIS Professional Centre will hold a series of training courses as follows: - Writing and Developing Information Security, from April 28 to 30. - The Official (ISC)2 SSCP CBK Review Seminar, from April 28 to 30. Information: Khun Salawan or Khun Athitiya on 02-650-5771, or email email@example.com or athitiya@ acisonline.net.
National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre will hold a series of training courses as follows: April 21 to 25. - Network Administration and Monitoring Tools. - Flash CS3 Action Script. - Software Development with UML Design. - Developing Windows Form Applications using VB.NET and Visual Studio.NET 2005. - Web Report Management using PHP. - Advanced Excel XP/2003 for Design Macro and VBA Programming. - Installing, Configuring and Administering Microsoft Windows Server 2003.
- Enterprise Content Management (ECM): Turning Information To Competitive Advantage (KM/DMS/BPM/Portal/Archiving). - Core Project Management. April 28 to May 2. - Advanced Microsoft Access XP/2003 with Macro and Programming. - Troubleshooting TCP/IP Internetworking. - Java Application and Applet Programming for Database (J2SE) Level II - Advanced Database
Application Programming. - SUN Solaris Administration. - Internetworking using Cisco Routers and Switches for IT Professionals. - Administering a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Database. - Implementing and Managing MS Exchange Server 2007. - PC Maintenance and Trouble Shooting - PHP using MySQL Database for Web Development. Information: Khun Jidapa, Khun Nutthanich, on 02-642-5001-8 ext 111/2, 114, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.nectec.or.th/ite.
The introduction of online payment was selected by 41.1% of voters as the most important e-commerce event in 2007, according to a survey by the eCommerce Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Some 21.2% of those surveyed said the second most important event was globally recognized eCommerce groups as Ebay, Google and Yahoo offering their services in Vietnam. The establishment of the Vietnam eCommerce Association (Vecom) is third, with 17.3% of votes. The fourth and fifth events were the implementation of the eCommerce Law with 12.4% and the remaining 8% went 30 of 64 provinces and cities in Vietnam officially issuing plans for eCommerce development through 2010. Tran Huu Linh, Deputy Head of the eCommerce Department, said voting results are contrary to the Ministry of Industry and Trade¡¯s experts¡¯ opinion that the implementation of the eCommerce Law was the most important event of 2007.
According to said experts, 2007 is a significant year for the development of eCommerce in Vietnam after an eCommerce legal framework was issued, including the Law on eCommerce, the amended Trade Law, the Decrees on eCommerce and eCommerce Transactions in Financial Activities. Related ministries and agencies are compiling further documents that will guide the implementation process of the above legal statutes, for example, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce¡¯s draft circular on contract transactions via the internet and the Ministry of Finance¡¯s circular on eCommerce for the stock market. As for problems with e-commerce in 2007, network security is considered the major hindrance, followed by online payment, awareness and law. The Department of eCommerce forecasts 2008 as a strong year for the industry, as the B2C (business to consumer) model will be introduced in conjunction with online payment services. According to the Ministry of Information and Trade, around 38% of Vietnamese enterprises have their own websites and over 93% are connected to the internet.
Vietnam is preparing to launch its first satellite, hoping to improve the country's telecommunications to keep pace with its rapid economic development, officials said Wednesday. Vinasat No. 1 is scheduled to be launched April 12 from Kourou spaceport in South America, and will be ready for use in May, Nguyen Ba Thuoc, vice general director of state-owned Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Corp., or VNPT, told reporters. The US$200-million, which has a medium transmission capacity, will help make Internet and television accessible nationwide, Thuoc said. "Vietnam has reached the point where significant improvements of the telecommunication infrastructure are needed for its economic and social development," said Thuoc. "Better telecommunications would bring more investment into the country." Currently, businesses and the Vietnamese government are renting satellites from Australia, Thailand and Russia. Vietnam's economy has grown at an average annual rate of more than 7 percent for the last 10 years. It has 19 million Internet users, and more than 40 million telephones, according to government figures.
A three-day inter-school ICT Fair 2008 begins at Dhanmandi Oxford International School (OIS) today (Thursday). Manik Lal Samaddar, special assistant to Chief Adviser for the ministry of science and information and communication technology will open the fair at 3 pm. "Since its birth OIS is continuously in pursuit of creating the best opportunity for making of a competent future generation of the country," said G M Nizamuddin, Principal of the school at a press briefing Wednesday. The three-day fair, the third of its kind in the OIS, is also backed by an Art and Craft Show that begins on the same day. Secretary of the ministry of science and information and communication technology Shaikh Wahiduzzaman, Vice-chancellor of Dhaka university Dr. S M A Faiz and former state minister Mizanur Rahman Sinha are expected to attend the opening ceremony as special guests.
Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (CSDMS) in collaboration with Elets technomedia Pvt. Ltd. is organising eINDIA2008, the fourth annual ICT4D forum in India. Department of Information Technology, Government of India and Global Alliance for ICT4D are co-organisers of the event. eIndia2008 aims to examine the myriad challenges, which appear while integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in different spheres of life, to share and work together, to analyse and assess, as well as to create actionable plans for leading technology-enabled knowledge society. The conference will be convened from July 29-31, 2008 at New Delhi, India. The three-day forum aims to render active conferencing, networking and showcasing. The conference offers a perfect platform for establishing and fostering high level networking contacts with leading representatives of the world¡¯s ICT sector on both governmental and business levels. As an international event, apart from the general public and the media, the eINDIA2008 Conference and Exhibition expects to bring together 4000 high-level representatives of the ICT industry, government, civil society, academia and private sector from all across the globe to share the best practices and digital opportunities for development, to discuss, and exchange knowledge and ideas that will shape the future of the global ICT development. eINDIA2008 is an inclusive, consultative and constructive ICT for Development forum ¨C the largest and only one of its kinds in India ¨C promoting and propagating the use of ICT4D through its seven seminal thematic track conferences. · egov · digital Learning · Telecentre Forum · mServe · eHealth · eAgriculture · municipalIT
The conference aims to: · Provide a collaborative forum to participants to share knowledge and ideas, enabling them to develop cross-sectoral contacts and partnerships, as well as to enhance their knowledge, expertise, and abilities; · Give a reference framework for describing impact, looking at approaches and methods currently used in the ICT4D sector and their suitability; · Highlight barriers of ICT integration in India and for other countries, identify gaps in current research; · Synthesise the main results of the experience sharing and progress made in recent years to provide a baseline for discussion with policy makers, and community of practitioners; Registration Fee For Indian Delegates · Pre Registration - INR 7,500 · Spot Registration - INR 10,000 Foreign Delegates
· Pre Registration - USD 300 · Spot Registration - USD 350
ASSOCHAM, the apex chamber of Commerce & Industry, popularly known as "the Knowledge Chamber" recognises the immense potential of knowledge economy. ASSOCHAM believes that the development of network-based distributed systems that serve numerous and diverse constituents and improve the overall efficiency and functioning of governments is a priority. The capacity-building aspect and basic infrastructure needs to be strengthened. For this there is not only the need to implement a strategic approach, but also involve international experience in the implementation of e-Governance. Continuing with the common objective, ASSOCHAM is organising the 5th National Summit on e-Governance ¡°Serving the Common Man through e-Governance: Sharing of Experience¡± on April 18, 2008 at The Oberoi, New Delhi, India. This summit, would certainly serve as an invaluable resource for the industry, policy makers and the stakeholders at large. For more details contact: Ajay Sharma, Jt. Director / Varun Aggarwal, Asst. Director The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India ASSOCHAM Corporate Office, 1, Community Centre Zamrudpur Kailash Colony, New Delhi ¨C 110 048 Phone: 46550555 (Hunting Line) Fax: 46536481/46536482 46536497/46536498 Email:email@example.com /firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
KARACHI (May 18 2008): The Aaj TV in co-ordination with the Dream Management is organising "Aaj TV Mobile Hungama", the first of its kind event in the country, at Expo Center Karachi on June 27, 28 and 29. Dream Management Director Syed Shams Mushtaq stated this while addressing a press conference here on Saturday. It would be a great exhibition to showcase the best of everything from the world of mobile phones as the participants of the exhibition include mobile phone manufacturers, retailers, telecom companies, and the representatives from the associated industries, said Mushtaq. "The event was aimed to create an equal opportunity to the exhibitors to capture growing market and enhance their market shares, besides providing quality entertainment to Karachiites," he said. Mushtaq said the visitors would also get awareness about the available best choices of mobiles, sales services, connections, and accessories by the exhibitors. The exhibitors would also provide special discounts to general public, while the event music partner Play TV would hold different contests where the visitors could win the mobile phones and exclusive merchandise, he added. Mushtaq said the organisers were also making special arrangements to provide fun and entertainment to the visitors that include musical concerts, visits of celebrity guests, gaming zone, play area for children, magic show, talent hunt, puppet show, food court, families shopping area and fire works. The inauguration ceremony of the event would be held on June 27 at 9:00 am at the Expo Center Karachi. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) chairman is expected to be the chief guest of the event, said Mushtaq.
LAHORE (May 21 2008): NetSol Technologies organised a training workshop on 'Information Security', conducted by world's famous IT security, IS Audit and Cyber Forensics expert from USA, Dr Albert J Marcella has over 29 years of professional and academic experience in IS besides being a author and trainer. A large numbers of high officials from public sector, sensitive agencies and private sector especially, from the financial sector of Pakistan attended the workshop. The training was designed in the light of latest requirements of the Information Security for today's corporate, commercial and public organisations. This course covered the areas like Auditing and Assessing, Web and Network Security and Cyber Forensics for the Auditors and Information Security professionals. He focused on cyber forensics besides suggesting ways and means to investigate an information security incident in any organisation internally or at cyber crime scene and how to collect, protect and present, electronic evidence and its chain of custody. It may be noted that in view of increasing number of information security incidents, NetSol Information Security Consulting has launched its InfoSec initiatives to ensure proper implementation and acceptance of information security through its services and venues for training and educating the officials of private as well as public sector. The company is also planning to launch several programmes, training, workshops, seminars and projects from its platform, aiming to help Pakistani businesses and organisations implement secure information systems.
The first congress of IT companies of Kazakhstan is taking place at the ¡°Intercontinental¡± Hotel in Astana today. The representatives of more than 150 Kazakhstan¡¯s IT companies, state bodies, banking system and educational establishments participate in the congress. They are planning to work out recommendations to the Government and all interested enterprises on the development of the national IT branch. Following the results of the congress the participants are expected to adopt an appeal to the President of Kazakhstan on the issues of the branch promotion.
Karim Massimov prime minister opened "Electronic Kazakhstan" the second international exhibition-forum of information and communication technologies today in Astana. "Nursultan Nazarbayev head of Kazakhstan set a certain task for society - entering in 50-s most competitive countries in the world. Development of electronic Kazakhstan is one of the important parts of our gradual development," K.Massimov stated at the opening ceremony of exhibition. "Finally, a customer will estimate whether we work well or badly, and it is important for a customer to get services qualifiedly and on time, including electronic services. I think we are on right path, and today conference is a prove to it," head of government emphasized. Agency on informatization and communication of Kazakhstan and exhibition company "Astana-Expo KS" are organizers of the exhibition. More than 50 leading world and domestic companies in the IT-technologies sphere, communications, financial institutions, consulting and educating structures are represented.
International two-day conference on use of information technologies (IT) in university teaching and developing higher education in Tajikistan ended in Dushanbe yesterday, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE). The source at a MoE said that the conference formally titled ¡°Raising Quality of Higher Education on the Basis of Use of Information Communications Technologies¡± had brought together researchers and specialists from Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. More than 100 participants at the conference worked in three sections. ¡°Assessment and study of achievements in raising quality and level of education in universities and sharing experience and knowledge in IT training and staff development in universities were the main objectives of the conference,¡± the source said, noting that the conference was staged by the MoE and Tajik National University. Speaking at the conference, Education Minister Abdujabbor Rahmonov named it ¡°one of the most important ways to raise quality of education in the country through use of IT.¡± He also noted that Tajikistan is behind European countries in use of IT in universities. ¡°Teachers with higher educational institutions in Tajikistan, except IT and math teachers, are not properly aware of information technologies and it is necessary to remove these shortcomings and train them,¡± Rahmonov said. The minister also proposed to create a common information network among universities to promote development of exchange of experiences.(by Mavjouda Hasanova)
International conference on "Development of infrastructure and services of the electronic document circulation and important problems of use of electronic digital signature" will be held in Tashkent on 23-25 April. The forum is being organized by the Uzbek Agency for Communication and Information (UzACI). Specialists from the Russian Federal Agency for Information Technologies will participate in the event, UzA reported. "The goal of the conference is to boost introduction of electronic document circulation with use of digital signature, identification of existing problems and exchange of experience," head of software industry department of UzACI Faizulla Agzamov said. Uzbekistan is currently implementing the Program of computerization and ICT development until 2010, which outlines the main directions of state policy in this field. They include extensive use of ICT by state bodies, creation of automated information systems and resources, interaction of state bodies and citizens and businesses through ICT, introduction of e-commerce and development of e-payment mechanisms.
During 2003-2004, laws on digital signature and electronic document circulation were passed, which laid a foundation for the development of the sector in the country. These documents give the legal power to the e-documents having the e-signature. "To ensure practical implementation of the e-signature, UzACI developed corresponding legal acts, rules and standards regulating technical aspects of e-signature infrastructure," Agzamov said. There are currently three e-signature keys registration centers in Uzbekistan, two of which are state centers and one is private. The total number of issued e-signature keys certificates makes up more than 10,000. "Use of e-document circulation in state management will increase the efficiency of working with documents, as well as reduce costs," Agzamov added. Among the currently implemented projects in the e-document sphere are projects of submission of reports by statistics and tax bodies.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, today announced that a forum to identify ways to make consumer representation in telecommunications policy making more effective will be held in Canberra on Thursday 1 May 2008. ¡°The Telecommunications Consumer Representation Stakeholder Forum will examine the effectiveness of current consumer representation in the Australian telecommunications industry,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°I want to give consumers a more powerful and effective voice in the development of telecommunications policy.¡± ¡°The sustainability of the telecommunications market depends on maintaining a healthy relationship between industry and consumers. Providing better consumer protection is a priority for the Government,¡± Senator Conroy said.
Prominent stakeholders in the telecommunications market¡ªincluding consumer, carrier, disability, government and industry representatives¡ªhave been invited to attend. The forum will provide these stakeholders an opportunity to discuss ways in which current consumer representation strategies can be improved. ¡°I am also interested in exploring a range of options that will provide the strong voice consumers need. This could be along the lines of a federated peak body and substructure as proposed by the Productivity Commission in its draft report, Review of Australia's Consumer Policy Framework (December 2007),¡± Senator Conroy said.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today encouraged people in regional, rural and remote New South Wales to have their say about the adequacy of telecommunications. ¡°The Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee is holding its last public meetings in Narrabri on Monday 5 May and in Parkes and Broken Hill on Wednesday 7 May,¡± Senator Conroy said. ¡°I encourage people in New South Wales with an interest in regional and rural telecommunications to attend these meetings to ensure their opinions on the adequacy of telecommunications are heard.¡± ¡°I look forward to hearing what people in New South Wales have to say and those who are unable to attend one of the proposed meetings can call or write to the Committee.¡± The Committee has been holding public meetings since February. It is expected to develop a comprehensive report for the Australian Government to consider by August 2008. The Committee was established by the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 to review the adequacy of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia .
CeBIT Australia 2008, the local incarnation of the world's biggest ICT trade show, opens in Sydney tomorrow with this year's fair expecting 35,000 visitors including 1,500 from overseas, according to Jackie Taranto, manager of Hanover Fairs Australia, the company behind the show. This year's CeBIT will include forums on innovation, open source, e-government, e-marketing, SEO, IP comms and e-commerce, with speakers including the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy and the Finance and Deregulation Minister Lindsay Tanner as well as representatives from IT giants such as Google and Sun. The fair will also include approximately 750 ICT exhibitors showcasing their products across the five square kilometres of floor space at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour. CeBIT Australia is in its seventh year. Taranto dismissed criticisms that CeBIT Australia was a consumer show, noting the conference ran Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with a standard entry cost of AU$65 dollars. "[CeBIT Australia] had never been a consumer show," Taranto said, rather it's a "serious business show, with a range of agencies showcasing their services and packages". Taranto said Hanover Fairs Australia, subsidiary of the German government organisation which runs CeBIT globally, has invested AU$4 million to put on the show, now in its seventh year. CeBIT Australia 2008 runs from 20 to 22 May ¡ª Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.
In conjunction with CeBIT Australia 2008, ZDNet Australia has announced Bulletproof Networks' Dedicated VM Hosting platform as the winner of the Emerging Innovation Award. Chosen from a range of submissions by exhibitors at this year's CeBIT event in Sydney, the Dedicated VM Hosting Platform gained top marks from ZDNet.com.au editors for providing an easily configurable and smoothly scalable environment for an organisation's hosted server requirements. Entries were judged against criteria which included innovation, return on investment, ease of management and competitive edge. Three Highly Commended awards were also given out at the evening ceremony in the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, with honours going to NetComm, for its NetAssure managed network service; Fonality's trixbox Pro software-based IP-PABX system; and the Zyxel NBG318S router from Lan1. This is the second year that ZDNet.com.au has held the Emerging Innovations Awards as part of the annual CeBIT Australia event.
Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe has announced the government will fund the establishment of a new overarching digital sector forum. The forum will consider aspects of the work of the NZ HiGrowth Project and the Digital Strategy Advisory Group which will cease operation by the end of March and April respectively. ¡°Creating a digital future for New Zealanders requires collaboration from a wide range of stakeholders,¡± said Mr Cunliffe. ¡°The new forum will create partnerships between industry, community and voluntary groups and users and provide a coordinated voice to government on digital issues. It is important that the interests of the wider digital community and those working with government on the development and implementation of the Digital Strategy and other initiatives are heard. ¡°The key to the success of the forum will be its wide representation and I encourage all groups with a digital interest to join. ¡°I would like to take this opportunity to thank HiGrowth and DSAG for their contribution to date to New Zealand¡¯s digital future. These groups have created a solid foundation for us to build on as we look towards our digital future,¡± said Mr Cunliffe.
Background Cabinet has agreed to fund the overarching forum but the establishment process will require further engagement with stakeholders to confirm the forum¡¯s design, terms of membership, and mode of operation. The forum is expected to be fully operational by the middle of 2008. This will coincide with the launch of the refreshed Digital Strategy 2.0. The Digital Strategy sets out the strategic direction of New Zealand¡¯s digital future. The ICT sector is also advancing plans to establish an industry body to focus on commercial issues. The government has noted this and is happy to cooperate with it as a self-funded initiative.
Questions and answers What is the purpose of the new overarching digital forum? The purpose of the overarching forum will be to: · Initiate and oversee work and projects on digital issues in the national interest (with or without government input and funding), such as community-based ICT skills and building ICT capability in voluntary and charitable organisations. · Facilitate the sharing of knowledge and learnings, possibly through events like the Digital Future Summit. · Provide an independent stream of advice to and dialogue with the government on the development and implementation of the Digital Strategy and related digital policy initiatives.
Who will make up the overarching forum¡¯s membership? The forum is expected to represent the varied interests of the wider digital community, with representation from the community and voluntary sector, business, local government, ICT users (such as academics and the research and science sector) and the ICT industry. It will effectively be a coalition of existing bodies ¨C an ¡°association of associations¡±.
How will the overarching forum operate? The forum will be an independent body, constitutionally separate from government. The proposed structure presently includes: · a National Council comprising all members of the overarching forum, whose main administrative function would be to consider nominations for and elect members to the Executive Board; · an Executive Board whose principal business would be to oversee the delivery of the agreed work programme of the overarching forum within budget, and to approve financial and other reporting to its members and other stakeholders on an annual basis; · an Executive Director appointed by the board to manage day-to-day interests and work; · supported by a small Secretariat, to implement aspects of the overarching forum¡¯s work programme; · Working groups comprised of sub-groups of forum members to carry out the substantive work of the overarching forum, supported by the executive director and staff. Engagement with potential members to the forum on the terms of membership and mode of operation is planned from the end of March and through April.
What is the government¡¯s role in the forum? While the overarching forum will be an independent body, its primary purpose will be to serve the national interest and, in particular, to interface with and contribute to the development and implementation of the Digital Strategy. As such, it is appropriate for the government to fund the forum¡¯s establishment and provide a base-level of ongoing operational funding.
What is the government funding, and by how much? On Monday 17 March 2008 Cabinet agreed to: ·funding of $825,000 for each of the first two years ¨C in years 2008/09 and 2009/10 ¨C for the design, establishment and initial operation of the new digital overarching forum; · annual funding of $400,000 from 2010/11, 2011/2012 and out years, to cover the operational costs of the forum; Funding would be provided on an annual basis for the first two years with a review in November 2009, in conjunction with mutual agreement on a work programme.
What work did MartinJenkins and Associates complete? Since November 2007, MartinJenkins and Associates have conducted an independent consultation process with stakeholders to investigate the purpose and design of sector representation and, on the basis of that consultation, made a recommendation to government on ICT sector representative structures.
Why are two separate representative bodies being established concurrently? The ICT-sector identified for itself the need to develop an industry body, so that strategic issues of an industry-good nature could be advanced by the sector. The overarching forum will focus on digital issues of national importance. The two separate bodies will achieve the same high-level objectives identified by government in 2007, but provide for a clearer separation between national good and industry good objectives.
Who will be establishing the overarching forum? MartinJenkins and Associates have been retained to help implement the overarching forum. Their appointment will ensure the establishment of the new body will proceed with some independence from government. Formation of the overarching forum will commence with the election of an executive board and appointment of an independent chair. The board and chair can then lead the work to finalise the operations of the forum and appoint an executive director. The overarching forum is intended to be operational by 1 July 2008.
What is the timeline for establishment of the overarching forum? By 31 March: Stakeholders will be consulted on a draft constitution By end April 2008: Executive board and independent chair appointed By 1 July 2008: Overarching forum operational.
What is the timeframe for the establishment of the industry body? Key ICT industry players have agreed to meet this month to progress formation of an ICT industry association. This is an industry led body and its success is dependant on their ability to implement the body.
How does the establishment of the overarching forum impact on the Digital Strategy Advisory Group? The Digital Strategy Advisory Group (DSAG) provided the mechanism for communities, local government, the private sector and other stakeholders to advise government and provide informed perspectives on the strategic direction of the Digital Strategy. DSAG will be disestablished once the executive board and chair have been appointed which is intended to be by the end of April 2008.
How does the establishment of the overarching forum impact on HiGrowth? The government will be ceasing funding to the HiGrowth project. HiGrowth was established in 2004, with an industry-good focus to assist with implementation of the ICT Taskforce¡¯s strategy. The HiGrowth board are now proceeding with an orderly wind-up
ICT associations are cautiously welcoming the new ¡°digital sector forum¡± announced last week and to be established with taxpayer funding. It¡¯s not immediately clear how existing industry associations will link with the new forum, says InternetNZ executive director Keith Davidson. ¡°I take it organisations such as ours will be members,¡± he says. The shape of the body, announced last week by ICT minister David Cunliffe, will not be settled until its constitution is finalised. This is currently in draft. ¡°Until there¡¯s absolute clarity, no-one can say ¡®this is the way, the truth and the light¡¯,¡± Davidson says. The new body, as yet unnamed, is described in Cunliffe¡¯s announcement as ¡°an association of associations¡±. It will incorporate ¡°representation from the community and voluntary sector, business, local government, ICT users (such as academics and the research and science sector) and the ICT industry.
¡°The establishment process will require further engagement with stakeholders to confirm the forum¡¯s design, terms of membership, and mode of operation,¡± says the announcement. This follows a long consultation exercise with stakeholders by consultancy Martin Jenkins, which produced a framework for the new organisation. The outline of the structure has already been criticised by some industry sources as appearing unduly complex. It comprises a national council made up of members of the constituent organisations an executive board, elected by the council to oversee the delivery of an agreed programme of work, and a ¡°small secretariat¡±. NZ Computer Society CEO Paul Matthews is optimistic that the forum will allow his society and other ICT organisations to keep their identity within a ¡°United Nations model¡± rather than a monolithic ¡°world-government model.¡± An attempt to be the latter, to completely subsume existing associations, was the biggest failing of the previous attempt at an umbrella group, the ill-fated ICT-NZ, Matthews says.
¡°We still have no guarantee that the interests of all member organisations will be fully represented. Our interests are different from those of an organisation like Software NZ, which is focussed on export of products and services.¡± Some of the major commercial ICT companies are forming a separate forum without government aid, an effort which Cunliffe applauds. The previous major industry organisation, Itanz, threw in its lot with ICT-NZ and has subsequently disappeared from the scene. Government funding for the establishment of the forum is smaller than that exposed by Computerworld in the confidential part of a Cabinet paper inadvertently released in November last year. That had $1.45 million being drawn from existing funding and $1.3m from new funding for the first two years of the forum¡¯s life. In the final plan, $825,000 a year is earmarked for that period ¡ª a total of $1,650,000, more than $1m less than outlined in the Cabinet paper. The $400,000-a year ongoing contribution from government is the same as suggested in the November paper. That assumed $600,000 a year being contributed from the industry, but the current plan leaves industry¡¯s contribution as ¡°self-determining¡±, says a spokesperson for Cunliffe. The forum is expected to be fully operational by the middle of 2008, to coincide with the refreshed Digital Strategy 2.0.
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