Summer 2012 Issue 38
Special Focus |  Policy and Legislation |  e-Government |  e-Commerce |  e-Society |  e-Security |  ICT Development

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IBM Names 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners
Ahmedabad, Pune, in IBM's List of Smarter Cities Programme
Smart Cities Will Need a 'Third Space' Between Home and Work
IDC Government Insights Fosters Smart City Development with New Smart City Framework
IT Can Make Cities Smarter, but Key Obstacles Remain
What to Expect at the Middle East Smart Cities Summit 2012?
China Heralds 2001st Smart City
JAPAN: Info-Communication Promotion Month to Be Held in FY2012 Safe, Secure and Smart Life Using ICT
PHILIPPINES: Smart mHealth Program in LTE Awards Finals
THAILAND: The Rise of the Smart City, Part 5: Smart Living
LATIN AMERICA: IT and Energy Efficiency: Smart Buildings
BRAZIL: I.B.M. Takes 'Smarter Cities' Concept to Rio de Janeiro
U.S. - How to Make Your City Smarter
UN Discusses Freedom of Expression on the Internet at Sweden's Initiative
Unlocking Barriers on ICT Products Benefits Regional Prosperity
Better Telecom Competition Promotes Innovation
New ITU Report Highlights Vital Role of Effective Regulation in Driving Broadband Rollout
ARAB STATES: Countries Need Green Economies Rooted in Science
EUROPE: UK - Internet Censorship in the West
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Digital Strategy Coming Later This Year: Paradis
U.S.: OMB Launches Federal IT Shared Services Strategy
CHINA: National Cloud Computing Plan to Be Issued
China to Speed Up Informatization Development
China to Timely Expand 4G Trial Scale
JAPAN: 2012 Information and Communications White Paper Conceived by All Information and Communications
Decision on "Guidelines for Treatment of Rights Relating to Broadcast Performances by Performers with Regards to Overseas Expansion of Broadcasting Contents"
Results from Appeal for Opinions on Ministerial Ordinance Plan for Partial Revision of Telecommunications Business Law Enforcement Regulations, and Repeat Appeal for Opinions
Appeal for Opinions on Establishment of Standard Fee Index for Specific Telecommunications Services Provided by NTT East and NTT West
Start of Reception of Second Applications for "Project to Promote Computerization in Disaster Regions" in Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Measures (Initial Budget for FY2012)
Japan, U.K. to Promote Common Internet Rules
SOUTH KOREA: Urging to Shift IT Focus to Software
PHILIPPINES: City Unveils ICT Master Plan for 2012 - 2016
SINGAPORE: Mongolia to Work on ICT Projects
Singapore: Community Policing System Launched
Bottom-Up Approach Preferred for Internet Code of Conduct
THAILAND: Launching Its First G-Cloud
East ASEAN to Rollout Regional ICT Projects
BANGLADESH: Presidential Ordinance Amends 1973 ICT Act
INDIA: Asking Court to Clarify Telecoms Ruling
IT Rules Regulating Web Content Could Be Repealed in Rajya Sabha
India: To Promote R&D in IT Sector, Government Plans to Set Up a Fund
IT Policy to Focus on Giving Exports a Fillip
AZERBAIJAN: Law on Getting Information to Be Amended and Changed by Parliament
Turkey and Azerbaijan Plan to Expand Communication and ICT
Action Plan on Broadband Internet Development in Azerbaijan Meets ITU Requirements
UZBEKISTAN: Programme to Promote ICT Opens
Uzbekistan Plans to Implement Electro-Technical Projects Worth $40 Million
AUSTRALIA: E-Health Bill Passes Lower House
Australia Outlines Plans for Digital Dividend Spectrum Auction
Australia Rolls Out US$387 Mil ICT Integration Programme
NEW ZEALAND: Networks Renew Radio Spectrum Licenses
Privacy Commissioner Supports Information Sharing Bill
Govt Approves First Electronic Game Degrees
Govt Assures That Treaty Poses No Danger to ICT Laws
Launch of the Chinese Edition of the "United Nations E-Government Survey 2012: E-Government for the People" in Beijing, China
Korea Ranks 1st Again in United Nations E-government Survey 2012
The Open Government Partnership - From Eight to 54 Countries
ARAB STATES: Over 600 World Leaders Convene in Doha for ITU's Connect Arab Summit
Bahrain: Ranking Most IT-friendly in MidEast
EUROPE: Public Sector Looks to Innovation in 2012
European Dialogue on Internet Governance
Germany: Launching New eGovernment Initiative for De-Mail and the New Identity Card
LARTIN AMERICA: Argentinean President Receives ITU WTISD Award
Paraguay Creates the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Federal Budget - IT Consolidation, Telepresence for Savings
Open-Source in Government Can Save Billions - Group
U.S. - Cornell Study Shows Public Has Many Misperceptions of Government
U.S.: White House Shares $200 Million Big Data Plan
U.S.: Data.Gov Launches Developer Community
U.S.: 10 Lessons from Leading Government CIOs
Pentagon CIO Talks Security, Mobility, Shared Services
CHINA: Government More Internet Savvy
China: Food Safety Monitoring Network in Shape
Chongqing Consolidating IT Role
"Online CPC Branch" Established in Chongqing
SOUTH KOREA: Ranking 1st Place Once Again in the United Nations E-Government Survey
S. Korea Shares E-gov't Experiences with Foreign Countries
Korean Mutation Information Available Online
MONGOLIA: Action Plan Approved for "E-Governance" Program
INDONESIA: Building Central Voter Database
PHILIPPINES: To Launch Website for Budget Transparency
SINGAPORE: IPTO to Enhance Online Bankruptcy Platform
Broad Support for Digital Public Services in S'pore: Survey
THAILAND: Gov't to Release PC Caravan to Raise Rural ICT Skills
THAILAND: e-Government Agency Aims to Link State Bodies
VIET NAM: Hanoi Government Gets New Data Centre
Vietnam Officials Debate About G-Cloud Readiness
INDIA: E-governance Project at Keonjhar District Collectorate
Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation Takes E-Governance Initiatives
Maharashtra Issues e-Governance Guidelines
DCGI to Implement e-Governance Across the Country
Quest for Citizen Centric e-Government in Manipur
Bihar Voters May Soon Have e-Voting Facility
Ghana National Information Technology Agency Set to Include WIMAX to LTE This Year
PAKISTAN: Website Filtering System Wanted
AZERBAIJAN: Studying Dutch and Canadian Experience to Build E-Government
E-Government Portal in Azerbaijan to Be Launched in Near Future
BAHRAIN: Launching First eKey System in Middle East for Secure Government Transactions
KAZAKHSTAN: E-Government Provides 2,000 Information Services Online
TURKMENISTAN: To Create E-Government
AUSTRALIA: Western Australian Government Builds US$113 Million Mobile Network
Victorian Government Spends US $11.7 Million on Digital Future
Australia Goes Digital with Government Records
Australia to Launch One-Stop Online Gateway for Aged Care
Australia Ramps Up US$2.05 Billion ICT Reforms
MARSHALL ISLANDS: Parliament Embraces ICT for Development
NEW ZEALAND: Government Seeks Syndicated Web Services Supply
Global B2C E-Commerce Market Report 2011
Gartner Cuts Worldwide IT Spending Forecast
Global Online Gaming Report 2012
ARAB STATES: Leaders Throw Spotlight on Regional ICT Investment Projects, Opportunities at ITU's Connect Arab Summit
EUROPE: Parliament Approves Mobile Data Roaming Caps
LARTIN AMERICA: Half of Internet Users Buy Online
Report: Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean Rose to $61 Billion in 2011
China to Become the Largest Market for Smartphones in 2012 with Brazil and India Forecast to Join the Top 5 Country-Level Markets by 2016 - IDC
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Spending More Time Than Ever Online, 17% More Than Any Others: Report
Canada: Ontario Looks to Private Sector for IT Savings
CHINA: 3C Product Sales Online Boom
China's Online Gaming Industry Grows in 2011
China's Software, IT Service Revenue to Boom
Chinese Village Taps Rural E-Commerce
Online Storage Service to Boost China's Internet Startups
China: Software, IC Makers Given Tax Preference
China's Disabled Enjoy E-Commerce Boom
JAPAN: Mobile Phone Industry Eyes Savings by Recycling
Softbank Gets Green Light for 900MHz Network Plan
Second LTE Mobile Network in Japan Launched by EMobile
Ericsson to Deploy 900MHz HSPA Network for Softbank
NTT's Xi 4G Service Hits 2m Subs
Request for Transfer to NTT Finance of Control, etc. of Work Relating to Telecommunications Service Fees, etc. of NTT East, NTT West, NTT Communications and NTT DoCoMo
High Court OK's Sale of Drugs Online
SOUTH KOREA: To Offer Low-Interest Loan to IT Companies
SOUTH KOREA: Govt. to Launch E-commerce Market to Stabilize Oil Prices
KT Confirms That Its LTE Services Are Now Available Nationwide
Microsoft, LG Paired in Cloud Computing
MALAYSIA: MDeC Eyes RM2 BLN in Investments FOR ICT Service Sector
MALAYSIA: Mobile Technology Enabler Delivers Faster, More Reliable Data Access with Move to SQL Server
PHILIPPINES: Mobile Internet on the Rise
Globe Bats for Ethernet Adoption
SINGAPORE: IDA to Auction 4G Spectrum from Next Year
IDA Urges S'pore Businesses to Take Up Cloud Computing
VIET NAM: Telecom Providers Diversify Services
Southeast Asia: Android-Loving Region
INDIA: Budget 2012 - IT Companies Fear Tax Burden from Software Royalty Law
Ahmedabad, Pune, in IBM's List of Smarter Cities Programme
A2Z Group & Dataserv Will Develop Venture for IT Waste Recycling
Indians Using Internet Prefer E-banking to Online Shopping
Bihar Introduces e-Z Pay Card to Benefit Backward Class Students
RIL Incorporates Phillips 66 Technology in Jamnagar Plants
Cabinet's Nod to National Portability Will Put an End to Mobile Roaming Charges
AZERBAIJAN: Trading Standards' E-Database Expands
Azerbaijan Creates Base to Expand IT Bodies' Business
Azerbaijan Reduces Import of Mobile Phones
Azerbaijani Mobile Operator Announces Investment Plans for 2012
KAZAKHSTAN: KT Taps EBRD for USD200m Broadband, LTE Loan
TURKMENISTAN: MTS Returns to Turkmenistan
AUSTRALIA: Engages Citizens in US$27 Million Great Barrier Reef Project
Australia Settles US$235 Million Wi-Fi Patent Claim
Queensland Rail Spends US$34 Million on Data Centre Consolidation
Budget 2012: E-Health Gets $233M Boost
NEW ZEALAND: Networks to Collaborate on Mobile Payments Standard
Online Ad Spending Sees 14 Per Cent Growth
Mobile Money Transforming Transactions in the Pacific
IBM Names 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners
IDC Government Insights Fosters Smart City Development with New Smart City Framework
ITU Seeks Next Generation of Social Entrepreneurs
ARAB STATES: Egyptian Wins US$100,000 African Innovation Prize
ASIA: Ageing Asia Launches Network on Business of Ageing
EUROPE: Denmark, England and Scotland Are at the Forefront of Telehealth Rethinking Healthcare
Digital Agenda: EU Research Breakthrough Will Cut 4G / LTE Mobile Network Energy Use in Half
Denmark Gives the Health Care Sector an e-Push
UK: ICT to Fostering Inter-Family Relationships, Naturally
LARTIN AMERICA: Digital Cities in Brazil
IT and Energy Efficiency: Smart Buildings
IDB and SAAB to Collaborate on Sustainable Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean
Brazil: I.B.M. Takes 'Smarter Cities' Concept to Rio de Janeiro
NORTH AMERICA: U.S. - How to Make Your City Smarter
CHINA: Heralds 2001st Smart City
China's Massive Web Audience Turns to Social, Mobile, Video
Wi-Fi Technology Boosts China's Digital Campus Construction
China to Ensure Broadband Internet Access for Students
Grassroots Heroes Elected by Chinese Internet Users
Chinese Internet Users to Hit 800m by 2015
Saturation Point for Mobiles?
Nine Technology-Based Assistive Tools for Disabled People Freely Available in HK
China Launches Electronic Passports
152 Million 3G Users in China
IBM Builds Smart Tech Center in S. China
260 Chinese Cities Build Digital Geographic Systems
JAPAN: Facebook Wins the Most Users
Official Announcement of 2012 Guidelines (Guidebook) Concerning Information Communication Technology to Promote Use and Utilization of ICT in the Field of Education
65% of Parents: Kids Don't Need Cell Phones
MALAYSIA: More File Income Tax Electronically
PHILIPPINES: The First Online Lifestyle Site
Smart mHealth Program in LTE Awards Finals
Gov't Urged to Provide Nationwide 'Wireless' Health Access
SINGAPORE: Introducing Online Patient Portal
THAILAND: ICT Ministry Aims to Provide Broadband to 95 % of People
The Rise of the Smart City, Part 5: Smart Living
Thailand Revamps Tax ID System
VIET NAM: City to Provide Free Wifi for Residents
VIETNAM: Initiating Dialogue on Education IT with Key Stakeholders
Ministry Wants Hi-Tech Agriculture Zones
INDIA: Economic Survey 2011-12 Tabled: NTP Expected by June, Spotlight on Role of ICT in Education
Providing Better Services to People Through IT
Social Networking Sites Must Locate Their Servers in India
Accenture Survey Finds There Is Broad Support for Digital Public Services in India
Online Rail Ticket Booking Facility for Disabled
Airtel Digital TV Launches iEnglish for Customers
Bhopal Citizens Can Soon Pay Property Tax, Water Cess Online
New SIM Card Technology to Help Parents Safeguard Kids from Bullying
Unite Community Information Centres and Panchayats, Says Omar
E-Ticket Cancellations Bring the Railway Department Whooping 750 Crore Revenue
AZERBAIJAN: Launching Real Estate E-registration
E-Services in Azerbaijan Enter Active Phase
How Azerbaijan Demonizes the Internet to Keep Citizens Offline
Azerbaijani State Committee for Land and Cartography Expands E-services
Azerbaijani Processing Center Expands Online Payments Services
KAZAKHSTAN: To Increase Fee for Landline Phone Service by 20 Percent
AUSTRALIA: Creates "Living Laboratory" for Digital Apps
Joint ANZ Standard on E-Waste Proposed
Australia Uses "Big Data" Analytics for Geothermal Energy
Australia Launches "Virtual Meeting" Services for Higher Education
Australia Incentivises General Practitioners to Join National E-Health Programme
NSW Integrates Education Systems Under US$113 Million Initiative
Benefits of Agile Development of Health IT
SA Health's Journey to E-Health
NEW ZEALAND: Cross-Net Mobile Traffic Continues to Increase
New Zealand Networks Consider Shared Stolen Handset Database
Education Ministry Focused on School Connections
United Nations Collaborate with the University of the South Pacific to Strengthen ICT Capacity for Youth in Pacific Island Countries
Malware, Hacking Remain Preferred Methods of Cyber-Criminals
Hacktivism Linked to 100 Million Compromised Records in 2011
Global Internet Filtering in 2012 at a Glance
EUROPE: First Information Risk Maturity Index Developed
NORTH AMERICA: U.S. - FBI Director Urges Cooperation on Fight Against Cyber Crime
U.S.: Federal Agency CIOs Worried About Cyberattacks, Budget Cuts, Survey Shows
Internet's Economic Impact in Latin America: A Comparison of 2 Countries - Argentina, Mexico
U.S.: Pentagon Makes Cyber Intelligence Sharing Program Permanent
Top 10 States for Internet Crime
CHINA: All Provincial Governments to Use Authorized Software
China Voices Support for Online Rumor Clean-up
Chinese Experts Warn of Information Security Risks
China: Gov't Departments Urged to Disclose More Information
China: Internet a "Big Killer" of Copyright Security
China Investigates 185 Websites for Piracy, Illegal Activities
Public Demanding Law on Cyber Security
Software Piracy Declined in 2011
JAPAN: New Facility to Test, Certify Cybersecurity/System Will Aim to Protect Infrastructure
Japan, EU to Set Up Cybersecurity Forum
'Kompu Gacha' Online Games May Be Illegal
Govt Studying 'Gacha' Legality / Online Game Operators Describe Methods Used to Snare Players
Govt Claims Cyberdefense Right / Says International Laws Should Be Applied to Computer Infiltration
SOUTH KOREA: Watchdog Issues Fines for Price Rigging
South Korea Introduces Fingerprint Technology to Prevent Corruption
Software Piracy Damages Peaked in 2011
Judicial Officers Urged to Take Caution in SNS Use
SINGAPORE: Considering Laws to Curb Cyber Bullying
SINGAPORE: Experts Say Hackers Turning to Social Networking Sites for Preys
SINGAPORE: To Reinforce IT Security Guidelines
Cyber-Wellness Programmes Could Begin as Early as Pre-School
THAILAND: Blocks 5,000 'Royal Insult' Web Pages
Thailand to Set Up National Cyber Security System
Securing Your Virtual Environment: A Lowdown
INDIA: 'National Cyber Coordination Centre' Will Scan Twitter
India: Hackers Hit 112 Gov Sites in Three Months
New Delhi Demands 'Data Secure Nation' Status for India
India Is Creating a Comprehensive Security Policy to Deal with Cyber Threats
PAKISTAN: Building Web Wall Out in the Open
PAKISTAN: To Block Up to 50 Million Web Addresses
AZERBAIJAN: Less Illegal Software Used
Azerbaijani Nar Mobile Eliminates Problems in Its Network
TAJIKISTAN: Unblocking Facebook, News Sites
Tajik Web Users Rail Against Online Censorship
AUSTRALIA: National Cybersecurity Competition Launched
Australia Boosts Cyber-Security Capabilities with R&D Centre
Cybersecurity Insurance for Asia Pacific
Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World Ranks Technology Proficiencies of 142 Economies
Report: Global Digital Divide Getting Worse
World Telecommunication and Information Society Award Focuses on "Women and Girls in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)"
ITU Award Presentation to President Cristina Fern芍ndez of Argentina, Sun Yafang and Geena Davis
ARAB STATES: New Region Technology Report Reveals Accelerating Demand, Need for Faster Roll-Out of High-Speed Internet
Egypt and Uganda Sign ICT Agreement
Egyptian Wins US$100,000 African Innovation Prize
Saudi Arabia: KSA Leads the World in Mobile Usage
EUROPE: Leading Way in Digital 'Revolution'
Ultra-Fast Broadband - Policy & Practice
The Dutch Government Has the World's Second Best Online Service
LARTIN AMERICA: Caribbean Region - 27 Million Citizens Will Benefit from Improved Communications Infrastructure
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Supports Innovative Data Transmission Technologies
CHINA: More Chinese to Enjoy Better Internet Surfing Experience
China to Become Asia-Pacific's Biggest IT Consumer
JAPAN: DoCoMo Hits Subscriber Milestone
Computer Built Using Swarms of Soldier Crabs
Info-Communication Promotion Month to Be Held in FY2012 Safe, Secure and Smart Life Using ICT
"Tokai Regional Panel Discussion for Commission on Town Development Utilizing ICT and Global Expansion" to Be Held
SOUTH KOREA: Entering a New Smartphone Age
Samsung Tops Mobile Chart
SK Telecom Showcases LTE Technology at Expo
MONGOLIA: "ICT Expo" Exhibition Will Take Place
CAMBODIA: Internet Penetration More Than Doubles
MALAYSIA: To Increase New ID Card Production Capacity
PHILIPPINES: Everest Report Shows PH Now a Mature Location for Software Services
Online Investor Accounts Surge 48%
SINGAPORE: Awards G-Cloud Tender
Singapore Launches Emergency Rescue App
THAILAND: More Thais Become Net Savvy
INDIA: Railway Budget - Focus on Safety, ICT Spend Likely to Go Up
India's Global ICT Ranking Goes Down
ARMENIA: Internet Subscriber Base Topped 1.8m Last Year
Armenia Mobile Operator Forecast, 2012 - 2015: Armenia to Have 4.6 Million Mobile Subscriber Connections in 2015
AZERBAIJAN: State Investment in ICT Sector to Hit $3.5 Bln in Next 10 Years
Internet Penetration Rate in Azerbaijan Double World Average
Number of Facebook Users Tops 786,000 in Azerbaijan
KAZAKHSTAN: Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts - 2012
UZBEKISTAN: Internet Users Increase by 21 Percent
NEW ZEALAND: Rural Coverage Improved
$48 Computer Starts New Digital Revolution
TONGA: Enjoy Fast and Cheap Internet Access
Asia Continues to Perform Strongly in WEF ICT Rankings

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IBM Names 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners

Thirty-three cities - including eight in the U.S. - were selected as recipients of IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2012. The grant program provides cities with technology and services from the company's experts to help address local issues. Now in the second year of a 100-city, $50 million program, each Smarter Cities Challenge grant is worth $400,000. This year's winning cities were selected for projects in the areas of economic and workforce development, transportation, sustainability, health, education and urban planning. An IBM expert lives in a selected city for three weeks, studies an issue plaguing the community and then makes recommendations for how to solve the challenge. In an email to Government Technology, Ari Fishkind, media relations manager for IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, said getting the pulse of each unique setting is a key part of the program. "We want them to live in the city for a better part of the month to absorb the culture, rhythms, dynamics and texture of local life as they interview many dozens of people involved," Fishkind said. "Taking note of these qualities help inform the tone and content of our team's recommendations to the city at the end of the project. You can't get that from just phoning it in, working remotely." Fishkind said the grant-winning cities all had a clear direction that they want to pursue and specific initiatives in mind. "They were willing to share as much data during the engagement so that we can make sophisticated recommendations about their next steps," Fishkind said.

The 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners (U.S. cities listed first):
• Atlanta
• Boston
• Durham, N.C.
• Houston
• Jacksonville, Fla.
• Louisville, Ky.
• Omaha, Neb.
• Pittsburgh, Pa.
• Accra, Ghana
• Ahmedabad, India
• Birmingham, UK
• Cheongju, Korea
• Chonburi, Thailand
• Curitiba, Brazil
• Da Nang, Vietnam
• Dortmund, Germany
• Eindhoven, Netherlands
• Geraldton, Australia
• Ishinomaki, Japan
• Jurong Lake District, Singapore
• Malaga, Spain
• Medellin, Colombia
• New Taipei City, Taiwan
• Nanjing, China
• Nairobi, Kenya
• Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
• Pune, India
• Rabat, Morocco
• Rosario, Argentina
• Siracusa, Italy
• Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
• Tshwane, South Africa
• Toluca, Mexico

One of the 2012 grant winners, Louisville, Ky., is asking IBM to help lower the rates of respiratory illness there through complex data analysis. The city is involved in a program called Asthmapolis, where 300 to 500 "smart" emergency asthma inhalers will be outfitted with GPS technology that in real time will record the location and time the inhaler is used and transmit that automatically to a database. The inhalers should be distributed to patients throughout the city in the next couple months. According to Chris Poynter, communications director for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the city hopes IBM's experts will analyze the inhaler data in combination with weather, pollution and flora information to get a definitive handle on why the area has high levels of respiratory illness. "What we're wanting in the short term is to have IBM help us understand if there are any results they can find from the data so far, and use their brainpower to say what we are missing or what we should be looking at," Poynter said. IBM also will provide the grant winners with special assistance through City Forward, a website designed by the company with the help of public policy experts. The site allows diverse groups to contribute data that explores trends and visualizes statistics.


From http://www.govtech.com/ 03/15/2012

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Ahmedabad, Pune, in IBM's List of Smarter Cities Programme

33 cities worldwide have been selected by IBM to receive IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants during 2012. Ahmedabad and Pune are the two Indian cities in the list. Launched in 2011, this three-year, 100-city $50 million programme - IBM's single-largest philanthropic initiative - funds in-person engagements staffed by teams of top IBM experts, who study and then make detailed recommendations addressing locally important urban issues. According to IBM, the goal of the grant programme is to improve urban life in the selected cities. IBM's consultants and technology specialists will help municipalities analyse and prioritise their needs, review strengths and weaknesses, and learn from the successful strategies used by other cities worldwide. After studying the role that intelligent technology might play in uniting and advancing different aspects of city life, IBM then outlines a range of concrete strategies designed to help make cities healthier, safer, smarter, more prosperous, and attractive for its inhabitants.

Following are the cities that earned IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants in 2012:
Accra, Ghana
Ahmedabad, India
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Birmingham, UK
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Cheongju, Korea
Chonburi, Thailand
Curitiba, Brazil
Da Nang, Vietnam
Dortmund, Germany
Durham, North Carolina, USA
Eindhoven, Netherlands
Geraldton, Australia
Houston, Texas, USA
Ishinomaki, Japan
Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Jurong Lake District, Singapore
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Malaga, Spain
Medellin, Colombia
New Taipei City, Taiwan
Nanjing, China
Nairobi, Kenya
Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Pune, India
Rabat, Morocco
Rosario, Argentina
Siracusa, Italy
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Tshwane, South Africa
Toluca, Mexico

IBM selected cities that made the strongest case for participating in the Smarter Cities Challenge. During these city engagements, IBM technical experts, researchers and consultants immerse themselves in local issues and offer a range of options and recommended next-steps. Among the issues they examine are healthcare, education, safety, social services, transportation, sustainability, budget management and energy. Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and President of IBM's International Foundation, said, "The cities that have been selected are all different, but they had one clear similarity: the strong personal commitment by the city's leadership to put in place the changes needed to help the city make smarter decisions. These cities demonstrated a desire to set an example for other municipalities, an eagerness to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, and a strong commitment to consider implementing recommendations the city felt would be the most feasible and beneficial to their residents."


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 03/18/2012

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Smart Cities Will Need a 'Third Space' Between Home and Work

Future cities will have to be innovative spaces that allow for better ways of working, with a new 'third way' between home and work set of spaces in our town centres that offers a home for a new generation of teleworkers. That's the thrust of a new piece of though leadership out of Microsoft today that also has contributions from luminaries like transport policy makers and advisers. Technology will help turn modern cities into flexible working environments, influencing design and planning, and transforming urban spaces into a new class of so-called 'Anywhere Working Cities,' according to the document. Its central argument is that technology has emerged as the front-runner in the battle to facilitate a sustainable city for the 21st century as the world's cities struggle from "over-crowding issues, environmental concerns, travel congestion and economic pressures".

But it says existing transport architecture cannot cope with infinite expansion - and the development of third spaces in cities is desperately needed to allow people to work anytime, anywhere. These new urban areas ought to be located in places such as train stations and public buildings, potentially bridging the gap between home and office to increase the flexibility and productivity of working people. Any number of third spaces will be located in a new breed of Anywhere Working Cities, highly liveable, polycentric metropolises driven by societal expectation of a different way of working, shopping and living, and enabled by new architectures of buildings, technology and transport.

The paper has been co-authored by Linda Chandler, Enterprise Services Architect at Microsoft and Philip Ross, CEO at UnWork.com. and draws on interviews and work from a wide variety of experts and thought leaders, including Sir Terry Farrell, Master Architect famous for his regeneration projects across the UK, Steven Norris, ex-Transport Minister and board member at TfL, Norman Baker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport and Fiona Fletcher Smith, Executive Director of Development and Environment at the GLA. The paper highlights how smarter travel combined with alternative working practices, as supported by government-backed projects such as the Anywhere Working Consortium, of which Microsoft is a ember, might guide the capital's Smart City development through the Olympics and beyond.

Smart Cities 'no longer just a theory' 
"Anywhere Working Cities and smarter working concepts are no longer just theories; they are now realities," claimed Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport. "Examples throughout this paper demonstrate how technology infrastructure and new ways of working are having a real and beneficial impact today in cities around the world. However, for cities to continue to evolve and the UK to remain competitive, modern technology that cuts costs, improves efficiency and cuts carbon must be embraced."
 
Key points from the paper include:
﹞ Future cities must have a strong, strategic transport architecture policy that will also have to be more inventive within the current transport framework to encourage a shift in attitude and behaviour
﹞ Third spaces around railway stations and other transport hubs should be used to stagger commuting times, which could help companies encourage a more flexible working day model, where employees come into the office for a set period anytime within an extended time window
﹞ Enabling technologies, such as the growth of the cloud computing, ubiquitous wireless, the consumerisation of technology and BYOD (bring your own device) extends the 'place' where you can work to numerous out of office settings helping boost productivity of staff
﹞ Investment in technology infrastructure can enable the multitude of modern centres within a metropolis, which are often semi-deserted during the day, to be workspaces or workclusters in their own right, linked by networks or corridors of connectivity.
 
Linda Chandler, Enterprise Services Architect at Microsoft, commented, "The evolution to an Anywhere Working City is driven by over-crowding, environmental concerns, economic factors and society's desire to work and live in a more balanced way. "Technology is the facilitator of the Anywhere Working City - and although IT is the biggest achievement of our generation, it is also the expectation of the next generation." Philip Ross, CEO of future work strategists UnWork.com, added, "Anywhere working is the logical alternative to the dumb container for work - the office - that dominates most people's working lives. "Rather than commute into city centres or be stuck at home, anywhere working predicts a polycentric approach where new third workspaces create a more 'permeable' and liveable city."


From http://www.publictechnology.net/ 04/24/2012

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IDC Government Insights Fosters Smart City Development with New Smart City Framework

IDC Government Insights today unveiled Smart City Framework to define the key processes needed to create a Smart City and critical factors to enabling a Smart City, to help Mayors and other city leaders embark on their Smart City development journey. To date, varying definitions of what a Smart City is, and the complexity of smart solutions have made it difficult for city leaders to know where to begin in their smart city planning. The new report, Business Strategy: Smart City Strategies ‒ IDC Government Insights' Smart City Framework (Document # GI234160), provides a framework for conceptualizing what a Smart City is in concrete terms, the drivers of Smart City growth, key technologies and process in Smart City solutions, and detailed guidance for both city leaders and vendors. The last few years in technology advancement have helped create the right environment for smart city solutions - pervasive wireless and broadband connections, advanced analytics software, intelligent sensors, the profusion of mobile devices and the use of social media can be integrated by vendors to provide solutions for city governments. Smart cities will become the city of the future and businesses, workers, tourists, as well as cultural and sporting event planners, will migrate to these cities as they will be more livable, efficient, and provide superior citizen services.

According to IDC Government Insights, a Smart City is defined as is a finite unit or entity with its own governing authority that is more local than the federal or national level and uses a specific set of technologies to achieve the explicit goal of improving the lives of its citizens through sustainable development. Smart City solutions are models for leveraging IT not only to deliver higher quality citizen services more efficiently, but also to affect behavior change in government workers, city businesses, and citizens so cities can develop more sustainably. A city is a financial, commercial, social and cultural hub and an ecosystem of infrastructure and citizen services defined as "domains" by IDC Government Insights including:
• Public Safety
• Transportation
• Citizen Services
• Education
• Energy
• Water
• Buildings
• Healthcare

Currently, most cities are deploying, or have deployed, a smart solution in one or two domains. The solutions are still siloed from each other, mimicking the way most government departments operate. Ultimately, IDC Government Insights believes that as cities mature in their thinking about smart solutions and city management, more cities will look to integrate different domains into one central command or operation center to provide a comprehensive city view and generate optimal responses based on integrated data from multiple domains. Based on the new report, to become a Smart City, a city must have an explicit Smart City mission statement around sustainable urban development and specific citizen quality of life issues. Departments initiating Smart City solutions should also have mission statements with specific goals regarding a more sustainable and livable urban environments and improved services. Examples of goals could include using smart technologies to reduce crime, carbon emissions, benefits fraud, or traffic congestion. The most successful implementations will engage citizens and private entities to define strategic direction, city priorities, and create a technology roadmap.

"City leaders are looking to invest in Smart City solutions to leverage their existing IT, data, and human resources more effectively, and provide better services to citizens. Vendors are rapidly reorganizing around Smart City services offerings, and in this context, IDC Government Insights has provided a framework document for understanding Smart City solutions," states Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, research director, IDC Government Insights. "IDC Government Insights believes Smart Cities are the city of the future. Those cities that fail to start the smart city journey now will be left behind in terms of attractiveness to investors and residents."


From http://www.idg.com/ 04/26/2012

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IT Can Make Cities Smarter, but Key Obstacles Remain

The world's cities face pressing needs to modernize in ways that will involve collecting and managing massive amounts of data, thus creating a large new market opportunity for information and communications technologies providers. Solution providers of all types are pursuing this opportunity with an array of offerings and projects. Some are centrally planned, or "top down," and others more grassroots, or "bottom up." However, as we discuss in a new report, Opportunity and Innovation in Smart Cities, and will explore further at an Ovum-hosted event next month in London, the market's potential is being inhibited by factors such as immature standards, rigid and siloed infrastructures, limited budgets, and fragmented and politicized decision-making. Unless these impediments can be overcome, urban solutions may not emerge quickly enough to keep pace with cities' growing needs, and this potentially lucrative market may not achieve its full potential.

Vendors are avidly pursuing a range of opportunities
Today's digital city solutions fall into two main categories. First are large-scale, centrally planned, top-down projects, driven primarily by public authorities and developers, and attracting the biggest names in IT, such as Cisco and IBM. Complementary to such projects are smaller, more spontaneous, bottom-up solutions, aimed at making cities more efficient and livable, for example by improving social interaction and creating new urban services. IBM plays in this arena too, with a free, web-based platform called City Forward that hosts public data sets on topics such as crime, education, and labor, and allows users to experiment with them to identify patterns and trends that may lead to new solutions. Other sources of grassroots innovation are companies such as InnoCentive, which uses crowdsourcing and competitions to find solutions to business, government, science, and health challenges; Citymart, an online marketplace that showcases hundreds of applications and services from a variety of sources; a closely associated not-for-profit organization called Living Labs Global, which is supported by more than 160 organizations worldwide and maintains an online showcase; and the Planetary Skin Institute, a global research and development organization that grew out of a collaboration between Cisco and NASA.

The market faces numerous inhibitors
Top-down and grassroots smart cities initiatives can complement, and even amplify, each other, if the conditions are right. In reality, however, there are numerous impediments to such complementary innovation. Cities and other public sector organizations often have patchworks of antiquated, poorly integrated IT systems, with data sets isolated from each other in silos and incompatible formats. Many forward-thinking initiatives are hampered by a lack of good baseline data. Lack of communication and organization lead to duplicative efforts as multiple teams working in isolation reinvent the same kinds of solutions, and sometimes this redundancy is exacerbated by developers and administrators distrusting solutions that they didn't build themselves. Such immaturity, fragmentation, and lack of coordination inevitably mean that although the market for smart city solutions is growing, it is growing more slowly than it would if these issues could be addressed.

More initiatives are needed to overcome these hurdles
Various efforts are under way to address the inhibitors. They include the C40 Climate Leadership Group, a group of 40 cities around the globe that have implemented some 29 projects and have dozens more in the works that are designed to reduce the drivers of climate change. The C40 group's efforts are described in a recent report by The Climate Group, a London-based non-governmental organization, which also points out progress in the area of "open APIs" that facilitate development of applications and services based on public data. But such efforts moving in the right direction have not yet achieved anything close to adequate scale. Both solution providers and their urban customers must address these challenges together to solve issues of data collection, standardization, and availability and closer communication among stakeholders. Only through such collaboration can a foundation be laid that will derive maximum value from both top-down and bottom-up smart cities initiatives.

An upcoming Ovum event will explore these issues further
Ovum is hosting Smart Cities Europe 2012 on June 19 - 20, in association with Imperial College London. The two-day event, held at the Lancaster Hotel in London, will explore how to digitally link utilities and services within a city, enabling new technical and business opportunities. Smart Cities Europe 2012 will also draw on the expertise of Ovum analysts and invited speakers, delivering the world's leading cross-sector forum for the exchange of knowledge related to digital cities.


From http://ovum.com/ 05/21/2012

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What to Expect at the Middle East Smart Cities Summit 2012?

The Middle East Smart Cities Summit 2012 to bring the forefront, leading GCC Smart City advocates and project stakeholders. Prudent city development authorities, project stake holders and officials will congregate at the Intercontinental Doha between 28th & 29th May, 2012 to express their opinions at the 'The Middle East Smart Cities Summit 2012', Qatar organized by Fleming Gulf Utilities Division. The summit aims not only to foster the growth and development of smart city projects in the GCC, but to also serve as a key assessor to gauge the commitment of stakeholders who are turning their visions into reality. Opening the day's proceedings will be Hussain Naimi, the Advisor for Smart City to Lusail Real Estate Development Company's CEO Eng. Essa Mohammed Ali Kaldari. Lusail's Integrated transportation systems is one of the most comprehensive networks that incorporates urban and public transportation and serves as a true real time example of ITS deployment in the region. The Supreme Council of Information & Communication Technology (ICT Qatar) will present ' Developing Smart Cities with ICT' while Christopher Sorensen's 'Value Creation for Smart Cities - the Masdar Journey' will the stress the role technology plays in creating sustainable ecosystems.

Leading the solutions portfolio's will be Patrick Marti of Saia-Burgess Controls, Switzerland who will share insights on challenges and solutions for profitable infrastructure automation projects. Contact and contact less telematics technology in ITS by Dr. Ralph Gambetta of the Calypso Networks Association and City Management Scada (CMS) for Smart Cities from Thomas George of NG GLOBAL FZ LLC.UAE will also feature on Day 1 of the program along with a special demo by CNIguard whose smart sensoring systems deploy an RC unit to provide a live feed to asses any critical situation. M2M partner - Vodafone Qatar will showcase the M2M platform that is enabling business productivity and sustainability in the field of smart cities the world over. Client case studies, global M2M connectivity solutions and the M2M market outlook will be presented by Head of M2M, Vodafone Southern Region, Cyril Deschanel. With confirmed participation from QUWIC, The Ministry Of Municipality & Urban Planning Qatar, ICT Qatar, Qatar National Broadband Networks and Dubai Municipality, to name a few, The Middle East Smart Cities Summit 2012 opens its doors to welcome a new era in intelligent and futuristic technology that will ultimately serve the future customers.


From http://www.pr-inside.com/ 05/23/2012

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China Heralds 2001st Smart City

No one is counting, but China's quick-growing Zhenjiang could be the 2001st smart city to take advantage of centralized monitoring and real-time analytics that anticipate traffic jams before they happen. As more and more people flock to urban centers worldwide, 2000 of them have already met the challenge by switching to smart monitoring and real-time analytics that optimizes public transportation and roadway management. China's Zhenjiang being the latest addition to this list of smart cities worldwide makes it symbolically the 2001st. "Working with forward looking cities like Zhenjiang, and 2000 other smarter cities projects around the world, IBM is able to help make cities smart," said an IBM spokesperson in a recent video entitled IBM Helps Zhenjiang Build a Smarter City. Dashboards in IBM's Intelligent Operations Center monitor city services providing operational insight and centralized intelligence capable of optimizing efficiencies and improving planning. Regardless of the exact number of cities involved, over $36 billion is slated to be spent on smart city infrastructure projects over the next decade, according to Pike Research, with China representing the largest single market.

"By integrating technology and intelligence into the physical transportation infrastructure, cities can improve capacity, enhance the traveler experience, and make transportation systems more efficient, safe, and sustainable for future growth," said Gerry Mooney, General Manager of Smarter Cities at IBM. The heart of Zhenjiang's smarter city efforts will be the installation IBM's Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) which will use sensors installed at the city's 400 transit centers and 1000 public vehicles to analyze traffic patterns, obtain and disseminate real-time traffic updates, and anticipate traffic flow disruptions before they become a problem. Together with the government of Zhenjiang, IBM hopes to improve the city's transportation system, as well as "support the government's effort of building a harmonious society, and accelerate the economic growth and transformation of this vibrant country," said Dah-Chuen Chien, General Manager, IBM Greater China Group.

By investing in a system-wide transportation upgrade using IBM's Intelligent Transportation software, centralized dashboards will provide city managers with a consolidated view that includes real-time analytics that track and categorize traffic patterns over 80 routes in and around Zhenjiang. As a result, Zhenjiang IOC will increase traffic throughput with optimized routing and improved efficiency, plus the system will provide advance warning of potential traffic jams, giving managers a chance to mitigate or even eliminate them before they happen. By simulating the entire transit fleet and passenger flow across the transportation network, the IOC also maximizes road capacity as well as rapidly responds to incidents. Our aim in partnering with IBM is to "make our public transportation system faster and more efficient, while making our city a better place to live in," said Mingnian Yin, Director of Reform Commission, City of Zhenjiang.


From http://www.smartertechnology.com/ 03/05/2012

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JAPAN: Info-Communication Promotion Month to Be Held in FY2012 Safe, Secure and Smart Life Using ICT

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications(MIC) and The Council for Info-Communications Promotion Month will implement "Info-Communications Promotion Month" from May 15 (Tue) to June 15 (Fri), 2012. Comprising ICT-related events in each region of Japan, with the aiming of further diffusing and promoting information communication. These events are designed to help citizens of Japan to understand the vital role played by information and communications in building a society in which people can live rich and secure.

1. Theme of this fiscal year "Safe, secure and smart life using ICT"
People can realize safe, secure and smart communications by taking advantage of ICT even at the time of unexpected disaster. This theme transmits an image of efforts for effectively utilizing ICT in our life in the time when the importance and diversity of "information" is increasing.

2. Outline of events
During this promotion month, about 270 events are held nationwide. The following are some examples of participating events. You are able to view the list of participating events of on the official website. However, the content of event, etc. is subject to change. URL:http://jtgkn.com

3. Examples of vents
Name of event: ICT Seminar by Collaboration between Hokkaido and Tohoku
Date: June 20 (Wed), 2012
Place: Auditorium, 1st Sapporo Government Building 2F (Sapporo City, Hokkaido)
Content: This seminar is held for local public bodies and citizens with the view to share knowledge concerning information and communications, know-how of recovery, issues, etc. obtained from the Great East Japan Earthquake in Hokkaido and use them to prevent and alleviate disasters (entrance free)

Name of event: ICT Promotion Fair 2012 in Tohoku
Date: June 27 (Wed), 2012
Place: Sendai Mediatheque (Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture)
Content: A seminar for local reconstruction and revitalization and related exhibitions are held under the theme of solution of local issues and disaster-resilient town development through use and utilization of ICT (entrance free)

Name of event: Seminar for Promotion of Use and Utilization of ICT
Date: June 20 (Wed), 2012
Place: Conference room, Kudan 3rd Government Building 11F (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)
Content: A keynote address to promote use and utilization of ICT is given and cases of use and utilization of ICT are introduced and exhibited (entrance free)

Name of event: Seminar for Use and Utilization of Broadband
Date: June 14 (Thu), 2012
Place: Chisun Hotel Niigata (Chuo-ku, Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture)
Content: This seminar is for local residents, local public bodies and companies to promote the spread of development of Broadband and its use and utilization (entrance free)

Name of event: "Hokuriku ICT Channel" Series (1) to create the future from Hokuriku
Date: May 15 (Tue) to June 15 (Fri), 2012
Place: Internet distribution
Content: Hokuriku ICT Channel is a program distributed through the Internet which introduces and explains policies and efforts of the Hokuriku Regional Bureau of Telecommunications and a variety of examples and projects in Tohoku in an easily-understandable manner. During the period of Telecom Fair when a program is distributed for the first time, "Minamisoma Channel" which links disaster victims and their home is featured to transmit the determination to realize "East Japan Reconstruction Channel" and solicit support and cooperation mainly by introducing messages sent from parties concerned.

Name of event: Information and Communications Seminar 2012
Date: June 4 (Mon), 2012
Place: Hotel Nagoya Garden Palace (Naka-ku, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture)
Content: This seminar is held to predict the future of cloud computing service and look for a possibility of new ICT industries and businesses which link and integrate cloud and smart phones (entrance free)

Name of event: Lectures on communications of disaster-prevention information "Measures for Damages of Tsunami Caused by Great Earthquake Expected to Occur in Nankai Trough"
Date: May 15 (Tue), 2012
Place: KKR Hotel Osaka (Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture)
Content: Lectures on how we should prepare for damages of tsunami will be given in response to the estimated results that there are areas hit by a tsunami of more than 20 meters in a wide range from the islands of Tokyo to Shikoku (entrance free, prior application is required)

Name of event: Seminar for Safe and Secure Internet: Countermeasures against Child Pornography and Efforts for Protection of Personal Information
Date: May 23 (Wed), 2012
Content: Mielparque Hiroshima (Naka-ku, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture)
Content: Proper handling of personal information, measures for safety management, response and management method, countermeasures against child pornography on the Internet are explained (entrance free)

Name of event: Ehime IT Fair 2012
Date: June 29 (Fri) ~ June 30 (Sat), 2012
Place: Item Ehime (Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture)
Content: Different types of equipment related to information and communications is displayed and demonstrated and visitors can closely experience the state of ICT and examples of its use and utilization by participating in the test ride of electric vehicle and experiencing the operation of robots (entrance free)

Name of event: Japan-Korea Senior Internet Forum in Saga
Date: May 24 (Thu), 2012
Place: Forester Fuji (Fuji Town, Saga City, Saga Prefecture)
Content: Japan-Korea Senior Internet Forum to consider travel of seniors which is changed by ICT, an introductory seminar for iPad and smart phones and lectures by specialists of electric administration will be given (entrance free)

Name of event: Ubiquitous Lecture
Date: June 26 (Tue), 2012
Place: Harborview Hotel (Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture)
Content: A seminar on testing which supports advanced information and communications in the age of android and current state of frequency policy such as white space (provisional) (entrance free)


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 05/15/2012

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PHILIPPINES: Smart mHealth Program in LTE Awards Finals

Manila, Philippines - SHINE or Secured Health Information Network and Exchange, the flagship mHealth program of Smart Communications, which provides better access to health care services in the Philippines, has gained international recognition once again. A hosted electronic health information and referral system accessible by a java-capable phone or a computer with Internet connectivity, SHINE was recently shortlisted at the LTE Awards 2012 under the Most Significant Development for Commercial LTE Network by an Operator category. Smart launched its pilot LTE site in April 2011 in Boracay, and has since fired up over 30 LTE sites in various locations, including Iloilo City and Quezon City. LTE, shorthand for Long-Term Evolution, is the world's fastest mobile broadband technology. SHINE enables doctors, nurses and midwives to record patient encounters, easily find and retrieve patient records, facilitate referrals among facilities, and more efficiently generate government required reports. It is now being used in public primary, secondary, and tertiary care facilities in Central Philippines and the NCR, with 34 city health centers and rural health units and 19 major referral hospitals involved. Last month, SHINE received the Best Community Telecom Project at the 15th Telecom Asia Awards held in Bangkok, Thailand. Early this year, SHINE was nominated at the 17th Global Mobile Awards of the GSM Association in Barcelona, under the Best Mobile Health Innovation category. Now on its third year, the annual LTE Awards is organized by Telecoms.com, the leading online intelligence source for telecommunications. The awards have become a symbol of recognition for the LTE industry as a mark of leadership, quality and innovation. Winners will be announced on May 23, during the LTE World Summit 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.


From http://www.philstar.com/ 05/13/2012

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THAILAND: The Rise of the Smart City, Part 5: Smart Living

The successful development of the Smart City, which we have been discussing in recent columns, depends on a number of factors, including a Smart Economy, a Smart Environment and People who have been encouraged to make maximum use of all that a smart city can offer. In this article I will look at the fourth of the elements that comprise a Smart City, that of Smart Living. A better quality of life is something everyone aspires to, and for city dwellers of the future that will mean a heavy reliance on the benefits of technology. We are only 30 years into the age of the personal computer, and yet the changes that computers have made in the way we live are extraordinary. As someone who grew up in the age of the rotary-dial telephone and before colour television was invented, I think I'm safe in saying that no one really knows what further technological advances await us in the next 50 years. Back then, if you'd said that people would have handheld devices receiving directions from outer space, you'd have been laughed at, but nowadays people feel lost, literally, without GPS on their mobile phones.

However, one thing we can confidently predict is that city planners are going to be looking to technology to help enable Smart Living for future city dwellers. The focus will be on the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to create smarter and more sustainable cities, and to help improve overall quality of life. In particular, broadband service is expected to play a major role in Smart Living, helping to create low-carbon environments (industry studies have shown ICT can help to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by up to 15%) and enabling smart grids that can provide intelligent services in key areas such as health and transport. The availability of broadband will allow people to live and work smarter, providing access to health-related, work-related, and government-related online services. And don't forget that for every individual who can reach a medical practitioner or government official online, that is one less individual having to use personal or public transport, thus potentially lessening traffic congestion.

More service providers are also making use of mobile phones, either for GPS to find your way, checking the weather, looking for a restaurant, or even submitting your tax return, mobiles help to make our daily lives more manageable. Of course all this technology needs to be controlled and directed, and a lot of attention is being paid to the concept of a Smart City operating system (OS). A good example of this is the "Urban OS", built on a technology developed by the Formula One team McLaren, and unveiled at a recent conference by the Portuguese company Living Plan IT. They, along with partners such as Cisco and Microsoft, are constructing a futuristic settlement in Portugal to test the viability of the new technology. The aim is to build a city run by one big computerised system. It's a bit like how the operating system on your PC works, but on a giant scale, and with enormous volumes of data being handled. There could potentially be billions of interacting devices in a typical city, and the city being built to test the Urban OS will have around one million high-tech sensors embedded in it. They will monitor all activity and effectively eliminate the need for human management of many areas that affect the quality of daily city living.

Of course, the longer-term goal will be to have smartphone technology interacting with the city-level systems, bringing the possibility of handheld manipulation of home-based systems that manage appliances, heating, lighting, safety equipment, and so on. The operating systems of these high-tech cities of the future will allow for the fast creation and deployment of software applications for controlling building environments, managing urban lighting, controlling traffic, providing waste management, and many other urban essentials. Combining everything under one OS will lead to cost savings, better responsiveness, and more efficient use of scarce resources. Time will tell how well the new urban-style OS might work, but whether people are for or against increased computerisation, it is certain that technology will form the basis of future city management. Cities worldwide are looking for technology solutions to ensure their citizens can work and live smarter, and here are five innovations that IBM predicts most cities will be using in the near future:

Longer-life batteries: New technology will mean that batteries won't need to be recharged for days, or even months, at a time, providing up to 800 kilometres of use from a single charge, compared with the current maximum of about 160 km.
Disease control: Better IT systems will allow public health officials to predict, manage and control disease outbreaks far more effectively.
Water management: Smarter water management systems will reduce water waste by up to 50%, through avoiding pollution of rivers and lakes, and by increasing drinkable water supplies through improved purification processes.
Green credits: Citizens will be rewarded with tradable online credits for reducing their carbon footprint, thus providing incentives to get involved in efforts to improve the environment.
Emergency responsiveness: Cities will use state-of-the-art systems to collect and share data in real time to improve emergency prevention and response mechanisms.

Of course, one obvious potential barrier to the effectiveness of all these new smart technologies is whether or not city-dwellers will have the necessary skills to make use of them all. As we enter the age of the knowledge-based economy, cities will become more and more reliant on their human capital, the knowledge and skills of individuals, if they want to be successful. So technology awareness and training are likely to feature strongly in the minds of future city planners.In the next article in the series, I'll look at the fifth of the Smart City elements, that of Smart Governance.


From http://www.bangkokpost.com/ 05/08/2012

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LATIN AMERICA: IT and Energy Efficiency: Smart Buildings

Latin America has a daunting energy challenge ahead. In order to prolong the economic growth and improvements in living standards, the region must expand its electricity generation capacity enormously and improve energy efficiency as well. So called passive energy efficiency measures, such as insulation or low-consumption equipment are not enough, and the contribution of information technology (IT) in design, construction and installation has become key. One area in which there are plenty of opportunities to use IT to reduce consumption is in buildings, a model that is being seen increasingly often in Latin American cities.


From http://www.bnamericas.com/ 04/30/2012

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BRAZIL: I.B.M. Takes 'Smarter Cities' Concept to Rio de Janeiro

NOT far from Copacabana Beach here is a control room that looks straight out of NASA. City employees in white jumpsuits work quietly in front of a giant wall of screens - a sort of virtual Rio, rendered in real time. Video streams in from subway stations and major intersections. A sophisticated weather program predicts rainfall across the city. A map glows with the locations of car accidents, power failures and other problems. The order and precision seem out of place in this easygoing Brazilian city, which on this February day was preparing for the controlled chaos that is Carnaval. But what is happening here reflects a bold and potentially lucrative experiment that could shape the future of cities around the world. This building is the Operations Center of the City of Rio, and its system was designed by I.B.M. at the request of Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes. There is nothing quite like it in the world's other major cities. I.B.M. has created similar data centers elsewhere for single agencies like police departments. But never before has it built a citywide system integrating data from some 30 agencies, all under a single roof. It is the handiwork of an I.B.M. unit called Smarter Cities and, if all goes according to plan, it could lay the groundwork for a multibillion-dollar business. On this February day, Guru Banavar, an I.B.M. executive, stood on the balcony above the control room, watching the scene."I have seen better infrastructure in individual departments in other cities," said Mr. Banavar, I.B.M.'s chief technology officer of the global public sector. "But I haven't seen this level of integration in other cities." For I.B.M., Rio is a crucible. By 2050, roughly 75 percent of the world's population is expected to live in cities. Many metropolitan areas already use data-collection systems like sensors, video cameras and GPS devices. But advances in computing power and data analysis now make it possible for companies like I.B.M. to collate all this data and, using computer algorithms, to identify patterns and trends. Mr. Banavar calls it "sense-making software."

Running a big city, particularly one as varied as Rio, makes running many companies seem easy. No wonder the market to supply cities with "smart" systems is expected to reach $57 billion by 2014, according to IDC Government Insights, a market research firm. I.B.M. wants a piece of that. It is expanding into the local government market as part of a plan to raise its annual revenue to $150 billion or more, Mr. Banavar said. In 2011, the company's revenue was nearly $107 billion. The Rio operations center, which opened at the end of 2010, is part of an effort to gain a toehold in a market with more established players like Cisco Systems. (Cisco calls its local government initiative "Smart+Connected Communities." The company is heavily involved in the Songdo International Business District, a new city in South Korea, where Cisco's network technologies help commercial buildings control energy consumption, for example.) But even for a company like I.B.M., Rio represents a grand challenge. A horizontal city sprawled between mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, it is at once a boomtown, a beach town, a paradise, an eyesore, a research center and a construction site. Oil-industry giants like Halliburton and Schlumberger have been rushing to build research centers here to help develop massive oil and gas fields off the coast. Special police units have moved into about 20 slums, called favelas, in an effort to assert government control and combat crime. Rio is also reconstructing major arenas and building a rapid-bus system ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. This is a city where some of the rich live in gated communities while some of the poor in the favelas pirate electricity from the grid.

And where disasters, natural and otherwise, sometimes strike. Rainstorms can cause deadly landslides. Last year, a historic streetcar derailed, killing five people. Earlier this year, three buildings collapsed downtown, killing at least 17. The complex conditions create a kind of hothouse for I.B.M. to expand its local government business. If the company can remake Rio as a smarter city, it can remake anywhere. "Smart is all about information," Mr. Banavar said. "Once you have the information and understand it and know what to do with it, you are halfway to smart." AT 45, Mr. Banavar is the unofficial ambassador for Smarter Cities. He flies around the world, listening to mayors' predicaments and overseeing the I.B.M. teams whose job is to produce the solutions. Since its start in 2010, Smarter Cities has become involved in several thousand projects. That Mr. Banavar was raised in Bangalore, India, now lives in New York and is married to a woman from Skopje, Macedonia, only bolsters I.B.M.'s global urban cred. It also helps that he embeds himself as he sizes up each city. One day last month, he stood at the central Praça da Bandeira intersection, a knot of streets and highway overpasses that connect northern Rio with the southern beach zone. "Imagine this intersection with a meter or two of water," Mr. Banavar said. An overhead camera was streaming video to the operations center. "This becomes like a pond." The catalyst for the operations center was a torrential summer storm here nearly two years ago. Around 4 that morning, Mayor Paes started receiving alarming reports. There were landslides in some favelas, with the risk of many more. There were flash floods. Cars and trucks were stuck in rising water. But Rio did not have a predetermined location from which the mayor could monitor the situation and oversee a response. "By then, I realized we were very weak," Mr. Paes recounted in a phone interview.

"That also made me mad." So he improvised. He had lived in Connecticut as a teenager and remembered how some American cities declared snow days so they could clear the streets. In the wee hours, he began calling television stations, radio stations and newspapers, declaring an emergency and urging people to stay home. "We had no plans for that, but it worked," Mr. Paes said. In the city, 68 people died as a result of the floods and landslides, but the toll might have been worse if he hadn't issued the warning, he said. Mayor Paes decided that Rio could do better. A month later, he met with Mr. Banavar and a team from I.B.M. Like a corporate chief executive, the mayor wanted to knock down silos among his departments and combine each one's data to help the whole enterprise. "We used to have all of this information." Mr. Paes said. "But we could not put it together to use in a smart, intelligent way." He wanted his new operations center to open as soon as possible. PREVIOUSLY, I.B.M. developed crime control centers for Madrid and New York City, along with a traffic congestion fee system for Stockholm. But creating a citywide, interdepartmental system for Rio was a far bigger task. I.B.M. approached the challenge like a general contractor, managing the overall project while farming out some of the work. Local companies handled construction and telecommunications. Cisco provided network infrastructure and the videoconferencing system that links the operations center to the mayor's house. The digital screens are from Samsung. "We coordinated everything," Mr. Banavar said. "In our terminology, we call it being the 'master integrator.' "

I.B.M. incorporated its hardware, software, analytics and research. It created manuals so that the center's employees could classify problems into four categories: events, incidents, emergencies and crises. A loud party, for instance, is an event. People beating up each other at a party is an incident. A party that becomes a riot is an emergency. If someone dies in the riot, it's a crisis. The manuals also lay out step-by-step procedures for how departments should handle pressing situations like floods and rockslides. I.B.M. also installed a virtual operations platform that acts as a Web-based clearinghouse, integrating information that comes in via phone, radio, e-mail and text message. When city employees log on, they can enter information from, say, an accident scene, or see how many ambulances have been dispatched. They can also analyze historical information to determine, for instance, where car accidents tend to occur. In addition, I.B.M. developed a custom flood forecast system for the city. Mr. Banavar even recommended that the mayor create the position of chief operating officer to oversee the operations center, and the mayor agreed. The project cost Rio about $14 million, Mayor Paes said. If it all works according to plan, it could make Rio a model of data-driven city management. "We want to put Rio ahead of every city in the world concerning operations of daily life and emergency response," the mayor said. But, he said, the challenge will be to make the city run more efficiently without watering down the brio that makes Rio Rio. "We don't want to be Lausanne or Zurich."

ONE evening in late January, a 20-story office building downtown next to the municipal theater collapsed, taking two other buildings along with it. Panic ensued. The operations center sprang into action. A city employee happened to be having a beer near the scene and alerted Carlos Roberto Os車rio, the city's secretary of public works and conservation. "We gained one minute by luck," Mr. Os車rio said. "But the system worked very well." At the operations center, employees alerted the fire and civil defense departments and then asked the gas and electric companies to shut down service around the scene. Others temporarily closed the subway underneath the site, blocked off the street, dispatched ambulances, alerted hospitals, sent in heavy equipment to remove the rubble and activated civil guards to evacuate nearby buildings and secure the accident site. The operations center's Twitter feed alerted followers about blocked streets and alternate routes. Mr. Os車rio himself sped to the scene, from which he posted photos to his own Twitter and Facebook accounts. At least 17 people died in the collapse, and city officials said later that construction work inside the 20-story building might have knocked out load-bearing walls. Still, the city's coordinated response was a victory for the operations center. "We were never able to react so quickly before," Mr. Os車rio said. In early February, Mr. Os車rio was standing in the noonday heat in the middle of the Sambadrome stadium, overseeing the reconstruction of the samba school parade grounds two weeks before Carnaval. The city had promised to widen the space and add thousands of seats for the Olympics. Mr. Os車rio wanted the work finished on time. Many other sites here are under construction. That is because, after decades of neglect, the government and private companies are heavily investing in upgrading infrastructure and services like transportation. This includes a $4.5 billion waterfront revitalization project to remake the port area as a combination residential, business and tourism zone. "There is a barrage of problems and needs," Mr. Os車rio said. "We are doing too many things at once, all necessary."

Amid such changes, officials view the operations center as a stabilizing influence - and a selling point. Mr. Os車rio says officials are using the operations center to try to minimize inconveniences as well as to attract investment. Consider Carnaval. The biggest challenges for the city are the street performances, which involve about 425 mobile samba bands performing over four weekends at 350 different sites, Mr. Os車rio said. Several million people attend. With the operations center in place, the city now coordinates planning across 18 different agencies. Together, those departments assign time slots to the street bands and map their routes, as well as plan for security, street cleaning, crowd control and other needs. "In the past, each of them would do their planning separately and without talking to each other," Mr. Os車rio said. Rio officials, meanwhile, have adopted Mr. Banavar as an honorary Carioca - a Rio native. Last year, Mayor Paes invited several I.B.M. executives and their wives to watch the samba schools from the mayor's box at the Sambadrome. The Banavars sambaed until 6 a.m. ONE evening last month, a fire broke out on Visconde de Piraj芍, an upscale shopping street in the Ipanema district.

Some Cariocas got out their smartphones and took pictures. Just before 7 p.m., Pitty Webo, an actress who lives nearby, began alerting her Twitter followers. A few minutes later, the operations center's Twitter feed - @operaçõesrio - reported that traffic was being diverted. Luiza Amoedo, an event planner, joined the crowd gawking at flames in an adjacent square. Glass panes cracked and crashed into the street. Fire trucks arrived and a red helicopter dropped firefighters onto the roof. Down below, it was chaos. Nobody had cordoned off the square or moved onlookers out of the hail of glass. One end of the street was closed to traffic, but on the other side, a traffic officer redirected cars around the crowd."Rio is too far from being prepared. Nothing works," Ms. Amoedo sighed. "It's ridiculous. It's the year 2012. This should not be happening."

The operations center has received a lot of publicity here and abroad. (Last week, Mayor Paes attended a TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., where he participated in a panel about cities.) The center even has an on-site press room from which the Globo television network broadcasts traffic and weather reports. And yet many inhabitants have never heard of the center or, if they have, they're not really sure what it does. Some wonder if it is all for show, to reassure Olympic officials and foreign investors. Some worry that it will benefit well-off neighborhoods more than the favelas. Others fear that all this surveillance has the potential to curb freedoms or invade privacy. Still others view the center as a stopgap that does not address underlying infrastructure problems. At least that was the prevailing view one Sunday afternoon in Armaz谷m Saõ Thiago, an old bar in Santa Teresa, a historic neighborhood of cobblestone streets and colonial-style houses. For more than a century, the neighborhood's signature attraction had been its bright yellow streetcars. But last year a trolley derailed, killing five people. The transportation department for the state of Rio de Janeiro, not the city, was responsible for maintenance and has halted the trams. Above the marble bar, a poster protesting the move depicted a streetcar crying a big white tear. "The system the mayor created will resolve a problem when it happens, but it does not resolve infrastructure problems," said Alexandre Hartz, a health insurance risk assessor who was sharing a beer with some friends. "The culture of Rio is reactionary. It is not preventive." Try telling that to M芍rcio Motta, the city's hyper-vigilant subsecretary of civil defense. Since the landslides two years ago, Rio has installed sirens, wirelessly linked to the operations center, in 66 favelas. It has also staged numerous practice drills in which volunteers have helped evacuate residents.
In real flood conditions, the operations center decides when to set off the sirens. That decision is based on I.B.M.'s system, which uses computer algorithms to predict how much rain will fall in a given square kilometer - a far more precise forecast than standard weather systems provide. When the program predicts heavy rain, the center sends out text messages to different departments so they can prepare. But it's difficult for the public to appreciate when a crisis has been averted, Mayor Paes said. "It's not what people feel every day," he said. "It's the problems that could happen that don't happen every day."

CAN I.B.M. turn small government into big business? You could think of Rio as a high-level science project from the same company that built Watson, the computer that plays "Jeopardy." It is certainly good P.R. Seven years after I.B.M. stopped selling personal computers, such projects might help keep the company in the popular psyche. But I.B.M. is hoping that mayors the world over will develop Rio envy. To that end, the company has just introduced a product called the I.B.M. Intelligent Operations Center, which combines a number of the systems that were designed for Rio into a single product. Think of it as a smart city in a box. "Previously, you'd have to buy 12 different pieces and get services to integrate it," Mr. Banavar explained. "Now you can do it in one shot." Some cities are already interested. Late last month, I.B.M. said Zhenjiang, a city of about three million people in eastern China, had bought the new system to manage public transportation. It also bought a custom analytics program to help predict and alleviate traffic jams along bus routes.

And it is not just cities: the Miami Dolphins football team just bought the packaged product to manage visitor traffic at its 75,000-seat Sun Life Stadium. I.B.M. expects its Smarter Planet unit, which includes the Smarter Cities business, to have revenue of $10 billion by 2015. IT was 11:30 p.m. on a Tuesday at Carioca da Gema, a popular samba bar in the Lapa neighborhood here. Mr. Banavar's Brazilian colleagues from the local I.B.M. office had gone home, but he wasn't yet ready to turn in. Sitting in the balcony overlooking the dance floor, he was dissecting the bands he had just heard. Like a city or a multinational corporation, a samba band involves a lot of moving parts: musicians, singers, instruments, equipment, compositions, lyrics, improvisations - not to mention its audience. In Mr. Banavar's view, the warm-up band had been in sync, but the singers in the headline band seemed out of whack. To this I.B.M.-er, everything could use a better system, even a samba band. And, the more complex the problem, the more valuable the solution. "I come from I.B.M. research. I'm attracted to large, complex systems," Mr. Banavar said. "Can you think of a system that is more complex than a city?"


From http://www.nytimes.com/ 03/03/2012

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U.S. - How to Make Your City Smarter

Modern cities share many goals. For many, chief among them is an engaged citizenry interested in innovative, sustainable solutions that contribute to their community's livability. Using today's terminology, they aspire to be "smart cities." Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, research director at market research and advisory firm IDC Government Insights, explained in an interview with Government Technology that smart cities adopt a broader view of sustainability. Beyond its typical environmental implications, sustainability also applies to things like infrastructure development and economic development. "Sustainability actually could be looking at your roadways and saying 'it's much more sustainable for us to use our existing roads better rather than expanding a highway or a roadway system'" she said. IDC just released a study (#G1234160) on smart cities, defining key processes to enable a smart city. The report, entitled Business Strategy: Smart City Strategies - IDC Government Insights; Smart City Framework, offers insights on how to integrate solutions across city organizations. And the time is right. According to IDC, a number of factors are making smart city solutions widely possible. These factors include the ubiquitous nature of wireless and broadband connectivity, analytics software, intelligent sensors and the prevalence of mobile devices and social media. Stories about municipalities employing smart technologies to improve service delivery in areas like public safety, transportation and energy have become commonplace.

But the IDC study recommends a more comprehensive approach that breaks down typical government silos. "We are hoping that eventually there's a more cross-departmental, cross-city data flow and process flow about how cities function in this sort of ecosystem of services," Clarke said. Getting past compartmentalized government thinking is just one hurdle to implementing smart solutions at the city level. Strong leadership is also critical. Leaders need to engage a diverse group of stakeholders - citizens, local businesses, nonprofit organizations and the vendor community - to consider new solutions that can take several years to implement. And finding the money to deploy new technologies can be a considerable challenge, especially in the current economic environment. But the monetary investment can pay dividends in the long run. "Cities that are investing in developing these solutions do generate interest from their citizens and from their local businesses and that engages people," said Clarke. "It makes them more satisfied and ultimately makes their city a really attractive place to do business and to live in."


From http://www.govtech.com/ 04/27/2012

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UN Discusses Freedom of Expression on the Internet at Sweden's Initiative

Today, the UN Human Rights Council opens its nineteenth ordinary session in Geneva. Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt is participating in the session's High-Level Segment and will give Sweden's address to the Council on Wednesday 29 February. On the same day, Mr Bildt will also participate in the panel discussion on freedom of expression on the Internet, which is being held at Sweden's initiative. This is the first time that the issue of freedom on the Internet has been raised on the UN human rights agenda. Mr Bildt is participating in the panel together with Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Frank la Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as well as representatives of civil society in South America, Africa and Asia, and from Google. The moderator is Al Jazeera reporter Riz Khan. The panel discussion can be followed live (12.00-15.00) via the web link below. The session agenda contains a range of current issues in which Sweden has an active role. Along with a cross-regional group of countries, Sweden will submit a resolution that aims to extend the mandate of a Special Rapporteur on Iran, based on the serious human rights situation in the country. For the first time, there will also be a panel discussion on the human rights of LGBT people, and on how the Council will monitor these issues in the future. Sweden has nominated Hans Ytterberg (former Ombudsman against Discrimination because of Sexual Orientation) to the panel. "Over the past year, the Council has come to play a more active role in serious situations, such as Libya and Syria, which strengthens the Council's relevance," says Mr Bildt. "Through its candidacy to the UN Human Rights Council, Sweden hopes to continue to advance the agenda and improve the situation for human rights worldwide."


From http://www.sweden.gov.se/ 02/29/2012

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Unlocking Barriers on ICT Products Benefits Regional Prosperity

The removal of trade barriers on information and communication technology (ICT) products increases their accessibility and expanding the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) will further spur productivity, innovation and economic growth. That was the consensus of ICT industry representatives and APEC officials when they met in Singapore on Thursday to discuss the future of the ITA, which currently eliminates tariffs on selected ICT goods. ICT sector competition fuelled by tariff reduction helps drive innovations that enable delivery of superior technologies to consumers at reduced cost and is of considerable value to APEC economies, delegates agreed. Among the benefits provided by the ITA within the region are low prices that have boosted ICT software and services industries in developing member economies and the emergence of global ICT supply chains that are primarily located in Asia. This translates into more robust ICT export growth among APEC members who have joined the ITA. The ITA was inked in 1996 and came into force a year later, with the agreement's participating economies, 16 of which are APEC members, now accounting for over 90% of world trade in information technology products. Yet, industry voices gathered in Singapore called for re-evaluation of the ITA's product scope and participation, describing it as long overdue. "After 15 years, it's time to think about the expansion of the ITA agreement so that it offers greater product coverage and further has the buy-in of all WTO members," said Sam Shen, Director of the Institute for Information Industry in Chinese Taipei.

The ITA covers ICT product categories such as semiconductors, computers and telecommunications equipment, but does not cover many other core ICT and recent consumer ICT innovations which experts regarded as a major opportunity to improve the agreement. Dynamic random access memory for personal computers and workstations, global positioning systems, e-readers and new semiconductor chips are just a few of the ICT products that fall outside ITA's reach and at great expense to APEC economies as key manufacturers of them, Intel's Asia-Pacific Legal Policy Director John Matheson contended. "From 1996 to 2008, total global ICT trade increased more than 10% annually, from USD1.2 trillion to USD4 trillion, but there is still an estimated USD800 billion in two way ICT trade and USD190 billion in global GDP that is being held back as a result of ITA limitations," said Matheson. Experts agreed that the solution is to expand the agreement to unlock would-be benefits for trade in goods and services. "As much as the ITA has contributed to innovation and growth, it can still do a lot more to boost supply chains, ITA product penetration and economic health and prosperity," noted Akihiro Tanii, Vice-Chair of Trade Committee, Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association and a Panasonic Corporation senior representative. The future of what the ITA can do is an open proposition, dialogue participants concurred. "The ITA is there and waiting to extend immediate benefits to economies that come on board, and there is a real opportunity now for participants to work together to significantly broaden the ITA's inherent benefits," said Mary Elizabeth Chelliah, Deputy Director of International Trade Cluster at Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry, who moderated the discussions. To get there, meeting participants concluded that APEC economies would be well served to help lead the charge to jointly expand the ITA product coverage. This will ensure that the ITA keeps up with technological advances and reflects private sector views.


From http://www.apec.org/ 03/29/2012

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Better Telecom Competition Promotes Innovation

Recognizing the need to encourage competition in the telecommunications sector, regulators committed to undertake measures to stimulate private sector involvement and also protect consumers. The discussion took place during the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group (TEL) meeting, when officials met on Saturday in a workshop to build awareness about related legislation and share best practices. A better environment in which telecommunications companies can compete will help foster innovative growth in the region, a priority for APEC Russia 2012, said Shoji Mihara, Convenor of the Liberalization Steering Group. "TEL's strategic action plan for telecommunications prioritizes regional economic integration through the active participation in projects and by facilitating the streamlining of regulatory measures that encourage competition and investment in the market," he explained. "It is very useful to discuss telecom competition policy issues to address the challenges as well as to promote further innovation of technology and consumer welfare." "Now, each economy seems to be facing common challenges to promote an open and free telecom environment through the establishment of the effective competition measures," Mihara added.

This workshop is an example of cooperation to share information on the policies and regulations that facilitate the development of free and open markets in the APEC region. Hong Kong, China; Japan; Malaysia; Singapore; and Chinese Taipei and a consumer representative discussed how each of their competition frameworks contribute to lower prices for consumers, confidence and better service. Malaysia reported that they regulate upstream markets to promote competition in downstream markets. However, this does not make downstream regulation any less important, but they try not to intervene at retail levels. "Downstream providers are able to set market rates but if they fail to adhere to the principles of rate setting as provided for under the law, the Minister could intervene, but so far that has not happened," said Nur Sulyna Abdullah, vice-chair of the APEC Telecommunications and Information Working Group. The principles are similar across the strait. The regulatory framework in Singapore is designed to drive prices down, increase service quality and consumer choice but also to provide a strong incentive to attract innovative companies that complement locally-based enterprises and start-ups.

"Competition forces service providers to focus on customers' needs and benefits," said Jason Teo, International Manager with Singapore's Infocomm Development Agency. Teo pointed out that increased competition on SingTel, a company that provides a wide spectrum of multimedia and ICT solutions, caused the domestic market share to fall, but subscribers and revenue to grow. "Competition caused SingTel to diversify and invest in regional markets," he explained. "Now, three-quarters of their earnings come from overseas." Consumer groups believe that more choices in the market are not enough. It is also important to stimulate better pricing. "We would like for regulators to set regimes that encourage investments but balance the need for overbuilding in particular areas to make the best use of the network we have," said Paul Brislen who represents the International Telecommunications User Group. "Competition has to roll throughout the stack - including retail." Open to collaboration with other international organizations, the group is seeking to develop an APEC Telecom Competition Policy Guide for policymakers and regulators that will provide best practices on which to draw when faced with similar concerns across the region.


From http://www.apec.org/ 04/07/2012

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New ITU Report Highlights Vital Role of Effective Regulation in Driving Broadband Rollout

The 2012 edition of ITU's flagship regulatory report 'Trends in Telecommunication Reform', released today, highlights the vital importance of a solid national regulatory framework in accelerating broadband roll-out and stimulating the development of new digital goods and services. Subtitled 'Smart Regulation for a Broadband World', this year's report sheds light on the often complex legal and regulatory issues now emerging as broadband becomes pervasive and increasingly serves as a driving force for the development of other economic sectors. Over the past five years, fixed broadband subscriptions have more than doubled to reach an estimated 591 million in early 2012 - yet a huge divide remains between the developed and developing worlds. Fixed broadband penetration of 26% in industrialized countries contrasts dramatically with penetration of just 4.8% in developing nations. Affordability remains a major obstacle, particularly in Africa, where fixed broadband access costs on average three times monthly per capita income.

ITU figures indicate that the number of active social media users has now surpassed one billion, many of whom connect using their mobile devices. But statistics on mobile broadband penetration reveal that only an estimated 8.5% of the population in developing countries had access to mobile broadband services in 2011, with nearly half of all broadband-enabled phones used in a handful of high-income countries, and low-income countries accounting for just 5% of global use. As the broadband revolution unfolds, the report shows that large segments of the world's population are steadily being left behind. Over five billion people have still never experienced even low-speed Internet, or have only experienced it through public or shared access. At the same time, the advent of apps and new devices like tablet computers is generating a tidal wave of data traffic, pushing the capacity of existing networks to the limit at a time when so-called Over-the-Top (OTT) services like cloud computing and online shopping are compromising telcos' incentive to fund costly additional network roll-out. And finally, a host of emerging issues such as how to protect intellectual property rights (IPRs), how to deal ecologically with the growing mountain of e-waste, and how preserve the right to privacy over social networks are further stretching the current remit and resources of ICT regulators.

Snapshot of ICT regulatory trends worldwide
When it comes to provision of traditional telecommunication services, high-speed networks are already challenging old paradigms like open access and ways of financing universal access and universal service. Over the past two decades, the scope of universal service and universal access (UAS) has broadened, with UAS increasingly being re-conceptualized to include Internet - and even broadband. Funding that previously focused on supply-side interventions - networks and facilities - is now increasingly being channelled to interventions that will stimulate demand. But broadband is also profoundly altering models in other economic sectors, such as the provision of financial services like m-banking and the protection of original content. As markets evolve, that could mean important new roles for ICT regulators. In recent years, a growing number of traditional telecoms regulators have seen their mandate expand to include information technology and broadcasting. More recently, complex cybersecurity, privacy and environmental concerns have all come to the fore, and these are now being joined by issues related to the surge in use of evolving online applications and services.

The huge volume of data generated by fixed and mobile broadband applications means that most countries are now facing a critical ICT infrastructure deficit. Given the importance of broadband to each country's ongoing development, this deficit is fast becoming a major public policy issue requiring the formulation of new cross-sectoral broadband policy frameworks. Encouragingly, over 130 governments have today adopted or are planning to adopt a national policy, strategy or plan to promote broadband. "Ensuring investment and innovation without stifling competition is the key challenge today's ICT regulators face," said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour谷. "In order for all citizens to benefit from the economic growth driven by broadband, huge and sustained investments in networks are needed. This report looks at how regulators could help, and what innovative regulatory measures might be able to achieve." Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2012 offers guidance to policymakers and regulators in creating a digital environment conducive to growth - both of the ICT sector and of the broader economy. What should be included in a national broadband plan? What measures can be adopted to help ensure a level playing field among operators? Where are public funds needed - and how should these be used in a manner consistent with principles of open access? How can end-users be protected from cyber-hazards? And how can we promote the appropriate use of shared content to protect intellectual property rights and copyright issues?

"The advent of broadband technology has significantly changed the way we communicate, access information, share experiences and knowledge, and engage in business transactions. Broadband is revolutionizing our social, political, and commercial interactions. It is an enabler of innovation and a driver for dynamic economies," said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, which produces the annual Trends in Telecommunication Reform report as a key output of the Global Symposium for Regulators conference it organizes each year. "I strongly believe that broadband should be regarded as part of a country's critical infrastructure . . . congruent with its level of importance, well-articulated broadband strategies and plans are now needed to ensure that all citizens get to benefit from new applications, services, and business that the broadband world helps bring into being." The most comprehensive study available on the current state of regulatory frameworks and technological developments worldwide, the report opens with a concise overview of the trends reshaping the ICT landscape and then, chapter by chapter, delves in depth into key areas such as national broadband policy, strategies and plans; open access regulation and strategies for financing universal broadband access; broadband enabled innovation; social media; m-banking; intellectual property rights; and e-waste.


From http://www.itu.int/ 05/11/2012

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ARAB STATES: Countries Need Green Economies Rooted in Science

Reforms in the Arab region should focus on transitioning to a green economy, argues award-winning environmental advocate Najib Saab. Uprisings in Arab countries have been at the centre of global news coverage for more than a year. Although it is still too early to speculate on the final outcome, the hope is that the Arab Spring will eventually steer a new direction for economic and environmental sustainability. At the moment the prospects are not good. But if reforms can be made to clamp down on administrative corruption and the mismanagement of natural resources, Arab states could make huge economic gains. Better governance will have spillover effects on environmental governance as people whose lives are most impacted by environmental concerns have more say in political decisions. To move towards a truly sustainable future, the green economy - a focus of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 - should be at the centre of reforms.

Desperate for change
Arab economies remain undiversified. They largely rely on oil and products such as alumina, cement, fertilisers and phosphates that generate growth in GDP but fail to create enough jobs. Unemployment in the Arab region is 10 per cent. But for young people it is 25 per cent, double the world average, and reaches 40 per cent in some countries. Young people account for more than 70 per cent of the unemployed in Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. Demographic transitions add to the challenge of securing jobs and protecting the environment. The region's population increased from 100 million in 1962 to about 400 million in 2012. One major demand that drove people to the streets was the need for decent jobs. Some 60 million new jobs need to be created by 2020 while protecting natural resources.

Green potential
A main finding of a report published last year by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) [1] is that transitioning to a green economy will help generate decent and lasting job opportunities. It estimates that Arab countries will need to invest an additional 1.5 per cent of their GDP every year in infrastructure for water systems, efficiency and recycling technologies. Shifting to sustainable agricultural practices could, collectively, save Arab countries up to 6 per cent of GDP through more efficient use of water while protecting environmental resources. The savings could reach US$114 billion annually and create millions of jobs in rural areas where three quarters of the poor live. The report also estimates that reducing each person's consumption of electricity through energy efficiency measures would save up to US$73 billion per year. All Arab countries currently subsidies the cost of fuel and electricity at different levels, for all sectors; cutting the subsidy by a quarter would release more than US$100 billion over a three year period, which could then be invested in green energy technologies. Spending US$100 billion in greening just one fifth of the existing building stock in Arab states over the next 10 years is expected to create 4 million jobs. And if Arab governments commit to greening the construction sector, additional investments will create ten per cent more jobs, according to AFED estimates.

Forging a future
But building a green economy requires transforming the prevailing 'virtual economy' - primarily based on sales of raw extractive products and speculation in real estate - to a 'real economy' that focuses on sustainable production, protecting natural capital and generating long-term employment opportunities. It is crucial that science and education form the basis of a successful transition to the green economy; both are currently lacking in Arab countries. Although higher education institutions are proliferating, the quality of education they offer is below average. And the rate of expenditure on scientific research as a percentage of GDP is around 0.2 per cent, compared to a world average of 1.2 per cent. The Arab world's contribution to research (measured in published papers) is low, and negligible in patents. These disparities should be addressed as part of the path to the green economy. While in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2012 as a panelist for the Global Ministerial Environment Forum at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters, I was surprised to discover resentment among some developing countries to the idea of transitioning to the green economy. Some countries have legitimate fears that the green economy could be used to impose trade barriers - for example by enforcing standards that require a large initial investment, especially in green technologies. But Arab ministers participating in the meeting endorsed the transition to a green economy after they were persuaded it would bring net profits to the region. Rather than resorting to isolationism, they accepted the need to establish a strong knowledge platform for green growth, advanced by UNEP, and support technology transfer to allow fair competition and market access. Let's not repeat the mistakes made in climate negotiations by using a host of pretexts to delay real action. By building a strong base of scientific knowledge and skilled workers, together Arab countries can make a smooth transition to a sustainable future.


From http://www.scidev.net/ 03/28/2012

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EUROPE: UK - Internet Censorship in the West

Despite its historic and international reputation for heralding free speech, the United Kingdom has the second strictest censorship of the internet in the European Union.

The UK has a number of laws and policies that restrict the way information can be made public, including some that make it illegal to report on information that the government or corporations are trying to keep secret. During the London riots, David Cameron ordered the censorship of social networking sites, and his censorship plans have been applauded by China. Western governments are attempting to put forward laws that further restrict the freedoms of internet usage such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Protect IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). These are all argued to be internet filtering systems and policies on a national and international level that stifle the ability of internet users to discuss, question and critique and risks the internet becoming a tool of political and economic power for the ruling elite. In this edition of the show we talk to British public about the Freedom of Information in the West and ask; why do you think Western governments engage in censorship and make it illegal for the public to share certain information?


From http://www.presstv.ir/ 03/07/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Digital Strategy Coming Later This Year: Paradis

Also, lobbying to start Wednesday on setting details of how next year's spectrum auction will run and the contentious issue of roaming. It could be some time before the Harper government releases its long-awaited federal digital strategy, according to remarks Industry Minister Christian Paradis made Tuesday to the annual Canada 3.0 conference. The strategy will be released "later this year," he told hundreds of businessmen, software developers and investors in Stratford, Ont. At the same time, he also made it clear that the government will not bear the entire burden of ensuring Canada is at the forefront of digital technologies. Any digital economy strategy it will succeed only "if industry as well as federal and provincial governments work together," he said. The provinces need to make tomorrow's skills a priority today in education system, he said, colleges and universities have to work more closely with private sector, industry must bring more early risk capital and support larger scale venture capital funds, and companies must use their enhanced access to broadband to support the shift to more mobile digitally connected economy. "As a nation we need to take more risks, think more creatively and act more boldly to claim our place in the globally digital economy," said Paradis. Former Industry Minister Tony Clement first announced the Conservative government's intention to create a national strategy in May, 2010. At the time, he expected it would be done in 18 months.

However, the government then decided it had to fit a digital strategy in with its plans to liberalize telecommunications foreign ownership. Clement said he was close to announcing the digital strategy last year, but then a federal election was called. The only other noteworthy thing Paradis said in his speech is that the next round of consultation on the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction will start Wednesday, when carriers will lobby the government on the nitty-gritty of the auction itself. Last month the government announced the overall framework of the auction - that the spectrum will be broken into a certain number of blocks - but the rules governing the auction still have to be set. That includes setting any foreign ownership limits or Canadian control minimums of companies that want to bid, setting minimum opening bids, establishing how long each round of bidding will go on. The Harper government has already said it will change the Telecommunications Act so foreign investors can own all of a carrier that has less than 10 per cent of the market. Most importantly, this round of consulting will also deal with conditions licence winners have to fulfill. In the last auction, these conditions included an obligation of incumbent carriers to share space on their towers with new entrants, and, more crucially, to allow new entrants to roam on their networks.


From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 04/24/2012

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U.S.: OMB Launches Federal IT Shared Services Strategy

The Federal IT Shared Services Strategy was released by OMB today to provide Federal Agency Chief Information Officers and key stakeholders guidance on the implementation of shared IT services as a key part of their efforts to eliminate waste and duplication and reinvest in innovative mission systems. Federal CIO, Steven VanRoekel also issued a memorandum to agency CIOs laying out requirements for agencies that support the strategy. This strategy is one of the actions identified in the December 2010 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management. The strategy covers the entire spectrum of IT shared service opportunities throughout the Federal Government and promotes the use of existing and new strategic sourcing methods where agencies can combine their buying power for similar IT needs and get lower prices and improved service leverage in the process. Accompanying this strategy is the Common Approach to Federal Enterprise Architecture, which provides agile, standardized methods and tools for designing the next generation of IT resources and shared services that agencies will need to successfully accomplish their missions in the face of tight resources and rising customer needs.

Driving Agencies to a "Shared First" Default
Referred to as "Shared-First", the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy will improve the return on investment for IT spending, close productivity gaps, increase communications with the managing partners and customers of shared services, and support agencies in implementing their PortfolioStat process per M-12-10. Shared-First principles and the Common Approach to making agencies future-ready creates new opportunities for industry to provide shared IT services to agencies that are more agile in delivery and more responsive to a wide variety of evolving mission, support, and commodity IT requirements. The strategy recognizes the need for agencies to gain proficiency in managing or consuming shared IT services and therefore provides an initial focus on commodity IT consolidation opportunities, as called for in the August 2011 OMB memo (M-11-29) to Chief Information Officers.


From http://www.cio.gov/ 05/02/2012

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CHINA: National Cloud Computing Plan to Be Issued

China is to disclose its guidance for the cloud computing industry soon, Economic Information Daily reported Friday, citing sources at the Ministry of Science and Technology. The plan has already been approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, according to the report. China's cloud computing industry may have an output value of 200 billion yuan ($31.74 billion) in three years time, according to the Economic Information Daily. The global cloud computing market is expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent, the newspaper reported, citing an unnamed agency's prediction.


From http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ 05/04/2012

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China to Speed Up Informatization Development

BEIJING (Xinhua) - The State Council, China's cabinet, said on Wednesday that the country will step up efforts to promote informatization development and strengthen information security. Speeding up the construction of informatization and building a sound information security system is of significant importance to economic restructuring and national security, according to a statement released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao. According to a document approved by the meeting, the government will work to upgrade the broadband network, speed up development of next generation Internet, and promote the integration of telecom, Internet and television networks. Efforts will be made to raise the informatization level in enterprises, social sectors, especially in e-government building, as well as rural areas, the document said. To promote security defense capabilities, the government will work to combine designs, construction and operation of important information systems and networks with those of security protection facilities, it said. In addition, the government will improve infrastructure for network and information security, strengthen monitoring and early warning, and increase inputs in technological research and development, it added.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/09/2012

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China to Timely Expand 4G Trial Scale

BEIJING - China will timely expand the trial scale for the nation's fourth-generation (4G) telecommunications technology - TD-LTE, to speed up the sector's development, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said Tuesday. The statement came after the MIIT in February approved the second stage of the TD-LTE trial, during which the focus will be testing system equipment based on multi-mode chipsets that support a comprehensive range of telecommunications and data communication standards. TD-LTE, or "Time Division-Long Term Evolution," can substantially lower bandwidth costs and allow faster broadband wireless services than the current 3G network. The country will work to make breakthroughs in the sector's key technologies, narrow its gap with LTE FDD in Europe, and promote the technology to go global, MIIT Minister Miao Wei said. China is the major promoter of the TD-LTE standard and a major owner of the standard's core patents. China Mobile, the country's largest wireless service provider, has been pushing for the TD-LTE to become a globally accepted standard. As China's self-developed 3G TD-SCDMA standard has missed the opportunity to see large scale application outside the country, the TD-LTE equipment manufacturers and operators should join hands in grabbing a share in the global market, Miao said. TD-SCDMA users have increased rapidly in the country over recent years. China Mobile alone saw 60 million TD-SCDMA users by the end of March.


From http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ 05/09/2012

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JAPAN: 2012 Information and Communications White Paper Conceived by All Information and Communications

Together with raising awareness of the information and communications field, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) will gain citizens' comprehension of its information and communications policy by using social networking services (hereinafter, "SNS") and conducting an extensive appeal for citizens' opinions.

1. Project aims
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has drawn up "Reports on the Current State of Information and Communications" (hereinafter referred to as the "Information and Communications White Paper") annually since 1973, with the aim of broadly gaining citizens' comprehension of Japan's current state with regard to information and communications as well as information and communications policy trends. As part of the MIC's desire for all citizens to feel closer to information and communications and an opportunity for building interest in information and communications, an extensive appeal for citizens' opinions on the 2012 edition of the Information and Communications White Paper will be held by using SNS, and the White Paper will be compiled as a "reader participation type" paper that reflects citizens' opinions.

2. Project outline
This project's sites will be opened on SNS platforms Facebook and mixi, and these sites will be used to hold extensive appeals for opinions on themes of "strengthening Japan's international competitiveness by means of ICT" and "an image of the future of media in the era of social clouds". Results will then be compiled and reflected in compilation of the Information and Communications White Paper.

3. Site administration
Secretariat for Information and Communications White Paper Conceived by All (outsourced to Allied Brains, Inc.)

4. Schedule
The sites will be opened on March 9 (Fri), 2012, and opinions will be sought in turn through to the end of April.


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 03/09/2012

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Decision on "Guidelines for Treatment of Rights Relating to Broadcast Performances by Performers with Regards to Overseas Expansion of Broadcasting Contents"

Rights-owning organizations and broadcasting businesses have initiated a "Working Group for Smooth Treatment of Rights relating to Overseas Program Sales" through support from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), and discussions have been held regarding smooth treatment of rights towards the promotion of overseas expansion of broadcasting contents. This is to officially announce that the same Working Group has now compiled "Guidelines for Treatment of Right relating to Broadcast Performances by Performers with regards to Overseas Expansion of Broadcasting Contents."

1. Background
Rights-owning organizations and broadcasting businesses initiated a "Working Group for Smooth Treatment of Rights relating to Overseas Program Sales"*2 under the "Liaison Group for Smooth Treatment of Broadcasting Content Rights"*1 through support from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), and discussions have been held regarding policy for smooth treatment of rights between rights-owning organizations and broadcasting businesses in relation to overseas expansion of broadcasting contents. This is to officially announce that the same Working Group has now compiled "Guidelines for Treatment of Right relating to Broadcast Performances by Performers with regards to Overseas Expansion of Broadcasting Contents."

2. Future initiatives
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) will proceed with environment maintenance towards promotion of Japanese broadcasting contents by making the relevant organizations and public aware of these Guidelines.


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 03/13/2012

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Results from Appeal for Opinions on Ministerial Ordinance Plan for Partial Revision of Telecommunications Business Law Enforcement Regulations, and Repeat Appeal for Opinions

On February 21, 2012, the Information and Communications Administration and Postal System Administration Council received an inquiry from the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications concerning "Partial Revision of Telecommunications Business Law Enforcement Regulations."﹛An appeal for opinions on this ministerial ordinance plan was held from February 22 to March 22, 2012, in response to which eight opinions were received.﹛As well as officially announcing the results of this appeal for opinions, a repeat appeal will be held from March 28 (Wed) to April 10 (Tue), 2012.

1. Outline of inquiry
On February 21, 2012, the Information and Communications Administration and Postal System Administration Council received an inquiry from the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications concerning "Partial Revision of Telecommunications Business Law Enforcement Regulations." This matter changes the standards for designation as Type 2 specified telecommunications equipment based on the Information and Communications Council report of December 20, 2011, entitled "State of Environmental Maintenance for Promotion of Broadband Diffusion", which held that "there should be a review and expansion of subjects for application of regulations relating to the Type 2 specified equipment system."

2. Submitted opinions
Please note that the submitted opinions will be published in the "Reports and documents" area of the MIC homepage (http://www.soumu.go.jp) and the "Public comments" section of the e-Gov coordinated electronic government contact website (http://www.e-gov.go.jp), and will also be made available for inspection at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) Information and Communications Bureau, General Affairs Division (11th Floor, Central Government Building No. 2).

3. Outline of repeat appeal for opinions/Subjects of repeat appeal for opinions:
"Opinions submitted in response to appeal for opinions"
"Ministerial Ordinance Plan for Partial Revision of Telecommunications Business Law Enforcement Regulations"
Deadline of repeat appeal for opinions: submissions must arrive no later than 17:00 on April 10 (Tue), 2012 (mailed submissions must also arrive by this date)

4. Schedule
Deliberation and study will be carried out based on the opinions received in both appeals, and a report on this ministerial ordinance plan will then be submitted to the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Related reports and documents:
State of Environmental Maintenance for Promotion of Broadband Diffusion (report from Information and Communications Council on December 20, 2011).
Appeal for Opinions on Ministerial Ordinance Plan for Partial Revision of Telecommunications Business Law Enforcement Regulations (February 21, 2012)


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 03/27/2012

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Appeal for Opinions on Establishment of Standard Fee Index for Specific Telecommunications Services Provided by NTT East and NTT West

On March 29, 2012, the Information and Communications and Posts Administrative Council received an inquiry from Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) concerning "establishment of a standard fee index for specific telecommunications services provided by NTT East and NTT West". Accordingly, an appeal for opinions will be held from March 30 (Fri) to May 1 (Tue), 2012.

1. Background
With regard to fees for subscription telephones, etc. provided by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation (hereinafter, "NTT East and West"), a maximum cost (price cap) system has been introduced since October 1, 2000. NTT East and West can establish and modify fees for subscription telephones, etc. with reports only provided that the fees do not exceed the standard fee index, but are required to obtain approval from Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications when attempting to establish fees that exceed the standard fee index. The rates of expected productivity improvement (X values) that are required when establishing standard fee indices showing maximum costs are revised every three years, and this term for adoption of the current X values expires at the end of September 2012, then this calculates X values for the next term and establishes a standard fee index to be adopted from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013.

2. Schedule
Based on all of the opinions received, study and deliberation will be conducted before issuing a report to Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications.

3. Related reports and documents
Official Announcement of Final Report from "Research Society concerning Use of Price Caps" (March 28, 2012)


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 03/29/2012

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Start of Reception of Second Applications for "Project to Promote Computerization in Disaster Regions" in Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Measures (Initial Budget for FY2012)

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has started to receive second applications for "Project Promoting Computerization in Disaster Region" (hereinafter "this project") related to the budget for FY2012 which provides partial subsidization to costs required for projects for use and utilization of information and communications technology (ICT) to efficiently and effectively solve issues of local public bodies in the disaster regions through the use and utilization of ICT with a view to accelerate reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and it is officially announced herein. On February 10, 2012, the Reconstruction Agency was launched. The Reconstruction Agency and Reconstruction Bureaus play a leading role in reconstruction so that recovery and reconstruction in the disaster regions would be further accelerated. To be specific, they receipt requests from the disaster regions in an integrated manner and budget reconstruction projects collectively based on these requests. In addition, the Reconstruction Agency and Reconstruction Bureaus allocate budgets to related agencies and ministries after assigning specific amount to each project based on requests from the disaster regions when budgets are implemented.For these reasons, the Reconstruction Agency and Reconstruction Bureaus will be responsible for a series of procedures related to the allocation of budgets such as surveys on requests concerning this project budgeted collectively to the Reconstruction Agency so that requests from the disaster regions are smoothly consolidated.

1. Outline
(1) Targets in this project
Specific local public bodies (including specific district authorities and wide area unions) or related bodies including them (hereinafter, "special local public bodies, etc.") in Article 4, Paragraph 1 of the Law on Great East Japan Earthquake Special Reconstruction Areas (Act No. 122 of 2011). *Conditions may be imposed on individual subsidized project
(2) Content of subsidized projects
This project subsidizes the following projects listed in Article 3, Paragraph 1(1), (2) (4) and (6)-a of the guidelines for grant of subsidies for project cost for use and utilization of ICT which promote reconstruction in the disaster regions by providing support to efforts for solving issues of specific local public bodies through use and utilization of ICT in an efficient and effective manner.
A.Project for construction of medical information collaboration infrastructure in Tohoku
B.Project to regenerate and reinforce regional ICT bonds
C.Project for construction of disaster information collaboration infrastructure (Project for construction of disaster-resilient information collaboration system)] Note: In the cost of facilities in Appended Table of the guidelines for grant, (b) transmission line facilities, (d) wireless access equipment, (e) transmitting and receiving antenna, (f) transmitting and receiving equipment and (i) iron tower are excluded
D.Project for development of broadband infrastructure in disaster regions

2. Submission of application documents
(1) Deadline of submission: June 13 (Wed), 2012, 2:00PM
(2) Submission method
Please prepare for necessary documents, etc. in accordance with the "guidelines for grant of subsidies for project cost for use and utilization of information and communications technology" and the "manual for implementation of subsidies for project cost for use and utilization of information and communications technology" and bring them to or send them by mail to a competent Regional Bureau of Telecommunications.

3. Related reports and records
Start of receipt of applications for "Project Promoting Computerization in Disaster Region" in Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Measures (March 15, 2012)


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 05/14/2012

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Japan, U.K. to Promote Common Internet Rules

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Tatsuo Kawabata and British Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt have confirmed the need to promote internationally consistent rules on Internet use.They reached the agreement at a time when Internet policies differ from country to country, with some nations moving to tighten Internet regulations.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 05/05/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Urging to Shift IT Focus to Software

South Korea should focus on cultivating software talents and relax regulations on the information and communication industry if it wants to survive in the fast-changing global IT industry, a presidential council reported Tuesday. The President's Council on National ICT Strategies made the suggestions during a report to President Lee Myung-bak, stressing that South Korea, once considered an IT power due to its advanced hardware technologies, is fast losing ground in what is now a software-centered industry. ICT is a short for information and communication technology.


From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/ 05/22/2012

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PHILIPPINES: City Unveils ICT Master Plan for 2012 - 2016

The City Government of San Fernando, Pampanga has unveiled its ICT Master plan for 2012-2016 as part of its commitment to better streamline information sharing within the city government and to increase efficiency of its internal operations. The total budget for the master plan is Php50 million (USD 1.1 million) and will consist of several components such as Cloud adoption, implementation of a structured cabling system, and the implementation of a centralised Geographic Information System (GIS). Under its Cloud adoption component, the city government is currently selecting cloud solutions from a list of technical solution providers. According to Dexter Dancel, the Head of the Management Information Systems (MIS) division, cloud adoption was highly encouraged by Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, who is also the President of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP).

"He saw how effective it was and also encouraged other members of the LCP to embrace it. Once the cloud project is implemented, San Fernando will be the first city in Pampanga to adopt cloud," he said. Meanwhile, under its structured cabling system component, the city government aims to enhance all network facilities of the City Government complex and its two satellite offices - the Heroes Hall and the Motorpool complex. The project would entail the interconnection of workstations, centralised data management, and implementation of servers. The project will start on June this year and will be done simultaneously with cloud adoption. At the heart of the City Government's master plan is the implementation of a fully- centralised GIS. "We have an existing GIS now unfortunately it has not been updated since it was installed in 2003. It is basically a map of the city which allows users to see geographic vectors and other related topographic details. So much has changed in the past eight years that it is imperative that we update it," Dancel said.

The first phase would entail the updating and correcting of parcels through technical description mapping and the provision of a GIS-based application system for the City Assessor's Office, City Treasurer's Office, Business License Permit Division, City Planning and Development Coordinator's Office, City Administrator's Office and MIS. "It aims to integrate various application systems such as real property tax system, business permits, executive information systems, and billing and tax collection system in a GIS. Any update on those applications will be automatically seen in the city's maps." The next phase will focus on the implementation of a Barangay (Village) Information Management System which will enable users to see useful information about a particular area such as, the members of the households, health concerns in the area such as outbreaks of diseases, and malnutrition levels. The final phase will see be centred on the updating of satellite imagery and maps of San Fernando. "The implementation of a centralised GIS will substantially help city planners and city government officials to arrive at well-informed decisions especially for activities such as urban planning, road widening, flood mitigation and policing," concluded Dancel.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/21/2012

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SINGAPORE: Mongolia to Work on ICT Projects

Singapore and Mongolia have strengthened their relationship, with an agreement to work on Infocomm Technology (ICT) activities and projects to help transform Mongolia into a knowledge-based society. They'll collaborate in public service infocomm and eGovernment over the next three years. These include ICT projects, such as enterprise architecture, cloud computing and project management. They'll also work on eGovernment projects, which will benefit citizens and businesses in Mongolia. Both organisations can explore opportunities in ICT activities and projects related to eGovernment to promote mutually-beneficial collaboration. Singapore will also share its experience in its ICT journey. The areas and framework for cooperation are outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Information, Communications Technology and Post Authority of the Government of Mongolia (ICTPA) and IDA International, which is a subsidiary of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA). The MOU was signed by Chairman of the ICTPA, Mr Bat-Erdene Jalavsuren and CEO of IDA International, Mr Seah Chin Siong.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 03/06/2012

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Singapore: Community Policing System Launched

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Police Force's new Community Policing System (COPS) was launched Sunday by the Minister in the Prime Minister's Office S Iswaran. COPS, which aims to improve the way Neighbourhood Police Centres (NPC) work with the community, comprises three initiatives. Under the first initiative, each NPC will be re-organised to set up a new Crime Strike Force and an expanded Community Policing Unit. The Crime Strike Force will allow police officers to be more familiar with local terrain and be more effective in fighting localised crime. The Community Policing Unit in the NPC will bring police officers closer to the community through foot and bicycle patrols, and they will play a more active role in community safety and security programmes. The Tampines Neighbourhood Police Centre will be one of the first of two NPCs to adopt the new model. With the second initiative, the police will set up cameras at HDB blocks and multi-storey car parks to assist in crime investigations. With this initiative, by 2016, there will be more eyes when police cameras are installed at 10,000 HDB blocks and multi-storey car parks. While using cameras to solve crimes is not new, Tampines NPC had four cases last year where images captured on camera helped in identifying crime suspects. By the end of this month, Tampines will see 38 HDB blocks and two multi-storey car parks installed with police cameras as part of the pilot phase.

More blocks in Tampines will get cameras starting from the fourth quarter of this year, as part of the next tranche of 700 blocks islandwide. In the third initiative, Neighbourhood Police Posts (NPP) will be enhanced with technology to give users round-the-clock access. The enhanced NPP will be piloted at Radin Mas and Marsiling this year, before being rolled out to other NPPs in Singapore. The police plan to recruit 450 additional officers over the next few years to perform these added functions. This means an additional 13 officers on average for each neighbourhood police centre.Bedok Police Division commander How Kwang Hwee said the challenge now is to find the right type of officers for the new system. "They need to be able to relate very well and engage the community at all levels - different age groups, different profiles," Deputy Assistant Commissioner How said. "So these are officers whom we will look for - who are extroverts, who are good at communication, who are good at memory, remembering faces. "And we hope in response to our enhanced presence, the community will also respond and come forward to be our eyes and ears on the ground." Speaking at the launch in Tampines, Mr Iswaran, who is also Second Minister for Home Affairs, commended Tampines residents for their participation in projects with the police. One of these is a bicycle rack project at 20 blocks in Tampines which led to a drop in bicycle thefts at those blocks.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 05/20/2012

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Bottom-Up Approach Preferred for Internet Code of Conduct

SINGAPORE: Any code on regulating or managing conduct on the Internet has to be based on a bottom-up approach. Mayor of North East Community Development Council, Teo Ser Luck, made this point at a dialogue session organised by a network of social media practitioners, infoCommunity. He said: "It has to be bottoms-up. You can't really do everything top-down. In fact, most top-down, in terms of social media space on this area, is unlikely to be effective, because the Internet today is so wide and open. I think it's best to let the community self-govern and manage." During the dialogue session, some of the participants felt that breaches of any Internet code of conduct should be governed by enforcement. Lionel Tan, a partner with law firm Rajah & Tann, said: "Unfortunately, people breach it more often that observe it, because it doesn't have any enforcement issues - there is no right of enforcement. Without actual enforcement teeth, I'm a bit pessimistic as to whether that will actually take-off."

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Mr Tan elaborated, saying that having a civil code will at least give a baseline on what is deemed acceptable behaviour by the public, and the course of action if that baseline standard has been breached. Alternatively, Mr Tan said Singapore could also look into having an independent Ombudsman, who could look into issues pertaining to behaviour on social media platforms. He said: "The Ombudsman may be given some teeth in terms of enforcement - in the case of cyber-bullying, he could perhaps be empowered by legislation to identify the perpetrator, and contact him or her to advise that such online behaviour is unacceptable."It doesn't always have to end up in court - it could be mediated and settled. This could set the tone for managing conduct while balancing the right of free speech." Mr Teo cited YouTube, a video-sharing website, as an example. He pointed out that the community of video-sharers and viewers flag material that is deemed inappropriate.

Speaking to reporters after the dialogue session, Mr Teo said that no one can escape the law when rules are broken. He said: "This code of conduct and civility code - I believe today there's a lack of teeth in enforcement. So because of that, it leads to another purpose - it's really education, setting up a certain framework. "But nevertheless, whatever you do on the Internet, when it becomes an offence, and it causes certain consequences that are unwanted and criminal, I believe the other laws will kick-in. In that sense, you can't escape the law just because you're on the Internet." The dialogue was held on the heels of strong support for an Internet Civility Code. According to a straw poll by infoCommunity, about 85 per cent of respondents support such a code. But organisers said that the survey might not be representative of the population, as only 10 per cent of some 400 participants responded. The dialogue session was part of a convention attended by some 300 social media practitioners. infoCommunity also launched the "Social Media Survival Guide Book" at the convention. The book provides an overview of policies and legal frameworks that organisations can set in place with regard to social media.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 05/21/2012

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THAILAND: Launching Its First G-Cloud

Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and the Electronic Government Agency (EGA) officially launched the first Government Cloud Service on May 3 and pulled together applications from 30 government agencies. Within the next five year, more than 50% of government organizations will rely on this system to store their information within. It will help save their IT budgets and other spending relevant to computer management. Further improvements on the service and its security system will also be conducted to leverage its standard to an international level, said ICT Minister Anudith Nakornthap. "This year, a lot of new application from public sector are expected to be introduced and within five years, government agencies would execute half of work process through the system," he added. The launch of G-Cloud involved the amendment of procurement regulation, ICT related laws,infrastructure improvement, and budgetary adjustment in order to facilitate and encourage public sector to move towards this trend, he revealed. Nakornthap also said that this system would provide security to confidential information and would save any organizations a large sum of money to be invested in protecting their sensitive information. New applications, he added, will be developed to co-exist with such system to make it easier for users to link their information to the cloud.

"G-Cloud will become an essential IT backbone of the government in the near future," he said. Dr Sak Segkhoonthod, president and CEO of the EGA said that the EGA has improved the efficiency of G-Cloud in terms of hardware, software, network and security system after the pilot phase had run since January and proved to be successful. "We expect to have up to 20 new servers every month which will make up between 80 and 100 new servers by end of the year," he added. The G-Cloud service provided by the EGA is free of charge to all agencies as part of the Ministry's objective to maximise central ICT resources and encourage the use of shared ICT infrastructure. Next year, the EGA aimed to offer Software as a Service (SaaS) to allow shared applications among different agencies, according to Segkhoonthod. "We are collaborating with Fiscal Policy Office to encourage the IT budget proposals that go along with the objective of G-Cloud which will help reduce the overlapped investment of the government IT spending and encourage more use of shared services," he added. Chanun Puttamilinprateep, advisor at the Bureau of the Budget (BB) said that the BB and the EGA has agreed to support the government agencies to use the EGA's infrastructure and services in the 2013 fiscal year onward. "If the government agencies cannot adapt their IT plan to comply with the central facility (G-Cloud), their IT budget proposal might be cut down," he confirmed. The BB is one of the 30 agencies who are adopting G-Cloud and will release the budgetary system to network and share budgetary data with other agencies, according to Puttamilinprateep. Some of thirty government organizations that have adopted G-Cloud consist of the Election Commission of Thailand, the Department of Livestock Development, the Chaipattana Foundation, the Electronic Transactions Development Agency, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, the Treasury Department, the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching in Science and Technology, the National Health Security Office and the Department of Community Development.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/16/2012

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East ASEAN to Rollout Regional ICT Projects

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Working Group for the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines - East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) identified three major projects to be included in the BIMP-EAGA Implementation Blueprint (IB) for 2012-2016. According to Attorney Jonalyn Bagayan from the Mindanao Development Authority, the projects includes the roll out of the ICT rural outreach program, the establishment of the BIMP-EAGA rink (submarine cable), and the implementation of the Intelligence Clearance Identification (iClid). The ICT Rural outreach program aims to improve ICT literacy of rural communities through the construction of e-telecentres equipped with e-Learning models and mobile applications.

In the Philippines, the Committee has identified 30 pilot sites in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the roll-out of the e-telecentres. Each pilot site is expected to have 20 computers. E.A. Trillink Inc. is the private sector lead of the program in the Philippines. The latter is investing US$33 million for the installation of around 2,000 telecentres in ARMM. Meanwhile, Brunei has successfully implemented the program's first phase which includes training courses on e-commerce and the establishment of e-telecentres equipped with broadband internet, and other applications. The BIMP - EAGA Rink project on the other hand, aims to develop BIMP-EAGA as a new hub and centre of investment by leveraging a Hybrid Communications Platform which would make use of sea cable, satellite, or terrestrial systems. Lastly, the iCLid project will use a combination of Radio-frequency Identification and web technology to facilitate cross-border movement of goods and vehicles within the BIMP-EAGA region. Brunei Darussalam has already implemented the first phase of the project in Sungai Tujoh and Kuala Lurah, and will extend it to Sabah and Sarawak checkpoints in Malaysia for the second phase. Each checkpoint is estimated to cost around US$1.5 million.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/13/2012

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BANGLADESH: Presidential Ordinance Amends 1973 ICT Act

An ordinance promulgated on Wednesday by president Zillur Rahman amended the International Crimes Tribunal Act of 1973, incorporating a provision for transfer of cases from one tribunal to another at any stage for 'ensuring justice and speedy disposal' of war crimes cases, said officials. 'At any stage of a case, a Tribunal may, on its own motion or on the application of the Chief Prosecutor, by an order in writing, transfer the case to another Tribunal, whenever it considers such transfer is just and convenient for proper dispensation of justice and expeditious disposal,' stipulates the amended Article (11A) of the law. The International Crimes (Tribunals) (Amendment) Ordinance, 2012 states where a case has been transferred under sub-section (1), the Tribunal which thereafter tries such case shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, proceed from the point at which it was transferred. A cabinet meeting chaired by prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday approved the promulgation of an ordinance to facilitate transfer of war crimes cases from one tribunal to another. The legislative and parliamentary affairs division submitted the draft for the cabinet's approval. Amendment of the law was needed for speedy disposal of war crimes cases, officials said. On March 25, 2010, the government constituted the first International Crimes Tribunal and the second tribunal was constituted on March 22, 2012, to speed up the completion of the prosecution of the 1971 war crimes suspects. There was no provision in the original law for transferring cases from one tribunal to another, they said. And the need for transfer of cases arose following the constitution of the second tribunal.


From http://www.newagebd.com/ 04/12/2012

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INDIA: Asking Court to Clarify Telecoms Ruling

India's government has sought clarification from the Supreme Court on its landmark judgement to cancel 122 telecommunications licences awarded to companies in 2008.These companies have nearly 70 million of the 900 million Indian subscribers. Last month's judgement said that they would need to transfer to other operators within the next four months. Now the government says that it will take at least 400 days to complete a fresh auction of licences. The licences were issued by former minister A Raja, who is accused of mis-selling bandwidth in what has been called India's biggest corruption scandal. Mr Raja, who is currently on trial for fraud, denies wrongdoing. Government auditors say the scandal cost the country about $40bn (£24.5bn).

The government told the Supreme Court that more than 69 million mobile phone subscribers - 7.5% of total subscribers - could face service disruption as a fresh auction of the licences was not possible by 2 June, the deadline set by the court. "It is impossible for the government to conduct [an] auction in four months ... We will decide the future course of action after we receive a clarification from the Supreme Court," a telecom official told Hindustan Times newspaper. Even if these subscribers shift to other mobile operators, the latter will find it difficult to handle the additional traffic given their technical and operational constraints. The court ruling was a source of further embarrassment for the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which has been hit by several high-profile corruption cases in recent months.


From http://www.bbc.co.uk/ 03/02/2012

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IT Rules Regulating Web Content Could Be Repealed in Rajya Sabha

The Left parties have decided to back the annulment motion against the IT Rules promulgated in April 2011 that provide for "intermediaries" to remove the online content they are asked to by anyone. Efforts are on to mobilise members of Parliament across party lines. If the motion is accepted by the Rajya Sabha, it will be sent to the Lok Sabha, probably in the monsoon session. When Parliament's budget session re-opens on April 24, the Rajya Sabha will vote on an annulment motion. The motion has been moved by P Rajeeve, Rajya Sabha member from the Communist Party of India-Marxist. The Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to take an official position on the annulment motion. Also supporting the motion is independent MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar who has been vocal on the issue. The IT Rules provide for a mechanism whereby anyone can send any "intermediary" (website, server, domain registrar, blog owner, etc) a notice to remove any content within 36 hours, failing which the complainant can file a first information report.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/20/2012

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India: To Promote R&D in IT Sector, Government Plans to Set Up a Fund

For promoting innovation and commercialisation of products in the IT sector, the government is planning to set up an electronic development fund. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Communications and IT, Sachin Pilot, said, "Under the draft National Policy on Electronics 2011, it has been proposed to create an electronic development fund to promote innovation, R&D, commercialisation of products in the IT sector." The policy also proposes to provide incentives for setting up of over 200 electronic manufacturing clusters (EMCs) with world class logistics and infrastructure and easy to do business facilities. The support is intended for greenfield EMCs and upgradation of brownfield EMCs. The draft national policy was announced in October 2011 and put in public domain for consultations. The policy is yet to be finalised.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/10/2012

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IT Policy to Focus on Giving Exports a Fillip

J. Satyanarayana, the secretary of the department of electronics and information technology, has said in an interview that India's policy will focus on giving IT exports a fillip by giving cash incentives and make the country attractive for foreign technology manufacturing firms to build factories. J. Satyanarayana is also planning to make e-Governance projects more outcome based and increase awareness on cyber security. On the subject of Mission Mode Projects (MMPs), Satyanarayana said that while there has been a good traction from the central MMPs, but the progress is not so attractive on the state MMP front. He said that the department plans to give an outcome orientation to the MMPs. How many services have touched the citizens this month? It is the single criterion that will measure the success or the impact across the country.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/16/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Law on Getting Information to Be Amended and Changed by Parliament

The Azerbaijani parliament will amend the law on "getting information." The articles of the new bill relating to the information commissioner and his powers have been removed from the law, the parliament told Trend today. It was proposed to include a new provision to the bill related to a complaint on the denial from giving the information or the non-fulfillment of the request for information. This change envisages that the person making an inquiry has the right to complain about the refusal to fulfill a request for getting information or a failure to fulfill it correctly to the Azerbaijani court or the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will control the execution of the law in the manner prescribed in the Constitutional Law on "Azerbaijani Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman)". After the latest changes and additions made to the Constitutional Law on "Azerbaijani Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman)", the powers of the information commissioner were delivered to the Ombudsman. In this regard,  additions and changes are made to the law on "Getting the information". The bill has been discussed at a meeting of the Committee of the Azerbaijani Parliament on Legal Policy and State Building today.


From http://en.trend.az/ 04/10/2012

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Turkey and Azerbaijan Plan to Expand Communication and ICT

"Turkey is ready to share experience with Azerbaijan in sphere of information technologies," said April 27 the Minister for science, industry and technologies, Turkey Nihat Erg邦n at a meeting in the Ministry of communications and information technologies of Azerbaijan. According to him, Turkey and Azerbaijan today are working in different areas, and ICT is one of the areas with great prospects. He also noted that recent changes in the economy of Azerbaijan, and along with the development of the oil and gas sector into the arena goes and information technology. In turn, the Minister of communications and information technologies of Azerbaijan Ali Abbasov informed Turkish colleague on projects in the country in the field of ICT, microelectronics, creation of space industry development in radio and television. Abbasov expressed its interest in cooperating with the Turkish side in the area of innovative projects. He noted that the Ministry established a Fund for the support of ICT, the focus of which is the development of innovative business that may become one of the most promising areas of cooperation between the two countries. Abbasov and invited the Turkish side to take part in Bakutel this fall where they will be highlighted to demonstrate its experience Pavilion in the development and application of high technologies in a business environment. He also proposed the creation of a bilateral working group to prepare a draft of the cooperation between the two ministries.


From http://www.bakutoday.net/ 04/27/2012

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Action Plan on Broadband Internet Development in Azerbaijan Meets ITU Requirements

The action plan on the development of the broadband internet in Azerbaijan meets the requirement of the Telecommunication Union (ITU), Azerbaijani Minister of Communications and IT Ali Abbasov said in an interview with The business year journal. "We have developed action plan that complies with the International Telecommunication Union's vision and aims to gradually expand broadband internet infrastructure over the 2012-2015 period," he said. Broadband has recently become more affordable since the Ministry has worked closely with the relevant agencies to adjust the pricing, the Minister added. He stressed that the Ministry initiated the AzDataKom network to expand broadband service access of at least 10 Gbps to all Azerbaijani regions. "In addition, the wholesale distributors Delta Telecom and Azertelecom have significantly contributed to increasing internet bandwidth," Abbasov said. Over the last decade, $3 billion has been invested in the sector and 25 percent of this amount has come from foreign investors over the last seven years, he added. According to the Minister, this investment has played an important role in the modernization of telecoms infrastructure, particularly mobile communications, and the development of advanced technology. Concerning the Azerspace satellite, Abbasov said that it is aimed at upgrading the quality of TV broadcasting and telecommunications not only in Azerbaijan but throughout Eurasia, and will turn Azerbaijan into becoming a major relay site for signal transmissions between Europe and Asia.

"We are going to use only one-fourth of its capacity, while the rest will be available for lease," he said. He stressed that Azercosmos, the government-owned national satellite operator, plans to launch the second satellite in 2015, which will further expand Azerbaijan's satellite communications capacity. The company also plans to launch a remote sensing satellite into low Earth orbit, which will enhance and accelerate Azerbaijan's capacity in the areas of environmental protection, agriculture, topography, and national security, the Minister added. As for mobile communication, the Ministry recommended mobile operators to complete all the procedures regarding mobile number portability by 2013, Abbasov mentioned. "We have studied the impact of the legislative framework of mobile number portability in various countries, and we have carried out analyses in that regard. At present, a special legislative norm has been drafted by the Ministry and sent to the mobile operators for their consideration," he said. The Minister believes that the new framework will have a positive effect on the market, creating fair and healthy competition between operators, and attract new investments. It should also increase the number, reliability, and quality of mobile services, he added. The Minister said the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest is a superb opportunity for Azerbaijan in terms of promotion in many fields. "However, it also carries responsibilities and challenges, and in this regard we have developed an action plan to provide high-quality telecommunications, internet, and television services," he added. Abbasov believes that the work has already begun in terms of software, web, and content development, as well as online security. "At the same time, we have to make sure that the availability of telecommunications services, mobile infrastructure, and 3G and Wi-Fi services can cope with bandwidth demand, having said that, we firmly believe that the infrastructure in place will guarantee the success of the event from a technological point of view," the Minister added.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/10/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Programme to Promote ICT Opens

The Committee of the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis on information and communication technologies in collaboration with the Uzbek Agency of Communication and Information launched a regionally-focused programme. The programme aimed at promoting information and communication technologies among the population, including in rural areas, Uzbekreport.com quoted the press service of the Legislative Chamber as saying. The programme will conduct conferences in the regions on priorities for further implementation and development of modern ICT in Uzbekistan, defined by the resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan 1730 of March 21, 2012, as well as the cycle of workshops, where managers and specialists from the regional bodies, economic management and state authorities in the field, business entities and civil society institutions have the opportunity to get acquainted with the issues of practical experience in implementing IT projects, improving the effectiveness of the various stakeholders' activities through the use of modern ICT, development of ICT infrastructure to cater to needs of the citizens. ICT in social, economic, socio-political life is important component of the processes of democratic renovation of society and serves as a foundation of improving the competitiveness of national economy, and ensuring sustainable development. An important task in ICT is advocacy of goals, objectives and significance of the concept articulated by the President on further deepening of democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country, adopted legislation to further reform of the information society, the widespread introduction of modern information and communication technologies.


From http://www.neurope.eu/ 05/06/2012

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Uzbekistan Plans to Implement Electro-Technical Projects Worth $40 Million

"Uzeltehprom" association uniting the enterprises of electro-technical industry in Uzbekistan in 2012 plans to launch four investment projects with a total project cost $40.5 million, chairman of the association Tabriz Jalilov said at the presentation of new legislative acts to improve the investment climate in the country. Jalilov said that "Uzeltehprom" plans to proceed with organizing the production of security systems, video surveillance, which has no analogue in Central Asia this year. The cost of the project is about $4 million, the design capacity - up to 50,000 units per year, the planned volume of exports - 25 percent of total production. It is planned to start a project for the production of LED lamps worth $ 20 million and production capacity at the initial stage of 50,000 units, the project for the production of refrigerators and air conditioners worth $ 11 million and the project for the production of small household electrical appliances worth $ 5.5 million this year. "All projects are export-oriented," he said. "They are open for foreign investors and the involvement of foreign direct investments." The presentation was organized by the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade and Chamber of Commerce and Industry to familiarize representatives of foreign business circles, representatives of enterprises with foreign capital operating in the territory of Uzbekistan, representative offices of foreign companies and international organizations, with guarantees, privileges and preferences established in the country earlier and supplemented by the decree of President Karimov on "Additional measures to stimulate foreign direct investments."


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/10/2012

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AUSTRALIA: E-Health Bill Passes Lower House

Australia's national personally-controlled electronic health system (PCEHR) has passed the lower house - clearing the next hurdle to managing e-health records in the 21st century. The proposed PCEHR e-health bill lays the groundwork to establish a nationally-consistent record of patient and healthcare information throughout Australia. This initiative, when fully operational, will streamline Australia's healthcare system - while improving electronic healthcare delivery across all levels of government and healthcare services. The PCEHR program supports the secure sharing of health information between individuals' healthcare providers. This system also ensures individuals can control who accesses their health records. Australian Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek told Parliament that consumer records are scattered at dispersed locations, making it difficult to consolidate patient information.

"At present, consumer health records are scattered over a range of locations in the clinics rather than being attached to the consumer and easily available at the point of care," she said. "It means consumers need to retell their story every time they visit a different healthcare provider." The Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Bill 2011 and the related Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2011 were both passed on third reading in Parliament. The PCEHR earlier came under scrutiny on privacy grounds. Future reforms will factor in breaches of privacy, including the establishment of an Independent Advisory Council. This council will advise on operational and policy matters. Audit logs will track who has accessed health records. Earlier, Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim, canvassed a unified approach to consumer privacy protection. Commissioner Pilgrim sought clarification about how different commonwealth, state and territory privacy laws would work together under a new regime. He also wanted stronger powers for his office to audit a system operator, open up investigations and manage the complaints process.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/01/2012

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Australia Outlines Plans for Digital Dividend Spectrum Auction

­Australia's telecoms regulator has published the draft proposals for its Digital Dividend spectrum auction, the biggest to be held in the country in a decade. There are two blocks being offered - in the 700Mhz and 2.5Ghz bands. The 700Mhz spectrum will be sold in nine lots covering the whole country, with each frequency lot being made up of 10Mhz in paired configuration (2x5 MHz), with a block of 5 MHz in the upper and lower parts of the band, separated by a mid-band gap. The 2.5Ghz spectrum will be sold in 14 lots broken into 11 regional blocks, although bidders could buy enough to cover the whole country if they wanted to. Each frequency lot consists of 10 MHz in paired configuration (2x5 MHz), with a block of 5 MHz in the upper and lower parts of the band, separated by a mid-band gap. "Publishing the draft rules is a key milestone for the ACMA in preparing for the auction,' said Giles Tanner, General Manager of the ACMA's Digital Transition Division. 'Over the past months, we have been actively engaging with stakeholders - I'm pleased that we have their buy-in on the approach we're taking." The draft rules consists of two parts - the allocation instruments and the technical instruments. Stakeholders have until Wednesday, 9 May 2012, to submit their responses to the draft rules. A further discussion paper will be published in the second quarter of this year, which will focus on licence commencement matters, including when the spectrum will become available. The ACMA has also published a consultation paper, Proposed updates to the spectrum licence framework, which sets out the proposed changes to update and simplify the conditions applying to 15 year spectrum licences. They are intended to apply to all spectrum licences issued from 2012 onwards, including the licence(s) that will be awarded in the digital dividend auction.


From http://www.cellular-news.com/ 04/11/2012

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Australia Rolls Out US$387 Mil ICT Integration Programme

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is rolling out a major US$387 million AUD$374 million) ICT integration project - enabling the Australian Government to more effectively deliver health, social services, child support and disability services to thousands of Australians. This ICT integration project, led by the DHS, includes consolidating HR and finance systems, as well as datacentres. Plans are being refined to roll out a common desktop based on Windows 7; migrate different email systems including Lotus Notes onto Microsoft's Outlook/Exchange, and tender for a raft of new contracts. This ICT integration brings together Medicare, Centrelink, the Child Support Agency, Australian Hearing and the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service. It supports the Australian Government's Service Delivery Reform program - with better access to technology and services. Tanya Plibersek, Minister for Human Services and Social Inclusion, said Australia's Service Delivery Reform is driven by a recognition that the way Government does business has not kept pace with community expectations or needs.

"Many of our most basic transactions remain costly, labour intensive and time consuming," she said. "Australians quite rightly expect the Australian Government to provide services that use modern technology - to be as convenient and accessible as services provided by banks, bookshops, airlines and hotels." Gary Sterrenberg, DHS' Chief Information Officer, said technology is about empowering citizens - with access to the best available services, and supported by the right platforms. "The emphasis is on customer service delivery, while integrating and streamlining the ICT platforms. An integration effort simply cannot go wrong, because in the end, it affects services to citizens in need." Phase one of this ICT integration involves consolidating data centres and supporting network architecture. Previously, 14 separate data centres held client records that were being managed by different agencies. The plan is to rationalise these data centres into three. So far, the DHS has moved out of its data centre in Bruce, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and one run by telco carrier, Macquarie Telecom in NSW. It is also vacating another facility in Burwood, NSW. By 2014, there are plans for three data centres - one in Hume, near the ACT-NSW border, and two in the southern Canberra suburb of Tuggeranong (ACT). On the desktop front, from October to December 2011, the DHS deployed 500 desktops using a new common desktop architecture based on Windows 7 and Outlook.

By June 2012, the agency will roll out another 10,000 desktops, and by the end of the year, another 15,000 desktops. The DHS is also reviewing its telecommunications network services. There are moves toward unified communications, and the use of multiple rather than single telco contracts. More services will be brought in-house and replace large outsourcing deals. Other initiatives include introducing customer relationship management (CRM) systems, offering staff a better picture of people dealing with agencies, while complying with privacy legislation. The DHS is fast-tracking nationwide mobile communications services. It will streamline mobile and outreach programs for clients in rural and regional areas, and isolated communities.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/27/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Networks Renew Radio Spectrum Licenses

­New Zealand's Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams today announced the completion of cellular spectrum renewals that secure key rights for Telecom, 2degrees and Vodafone through to 2031. Telecom has this week completed settlement, enabling it to renew the 850MHz band rights that it uses for its XT network. 2degrees settled in January for the 900 MHz rights for its GSM network, while Vodafone choose to settle early, renewing its 900 MHz band rights in 2009. "The Government welcomes the commitment of the three operators to the New Zealand mobile market," Ms Adams says. "The companies' renewal of this spectrum through to 2031 means they can make long-term infrastructure investment decisions. Over time this will bring New Zealanders better mobile technology and services." The renewal of the cellular spectrum in the 850 MHz and 900 MHz bands will net the government NZ$150 million.


From http://www.cellular-news.com/ 03/29/2012

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Privacy Commissioner Supports Information Sharing Bill

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff today gave her stamp of approval to legislation that would relax the rules around sharing information between public service agencies. Parliament's justice and electoral committee is considering the Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill, which would lower the threshold for sharing of individuals' personal information held by public and private agencies. In a submission to the committee today, Ms Shroff said there were a number of benefits to be gained through information sharing, and the proposed law change would provide better clarity. Ms Shroff noted that the bill provided safeguards to ensure that private information was not shared without good reason. "The bill has strong and practical safeguards, which are absolutely vital, and in my view they all interact together and are all necessary. Taking one away would potentially spoil the nicely balanced framework that we have," she said.

"One of my concerns has been that there may have been a little bit of inconsistency in the way information sharing is handled in government, one of the benefits of this is to provide a consistent framework." Ms Shroff said her office would be involved in ensuring the specific sharing arrangements that the bill enabled were appropriate, and then closely monitoring them. In response to concerns raised by New Zealand First MP Denis O'Rourke about information potentially ending up in unintended hands, Ms Shroff agreed close attention needed to be paid to the potential for abuse. "I also think there's a huge issue about the point at which you start sharing government information with private sector businesses ... we would be paying quite sharp attention to that."


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 04/05/2012

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Govt Approves First Electronic Game Degrees

Fresh on the heels of a national game industry conference in the weekend, approval has been granted for New Zealand's first ever game development degrees. The NZQA has given the green light for Auckland's Media Design School to run two degrees aimed at supplying the country's thriving games industry with new talent. From August, aspiring developers and designers will be able to study Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art) and Bachelor of Software Engineering (Game Programming) degrees. Offering world-class degrees in a high growth digital sector is a natural and exciting progression, said Media Design School CEO Frances Valintine. "The New Zealand game industry is growing due to the global demand for game content across all platforms - console, mobile, PC and online." Valintine said projected future demand for game programmers and artists exceeds the level of qualified graduates entering the sector each year. Few industries offer the job security and level of salary that game graduates receive, she said.

The degrees have been developed with input from local and international game studios and will offer students projects designed to replicate the studio environment. According to a survey by the New Zealand Game Development Association (NZDGA), the local games industry grew 46 per cent, or by 114 jobs, last year and there are now about 450 full-time game development jobs in the country. Over 200 industry players attended New Zealand's second ever game developer conference in Auckland on Saturday. The first conference, named Fuse, was held in 2004 at Otago University. It is a great time to consider a career in games, said NZDGA chair Stephen Knightly. "Video games are high-tech, creative, digital exports - exactly the kind of products New Zealand wants to export more of." Knightly said game development skills are highly transferable to other areas of the digital sector, such as web design, advertising and animation. As part of its Bachelor of Computing, Communications and Technology Degree, the Waiariki Institute of Technology was granted approval in December last year to run a Game Development Major. The course will have its first graduates at the end of this year. The Media Design School has been running a Graduate Diploma of Game Development since 2004.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 05/22/2012

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Govt Assures That Treaty Poses No Danger to ICT Laws

In the wake of an open letter signed by a large group of lawyers and politicians from New Zealand, the US and other Pacific nations protesting at potential "investor state" provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is trying to give assurances that there will be no danger to New Zealand's control over its own laws. The provisions will, on the face of it, allow overseas investors to sue governments if local variations in laws damage the viability of their business. New Zealand ICT businesses and industry bodies are casting nervous eyes particularly on our exclusion of software from patent rights in the Patents Bill, still going through Parliament. The hard-fought provisions of New Zealand's Copyright Act pertaining to illegal downloading may also be threatened, critics suggest. However, an MFAT spokesperson says "New Zealand's position has always been to ensure that any commitment entered into in a trade or investment agreement preserves New Zealand's ability to regulate for legitimate public policy purposes, and this remains our position. "Successive New Zealand governments have previously agreed to reciprocal provisions that enable investors to challenge breaches of certain free-trade agreement commitments in several of our other FTAs, while preserving New Zealand's ability to regulate for legitimate public policy purposes as noted above. This balance will remain in any discussions on ISDS in the TPP negotiation," the spokesperson says in an email to Computerworld.

"Nothing we are looking at would give investors the blanket right to sue the government or open us up to frivolous and historic claims with the potential for investors being awarded punitive damages," says MFAT, in answer to the points raised in the open letter. The lawyers' criticisms are targeted primarily at existing trade agreements such as NAFTA, and it is only conjecture that similar provisions might be included in the TPPA, it says. The open letter notes that Australia has excluded investor state dispute provisions from TPPA and other future trade agreements and encourages other TPPA nations to do the same. "The ostensible purpose for investor protections in international agreements and their investor-state enforcement was to ensure that foreign investors in countries without well-functioning domestic court systems would have a means to obtain compensation if their real property, plant or equipment was expropriated by a government," the letter says. However, the types of property covered by such clauses have now been extended to include intellectual property, contract rights and other non-physical categories. Powers conferred by the provisions have been extended to rank the rights of foreign investors higher than "the sovereign right of nations to govern their own affairs" the letter says. Misgivings - and government reassurances - about potential conflict between ICT-associated intellectual property law and free-trade agreements have been aired for more than seven years.


From http://computerworld.co.nz/ 05/22/2012

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Launch of the Chinese Edition of the "United Nations E-Government Survey 2012: E-Government for the People" in Beijing, China

More than 200 senior officials from the central and local ministries responsible for e-government and information technology in China, research and academia institutions engaged in e-government, as well as several industry representatives, attended the launch of the Chinese language edition of the "United Nations E-Government Survey 2012: E-Government for the People" in Beijing, China, on 26 March 2012. This is the first time the Survey has been translated into the Chinese language. The translation is a result of collaboration between the Division for Public Administration and Development Management of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DPADM/UNDESA) and the Chinese Academy of Governance (CAG), China and was undertaken by the E-Government Research Center, CAG.

In his opening statement, Mr. Yi Hong, Vice President, CAG, welcomed Ms. Haiyan Qian, Director, DPADM/UNDESA and highly praised the work undertaken by DPADM/UNDESA in promoting administrative reform through technological renovation. He also expressed the willingness of CAG to further cooperate with UNDESA in e-government and other areas. Ms. Haiyan Qian thanked CAG for their great work on the release of the Chinese language edition of the United Nations E-Government Survey 2012, and supported the proposal of further collaboration between DPADM/UNDESA and CAG. Ms. Haiyan Qian then proceeded to share global findings and development trends related to the United Nations E-Government Survey 2012. Mr. Hongren Zhou, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Committee for State Informatisation, who is also responsible for the development of information systems for the Chinese Government, reported on the past, current and future development of China's e-government. The launch ceremony was moderated by Mr. Yimin Wang, Deputy Director of the E-government Research Center, CAG.

Since 2001, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has been assessing United Nations Member States' e-government development in order to help countries better understand the current situation of e-government development worldwide and their own position compared to other countries, as well as to provide references to policy recommendations for the promotion of comprehensive and sustainable e-government strategies and programmes. The United Nations E-government Survey 2012 assesses the 193 United Nation Member States' e-government development over the past two years. The Member States are ranked in accordance with the E-Government Development Index (EGDI). The EGDI is a weighted average of four normalized scores on the most important dimensions of e-government, namely: scope and quality of online services, development status of telecommunication infrastructure, human capital and e-participation. Each of these sets of indices is itself a composite measure that can be extracted and analyzed independently.

In the 2012 Survey, China's EGDI is 0.5359, resulting in a ranking of 78. The Survey notes that, "This is no small feat since it is a country of 1.2 billion people and a large land mass - both of which require more effort from the government, especially if the population is widely dispersed, than would a country with a small population living within a limited area. China has enhanced the quality of its government portal by providing comprehensive information, more integrated services across different sectors, and greater interactions between government officials and citizens." Other results of the 2012 Survey reveal that the Republic of Korea maintained its first rank position from the previous 2010 Survey, followed by the Netherlands which advanced three positions since 2010, and the United Kingdom which advanced by one position to become respectively the second and the third most advanced e-governments in the world. Denmark, the United States, France and Sweden follow closely to take their place among the global leaders of e-government. Overall, the 2012 Survey finds that countries have typically moved from a decentralized single-purpose model of e-government to a unified whole-of-government model.

In addition, the Survey emphasizes that social media (such as Microblogs) has great potential to expand application of e-government. How to seize the opportunities brought by social media has already become an important topic for the public service. Social media has created new information and public service channels for governments, and can be used to improve the quality of the public service, lower costs and enhance the transparency of governments. The Survey recommends that governments put greater emphasis on e-government to develop and solidify institutional cohesion, and integrate administration and service delivery. The ultimate goal is for legitimate and effective public governance to result in smart, inclusive and equitable growth for today's and tomorrow's generations. For information about the UN E-Government Survey, please see UN E-Government Survey. For news related to the UN E-Government Survey, please see: UN E-Government Survey in the News.


From DPADM/UNDESA 04/04/2012

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Korea Ranks 1st Again in United Nations E-government Survey 2012

Korea has ranked first on the E-Government Survey 2012 for the second straight time. The biannual survey, released in February and conducted by the United Nations Public Administration Network, rates the e-government performance of about 190 nations. The Korean government received the highest scores on both the E-Government Development Index and the E-Participation Index. In the E-Government Development Index, Korea was followed by the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark and the United States. In the E-Participation Index, Korea ranked first with the Netherlands, followed by Singapore and Kazakhstan, which tied for second. This year's assessment focused on "e-government for the people." The survey indicated that Korea continues to rank at the top for the significant development and provision of cross-sector mobile application downloadable on its integrated portal.


From http://investinkorea.linux.gabiauser.com/ 04/12/2012

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The Open Government Partnership - From Eight to 54 Countries

The Open Government Partnership was officially launched in September 2011 by eight founding governments - Brazil, Indonesia, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, Mexico and United States - and nine civil society organisations. Today, as we prepare for the annual meeting of the OGP in Brasilia, the partnership comprises a group of 54 countries and various civil society organisations, as well as interested private sector and international institutions. It is a remarkable accomplishment in such a short period of time for an international, multi-stakeholder initiative. This April, after the OGP has only been operating for six months, we will have gone from eight action plans and 46 participating countries to 50 action plans and 54 participating countries.

As remarkable as these numbers might be, we can only grasp their full meaning when we look at the powerful stories and the political will behind the efforts of each country and civil society organisation to participate and lead the open government movement. Countries that wish to participate formally in the OGP, as explained on the website, must fulfil seven steps. These include meeting a set of minimum eligibility criteria on fiscal transparency, access to information, public disclosure about public officials and engagement with citizens. They also include developing and publishing a plan for open government, with concrete commitments, and cooperating with local, independent governance experts to generate a report how the action plan is being implemented. But these formal steps in themselves do not encompass the true meaning of participation in the OGP. Participation in OGP means engagement and political will; it means sharing responsibilities with civil society to create and implement important public policies and reforms. It means sharing the decision making process from the outset.

As President Dilma Rousseff stated in her remarks at the official launch of OGP last September, open government is not just about allowing individual access to budget execution data. It goes beyond, to ensure the rendering of accounts by governments, monitoring, oversight and citizens' participation. It is about establishing a permanent two-way channel for communication between governments and society. Being part of the OGP entails leadership and collaboration with all interested stakeholders, both at a national and international level. And this is what makes the numbers above so remarkable: all countries and institutions that have engaged in OGP have accepted the challenge and objective of creating a new way of achieving our goals in preventing and combating corruption, in improving public services, in strengthening integrity in the public and in the private sector, and in creating safer communities. The OGP is not simply a new group of countries sharing information about past actions, nor simply a response to difficult economic times. We are building mechanisms to strengthen democracy, new ways to engage with civil society and new partnerships to address old challenges of governance.


From http://www.guardian.co.uk/ 04/19/2012

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ARAB STATES: Over 600 World Leaders Convene in Doha for ITU's Connect Arab Summit

Doha - Top-level representatives from over 20 national delegations, including six Heads of State/Heads of Government, 27 government ministers and leaders from some of the world's most dynamic information and communication technology (ICT) companies are meeting this week in Doha to map out the policies and strategies that will unleash the next wave of market opportunities and growth across the Arab region. Hosted by the State of Qatar under the patronage of the Emir of Qatar, the event will also serve as the platform for the announcement of a number of important 'connectivity commitments' from government, industry and academia, bringing together partners in new Arab-focused ICT projects that will help further accelerate deployment of networks, applications and services. Heads of State and Heads of Government attending the summit included H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar; H.E. Mr Ikililou Dhoinine, President of the Union of Comoros; H.E. Mr Ismaël Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti and Head of Government; H.E. General Michel Sleiman, President of the Republic of Lebanon; H.E. Mr Omer Hassan A. Al-Bashir, President of the Republic of Sudan; H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler, Emirate of Al Fujairah; H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar; H.E. Mr Abdelkader Bensalah, President of the National Council, Republic of Algeria; H.H. Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Personal Representative of His Majesty the King of Bahrain; H.H. Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister of the State of Kuwait; and H.H. Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, Sultanate of Oman.

The event also welcomed 27 ministers and deputy ministers from Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority. Delegates attending the official opening ceremony, held this morning at Doha's Sheraton Resort and Convention Centre, were addressed by the Emir of Qatar, H.H. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani; H.E. Dr Hessa Al-Jaber, Secretary General, ictQATAR; H.E. Dr Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General, League of Arab States; Dr Hamadoun Tour谷, ITU Secretary-General; and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Columbia University's Earth Institute. Over the next two days, they will join with close to 700 prominent experts from across the region and around the world in a series of high-level discussion panels and roundtables focused on five main conference themes: The Arab world is now one of the world's most connected regions, but also encompasses countries where connectivity remains low by world standards. In addition, at just 2.2%, average fixed broadband penetration in the region is not yet on a par with regions such as the Asia & Pacific region (6.2%), the Americas (15.5%) and Europe (25.8%).

Speaking to delegates from the podium, ITU's Dr Tour谷 said a major priority for summit participants would be to develop strategies for replicating the 'mobile miracle' in the area of broadband. "We are gathered in the wonderful city of Doha to build on the tremendous successes already achieved at ITU Connect Africa in 2007 and ITU Connect CIS in 2009," said Dr Tour谷. "The slogan of this summit is 'Build, Innovate, Empower'. It is my firm belief that this region will see the enormous synergies of a common language, a shared culture, and a ubiquitous drive for successful entrepreneurship come together to create extraordinary opportunities. This is a vibrant region, rich in human and material resources, and this summit represents a unique chance for leaders from government, from industry, and from the regional and international financial community to forge common strategies that assure mutual success." The Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, Brahima Sanou, said the three-day conference would play an important part in fine-tuning ITU's work priorities in the region going forward. "Active dialogue with all key players will help us deliver the best possible service to our Member States and private sector members. I look forward to the results of this Summit, and to translating these decisions into new business opportunities for the Arab world." The event also saw the launch of a new ITU statistics report on the state of connectivity in the Arab States region: ICT adoption and prospects for the Arab region 2012.


From http://www.itu.int/ 03/06/2012

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Bahrain: Ranking Most IT-friendly in MidEast

Bahrain has leapfrogged the UAE and Qatar to be ranked the Middle East's most IT-friendly country in a global list published by the World Economic Forum. The Global Information Technology Report 2012 ranked 142 economies by examining the correlation between ICT readiness and economic growth. In the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), Bahrain was ranked 27th globally and first in the Middle East and North Africa region, up three places on the previous year. The UAE, which was the best ranked last year, fell six places to 30th, while Qatar was the second best ranked country in the region at 28th. Saudi Arabia fell one place to 33rd while Oman rose one place to 40th with Kuwait lagging behind in 62nd place, although that did represent an improvement of 13 places compared to the previous year's list. Sweden and Singapore topped the rankings in this year's report while Switzerland (5th), the Netherlands (6th), the United States (8th), Canada (9th) and the United Kingdom (10th) also showed strong performances in the top 10.

However, ICT readiness in sub-Saharan Africa was still low, with most countries showing significant lags in connectivity due to insufficient development of ICT infrastructure, which remains too costly, and displaying poor skill levels that do not allow for an efficient use of the available technology. Even in those countries where ICT infrastructure has been improved, ICT-driven impacts on competitiveness and well-being trail behind, resulting in a new digital divide. Despite improvements in many drivers of competitiveness, the BRICS countries - led by China (51st) - still face important challenges to more fully adopt and leverage ICT, the report said. "Hyperconnectivity is redefining relationships between individuals, consumers and enterprises, citizens and state, and we are beginning to see fundamental transformations in all areas of the economy and society," said Robert Greenhill, chief business officer, World Economic Forum. "Traditional organisations and industry infrastructures are facing challenges as industries converge. This will inevitably have consequences for policy and regulation as regulators will have to mediate the blurring lines between sectors and industries and will be obligated to oversee more facets in a pervasive way," he added. The report is the result of a long-standing partnership between the World Economic Forum and INSEAD, a leading international business school.


From http://www.itp.net/ 04/08/2012

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EUROPE: Public Sector Looks to Innovation in 2012

Bath, UK: Eduserv, a not-for-profit IT services provider to the public sector today reveals that public sector IT is becoming more focused on agility, and is stepping away from simple upgrades and routine maintenance. According to research gathered at SOCITM 2011, only 3% of public sector IT managers count upgrades amongst their top priorities for 2012, with more focused on initiatives like cloud computing, consumer IT in the workplace and in-house virtualisation. 95% reported that they were undeterred by failed IT projects in other sectors and are looking to innovate during 2012 to help their organisations become more agile. "Local Government IT managers are undeterred by the possibility of failure, and are realising the value that innovative IT can provide in helping organisations improve services and reduce costs," says Jonathan Sowler, Government Client Director at Eduserv. "Whilst the business needs to carry on as usual, technology simply does not stand still, and there is a significant role for IT in helping local government to become more agile, deliver more services online and reduce costs."

According to the research, almost a third of local government IT management (28%) are looking at initiatives such as cloud computing to help meet their council's business objectives and 41% are focused on improving public-facing services through website development. "Too long have public sector organisations been shackled by a reactive approach to IT," concluded Sowler. "We are now seeing a drive to cloud, more accessible websites and even a move towards consumer IT in the workplace. This new, modern approach to IT shows that local government officers are realising the value of innovative and agile projects which can add significant value to the public, rather than large, monolithic projects which are prone to failure."


From http://www.publictechnology.net/ 03/09/2012

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European Dialogue on Internet Governance

The 5th edition of the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG) will bring together some 500 representatives from civil society, business, governments, parliaments and international organisations to openly discuss the most pressing issues on Internet public policy. Some of these issues will be: Are rules for Internet governance a necessity or a threat to a free Internet? Who should set the rules?; How can intellectual property be protected without criminalising users and creators?; What tools do users need to protect their personal data?; What are the responsibilities of service providers with regard to the enjoyment of rights such as freedom of expression?; Are regulations needed to protect network neutrality in Europe?


From http://ec.europa.eu/ 05/01/2012

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Germany: Launching New eGovernment Initiative for De-Mail and the New Identity Card

The German Federal Ministry of the Interior announced on 8 March 2012 the launch of a new eGovernment initiative in spring 2012. This initiative is intended to satisfy the information needs of the federal, state and local authorities in relation to De-Mail and the new identity card by developing a broad internet-based knowledge platform, and by supporting the practical implementation of infrastructure in targeted projects. In Germany, citizens are able to complete many administrative procedures online, anytime and from anywhere. In many cases, however, the electronic settlement is not enough and documents need to be personally signed and printed. De-Mail is a communications service project aimed at enabling the exchange of electronic documents between citizens, public authorities and businesses in a encrypted, protected and verified manner over the Internet. On 6 March 2012 during CeBIT, three providers received from the Federal Government Commissioner for Information Technology their approval as the first registered De-Mail providers; the introduction of De-Mail is therefore imminent. With De-Mail and the electronic identity card, authorities will be able to offer significantly more high-quality services, in less time and with no disruptions. They will therefore be able to reduce administrative costs and to meet the citizens' expectations of a modern public administration. Although decision-makers in the public sector have seen the potential of both new infrastructures in the German public administration, there is a great need for comprehensive information on the use of De-Mail and the online functions of the new ID card. In addition to the organisational adaptation of the -so far, still often paper-based - work processes and the technical adjustment of the specific procedures, there are also a number of legal issues to be resolved like, for example, requirements pertaining to documents in written form.

The comprehensive exchange of specialist knowledge across administrative levels of federal, state and municipal governments is meant to serve three purposes: Identifying the existing legal, technical and organisational obstacles, winning the support of stakeholders from all administrative levels, aligning the measures launched under the initiative with the actual needs of the authorities in cooperation with these supporters. The first measure of the eGovernment initiative concerns the timely publication of as much knowledge and experience as possible on the Internet. It is planned to provide comprehensive information on best practice projects as well as on technical, organisational and legal issues relating to the integration of De-mail and the new identity card. In addition to specific information regarding implementation projects, there will also be contact persons with experience in integration. With the public knowledge platform, a solid information basis will be created for decision-makers in the federal, state and local authorities. The key measure will be the support to pilot projects and implementation projects. In this way, best practice solutions for federal, state and local authorities will be identified and piloted. According to the 'one-for-all' principle, attractive applications and procedures with high added value for many users in the German administration should be located and implemented.


From http://www.epractice.eu/ 04/17/2012

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LARTIN AMERICA: Argentinean President Receives ITU WTISD Award

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has granted the 2012 World Telecommunication and Information Society Award to three personalities: Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Huawei Chairman Sun Yafang, and Academy Award winning actor Geena Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute of Gender in Media. The ceremony took place in Geneva to mark the 147th anniversary of the establishment of ITU in 1865. The theme for the 2012 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day focuses on 'Women and girls in ICT'. It is aimed at extending digital opportunities by providing avenues of advancement to professional women at the highest echelons of decision-making, and by encouraging young women to seek new careers within the sector. The ITU award went to Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of Argentina, for the numerous digital initiatives that she spearheaded, including the 'Equal Connect Programme' which aims to reduce the digital divide across Argentina's educational system with a specific focus on developing quality digital content.


From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 05/19/2012

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Paraguay Creates the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies

In an event co-organized by the ECLAC @LIS2 project, the creation of this department was announced. In the occasion, expert from four countries of the region presented their nations' experiences on the subject. During the forum Digital Agenda: Towards the implementation of a participative, inclusive and innovative e-Paraguay platform, which took place on April 27 in Asuncion, the creation of the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies (SETIC) of Paraguay was officially announced. Among other duties, it will define policies and transversal ICT strategies for the country and will install public policies regarding competitiveness, productive efficiency, innovation, research and development. The event, attended by 300 people including public institutions representatives, educational organizations and civil society in general, was co-organized by the Paraguay's ICT Director Plan, the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, with support from the ECLAC @LIS2 project. Several specialists from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay took part of the seminar, who revealed the experiences of their own countries in digital development public policies. Augusto Esp赤n, Vice Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society of Ecuador; Cristina Zubillaga, Under Director of Uruguay's Agency for Electronic Government and Information Society (AGESIC); Francisco Camargo, consultant and former director of the Colombian Online Government program, and Yonsy Sol赤s, representative of the National Bureau of Electronic Government and Informatics (ONGEI) of Peru, presented in detail the advances, achievements and difficulties their countries have found in the engagement of their own plans.


From http://www.cepal.org/ 05/02/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Federal Budget - IT Consolidation, Telepresence for Savings

The federal government will continue consolidating its IT and back office systems, make more use of videoconferencing and try to reduce the amount of software and hardware licencing fees its pays in its efforts to slash Ottawa's spending over the next five years. These are some of the nuggets found in the budget released Thursday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, which also said also said the Conservative government will spend $1 billion on support of science and technology, much of which will go to helping start up companies through supporting venture capital. It also includes $40 million over two years to support CANARIE's operation of Canada's ultra-high speed research network. The government plans to chop 12,000 full-time jobs plus eliminate another 7,000 through attrition. It doesn't say how many of those are IT-related. The budget has nothing to say about the long-promised national digital economy strategy, or mention that money is being set aside for rural broadband stimulus. "It doesn't have the same 'outsource everything element' to it," that some were expecting, observed Alison Brooks, public sector research analyst at IDC Canada. But, she added, the merging of a number of IT departments into Shared Services Canada last August probably did more to trim certain departmental spending than the budget. Shared Services Canada, one of the biggest IT centres in the government, has consolidated IT infrastructures of a number of departments. Its goal is to deliver email, data centre and network services to 43 federal organizations.

To make sure its staffers get the message, the budget says the government will introduce a bill stating Shared Services Canada's job is to "deliver value for money for Canadian taxpayers." Looking at the measures to encourage employment growth nationally, Linda Leonard, senior vice-president of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), said the organization approves the budget's thrust to create knowledge-based jobs. "There's a really strong innovation flavour to this that our industry welcomes." She is also glad to see Ottawa is making permanent the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program, which connects small and mid-sized innovative companies to federal departments. However, she isn't sure yet about the impact of changes to the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program. The tax credit rate will drop to 15 from 20 per cent and capital expenditures will no longer qualify. The removal of capital expenditures may have an impact on large R&D spenders, she said, who support the government's vision of a "more innovating nation."


From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 03/29/2012

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Open-Source in Government Can Save Billions - Group

On the eve of its 10-year anniversary, a Canadian advocacy group for open-source software in government says it's closer to achieving its goal: saving taxpayers $1 billion a year. Getting Open Source Logic Into Government (GOSLING) is an Ottawa-based community of open-source enthusiasts dedicated to a freeing up the software market in the public sector. The Canadian government, they say, is spending $1.5 billion buying software that could cost only a third of that. The reason for the waste, according to the organization, is the disjointed, redundant development that takes place within departments. Russell McOrmond, co-founder of GOSLING, says the issue is not one of adopting open source platforms, per se, but rather that of different government organizations sharing their software with one another. The procurement process has also been biased in favour of large vendors, he adds, stifling competition among Canadian enterprises. "Say the government of Canada decided, 'let's do an open-bidding process on support contracts for LibreOffice or OpenOffice,'" he explains, comparing it to procuring licences for Microsoft Office. "How do you do an open-bidding process for licenses for Microsoft Office? There's only one copyright holder. So you can't do three bids from three competing companies offering that code. But you can do three competing companies offering full source to support contracts to training, on free software equivalents." But Allison Brooks, an IDC Canada analyst who focuses on government, says the cost argument can't always be settled in favour of open-source. "[It's] not always true," she says. "Your total cost of ownership includes deployment costs, long-term management, user support. All sorts of stuff add up."

Along with the financial issues, McOrmond also says proprietary code prevents the public from keeping their government under scruinity. Policy is "translated" into a language like Python, he says, just as it is from English into French, except in this case, it isn't made available to the public. "Making sure that government is transparent to their citizens shouldn't be seen as, 'ok, how much money does that cost and should we just shave that democracy aspect off our budget?' That, to me, should be fundamental to the operations of government." Duncan Card, partner and national co-chair of technology, outsourcing and procurement at Bennett Jones LLP in Toronto, says he doesn't necessarily agree that having proprietary code in government is infringing on the liberty of Canadians. "There are other ways of dealing with government transparency than at the foundation or cornerstone level of the software they use," says Card. Making code available to the general public could lead to a "mob mentality of oversight," he adds, weakening the ability of government to do its job. In some cases, it could even be dangerous, he says. "There are security issues associated with disclosure of code for critical infrastructure," says Card. "Think of the cyber-security implications of critical elements of IT infrastructure being made public." But Joseph Potvin, co-cordinator of GOSLING, contends that the opposite is usually true. "Something can only be secure if the security people have access to the source code," he says. He uses the example of a system of seismographs set up across Canada to monitor the nuclear test ban treaty. "All of those seismographs are running what is referred to as 'stripped-down Linux,'" Potvin adds. It doesn't get much more critical than this, says Potvin: "you sure don't want false positives."


From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 05/04/2012

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U.S. - Cornell Study Shows Public Has Many Misperceptions of Government

Ordinary citizens have many gross misperceptions about federal government programs, so much so that a large portion of the government is effectively in a "submerged state," according to a new survey from Cornell University. In the Cornell survey of 1400 Americans, nearly half of people who received benefits such as home mortgage interest deductions, student loans or the earned income tax credit reported that they had not received a benefit from a government social program. Perceptions and misperceptions of government activity have become an issue in recent debates over cutting costs and improving customer service. Some observers believe that public misperceptions have contributed to making federal employee pay and benefits a frequent target of proposed spending cuts. Americans who complain "Get the government out of my Medicare!" are examples of the disconnect between perception and reality, said Suzanne Mettler, professor at Cornell and author of the study in Perspectives on Politics, in a recent report in the Cornell Chronicle. The federal government operates and pays for Medicare, which is a health insurance program covering older Americans. Many citizens are largely unaware of the various under-the-radar government programs offering them support and assistance, including home mortgage interest deductions, student loans, child care credits and earned income tax credits, Mettler wrote in the report. At the same time, interest groups are very aware of the programs and mobilize quickly to defend them. "Seeing vested interests at the bargaining table turns citizens off," Mettler said. "Those dynamics have discouraged many of Obama's supporters and helped to provoke the Tea Party."


From http://fcw.com/ 03/26/2012

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U.S.: White House Shares $200 Million Big Data Plan

The Obama administration on Thursday announced plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a new "big data initiative" for research and development into technology to "access, store, visualize, and analyze" massive and complicated data sets. The initiative comes as volumes of data used by government and the private sector expand exponentially. It includes commitments from several federal agencies to develop new technologies to manipulate and manage big quantities of data and use those technologies in science, national security, and education. John Holdren, director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, compared the effort to federal research that led to breakthroughs in supercomputing and to the development of the Internet. "While the private sector will take the lead on big data, we believe that the government can play an important role, funding big data research, launching a big data workforce, and using big data approaches to make progress on key national challenges," Holdren said in a press conference to announce the effort. The government is also helping to set big data standards. The federal agencies working on the initiative will be the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Among the big data projects will be a joint solicitation from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute for Health, which will award a up to $25 million in funding for 15 to 20 research projects that, according to the solicitation, will "advance the core scientific and technological means of managing, analyzing, visualizing, and extracting useful information from large, diverse, distributed, and heterogeneous data sets."

In addition to the big data solicitation, the National Science Foundation is also implementing a long-term big data strategy that includes encouraging research, funding a $10 million data project at the University of California, Berkeley, support for a geosciences data effort called Earth Cube, and more. The Department of Defense, meanwhile, plans to spend about $250 million annually, including $60 million on new research projects, on big data. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is creating the XDATA program, a $100 million effort over four years to "develop computational techniques and software tools for sifting through large structured and unstructured data sets." The National Institutes of Health announced as part of the effort that it has placed 200 Tbytes of genomic data - the world's largest set of human genetic data, according to the White House - on Amazon Web Services as part of the international 1000 Genomes Project. The Department of Energy is no stranger to big data, being home to some of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. As part of the big data initiative, the agency's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will spend $25 million to create a new research facility, the Scalable Data Management, Analysis, and Visualization Institute. In a blog post accompanying the announcement, OSTP deputy director Tom Kalil called on industry, universities, and non-profit organizations to join the administration in its efforts. For their part, technology companies applauded the effort. "The administration's work to advance research and funding of big data projects, in partnership with the private sector, will help federal agencies accelerate innovations in science, engineering, education, business and government," said David McQueeney, VP of software for IBM Research.


From http://www.informationweek.com/ 03/29/2012

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U.S.: Data.Gov Launches Developer Community

Data.gov has launched a new community for software developers to share ideas, collaborate or compete on projects and request new datasets. Developer.data.gov joins a growing list of communities and portals tapping into Data.gov's datasets, including those for health, energy, education, law, oceans and the Semantic Web. The developer site is set up to offer access to federal agency datasets, source code, applications and ongoing developer challenges, along with blogs and forums where developers can discuss projects and share ideas. Data.gov was launched in May 2009 as part of an effort to make government more transparent by making its datasets available to the public. Since then, the Obama administration has been working on ways to make that data accessible and useful, such as making data available in machine-readable formats. The targeted communities are another step in that direction. In late March, the administration and India's National Informatics Centre in India launched the Open Government Platform, a site to promote the development and sharing of open-source applications for cities, larger government entities and other organizations. Future communities will include Cities.data.gov and communities focusing on public safety and research, Data.gov Director Jeanne Holm told NextGov. The Developer.data.gov site was launched April 28 to coincide with the Sunlight Foundation's TransparencyCamp last weekend in Washington, which was billed as an "unconference" for developers, technologists, policy-makers, students, academics and journalists to share ideas on improving government


From http://fcw.com/ 05/01/2012

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U.S.: 10 Lessons from Leading Government CIOs

More than a dozen of the federal government's top IT decision makers talked about the opportunities they see, and they challenges they face, at InformationWeek's Government IT Leadership Forum May 3 in Washington, D.C. The speakers included federal CIO Steven VanRoekel, federal CTO Todd Park, and Department of Defense CIO Teri Takai. An overarching theme at the Forum was how agencies must "do more with less" on a flat IT budget that stands at $79 billion. Here are 10 lessons I took away from the event.

1. Shared services are the new trend in federal IT. With budgets flat, government CIOs are developing shared services (using one email system per agency instead of 18, for example). The redundancy of overlapping systems has been apparent for years, but service-based architectures and the need to free up funds for new projects are driving this trend. The major champion is federal CIO VanRoekel, who released the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy the day before the Forum.

2. Cap ex is shifting to op ex. Moving budget dollars from being a capital expense to an operating expense is the financial sibling to shared services. It's an area where government CIOs, who are big on cloud services, may have a lot to teach their private industry counterparts. Government CIOs are masters at using freed-up dollars to invest in innovation. Al Tarasiuk, CIO for the U.S. Intelligence Community, is juggling budget cutting and new capabilities with an adroitness that would be the envy of business CIOs, as he looks to cut up to 25% in spending over the next six years.

3. Security must be ironclad. Private industry talks a good security game; federal agency CIOs bake security into every product and service they use. The National Nuclear Security Administration, which is responsible for maintaining the security of the country's nuclear weapons stockpile, is working on a new community cloud initiative. The security concerns on that project would dwarf anything you would find in a cloud environment in business.

4. Government data makes good mashups. Building innovative applications by mashing together data from a variety databases isn't only for the private sector. Neil Bonner, program manager for applications development at the Transportation Security Administration, demonstrated MyTSA, a mobile application that helps travelers navigate airport security. The app combines real-time data on security line wait times, weather, flight information, and air traffic data - all from different government sources.

5. Red tape rules. Government operations are laden with policies and procedures that can stymie the best of technology initiatives. Private CIOs must deal with budgets and bureaucracies, too, but government CIOs have it worse in terms of regulations, fiefdoms, and inflexible budgeting. At the Department of Defense, the IT procurement cycle averages a staggering 81 months. DOD CIO Takai is looking to cut that to six to 12 months as part of a new IT modernization plan.

6. Agencies operate in glass houses. Private companies fund projects, fire people, and can sweep failed technology implementations under the rug without public scrutiny. Government CIOs operate in a world of visible budgets, open procurement, and public scrutiny. Just look at the backlash to the General Service Administration's $823,000 boondoggle in Las Vegas. Not many private sector CIOs that I know would want to operate under the scrutiny government CIOs face.

7. App stores are proliferating. The shared service concept and the growth of mobile devices are leading to adoption of the app store model in government. The CIOs speaking at the Forum were of one voice in championing the idea that they would provide portals for government apps. Civilian agencies have already made more than 100 apps available on USA.gov; the DOD and the Intelligence Community plan to develop app stores, too.

8. Big government means big data. Big data isn't just a private industry phenomenon. Robert Simmon, data visualizer and designer with NASA's Earth Observatory, helped create the Blue Marble images of Earth. That project requires a combination of data visualization, satellite imaging, and compute power which matches any big data project in the private sector. NASA's Earth Observing System alone has a 5.8 petabyte archive.

9. Self service is essential. Public access to government services too often involves long lines and manual, repetitive data entry. Increasingly, federal agencies are using mobile apps and the Web to make those interactions more fluid. Passport applications, tax filing, and licensing are all examples of the way Uncle Sam is headed.

10. Public input is needed. The shared service trend will free up funds as data centers are consolidated, redundant email systems eliminated, and programmers directed to work on new applications. The question is, what new services will have the greatest impact? Federal CIOs are building the platform; it's up to the citizenry to define the services they need most.


From http://www.informationweek.com/ 05/07/2012

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Pentagon CIO Talks Security, Mobility, Shared Services

Budget cuts and cybersecurity demands have led the Department of Defense to push increasing resources into a long-term strategy to create shared IT infrastructure across the military, CIO Teri Takai says. The Department of Defense has more than 100 people working on its Joint Information Enterprise strategy, a long-term plan for a common IT infrastructure - including shared networks, data centers, and IT services - across the military, DOD CIO Teri Takai said last week at InformationWeek Government's IT Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. Joint Information Enterprise (JIE) is not a new term for the military, but its use has again been on the rise in recent months as top DOD IT officials increasingly discuss the need in tough budgetary environments to consolidate and share IT resources. According to Takai, DOD is now hard at work on a timeline to implement the strategy. "The concept that we're driving is really to bring together a lot of concepts," Takai said. "Today we provision our networks, data centers, and information on a service-by-service basis. Today they operate in a very siloed way. The idea is to think 'enterprise' going in, to bring together our physical data centers, our services, and our data, and we have to make sure that we can deploy quickly and rapidly in a much more standard way than we do today."

JIE will include a strategy for shared networks, shared security frameworks including common identity management, and more. According to Takai, a shared environment will improve security and collaboration, accelerate the development of new IT services and deployment of mobile devices, and will make heavy use of cloud computing. However, she said, the "cadence and speed" with which this strategy will move will be determined in large part by the services themselves. This can now be seen in the DOD's enterprise email strategy. Takai has expressed an interest in moving all of the military to a common email infrastructure. The Army is now well underway in its move, and the Air Force is next up, but each service is moving at its own pace. While the budget is a big driver for the JIE, information security is one of the key parts of the effort, and some of the improvement on that front will come from network consolidation, according to Takai. "Networks haven't necessarily been designed with security in mind," she said. "It is very difficult to protect all these isolated enclaves, and so we are looking at what a Joint Information Environment would look like from that standpoint, from as much a cyber standpoint as an efficiency standpoint." Increasingly, for example, the DOD is looking at security from an enterprise and data-level perspective, working on a common identity management framework, rolling out a public-key infrastructure on both classified and unclassified networks, and tagging data for security purposes.

Takai said that mobility should benefit from the shared security work. "We can't do a secure mobility strategy when we are trying to link into so many security frameworks," she said. "By looking at a joint environment, we'll able to deploy mobile devices much more rapidly." The goal, she said, would be to get to a point where the military can certify mobile devices within 90 days, and then allow the services to select which devices to use. "Our role is to make sure [the devices] fit into the network," she said. "The important thing is that we can set the policy floor, and then the control, the acquisition, the contract for those devices, the services are going to look at the justification for that." Eventually, Takai said, DOD will also use a federated model to bring the different services' mobile application stores together. This may be a longer-term plan, as the Army, the first service with a mobile app store, barely has the first pieces of its store up and running. However, Takai said that DOD is already starting to look at the design of the federated store, building on work done by the Army. Takai said that the shared infrastructure should also help accelerate development time.

Currently, the average cycle for the development of enterprise systems within the DOD is a glacial 81 months, Takai said. She hopes to decrease that to between six and 12 months by leveraging shared infrastructure and agile development methodologies. "We tend to blame [the long acquisition cycle] on the acquisition process, but it's a problem that we have to solve from the bottom up," Takai said. "The concept here is to have environments where we are building applications on top of them, where we are not trying to rebuild the infrastructure every time." The DOD's data center consolidation effort dovetails well with this philosophy. The military will close 115 data centers in fiscal 2012 and hopes that its consolidation effort will save DOD $700 million in annual spending within five years. One byproduct of this work will be increasing use of cloud computing concepts. DOD has been working on an overarching cloud computing strategy for months, and the final strategy will tie in with the data center consolidation strategy, Takai said. The DOD's strategy shares much in common with a new intelligence community effort to move the currently highly federated intelligence community into more of an enterprise IT model. The intelligence community and military have been sharing technical experts to work on their respective strategies, and Takai even went so far as to call the two efforts "identical strategies."


From http://www.informationweek.com/ 05/10/2012

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CHINA: Government More Internet Savvy

Beijing, Shanghai (CNS) - A growing number of governmental organs are embracing the use of microblogs as platforms to release information and communicate with the public. According to the latest statistics, over 10,000 authorities and 9,000 officials are registered with Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter. To date, 70 departments of Beijing's municipal authority are registered with the Beijing Microblog Press Center of Sina Weibo, including 28 units that joined collectively on March 1. As of February 24, the Beijing center had attracted nearly six million followers; over one million of which are local web users responding and contributing to dialogues. The more than 70,000 overseas web users following information updates are noticeable, presumably fishing for information on the capital. Officers representing their departments conduct effective and almost constant communications with web users, often in quite casual terms as opposed to formal disclosures; in this manner, suggested Yan Liqiang, deputy director of Beijing's Municipal Publicity Department, authorities can better understand public opinion and respond appropriately to issues and concerns.

The Shanghai municipal government is also enthusiastically developing official microblogs. The one operated by Shanghai's government press office has some 750,000 followers on Sina Weibo, accumulated since the office up their official online mouthpiece last year, according to a report by the People's Daily on February 20. On March 1, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee Yu Zhensheng, posted an open letter responding to Xiaoqin, a local resident who appealed for better medical treatment for his father who suffers from cancer. "We will try to improve the medical mechanism, particularly by offering more help to cancer patients," said Yu, "Your pain is our pain. We will walk through this together." The official's frank, caring attitude over civil affairs is enhanced by this new channel for government outreach.


From http://www.ecns.cn/ 03/02/2012

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China: Food Safety Monitoring Network in Shape

A network to monitor and track food-borne diseases caused by pathogenic microorganisms will be set up, a senior food safety expert said.These organisms, usually a bacteria or virus, are microscopic and can cause serious illnesses, diarrhea and, in extreme cases, even death. They thrive in unhygienic conditions and can be very resistant. Yan Weixing, secretary-general of the safety committee under the China Food Safety Risk Assessment Center, told China Daily that many cases were not even reported. Yan is also a CPPCC member. "Those cases that have been reported are only the tip of the iceberg and the network will help detect, track, and issue alerts," he said. Yan estimates that less than 5 percent of cases are reported.

The network, China Food Net, will connect supermarkets, food markets, restaurants and hospitals. As soon as a case is reported, the network will track the supply chain and find out where the food originated from and where it may have been contaminated. "It can also issue alerts on food safety for the public," he said. China already has a national monitoring system with more than 300 sites throughout the mainland. The system was launched in 2010 and mainly handles data for testing food safety, Yan said. It can help detect major contaminants, which might vary regionally, and better target government efforts to ensure food safety, he said. There have been reports in the media of incidents involving unsafe food but improvements have been made, Yan said. "The general food safety situation in China is getting better. We test samples of food each year and most are up to standard and cases of food poisoning are very rare," he said. Chemical contamination is also a major risk to food safety, he said.

"These cases are well publicized," he said. But scandals such as melamine-contaminated milk powder, are in a different category than food contaminated by bacteria or viruses. At least six babies died after consuming tainted formula in 2008 and hundreds were sent to hospital. "This is adulteration and it is a serious crime," he said. To date, nearly all of the severe or lethal food-related cases reported were in this category, he added. He also confirmed that testing methods for gutter oil are being assessed and results will be issued in two months. Gutter oil is the generic term for cooking oil that has been used and then resold. Starting from December, the Ministry of Health and the China Food Safety Risk Assessment Center began to test methods to detect gutter oil. The process in separating various components of the oil is difficult but progress has been made, he said.


From http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ 03/09/2012

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Chongqing Consolidating IT Role

CHONGQING (Xinhua) - Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, newly appointed Party chief of Chongqing, has promised unremitting efforts to consolidate the municipality's role as a global leader in information technology. Zhang told visiting Acer President Jim Wong on Wednesday that Chongqing would ensure "continuity and stability in its reform and opening-up policies" so as to make the drive. Zhang was appointed Party chief of Chongqing, replacing Bo Xilai, under a decision by the Communist Party of China Central Committee last Thursday. "Chongqing will diversify and optimize its policies to improve its opening-up," Zhang said, while emphasizing the importance of upgrading vocational and technical education to train high-quality professionals for foreign-funded IT firms in Chongqing. Wong and hundreds of other senior executives from the world's leading IT firms including Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Intel have gathered in Chongqing to attend the China International Expo of Cloud Computing, which opened here Thursday. The three-day event features symposiums and exhibitions of new IT technology, products and services. Wong said Zhang's reassurance helped enhance investors' confidence. He said the company plans to build Acer's manufacturing base in Chongqing into the world's largest communication technology research and manufacturing center in two to three years. Taiwan-based Acer is the world's largest vendor of completed PCs and notebooks. Acer's plants in Chongqing, which only commenced business in December 2010, realized an output of 5 million notebooks in 2011. In the year, 35 percent of Acer's global notebook shipments were supplied from Chongqing. Meanwhile, rival HP plans to have 60-70 percent of its notebook shipments supplied from Chongqing in future. Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan also met the entrepreneurs on Wednesday, saying the city has become home to the world's five leading notebook producers and six vendors, as well 500 suppliers of the sector. The city had a total output of 25 million notebooks in 2011 and is aiming for an annual output of 100 million of the products in three years.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 03/22/2012

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"Online CPC Branch" Established in Chongqing

An "online Communist Party of China (CPC) branch" was set up in Banan District of southwestern China's Chongqing Municipality after voted for by dozens of floating Party members, Chongqing Daily reported Sunday. Floating Party members, whose credentials are now still kept in Shitan Township of Banan District, participated in the vote on Friday. The members elected the secretary and members of the Party branch via mobile phones, iPads and personal computers. Floating Party members are Party members who have left their original work places or residences' Party organizations, and moved elsewhere but are unable to re-enroll or transfer their credentials to the new Party location. As of 6 p.m. Friday, the online election results were published on the official Party website for Bannan District, announcing that Yang Guoming was elected as the secretary of the online Party branch, and Qiu Yong and Peng Yong were elected as the members of the branch. "I've being a Party member eight years, but I had no fixed Party relationship most of the time. This is the first time I exercised my voting rights as a Party member," said Wang Jun, a floating Party member whose original workplace was in Shitan Township. "From now on, I will be able to take part in Party activities online, and our floating members finally have a voice," Wang said. "The floating Party members are widely distributed, and doing different work in a wide range of fields," said Yang Zhongkui, head of the Organization Department of local Party committee of Banan District. "They haven't been able to participate regularly in the Party for a long term. So we had this idea to build an 'online Party branch,' which allows them to organize and regroup 'online'," Banan District will set up other 23 "online CPC branches" in subdistricts by the end of 2012, and elect branches' secretaries and members through an online vote, said Yang.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/22/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Ranking 1st Place Once Again in the United Nations E-Government Survey

The United Nations Public Administration Programme has announced the launch of its "E-Government Survey 2012: E-Government for the People" on 29 February 2012, and Korea maintains its position in the 1st place since 2010 as achieving the greatest e-government both in development and participation indices. This assessment conducted by UNDESA rates the e-government performance of countries relative to one another for the 193 member states of the United Nations, and identifies leading countries in e-government development since 2003. In 2012, the United Nations e-Government assessment focused on "E-Government for the People" with a special emphasis on expanding online services towards its citizens.

With "e-government development index", Korea ranked first followed by the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, United States, and France. It is also noteworthy that Korea has gained its recognition as the top ranker in "e-government participation index", reflecting on President Lee Myung Bak administration's proactive implementation of "Smart Government Strategy as a next generation of e-Government". Korean government has made continuous efforts in e-government development, putting emphasis on more integrated, user-centric public service delivery. Mr. Maeng Hyung Kyu, the minister of MOPAS, remarked that this will positively lead to Korean Government's commitment to strengthening international cooperation on informatization in line with global community's attempt to narrowing digital divide.


From http://unpan1.un.org/ 02/29/2012

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S. Korea Shares E-gov't Experiences with Foreign Countries

South Korea is known to be a global leader in the field of e-administration. Public officials from countries around the world visit South Korea to take introductory lessons about the e-administration system. Government officials from Brunei are also among them. Up until now, South Korea has shared its administrative experiences with 40 countries. Public officials from Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America have come to South Korea to learn how to build and operate the e-government systems. South Korea has two-thousand-600 top-notch e-government systems. The e-administration systems are now one of sectors that promote South Korea, boosting the nation to the international stage along with the Korean pop culture boom known as "hallyu."


From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 03/12/2012

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Korean Mutation Information Available Online

The Korea National Institutes of Health (KNIH) announced on April 2 that the content of the Korean Mutation Database (KMD) was selected as "In This Issue" for the April issue of Human Mutation, an international journal of genetics and heredity. "The KMD is a country-specific genetic variation resource for Korea," said an editor of the journal, "and without the KMD, the information on these mutations would be virtually inaccessible to the international research and clinical community."

The KNIH said that diagnoses have been developed to improve detection hereditary disorders that make up over 80% of abnormal and rare disorders thanks to the development of dielectric analysis technology. However, there had been difficulties as the information of mutations in these disorders wasn't well organized. The KMD allows users to search information by disorders or genes as well as offers the DNA sequences and genetic polymorphism information of normal people. It currently contains information on 1,645 mutations across 245 genes and 475 diseases, allowing researchers to register new information on mutations.

As the registration of the results of rare disorder research projects has become mandatory in Korea this year, it is expected that some findings of research on mutations and rare disorders can be applied to clinical demonstrations."By offering the mutation information of Koreans through the KMD, research and diagnosis will become easier and more convenient," an official from the KNIH said. "It will help to diagnose rare and genetic disorders of Koreans and improve the national competitiveness in the study of rare and genetic disorders.


From http://www.korea.net/ 04/05/2012

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MONGOLIA: Action Plan Approved for "E-Governance" Program

The cabinet approved on Wednesday an action plan for realizing the "E-governance" program. The money needed will go to the annual budget and the basic guidelines of socio-economic development from investments of the private sector, loans and assistance from international banks and financial organizations. The "E-governance" program has been worked out after an experience was studied of 15 countries such as USA, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Japan and India. It is considered that an approval of the law on E-signature has prompted a creation of a legal environment for developing the E-governance and bills on ensuring IT security in technological environment. As expected, the "E-governance" program will help Mongolia make the all-level works transparent and services quicker. The "E-governance" program will be implemented until 2016, its implementation process and results will be introduced to the cabinet every first quarter of a year. As of today, about 21 thousand km high-speed fibre optic cable is connected to 161 soums and settlements, and other places await their connection as well.


From http://www.montsame.mn/ 04/04/2012

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INDONESIA: Building Central Voter Database

The new system will help General Election Commission to better manage the voter information, improving government transparency and accountability. After eight months of hard work since September 2011, the Contributing to Voter Register Reform (CVRR) eventually delivers their project to the General Election Commission (KPU) of Indonesia. The new system is called SIDALIH, an acronym for "Sistem Informasi Pendaftaran Pemilih", which means "Voter Registration Information System". In Indonesia, the general election and presidential election take place once every five years, during which local elections are also held to select legislative candidates and head of government offices in 33 provinces and 497 regions. The project was initiated to resolve a voter register problem plaguing the KPU since 2009. A steering committee (SC) was established to supervise the development of a new system and a group of experts was engaged to undertake the design.

The problem was the absence of a centralised database, integrated applications and mandatory standards. Regional offices used over 80,000 spreadsheet files in silo'ed applications, which rendered business processes difficult to manage and control. The stakeholders are the KPU, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), political parties, NGOs, and public at large. The MoHA is responsible for the population data, which is the foundation for the national ID Card (KTP). Citizens usually don't change the address information stored in their KTP when they move to another residence. As a result, it is often found that one's KTP contains inaccurate information of the holder's address of residence. The case would become worse when people apply for a new KTP without reporting to cancel the old card. Meanwhile, the voter registry will need accurate address of residence of the voters in order to correctly arrange polling station at the lowest level of government administration. This is critical for the management of the logistical budget and distribution. Negative public attention will increase for every inaccuracy occurring within the KPU conduct, and when these problems are not quickly solved, the situation may end up becoming a national-scale political disaster.

The centralised database under the new system can be partially copied into the applications that are run in disparate locations. The sysam enable the applications to store changed made by local officers until the beginning of synchronisation process, which will be undertaken over the internet. For local offices, internet access is only required when they synchronise the data with the central database, which the developers say is a fast and painless process. As everything will be synchronised into the central server, the authorities expect better vote registry delivery process to stakeholders. This preliminary release of the system will be perfected over time as a sustainable process. From one election to another, necessary improvement will be undertaken.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/16/2012

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PHILIPPINES: To Launch Website for Budget Transparency

By the end of the month, the Department of Budget and Management will be launching a website called "Budget ng Bayan" (Budget of the Nation) which will enable users to get more detailed information about the budget being spent on Government projects nationwide. According to Richard Moya, Chief Information Officer at the Department of Budget and Management, the website will give relevant information on how the budget is crafted, the spending distributions, the governance philosophies behind government projects, the budget allotted for each region, and the President's budget message. Moya told FutureGov that the purpose of the website is to start a culture where people become critical of where their taxes go.

"The Government can only hire so much auditors, but if everyone is an auditor then it would substantially help us in the Government make financial transactions more transparent." Moya said. Adding that this initiative is in line with President Aquino's mandate to move the Government towards a "daang matuwid" (straight path). He explained that the website will have functions that would enable users to give feedback or comments regarding the information published online. This will enable the department to engage citizens on mutual conversations regarding the numbers behind government projects and other issues that matter most to them.

During the interview, Moya recalled an incident that happened early this year regarding a technical glitch in the Department's eTAILS (Electronic Transparency and Accountability Initiative for Lump Sum Funds), which erroneously reported Senator Ramon Revilla Jr.'s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to be Php 210 million. "The error which created multiple identical entries for the purchase of multicabs and patrol vehicles for the Cavite local government - was reflected only in the web posting module, and not in the official release documents for the Senator's PDAF." Moya said that they were able to fix the inaccuracies and has made sure that a similar incident would not happen again in the future. "That incident was a blessing," he said. "We are pleased that a concerned newsman got in touch with us regarding the error, and it shows us that people are deeply interested in the matter through which we manage the people's funds." "With the Budget ng Bayan, we hope to further improve transparency and accountability on how public funds are managed," Moya said.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/01/2012

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SINGAPORE: IPTO to Enhance Online Bankruptcy Platform

The Insolvency and Public Trustee's Office (IPTO) will launch an enhanced version of its 24-hour online platform to give bankrupts and their creditors to access information on the bankruptcy estate. The Individual Insolvency Administration Information (IIAI) platform will be launched on 26 March. Currently, bankrupts are only able to see limited information, such as the name of the petitioning creditor, the date the bankruptcy petition was filed, the date of the bankruptcy order, the name of the trustee in bankruptcy, and the causes of insolvency on the IIAI platform. To obtain more information, bankrupts and creditors need to call IPTO, send letters or emails, or meet IPTO officers in person. With the enhanced IIAI platform, bankrupts will have access to more useful information concerning their bankruptcies. This includes the total amount in their bankruptcy estate accounts, the due date to submit their Income and Expenditure Statements, as well as the approval status of their applications to travel overseas, manage a business, or act as a director of a company.

The service is free for bankrupts. For creditors, the enhanced IIAI platform will provide the total amount in the bankruptcy estate account. Currently, they have access to information such as the date the bankruptcy petition was filed, the name of the petitioning creditor, the date of the bankruptcy order, the name of the trustee in bankruptcy, and the total claims made against the bankruptcy estate. Each online search costs S$5. It'll cost S$10 for creditors who prefer to apply to IPTO to retrieve information. IPTO encourages creditors to access the IIAI platform directly, as the provision of the information through non-online means will not be instantaneous. Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Law, Ms Sim Ann, said the online platform's accessibility round the clock will allow bankrupts and their creditors to more easily access information relevant to their case. She said IPTO will continue to work to provide more and enhanced channels of communication with our stakeholders to improve bankruptcy administration.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 03/25/2012

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Broad Support for Digital Public Services in S'pore: Survey

SINGAPORE: There is broad support for digital public services in Singapore, according to a global online survey by management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, Accenture. More than half of the citizens surveyed in Singapore believe that interacting with their government is easy. Eighty per cent find it easier to interact with government than private-sector companies. This response is higher than the results from six other countries in the global online "pulse survey" of more than 1,400 citizens in Australia, France, Germany, India, the US and the United Kingdom to better understand digital interactions between citizens and government. Nearly one-third of respondents in those countries believe it is easier to interact with the government than with private-sector companies. However, they want increased access to public services and are more inclined to use digital channels, including online and mobile resources, to conduct routine government business. More than 70 per cent already use the Internet to submit and track government forms and payments. One-third said they are not aware of the ways to interact with the government digitally. About 70 per cent of Singaporeans surveyed would use social media to contact a government official to resolve a problem.

India has about the same percentage. But only 35 per cent of respondents in Australia and 40 per cent of respondents in the US would use social media to contact a government official. Singapore also has the highest likelihood to make use of digital services, mainly through electronic alerts for recurring transactions, such as renewal of passports and payment of monthly bills. Citizens in Singapore are more likely to use digital services beyond websites and portals. Nearly two-thirds would use mobile websites and apps. Seventy-six per cent of Singaporeans, the highest out of all countries, would like the government to be more integrated, so that information with one agency or service is shared across other agencies or services they use. More than 80 per cent would be willing to receive electronic emergency broadcasts or alerts through digital channels. Only 30 per cent prefer postal mail for bill payment and 78 per cent support a digital post. Less than one-third perceived no barriers to digital interactions with government. A similar number (31 per cent) said the biggest barrier to increased digital interaction is the concern that the government would have too much personal data.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 05/14/2012

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THAILAND: Gov't to Release PC Caravan to Raise Rural ICT Skills

PC caravan under the 'Amazing PC' campaign will leave Bangkok next week and travel to over 400 destinations countrywide delivering IT knowledge and increasing computer literacy in rural communities. From April 19 to December, a caravan of seven trucks, each equipped with about twenty desktop and notebook computers, will make 400 stops at 1,200 sub-districts in 67 provinces to demonstrate how to use PCs, and to help adults make the best use of computers. Thailand has 76 provinces in total. "The campaign will provide opportunity for rural people to become IT-literate and also leverage the knowledge of people in remote communities to use IT to support their business and lifestyles in the era of a knowledge-based economy," said Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap, Minister of Information and Communication Technology (MICT).

The MICT also provides IT knowledge and skills to people upcountry via 1,200 ICT community centres nationwide, he added. The Amazing PC programme is a partnership among the MICT, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBCT), and eight partners from global chip and computer makers - Intel, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, Toshiba, Asus, HP and Dell. The trucks will provide IT fluency to people and students in remote areas. By reaching at least 400,000 households, the programme is expected to spur demand for the personal-computer market to grow by about 20 per cent over the next three to six months this year as families buy a PC for one of their members. A National Statistical Office survey in 2010 showed that 15 million of a total of 19.65 million households, or 77% did not have computers at home. The NBCT's Vice Chairman, Settapong Malisuwan said that this campaign would help narrow the gap in IT literacy between metropolitan and upcountry residents. To reduce the need for digital devices and to ensure universal access, the NBTC planned to invest about THB 20 billion (US$ 645.3 million) to set up network infrastructure to increase broadband use to 80% of the population by 2016, from 32% in 2011, he added.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/09/2012

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THAILAND: e-Government Agency Aims to Link State Bodies

The Electronic Government Agency (Public Organisation), or e-Government Agency, plans to provide cloud services and an app store for state agencies. This year, the agency will invest Bt50 million to set up infrastructure to provide cloud services, including infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS). It aims to encourage around 20 to 30 government organisations to use the agency's cloud services by the end of this year, said e-Government Agency president Sak﹛Degkhoontho. Ten government organisations have been involved in a cloud-computing pilot project since early this year. To provide the cloud services, the agency has set up the government information network (GIN). "The agency is in charge of managing the GIN. We have a three-year roadmap to turn GIN into the [information] backbone for all government agencies throughout the country. We call the new phase of the GIN project 'GIN2.0'. GIN2.0 represents the integration of the existing GIN network with the aim of reducing the duplication of investments in information infrastructure," Sak said. There are 160 government organisations linked with GIN. The aim is to link 1,150 government organisations with GIN by the end of this year. GIN is an eGoverment and cloud service infrastructure. Apart from improving the capacity of GIN and providing cloud services, the agency plans to provide an app store for the government. It will pilot it this year before launching the service next year.

"Software as a service [SaaS] is one of our cloud services. We will set up the app store to provide software and applications for the government. Now, we have e-mail and internal electronic document applications that are ready to be offered in the trial period. To provide the full service, we have to work with local software companies to provide applications," Sak said. The agency also plans to offer telepresence services for 10 government organisations within this year. "It might be launched at Parliament first to deploy telepresence for government organisations to defend their annual budgets without needing to come to Parliament," said Sak. The agency will work with CAT Telecom to invest in telepresence services. CAT will invest in setting up these facilities, while the agency will attract customers for the services. This year, it aims to have 10 customers including Government House, the Parliament, the Government Centre, the Public Heath Ministry and the Commerce Ministry, as well a mobile telepresence unit. "Currently, we offer Web-conference services for government offices in 33 districts in three provinces in the South of Thailand. The service is aimed at making it unnecessary for officials to travel to attend regular meetings," Sak said.


From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 04/10/2012

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VIET NAM: Hanoi Government Gets New Data Centre

On 28 February 2012, the Department of Information and Communications (DIC), Hanoi, officially launched its state-of-the-art state data centre. "This project was funded by the World Bank, with a total value of about 66 billion Dong (US$ 3.3 million)" said Pham Quoc Ban, Director General, Hanoi DIC. The data centre will provide link functions and integration and operation of information technology for the whole city and will also serve as the point of contact in administration of information systems and sharing of city data, while offering the information retrieval needs of internal public sector bodies. It will play the role of connecting the intranet systems of the city with other networks systems and ensuring information security for the whole city's networks. Including 31 physicals servers and 81 virtual servers, the data centre will meet the needs of expansion, backup and data sharing throughout the capital, ensuring connectivity with the central government. According to Pham Quoc Ban, Director General of Hanoi DIC, the establishment of the data centre has highlighted the importance of ICT in state agencies. He considers it a crucial factor in realising the "E-Hanoi 2015" vision and commented that it will unite the infrastructure, technology and security services within the capital's ICT systems.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/06/2012

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Vietnam Officials Debate About G-Cloud Readiness

At FutureGov Forum Vietnam 2012, held last week in Hanoi, senior government IT decision makers shared their different perspectives about the government cloud, and how ready Vietnam was for such centralised infrastructure. Vu Duy Loi, Director of the Information Technology Centre under the Party Central Committee said that it is too soon to apply government cloud in Vietnam, emphasising that it is necessary to re-organise the technical infrastructure first. "Even central agencies have been trying to build private infrastructure, even though the common infrastructure has existed. It's necessary to make sure that applications are used on a common infrastructure system," he said. Disagreeing with Loi, Phung Bao Thach, Director of the Information Technology Centre under the Ministry of Science and Technology, stressed that it is already late for Vietnam to approach G-Cloud at this moment. However, Thach said, as there has been no official decision by the government relating to the issue, government agencies are still lacking a legal framework to use cloud services. This explains why ministries and departments branches have been running their programmes separately.

In fact, a lot of ministries and departments, including Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and Ho Chi Minh City authorities, have already piloted cloud services. However, according to Thach, ministries and branches have been using cloud services because they do not have other choices in their conditions. The Ministry of Science and Technology, for example, has virtualised 80 per cent of its servers. The main reason that led to the decision was that it did not have money to invest in the infrastructure system after the government Resolution No 11 on cutting public spending. Meanwhile, the demand for information technology applications of the ministry's units has been increasing rapidly. Analysts have said that government agencies would still be not ready for using cloud services and putting data on cloud for the fear of information security. Thach has proposed to add the task of developing G-Cloud into the government's information technology development strategy by 2020, which ministries and departments can refer to when building up their plans. Meanwhile, cloud service providers have begun targeting government agencies and they have lobbied policymakers and senior practitioners to consider using cloud services. The forum, now in its third year, brought together over 130 government thought leaders, experienced practitioners and industry experts.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/16/2012

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INDIA: E-governance Project at Keonjhar District Collectorate

D V Swamy, the Keonjhar district collector, has inaugurated an e-Governance project at his office. Henceforth, all paper work in the collectorate will be done electronically. The objective of the system is to provide better service to citizens and bring down the time needed to perform jobs. "E-collectorate is the only way to cater to the needs of so many people who come to the collectorate with their problems. Keonjhar is the first district that has introduced the system," said DV Swamy said. "It is a completely automated process which will ensure paper-less administrative work, and also eliminate the risk of files going missing. We will be able to maintain better transparency and all services would be more accessible to citizens through the electronic mode," Swamy added. This project is expected to help people know about the exact status of a file or a grievance petition in the collectorate from anywhere in the world. They would not have to run from one office to another, they will get to know everything through internet or text messages. The software to be used in the project has been imported from Kerala.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/08/2012

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Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation Takes E-Governance Initiatives

Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has launched "online cheque payment solution." Now the BMC will create a computerised database of all payments (through cheques) that it makes to contractors, corporators, agencies or individual towards different heads. Implemented jointly by the information technology project management unit ( IT-PMU) of BMC and Axis bank, the software will store 35 types of information, involving profile of the cheque receiver, nature of service he or she rendered, among others. "Earlier we used to disburse hand-written cheques to beneficiaries and maintain several files manually. Now it will be replaced by computer-generated cheques with details about the receiver and the work for which he or she receives the cheque," BMC commissioner Vishal Dev said. "The system will help us during audits and supply of RTI information. We were facing difficulty in searching the manual files, relating to payment details," Dev said. Recently, the BMC digitalized its letter dispatch system by introducing e-dispatch facility. As part of the e-Governance initiative, the newly launched system was aimed at streamlining dissemination of information between BMC and other departments of the government.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/12/2012

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Maharashtra Issues e-Governance Guidelines

The Maharashtra government has issued guidelines for implementation of e-Governance by all government departments and corporations. The guidelines are meant to ensure uniformity and consonance in e-governance implemented by all state agencies and exchange of information between them is hassle free. This is expected to provide good service to citizens. The e-governance guidelines have been divided into nine heads and objectives to be achieved under each head are mentioned. Action to be taken by the agencies to achieve these objectives and the time frame are also mentioned. The nine heads include the following: (1) Usage of UID cards (2) Use of Marathi (3) Procedure to provide computerized service (4) Mobile governance (5) Selection of agents/franchisees for providing services (6) Preparation of plan of action by every department to implement e-governance (7) Creating infrastructure for implementing e-governance (8) Review and audit (9) Appointing experts, holding contests, etc. Each department will have to link the services provided by it with UID cards within a year and the departments will have to prepare an internal plan of action to achieve this objective. Marathi language will be the primary and mandatory language for this project, with all government websites also in Marathi. All departments will also have to make forms available on their websites. These forms should be examined electronically and facility should be developed to allow citizens to pay the government fee online. The departments will also have to prepare guidelines and manuals for business process re-engineering and change management system. All agencies have also been asked to start using digital signatures. As per the policy, the government will have to design an all encompassing portal. Call centres will have to be set up and enhanced technologies like IPTV etc will have to be used. Infrastructure must be created for completing transactions through mobile phones. The government will have to create a separate wing, the Maharashtra Information Technology Service (MITS), to implement the e-governance policy.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/14/2012

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DCGI to Implement e-Governance Across the Country

Dr G N Singh, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), is planning to implement e-Governance programme throughout the country soon. Through this programme, the DCGI wants to make the regulatory system 'paper-less' by adopting computerisation so that the Indian regulatory system becomes IT enabled, bringing in more transparency and accountability to its system. The programme focuses on computerisation of the whole administrative process, by linking all the CDSCO offices with the other state regulatory bodies across the country to bring reliability and timeliness in their services. Dr G N Singh said, "Funding is not an issue for this progressive initiative as the Government has already assured their full support to us in implementing this programme. At present our main agenda is to study those system that has already been implemented in some of the IT enabled states in the country so that we can adopt a similar strategy for national level linking to link 32 states in the country to the Centre." He further elaborated that since this is a huge task at hand, the DCGI will be personally taking efforts to examine those adopted E-governance system so that he can get a clear idea on its applicability and its impact in delivering required services. For this purpose he has also planned to have interaction with the stakeholders in the states wherein it is adopted so that he can get their views and suggestions on the implications and effectiveness of the system.

The DCGI's office has already identified three to four IT enabled progressive states in the country who have successfully adopted e-governance in their respective states for better administrative purposes. For this purpose, Dr Singh has already planned to visit Gujarat FDCA so that he can personally have a look at the E-governance programme adopted in the state which is believed to be the best in the country. "Our main agenda is to computerise the whole regulatory system in the country by completely eliminating the paperwork pattern so that the end users i.e. the industry will benefit the maximum from this programme. Through this link-up we want to link the central regulatory body to the state regulatory bodies so that it will enable on-line connectivity between the two, expediting the work process while eliminating any bottlenecks that hinders the whole regulatory procedure. This will not only make the federal and state government to be more involved in each other's affairs but will also ensure better transparency in their working," Dr Singh informed.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/16/2012

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Quest for Citizen Centric e-Government in Manipur

Department of Information Technology and Manipur State Information Technology Society organised a one-day state consultation workshop on 'citizen centric e-government' at Classic Hotel in Imphal. The workshop, said to be amongst 50 similar programmes being organised in all the States and Union Territories, was held with Chief Secretary DS Poonia and Additional Secretary (E-Governance), Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY), Govt of India, Rita Teaotia as the chief guest and guest of honour respectively. Delivering the key-note address, DS Poonia, who is also the State's Secretary for Information Technology stated that the series of workshops are being conducted to amplify the mission and message of the national e-governance to all the regions of the country. With many States in various stages of rolling out many public services on the e-governance platform, the NEGP Apex Committee had decided to create awareness about NEGP initiatives among the stakeholders, discuss challenges in delivery of e-services, identify State specific issues and understand emerging technologies from industry, the chief guest. Informing that the string of workshops will cover all State capitals, Union Territories and some important cities by July this year, he conveyed that the first workshop was held at the national capital Delhi in July 2011. Noting that the Imphal workshop is being participated by key stakeholders of the national e-governance plan drawn from Central and State Government, e-governance consultants, technology partners and implementing agencies, Poonia highlighted that the National E-Governance Plan, a key component of the Government's 'inclusive growth' strategy was approved by the Union Cabinet in May 2006 . The National e-Governance Plan aims to deliver public services to the common man in his locality to make them both accessible and affordable, maintained the Chief Secretary. In her address, Rita Teaotia stated that compared to the recent past both development and utility of information technology in the administrative sector has multiplied to such an extent that it has become an important component in every spheres.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/04/2012

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Bihar Voters May Soon Have e-Voting Facility

The Bihar State Election Commission has decided to allow e-voting from the next urban bodies polls so as to make it convenient for voters to exercise their franchise from their homes. State Election Commissioner H C Sirohi has told reporters that in order to make e-voting functional, the mobile phones of the voters will be registered in the voters list. The voters will be informed about their number in the voters list and their polling centres so that they exercise their franchise using their mobile phones, he said. Sirohi also emphasised on preservation of the voters list in a scientific manner in the backdrop of the apex court direction recently and also to issue identity cards to all eligible voters. A website will be developed to preserve the voter lists and information related to the voters so as to encourage them to exercise their franchise, the SEC said.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/19/2012

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Ghana National Information Technology Agency Set to Include WIMAX to LTE This Year

The National Information Technology Agency (NITA) will upgrade its WIMAX networks to LTE in 2012. The move is part of an agreement signed with Huawei to implement the second phase of the eGovernment network which is expected to witness the roll out of 30 more Base Transceiver Stations (BTS), bringing NITA's total stations to 60 across the country. The upgrading will improve the catchment area of the eGovernment network. In addition, a secondary data center in Kumasi, and some eServices including e-health and correspondence management system for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will be deployed during the second phase of the project. By the deployment of LTE solution, NITA would provide 4G class data and voice services on the eGovernment network. This will enable government MDAs to have access to the latest technologies and improve upon doing government-to-government and government-to-citizens business. NITA is committed to improve efficiency within government through the use of ICTs and to stimulate government-citizen interaction through eServices. NITA will complete deployment of all 11 pilot eServices which include online passport applications, drivers' license renewal, birth and death registration, business registration and many more by the close of the year, and expand the scope to eService deployment to other MDAs.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/23/2012

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PAKISTAN: Website Filtering System Wanted

Pakistan is looking at having a website filtering system, a move that has come in for criticism from bloggers. Information Communication Technology Research and Development Fund has called for proposals to install a national level website filtering system, reported Dawn. An expert said the system will help the government block websites systematically, similar to the internet censoring methods adopted by the Chinese. The authorities want the blocking system should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs (website addresses) with a processing delay of not more than one millisecond. Wahajus Siraj, national convener for the Internet Service Providing Companies, said: "Blocking pornographic websites and blasphemous content is a good move and we appreciate it. Even the installation of a filtering system is fair but what guarantee do we have that this filter will not be used by the government to block websites of media houses, political parties and bloggers in the future?" "This is an attempt by the government to pressure people's right to information. People know what is good and bad for them when using the internet and don't need regulation," Pervez Hoodbhoy, a professor, was quoted as saying. He added: "This is against the freedom of expression." Asfham Mushtaq, a political blogger, said: "After the installation of this national level filter, political blogging websites that are critical of the government or any critical international research think-tank that publishes reports against the government or its polices will be under threat of being blocked. This will affect our access to varieties of opinions and information." (IANS)


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 03/16/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Studying Dutch and Canadian Experience to Build E-Government

The State Commission on Public Service under the President of Azerbaijan has studied the e-government experience of the Netherlands and Canada, the commission said on Thursday. In the Netherlands, the State Commission delegation familiarized itself with the process of functioning of the state register, the principles of e-recruitment in the civil service, open government information, software, legal framework in the field of e-government, construction and management of the "e-government" portal. The delegation also visited the state administration on the staff, where is get familiar with the procedure for filling vacancies in the online mode. In the organization for the electronic management of personnel of the Netherlands Azerbaijani delegation familiarized itself with the system of management, information databases, features of the portal, types of services, level of user access, etc. During its visit to Canada, the Azerbaijani delegation familiarized itself with the activities of the Public Service Commission of Canada, and a system of public service used in this country. During the training sessions held in the Public Service Commission of Canada, a presentation of the public service staffing system and the Ingenium system was made.


From http://en.trend.az/ 03/30/2012

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E-Government Portal in Azerbaijan to Be Launched in Near Future

Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan is working on the integration of electronic services provided on e-government portal, the chief consultant of the Information Society development department of the ministry, Etibar Umudov, said. Launch of the portal will reduce the number of documents requested from citizens due to the fact that different bodies will interact with each other electronically. He said the state structures use different platforms, and to ensure that they are integrated with each other it's necessary to carry out technical work, install servers, etc. Work in this direction is planned to be completed in near future, after which the portal will be fully ready for operation. "Today, the number of state agencies connected to the portal is 16 units and the total number of electronic services provided by them exceeds 60 units. As new services appear their number on the portal will increase," said Umudov. It is expected that the total number of electronic services to be rendered by agencies of the republic, will be 300. The 'Electronic Government' portal will be a key tool for supporting work with the population and enterprises in both the public and private sectors. The X-Road principle was used while creating 'Electronic Government'. It aims to combine the existing databases and systems of state institutions, created on different platforms.


From http://en.trend.az/ 04/06/2012

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BAHRAIN: Launching First eKey System in Middle East for Secure Government Transactions

MANAMA, Bahrain /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ - Last week at the Bahrain International eGovernment Forum, Bahrain launched the first-ever "eKey system" in the Middle East for providing secure access to citizens on government e-service sites. The eKey system, developed under the National Authentication Framework project with CrimsonLogic, aims to offer Bahrainis more efficient and secure government services. "We wish to congratulate Bahrain on the successful launch of their eKey system and are honored to be part of the country's effort to positively transform its government administration," said CrimsonLogic CEO Leong Peng Kiong said. Citizens can log in with a single authentication profile to all government e-service sites. The system requires three levels of security: password (PIN), smartcard and biometric (fingerprint) identity verification for maximum security. "This significant milestone is a strong testament of the Bahrain government's commitment and strategy to enhance government-to-citizen engagement, and also strengthened the country's competitive position in the region," Peng Kiong said.


From http://www.marketwatch.com/ 04/19/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: E-Government Provides 2,000 Information Services Online

"E-Government of Kazakhstan (www.egov.kz) provides 2,000 information services, 219 interactive and transaction service online," Transport and Communications Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Zhumagaliyev told the Government meeting today in Astana. "Kazakhstan ranks 46th among many countries in e-Government development index, 18th in e-Participation index. Besides, Kazakhstan ranks 22nd among 192 countries in the human capital," Zhumagaliyev said. According to the Minister, e-Government of Kazakhstan provided 8.3 mln e-services in 2011, granted 917,000 e-digital signatures and 3.500 e-licenses.


From http://engnews.gazeta.kz/ 02/29/2012

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TURKMENISTAN: To Create E-Government

The Turkmen government raised an issue of e-government creation in the country at the recent government meeting, the local media reported. In particular, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov said "the informatization of government bodies creates a basic framework for e-government creation." The President ordered the government to conduct strict control over the progress of affairs in this sphere and indicated a number of necessary measures to improve efficiency, effectiveness and quality of administrative activities in general, "Vatan" newspaper writes. Berdymuhamedov urged to expand the use of modern information technology for electronic documents proceedings at the appropriate level. It is expected that the new scheme will be organized in the fuel and energy complex, chemical and processing industries, construction, transport, telecommunications, medicine, textile industry and agriculture. According to the project, the electronic document turnover will be introduced in all regions of the country. All these measures should contribute to the operational resolution of management and economic issues, better control of the logistics enterprises and increase the level of public services. Moreover, the new system will allow controlling seasonal work quickly and accurately and decision making at the level of sectoral ministries, administrations and agribusiness. Local economists believe that the introduction of e-government will improve the efficiency of enterprise management, create an opportunity for operational control at all stages of the business management. Currently the Turkmen Government discuss with the UN the project of cooperation in the sphere of reforms and strengthening of public administration, including macroeconomic management and e-government.


From http://en.trend.az/ 03/24/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Western Australian Government Builds US$113 Million Mobile Network

The West Australian (WA) Government is ramping up its mobile voice and wireless broadband services under a US$113 million (AUD $106 million) upgrade that connects regional, rural and remote communities. This regional mobile communications project (RMPP) will boost high-speed, fast-access coverage across major roads, highways and regional communities. The RMPP project kicks off with a US$41 million (AUD$38.2 million) three-year contract that has been awarded to Australian telco, Telstra. The project delivers advanced video, voice and high-speed mobile broadband communications services to regional areas across Western Australia. The network also streamlines the state's emergency management service capabilities. These services encompass government and non-government agencies, as well as first responders, fire, police and ambulance services. First round of funding fast-tracks the development of vital infrastructure supporting next-generation (nextgen) broadband and mobile communications, says WA's minister for science and innovation, John Day.

The RMPP project will boost the state's mobile phone usage by more than 22 percent, while rolling out next-generation (nexgen) services, Minister Day says. Expanded coverage will make regional, rural and remote communities self-sustainable and access affordable services. Improved radio and mobile communications coverage will improve the state's public safety record, says WA's minister for regional development, Brendon Grylls. "Fire-fighters and emergency medical services can use wireless broadband to download vital information while out in the field," he says. "They will be able to remotely access and transmit information in real-time." Western Australia is prone to massive bushfires. Rates of road fatalities remain high in remote areas and out-of-coverage roads and highways. The state's mobile communications program is being administered by the Department of Commerce together with the Department of Regional Development and Lands.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/02/2012

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Victorian Government Spends US $11.7 Million on Digital Future

The Victorian Government is allocating US$11.7 million (AUD$11 million) on a new Digital Futures Fund (DFF) to fast-track research and development into data mining, analytics, cloud computing and cyber-security. These technology platforms will support the state's foray into a "digital future," and are seen as areas of strategic importance. Funding for these platforms will be drawn from the Digital Futures Fund. This DFF initiative brings together peak government bodies, as well as industry and R&D partners. This latest funding will support cutting-edge information and communications technology (ICT) projects, says Victoria's Minister for Technology, Gordon Rich-Phillips. He says government-industry collaboration will encourage Victorian companies, researchers and end-users to team up on the development and delivery of technology solutions.

Expressions of interest for the first round of funding close 12 April 2012. The DFF is a another initiative under the Victorian government's "Technology Plan for the Future." This program factors in a budget of US$90 million (AUD$85 million) on ICT innovation. Among recent high-profile projects, the government has supported a cloud computing and data centre facility at the Port of Melbourne. This regional hub taps into growing demand for cloud computing services, and high volumes of internet data and broadband traffic.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/09/2012

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Australia Goes Digital with Government Records

The Australian Government is fast-tracking moves to digital information management - with whole-of-government reforms requiring federal agencies to move from paper to digital record-keeping. This change-over, led by National Archives Australia (NAA), is being rolled out under the Federal Government's Digital Transition Policy. Under this policy, all Federal Government records will go digital - while phasing out agencies' reliance on paper records and cumbersome storage facilities. Key milestones for this digital capture are under discussion. Roll-over targets are expected to be finalised by the end of June 2012. It is no longer feasible or practical for agencies to manage and store paper records, says the NAA's director-general, David Fricker. Digital information management will save agencies millions of dollars in reduced storage costs and create a more open, transparent and accountable government.

The NAA earlier did a survey showing that by 2014 the total volume of electronic records which agencies expect to create will be more than 10.7 million gigabytes. "And that's just the new records, not the overall amount of information that needs to be managed," says David Fricker. "This explosion in information means traditional paper storage of records is simply not an option." Digital information management slashes the cost of storing volumes of paper records. This platform simplifies end-users' anywhere, anytime access to information in an on-line environment. Digital recordkeeping means the bulk of agencies' records can be created, stored and managed digitally and, where possible, new paper records simply scanned so that new paper files are not created. The National Archives is driving the Digital Transition Policy in consultation with the Australian Government Information Management Office and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The Digital Continuity Plan offers a practical guide for agencies about the migration to digital information management, including online storage, access and retrieval capabilities. The National Archives' own collection mainly documents Australian government activities since Federation in 1901. This collection comprises more than 39 million items covering a vast range of subject areas.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/21/2012

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Australia to Launch One-Stop Online Gateway for Aged Care

The Australian Government is launching an internet portal tracking aged care services, while streamlining access to information about nursing homes, staffing levels, amenities and community care services. This My Aged Care internet portal, to be supported by dedicated phone services, goes live in early 2013. It is part of a US$3.84 billion (AUD$3.7 billion) reform agenda designed to overhaul aged care services in Australia. For the first time, the My Aged Care portal will feature a star rating system for nursing homes and other aged care services, including any previous history of complaints or feedback about the quality of care. The government is introducing a single information-access gateway to consolidate information about services, according to the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler. He said the My Aged Care website will offer detailed information about aged care providers, available services, amenities, staffing levels, fees and other charges. This on-line gateway will enable families and older Australians to compare and make informed choices about the quality of available care and affordability.

The My Aged Care web site is the latest internet portal that caters for specific communities, including the MySchool, MyHospital, and MyUniversity web sites. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australians are living longer; this has implications for how the government runs its aged care program. The latest reform tackles long-standing concerns about the quality of aged care in Australia affecting elderly and often poorly-informed residents. "We now have a new generation moving into retirement, the baby boomers, who will clearly want more options and choices than older Australians have sought in the past," PM Gillard said. "Families can't get the information they need to make difficult choices." Australia's system of monitoring and compliance needs to be overhauled to give would-be residents and their families a true picture of nursing home quality. "Now it's just about putting a tick or cross in a box; all residents or family members should be asked their views for a start."

Internet-savvy baby boomers are changing perceptions about ageing; they also expect better information and choices about the quality of care, nursing homes, and other facilities. Australia's aged care services are severely stressed - with many Australians forced to sell homes under "fire sales" to finance their need for care. Commercially-run nursing homes are under scrutiny about the quality of services, while being expensive to finance for families seeking services for parents or elderly relatives. More disturbingly, 40 per cent of older Australians are forced into emergency fire sales of their homes, according to PM Gillard. These sales are to raise money to pay for care. At the top end, these bonds can cost as much as US$2.6 million (AUD$2.5 million), and bear no resemblance to the cost of accommodation being provided in nursing homes. PM Gillard said Australia's overhaul of aged care services, and improved information access, will give older Australians and their families greater choice and control than they've had in the past.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/26/2012

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Australia Ramps Up US$2.05 Billion ICT Reforms

Australia's largest State Government in New South Wales is ramping up its ICT reforms agenda - with plans to drag key agencies out of the "dark ages" into 21st century technology and service delivery programs. New South Wales' just-unveiled (ICT) reforms program will make better use of the state's US$2.05 billion (AUD$2 billion) technology budget - while rolling out mobile apps, real-time access to open data, and a private government cloud tapping into virtualised and shared services. NSW's new 10-year ICT strategy, unveiled by State Minister for Finance and Services, Greg Pearce, revitalises the state's technology and telecommunications activities, at the same time, improving access to public transport, health, education and emergency services. Key planks supporting the state's ICT Strategy 2012 focus on creating open government, improving access to government data in an open-access environment, fast-tracking investment in cloud and virtualisation technology, and modernising information management programs. The state is also racing to improve its ICT procurement effort - with better engagement with the industry, including feedback and access to latest technology. Minister Greg Pearce said the state's latest ICT agenda is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive over-hauls to date.

These reforms bring NSW out of the "dark ages," and into the 21st century, he said. "ICT provides an avenue to better deliver services to residents, while enabling government to be more flexible in the conduct of its business." The state wants to put citizens at the centre of decision-making, Minister Pearce said. "Improving the way we use ICT to deliver government services requires a comprehensive ICT strategy that applies across the public sector with strong governance arrangements to drive it." The NSW government has elevated ICT as one of its top priorities - while also establishing a governance structure that requires agencies to take responsibility for priorities and core decision-making. Michael Coutts-Trotter, Director-General, Department of Finance and Services, and Government Chief Information Officer, said the state's ICT strategy complements a digital economy industry action plan. He said there are significant opportunities for NSW to deploy new platforms, including cloud-based and virtualised services. "This 2012 ICT strategy sets out a roadmap for the NSW government to adopt a service orientation to ICT infrastructure."

Mr Coutter said the state will take a "whole-of-government" approach to ICT investment, and work closely with an industry-based ICT advisory panel. "We want to leverage the latest thinking and experience from the private sector." Among planned activities, the state will deliver more real-time information through mobile apps, trip planning tools, and integrated electronic ticketing. Mobile apps will include "Live Traffic NSW," bus time-table SMS alerts, NSW Police "Project Eyewatch," and real-time hospital emergency information. Disclosure of government information will also be available on-line, and in real-time. Additionally, the state will offer a single 24/7 government phone number, a "customer-friendly" government web portal, and one-stop shops for access to citizen services.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/04/2012

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MARSHALL ISLANDS: Parliament Embraces ICT for Development

SPC's recent mission to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), which focused on providing assistance in this key area, was well received by the RMI Nitijela (Parliament). 'This ICT session for Marshall Islands Parliament and some follow-up meetings will definitely help raise the awareness and understanding of parliamentarians about the benefits of ICT and how ICT can help development in Marshall Islands,' said the Speaker, Hon. Donald F. Capelle, in his opening remarks at the Parliament ICT briefing. The Speaker emphasised to members of parliament and senior government officials that RMI needs to fully utilise the opportunities provided by ICT to achieve national development goals. Apart from the briefing session, SPC staff also conducted an ICT training workshop for parliament staff to strengthen their capacity in the use of ICT. The main purpose of the training was to impart key ICT knowledge and skills to address ICT skill gaps among staff. These gaps were identified through the ICT training needs assessment conducted by SPC prior to the training.

'Parliamentarians are busy people and they often require the assistance of staff to help them with their ICT needs,' said Mr Tanielu Aiafi, SPC ICT Outreach Officer, who conducted the training. 'It is therefore important for us to ensure that parliament staff are trained in the application of ICT in their work as this contributes to more effective and efficient parliaments in the Pacific.' Another key task for the mission was to follow up on a number of regional priorities, such as the development of the RMI National ICT Plan, capacity building in ICT, and the cybercrime bill to criminalise the use of ICT for criminal purposes. According to Mr Phil Phillipo, Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, RMI is making progress in these initiatives with support from various stakeholders, including Nitijela and the National Telecommunications Authority. The SPC team noted that the use of ICT in key sectors such as health and education, was also increasing. For example, implementing the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, the Ministry of Education had purchased 1,100 low cost 'XO laptops' to assist school students. 'We are now looking at various options for deploying these laptops to ensure they add value to the learning process and are sustainable,' stated Mr Gary Ueno, Secretary of the Ministry of Education.

The SPC mission to RMI, which took place from 14 - 18 February 2012, is a part of the European Union-funded project: ICT Access for the Poor: Improving access to ICT by informing and engaging Pacific ACP legislators. The project is implemented by the SPC Economic Development Division's Pacific ICT Outreach Programme (PICTO). Adoption of ICT as a national priority in Pacific Island nations is critical to improving livelihoods of Pacific communities. To achieve this goal, strong support is needed from parliamentarians to champion national efforts. SPC's recent mission to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), which focused on providing assistance in this key area, was well received by the RMI Nitijela (Parliament). 'This ICT session for Marshall Islands Parliament and some follow-up meetings will definitely help raise the awareness and understanding of parliamentarians about the benefits of ICT and how ICT can help development in Marshall Islands,' said the Speaker, Hon. Donald F. Capelle, in his opening remarks at the Parliament ICT briefing.

The Speaker emphasised to members of parliament and senior government officials that RMI needs to fully utilise the opportunities provided by ICT to achieve national development goals. Apart from the briefing session, SPC staff also conducted an ICT training workshop for parliament staff to strengthen their capacity in the use of ICT. The main purpose of the training was to impart key ICT knowledge and skills to address ICT skill gaps among staff. These gaps were identified through the ICT training needs assessment conducted by SPC prior to the training. 'Parliamentarians are busy people and they often require the assistance of staff to help them with their ICT needs,' said Mr Tanielu Aiafi, SPC ICT Outreach Officer, who conducted the training. 'It is therefore important for us to ensure that parliament staff are trained in the application of ICT in their work as this contributes to more effective and efficient parliaments in the Pacific.' Another key task for the mission was to follow up on a number of regional priorities, such as the development of the RMI National ICT Plan, capacity building in ICT, and the cybercrime bill to criminalise the use of ICT for criminal purposes. According to Mr Phil Phillipo, Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, RMI is making progress in these initiatives with support from various stakeholders, including Nitijela and the National Telecommunications Authority.

The SPC team noted that the use of ICT in key sectors such as health and education, was also increasing. For example, implementing the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, the Ministry of Education had purchased 1,100 low cost 'XO laptops' to assist school students. 'We are now looking at various options for deploying these laptops to ensure they add value to the learning process and are sustainable,' stated Mr Gary Ueno, Secretary of the Ministry of Education. The SPC mission to RMI, which took place from 14 - 18 February 2012, is a part of the European Union-funded project: ICT Access for the Poor: Improving access to ICT by informing and engaging Pacific ACP legislators. The project is implemented by the SPC Economic Development Division's Pacific ICT Outreach Programme (PICTO).


From http://www.e-pic.info/ 03/02/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Government Seeks Syndicated Web Services Supply

Web-related services are the latest to be made the subject of an all-of-government syndicated request for proposal in a quest to trim ICT expenditure and make procurement more efficient. The first RFP is for seven categories of development-related services: information architects, usability advisors, website testers, front-end web developers, graphical / visual designers, website technical writers and accessibility consultants. A second RFP will be issued later this month or next, for a "managed platform supplier that can provide one or more Content Management Systems (CMSs) plus a consolidated platform that can host multiple websites." The two tendering exercises are intended to remedy "the significant level of duplicated investment made by government agencies on web initiatives and the associated variability in the quality of service delivery through the web channel," says lead agency the Department of Internal Affairs. Up to 20 suppliers may be brought onto a panel for long-term supply of these services to all government departments. This is likely to leave the participating government agencies with plenty of choice of suppliers for some of the categories.

"DIA and the Working Group consider this to be a reasonably sized panel given the large number of eligible agencies and the fact that the panel arrangements will span seven different resource types," says the RFP. "The final number of panel members is likely to depend on the nature and quality of responses received from respondents." The "working group" referred to is made up of representatives of 10 agencies seen as likely to purchase some of the specified services in the near term. A variety of central government agencies - public service departments, Crown entities and others such as Police and Defence Force - will be eligible to deal with the panel, but local authorities will have to apply to the Ministry of Economic Development's procurement team for permission to use the arrangement. Once the panel is in place, agencies may approach any of the panel suppliers directly for a project valued below $50,000, but for anything above this value the agency is expected to ask for short proposals from several of the panel members before making a decision.

If a certain supplier has done previous related work so the project can be realistically considered "ongoing" and that supplier has experience of the project, then the agency will be able to approach them directly. Closing date for proposals is June 15 and the choice of panel members is expected to be made by early August.


From http://computerworld.co.nz/ 05/23/2012

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Global B2C E-Commerce Market Report 2011

Global: In 2015, there are expected to be nearly 3 billion Internet users worldwide, up from 2 billion in 2011. Global B2C E-Commerce sales reached between USD 400 and 600 billion (between EUR 300 and 450 billion) in 2010, and between USD 700 and 950 billion is expected for 2013. Until 2013, Asia's share on global B2C E-Commerce sales is projected to increase. North America: In 2011, B2C E-Commerce sales in the US grew strongly. However, lower growth rates are expected for the coming years. Latin America: In Latin American Countries, B2C E-Commerce is gaining importance. Brazil is the leading market in the region, with B2C E-Commerce sales growth of almost +30% between 2010 and 2011. Europe: Central Europe and Western Europe are advanced B2C E-Commerce markets. In Eastern Europe, there is huge potential for growth. Czech Republic, Poland and Russia all recorded double-digit growth rates in B2C E-Commerce between 2009 and 2010. Asia: Japan and South Korea are advanced B2C E-Commerce markets. In other countries, there is still potential for growth. In India, for example, B2C E-Commerce sales of less than EUR 1 billion were observed in 2010.


From http://www.i-policy.org/ 03/15/2012

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Gartner Cuts Worldwide IT Spending Forecast

Worldwide IT spending is forecast to total USD 3.7 trillion in this year, a 2.5 percent increase from 2011, according to a study by Gartner. This is down from Gartner's previous forecast of 3.7 percent growth, due largely to a stronger US dollar versus other currencies. When looking at IT spending at constant dollar rates, the market is on track to increase 5.2 percent this year, up from the market researcher's previous projection of 4.6 percent. IT spending in the government sector is expected to contract moderately on a global basis in 2013, driven by austerity measures in the euro zone. US government spending is expected to be essentially flat before contracting in 2013. In the small and midsize business market, which represents approximately a quarter of all enterprise IT spending, spending is forecast to reach USD 874 billion and will grow to USD 1 trillion by 2016. The worldwide telecommunication equipment market is forecast to show the strongest growth, with spending reaching USD 472 billion, a 6.9 percent increase from 2011.


From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 04/05/2012

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Global Online Gaming Report 2012

In its latest "Global Online Gaming Report 2012" Hamburg-based secondary market research firm yStats.com gives a detailed account of the global online gaming market, without accounting for global online gambling. In addition to the global market, markets in 19 individual countries in various regions are highlighted. The report also covers information and the latest news about 24 important competitors. Revenue generated in the online gaming market continues to increase worldwide - it is predicted to grow annually by more than ten per cent in the period from 2010 to 2016. A significant trend in this sector is Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). In 2011, MMOGs were especially popular in the BRIC states and the US market was also mature, while there is still potential for growth in emerging markets. In 2011, the share of paying casual and social gamers compared to all gamers worldwide was the highest in Asia, followed by emerging markets and the USA. Social and casual games popular in all of America. In the USA, social gaming was expected to spread further in 2011 - in total, as many as approximately 40 percent of all Internet users played such online games. The most popular gaming website in this market, gauged by visits in December 2011, was Pogo, followed by Yahoo! Games. According to the "Global Online Gaming Report 2012", for Brazil forecasts for 2011 predicted that gamers would spend most of their time on casual games and playing in social networks.

Social gaming as an important trend in Western Europe
Great Britain and Germany are among the leading European markets for online gaming. In 2011, almost one fifth of total time invested in playing games in Great Britain was spent on social networks, followed by casual games; only console games had more time invested in them. Unlike in Japan and the USA, in Germany the entire gaming market grew in 2012, merely as a result of increased revenue from online and browser games. The German online and mobile game market is also expected to almost double in size between 2010 and 2015. The "Global Online Gaming Report 2012" by yStats.com shows additionally that in 2011, French gamers spent approximately 15 percent of their entire gaming time on social networks. In the Netherlands, revenue generated from games on casual websites and MMO games was forecasted to reach more than 50 million EURO in 2011 in each category. In line with this trend, almost three quarters of all Spanish online gamers were predicted to use social networks for gaming in 2011. Online gaming markets also soar in Eastern EuropeIn Poland, the value of the total gaming market increased by more than 20 percent from 2010 to 2011. In Russia, almost 80 percent of the entire online gaming market value was generated from browser games. Turkey was the fourth largest social gaming market worldwide in the second quarter of 2011 in terms of gamer numbers.

Rapid growth for revenue in the Asia-Pacific region, in the Middle East and in Africa
In Southeast Asia, revenue from online games is expected to more than double between 2011 and 2015. The social games market is also expected to grow fast in Japan - by approximately one third between 2011 and 2012. It is also shown that online gaming addiction is increasingly becoming a problem, for example in South Korea, where in 2011 more than half of all inhabitants already played online games. In China, the situation is slightly different, with massively client games spurring most of the online games market growth - for 2013, they are expected to generate more than three quarters of all revenue in this market. Early in 2012, the highest daily revenue per gamer worldwide was recorded in the Middle East. An annual increase of 25 percent in spending for online games is also expected in South Africa for the period between 2010 and 2015.

Online games market players observe strong growth worldwide. In addition to the key markets in different regions, the yStats.com "Global Online Gaming Report 2012" also provides important facts and figures about more than 20 successful players. Zynga, for example, is expecting an increase in revenue by more than 20 percent in 2012. Bigpoint, an enterprise based in Germany, had as many as 250 million registered users early in 2012 and has already added new locations in Great Britain and France. Wooga, also headquartered in Germany, was the largest social games developer in Europe in April 2012, and the third largest worldwide. Chinese online game developer Changyou also increased its revenue in 2011 by almost 40 percent compared to 2010. Developer of cross-platform games PopCap Games was bought by Electronic Arts in 2011, and is now a subsidiary of the games giant. US social games developer RockYou was also successful in 2011, entering partnerships with Peak Games and Aktiv Digital. Turkish games developer Peak Games was the fastest growing social gaming enterprise in an emerging market in 2011.

Key Findings
Global online gaming revenue is expected to increase by more than +10% annually between 2010 and 2016. Social gaming in the US was expected to spread further in 2011, with more than 40% of total Internet users playing social games. Almost one-fifth of total gaming time in the UK was spent on "Social Networks" in 2011, followed by "Casual Games" and only surpassed by "Console Games". The online and mobile games market in Germany is expected to almost double between 2010 and 2015. The social game market in Japan is expected to grow rapidly, increasing by a third between 2011 and 2012. Online gaming addiction is a major problem in South Korea, where more than half of all inhabitants played online games in 2011.


From http://www.marketwatch.com/ 05/09/2012

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ARAB STATES: Leaders Throw Spotlight on Regional ICT Investment Projects, Opportunities at ITU's Connect Arab Summit

Industry and government leaders attending ITU's Connect Arab Summit (5-7 March) have identified market opportunities worth over USD 46 billion for new regionally focused projects designed to enhance ICT access, applications and services throughout the region. The investment opportunities identified by the Summit focus around key priorities for the region, including building a regional Arab ICT highway, developing e-services, empowering local people through training and human capacity building, leveraging ICTs for youth job creation, strengthening cybersecurity, and protecting Arab heritage and culture. The Summit welcomed some 540 participants from 26 countries, including seven Heads of State or Government, 26 Ministers, and representatives from 18 international and regional organizations, 99 private sector companies and other stakeholders. It was convened to forge regional consensus on new strategies to boost infrastructure deployment, extend access to marginalized populations, and stimulate innovation and employment across the Arab region. "The energy in this region testifies to the Arab world's transformation into a major technology hub and a pre-eminent force in the global ICT industry. A growing number of the world's most exciting new ICT companies are now based here, and I confidently predict that within the next ten years, the ICT sector could become the single biggest employer of young talent," said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour谷.

Connectivity commitments and partnerships announced during the event included: A project between ITU and the League of Arab States to establish a 'dot Arab' domain name. UAE announced that it would host this important new domain. An Arab Women's Literacy project involving ITU, ALESCO and UAE designed to empower women in the region with ICT skills in Arabic. A project between ITU and the Linux Professional Institute to promote open source software training and certification. A broadband toolkit to be developed by the World Bank, along with a regional broadband connectivity study to support additional infrastructure investment and an employment study focusing on the West Bank/Gaza. At the national level, Egypt proposed a raft of projects for investment, and made three announcements with ITU: A project to enhance access to Arab digital content through the Memory of the Arab World project. A project to strengthen Arab statistical indicators to better inform policy-making in the region. A project to leverage the power of ICTs to help persons with disabilities. The Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organization (AICTO) proposed several projects, including a regional cybersecurity initiative to promote safe and secure e-transactions; a digital broadcasting project; a new project to establish e-accessibility centres to provide education, training and retrofitting of Arab websites in partnership with W3C; and a common legal framework on e-accessibility in Arab region. In addition, a number of counties, including Djibouti, Mauritania and Sudan, put forward exciting ICT investment opportunities for which they are seeking partners. Djibouti's projects focused on improving core infrastructure, building ICT links to hospitals and schools, and boosting technology training for girls.

Mauritania is seeking investment partners to improve its backbone links and to help develop a Technopole smart city project and new e-government initiatives. For its part, Sudan is looking for additional partners for new telecentre projects being developed in collaboration with India, a video conferencing project to improve health services, and new initiatives to help persons with disabilities. The high-level part of the event kicked off on Tuesday March 6th with a lively Opening Debate on youth issues, moderated by ITU's Dr Tour谷. The session addressed three key questions which had been earlier debated and submitted by youth delegates: Youth asked the Connect Arab Summit Leaders to look for a mechanism to ensure that their voices are reflected in policy making. Youth requested a national or regional umbrella organization that would be responsible for training and mentorship, and that could possibly provide seed funding to help get their ideas off the ground. Youth suggested that policy makers engage in more profound awareness raising for the prominent role that ICT can play in social and economic development. In particular, they asked that leaders draw attention to the growing opportunities in the sector, especially when it comes to developing local content to meet local needs.

The opening debate was followed by five Roundtable sessions on education; policy frameworks to attract investment; cybersecurity; local content generation; and innovation and job creation.In his closing remarks to delegates, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau, hailed the Summit as an outstanding success in bringing countries from right across the region and the world to share ideas and identify opportunities for business partnership. "This summit has brought together so many like-minded people, in a warm, positive spirit of friendship and commitment. We leave this event with a strong sense of purpose, and a clear vision of what needs to be done to connect the unconnected, here in the Arab region. This Summit has demonstrated the true power of partnership," he said.


From http://www.itu.int/ 03/07/2012

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EUROPE: Parliament Approves Mobile Data Roaming Caps

The European Parliament has voted in favour of supporting a new mobile roaming policy. This will extend EU mobile roaming regulations to include price caps for data downloads from 01 July. For a typical businessman travelling in the EU, this will mean savings of over EUR 1,000 per year. family taking an annual holiday in another EU country can expect to save at least EUR 200, according to EU calculations. Overall, the improved EU roaming regulation - taking into account calls, SMS and data - will deliver consumers savings of 75 percent across a range of mobile roaming services, compared to 2007 prices. Europeans will spend around EUR 5 billion on roaming services in 2012, a saving of around EUR 15 billion compared to what the same services would have cost under 2007 prices. The new roaming caps from July will be EUR 0.29 per minute to make a call, EUR 0.08 per minute to receive a call, EUR 0.09 to send a text message, and EUR 0.70 per MB to download data or browse the internet (plus VAT). To help avoid bill shock from July, people travelling outside the EU will get a warning text message, email or pop-up window when they are nearing EUR 50 of data downloads, or their pre-agreed level. From 01 July 2014, customers will have the option to shop around for a separate mobile roaming provider - either through a contract or by choosing a provider at their destination.


From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 05/10/2012

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LARTIN AMERICA: Half of Internet Users Buy Online

Spanish-speaking internet users in Latin America increasing use of eCommerce. Tweet According to a September 2011 survey by Latin American research firm Tendencias Digitales, 59% of internet users in the region bought products online in the past year. Respondents in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay led the pack. The top products sold online included tickets for entertainment or travel, purchased by 30% of respondents, computer accessories (22%), clothing/footwear/accessories (22%) and books (16%). Growing uptake of ecommerce will drive returns in Latin America. eMarketer estimates business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales in the region, excluding Brazil, will total $15.2 billion this year and nearly double to $28.5 billion in 2015.


From http://www.emarketer.com/ 02/14/2012

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Report: Remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean Rose to $61 Billion in 2011

Latin American and Caribbean migrants sent $61 billion in remittances to their home countries last year, up 6 percent from $57.6 billion in 2010, according to a report released today by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank group. Last year's increase confirmed the upward trend in migrants' money transfers that started in mid-2010, after the double digit drop in remittances recorded in 2009 as a result of the economic crisis. In 2011, nearly every country in this region received a greater dollar amount in remittances than the previous year. "For the remittance market in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2011 was a year of renewed growth after the 2008-2010 period, despite persistent economic uncertainty in Europe," the report noted. For 2012, the MIF expects remittances to this region to grow at a similar rate as last year. Most of the money continued to be sent from traditional host countries such as the United States and Western Europe. In the United States, source of about three-quarters of remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean, foreign workers saw improving employment and wage levels. As a consequence, migrants made more transfers for higher amounts than the previous year. In contrast, uncertain employment prospects in Europe resulted in drops in remittance flows to Latin America in the fourth quarter of 2011. In the case of Spain, the migrant population shrank by as much as 2 percent last year, as foreign workers (particularly men who lost jobs in the construction industry) left that country. Brazil was the only Latin American country that registered a drop in remittances received in 2011, measured in nominal terms. These flows dipped nearly 5 percent to about $2.0 billion.

In contrast migrant transfers to Brazil - typically one-off transactions made when foreign workers decide to return to their countries of origin - jumped 51 percent to $2.1 billion, and for the first time exceeded workers' remittances to that country. This recent trend has led the MIF to adopt a narrower definition of remittances to Brazil, which considers only the money sent home by migrants living abroad for extended periods and leaves out other flows such as migrant transfers and the money sent home by temporary workers. Currency fluctuations and inflation also affected the value of the money sent home by expatriate workers. Last year Mexican migrants sent home $22.7 billion, which adjusted for inflation and currency variations were worth 17.5 percent more in pesos. In contrast, migrant remittances to Brazil were worth 15 percent less when expressed in reais, the local currency, and adjusted for inflation. Remittances remain a major source of income for many countries in this region. In several of the smaller and poorer nations, they far exceed external aid and net foreign direct investment. "The importance of these flows lies in the vital role they play for millions of recipient families that depend on remittances for basic needs, even in countries with higher GDP levels," the report noted. "In the absence of this regular source of income that these families receive from their family members abroad, many would fall below the poverty line." In recent years, as regional economies improved, remittances have become a smaller share of gross domestic product. In several countries, however, remittances are still more than 10 percent of GDP. In Haiti, which last year received nearly $2.1 billion, they represented more than one quarter of the national income.


From http://www.iadb.org/ 03/08/2012

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China to Become the Largest Market for Smartphones in 2012 with Brazil and India Forecast to Join the Top 5 Country-Level Markets by 2016 - IDC

Smartphone shipments to emerging markets will drive growth in the worldwide smartphone market in the years ahead. According to the latest smartphone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, China will become the leading country-level market for smartphone shipments in 2012, moving ahead of the current leader, the United States. Looking ahead to 2016, two additional emerging markets, India and Brazil, will enter the top 5 country markets for smartphone shipments. "Due to their sheer size, strong demand, and healthy replacement rates, emerging markets are quickly becoming the engines of the worldwide smartphone market," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends team. "Users in emerging markets seek more than simple voice telephony, and smartphones offer the ideal platform for mobile entertainment, social networking, and business usage as seen in developed markets." Meanwhile, mature markets, such as Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, will experience continued growth in smartphone adoption, but volumes will not keep up with those destined for emerging markets. At the same time, smartphone growth within emerging markets presents its challenges. "The total cost of ownership remains a hurdle for potential smartphone buyers," added Llamas. "Smartphones still represent a significant investment for consumers in many countries. This fact was acknowledged by a number of industry executives at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, who stressed the need for low-cost devices - as low as sub-US$50 - to spur widespread adoption. Another notable barrier to adoption is the cost of a monthly data plan. To realize the full potential of emerging markets, smartphone vendors need to develop low-cost smartphones that provide a full, robust experience while mobile operators will need to creatively subsidize device cost and data plans."

China Highlights
After surpassing smartphone shipments in the U.S. for two consecutive quarters in the second half of 2011, China will carry that momentum into 2012 and beyond. "PRC smartphone shipments are expected to take a slim lead over the U.S. in 2012 before the gap widens in the coming years," said Wong Teck Zhung, senior market analyst with IDC's Asia/Pacific Client Devices team. "There will be no turning back this leadership changeover." Android smartphones priced below US$200 were a hot segment in 2011 and these low-cost smartphones are expected to remain a key driver for smartphone growth, with prices becoming even more affordable on falling chipset prices and increased competition. "Emerging domestic vendors will be another important engine of smartphone growth as giants Huawei, ZTE, and Lenovo continue to ramp up with big carrier orders due to their willingness to produce customized handsets," added Teck Zhung. "International players such as Samsung and Nokia are also expected to drive volume at the low end with cheaper smartphones."

India Highlights
The Indian smartphone market will witness galloping growth throughout the forecast period. Carriers are expected to aggressively roll out 3G networks and data plans while domestic vendors such as Micromax, Spice, Karbonn and Lava have already launched low-cost smartphones in a bid to drive future demand as they attempt to move up the value chain from low-cost feature phones. In 2011, growth has been largely driven by top-tier brands like Samsung and HTC, and international vendors will look to invest further in local manufacturing in the coming years as the high-growth Indian market becomes a top priority. "Demand for smartphones will also grow as urban and enterprise users mature in their handset preferences and usage," says G. Rajeev, senior market analyst for mobile devices with IDC India. "Consumers are growing accustomed to higher data usage and using handsets for entertainment and other content, instead of just as a communication device."

Brazil Highlights
A booming economy combined with low inflationary pressures have helped lower the poverty rate in Brazil and improved the discretionary income of the Brazilian population. The resultant growth in Brazil's consumer and business segments has been felt in products beyond mobile phones, with Brazil moving past Japan in 2011 to become the third largest country-level market for PCs. The shift from feature phones to smartphones is well underway in Brazil. Mobile phone subscribership has exceeded the country's population, smartphone prices have dropped to less than US$300, and carriers have introduced prepaid data plans. This last piece has been especially critical as four out of five mobile phone users in Brazil use prepaid phone lines. It has essentially opened up smartphones to a new world of customers that otherwise would not have been able to reap the benefits of smartphones.


From http://www.idg.com/ 03/15/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Spending More Time Than Ever Online, 17% More Than Any Others: Report

Canadians can't seem to shake their addictions to the online world and are spending more time than ever on the Internet - about 17 per cent more than users in the U.S., according to a comScore report released Thursday. The average amount of time Canadian Internet users spent online in December was 45.3 hours, up about four per cent from 43.5 hours in December 2010. That works out to an extra three minutes a day. The Canadian total is about 17 per cent more than the average 38.6 hours Americans were online this past December, and about 28 per cent more than the average in the U.K. Contributing to the long hours Canadians spent online was a significant jump in social media usage, which was up 32 per cent. The 18- to 24-year-old age bracket had the biggest increase in time spent on social networks, jumping 67 per cent to an average of 10.8 hours a month. Users under 18 spent 9.4 hours on social media a month, which was up 59 per cent. The next biggest increase came from users older than 55, who spent 5.4 hours on websites like Facebook and Twitter, a 46 per cent increase. Women, on average, spent 8.8 hours a month on social networks compared to 6.5 hours among men. ComScore suggests Facebook is beginning to hit its peak in Canada, although time spent on the site was up by about 20 per cent. But there were explosive increases for other social media sites, both for new users and time spent online.

Twitter saw its user base in Canada grow by 60 per cent to 5.4 million, while the time Canadians spent reading and writing tweets was up about 98 per cent. The business-minded social network LinkedIn had a 39 per cent membership boost to 2.95 million users and usage was up 70 per cent. The blogging platform Tumblr had massive growth, with a 180 per cent increase in visitors to almost 2.9 million. The time spent on Tumblr grew to nearly triple the amount of time users spent on Twitter, up 382 per cent. Still, the most off-the-charts growth was seen for the upstart site Pinterest. In just half a year, its visitor count grew by 364 per cent to 378,000, and time spent on the site was up 2,038 per cent. Online video viewing also spiked in the last year, up 58 per cent. On YouTube, the web's most popular video streaming site, Canadians' viewing was up by 170 per cent, from 101 videos viewed per user each month to 271.


From http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/ 03/01/2012

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Canada: Ontario Looks to Private Sector for IT Savings

Data service providers could benefit from Ontario's need to cut deeply into an expected $15.2 billion annual debt if it is able to strike public-private partnerships as it hopes under the latest provincial budget. The budget released by Finance minister Dwight Duncan on Tuesday says legislation will be introduced by the minority Liberal government letting it go after partnership deals for ServiceOntario, which offers one-stop offices for a range of services from different departments such as drivers' and business licences. Because these deals haven't been negotiated yet, the budget doesn't estimate what the savings will be. It does say that to expand ServiceOntario's online offerings would cost $100 million, money the province can't justify at this point. Potential service providers include BCE Inc.'s Bell Canada, IBM Canada and CGI Group, which already have contracts from municipal, provincial and federal governments. While saving money is a prime objective, the province will "set customer service standards and ensure protection of privacy and personal data," the budget added. "The proposed legislation would also amend a number of statutes to enable both public-private partnerships and the ongoing transformation of services, including the continued adoption of online services." Over the coming months, subject to the passage of proposed legislation, the government will finalize its preferred approach and move forward with a competitive process to secure a public-private partnership for the development of ServiceOntario, the budget said. "That's probably pretty good news for the ICT sector," said Linda Leonard, senior vice-president of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) which represents telecommunications, computer hardware and software and consulting firms.

However, Alison Brooks, public sector research director at IDC Canada, wondered how much money the province could save. ServiceOntario is only a small part of the overall IT services within the government, she noted. Provincial spending will be reduced by a cumulative $17.7 billion over the next three years compared to what it would have otherwise been, the budget says. That means the annual average growth in program spending will be held to 1.0 per cent between the fiscal years 2011 - 12 and 2014 - 15. There are other cost-saving measures which may impact the number of provincial IT staff. The budget proposes cutting 1,000 full-time public service jobs (although it doesn't specify where), "strong action to manage current and future compensation costs." And it said it will try to negotiate a wage freeze with public sector unions. One potential roadblock is the government has to get the budget through a legislature in which is doesn't have a majority. The last election was held in October, 2011. Generally, provincial and federal opposition parties are loath to bring down a government less than a year after an election.


From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 03/27/2012

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CHINA: 3C Product Sales Online Boom

BEIJING (Xinhua) - The volume of computers, communication and consumer electronics sold through China's business-to-customer (B2C) market hit 77.02 billion yuan (about 12.23 U.S. dollars) in 2011, according to a report released in Beijing. The figure represents a 200 percent year-on-year increase, according to the publication by Chinese market research firm Analysis International. Booming online demand for computers, communication and consumer electronics (known as 3C products) contributed much to the growth of B2C, which includes businesses selling products or services to end-user customers, according to Zhang Tao, of Analysis International. Apart from E-commerce 3C specialists such as 360buy.com and Suning.com, some other web-platforms also extended or set up sales channels for 3C products in 2011. Tmall, the B2C platform of Chinese online shopping giant Taobao, received a 3C sales volume of over 22 billion yuan in the year. The likes of Tmall.com, 360buy.com and buy.qq.com may face a 3C price war in 2012, observed Zhang.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 03/04/2012

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China's Online Gaming Industry Grows in 2011

BEIJING (Xinhua) - China's online gaming industry reported total revenues of 46.85 billion yuan (7.44 billion US dollars) in 2011, up 34.4 percent year-on-year, according to a government report issued Friday. The total number of people playing online games last year totaled 160 million, a year-on-year increase of 33 percent, said a report issued by the Ministry of Culture. Online gaming companies maintained favorable momentum last year thanks to a continuously growing number of gamers and the rapid development of mobile phone games, the report said. More and more people tended to play games on their mobile phones. Among the gamers, more than 50 million logged on through their mobile phones, up 46 percent over 2010. Exports of domestic computer games also increased by 76 percent from 2010 to reach 403 million U.S. dollars in 2011, the report said. More than 150 Chinese computer games have been sold abroad and 92 of them were developed in 2011, it said. The ministry has pledged to improve gaming industry regulations this year. The administration will work on more detailed rules to manage and protect the virtual assets of gamers, the report said. The administration will also continue working with service providers and operators to allow parents or guardians to supervise underage gamers, it said. The ministry will continue to work on a real-name registration system for gamers and carry on with its campaign against games with inappropriate content, it said.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 03/30/2012

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China's Software, IT Service Revenue to Boom

BEIJING (Xinhua) - The revenue of China's software and information technology (IT) service industry will increase at an annual growth rate of over 24.5 percent to exceed 4 trillion yuan (635 billion U.S. dollars) by 2015, under new projections. Software exports will amount to 60 billion U.S. dollars by 2015, while the revenue of China's IT service sector is expected to top 2.5 trillion yuan, according to a development plan unveiled Friday by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The research input of the country's 100 largest software companies will account for at least 10 percent of their revenues by 2015, according to the plan. China is aiming to increase its focus on the software industry. The country will have more than 10 cities with software revenues exceeding 100 billion yuan and two to three software industrial zones with revenues topping 500 billion yuan by 2015, said the report. The country's software and IT service industry saw revenues rise 32.4 percent year-on-year to 1.84 trillion yuan in 2011.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/06/2012

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Chinese Village Taps Rural E-Commerce

Rural e-commerce has tickled some southeast Chinese villagers pink, who are selling their agricultural products, such as tea, vegetables, fruits and even baby chicks, on an e-commerce platform. Century Village, an online C2C (customer-to-customer) and B2C (business-to-customer) platform, was established by Lantian village in Fujian Province in 2008. Villagers can post their sales and purchasing information, as well as their contacts, on this site. Payments can be made online or offline. Village resident Xu Yingde started his online business by selling mango seeds over two years ago. Back then, he noticed a farm had posted a request on Century Village for mango seeds. Later, Xu replied and concluded his first online deal. "Now that we have an online platform to exchange information, doing business becomes easier," Xu Yingde said. Century Village was founded by Pan Chunlai, a Lantian village official. He said he was inspired to develop e-commerce from his personal experiences. Once he wanted to buy a turkey but didn't know where to get one. After asking various people, he was surprised to find his neighbor had one for sale. "How come I didn't know that?" Pan said. "I realized our life would become much easier if we had an online platform where everybody could post their sales and purchasing information." For villagers who don't have a computer, they can go to a so-called "information point" for help. The "information points" are grocery stores scattered in the village. After some training, store owners become information collectors of Century Village, helping other villagers post online. They charge a commission once a deal is complete. Some large groceries are even equipped with touch-screen computers to help famers. Century Village's online shops also sell appliances such as televisions and washing machines. Small items are sometimes sold between farmers directly, after they find the information online and complete the deal offline.

Some at the "information points" work as deliverymen themselves. Currently Century village has over 40,000 registered members who are expanding their businesses online. Xu Zuhui, a 47-year-old mushroom farmer in the village, had never used a computer until four years ago, and it was beyond his imagination to make a fortune with it. Before 2008, Xu had been doing business by riding his motorcycle for miles to a nearby town at night, and selling mushrooms in the morning. But he soon abandoned the old business module after being introduced to the platform. Through rural e-commerce, Xu Zuhui's daily revenue has grown from less than 100 yuan (15.90 U.S. dollars) to over 10,000 yuan. He's not only selling his own mushrooms but also those from other villagers. His children, who used to plan to work in cities, now stay at home to help out. "Now I don't have to ride miles just to sell mushrooms. It feels really good to do business at home," Xu Zuhi said. Over the past three years, Century Village has developed at a staggering rate. Now with a monthly turnover of over 200 million yuan, the platform has attracted sellers from other parts of China and has grown into one of the best known e-commerce sites in Fujian Province. However, the limited use of the Internet in rural China hinders the overall development of rural e-commerce. According to China Internet Network Information Center, China had 136 million rural Internet users in 2011, which accounted for 26.5 percent of its total Internet users. Compared with 2010, the ratio dropped by 0.8 percent. But Pan Chunlai still hopes one day Century Village can develop into China's rural version of eBay, encompassing villages across the country.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/10/2012

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Online Storage Service to Boost China's Internet Startups

Internet startups in China eager to achieve the success of Instagram are finding their dream closer, as China's version of the network storage provider Dropbox is set to give them cloud infrastructure support. Kanbox, a leading cloud storage and sharing service provider in China, started its Open API (Application Programming Interface) earlier this year to benefit small-and medium-sized Internet enterprises in need of cloud storage. ' Kanbox provides cloud services for local APP developers in photo sharing, file browsing and sharing. Such startups are in need of large online storage services, yet usually lack funds to build relevant infrastructure themselves, said Huang Mingming, Chairman of Kanbox. "Many startups have sharp business acumen, but it's not practical for them to invest heavily in cloud storage infrastructure. As they grow, the limited cloud storage capacity will hinder their development," Huang said. With the open API platform, software developers can integrate their products and services into the Kanbox cloud platform, thus saving the trouble to build the cloud storage infrastructure themselves. IT companies with limited infrastructure investments are turning to outsourcing storage in order to avoid high datacenter costs. Huang said in this way their investments can be focused on their core business. Serving the same function as Dropbox, Kanbox provides millions of customers and businesses with the cloud service. It allows users to store documents, photos, and videos online across multiple locations and devices. Facebook's acquisition of the photo sharing app Instagram for 1 billion U.S. dollars grabbed world-wide attention.

Instagram, a company of only a dozen or so employees, serves over 30 million users. It has been running its infrastructure on the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform. "In this way it can focus on improving its user experience. But so far Chinese startups are not so lucky," said Huang Mingming, also the former CEO of Flashget, China's leading freeware download manager. The IT veteran pointed out the lack of a mature cloud storage service like the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) has impeded the growth of Chinese Internet startups. In 2008 when Huang Mingming decided to establish the Chinese version of Dropbox, he failed to find supporting cloud computing service. Thus Huang's company had to invest over 200 million yuan (31.8 millon U.S. dollars) in building cloud storage infrastructure across the country. It took them three years to finally launch Kanbox. Now the company has several thousand servers across China. Huang's audacious move obtained support of venture capital. Last October, the company raised 20 million U.S. dollars in Series B funding led by the global venture capital firm DCM. "As we already had mature online storage infrastructure across the country, we decided to open part of our service to startup enterprises. "In this way, they don't have to go through the difficulties as we had before," Huang said.

According to a report by Springboard Research in 2010, cloud storage services in China is estimated to grow from 6.05 million U.S. dollars in 2009 to 208.54 million U.S. dollars in 2014. The Ministry of Industry and Information said earlier the number of mobile phone users in China increased by 32.57 million to 1.02 billion in the first quarter of this year. Today China is also home to over 500 million Internet users. Huang said the increasing popularity of the internet and Smartphones will spawn a growing need for cloud storage. "After taking photos with their mobile phones, people want to directly upload them to the web. Also there's a growing need for a simple, secure way to share people's most valuable documents. It's all about cloud storage," Huang said. Now Baidu, China's largest search engine, Qihoo 360, an antivirus software company, and e-commerce giant Alibaba have also launched cloud storage services.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/24/2012

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China: Software, IC Makers Given Tax Preference

The Chinese government has created preferential tax policies for software and integrated circuit (IC) enterprises to spur technological innovation and industrial upgrading, according to a government statement issued on Thursday. Backdated to January 1, 2011 and effective until December 31, 2017, enterprises that manufacture IC lines thinner than 0.8 microns will be approved for two-year corporate tax exemptions once they make a profit. They will then be taxed only half of their corporate income for another three years, said a joint statement from the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation. China's current corporate income tax rate is set at 25 percent. Those companies producing IC lines thinner than 0.25 microns or with investment exceeding 8 billion yuan ($1.27 billion) will be taxed corporate income according to a discounted rate at 15 percent.


From http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ 05/04/2012

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China's Disabled Enjoy E-Commerce Boom

HANGZHOU (Xinhua) - More and more physically disabled people in China have found ways to join the country's "get rich" rush, which could have left them behind if not for the Internet. According to sources with Taobao, the country's largest e-commerce platform, more than 30,000 disabled people across the country are managing online stores at Taobao.com. Gu Linglei is one such online store manager. The 28-year-old native of Hangzhou was blinded at birth, but he is no different from many others selling earphones and mobile phone top-up cards on the e-commerce platform. Gu has to rely on screen-reading software to communicate with customers, but business is brisk. To date, he has clinched about 4,000 deals online and his store is rated a "4-diamond" - a credit given to trust-worthy stores by Taobao. Gu said the business idea hit in 2009 when, aided by a screen reader, he started to feel comfortable with online shopping and wanted to "try something new," and maybe earn a living for himself. "I like the Internet because it is open, convenient, and equal for all," the young man said. Gu said the Internet's role as a great equalizer has been a blessing for him. "We have to admit that there is still discrimination against the disabled in getting a proper job. Sometimes we are being looked at differently," said blind Paralympic champion Yang Bozun. "The Internet, somehow, provides an easy solution." Official statistics show that China currently has 85 million people with some form of disability. Last year, the government issued a five-year blueprint for improving the lives of the disabled, setting a target that the average disabled person could live a moderately wealthy life by 2015.

Job creation is among the key efforts the government has pledged. In 2011, about 31,800 urban jobs were created for the disabled. While the government has been working hard to boost employment rates, the Internet is helping with striking efficiency. China has about 500 million Internet users, making it the world's largest Internet population, and the government expects trade on e-commerce platforms to hit 18 trillion yuan (2.86 trillion U.S. dollars) by 2015, compared to 4.5 trillion yuan in 2010. Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Sunday urged continuous efforts in helping the disabled live happy, dignified lives. Meng Hongwei, a farmer who uses a wheelchair, managed to sell thousands of heads of livestock online from his home village in Shandong Province. Last year, Meng was thrilled to get a business call from Dubai, asking him to send 500 cows and 3,000 sheep to the Persian Gulf. "I need interpreters for my business now," said Meng, the first in his village to buy a computer and wire it to the Internet. "My fellow villagers thought I was crazy then. But without the Internet, I could hardly have as good of a life as I enjoy now." However, disabled people working behind computer screens are not just vendors. Taobao launched a job facilitation program for the disabled last year, offering call center jobs that allow the disabled to handle customer calls at home. There are also people who provide psychological counseling through the Internet and a telephone hotline. "An ordinary person may feel isolated from real life if they spend too much time online," Gu said. "But for us, the Internet opens a door, allowing us to get closer to real life."


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/20/2012

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JAPAN: Mobile Phone Industry Eyes Savings by Recycling

The mobile industry could save $2 billion on material and $160 million on energy every year through recycling. More than a billion mobile phones are made every year but fewer than 1% are recycled, experts say, noting that billions of dollars could be saved if consumers go green. "Sometimes the size of a phone is deceiving for the perception of the impact it does to the environment," said Sprint Nextel vice president of product, Fared Adib. The value of the materials in each device is also often underestimated. A typical mobile phone weighing less than 150 grams contains valuable material such as gold, silver and rare minerals - highly sought after elements critical in high technology manufacturing. "Given today's low collection and recycling rates, nearly all of this material is lost," said the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a research institute. In Europe alone, 160 million discarded phones result in a loss of about $500 million every year, it said in a report. Bertrand Villie, who is in charge of sustainable development at Sony Mobile France, confirmed the trend. "Very few people bring their mobile phones back, unless they are defective. We have tried to stimulate this, but rates of returns are very low," he said.

Analysts argue that there is a strong economic case for recycling and reuse, not to mention an environmental one. If the most reusable components such as the camera, display and battery and charger were stripped out, and used in the production of new devices, the costs of remanufacturing low-cost mobile phones could be slashed by 50%. With a 95% collection rate for reuse and remanufacturing, the industry could save over $2 billion on material and $160 million on energy costs every year in Europe alone. While some phones are indeed at the end of their life cycle and need to be scrapped completely and recycled, many others can be re-used. A movement is now underway to push for greater re-use. Sprint Nextel has formed an alliance with three other firms in the industry to get more people to bring their old phones back for refurbishing, so that others who may not be able to afford brand new phones, can reuse them. "This is an opportunity for a product that is out of reach to some, that costs maybe $400 to $500. We're taking these products and putting them in emerging markets" where technology remains scarce, said Adib. Besides offering a financial incentive to consumers, the group called Device Renewal Forum is establishing a certification standard for refurbished phones that ensures that only properly functioning devices reenter the market. "The highest use of recycling is reuse - to use it until it's functionally obsolete rather than perceptively obsolete," stressed David Edmondson, chief executive of eRecyclingCorps, a founding member of the forum.


From http://www.japantoday.com/ 03/04/2012

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Softbank Gets Green Light for 900MHz Network Plan

The Japanese telco Softbank has received approval for its plan to deploy base stations operating in its newly-licensed 900MHz band. The operator is expected to launch its first services in the new band, which will be used to boost mobile internet coverage and capacity, on 25 July, Japan Today reports. Softbank's 900MHz network deployment plan incorporates the installation of approximately 16,000 base stations in fiscal 2012, which will be expanded to 41,000 by fiscal 2016, providing 99.9% population coverage. Softbank is the third largest of Japan's mobile operators in terms of subscribers, with just over 28 million subscribers at the end of January 2012, while larger rivals NTT DoCoMo and KDDI had 59.7 million and 34.5 million respectively.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 03/08/2012

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Second LTE Mobile Network in Japan Launched by EMobile

Japanese telecoms group eAccess, which offers wireless services through its recently reintegrated eMobile unit, has launched ultra-high speed Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile data services offering unlimited 75Mbps/25Mbps (maximum) download/uploads for JPY3,880 (USD47) per month. The contract price, which applies to a two-year contract, includes a Wi-Fi router capable of connecting up to ten devices. The initial launch is believed to cover the Kanto area and the operator says its 4G/LTE network will be available in most major cities, including Tokyo and Osaka, by June 2012; services will fall back onto eMobile's slower 42Mbps network when out of range of an LTE cell site. eAccess is the second Japanese firm to offer LTE commercially. The nation's leading mobile carrier by subscribers NTT DoCoMo launched its own 4G network, branded Xi (pronounced 'Crossy'), in December 2010 and had signed up 1.139 million subscribers by the start of this year. Meanwhile, another leading rival, Softbank Mobile, has launched its own high speed mobile network, offering maximum download speeds of 76Mbps. Last month the cellco confirmed it had successfully deployed a network based on AXGP technology, an upgrade from the Personal Handyphone System (PHS) which has proven popular in Japan. Softbank Mobile says AXGP is compatible with another 4G technology, TD-LTE, which is expected to be deployed across a number of Asian countries, such as China and India.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 03/16/2012

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Ericsson to Deploy 900MHz HSPA Network for Softbank

The Japanese cellular operator Softbank Mobile has awarded Ericsson a contract to deploy a 900MHz evolved HSPA radio access network. The new network will feature Ericsson's multi-standard RBS 6000 base station, which is capable of supporting W-CDMA and Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies. Deployments will concentrate on the central region of Japan, which includes the cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Under the terms of the contract, Ericsson will also be responsible for a range of professional services such as network design, consulting, systems integration and network deployment. Softbank Mobile is expected to launch its first services in the newly licensed 900MHz band on 25 July, using the frequencies to boost mobile internet coverage and capacity. Its 900MHz network deployment plan incorporates the installation of approximately 16,000 base stations in fiscal 2012, which will be expanded to 41,000 by fiscal 2016, providing 99.9% population coverage.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 03/22/2012

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NTT's Xi 4G Service Hits 2m Subs

NTT DoCoMo has announced that its Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G cellular service Xi (pronounced 'crossy') hit the two million subscriber milestone on 18 March. The service, which offers mobile downloads at up to 75Mbps, launched in December 2010 and reached the one million customer mark exactly a year later. Subscriber numbers have since doubled in less than two months, propelled by the introduction of the first Xi-compatible smartphones in November 2011, DoCoMo says. The operator is expecting to spur further growth this year with the release of additional Xi-compatible smartphones, tablets and data-communication devices, and mobile Wi-Fi routers, as well as new services, such as Xi Talk 24, which offers free, unlimited voice calls between users with Xi-compatible smartphones.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 03/22/2012

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Request for Transfer to NTT Finance of Control, etc. of Work Relating to Telecommunications Service Fees, etc. of NTT East, NTT West, NTT Communications and NTT DoCoMo

On March 23, 2012, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) requested that measures be taken by NTT East, NTT West, NTT Communications, NTT DoCoMo and NTT Finance from the point of view of their continuing to maintain the point of the regulations, etc. for charges imposed on these companies in relation to the transfer to NTT Finance of control, etc. of work relating to the telecommunications service fees, etc. of NTT East, NTT West, NTT Communications and NTT DoCoMo.

1. Background
On February 2, 2012, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East Corporation (hereafter referred to as "NTT East"), Nippon Telegraph and Telephone West Corporation (hereafter referred to as "NTT West"), NTT Communications, Inc. (hereafter referred to as "NTT Communications"), NTT DoCoMo, Inc. (hereafter referred to as "NTT DoCoMo") (furthermore, these four companies are hereafter referred to collectively as "the business firms"), Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation and NTT Finance, Inc. (hereafter referred to as "NTT Finance") announced policy with content including a request for transfer from the business firms to NTT Finance of control, etc. of work relating to the telecommunications service fees, etc. provided by the business firms from July 2012 onwards, collection by NTT Finance of work relating to the business firms' fees, etc., and enablement of compilation of invoices relating to the business firms, etc. based on requests from users, etc.﹛The content of this policy was submitted as a written request with a joint signature from 66 telecommunications business companies and organizations, etc., together with concerns expressed regarding fair competition, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) through Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation confirmed all of the relevant facts, etc.﹛As a result of this confirmation, challenges to the implementation of the policy content are recognized from the point of view of regulations relating to work for adequate, fair and stable provision of telephone services assigned to NTT East and NTT West Japan-wide in accordance with the Act on Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, etc. (Act 85 of 1984; hereafter referred to as "NTT Act"), repeated fair competition measures imposed on the business firms, fee regulations and consumer protection rules imposed on the business firms in accordance with the Telecommunications Business Act (Act 86 of 1984; hereafter referred to as the "Business Act"), and continuing to keep to the point of conduct regulations, etc. imposed on market-dominating telecommunications businesses.﹛Therefore, when the business firms transfer to one party control of work relating to fees, etc. (hereafter referred to as "fee work") for the respective telecommunications services they provide, the business firms have been requested to take measures to that the party receiving this control (hereafter referred to as the "fee work company") and the business firms continue to keep to the point of the above-mentioned regulations, etc.

2. Future initiatives
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) will continue to closely observe the status of implementation of this policy, and will provide necessary guidance and supervision to ensure that the provision of Japan-wide telephone services is adequate, fair and stable, as well as ensuring fair competition, etc. in the telecommunications market.


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 03/23/2012

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High Court OK's Sale of Drugs Online

The Tokyo High Court has ruled illegal a health ministry ordinance regulating online drug sales, abandoning an earlier ruling by the Tokyo District Court and recognizing two plaintiff companies' right to sell drugs on the Internet. One of the plaintiffs is kenko.com Inc., the nation's leading online drug retailer. "As the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law does not have provisions directly prohibiting online sales of drugs, the ordinance, which limits the rights of the general public, is illegal," presiding Judge Kazuo Miwa explained. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is now considering whether to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. The law was revised in 2009 and classifies nonprescription drugs into three groups according to their risks of possible side effects. After the revision, the ministry issued an ordinance to prohibit online sales of Class 1 and 2 drugs, which have relatively high risks of side effects, including some strong stomach medicines, advanced hair growth drugs such as RiUP, and some popular cold medicines including Benza Block and painkillers such as Bufferin. Thursday's ruling said the law does give the ministry authority to decide the sales methods for drugs, but not to the extent that it can ban online drug sales across the board. Thus, it concluded the ordinance lacked a legal foundation.

Deregulation no simple matter
The Tokyo High Court has recognized online retailers' right to sell drugs, but the decision has not been finalized. Retailers therefore cannot start selling all drugs on their websites just yet. Many people must have had the experience of being refused by a shop clerk when trying to buy strong medicine because there did not happen to be a pharmacist on duty in the store at the time. The Pharmaceutical Affairs Law stipulates that Class 1 and 2 drugs should be sold only by pharmacists or other qualified people at pharmacies or similar stores. The health ministry maintained that the law clearly presumes face-to-face drug sales as the norm, although it does not explicitly say so. Of course, pharmacists cannot sell drugs face to face on the Internet. But the ruling concluded that the law does not clearly forbid online drug sales. It is certainly possible to wonder whether all people will find this interpretation of the law convincing. It would surely be convenient for consumers if all nonprescription drugs were to become available on the Internet. However, it is cause for concern that drugs with relatively high risks of side effects could be distributed without consumers being given correct information on their use.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 04/28/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: To Offer Low-Interest Loan to IT Companies

The Korean government is dedicating 2 billion won to the development of small- and medium-sized companies that deal with Information Technology. The National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA) under the Ministry of Knowledge Economy recently unveiled its support plan for IT companies in 2012 which is intended for resolving financial difficulties in small and medium IT companies. According to the plan, the ministry will offer a total of 30.2 billion won in loans to companies planning to develop IT and IT-based conversion technology. Each project can receive a maximum loan of 2 billion won. The ministry has provided over 4 trillion won for the last five years in such areas as technology, human resources, and infrastructure.

Companies can repay a loan in five years at interest rate of 1 to 2.55%. The ministry will give priority to IT companies as well as focus on companies that deal with the development of software, mobile, and cloud technology. Companies located outside of Seoul will get ten bonus points and companies that have a certain amount of women or handicapped employees will get five bonus points when being screened. In addition, the ministry abolished the submission of a progress report for the convenience of participating companies. It has also improved its project management system by switching the assessment of business plans to the technology assessment for guaranteed secured loans using technology. Applicants can start applying on March 22 through the NIPA homepage (http://www.nipa.kr). More information as well as on the application process can be found at the website.


From http://www.korea.net/ 03/02/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Govt. to Launch E-commerce Market to Stabilize Oil Prices

The South Korean government says it will open an e-commerce market for oil spot trading and spur the trade of mixed oil products to stabilize soaring prices of the commodity. The decision was reached during a government meeting hosted by the Finance Ministry on Friday to discuss ways to lower inflation in South Korea. The government plans to open the e-commerce market by the end of this month to improve the distribution structure in the oil industry and support sales of mixed oil products as soon as possible. The opening of the market is expected to stimulate competition among oil refiners, which will provide oil at cheaper prices for private gas stations.


From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 03/23/2012

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KT Confirms That Its LTE Services Are Now Available Nationwide

South Korean mobile network operator KT Corp has reportedly announced that it has achieved nationwide coverage for its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services, according to the Korea Herald. With the cellco now offering LTE in 84 cities it is keen to press the technological benefits of its offerings versus those of its rivals SK Telecom and LG Uplus, which both inaugurated their respective 4G networks ahead of KT. Pyo Hyun-myung, president of KT Corp's mobile business unit, was cited as saying: 'There should be a first-mover advantage in the market. But when it comes to technology, a latecomer will have the upper hand ... We have developed our own technology to offer better service to LTE users, many of them being data-guzzlers. We will regain our market presence soon.' Meanwhile, further coverage expansion is expected, with KT having said it aims to roll out the 4G network in more remote parts of smaller counties within the first half of this year. With regards to voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), Pyo suggested that KT could introduce the much-requested service by October 2012, by which date handset makers are expected to have launched phones specifically created for such use.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 04/24/2012

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Microsoft, LG Paired in Cloud Computing

LG CNS, a Korean firm engaged in software development and information technology outsourcing, plans to partner Microsoft in exploiting the rise in server-based, or cloud computing. The announcement extended a series of agreements between the U.S. software maker and the technology-focused LG Group, although it remains to be seen whether the two technology giants can produce something larger than the sum of their parts.Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, on his first visit to Korea in two years, met with LG CNS CEO Kim Dae-hoon at the InterContinental Seoul COEX where they agreed to jointly develop cloud computing solutions and technologies, LG CNS officials said.

The two companies will also work together on advancing motion-recognition technology they believe will play a bigger part in the everyday computing experience in the foreseeable future. They first signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in 2010 to cooperate in the next-generation areas of cloud computing and enterprise computing solutions. LG CNS is considering joint workshops for engineers of both firms, which could possibly start as early as the second half of this year, a company official said. `'The strengthened cooperation with Microsoft will help us push forward new domestic and foreign projects," said LG CNS President Kim Dae-hoon. `'The combination of (the respective firms') strengths such as the extensive know-how of LG CNS in the information technology industry and Microsoft's global software capacity, will provide new value for consumers."

Earlier in the day, Ballmer, who was the keynote speaker for the Seoul Digital Forum, called user interface and cloud computing as one of the things that Microsoft and the `'whole industry" were excited about. `'In Microsoft, we think about the evolution of the user interface, we want your system to learn about your interest and your intent," he said. `'We want machines to serve you every day in your phones and your PCs." "Just as we get excited to (say) maybe that's the last major breakthrough in this kind of device and user interface, something new comes along."

Ballmer also expressed a passion for motion sensors and related technologies, which Microsoft and LG CNS are planning to cooperate on. "We are excited about what the next four or five years will bring: as speech, as vision, as voice recognition as next generation video display and presence and motion sensors (sic)," he said. The renewal of Microsoft's partnership with LG CNS, which had been seen embracing Google's software products recently, is proof that the American software giant is looking to become more assertive in the growing cloud computing market. Ballmer, who also attended the same forum in 2006, said that there have been many changes since then and cited Tweeter and Facebook as examples of the fast-paced information technology industry.

Microsoft's place has change since then too and multiple domestic corporate officials have speculated that Ballmer is looking to push cloud computing in collaboration with Korean firms who excel in the global market in that area. Ballmer also used the occasion of his speech to promote the company's Windows 8, calling it a "game changer" and said Korean users will be able to have free trials starting early June. He met with Korean education officials during the visit as well, as the domestic government is looking into replacing paper textbooks with digital ones by 2015. MS is one of the many foreign software companies looking into offering the Korean government their products.


From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 05/22/2012

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MALAYSIA: MDeC Eyes RM2 BLN in Investments FOR ICT Service Sector

The Multimedia Development Corp Bhd (MDeC) is confident of attracting RM2 billion in investments for the information and communications technology (ICT) services sector this year. Its chief executive officer, Badlisham Ghazali, said the ICT sector received RM2 billion in investments last year, where RM1 billion was from IBM Malaysia Sdn Bhd. "Following the support of the Minister of Trade and Industry (Mustapa Mohamed), we will continue to target the same amount (of investment) this year. "We are on track for the first quarter of this year," he told reporters here after the ceremony to declare IBM Global Delivery Centre (GDC) Malaysia open for business by Mustapa here yesterday. Also present was general manager for global technology delivery and delivery excellence, IBM Corp, Patt Cronin. Meanwhile, Mustapa said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry was committed to attract investments into the ICT sector this year. "The sector is very important for Malaysia's economy. It is a priority for us to further stimulate the economy growth for the country," he said. Last year, Mustapa said, IT sector contributed 1.5 per cent of gross national income.


From http://www.namnewsnetwork.org/ 03/17/2012

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MALAYSIA: Mobile Technology Enabler Delivers Faster, More Reliable Data Access with Move to SQL Server

Data management features help MACROKIOSK improve database performance and query execution speeds, enabling employees and customers to get more done. MACROKIOSK, a mobile technology enabler for enterprises, today announced its deployment of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2. The Malaysia-based company made the upgrade to improve performance of its relational database system and to position itself for continued business growth through enabling mobile technologies for enterprises. Since opening its doors in 2000, MACROKIOSK has established relationships with global mobile operators and grown its etracker (Global Mobile Messaging Network) connectivity coverage to more than 2 billion mobile subscribers worldwide. With the move to SQL Server 2008 R2, MACROKIOSK will benefit from more effective tools for managing large amounts of data and providing customers with the most optimal services.

MACROKIOSK currently serves more than 2,000 clients in more than 37 countries and in 18 industries, including aviation, automotive, medical, hospitality, entertainment, banking and finance, telecommunications, and transportation and logistics. Through etracker, MACROKIOSK offers premium and bidirectional bulk messaging services that serve as the platform for end-user experiences, such as mobile banking transaction alerts, mobile airline flight booking and many other comprehensive mobile services. "MACROKIOSK is a multicountry mobile technology enabler, and we constantly look for new opportunities for growth - whether through greater internal efficiency or expanded services for our customers," said Joanna Hew, chief technology officer at MACROKIOSK. "We've been very pleased to see the breadth of features and tools in SQL Server 2008 R2, which have enabled our customers to get more done and positioned us to be more responsive to changes in the market."

Employees and Customers Reap the Benefits
MACROKIOSK worked with Microsoft Premier Support to devise a migration plan and identify any known issues. Consequently, MACROKIOSK was able to complete the migration from SQL Server 2005 in just four hours. Since that time, MACROKIOSK has seen an increase in productivity and operational efficiency:
﹞ Improved performance and availability. The Table Partitioning feature in SQL Server 2008R2 has enabled MACROKIOSK to split each database table across multiple physical devices, increasing query execution speeds by up to 100 percent. And with a combination of Data Mirroring and a failover configuration, MACROKIOSK improved the availability of its databases.
﹞ Reduced hardware requirements. SQL Server 2008R2 performed fast backups, while producing compressed backup files that were smaller. MACROKIOSK currently manages about 3.8 terabytes of data and has up to 200 users querying this data simultaneously. The size of uncompressed in-production data remains the same, but the company has seen a 50 percent reduction in the size of compressed backup database files.
﹞ Easier administration. The combination of an improved user interface, enhanced management tools and simpler maintenance procedures help database administrators increase productivity and efficiency. For example, IntelliSense is an auto-suggest/auto-complete feature that assists administrators when entering commands. And Data Collector identifies tables that are sluggish and offers configuration recommendations to improve their performance.

The enhanced database management features in SQL Server 2008 R2 have also improved the user experience for MACROKIOSK customers, many of whom must download data from the company's servers to create a report. Features such as Table Partitioning have led to a noticeable reduction in how long it takes for customers to generate these reports. More information about MACROKIOSK's use of SQL Server 2008 R2 is available in the case study and the Microsoft Customer News Center. Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.


From http://www.microsoft.com/ 04/22/2012

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PHILIPPINES: Mobile Internet on the Rise

MANILA, Philippines - Riding on smartphone offers bundled with mobile data, mobile Internet usage in the Philippines is growing. Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart)'s first quarter mobile Internet revenues rose 71%, driven by a "solid portfolio of postpaid data plans bundled with best-in-class smart phones," according to Chief Wireless Advisor Orlando B. Vea. Smart launched in the first quarter its limited-edition Data Plan 1000, which bundled free calls, SMS, and mobile Internet, with a choice of smartphones from all the top manufacturers, at discounted and amortized prices. The local trend follows the growth of the worldwide smartphone market, which grew 42.5% year on year in the first quarter of 2012, reported the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker last week. The report also cited manufacturers such as Samsung, Apple, Nokia, Research in Motion, and HTC shipping an estimated 144.9 million smartphones just within the period. Banking on the popularity of smartphones, Smart is stepping up efforts to promote smartphone adoption and usage. The telco leader is set to offer the anticipated, third-generation Galaxy S, the Samsung Galaxy S III. Samsung, which moved 42.2 million smartphones and made a new record for the most number of smartphones shipped in a single quarter according to the IDC report, pumped the BillGalaxy S III's hardware with intuitive technology. "As smartphones become more pervasive and easier to use, more Filipinos will use it to access the Internet," Vea projected. But the only way to truly maximize the features of all these great smartphones is to use them on a strong and reliable network. So far, Smart has the widest HSPA+ network in the country, ensuring coverage in most places, and is the only telco in the Philippines with a dual band 4G HSPA+ network - which gives mobile devices better signal reception, faster connection speeds, and better battery life.


From http://mb.com.ph/ 05/13/2012

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Globe Bats for Ethernet Adoption

MANILA, Philippines - Globe Telecom, via its corporate arm Globe Business, intends to ride on the growth of Ethernet service, projected to be an over $40-billion business by 2015. Already, telecom industry players are adopting Ethernet services, products, solutions and equipment to meet the demand for backhaul and content rich applications, which in turn is fuelled by rising smartphone and tablet adoption rates. "Globe has been offering Ethernet services in the country for more than a decade now," according to Grace Jarin-Castillo, Head of Enterprise Segments at Globe Business. "Ethernet helps service providers with better usage of infrastructure and bandwidth utilization to meet the demands." In a recent Ethernet Forum for enterprise customers, Globe Business educated clients on the true benefits of Carrier Ethernet services.

Enterprises operating in multiple locations around the world require interconnection among their service providers as they expect the same service function and performance in all their branches. Carrier Ethernet is currently the leading technology for real-time services including VoIP, disaster recovery, video conferencing and other enterprise applications. The increasing usage of various applications such as core banking, broadcasting, PoS/ ATM applications and content is playing a key role in the Ethernet market growth. Bandwidth intensive applications like IT/ITeS are also generating traction in Ethernet carrier services. To establish a solid foundation for its Carrier Ethernet services, Globe passed numerous compliance tests and achieved certifications from the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF), the defining body for Carrier Ethernet. Backed by MEF 9 and MEF 14 certifications, the company's customers are guaranteed that the Carrier Ethernet services offered by Globe meet globally-accepted international standards. In addition, Globe was the first local telco to have MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professionals (MEF-CECPs), with Globe technical personnel successfully passing the rigorous exams on professional knowledge of Carrier Ethernet technologies, standards, services and applications since July 2011.


From http://mb.com.ph/ 05/23/2012

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SINGAPORE: IDA to Auction 4G Spectrum from Next Year

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) on Tuesday issued a public consultation on the allocation of spectrum rights for 4G services and intends to conduct a 4G auction in 2013. The auction will be held in advance of the 2015 expiry of current spectrum rights held by M1, PacketOne Singapore, QMax Comms, SingTel Mobile Singapore and StarHub Mobile. With the exponential growth in demand for mobile data and proliferation of innovative mobile services, IDA says it is possible that a new player may wish to enter the market. This will benefit consumers through price and non-price competition. Three spectrums will be put up for allocation. They are the 1800 MHz band that currently supports 2G services, which is expiring in 2017; and the 2.3 and 2.5 GHz wireless broadband services which have their rights expiring in 2015. Of the 320 MHz of bandwidth put up for allocation, IDA is prepared to set aside 40 MHz for new market entrants, while existing providers can bid for the balance 280 MHz.

New entrants can also participate in the main auction. To prevent hoarding of spectrum bands by any one player, IDA has introduced a cap of 90MHz per provider. New conditions are also attached to the allocation, stipulating that 4G systems should be made available nationwide one year after allocation. Deputy chief executive and director-general of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore Leong Keng Thai said, "With the new allocation, we expect the growth and pervasiveness to increase very rapidly. "As the service becomes more popular, more pervasive, the volume and economies of scale will drive prices down." Despite the saturated telco market, analysts agree there is still room for more competition.

Senior research manager at OCBC Research Carey Wong said, "Looking at the previous auction, only the incumbents made a bid. "But again, this would also depend on the new type of applications we would get with the new 4G and where the market trend is taking us." "I wouldn't say they're wrong in setting aside 40 MHz for potentially new technology or new services that could come along," he added. Analysts believe the roll-out could come a lot sooner. Sachin Gupta, regional head of telecommunication research for Asia excluding Japan at Nomura, said, "If IDA is potentially talking about four years away, what they're actually referring to is releasing more spectrum on different frequencies. "But the Singapore carriers, from what we understand, can actually reuse a lot of the existing spectrum that they have to deploy 4G services and that's what the carriers are currently doing." "Given the bandwidth constraints we have on 3G and the pent up demand for data services we have, I think (it is) very likely the carriers will accelerate the 4G rollout on the existing frequencies," Gupta added.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 04/10/2012

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IDA Urges S'pore Businesses to Take Up Cloud Computing

SINGAPORE: The government is taking the lead when it comes to the adoption of cloud computing. The Infocomm Development Authority Singapore (IDA) said it has awarded a key tender to allow Singapore's first private computing cloud infrastructure for all government bodies to be rolled out by the end of this year. With cloud computing, data and IT services can be retrieved via Internet applications and available on demand. To provide cloud computing resources across the government, the IDA has awarded its first Government Cloud - the G-Cloud - tender to SingTel for five years, with an option to extend for another five years. Besides being efficient and scalable, the G-Cloud will allow government agencies to deliver services securely and quickly on demand. It will also bring about cost savings through the standardisation and sharing of computing resources and applications. According to a study commissioned by IDA, Singapore is ranked third after Australia and Japan, in terms of cloud adoption in the Asia Pacific region.

IDA said it will continue to roll out various initiatives to encourage companies to adopt cloud computing. Besides launching its fifth call for Cloud Computing Proposals, IDA said they are also working to address cloud security concerns. Khoong Hock Yun, assistant chief executive officer (Infrastructure & Services Development Group) at IDA Singapore, said: "We have worked with the IT standards committee to put in place various guidelines on use of cloud computing for end users as well as service providers. We are also at the same time working on a standard which hopefully can be an auditable standard so that when end users look at a company or service with a requisite compliance to standard, they will feel a trust." While companies may face challenges in the adoption of the cloud computing, analysts said it is a trend that is set to stay. Andrew Milroy, vice president of ICT Practice at Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, said: "Cloud computing allows an organization to manage peaks and troughs more easily than a company that doesn't use cloud computing. Companies have to look at some of the real issues that they will face, which is centered around integrating around what they have, with what they expect to put into the cloud and how they can make cloud resources work seamlessly with resources that they have on premise." To help companies make the transition to more productive business models, IDA will be conducting various courses from June.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 05/15/2012

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VIET NAM: Telecom Providers Diversify Services

Military-run telecom Viettel will provide its users with 1.3 million new mobile phone numbers starting with 096. Accordingly, the company has become the only provider owning multi-number networks in the local telecom market. Meanwhile, Saigon Postel (STP) has been allowed to shift from CDMA to 3G technology. STP was required by the Ministry of Information and Communication to ensure the rights and interests of subscribers and implement measures to make sure their telecom network works well. In its own move, MobiFone will offer a newspaper-reading service via MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) to its mobile subscribers. Such a service will cover general news, sports, entertainment and economic news. To use this service, subscribers will need internet connections, support and the ability to receive MMS messages.


From http://en.vietnamplus.vn/ 04/14/2012

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Southeast Asia: Android-Loving Region

MANILA, Philippines - My favorite market research firm IDC's latest report shows that Samsung has become the world's largest smartphone vendor in the first quarter of 2012. Data from IDC show that vendors shipped 144.9 million smartphones during the period, 42.5 percent higher from the same period in 2011 (101.7 million units). Samsung sold 42.2 million smartphones, while Apple sold 35.1 million units of the iPhone. While competition between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the period, the Korean vendor's Galaxy line of smartphones helped it beat the Cupertino company, according to IDC. The quarter was not as exciting for the other vendors. Nokia, for example, sold 11.9 million units, which would have not been a bad number if it had not seen its market share drop by 50.8 percent. Research In Motion, meanwhile, saw unit sales decline 29.7 percent. HTC sold 6.9 million smartphones, enough to bring it to fifth place. In 2011, it sold 9 million units.

Android Rules Southeast Asia
Market research firm GfK recently reported that some $2.4 billion worth of smartphones were sold during this year's first quarter in Southeast Asia. Half of those smartphones come powered by Android, GfK data show, showing how well Google's mobile OS is doing in the region accounting for a tenth of the world's population. Of the markets covered by the report, the Philippines posted the highest growth in smartphone adoption. Indonesia has the largest smartphone market in the region.

Angry, Not Mad
Rovio's flinging-bird game continues to bring tons of success to the app developer's way. Currently on top of Apple's App Store's list of bestsellers, the Angry Birds Space has been downloaded 50 million times in 35 days of availability. This makes the game the fastest expanding mobile game ever, breaking all of the sales records set previously by earlier versions of the Angry Birds game. The latest version of the game, while retaining the basic concept of irate birds being slingshot unto egg-thieving swine, adds a rather exciting twist of being set on space and the effect of gravitational pull on trajectories.

LG Ends Windows Run
The other Korean mobile phone vendor, LG Electronics, decided it wants to focus on making Android smartphones for now. The company recently announced its move to stop manufacturing phones powered by Windows Phone. First reported by the Korean Herald newspaper, LG's decision is just the latest in the series of not-so-good news for Microsoft's smartphone business. LG's crop of Windows Phone 7 smartphones includes the Optimus 7. Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney believes that LG may have decided to wait for Windows Phone 8's coming later in 2012, before it resumes making Windows Phone smartphones. That's all for the meantime, folks. Join me again next time as we keep on watching IT.


From http://mb.com.ph/ 05/07/2012

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INDIA: Budget 2012 - IT Companies Fear Tax Burden from Software Royalty Law

Major international companies like Microsoft, GE, Samsung, HP and Sonata Software fear facing fresh tax burden after the government clarified tax provisions relating to the use of packaged software. In high courts as well as the Supreme Court, multiple lawsuits are pending challenging authorities who have sought to tax income from the sale of software as royalty. This has been a point of contention raised by foreign software product companies such as Microsoft that sell its software products in India. While some courts have turned down such tax demands, others have accepted them. The amendment seeks to settle the confusion by deciding in favour of the tax authorities by changing the explanation of the term royalty to specifically include computer software. The change has been made applicable from 1976. There is substantial litigation on the subject with most courts holding that such income is business profit not taxable unless there is a permanent establishment in India. At least 15 firms that are facing tax claims related to sale of software could be impacted. Industry body Nasscom called the amendment "retrograde," but said the fine-print needs to be studied in detail before its implications can be understood. There are also those within the tax community who think the changes may not have significant impact because the provisions are related to non-resident firms and the amendments are "subservient" to tax treaties that the home country of non-resident firms have with the Indian government.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 03/17/2012

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Ahmedabad, Pune, in IBM's List of Smarter Cities Programme

33 cities worldwide have been selected by IBM to receive IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants during 2012. Ahmedabad and Pune are the two Indian cities in the list. Launched in 2011, this three-year, 100-city $50 million programme - IBM's single-largest philanthropic initiative - funds in-person engagements staffed by teams of top IBM experts, who study and then make detailed recommendations addressing locally important urban issues. According to IBM, the goal of the grant programme is to improve urban life in the selected cities. IBM's consultants and technology specialists will help municipalities analyse and prioritise their needs, review strengths and weaknesses, and learn from the successful strategies used by other cities worldwide. After studying the role that intelligent technology might play in uniting and advancing different aspects of city life, IBM then outlines a range of concrete strategies designed to help make cities healthier, safer, smarter, more prosperous, and attractive for its inhabitants.

Following are the cities that earned IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants in 2012:
Accra, Ghana
Ahmedabad, India
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Birmingham, UK
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Cheongju, Korea
Chonburi, Thailand
Curitiba, Brazil
Da Nang, Vietnam
Dortmund, Germany
Durham, North Carolina, USA
Eindhoven, Netherlands
Geraldton, Australia
Houston, Texas, USA
Ishinomaki, Japan
Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Jurong Lake District, Singapore
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Malaga, Spain
Medellin, Colombia
New Taipei City, Taiwan
Nanjing, China
Nairobi, Kenya
Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Pune, India
Rabat, Morocco
Rosario, Argentina
Siracusa, Italy
Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Tshwane, South Africa
Toluca, Mexico
 
IBM selected cities that made the strongest case for participating in the Smarter Cities Challenge. During these city engagements, IBM technical experts, researchers and consultants immerse themselves in local issues and offer a range of options and recommended next-steps. Among the issues they examine are healthcare, education, safety, social services, transportation, sustainability, budget management and energy. Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and President of IBM's International Foundation, said, "The cities that have been selected are all different, but they had one clear similarity: the strong personal commitment by the city's leadership to put in place the changes needed to help the city make smarter decisions. These cities demonstrated a desire to set an example for other municipalities, an eagerness to collaborate with multiple stakeholders, and a strong commitment to consider implementing recommendations the city felt would be the most feasible and beneficial to their residents."


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 03/18/2012

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A2Z Group & Dataserv Will Develop Venture for IT Waste Recycling

Weensure, a venture for disposal of IT waste in India is being set up by A2Z Group, which has with interests in clean technology, energy and infrastructure management, and Dataserv Group, an organization specializing in recycling of e-Waste. A2Z Group has also unveiled its plans of setting up a state-of-the-art plant and facility at Sohna in Gurgaon, with an initial investment of Rs. 20 crores. The plant is equipped to handle e-waste up to 10,000 tons per annum. "With the growth in the IT sector in India, responsible and secure disposal of IT assets has been a cause for concern for a long time. Currently, only 5 percent of the e-waste generated in India is recycled, and this is way below the global standards," said Amit Sardana, Managing Director, A2Z Dataserv Limited, said, Globally, the e-waste volume is growing rapidly, up to 2-3 times faster than any other waste stream. The global usage of consumer electronics is increasing at the rate of more than 6 percent annually. The worldwide market for e-waste materials is expected to increase to nearly $116 billion in 2014 at a 5 year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9 percent.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 03/22/2012

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Indians Using Internet Prefer E-banking to Online Shopping

New Delhi: A majority of Indians prefer to use the internet for banking and other financial services than shopping online, shows a new survey. Almost 57 percent of Indian respondents using the internet prefer to bank online and use other financial services due to hassle- free easy access and time saving feature of online banking, according to the survey conducted by research firm Ipsos. Checking information on products and services online comes a close second at 53 percent while 50 percent shop for products online. Around 42 percent of respondents in India surfed online to look for jobs in the last three months, the survey said. "Online banking has made things much easier for the people and it saves a lot of time. It has eliminated the hassle of the traditional way of banking where one had to stand in the queue and fill up several forms," Ipsos India Head (Marketing Communication) Biswarup Banerjee said. Most of the banks in India have introduced customer- friendly online banking facility with advanced security features to protect customers against cybercrime. "The easy registration process for net banking has improved customers' access to several banking products, increased customer loyalty, facilitated money transfer to any banks across India and has helped banks to attract new customers," he added. The Indian results closely track the global trends as well. Conducted among 19,216 people from 24 countries, the survey showed banking and keeping track of finances, shopping and searching for jobs are the main tasks of internet users around the globe.

Overall, 60 percent of people surveyed used the web to check their bank account and other financial assets in the past 90 days, making it the most popular use of the internet, Ipsos said. Globally, shopping was not too far behind at 48 percent, the survey showed, and 41 percent went online in search of a job. In terms of country preferences, almost 90 percent of respondents in Sweden use e-banking. Online banking has also caught on in a big way in nations like France, Canada, Australia, Poland, South Africa and Belgium, the survey showed. The Germans and British come on top for using online shopping with 74 percent of respondents in both countries having bought something online in the past three months. They are followed by 68 percent of respondents in Sweden, 65 percent in US and 62 percent in South Korea.


From http://www.i-policy.org/ 04/09/2012

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Bihar Introduces e-Z Pay Card to Benefit Backward Class Students

In a bid to give scholarships to students belonging to Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Extremely Backward Class (EBC) and backward classes, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has come up with an innovative e -Z-Pay card scheme. The first phase of the scheme promises 2.50 lakh students an ATM card for which the government has made agreement with the State Bank of India. According to the policy, the monthly scholarship will be deposited in the account of each beneficiary and the students will be able to draw money from ATMs by using their cards. The card can be accessed from any of the 23,000 SBI ATMs available in the state. This will save students from unnecessary harassment and will prevent the need of running from one place to another. The policy right now is a post-matric scheme which will later be made available to school students also. The purpose of the providing the scholarship is to motivate students to continue with their higher education and prevent them from dropping out due of college to financial troubles. According to the Scheduled Caste, ST, EBC and Backward Classes Welfare Department, 2.50 lakh beneficiaries have already been given the e Z-Pay cards in the first phase. The students were getting monthly stipend between Rs 300 and 700 depending on their class and stream; likewise students of Class XI and XII were getting Rs 300 while students of technical education get Rs 700 per month.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/22/2012

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RIL Incorporates Phillips 66 Technology in Jamnagar Plants

Reliance Industries has chosen Houston-based Phillips 66∩s technology for its planned gasification at Jamnagar plants. Reliance's Jamnagar site is the largest refining complex in the world which has an aggregate refining capacity of 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. The planned gasification plants at Jamnagar will be among the largest in the world and will process petroleum coke and coal into synthesis gas utilising (Phillips 66∩s) E-Gas Technology, according to the company. The gasification project will kick start RIL's $12 billion investment in refining and petrochemical business and will boost the gross refining margin of refineries by $3 per barrel. The project will start production in 3 to 4 years with a similar pay back period. Phillips 66 will license its E-Gas Technology to RIL and provide process engineering design and technical support relating to the gasification technology process area. The E-Gas technology has been utilised in commercial applications since 1987. It incorporates a unique gasification system design that can be applied with gas and steam turbine combined-cycle power generation to produce electric power, as well as synthesis gas applications for the production of hydrogen, chemicals or substitute natural gas in highly flexible combinations. It is among the cleanest and most efficient commercial technologies for coal or petroleum coke-based electric power generation. It offers high system efficiencies, minimised water consumption and very low emissions.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/23/2012

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Cabinet's Nod to National Portability Will Put an End to Mobile Roaming Charges

The government is ready to make roaming free and thus usher in a country-wide number portability scheme along with faster broadband speed proposed in the New Telecom Policy. The Union will be taking up the issue on New Telecom Policy, which will replace a 13-year-old statement, along with a unified licence regime for all telecom services. The unified and class licences proposed by the telecom regulator along with migration of existing ones is different from what the government had planned to do in 2003. With the Communications Convergence Bill having lapsed, the government has now decided to keep broadcast services out of the ambit of the proposed unified licence regime. It may, however, come into conflict with the New Telecom Policy's proposal for a one nation-one licence plan. But the industry, which is seeking a lower spectrum fee, is watching the New Telecom Policy keenly as it has suggested a simpler licensing regime along with new tools such as spectrum polling and sharing and even permitting trading at a later stage. For customers, the new policy will mean that they do not have to shell out a higher amount on roaming charges, although tariffs have come down significantly over the last few years. In addition, it would soon be possible for subscribers to retain their mobile numbers even if they relocate to another city. The biggest change will be a sharp increase in broadband connectivity as the government plans to set the minimum speed at 2 mbps compared to the existing 256 kbps. The plan is to move into higher gear from 2015. There may be some bad news in store for foreign telecom equipment manufacturers as the government intends to provide preference to domestically manufactured goods. While the prescription may help develop local manufacturing facilities, the move comes at a time when India is under pressure from the US on local content requirements in renewable energy projects.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/24/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Trading Standards' E-Database Expands

The State Committee on Standardisation, Metrology and Patents of Azerbaijan continues to work on the formation of an electronic database which includes standards, certification regulations and other normally used documents, chairman of the Committee Ramiz Hasanov said in an interview published on Wednesday. He added the Committee approved 77 standards in 2011. "In 2011, for the purpose of adopting state registration, the Committee worked out and adopted 26 food industry standards, 15- in the petrochemical, five in the field of electrical engineering, two in the transport sector, nine on ecology, five for construction and 15 for other uses," Mr Hasanov said. As many as 217 new types of measuring devices were approved last year. "They were all included in the State Register of measuring instruments," said Mr Hasanov. He said in 2011 the Committee issued certificates for 1250 trademarks, patents for 111 inventions, 43 industrial designs and nine useful models.


From http://en.trend.az/ 02/29/2012

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Azerbaijan Creates Base to Expand IT Bodies' Business

The establishment of the State Information Technology Development Fund will create a favorable atmosphere to expand innovative bodies' activity, Director of the Institute of Information Technologies Rasim Aliguliyev told Trend today. The order on the establishment of the State Information Technology Development Fund under the Azerbaijani Communications and IT Ministry has been recently signed by the president. Aliguliyev said that the establishment of the fund once again proves that the state pays special attention to the development of the ICT sector. The fund's resources will be available to different bodies that contribute to productive use and development of the country's financial component of the ICT sector. "The fund will support innovative projects and create a favorable atmosphere to attract foreign capital," he said. "IT sector is rapidly changing. The process requires financial support. The matter rests in technologies and legal regulation of the issue. The staff is also important. There are certain gaps in this sphere."


From http://en.trend.az/ 03/16/2012

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Azerbaijan Reduces Import of Mobile Phones

The volume of mobile phone import to Azerbaijan in the first quarter totaled 30,020 units worth $1.517.7 million, the State Statistics Committee told Trend. According to the committee, the number of mobile phones imported into the country decreased by 2.75 percent (30,848 units were imported last year) compared to January-March 2011, while in value terms, this figure reduced by 25.3 percent. More than 11,000-12,000 mobile phones are imported into the country monthly. Monthly volume of the mobile phone market in value terms is $500,000-700,000. The official exchange rate is 0.7859 AZN/USD on May 13.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/13/2012

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Azerbaijani Mobile Operator Announces Investment Plans for 2012

Bakcell (the first mobile operator in Azerbaijan) company's volume of investments in the Azerbaijani network development will hit 70 million manat by late 2012, the company's technical director Yigit Berktas told media on Thursday. "About five million manat has been transferred to the technical equipment fitted into Baku Crystal Hall, JW Marriott Absheron Baku Hotel, Flame Towers and Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel and others," he said. He said that two million manat alone was transferred to the technical equipment of Baku Crystal Hall. "At present, more than 30,000 subscribers can use services rendered by Bakcell in Baku Crystal Hall," he added. The total number of Bakcell subscribers is 2.6 million people, of which 1.7 million are active subscribers. The number of base stations in the network hits 2600 units, of which 800 stations support 3G network.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/17/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: KT Taps EBRD for USD200m Broadband, LTE Loan

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has confirmed that it is considering providing a long-term loan of up to USD200 million to Kazakhstan's incumbent telecoms operator Kazakhtelecom (KT), in order to support the company's ongoing investment in the expansion of its fixed broadband network, capacity and coverage in regional centres of Kazakhstan. Although the loan was approved in late March, it is still subject to final approval. The bank is required to verify any potential environmental and social impact relating to the transaction, although it does not forsee any issues. Curiously, the EBRD has also indicated that the funding will be used by KT to support its planned rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology; KT currently has a presence in the wireless sector through CDMA operator Altel, after taking steps to significantly reduce its presence in the mobile sector in recent years. KT has also held stakes in market leader GSM Kazakhstan (K'cell, 49%) and NeoTelecom (now Tele2 Kazakhstan, 51%), only to divest its shareholdings to Scandinavian firms TeliaSonera and Tele2 respectively.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 04/03/2012

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TURKMENISTAN: MTS Returns to Turkmenistan

OJSC AFK sistema (Russian Federation) is interested in expanding its presence in the promising Turkmen market through the establishment of multi-disciplinary partnerships. As correspondent BakuToday, said at a meeting with the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Russian Director Vladimir Evtushenkov Corporation. After meeting with Turkmen President, in an interview with local television station Vladimir Yevtushenkov, stated that the Russian company MTS resumes in Turkmenistan. "I am pleased that today the parties reached an agreement on the resumption of the work of MTS in Turkmenistan",-said the head of the main shareholder of the cellular operator Systema Vladimir Yevtushenkov. As the press-service of the head of the Turkmen State, during the meeting, had a constructive exchange of views on the prospects for strengthening bilateral contacts with the public policy priorities and capacities of OJSC AFK "Systema". "In this context, a Russian businessman, stating the intention to give Turkmenistan its experience and advanced development, announced a number of specific proposals relating to the further enhancement of cooperation, in particular in the sphere of communications and telecommunications," Berdimuhamedov press service.

As already reported BakuToday, Ministry of communications of Turkmenistan in December 21, 2010, suspended the license of the company "MTS Turkmenistan"-100% daughter of the Russian OJSC "Mobile TeleSystems" (MTS). MTS subscriber base in Turkmenistan at that time at 2 million. 419th. man. Ashgabat is also terminated the leases of sites for deployment of base stations and antenna pole buildings, hire digital ports and flows from January 1, 2011 year and refused to renew the contract on the use of radio frequencies. Turkmen authorities have demanded the dismantling of equipment before the end of the 2010 year. Since then, the country has remained the only cellular communication operator-national company "Altyn Asyr", which has been criticized by the head of Turkmenistan. According to local sources, left without mobile communication MTS stayed in queues for the SIM card of the national operator, the quality of the services which left much to be desired. Later, the President of Turkmenistan has proposed the creation of "at least three independent companies of mobile communication services".


From http://www.bakutoday.net/ 05/03/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Engages Citizens in US$27 Million Great Barrier Reef Project

The Australian and Queensland governments have joined forces to create a deeper knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef under a US$27 million (AUD$25 million) citizen engagement program. This program brings together government and industry partners under a project called eReefs. The eReefs project combines customised e-portals, mobile communications, as well as modelling and forecasting technologies to engage citizens and other stakeholders to protect and manage the reef. Among eReefs apps, "citizen scientists" can monitor marine and coral life. They can also track what is happening today and likely to happen in future, while learning about and reporting on fish, coral and other species they may see. The eReef project spans the entire Great Barrier Reef - from catchment to ocean. It will help streamline decision-making, communications and reporting through an integrated use of e-portals, mobile communications, pictures, maps, and other modelling data.

"It is not currently possible to visualise, model, understand and communicate the whole-of-the-reef system due to its vast scale and complexity," says Dr John Schubert, Chair of the eReefs Project Board. "eReefs will be world-leading, applicable in Australia and for coral reefs and coastal environments globally." The eReefs project harnesses Australian innovation, together with governments' commitment to reef protection, as well as world-class science, and investment from high-profile Australian businesses. Russell Reichelt, Chairman, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, says the project provides marine managers with expanded, improved, and finer-scale information on how land-based activities affect the marine environment. The Great Barrier Reef lies off the coast of Queensland. This heritage-listed area features the world's largest coral reef - with a unique array of marine and coral life. More than 3000 individual reef systems, coral cays, and pristine tropical islands and beaches make up this fragile eco-system. Australia's peak operational and research agencies are involved in the eReefs initiative. These agencies include the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Science and Industry Endowment Fund, and Reef Managers (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority).


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/01/2012

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Australia Settles US$235 Million Wi-Fi Patent Claim

In a landmark settlement, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has resolved a US$235 million (AUD$229 million) patent claim with wireless device and chip-makers. This latest settlement involves a group of nine commercial companies that make a variety of wireless devices and chips. CSIRO is the original creator of "home-grown" Wi-Fi technology that is being utilised worldwide by companies including laptop makers, telco carriers, and wireless chip makers. This Wi-Fi technology connects users to the internet remotely from laptops, printers, game consoles and smart phones. This platform currently supports an estimated 3 billion wireless devices worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 5 billion devices by year's end. The latest settlement means CSIRO will have license agreements with 23 companies. In 2009, CSIRO settled a similar patent claim with another group of companies. Combined, these companies represent around 90 per cent of the industry. CSIRO expects to earn revenue of more than US$442 million (AUD$430 million) under both settlements.

CSIRO's Wi-Fi technology was invented by five award-winning scientists in the early 1990s. Australian Minister for Science and Research, Chris Evans, said in an earlier statement: "The licensing of CSIRO's wireless LAN (WLAN) invention is an outstanding result for CSIRO and is a recognition of the important contribution this invention has had on modern communication." For years, CSIRO has sought to resolve its patent settlements with commercial suppliers, while gaining recognition for its work, and receiving lucrative per-device royalties. Called the "Swiss army knife of 21st century communications," this Wi-Fi technology was invented by a team of CSIRO scientists - Dr John O'Sullivan, Dr Terry Percival, Mr Diet Ostry, Mr Graham Daniels and Mr John Deane. The lead inventor of the WLAN platform, Dr John O'Sullivan, was awarded the 2009 Prime Minister's Award for Science. All five inventors have been recognised for their contributions, and won prestigious awards. CSIRO is Australia's leading patent filing enterprise. It holds more than 3,000 granted or pending patents or other forms of intellectual property, including trademarks and designs. CSIRO-generated intellectual property and expertise has resulted in more than 150 spin-off companies.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/06/2012

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Queensland Rail Spends US$34 Million on Data Centre Consolidation

One of Australia's largest rail network operator, Queensland Rail, is consolidating its data centres under a US$34 million (AUD$33 million) infrastructure management initiative. Queensland Rail, which split from the privatised freight arm QR National last year, is streamlining data centre management, network and end-user computing services. The latest data centre consolidation involves moving Queensland Rail's ICT infrastructure from three data centres, currently shared with QR National, into new facilities in Brisbane by June 30 this year. Queensland Rail provides infrastructure and train services over the entire government-owned rail network in Queensland. By mid this year, Tier 1 data centres located in Brisbane will support state-of-the-art infrastructure and security with proximity to Queensland Rail's fibre network. Queensland Rail's move to outsourcing offers the department flexibility to handle peaks and growth in demand, together with optimal disaster recovery practices. In other developments, Queensland Rail is offering customer information touch-screen kiosks under a pilot project. These free-standing kiosks, installed at South Brisbane, Roma Street and Central stations, provide easy-to-access general information.

Queensland Rail's Central station records 65,716 peak hour customer movements a day with Roma Street recording 26,948 and South Brisbane 3,593. Queensland Rail Chief Customer Officer Cathy Heffernan says the self-serve kiosks are another way to provide innovative and flexible information to customers. "These touch-screen kiosks enable customers to get instant information without the need to speak to station staff or read timetables." Among its apps, customers will be able to see timetables, public transport maps and have their journey planned out for them using all forms of public transport. These touch-screen kiosks also display local attractions, and come equipped with a wayfinder program that helps customers locate and navigate to key amenities around the station using interactive maps. Cathy Heffernan says: "Interactive technology has become integral in our lives with people seeking fast and easy services. For the technology novice, the kiosks are very easy to use." During the pilot program, Queensland Rail is seeking customer feedback on the interactive touch-screen kiosks via Queensland Rail's website, Twitter, and Facebook.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/16/2012

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Budget 2012: E-Health Gets $233M Boost

The government's national e-health program is set to get a $233.7 million dollar boost in this year's Budget ahead of the 1 July launch of the service. In 2010, $466.7 million of funding was allocated for a period of two years to launch a personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system for all Australians. Funding for the program was scheduled to run out this year; however, the program has been given a $233.7 million boost in the 2012-13 Federal Budget. According to the government, Australians will be able to register for a record online, by phone or at Medicare outlets. Of the allocated money, $161.6 million will be devoted to operating the PCEHR system up until the end of 2013-14, while $4.6 million will be used to maintain safeguards for the privacy of the records. The remaining $67.4 million will make up the Commonwealth's share of funding for the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) to "operate and maintain critical services and standards for the secure electronic exchange of health information" over the same time period. The rest of NEHTA's funding will come from the states. Victoria has already indicated that it will provide $16 million to this fund over the next two years.

Despite the level of funding given to the program, the government is expected to save $23.8 million from e-health in this Budget. $183.9 million in funding for telehealth has been redirected into a previously announced National Broadband Network (NBN) telehealth trial, and the National Health Information Network's funding has also been redirected, saving the government $73.6 million. Part of the savings from telehealth funding will come from the government introducing "minimum distance requirements" for telehealth consultations that medical practitioners can claim back from the government. "These rules will focus services toward those patients without close access to specialists, and ensure more effective usage and distribution of these services," the Budget states. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has picked up $3 million in funding over the next three years to support the Medicare aspects of the e-health record launch. In the 2012-13 financial year, the government is expecting approximately 500,000 Australians to take up the PCEHR service, with 1.5 million in the following year, 2.2 million in the year after and 2.6 million in three years. The government hopes that the telehealth services trial over the NBN will reach 200 services in the first year, and 400 in the second year.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said that the funding in the Budget provides certainty for the e-health record project as it moves from development to operation. "The roll-out of the national e-health system will be gradual and carefully managed - this is the sensible and prudent way to implement such a large and transformational infrastructure project," she said in a statement. The minister said it has been estimated that net benefits of the PCEHR program will reach $11.5 billion by 2025.


From ZDNet.com.au 05/08/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Networks to Collaborate on Mobile Payments Standard

­New Zealand's three mobile networks, and the Bank-owned eftpos operator Paymark have announced plans to jointly work together on a single mobile payments standard for the country. he four companies intend to form a joint venture to launch a trusted service manager (TSM) which will allow New Zealanders to make secure payments, collect loyalty points and use public transport with their mobile phones. The service will use near-field communications (NFC) technology to enable the secure transfer of information stored on the customer's phone to a retailer's EFTPOS terminal. The payment software is located in a secure part of the customer's phone and the payment transaction is sent over the banking network the same way it is today. Paymark CEO, Simon Tong, says the collaboration between Paymark, Vodafone New Zealand, 2degrees and Telecom New Zealand will result in an effective infrastructure that will benefit all New Zealanders. "It's the first time this particular mix of organisations has come together to provide a centralised TSM which will offer world-class, yet low-cost infrastructure - something New Zealand is well-known for around the world. Our priority is to ensure that the technology adheres to the most rigorous global standards so that customers have a great and safe experience with the applications provisioned using the technology," says Simon Tong.


From http://www.cellular-news.com/ 04/02/2012

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Online Ad Spending Sees 14 Per Cent Growth

New Zealand's total online advertising spend for the first quarter of 2012 is up $11 million from the same time last year, according to an IAP survey. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) survey, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers, showed a total of $79.21 million was spent in the first quarter. That represented a 14 per cent year-on-year increase, but also a fall from the previous quarter. An $11.09 million jump from the first quarter of 2011 was "fantastic year-on-year growth for online ad expenditure", said Alisa Higgins, IABNZ general manager. "If you compare how this stacks up with other media in New Zealand, television released their quarterly figures with 4 per cent growth in the same period up $4.4 million on the first quarter of 2011, versus $11.09 million for online," Higgins said. The survey showed a drop from the previous quarter's $87.1 million total. Liz Fraser, IABNZ chair, said advertising spend traditionally drops in quarter one versus quarter four due to seasonal changes.

"This is consistent for the last two years and is experienced by most other media, if not all." The biggest grower was classified advertisements, leading the first quarter with a 16.57 per cent year-on-year increase and a 10.44 per cent quarter-on-quarter increase. It was followed by search and directories, with a 15 per cent rise, and display advertisements, at 9 per cent. Both of these groups fell from the previous quarters. Spending for online video advertising increased by 21% year-on-year. A key reason for growth is the increasing popularity of social media platforms, said Chris Perree, a partner at PwC. "As the New Zealand market continues to embrace online advertising, educating advertisers on the relevance and benefits of online advertising is crucial," he said. "This is particularly relevant with advertising agencies providing marketing packaged solutions that deliver across the various channels within online advertising." Advertisers can deliver messages to a targeted audience by understanding the benefits of each respective channel, Perree said.

"For example, the use of social media supporting the brand and image of a company while using mobile advertising and location specific applications to deliver advertising to the customer." Fraser said online advertising spend continues to climb as advertisers shift their marketing budgets to where their consumers are spending their time.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 05/17/2012

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Mobile Money Transforming Transactions in the Pacific

Cell phone users in Tonga can now use their mobile phones in much the same way as they can use a plastic banking card to pay for goods and services in shops; and they do not need a bank account to transfer and receive money from overseas. The idea of using a special chip in cell phones with a prepaid account has allowed the service to expand rapidly to people in the developing world who do not have bank accounts, credit cards or bank cards. Tonga is among the first in the South Pacific to embrace the latest technology that uses cell phones in shops. Digicel Tonga launched its new service called "Beep & Go" this month, stating that its customers can pay for goods and services with a simple tap of their phone at more than 40 locations in the capital of Nuku'alofa. The system uses contactless payment technology to enable Tongans to use their mobiles to buy goods, make payments, deposit or withdraw cash instantly on their mobiles at local stores. "With more than 300 Tongan shops planning to offer 'Beep & Go' by August, Nuku'alofa's Central Business District is set to become the first mobile payments hub in the Pacific," Digicel Tonga stated.

Digicel Pacific Head of Mobile Financial Services, Annie Smith believed that Digicel is transforming the way the people of Tonga transact and this sets a new standard for mobile payments globally. "This is the first instance of a fully inclusive mass-market, mobile payment solution that doesn't require a bank account, smart phone or credit card. It can be used with any mobile phone, which means everyone can benefit from these fast and secure payments. This solution places Tonga well ahead of established markets like Australia, New Zealand, the UK and US where services are aimed only at the section of the market that are enabled with smart phones and credit cards," she said. To get cash onto their mobile wallet Digicel customers can deposit at any Digicel Agent or recognised merchant, receive a salary payment, or receive a domestic payment or international Mobile Money transfer. The Digicel Mobile Money international transfer service was launched in October 2011 and enables family in New Zealand or Australia to send payments instantly at a low flat fee from a bank account or retail agent to a Digicel mobile in Tonga, Samoa or Fiji.

Customers need to have a special NFC microchip attached to their mobile, which is recognised by a special point of sale terminal. At the point of purchase the owner of the mobile simply waves it near the POS terminal in the store and enters their secret PIN to authorise a secure payment. Digicel plans to make its entire customer base NFC capable over the next 12 months and to introduce International Bill Payments and other new services to its unique payments system over the coming weeks. The next generation NFC payments solution is the result of a partnership between Digicel, Verifone mWallet, and New Zealand based currency exchange company KlickEx.

United Kingdom
The expansion of Digicel's Mobile Money service in the Pacific has recently extended its international remittance service to the UK, building on the success of the service launched in New Zealand and Australia last October. Annie said the expansion of the service to the UK is exciting and part of Digicel's commitment to make Mobile Money services affordable, efficient and accessible to all customers in the Pacific. "A large majority of people in our Pacific markets do not have bank accounts, so this international money transfer service to a mobile wallet is a safer and more convenient way to transfer money. Because of the low fees, it means more money is making it home," she said. In Fiji, Digicel Fiji believes that the service will be an effective way for Fijians serving in the British Army to send money home to their families. There are more than 3,000 Fijians serving in the regiments and 1,000 more in the UK for study or work.


From http://matangitonga.to/ 05/18/2012

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IBM Names 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners

Thirty-three cities - including eight in the U.S. - were selected as recipients of IBM's Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2012. The grant program provides cities with technology and services from the company's experts to help address local issues. Now in the second year of a 100-city, $50 million program, each Smarter Cities Challenge grant is worth $400,000. This year's winning cities were selected for projects in the areas of economic and workforce development, transportation, sustainability, health, education and urban planning. An IBM expert lives in a selected city for three weeks, studies an issue plaguing the community and then makes recommendations for how to solve the challenge. In an email to Government Technology, Ari Fishkind, media relations manager for IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, said getting the pulse of each unique setting is a key part of the program. "We want them to live in the city for a better part of the month to absorb the culture, rhythms, dynamics and texture of local life as they interview many dozens of people involved," Fishkind said. "Taking note of these qualities help inform the tone and content of our team's recommendations to the city at the end of the project. You can't get that from just phoning it in, working remotely." Fishkind said the grant-winning cities all had a clear direction that they want to pursue and specific initiatives in mind."They were willing to share as much data during the engagement so that we can make sophisticated recommendations about their next steps," Fishkind said.

The 2012 Smarter Cities Challenge Grant Winners (U.S. cities listed first):
• Atlanta
• Boston
• Durham, N.C.
• Houston
• Jacksonville, Fla.
• Louisville, Ky.
• Omaha, Neb.
• Pittsburgh, Pa.
• Accra, Ghana
• Ahmedabad, India
• Birmingham, UK
• Cheongju, Korea
• Chonburi, Thailand
• Curitiba, Brazil
• Da Nang, Vietnam
• Dortmund, Germany
• Eindhoven, Netherlands
• Geraldton, Australia
• Ishinomaki, Japan
• Jurong Lake District, Singapore
• Malaga, Spain
• Medellin, Colombia
• New Taipei City, Taiwan
• Nanjing, China
• Nairobi, Kenya
• Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
• Pune, India
• Rabat, Morocco
• Rosario, Argentina
• Siracusa, Italy
• Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
• Tshwane, South Africa
• Toluca, Mexico

One of the 2012 grant winners, Louisville, Ky., is asking IBM to help lower the rates of respiratory illness there through complex data analysis. The city is involved in a program called Asthmapolis, where 300 to 500 "smart" emergency asthma inhalers will be outfitted with GPS technology that in real time will record the location and time the inhaler is used and transmit that automatically to a database. The inhalers should be distributed to patients throughout the city in the next couple months. According to Chris Poynter, communications director for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the city hopes IBM's experts will analyze the inhaler data in combination with weather, pollution and flora information to get a definitive handle on why the area has high levels of respiratory illness. "What we're wanting in the short term is to have IBM help us understand if there are any results they can find from the data so far, and use their brainpower to say what we are missing or what we should be looking at," Poynter said. IBM also will provide the grant winners with special assistance through City Forward, a website designed by the company with the help of public policy experts. The site allows diverse groups to contribute data that explores trends and visualizes statistics.


From http://www.govtech.com/ 03/15/2012

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IDC Government Insights Fosters Smart City Development with New Smart City Framework

IDC Government Insights today unveiled Smart City Framework to define the key processes needed to create a Smart City and critical factors to enabling a Smart City, to help Mayors and other city leaders embark on their Smart City development journey. To date, varying definitions of what a Smart City is, and the complexity of smart solutions have made it difficult for city leaders to know where to begin in their smart city planning. The new report, Business Strategy: Smart City Strategies ‒ IDC Government Insights' Smart City Framework (Document # GI234160), provides a framework for conceptualizing what a Smart City is in concrete terms, the drivers of Smart City growth, key technologies and process in Smart City solutions, and detailed guidance for both city leaders and vendors. The last few years in technology advancement have helped create the right environment for smart city solutions - pervasive wireless and broadband connections, advanced analytics software, intelligent sensors, the profusion of mobile devices and the use of social media can be integrated by vendors to provide solutions for city governments. Smart cities will become the city of the future and businesses, workers, tourists, as well as cultural and sporting event planners, will migrate to these cities as they will be more livable, efficient, and provide superior citizen services.

According to IDC Government Insights, a Smart City is defined as is a finite unit or entity with its own governing authority that is more local than the federal or national level and uses a specific set of technologies to achieve the explicit goal of improving the lives of its citizens through sustainable development. Smart City solutions are models for leveraging IT not only to deliver higher quality citizen services more efficiently, but also to affect behavior change in government workers, city businesses, and citizens so cities can develop more sustainably. A city is a financial, commercial, social and cultural hub and an ecosystem of infrastructure and citizen services defined as "domains" by IDC Government Insights including:
• Public Safety
• Transportation
• Citizen Services
• Education
• Energy
• Water
• Buildings
• Healthcare

Currently, most cities are deploying, or have deployed, a smart solution in one or two domains. The solutions are still siloed from each other, mimicking the way most government departments operate. Ultimately, IDC Government Insights believes that as cities mature in their thinking about smart solutions and city management, more cities will look to integrate different domains into one central command or operation center to provide a comprehensive city view and generate optimal responses based on integrated data from multiple domains. Based on the new report, to become a Smart City, a city must have an explicit Smart City mission statement around sustainable urban development and specific citizen quality of life issues. Departments initiating Smart City solutions should also have mission statements with specific goals regarding a more sustainable and livable urban environments and improved services. Examples of goals could include using smart technologies to reduce crime, carbon emissions, benefits fraud, or traffic congestion. The most successful implementations will engage citizens and private entities to define strategic direction, city priorities, and create a technology roadmap.

"City leaders are looking to invest in Smart City solutions to leverage their existing IT, data, and human resources more effectively, and provide better services to citizens. Vendors are rapidly reorganizing around Smart City services offerings, and in this context, IDC Government Insights has provided a framework document for understanding Smart City solutions," states Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, research director, IDC Government Insights. "IDC Government Insights believes Smart Cities are the city of the future. Those cities that fail to start the smart city journey now will be left behind in terms of attractiveness to investors and residents."


From http://www.idg.com/ 04/26/2012

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ITU Seeks Next Generation of Social Entrepreneurs

Geneva - ITU has launched the second edition of its Young Innovators Competition, giving young, talented social entrepreneurs the opportunity to attend its key global networking and knowledge sharing event, ITU Telecom World 2012, and the chance to win funding, mentorship and ongoing support. Open to 18-25 year olds worldwide, the Young Innovators Competition calls for projects/concepts which engage the power of ICTs to meet real-world developmental challenges relevant to one of eight core areas under the theme "Youth Innovation for Development":
Cybersecurity
Education
Empowerment of Women
Environmental Sustainability
Healthcare
Human Rights
Transparency
Youth Employment

Submissions consisting of everything from well researched concepts to ongoing operations showing preliminary results are welcome. From these, the twelve most outstanding entries - judged to have the greatest possible social impact and potential for business success - will win the chance to attend and participate in ITU Telecom World 2012, which takes place from 14-18 October in Dubai. The 12 finalists can benefit from one-on-one mentorship sessions with top level representatives from various sectors, hands-on workshops focused on developing entrepreneurial skills and the chance to showcase concepts and projects at a centrally located stand before the uniquely influential audience of World 2012 delegates. They can also benefit from the rich opportunities for networking with the leading names and key decision makers from industry, government and academia plus visionaries and digital thought leaders present at the event.

Final winners will also benefit from prize money of up to CHF10,000 to realize entrepreneurial dreams. In addition winners will have access to the network of mentors offering ongoing support for up to one year, be invited to form an active part of the Young Innovators community and update their submission as featured on our website with regular progress report. "Participation in this competition offers a great opportunity for the next generation of young visionaries to demonstrate their ideas and innovations on a truly global stage at our event, and show how their fresh digital thinking can change the world for the better," said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour谷. "Crucially, the reach of the Young Innovators Programme will also extend way beyond the event, building a cohesive international community of highly talented social entrepreneurs working on ICT-based initiatives in areas that are vital to developmental issues facing the world today."


From http://www.itu.int/ 05/01/2012

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ARAB STATES: Egyptian Wins US$100,000 African Innovation Prize

An Egyptian engineer who has designed a base-station antenna that can facilitate upgrades to more advanced mobile networks in developing countries has become the first winner of the Innovation Prize for Africa, which was created last year. The antenna makes it easier for telecommunication service providers to upgrade their networks without needing to change base stations. The winner of the US$100,000 prize, Mohammed Sanad, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University, Egypt, said his antenna "suits developing countries, which don't have a telecommunication infrastructure". "Conventional cellular base stations cannot be assembled and disassembled on site. They are heavy and need complicated mounting towers," Sanad told SciDev.Net. He said the new antenna suits all generations of wireless applications without any need to change or upgrade. Sanad said he has received many offers to roll out the new antenna in Africa, in the wake of the prize ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (26 March). The runner up, Zeinou Abdelyamine, an industrial chemist from Algeria, received US$50,000 for his research and development of environmentally friendly, natural insecticides and rodenticides. His products contain natural elements which attract insects and rodents, but are fatal when consumed. "Our work proves that Africa can develop new technology and can solve her problems by herself," Zeinou told D'Jazair News. The Prize, which aims to stimulate innovative solutions with strong commercialisation potential, was established bythe UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Innovation Foundation in 2011. The inaugural winners were selected from 458 submissions from 38 countries, with most applications coming from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia. Other shortlisted projects included the iCow application to aid small-scale farmers, and solar powered lanterns aimed at poor rural communities.


From http://www.scidev.net/ 05/11/2012

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ASIA: Ageing Asia Launches Network on Business of Ageing

Homegrown company Ageing Asia has created the region's first industry network on the business of ageing. The Ageing Asia Alliance aims to nurture investments, and develop new products and services to address the needs of Asia's growing ageing population. The alliance was launched at an ageing investment conference on Wednesday morning, and currently comprises some 800 business, government and community leaders. Ageing Asia's managing director, Janice Chia, said the eldercare industry in Asia is relatively new and growth potential is high. She said: "From the business community, what we hear a lot is they're very interested in how they can develop products and services that can help the elderly age better.

"And whenever we travel overseas as a platform, a lot of international business leaders tell us they're interested in looking at the Singapore market... on how they can introduce new products here." Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Halimah Yacob, added that the private sector has a role to play in the eldercare industry. She said: "The elderly community is not a homogeneous one. Indeed, more needs to be done to cater to the needs and aspirations of the elderly who're financially better off. "In order for us to address the needs of our elderly across various generations, backgrounds and life circumstances, government's initiatives alone are not going to be enough." The number of seniors in Asia is estimated to reach 1.2 billion in 2050, representing over 63 per cent of the world's population of seniors. With such a diverse, growing demographic, one objective of the new Ageing Asia network is to draw up industry standards for each country that can raise the quality of eldercare in the region over time. Ms Chia said: "Currently across the Asia-Pacific, we don't really see health and housing standards being implemented across eldercare. For example in terms of housing, if an elderly person chooses to move into a retirement village in future, we need something that protects the consumers who move in, so that they're assured that a certain level of care is given year upon year."

Ms Chia said retirement home developers can also stand to gain from having a set of standards that they can benchmark across the industry. Experts said Asian societies will eventually come to embrace nursing homes and retirement villages once the proportion of elderly in society becomes significant - around 20 per cent. Barry Hirschfeld, CEO of Asia Investment Partners, said: "Across Asia, because of Confucian thought and filial piety, there's a real sense that a family should live together. And senior housing, there's been resistance to that concept. "However what has happened in the case of Japan, because the need has become great, because the percentage over 65 is so high, that it just becomes much more difficult for the families to take care of everyone." That is when quality, accessible housing for seniors will become an attractive option for many. He added that beyond housing, business opportunities in the eldercare sector abound, from electronics to bedding. He said: "Any business, not just in Asia but worldwide, has to address the demographic changes we're looking at. Every company is looking at how we can address the needs of the elderly. (Like) how can we create phones that work better for elderly people? "Another example is beds, which people spend a lot of money on. The same thing is true with senior housing facilities - that's actually a very large growth area for bed manufacturers." Some 200 eldercare industry professionals are in Singapore for an ageing investment forum from April 11 to 12.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 04/11/2012

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EUROPE: Denmark, England and Scotland Are at the Forefront of Telehealth Rethinking Healthcare

Denmark, England and Scotland have been pioneers in the use of electronic communication in and across the health and social care sectors. The three pioneers have been able to integrate telehealth into standard patient treatments, according to a new study from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (IPTS). Telehealth, offered in the three countries, means less hospital care and more patient empowerment. Through telehealth patients gain a better understanding of their illness while they have the chance to be treated in their own homes. Fabienne Abadie, a scientific officer at IPTS, one of the seven scientific institutes of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, stresses: "The Danes have succeeded in deploying telehealth, because all relevant stakeholders have been encouraged to join in. One cannot hope that the market alone can push the use of telehealth into care practice. A good model of governance, at regional or national level, is crucial to support telehealth in order to reap the benefits it offers. In this process, stakeholders such as the health care professionals play a vital role". This is only a snapshot of what the SIMPHS[1] research reveals on best practice with the deployment of telehealth in Europe, and its role in promoting integrated, patient-centred care. Fabienne Abadie also says "While the SIMPHS research has identified encouraging developments in further parts of Europe (e.g. some Spanish and Italian regions) nationwide deployment is still hampered by a number of barriers which the pioneering countries have managed to tackle. There is hope that learning from the best cases will help stimulate EU-wide telehealth deployment".

Not long ago, telehealth was only offered for citizens on small Islands and remote places. Today, Denmark, England and Scotland have revolutionised this historical path by integrating telehealth as a part of the standard treatment. "Telehealth has changed from being geography-driven to being technology-driven. Now we see completely new ways of organising treatments. Telehealth has matured to the point where it could dramatically reduce the numbers of hospital beds by offering telehealth for a wider range of treatments" says Claus F. Nielsen, International Business Development Manager in DELTA, who for more than ten years has played a key role in promoting e-Health in Denmark. Claus continues: "Due to the new era of smartphones and tablets, we can jump directly from the first to the third generation of telehealth. To do so, we need to build "plug'n play ecosystems for data in order push the revolution of smart personal Health devices". Although telehealth may appear to be technology-driven, Fabienne Abadie underlines the fact that successful telehealth implementation requires much more than smart technology: "Re-organisation of care is even more important as it will account for 80-90% of the changes in care provision. The availability of funding for mainstreaming, an integrated governance model, engaging all stakeholders, and the adaptation of legal frameworks will be further drivers for telehealth deployment" she says "not to mention scientific evidence of the benefits of telehealth which have a great influence on mainstreaming decisions, even if it also includes some form of value judgement", she adds.

A case in point is the monitoring of arrhythmia patients in their own homes using an ECG ePatch. Claus F. Nielsen continues: "we know from our wireless ECG ePatchclinical trial that the Odense University Hospital Svendborg now realise substantial savings by treating patients in their own homes". "I believe that we will be able to identify many more opportunities for monitoring hospital patients in the comfort of their own homes once we have seen the positive everyday effects and get used to the idea of incorporating it into the way we run our hospital in the future", says Claus Duedal Pedersen, head consultant, Clinical Innovation, Odense University Hospital. "What patients want will ultimately also influence the way telehealth develops" adds Fabienne Abadie. With this, she has the outcomes of the SIMPHS Citizen Panel in mind, a survey of 14,000 internet users in 14 EU Member States, which showed that the younger generation uses Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for wellness and healthy lifestyle purposes and that some middle-aged individuals also use ICT for the same reasons. The middle aged also act as gatekeepers in the household and as a result can help both the elderly and the young to use ICT. Last but not least, the healthier elderly are more likely to request new ICT-based care solutions than those suffering from an illness. "Market players and decision makers alike need to pay attention to the different demands of specific population groups in EU Member States. Raising awareness of the benefits of telehealth and adapting messages to the different user typologies is what will make a difference" she concludes.


From http://ec.europa.eu/ 05/08/2012

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Digital Agenda: EU Research Breakthrough Will Cut 4G / LTE Mobile Network Energy Use in Half

In coming years, internet access will be dominated by wireless devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Today there are 1.2 billion mobile broadband users, and the figure is growing by hundreds of millions each year. Mobile video and other data services consume much more energy than calls and SMS. This creates additional costs for mobile operators - ultimately passed onto consumers - and means the carbon footprint of mobile communications could almost triple from 2007 to 2020, an increase equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of Luxembourg. The EU-funded project EARTH has received the 2012 "Future Internet Award" prize for developing unprecedented energy efficiency solutions for wireless communication networks. Researchers from companies such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Telecom Italia, DOCOMO, and from universities in Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and UK, have optimised the energy use of 4G/LTE (Long-Term Evolution) base stations, which account for the highest energy consumption in the mobile network. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "The ICT sector is growing but its carbon footprint should not follow. I congratulate the partners of the EARTH project who have found ways to deliver the services we need while reducing CO2 emissions and cutting down on energy bills." Optimising the energy use of the network will gradually bring down electricity bills for operators and help keep mobile costs affordable, while reducing pollution and carbon emissions. By reducing the power required to operate each mobile base station, it is also expected that these stations could in future be operated reliably by renewable energy, further reducing emissions. The EARTH project runs until June 2012. Products are expected to be available on the market in 2014. Industrial and SME partners have already started to transfer their results into real products for the multi-billion euro global market for 4G products. The project received €10 million of its nearly €15 million from the EU. The Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200) uses funding from the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7) to support innovative ICT solutions.


From http://europa.eu/ 05/15/2012

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Denmark Gives the Health Care Sector an e-Push

Ministers for Health and top government officials from all of Europe are on their way to Copenhagen to discuss health IT and telehealth. Together with the European Commission, The Danish Minister for Health, Astrid Krag, hosts the yearly "High Level eHealth Conference" which takes place in Copenhagen on 7-9 May. It is connected to the EU Presidency and is part of "eHealth Week 2012" alongside a number of other events. Follow us on twitter: @EU_ehealthweek #eHW12.


From http://ec.europa.eu/ 05/03/2012

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UK: ICT to Fostering Inter-Family Relationships, Naturally

From mobile phones to social networking, technology helps bring geographically dispersed people together. But most applications are designed for individuals, not groups or families. EU-funded research is addressing the issue with innovative tools designed to help families communicate and interact as naturally as possible even if they are hundreds or thousands of kilometres apart. The solution combines state-of-the-art artificial intelligence with ambient intelligence, multimedia tools and audio and video capturing, encoding, processing and transmission to enable near-natural interaction and communication between dispersed groups of people. 'There is a lot of technology out there that helps individuals communicate with each other, whether it's a simple phone call or a video conferencing application. What's lacking are applications that enable groups of people in different places to communicate and interact in a natural way,' explains Dr. Doug Williams, broadband research project director at BT in the United Kingdom (UK). That gap is being filled by applications developed by the 'Together anywhere, together anytime' (TA2) project. Their solution combines state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) with ambient intelligence, multimedia tools and audio and video capturing, encoding, processing and transmission to enable near-natural interaction and communication between dispersed groups of people. Enhanced audio, automated multi-camera editing, online games facilities and 'availability' signals have been integrated into a new type of system that makes communication easy to initiate and intuitive to use - to try to achieve an experience similar to family members all being in the same room.

One of the key differences between the TA2 approach and video conferencing used in business environments is that the researchers have strived to make communication and interaction as natural as possible. Supported by EUR 12.8 million in funding from the European Commission, the researchers and developers from 14 industrial and academic partners in eight countries directly addressed the question of how technology can help nurture group-to-group relationships. Using multiple internet-connected cameras, microphones and speakers in the lounge of a family home, the system goes several steps beyond standard video conferencing by enabling different groups of people in two, three or more locations to interact and enjoy using shared applications. Artificial intelligence analyses activity in each location, and an AI engine makes decisions about how best to represent what's going on, selecting the optimum camera and camera angle, providing wide-angle shots during lulls in the conversation or focusing on specific events taking place. In essence, this AI 'virtual director' fills the role of a real life cameraman or director in the TV or cinema industry. A 'visual composition engine', jointly developed by BT and Dutch project partner CWI, handles the video decoding, composition and rendering, enabling the system to seamlessly switch between up to five simultaneous HD video streams.

'Using the system is a bit like watching a movie or a TV talk show except the people you are watching are interacting with you and others in real time,' Dr. Williams, the technical director of the TA2 project, says. 'It can be used simply for two families to talk and catch up with each other, or they can use multimedia tools to share photos and watch videos together, or they can play games together.' 'The impact of audio must never be underestimated,' he adds. 'In TA2 we use an "audio communication engine" developed by Fraunhofer IIS: it delivers Full-HD Voice and captures all audible frequencies - compared to a normal telephone which captures only about one quarter of the frequencies we can hear. And because we capture sound with more than one microphone, we are better able to reproduce the sound field at the remote ends. All this helps make the interactions easier, more natural and, as an added bonus, due to something called 'multimodal effects', the better audio makes people believe the image quality is better too.' Fun, games and eLearning Digital versions of traditional family games such as Memory, Ludo or Pictionary can also be played between dispersed families using the TA2 system, and parents or grandparents can use it to read bedtime stories to their children or grandchildren via tablet computers when they are away. 'In the real world, people usually get together around some sort of activity, whether it's dinner, a movie, showing holiday photos or playing a game, we are trying to reflect that sort of natural interaction in our system,' Dr. Williams says. 'When you get involved with communicating and interacting on the TA2 system, it's fun, it all makes sense. But one thing we have struggled with is how such interactions would start. How would someone know when friends or family wanted to interact?'

To address that question, the TA2 researchers incorporated ambient intelligence using sensors and a system of coloured lights to subtly let friends and family members elsewhere know when people are available, while at the same time protecting users' privacy. Another application developed by the TA2 researchers focuses on using the technology for learning to play a musical instrument, though it could equally be used for learning other skills that require both visual and audio communication. 'A lot of the components of the system are already available commercially, although we adapted and improved many of them to suit our purposes,' Dr. Williams emphasises. The TA2 researchers conducted long-term trials in user homes in Sweden, at a music school in the UK and conducted numerous lab tests in special purpose 'sitting rooms' built at project partner facilities in Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. They also conducted a survey, asking more than 2,000 people about the ways in which they think they would use the new technology (and in particular tablet computers) as part of a home-based video communication system. 'Users really warmed to the idea of reading a story to a child, or to occasionally going through photos together with a friend, all while being able to see and hear each other with a good audio video link,' Dr. Williams says. 'However, as with most new technology it's not always clear how it will be used until it is on the market.' In that vein, Dr. Williams sees the potential for a TV production company to employ the system or elements of it for a new style of TV game show in which people would be able to participate from within their own homes or from communal areas such as pubs and cafes. 'I think it's safe to say that this sort of system or something like it will start to be used widely within the next five years,' he says. TA2 received research funding under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).


From http://ec.europa.eu/ 04/19/2012

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LARTIN AMERICA: Digital Cities in Brazil

Brazil already has plenty of examples when it comes to digital city projects. The country has a range of initiatives that have been acclaimed and have won awards both at home and abroad. Most of these projects have come about because of the initiative of the municipalities themselves, with support from companies like Motorola, IBM and Cisco.


From http://www.bnamericas.com/ 03/31/2012

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IT and Energy Efficiency: Smart Buildings

Latin America has a daunting energy challenge ahead. In order to prolong the economic growth and improvements in living standards, the region must expand its electricity generation capacity enormously and improve energy efficiency as well. So called passive energy efficiency measures, such as insulation or low-consumption equipment are not enough, and the contribution of information technology (IT) in design, construction and installation has become key. One area in which there are plenty of opportunities to use IT to reduce consumption is in buildings, a model that is being seen increasingly often in Latin American cities.


From http://www.bnamericas.com/ 04/30/2012

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IDB and SAAB to Collaborate on Sustainable Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean

Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Dan Jangblad, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at SAAB, the defense and security company, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly support sustainable development in cities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB and SAAB agreed to explore opportunities to cooperate in Saab's project for attractive cities, as well as in the IDB's initiative to support the development of sustainable cities and safe environments in the LAC region. As part of this collaboration, SAAB and the IDB are discussing the possibility of assigning a SAAB specialist to the IDB's Sustainable Cities team for a year. The IDB's Sustainable Cities platform was launched in 2011 to support cities with populations between 100,000 and 2 million people that are growing much faster than the region's mega-cities. The goal of the initiative is to form alliances with cities that wish to develop long-term strategies for sustainability in environmental, fiscal, and urban management, and to plan for the impacts of climate change. "Over the past decade, Latin America and the Caribbean has been one of the fastest growing regions in the world," said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. "We have more than 500 cities with populations between 100,000 and two million people, and we need to make sure they develop in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. We look forward to exploring areas of cooperation with Saab's attractive cities project, which taps the company's technology to contribute to sustainable urban environments in areas experiencing increased population and growth," Moreno said. Jangblad added: "Saab views the cooperation with the Inter-American Development Bank very positively, and it fits well into Saab's strategy to create global partnerships and networks for sustainable development." Saab serves the global market with a variety of products and services that range from military defense to civil security and environmental sustainability. The IDB Group, the main development lending institution in Latin America and the Caribbean, supports efforts to reduce poverty and inequality and to bring about development in a sustainable, climate-friendly way.


From http://www.iadb.org/ 05/11/2012

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Brazil: I.B.M. Takes 'Smarter Cities' Concept to Rio de Janeiro

NOT far from Copacabana Beach here is a control room that looks straight out of NASA. City employees in white jumpsuits work quietly in front of a giant wall of screens - a sort of virtual Rio, rendered in real time. Video streams in from subway stations and major intersections. A sophisticated weather program predicts rainfall across the city. A map glows with the locations of car accidents, power failures and other problems. The order and precision seem out of place in this easygoing Brazilian city, which on this February day was preparing for the controlled chaos that is Carnaval. But what is happening here reflects a bold and potentially lucrative experiment that could shape the future of cities around the world. This building is the Operations Center of the City of Rio, and its system was designed by I.B.M. at the request of Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes. There is nothing quite like it in the world's other major cities. I.B.M. has created similar data centers elsewhere for single agencies like police departments. But never before has it built a citywide system integrating data from some 30 agencies, all under a single roof. It is the handiwork of an I.B.M. unit called Smarter Cities and, if all goes according to plan, it could lay the groundwork for a multibillion-dollar business. On this February day, Guru Banavar, an I.B.M. executive, stood on the balcony above the control room, watching the scene."I have seen better infrastructure in individual departments in other cities," said Mr. Banavar, I.B.M.'s chief technology officer of the global public sector. "But I haven't seen this level of integration in other cities." For I.B.M., Rio is a crucible. By 2050, roughly 75 percent of the world's population is expected to live in cities. Many metropolitan areas already use data-collection systems like sensors, video cameras and GPS devices. But advances in computing power and data analysis now make it possible for companies like I.B.M. to collate all this data and, using computer algorithms, to identify patterns and trends. Mr. Banavar calls it "sense-making software."

Running a big city, particularly one as varied as Rio, makes running many companies seem easy. No wonder the market to supply cities with "smart" systems is expected to reach $57 billion by 2014, according to IDC Government Insights, a market research firm. I.B.M. wants a piece of that. It is expanding into the local government market as part of a plan to raise its annual revenue to $150 billion or more, Mr. Banavar said. In 2011, the company's revenue was nearly $107 billion. The Rio operations center, which opened at the end of 2010, is part of an effort to gain a toehold in a market with more established players like Cisco Systems. (Cisco calls its local government initiative "Smart+Connected Communities." The company is heavily involved in the Songdo International Business District, a new city in South Korea, where Cisco's network technologies help commercial buildings control energy consumption, for example.) But even for a company like I.B.M., Rio represents a grand challenge. A horizontal city sprawled between mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, it is at once a boomtown, a beach town, a paradise, an eyesore, a research center and a construction site. Oil-industry giants like Halliburton and Schlumberger have been rushing to build research centers here to help develop massive oil and gas fields off the coast. Special police units have moved into about 20 slums, called favelas, in an effort to assert government control and combat crime. Rio is also reconstructing major arenas and building a rapid-bus system ahead of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. This is a city where some of the rich live in gated communities while some of the poor in the favelas pirate electricity from the grid.

And where disasters, natural and otherwise, sometimes strike. Rainstorms can cause deadly landslides. Last year, a historic streetcar derailed, killing five people. Earlier this year, three buildings collapsed downtown, killing at least 17. The complex conditions create a kind of hothouse for I.B.M. to expand its local government business. If the company can remake Rio as a smarter city, it can remake anywhere. "Smart is all about information," Mr. Banavar said. "Once you have the information and understand it and know what to do with it, you are halfway to smart." AT 45, Mr. Banavar is the unofficial ambassador for Smarter Cities. He flies around the world, listening to mayors' predicaments and overseeing the I.B.M. teams whose job is to produce the solutions. Since its start in 2010, Smarter Cities has become involved in several thousand projects. That Mr. Banavar was raised in Bangalore, India, now lives in New York and is married to a woman from Skopje, Macedonia, only bolsters I.B.M.'s global urban cred. It also helps that he embeds himself as he sizes up each city. One day last month, he stood at the central Praça da Bandeira intersection, a knot of streets and highway overpasses that connect northern Rio with the southern beach zone. "Imagine this intersection with a meter or two of water," Mr. Banavar said. An overhead camera was streaming video to the operations center. "This becomes like a pond." The catalyst for the operations center was a torrential summer storm here nearly two years ago. Around 4 that morning, Mayor Paes started receiving alarming reports. There were landslides in some favelas, with the risk of many more. There were flash floods. Cars and trucks were stuck in rising water. But Rio did not have a predetermined location from which the mayor could monitor the situation and oversee a response. "By then, I realized we were very weak," Mr. Paes recounted in a phone interview.

"That also made me mad." So he improvised. He had lived in Connecticut as a teenager and remembered how some American cities declared snow days so they could clear the streets. In the wee hours, he began calling television stations, radio stations and newspapers, declaring an emergency and urging people to stay home. "We had no plans for that, but it worked," Mr. Paes said. In the city, 68 people died as a result of the floods and landslides, but the toll might have been worse if he hadn't issued the warning, he said. Mayor Paes decided that Rio could do better. A month later, he met with Mr. Banavar and a team from I.B.M. Like a corporate chief executive, the mayor wanted to knock down silos among his departments and combine each one's data to help the whole enterprise. "We used to have all of this information." Mr. Paes said. "But we could not put it together to use in a smart, intelligent way." He wanted his new operations center to open as soon as possible. PREVIOUSLY, I.B.M. developed crime control centers for Madrid and New York City, along with a traffic congestion fee system for Stockholm. But creating a citywide, interdepartmental system for Rio was a far bigger task. I.B.M. approached the challenge like a general contractor, managing the overall project while farming out some of the work. Local companies handled construction and telecommunications. Cisco provided network infrastructure and the videoconferencing system that links the operations center to the mayor's house. The digital screens are from Samsung. "We coordinated everything," Mr. Banavar said. "In our terminology, we call it being the 'master integrator.' "

I.B.M. incorporated its hardware, software, analytics and research. It created manuals so that the center's employees could classify problems into four categories: events, incidents, emergencies and crises. A loud party, for instance, is an event. People beating up each other at a party is an incident. A party that becomes a riot is an emergency. If someone dies in the riot, it's a crisis. The manuals also lay out step-by-step procedures for how departments should handle pressing situations like floods and rockslides. I.B.M. also installed a virtual operations platform that acts as a Web-based clearinghouse, integrating information that comes in via phone, radio, e-mail and text message. When city employees log on, they can enter information from, say, an accident scene, or see how many ambulances have been dispatched. They can also analyze historical information to determine, for instance, where car accidents tend to occur. In addition, I.B.M. developed a custom flood forecast system for the city. Mr. Banavar even recommended that the mayor create the position of chief operating officer to oversee the operations center, and the mayor agreed. The project cost Rio about $14 million, Mayor Paes said. If it all works according to plan, it could make Rio a model of data-driven city management. "We want to put Rio ahead of every city in the world concerning operations of daily life and emergency response," the mayor said. But, he said, the challenge will be to make the city run more efficiently without watering down the brio that makes Rio Rio. "We don't want to be Lausanne or Zurich."

ONE evening in late January, a 20-story office building downtown next to the municipal theater collapsed, taking two other buildings along with it. Panic ensued. The operations center sprang into action. A city employee happened to be having a beer near the scene and alerted Carlos Roberto Os車rio, the city's secretary of public works and conservation. "We gained one minute by luck," Mr. Os車rio said. "But the system worked very well." At the operations center, employees alerted the fire and civil defense departments and then asked the gas and electric companies to shut down service around the scene. Others temporarily closed the subway underneath the site, blocked off the street, dispatched ambulances, alerted hospitals, sent in heavy equipment to remove the rubble and activated civil guards to evacuate nearby buildings and secure the accident site. The operations center's Twitter feed alerted followers about blocked streets and alternate routes. Mr. Os車rio himself sped to the scene, from which he posted photos to his own Twitter and Facebook accounts. At least 17 people died in the collapse, and city officials said later that construction work inside the 20-story building might have knocked out load-bearing walls. Still, the city's coordinated response was a victory for the operations center. "We were never able to react so quickly before," Mr. Os車rio said. In early February, Mr. Os車rio was standing in the noonday heat in the middle of the Sambadrome stadium, overseeing the reconstruction of the samba school parade grounds two weeks before Carnaval. The city had promised to widen the space and add thousands of seats for the Olympics. Mr. Os車rio wanted the work finished on time. Many other sites here are under construction. That is because, after decades of neglect, the government and private companies are heavily investing in upgrading infrastructure and services like transportation. This includes a $4.5 billion waterfront revitalization project to remake the port area as a combination residential, business and tourism zone. "There is a barrage of problems and needs," Mr. Os車rio said. "We are doing too many things at once, all necessary."

Amid such changes, officials view the operations center as a stabilizing influence - and a selling point. Mr. Os車rio says officials are using the operations center to try to minimize inconveniences as well as to attract investment. Consider Carnaval. The biggest challenges for the city are the street performances, which involve about 425 mobile samba bands performing over four weekends at 350 different sites, Mr. Os車rio said. Several million people attend. With the operations center in place, the city now coordinates planning across 18 different agencies. Together, those departments assign time slots to the street bands and map their routes, as well as plan for security, street cleaning, crowd control and other needs."In the past, each of them would do their planning separately and without talking to each other," Mr. Os車rio said. Rio officials, meanwhile, have adopted Mr. Banavar as an honorary Carioca - a Rio native. Last year, Mayor Paes invited several I.B.M. executives and their wives to watch the samba schools from the mayor's box at the Sambadrome. The Banavars sambaed until 6 a.m. ONE evening last month, a fire broke out on Visconde de Piraj芍, an upscale shopping street in the Ipanema district.

Some Cariocas got out their smartphones and took pictures. Just before 7 p.m., Pitty Webo, an actress who lives nearby, began alerting her Twitter followers. A few minutes later, the operations center's Twitter feed - @operaçõesrio - reported that traffic was being diverted. Luiza Amoedo, an event planner, joined the crowd gawking at flames in an adjacent square. Glass panes cracked and crashed into the street. Fire trucks arrived and a red helicopter dropped firefighters onto the roof. Down below, it was chaos. Nobody had cordoned off the square or moved onlookers out of the hail of glass. One end of the street was closed to traffic, but on the other side, a traffic officer redirected cars around the crowd. "Rio is too far from being prepared. Nothing works," Ms. Amoedo sighed. "It's ridiculous. It's the year 2012. This should not be happening."

The operations center has received a lot of publicity here and abroad. (Last week, Mayor Paes attended a TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., where he participated in a panel about cities.) The center even has an on-site press room from which the Globo television network broadcasts traffic and weather reports. And yet many inhabitants have never heard of the center or, if they have, they're not really sure what it does. Some wonder if it is all for show, to reassure Olympic officials and foreign investors. Some worry that it will benefit well-off neighborhoods more than the favelas. Others fear that all this surveillance has the potential to curb freedoms or invade privacy. Still others view the center as a stopgap that does not address underlying infrastructure problems. At least that was the prevailing view one Sunday afternoon in Armaz谷m Saõ Thiago, an old bar in Santa Teresa, a historic neighborhood of cobblestone streets and colonial-style houses. For more than a century, the neighborhood's signature attraction had been its bright yellow streetcars. But last year a trolley derailed, killing five people. The transportation department for the state of Rio de Janeiro, not the city, was responsible for maintenance and has halted the trams. Above the marble bar, a poster protesting the move depicted a streetcar crying a big white tear. "The system the mayor created will resolve a problem when it happens, but it does not resolve infrastructure problems," said Alexandre Hartz, a health insurance risk assessor who was sharing a beer with some friends. "The culture of Rio is reactionary. It is not preventive." Try telling that to M芍rcio Motta, the city's hyper-vigilant subsecretary of civil defense. Since the landslides two years ago, Rio has installed sirens, wirelessly linked to the operations center, in 66 favelas. It has also staged numerous practice drills in which volunteers have helped evacuate residents.

In real flood conditions, the operations center decides when to set off the sirens. That decision is based on I.B.M.'s system, which uses computer algorithms to predict how much rain will fall in a given square kilometer - a far more precise forecast than standard weather systems provide. When the program predicts heavy rain, the center sends out text messages to different departments so they can prepare. But it's difficult for the public to appreciate when a crisis has been averted, Mayor Paes said. "It's not what people feel every day," he said. "It's the problems that could happen that don't happen every day."

CAN I.B.M. turn small government into big business? You could think of Rio as a high-level science project from the same company that built Watson, the computer that plays "Jeopardy." It is certainly good P.R. Seven years after I.B.M. stopped selling personal computers, such projects might help keep the company in the popular psyche. But I.B.M. is hoping that mayors the world over will develop Rio envy. To that end, the company has just introduced a product called the I.B.M. Intelligent Operations Center, which combines a number of the systems that were designed for Rio into a single product. Think of it as a smart city in a box. "Previously, you'd have to buy 12 different pieces and get services to integrate it," Mr. Banavar explained. "Now you can do it in one shot." Some cities are already interested. Late last month, I.B.M. said Zhenjiang, a city of about three million people in eastern China, had bought the new system to manage public transportation. It also bought a custom analytics program to help predict and alleviate traffic jams along bus routes.

And it is not just cities: the Miami Dolphins football team just bought the packaged product to manage visitor traffic at its 75,000-seat Sun Life Stadium. I.B.M. expects its Smarter Planet unit, which includes the Smarter Cities business, to have revenue of $10 billion by 2015. IT was 11:30 p.m. on a Tuesday at Carioca da Gema, a popular samba bar in the Lapa neighborhood here. Mr. Banavar's Brazilian colleagues from the local I.B.M. office had gone home, but he wasn't yet ready to turn in. Sitting in the balcony overlooking the dance floor, he was dissecting the bands he had just heard. Like a city or a multinational corporation, a samba band involves a lot of moving parts: musicians, singers, instruments, equipment, compositions, lyrics, improvisations - not to mention its audience. In Mr. Banavar's view, the warm-up band had been in sync, but the singers in the headline band seemed out of whack. To this I.B.M.-er, everything could use a better system, even a samba band. And, the more complex the problem, the more valuable the solution."I come from I.B.M. research. I'm attracted to large, complex systems," Mr. Banavar said. "Can you think of a system that is more complex than a city?"


From http://www.nytimes.com/ 03/03/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: U.S. - How to Make Your City Smarter

Modern cities share many goals. For many, chief among them is an engaged citizenry interested in innovative, sustainable solutions that contribute to their community's livability. Using today's terminology, they aspire to be "smart cities." Ruthbea Yesner Clarke, research director at market research and advisory firm IDC Government Insights, explained in an interview with Government Technology that smart cities adopt a broader view of sustainability. Beyond its typical environmental implications, sustainability also applies to things like infrastructure development and economic development. "Sustainability actually could be looking at your roadways and saying 'it's much more sustainable for us to use our existing roads better rather than expanding a highway or a roadway system'" she said. IDC just released a study (#G1234160) on smart cities, defining key processes to enable a smart city. The report, entitled Business Strategy: Smart City Strategies - IDC Government Insights; Smart City Framework, offers insights on how to integrate solutions across city organizations. And the time is right. According to IDC, a number of factors are making smart city solutions widely possible. These factors include the ubiquitous nature of wireless and broadband connectivity, analytics software, intelligent sensors and the prevalence of mobile devices and social media. Stories about municipalities employing smart technologies to improve service delivery in areas like public safety, transportation and energy have become commonplace.

But the IDC study recommends a more comprehensive approach that breaks down typical government silos. "We are hoping that eventually there's a more cross-departmental, cross-city data flow and process flow about how cities function in this sort of ecosystem of services," Clarke said. Getting past compartmentalized government thinking is just one hurdle to implementing smart solutions at the city level. Strong leadership is also critical. Leaders need to engage a diverse group of stakeholders - citizens, local businesses, nonprofit organizations and the vendor community - to consider new solutions that can take several years to implement. And finding the money to deploy new technologies can be a considerable challenge, especially in the current economic environment. But the monetary investment can pay dividends in the long run. "Cities that are investing in developing these solutions do generate interest from their citizens and from their local businesses and that engages people," said Clarke. "It makes them more satisfied and ultimately makes their city a really attractive place to do business and to live in."


From http://www.govtech.com/ 04/27/2012

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CHINA: Heralds 2001st Smart City

No one is counting, but China's quick-growing Zhenjiang could be the 2001st smart city to take advantage of centralized monitoring and real-time analytics that anticipate traffic jams before they happen. As more and more people flock to urban centers worldwide, 2000 of them have already met the challenge by switching to smart monitoring and real-time analytics that optimizes public transportation and roadway management. China's Zhenjiang being the latest addition to this list of smart cities worldwide makes it symbolically the 2001st. "Working with forward looking cities like Zhenjiang, and 2000 other smarter cities projects around the world, IBM is able to help make cities smart," said an IBM spokesperson in a recent video entitled IBM Helps Zhenjiang Build a Smarter City. Dashboards in IBM's Intelligent Operations Center monitor city services providing operational insight and centralized intelligence capable of optimizing efficiencies and improving planning. Regardless of the exact number of cities involved, over $36 billion is slated to be spent on smart city infrastructure projects over the next decade, according to Pike Research, with China representing the largest single market.

"By integrating technology and intelligence into the physical transportation infrastructure, cities can improve capacity, enhance the traveler experience, and make transportation systems more efficient, safe, and sustainable for future growth," said Gerry Mooney, General Manager of Smarter Cities at IBM. The heart of Zhenjiang's smarter city efforts will be the installation IBM's Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) which will use sensors installed at the city's 400 transit centers and 1000 public vehicles to analyze traffic patterns, obtain and disseminate real-time traffic updates, and anticipate traffic flow disruptions before they become a problem. Together with the government of Zhenjiang, IBM hopes to improve the city's transportation system, as well as "support the government's effort of building a harmonious society, and accelerate the economic growth and transformation of this vibrant country," said Dah-Chuen Chien, General Manager, IBM Greater China Group.

By investing in a system-wide transportation upgrade using IBM's Intelligent Transportation software, centralized dashboards will provide city managers with a consolidated view that includes real-time analytics that track and categorize traffic patterns over 80 routes in and around Zhenjiang. As a result, Zhenjiang IOC will increase traffic throughput with optimized routing and improved efficiency, plus the system will provide advance warning of potential traffic jams, giving managers a chance to mitigate or even eliminate them before they happen. By simulating the entire transit fleet and passenger flow across the transportation network, the IOC also maximizes road capacity as well as rapidly responds to incidents. Our aim in partnering with IBM is to "make our public transportation system faster and more efficient, while making our city a better place to live in," said Mingnian Yin, Director of Reform Commission, City of Zhenjiang.


From http://www.smartertechnology.com/ 03/05/2012

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China's Massive Web Audience Turns to Social, Mobile, Video

China's internet population is massive, at 513 million people at the end of 2011, eMarketer estimates. Though growth will taper to the single-digit range by 2013, and the internet won't reach a majority of the population until 2015, China still has the largest online audience in the world, and it's only getting bigger. This growing online population, as well as recent governmental restrictions on broadcast advertising are having an impact on online advertising. As of January 1, 2012, China's government made it harder for advertisers to buy their favorite time blocks from broadcasters like CCTV. It also ended commercial breaks during dramas and limited the number of entertainment shows local TV stations can air. These changes have frustrated broadcasters, advertisers and media planners, but digital media owners in China are elated, envisioning more money heading their way, especially from advertising related to growth areas such as microblogging (known in China as "weibo"), online video viewing and smartphone usage.

And while China may not have Facebook - it's officially banned in the country - its absence hasn't hurt China's social networking population, which reached nearly 257 million in 2011. So far, half of internet users have been attracted by local weibo and other domestic social networking sites, with the proportion expected to rise to nearly two-thirds by 2014. The social network leaders in China are Tencent QZone (with 536 million users), Tencent Weibo (310 million), Sina Weibo (250 million), Renren (137 million) and Kaixin001 (116 million), as reported by social marketing agency We Are Social. Douban, Tencent's Pengyou, 51.com, Tianji and Jiepang are important vertical social sites. As advertisers look to spend more this year on mobile marketing and online video ads, social media across these platforms - especially weibo sites - will benefit from the increased marketing efforts. Advertisers will look for ways to promote brands on Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo as consumers continue flocking to microblogs, which will pull advertising away from traditional social networking sites like Renren.


From http://www.emarketer.com/ 03/06/2012

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Wi-Fi Technology Boosts China's Digital Campus Construction

DALIAN (Xinhua) - A recent upgrade to its campus Wi-Fi network has helped the Dalian University of Technology (DLUT) create truly "boundless" campus surprises for its students. DLUT, located in northeast China's Liaoning province, on Wednesday announced the start of a Wi-Fi pilot program based on the 802.11n wireless networking standard, marking the creation of Asia's first campus wireless network with a bandwidth of 900 Mb. The network covers the entire DLUT campus and is available to over 10,000 teachers and students through more than 1,000 access points. "Since the upgrade, I've been able to watch video lectures given by well-known professors and chat with teachers from anywhere and at any time," said Jiang Xiaobo, a DLUT student majoring in computer science. Jiang and some of his fellow university students have even built their own remote-controlled car that can transmit video data captured by a camera mounted on the car directly to the car's operator via the new network. The wireless network solution applied by DLUT was provided by Aruba Networks, the world's second-largest vendor of WLAN networks. Gary Jackson, vice president of Aruba's Asia-Pacific and Japan branches, said that DLUT, as the first college in Asia to deploy high-performance AP-135 wireless access points, will serve as a model for the construction of digital campuses in China and across Asia.

China has been catching up quickly with the rest of the world in applying Wi-Fi technology to its business and education sectors. To date, nearly 100 Chinese universities and colleges have worked with Aruba, Jackson said. Last year, China became the world's second-largest wireless Internet market, with rapid growth in the application of mobile Internet technology. "The network has made it faster and more convenient to deliver recruitment information and offer career consultations to students," said Yu Haichen, a DLUT recruiter. Yu said communication between various departments at DLUT has become more smooth and timely with the introduction of the new network. Li Junjie, vice president of DLUT, said that becoming a "Wi-Fi campus" is only the first step, and that "figuring out how to combine education resources with technology" will be much more important. He added that the university will continue to cooperate with leading IT companies and learn from developed countries to improve the school's management and teaching capabilities, as well as establish a mobile emergency response mechanism and an e-learning system.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 03/22/2012

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China to Ensure Broadband Internet Access for Students

BEIJING (Xinhua) - China will ensure broadband Internet access for every rural and urban student by 2020 to improve informationization of education, according to a development guideline released Friday. The guideline covering the development of educational informationization in the next decade, which was published on the website of the Ministry of Education, says an educational information network will be established by 2020 to cover various levels of schools and educational institutions, so that each school and student can have Internet access. About half of students of primary and junior high schools in China and more than 20 percent of senior high school students do not have Internet access, official statistics show. Without adequate conditions and computers, many rural, remote and ethnic minority regions cannot access the Internet. The guideline specifies measures for "narrowing digital divide" in basic education, accelerating informationization for vocational education, promoting deep integration of information technology and higher education, and constructing public service platforms for continuing education. "An informationized learning environment will be established for each one to have access to high-quality educational resources," it says. A nationwide educational platform based on "cloud technology" will be formed by 2015, it says, adding that various schools and institutions will be connected and share information with each other via an "open university" platform. The guideline also asks universities to arrange special bodies and personnel to handle informationization issues.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 03/30/2012

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Grassroots Heroes Elected by Chinese Internet Users

Ten ordinary people have been recognized as national role models, as the results of a quarterly online election were unveiled on Saturday. The 10 were chosen for their actions and behavior that touched millions of Internet users across the country. The online election, organized by Xinhua News Agency, was held to inspire moral strength in the general public by highlighting the good deeds of ordinary people. Among those recognized was Liu Zhenmao, who lived alone on Shizikou Mountain in central China's Hunan province for 30 years to volunteer to protect forests and wildlife on the remote peak. Wang Sujing, a doctor at Jilin University's School of Computer Science and Technology who suffers from cerebral palsy but won international academic acclaim for his research, was also honored in the results. Wang was invited to the Doctoral Consortium of the International Conference on Biometrics held in the United States in 2011, where he was recognized as one of the 10 most promising doctoral students in the world. Internet users have labeled him "the Chinese Stephen Hawking." Wang Yimeng, a 10-year-old orphan, takes on the responsibility of looking after her elder brother who suffers from cerebral palsy, so deserves the recognition of being among these celebrated 10 people. Other "good Samaritans" included a girl who saved a boy from drowning in a freezing river, a boy who risked his life to save his mother from fire, and Metog, a 33-year-old woman in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region, who adopted an abandoned baby girl in 2009. Metog, a street cleaner, barely makes ends meet after she took on the responsibility of mothering the girl alone.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/21/2012

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Chinese Internet Users to Hit 800m by 2015

China aims to make its Internet services accessible to more people in the coming years and bring its total number of Internet users to 800 million by 2015, according to a national development plan. The number, which accounts for around 57 percent of the total population, includes 200 million netizens in rural areas, according to an Internet development plan for the 2011-2015 period unveiled Friday by the Ministry of Information and Information Technology (MIIT). The plan said revenues for the online service industry will grow at an annual rate of 25 percent during the period, helping to provide jobs for 2.3 million people by 2015. Meanwhile, the transaction value of the country's booming e-commerce businesses is expected to hit 18 trillion yuan in 2015, according to the plan. The MIIT also announced Friday another development plan for the communications sector. The plan says that by 2015, China's telecommunication businesses will reap combined revenues of 1.5 trillion yuan, while the total number of 3G subscribers will exceed 450 million. As of the end of last year, China's online population totalled 513 million. More Chinese have been going online to voice their opinions and participate in public affairs in recent years.


From http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ 05/05/2012

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Saturation Point for Mobiles?

What's next after China hit a new milestone of having more than 1 billion mobile phone accounts? The gradually saturated market has ended the easy growth period for Chinese telecom operators. However, there is still enough room for future growth so long as companies adopt new business models and adapt to the fast-changing industry, analysts said. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in March that the total number of mobile subscriptions increased by 20.67 million during the first two months this year to hit a record high of 1.01 billion. China is the world's first country to reach the billion landmark. The country took less than five years to double its mobile phone accounts to 1 billion, adding subscribers at a steady pace between 8 million to 12 million a month in recent years. India in the meantime exceeded the 900 million subscription mark in February. "The 1 billion mark does mean some saturation in China. It's a big challenge for telecom carriers," said David C. Michael, a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group. At the end of 2011, China had a population of about 1.35 billion. At the end of February, the official count of mobile phone subscribers was 1 billion, which means almost 75 percent of Chinese people have a cell phone. Executives from Chinese telecom operators, however, expect the figure to continue growing, as they think that it is very possible that every Chinese person will own more than one handset. 

Wang Jianzhou, former chairman of China Mobile Communications Corp, who retired in March, said the mobile phone subscription number in China is on its way to 1.3 billion, the same size as the Chinese population. "Even if it reaches 1.3 billion, it will still grow," Wang said. In the United States, the number of mobile phone accounts has already surpassed the population. While in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, the number of mobile subscriptions is more than 1.5 times larger than its population. "In many developing countries people may not have a computer but they own a mobile phone," said Chen Jinqiao, deputy chief engineer of the China Academy of Telecommunication Research. In addition, as companies and individuals may have two or more subscriptions each, the 1 billion figure does not indicate how many mobile phone users there are in China. "The actual number of mobile phone users in China is far less than 1 billion. If it is true that we have 1 billion users, we've still got 300 million people that don't own mobile phones," said Chang Xiaobing, chairman of China United Network Communications Group, in an interview in March. However, Chinese telecom operators admitted that they should change the way of doing business in the future. "Basically, the period of easy growth for Chinese operators is over. They have to face the new environment," Michael from BCG said. In the past, the business model could be simple - just selling the SIM cards. Now the business model has started to become more complicated, he said. The country is moving from a 2G society to a 3G society and is likely to start commercial use of 4G telecom networks in less than two years. 

The fast-changing telecom environment means a potential explosion in data service businesses, as more people will be connected to the Internet via their smartphones and people use handsets not only for entertainment but also for study and work. "If the 3G service penetration rate in China reaches 30 or 40 percent, there will be a huge opportunity for telecom companies so long as they prepare for the change in advance," said Chang from China Unicom. The number of 3G service subscribers in China rose by 15.5 million in the first two months to reach 143.92 million. The figure is expected to exceed 300 million by 2012, which means China's 3G penetration rate is about a quarter of the population, according to a report from Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. China Mobile Ltd, the world's biggest telecom carrier by user numbers, has already tasted initial success from data businesses. In 2011, China Mobile saw its fastest rate of revenue increase in wireless data traffic. The unit's revenue increased by 45 percent year-on-year and contributed 8.4 percent to the company's operating revenue. "Most Chinese people still rely on mobile phones as a tool for calls and text messages. However, mobile carriers have started to offer different data services and different types of pricing to explore new revenue sources. It's just a start and we will see more coming," said Xiang Ligang, a telecom industry expert. 


From http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ 05/07/2012

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Nine Technology-Based Assistive Tools for Disabled People Freely Available in HK

The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO) in Hong Kong announced Friday that nine technology-based assistive tools for disabled people, funded by the Office's Development of Assistive Technology for Persons with Disabilities Fund, are available for free download and for distribution to needy groups. These nine deliverables cater for the special needs of persons with different kinds of disabilities, ranging from the development of computer software, input and control assistance devices, smartphone applications, to web-based services and rehabilitation tools. OGCIO also launched a four-day exhibition in Hong Kong Central Library to introduce these products to the public. Addressing the opening ceremony of the exhibition, the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Elizabeth Tse, said, with technological advancement, assistive tools and applications developed with information and communications technology (ICT) can help persons with disabilities cope with their daily needs and lead a more independent life. These tools make it easier for them to access online information and public services and to communicate with friends, thereby improving their quality of life and facilitating their integration into the community. She hoped that through showcasing the achievements of the funded projects, the exhibition could raise public awareness of ICT adoption among persons with disabilities and encourage the development of more ICT-based assistive tools and applications. OGCIO has launched the Funding Scheme in January 2011 with a one-off funding of 3.6 million HK dollars to support the development of assistive and applications of ICT for the disabled persons. Of the total of 39 project proposals received, nine have been selected for funding support.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/11/2012

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China Launches Electronic Passports

BEIJING (Xinhua) - China on Tuesday began issuing a new type of passport featuring an electronic chip that contains the holder's personal information. Meng Hongwei, vice minister of public security, said at a launching ceremony for the passport that it was designed according to international standards, featuring anti-counterfeiting technology and "intelligent chips" that will bring greater convenience to passport holders. The passports are expected to simplify border control procedures by allowing for easier identification. The new passports have the same appearance as traditional ones, but also feature an inserted electronic chip that records the holder's name, date of birth, photo and fingerprints, according to a previous statement issued by the Ministry of Public Security on May 3. Holders of traditional passports will be able to continue using them as long as they remain valid, the statement said. The number of passports issued annually by China has increased sharply from 1 million in the mid-1990s to 10 million now, with an annual average growth of 20 percent. About 38 million Chinese hold passports. Last year saw 20.3 million exits by Chinese residents, a significant increase from 4.73 million in 2000.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/15/2012

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152 Million 3G Users in China

BEIJING (Xinhua) - China's 3G users reached 152 million by the end of March, almost a 10-fold increase from two years ago, according to figures released Thursday by the the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). Meanwhile, the nation's mobile online users exceed 370 million, more than 70 percent of the country's total Internet users, the MIIT vice minister Shang Bing said. Businesses such as e-commerce, mobile payment and microblogging are booming, and the information and telecommunication industries are driving social and economic development, said Shang. As of March this year, China had 1.3 billion phone users including 1.01 billion mobile phone users, as well as 158 million broadband Internet customers, MIIT statistics show. Shang promised further efforts to expand the use and accelerate the speed of broadband Internet.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/18/2012

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IBM Builds Smart Tech Center in S. China

IBM Corporation has set up a center in south China's Hainan Province to focus on the development of smart information technology, officials and sources with the company said. IBM will develop cloud computing and the "Internet of Things" technologies in its Hainan center, part of the government's efforts to make Hainan a leader in the country's smart technology drive, officials said. The "Internet of Things" refers to a wireless network connecting objects ranging from luggage to household appliances by managing the data sent by radio tags on the objects. Guo Rensheng, general manager of Southern China Region of IBM, said the company will partner with local firms to develop the smart systems that will provide clients with administrative and business solutions.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/20/2012

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260 Chinese Cities Build Digital Geographic Systems

More than 260 prefecture-level Chinese cities are building digital geographic systems to provide better services to citizens, the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation (NASMG) said on Wednesday. The NASMG said in a statement that over 100 of those cities have put their systems into full operation, including Taiyuan and Jincheng in Shanxi province, Huizhou and Foshan in Guangdong province, Yantai and Weihai in Shandong province. In the meantime, about 10 lower-level counties have also finished the construction of digital geographic systems. The digitalization of cities has become an important instrument for the government's decision making, and also helped improve citizens' quality of life, the NASMG explained. The statement said the country will build a digital geographic framework of China by 2015. It said the NASMG will choose some cities with well-developed digital geographic systems as pilot sites to build "smart cities," referring to urban centers administered with intelligent technology such as cloud computing.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/24/2012

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JAPAN: Facebook Wins the Most Users

It's the part of the job that stock analyst Hiroshi Naya dislikes the most: phoning investor relations managers on a Saturday or Sunday when he's working on a report and facing a deadline. In Japan, placing a work call to someone's cell phone on the weekend "feels like entering someone's house with your shoes on," says Naya, chief analyst at Ichiyoshi Research Institute in Tokyo. So last year, Naya started asking his questions via messages on Facebook. While a telephone call seems intrusive, he says, a Facebook message "feels more relaxed." Many Japanese have become fans of Mark Zuckerberg's company in the past year. It's taken a while: Even as Facebook took off in India, Indonesia, and other parts of Asia, it's been a laggard in Japan since its local-language version debuted in 2008. The site faced cultural obstacles in a country where people historically haven't been comfortable sharing personal information, or even their names, on the Internet. Homegrown rivals such as community website operator Mixi and online game portals such as DeNA allow - and sometimes even require - their users to adopt pseudonyms. "We have a very strict policy: Never use real names, never post phone numbers, and never post e-mail addresses," says Tomoyuki Akiyama, spokesman for DeNA, which includes a popular social networking function that allows gamers to contact each other.

The Japanese are overcoming their shyness, though. In February, Facebook had 13.5 million unique users, up from 6 million a year earlier, according to data from Nielsen (NLSN). That puts Facebook in the No. 1 position in Japan for the first time, ahead of Twitter and onetime leader Mixi. "Facebook didn't have a lot of traction in Japan for the longest time," says Arvind Rajan, Asia-Pacific managing director for LinkedIn, which entered the Japanese market last October and hopes to emulate Facebook's recent success. "They really did turn the corner," he says. Facebook and Mixi declined to comment. Rajan attributes the change in attitude to the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. During the crisis and its aftermath, sites such as Facebook helped parents and children locate each other and allowed people post and find reliable information. "The real-name case has been answered," says Rajan. "People are getting it now." Facebook has also benefited from high-profile users such as Kazuyo Katsuma, a popular author and businesswoman who joined the site in late 2010 and frequently mentions her Facebook page in media appearances. Jesse Eisenberg's portrayal of Zuckerberg in the Oscar-winning 2010 movie The Social Network also helped boost awareness of Facebook among Japanese. Takanori Kobashi, a 26-year-old marine products wholesaler, started using Facebook last year after seeing the movie. "That guy is amazing," he says of Zuckerberg.

Japanese like Kobashi see Facebook as a powerful business tool. The real-name policy makes the site a good place to cultivate relationships with would-be partners, he says. "It's useful because they will remember me after I comment on their posts," says Kobashi. As more companies such as retailers Uniqlo and Muji turn to Facebook to reach Japanese consumers, the Silicon Valley company is benefiting from a virtuous cycle, says Koki Shiraishi, an analyst in Tokyo with Daiwa Securities Capital Markets. "People started to recognize it's suited to business because it uses real names and is not anonymous," he says. "It's a chicken-and-egg thing: If everyone starts using it, then more people start using it." Facebook has been active in trying to boost its local appeal. In September 2010 the company opened a Japan office and introduced Connection Search, an application that links job-seeking students with young graduates. Waseda University student Kei Hirata, 21, used it to connect with alums in advertising. "Facebook has a cleaner image than other social networking sites," he says. As a result of Facebook's rise, investors have soured on some of its rivals: DeNA's stock price has dropped 24 percent in the past year, and Mixi's has fallen 38 percent, compared with a 3.4 percent rise for the benchmark Topix index. Growth at Twitter - which also entered Japan in 2008, making Japanese its first non-English language - has stagnated, and the San Francisco company has partnered with Mixi to do joint marketing. Twitter Japan country manager James Kondo says there's no reason to worry. Japan's social networking scene "is a developing thing," he says. "We're not in a flat market where everyone is competing for a share of a fixed pie."


From http://www.businessweek.com/ 03/22/2012

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Official Announcement of 2012 Guidelines (Guidebook) Concerning Information Communication Technology to Promote Use and Utilization of ICT in the Field of Education

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has formulated the guidelines concerning points to remember related to ICT at the time of constructing an ICT environment and operating, using and utilizing Information Communication Technology in the field of education based on the achievements of the Future School Promotion Project in FY2011. These guidelines intend to be used as references of specific efforts for people who involve in the field of education and are officially announced herein.

Background
MIC has implemented the Future School Promotion Project from FY2010 for the purpose of extracting and analyzing issues mainly in aspects of ICT and has continuously implemented said project also after FY2011 with the aim of promoting the use and utilization of ICT in the field of education. As for the FY2011 Future School Promotion Project, 8 junior high schools and 2 schools for special needs education have been added to 10 demonstrative schools (elementary schools) in FY2010. Those efforts and guidelines resulted from them have been deliberated by holding the Study Group for Promotion of Future School convened by the State Secretary for Internal Affairs and Communications three times in total from the first meeting held in July 27, 2011 and the Council for Experimental Study on Leading Education Utilizing ICT jointly held with the Promotion Council for Learning Innovation (MEXT) on November 14, 2011. MIC has formulated 2012 Guidelines (Guidebook) concerning Information Communication Technology to Promote Use and Utilization of ICT in the Field of Education to be used as references of specific efforts for people who involve in the field of education and the guidelines will be officially announced herein*.

* These guidelines will be posted on the MIC website and sent to the prefectural and municipal boards of education nationwide with documents in the name of MIC and MEXT.


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 04/10/2012

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65% of Parents: Kids Don't Need Cell Phones

A total of 65.7 percent of parents of fifth-grade primary school students do not think it is necessary for their children to carry cell phones, a survey showed Monday.At the same time, a record 23 percent of fifth-graders own cell phones, according to a fiscal 2011 survey conducted by the national council of parent-teacher associations.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 05/23/2012

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MALAYSIA: More File Income Tax Electronically

As of 15th May, 2,019,924 individuals used electronic system to file online, a 14.67 per cent increase from last year, where 1,761,503 citizens used the system. As of 15th May, 2,019,924 individuals used electronic system to file online, a 14.67 per cent increase from last year, where 1,761,503 citizens used the system. This news was announced by Dato' Dr. Mohd Shukor bin Hj. Mahfar, CEO of the Inland Revenue Board. He expects that by the end of this year, the number could reach 2.5 million. Dr Shukor said that more and more tax payers are recognising e-filing as a quick, accurate and secure way of filing tax. He added that the mobile tax filing service, which was introduced earlier this year, also contributed to the development of e-filing. Although the cut-off date has passed, Dr Shukor said the online and mobile filing channels remain open to taxpayers who have not filed their income tax, and they have to pay respective late charges.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/22/2012

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PHILIPPINES: The First Online Lifestyle Site

MANILA, Philippines - Boracay was the perfect venue for the hottest innovation in lifestyle today as Globe Tattoo launched LiveTattoo.ph, the first-ever online lifestyle site in the Philippines. This latest innovation in Broadband simply addresses the needs of individuals who are passionate in the fields of style and fashion, travel and adventure, technology, culture and music. Are you a passionate trendsette? Who is the style guru of your family and friends? Or, are you an adventurer, snapping away hot travel deals and constantly checking out on the coolest destinations? If you're a techie, culture vulture or an audiophile, LiveTattoo.ph will wos you with exciting privileges and discounts that allow you to satisfy your unique passions with no limits. LiveTattoo.ph even allows Tattoo subscribers to customize their passion and choose items that interest you so you get only the exact array of info and freebies that you want and need. All Tattoo subscribers can enter the site for free - no load deduction for prepaid. Just keep a maintaining balance of P5.00. Enter the LiveTattoo.ph site and live your passion with just four easy steps: identify your passion. Whether you are a trendsetter, techie, culture vulture, audiophile or adventurer, there is a whole gamut of perks, tips, information and freebies for you to enjoy. Sign-up using your Tattoo Prepaid or Postpaid number or Tattoo@Home account number to enter the LiveTattoo.ph site. Navigate the site to select your desired deals and perks! Find exclusive offers, downloads and subscriptions to over 50 partner websites and establishments such as games, music, tools and utilities, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, free surfing, discounts and added values on purchases.

Click and claim your freebies and enjoy the Tattoo lifestyle. Along with LiveTattoo.ph, Tattoo also launches its three new lifestyle sticks designed to give the Tattoo subscribers the full passion-filled experience! Powered by the reliable 4G network of Tattoo, surf at speeds of up to 7.2Mbps with Tattoo Player, Tattoo Explorer and Tattoo Stylista. Designed for gaming, movie and music enthusiasts, the Tattoo Player lifestyle stick gives Tattoo subscribers access to five free music downloads, free credits to online games and 50% off on Ayala Cinema tickets plus one year unlimited free access to movies and gaming sites like gamespot.com, ign.com, sureseats.com and rottentomatoes.com. Food and travel adventurers will delight in the Tattoo Explorer lifestyle stick as it takes the subscriber in a yummy journey. Get free issue of Yummy magazine, 50 percent discount at selected Redbox branches, two free music downloads, unlimited access for one year to food and travel sites like munchpunch.com, clickthecity.com, airphilexpress.com, tripadvisor.com and agoda.com plus buy one take one deals on Airphil Express domestic tickets. For the fabulous stylista, the Tattoo Stylista lifestyle stick showers the subscriber with discounts at Multiply, Pisobid, VMV Superskin Facials and unlimited access to popular lifestyle and fashion websites such as stylebible.ph, themall.ph and lookbook.nu. Every Tattoo Prepaid Lifestyle Stick lets you enjoy freebies, discounts, rewards and content tailored to your passion for only P1,295. Simply register in the LiveTattoo.ph site to claim.

Very proud mother Lala Flores was beaming in bliss when her daughter supermodel of the world Danica Magpantay was introduced as the new face of TATTOO@HOME. Lala and Danica exemplify what Globe Tatoo wants Tattoo@Home to be, and that is to provide parents the power to fuel their child's passions through the LiveTattoo.ph site. Globe Tattoo endorser Georgina Wison was so convincing in her black bustier gown with her strong message "Fight for greatness and enjoy your passions like never before with LiveTattoo.ph". Globle Tattoo head of nomadic broadband business Dong Ronquillo and Globe Telecom head of corporate communications division Yolly Crisanto were the most gracious hosts to their media and celebrity guests making sure that we all hadan unforgettable weekend in paradise. With my spacious villa at Shangri-la Boracay in the company of friends and with my new Tattoo Explorer, I surely did!


From http://mb.com.ph/ 05/09/2012

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Smart mHealth Program in LTE Awards Finals

Manila, Philippines - SHINE or Secured Health Information Network and Exchange, the flagship mHealth program of Smart Communications, which provides better access to health care services in the Philippines, has gained international recognition once again. A hosted electronic health information and referral system accessible by a java-capable phone or a computer with Internet connectivity, SHINE was recently shortlisted at the LTE Awards 2012 under the Most Significant Development for Commercial LTE Network by an Operator category. Smart launched its pilot LTE site in April 2011 in Boracay, and has since fired up over 30 LTE sites in various locations, including Iloilo City and Quezon City. LTE, shorthand for Long-Term Evolution, is the world's fastest mobile broadband technology. SHINE enables doctors, nurses and midwives to record patient encounters, easily find and retrieve patient records, facilitate referrals among facilities, and more efficiently generate government required reports. It is now being used in public primary, secondary, and tertiary care facilities in Central Philippines and the NCR, with 34 city health centers and rural health units and 19 major referral hospitals involved. Last month, SHINE received the Best Community Telecom Project at the 15th Telecom Asia Awards held in Bangkok, Thailand. Early this year, SHINE was nominated at the 17th Global Mobile Awards of the GSM Association in Barcelona, under the Best Mobile Health Innovation category. Now on its third year, the annual LTE Awards is organized by Telecoms.com, the leading online intelligence source for telecommunications. The awards have become a symbol of recognition for the LTE industry as a mark of leadership, quality and innovation. Winners will be announced on May 23, during the LTE World Summit 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.


From http://www.philstar.com/ 05/13/2012

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Gov't Urged to Provide Nationwide 'Wireless' Health Access

MAKATI CITY, Philippines - Announcing today the expansion of the Wireless Access for Health (WAH) project initiated by the people of Tarlac province, local officials urged the national government to support their project to improve health care in the Philippines using 3G technology. Officials in the town of Gerona in Tarlac, who initiated WAH in 2009, made the announcement in a press briefing in Makati City together with representatives from the Department of Health (DoH), Tarlac Provincial Health Office and IT company Qualcomm Incorporated. Local Tarlac government officials have committed to support the replication of the WAH project across the entire province by the end of 2012. Dennis Norman Go, the mayor of Gerona town in Tarlac where the first WAH project came to life, said the national government and local government should be partners in fulfilling the mandate of delivering quality healthcare and that Tarlac is a shining example that LGUs can do it.

Go said the expansion targets to reach 38 healthcare centers in Tarlac province by end of 2012. WAH partners explained that traditionally, information has been manually recorded on paper by health care providers - a time consuming and error prone process that is difficult to access and manage. The Philippine Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS) is the government's primary method for managing public health data and is used for policy analysis and planning at all levels of the public health system. The WAH project streamlines the reporting process and improves access to accurate and timely patient information for clinicians and decision makers by utilizing 3G wireless technology, building upon and strengthening the existing Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS), an electronic medical records system developed by the University of the Philippines, Manila. Since the project began in July 2009, WAH partners have established CHITS as their own electronic medical record (EMR) platform and successfully expanded implementation from four rural health units to 21 health clinics in the Tarlac Province, serving more than 1,500 patients a day.

As of April 2012, more than 109,000 patient consultations have been captured by the system, resulting in improved patient and increased number of patient visits as a result of efficiencies that have reduced the four to five minutes needed to search paper records to just seconds. Due to the success of the pilot project, the Tarlac Provincial government has committed staffing and financial resources to replicate the project in all 38 health provincial clinics, which will make Tarlac the first and only province in the Philippines to have all of its health clinics interconnected and running on a health information system. "Wireless Access for Health empowers local health care providers through enhanced patient care services and efficient patient visits using an open-source health information system. It empowers local communities by promoting participatory health planning among local leaders, health managers and providers, thereby transforming clients and patients into partners," said Crispinita Valdez, director of the Department of Health Information Management System Division. Yet for Ricardo Ramos of the Tarlac Provincial Health Office, the WAH initiative is a means to deliver quality health services to clients, aid health workers and local and national governments by promoting data-driven planning and sound decision-making. "Timely transmission of complete and reliable health data to local and national health agencies and government leaders facilitates policy analysis and allows faster program implementation, assisting local leaders and health workers in identifying and preventing disease outbreaks through preventive care, strategic health promotions and advocacy campaigns," Ramos said.

WAH's expansion will also include province-wide pilot testing of the Mobile Midwife and SPASMS (Synchronized Patient Alert via SMS) applications. The Mobile Midwife enables data to be captured electronically during patient visits via smartphones, tablets or laptops and instantly sends patient data to the CHITS system. SPASMS is an automated alert and health promotions system that sends patients information related to important health milestones such as for prenatal care and child immunization. To date, 26 midwives are participating in the Mobile Midwife program and 1,100 SPASMS have been sent to more than 250 patients. WAH is made possible through the collaboration of public-private partners such as agencies from the DoH including the National Epidemiology Center, the Information Management Service and the Center for Health Development for Region 3; the Provincial Government of Tarlac; local Tarlac government units; Qualcomm's Wireless Reach initiative; RTI International; Smart Communications, Inc. (SMART); Tarlac State University; the University of the Philippines Manila-National Telehealth Center; and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Mantosh Malhotra, director of Business Development for Qualcomm, said WAH demonstrates the extraordinary benefits that 3G wireless connectivity can bring to underserved communities, particularly in the area of wireless health care. "We hope that what has been achieved so far will encourage the expansion of this innovative network to benefit hundreds of thousands throughout the Philippines," Malhotra said.


From http://www.philstar.com/ 05/24/2012

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SINGAPORE: Introducing Online Patient Portal

Patients of Singapore's National Skin Centre (NSC) can now have an access to their treatment records and communicate with their healthcare team from homes. The NSC today launched its online Patient Health Portal, the first for a health institution in Singapore, and possibly in Asia that will enable patients to conduct a variety of tasks related to their treatments, said Dr Steven Thng, consultant at the National Skin Centre. "The benefit includes corresponding with the healthcare team via email about medication, treatment and procedure queries," he said. Patients will also be connected to more information concerning their medical condition. According to him, the NSC has more than one hundred people signing on this free service since it was piloted late last year. In term of confidentiality, Dr Thng said that patients do not need to worry as they are required to use a secured password to log onto the website. The NSC is a public tertiary-care institute that provides specialized dermatological services, trains and educates both medical students and post-graduate trainees.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/10/2012

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THAILAND: ICT Ministry Aims to Provide Broadband to 95 % of People

The Information and Communi-cations Technology Ministry expects to lay down broadband infrastructure that would cover 95 per cent of the country within the next eight years to improve the Kingdom's ICT competitiveness ranking. ICT Minister Anudith Nakorntap said the ministry was pushing government agencies to invest in the nation's ICT infrastructure to support the Smart Thailand scheme and increase the ranking of the country in this area. Currently, Thailand is ranked 49th for ICT competitiveness among 70 digital economies globally. Among regional countries, Singapore and Malaysia are ranked higher at eighth and 36th respectively, he said yesterday at a seminar hosted by Krungthep Turakij newspaper.

Moreover, the service fees for IT are high in Thailand at about 6.5 per cent of the income of users, while users in developed countries pay only 1 per cent of their income for the same services. He said the government intended to expand coverage of the high-speed Internet network. The fibre-optics network should cover about 80 per cent of the country within three years and the coverage will be expanded to 95 per cent by 2020. The government is also working to convert its 800 services to digital, which will offer more convenience to people and save taxpayer money. Thanachart Noomnonda, director of Software Park Thailand, said the country did not yet have an effective law to protect information on consumers. Consumers also do not use security software to protect themselves. He said he was concerned that the Thai software industry might not be able to keep up with other countries, but it was still not too late to take information security seriously.


From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 03/03/2012

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The Rise of the Smart City, Part 5: Smart Living

The successful development of the Smart City, which we have been discussing in recent columns, depends on a number of factors, including a Smart Economy, a Smart Environment and People who have been encouraged to make maximum use of all that a smart city can offer. In this article I will look at the fourth of the elements that comprise a Smart City, that of Smart Living. A better quality of life is something everyone aspires to, and for city dwellers of the future that will mean a heavy reliance on the benefits of technology. We are only 30 years into the age of the personal computer, and yet the changes that computers have made in the way we live are extraordinary. As someone who grew up in the age of the rotary-dial telephone and before colour television was invented, I think I'm safe in saying that no one really knows what further technological advances await us in the next 50 years. Back then, if you'd said that people would have handheld devices receiving directions from outer space, you'd have been laughed at, but nowadays people feel lost, literally, without GPS on their mobile phones.

However, one thing we can confidently predict is that city planners are going to be looking to technology to help enable Smart Living for future city dwellers. The focus will be on the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to create smarter and more sustainable cities, and to help improve overall quality of life. In particular, broadband service is expected to play a major role in Smart Living, helping to create low-carbon environments (industry studies have shown ICT can help to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by up to 15%) and enabling smart grids that can provide intelligent services in key areas such as health and transport. The availability of broadband will allow people to live and work smarter, providing access to health-related, work-related, and government-related online services. And don't forget that for every individual who can reach a medical practitioner or government official online, that is one less individual having to use personal or public transport, thus potentially lessening traffic congestion.

More service providers are also making use of mobile phones, either for GPS to find your way, checking the weather, looking for a restaurant, or even submitting your tax return, mobiles help to make our daily lives more manageable. Of course all this technology needs to be controlled and directed, and a lot of attention is being paid to the concept of a Smart City operating system (OS). A good example of this is the "Urban OS", built on a technology developed by the Formula One team McLaren, and unveiled at a recent conference by the Portuguese company Living Plan IT. They, along with partners such as Cisco and Microsoft, are constructing a futuristic settlement in Portugal to test the viability of the new technology. The aim is to build a city run by one big computerised system. It's a bit like how the operating system on your PC works, but on a giant scale, and with enormous volumes of data being handled. There could potentially be billions of interacting devices in a typical city, and the city being built to test the Urban OS will have around one million high-tech sensors embedded in it. They will monitor all activity and effectively eliminate the need for human management of many areas that affect the quality of daily city living.

Of course, the longer-term goal will be to have smartphone technology interacting with the city-level systems, bringing the possibility of handheld manipulation of home-based systems that manage appliances, heating, lighting, safety equipment, and so on. The operating systems of these high-tech cities of the future will allow for the fast creation and deployment of software applications for controlling building environments, managing urban lighting, controlling traffic, providing waste management, and many other urban essentials. Combining everything under one OS will lead to cost savings, better responsiveness, and more efficient use of scarce resources. Time will tell how well the new urban-style OS might work, but whether people are for or against increased computerisation, it is certain that technology will form the basis of future city management. Cities worldwide are looking for technology solutions to ensure their citizens can work and live smarter, and here are five innovations that IBM predicts most cities will be using in the near future:

Longer-life batteries: New technology will mean that batteries won't need to be recharged for days, or even months, at a time, providing up to 800 kilometres of use from a single charge, compared with the current maximum of about 160 km.

Disease control: Better IT systems will allow public health officials to predict, manage and control disease outbreaks far more effectively.

Water management: Smarter water management systems will reduce water waste by up to 50%, through avoiding pollution of rivers and lakes, and by increasing drinkable water supplies through improved purification processes.

Green credits: Citizens will be rewarded with tradable online credits for reducing their carbon footprint, thus providing incentives to get involved in efforts to improve the environment.

Emergency responsiveness: Cities will use state-of-the-art systems to collect and share data in real time to improve emergency prevention and response mechanisms.

Of course, one obvious potential barrier to the effectiveness of all these new smart technologies is whether or not city-dwellers will have the necessary skills to make use of them all. As we enter the age of the knowledge-based economy, cities will become more and more reliant on their human capital, the knowledge and skills of individuals, if they want to be successful. So technology awareness and training are likely to feature strongly in the minds of future city planners. In the next article in the series, I'll look at the fifth of the Smart City elements, that of Smart Governance.


From http://www.bangkokpost.com/ 05/08/2012

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Thailand Revamps Tax ID System

In an effort to simplify the tax identification system and facilitate the use of single number, the Revenue Department (RD) announced that the RD will stop issuing tax ID cards, which contain 10 digit tax ID numbers, to individual Thai citizens and to companies registered in Thailand. In an effort to simplify the tax identification system and facilitate the use of single number, the Revenue Department (RD) announced that the RD will stop issuing tax ID cards, which contain 10 digit tax ID numbers, to individual Thai citizens and to companies registered in Thailand. Instead, individuals can use their 13-digit citizen ID number registered with the Department of Provincial Administration as tax ID number in relation to all tax filings. Likewise, companies registered with the Department of Business Development (DBD) can use their 13-digit company registration number as their corporate tax ID number. Foreign workers can continue to use the tax ID number issued by the RD. The RD has been preparing to adopt this approach since 2008 by including 13-digit entry on their data system alongside its 10-digit system. Now, the RD will keep the previous system only for its internal use, and will fully operate all e-tax filings based on the new database system. The change took place as part of the collaboration between the RD, the DBD, and the Office of Social Security to create an electronic starting business solution and increase the country's competency. Apart from using a single number, they aimed to adopt a single form and single point solutions to facilitate and expedite the government e-services.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/23/2012

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VIET NAM: City to Provide Free Wifi for Residents

Located 160km Northeast of Hanoi, Ha Long - capital city of Quang Ninh province, Vietnam - "has started installing 30 wireless base broadcasting stations to provide free wifi for citizen and tourists" revealed Mr Nguyen Minh Hong, Director General, Department of Information and Communications, Quang Ninh province. The project to offer free wifi for the main cities of Quang Ninh is estimated to cost about 350 trillion Dong (USD 17 million). The first implementation phase required an investment of about 100 trillion Dong (USD 5 million) to "establish free wifi for Ha Long city". Quang Ninh local government is working closely with the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (VNPT) to implement this project. VNPT is responsible for installing infrastructure and collect monthly wireless internet fee from local government and end-users who need better services for their entertainment needs. Hong told FutureGov that the Ha Long project is expected to be finished before the end of April 2012 when the local tourism festival begins. The free wifi coverage will help meet internet access needs of local citizens, investors and tourists.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/14/2012

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VIETNAM: Initiating Dialogue on Education IT with Key Stakeholders

On 16 March more than 30 key players in the field of education IT in Vietnam from more than 20 different organisations from the public and private sectors as well as development partners met in Hanoi for a meeting to propose projects on ICT integration in education. The key players' meeting was organised by the Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance (VVOB), in association with the Vietnam National Institute for Educational Sciences (VNIES), the British Council (BC) in Vietnam and UNESCO. The objective of the meeting was to enhance dialogue on ICT integration in education in Vietnam and to facilitate key players to explore potential areas for cooperation. Ten different key players presented their current and planned activities in the field of ICT in education in Vietnam and identified possible areas for cooperation. The ICT department of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) announced that it is developing an ICT in education master plan for the period 2015-2020 and invited all key players to share their experience with and insight in ICT integration in education in Vietnam.

To facilitate further dialogue and cooperation, VVOB introduced the framework of ten dimensions of ICT in education that were identified by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) in 2010: (1) national ICT in education vision; (2) national ICT in education plans and policies; (3) complementary national ICT and education policies; (4) ICT infrastructure and resources in schools; (5) professional development for teachers and school leaders; (6) community/partnerships; (7) ICT in the national curriculum; (8) teaching and learning pedagogies; (9) assessment; and (10) evaluation and research. All key players have been invited to complete an online survey to share their opinion on the current status and targets for 2020 on each of these dimensions for Vietnam. VVOB will prepare a report based in the input received via the survey and organise a second round of surveys to prioritise identified targets. To keep the momentum going, different working groups will be initiated to address different aspects of ICT in education in Vietnam. The results of the survey on dimensions of ICT in education will be used to direct possible cooperation.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/22/2012

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Ministry Wants Hi-Tech Agriculture Zones

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is set to finalise and submit a plan for hi-tech agricultural zones to the Government for approval in June, said deputy minister Bui Ba Bong. The plan is expected to help increase the application of modern technology in agricultural production, in accordance with the scheme approved in 2010. Vietnam aims to promote the use of advanced agricultural technologies and develop more hi-tech agricultural zones toward 2020. However, Bong said, the implementation of the scheme has been running behind pace. According to ministry statistics, in HCM City, there are only 90 on-going projects thus far. Other areas, including Hanoi , Lam Dong, Phu Yen and Nghe An are only in the first stage of the Government's long term plans. Only three enterprises in the entire country were recognised for applying modern technologies. These included Da Lat Flower-Forest Biotechnology Corporation, Da Lat Hasfarm and TH Milk Joint Stocks Company. Director of the National Institute of Agriculture Planning and Projection Nguyen Van Chinh said while there are sufficient incentives for the development of industrial zones and infrastructure, hi-tech agricultural zones have been hindered by lack of practical mechanisms. One example is northern Son La province where the People's Committee was willing to spare 200 ha for such enterprises, however the incentives were too vague to attract investors. Deputy minister Bong said hi-tech agriculture is a complicated industry and hasty, massive development should be avoided. "The country already has about 7-12 zones which can make use of their natural advantages, such as vegetable and flower farms in Da Lat, tra fish farms in the Mekong Delta and coffee plantations in the Central Highland provinces," he said. - VNA


From http://en.vietnamplus.vn/ 04/17/2012

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INDIA: Economic Survey 2011-12 Tabled: NTP Expected by June, Spotlight on Role of ICT in Education

The Economic Survey has been tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The survey states that Rate of growth would be 6.9 per cent. Outlook for growth and stability is promising with real GDP growth expected to pick up to 7.6 per cent in 2012-13 and 8.6 per cent in 2013-14. According to the Survey, the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012, under which government has proposed free roaming throughout the country, is likely to be in place by June. "Draft of the policy was circulated in 2011 for consultation with various stakeholders. Views/comments from these stakeholders have been received and the same are under consideration. NTP is likely to be in place by June 2012," the Survey said.The draft of the policy was recently approved by the apex decision-making body of the Department of Telecom (DoT), the Telecom Commission. Currently DoT is in the process of seeking Cabinet approval. R Chandrashekhar, DoT Secretary, has stated that the draft policy will be sent to the Cabinet by end of March. Cabinet nod is expected by April-end. Once NTP 2012 is in place, consumers will be able to use the same number anywhere in the country without paying roaming charges. NTP 2012 will also allow subscribers to change operators using mobile number portability (MNP) while moving to any other state or telecom circle. On the education front, the Survey states that the National Mission in Education through ICT, content generation and connectivity along with provision for access devices for institutions and learners are the most important initiatives.
 
A major development during the year has been the launch of Aakash, the low cost access-cum-computing device that was launched on 5 October, 2011. Besides so far nearly 400 universities have been provided 1 Gbps connectivity or have been configured under the scheme and more than 14,000 colleges have also been provided VPN connectivity. Creation of e-content for 996 courses in Phase II in engineering, sciences, technology, humanities, and management has been undertaken by IIT Madras. The Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC) has been tasked with creation of e-content for 87 undergraduate subjects. More than 2000 e-journals and 55,000ebooks from 297 publishers have been made available online under this programme. The Survey points out some institutions like the IITs have, in order to promote innovation, created technology business incubation facilities in their campuses. These are providing to be focal points amongst students and faculty for working towards taking some of their applied research to the market through the creation of business models for the same. These efforts need to be expanded greatly (a) by scaling up the previously successful centres of such innovations, and (b) by creating many such centres across the higher technical institutions in the country.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 03/15/2012

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Providing Better Services to People Through IT

The district administration in Virudhunagar, Tamil Nadu, has launched a project that will provide complete details about local people by a mere click of the 'mouse'. The scheme, launched under the Collector's 'innovative fund', will help officials provide various services to the people quickly. According to District Collector, M.Balaji, the database will be based on an individual's complete profile, including socio-economic details, income, community, disability (if any), educational qualification and properties owned. Once the data is available, there will be no need for any middleman. Applications can be processed quickly and seamlessly. "We can quickly decide on the application of a person for some welfare scheme," M.Balaji added. In the first phase, Aruppukottai Panchayat Union has been selected to collect information about individuals' bio-data. It will provide details on 35 subjects. Hundreds of college students have been engaged in collecting the details by conducting door-to-door survey. The digital questionnaire is uploaded on the mobile phones of students and details entered in the phones are transferred to computer. The Weekly "Sunday survey" has covered over 32 village panchayats. The database will have a unique identity number, ration card number and voter identity card number. This will minimise the scope for duplication or false entries.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/16/2012

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Social Networking Sites Must Locate Their Servers in India

At the Chief Ministers Conference in New Delhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that social networking sites should be asked to set up their servers in India so that "miscreants" posting proactive comments are booked at the earliest. HE is demanding Centre's immediate attention for controlling social networking sites. Gehlot said that communal elements had posted some proactive comments on Facebook which resulted in communal tension in a region of his state. "Effective action was taken immediately against the miscreants," he said and added that while his government complied with the idea of Freedom of expression, but it should not be misused by communal elements and needs to be dealt with all severity. "I would appreciate if these site could develop a system which by itself prevents posting of material with communal and anti-national overtones," he said. "As the servers of these social networking sites are located outside the country, it becomes an arduous task to obtain any information related to such incidents." "I would suggest that the Government of India should develop a system which can help in obtaining the information from these servers on real-time basis or as an alternative making it mandatory for these companies to set up their servers in India," Gehlot added. He also stressed for capacity buildings by increasing the strength of police forces and imparting professional trainings to them to meet internal security challenges. "Sardar Patel Police and Security University is being established at Jodhpur with an initial budget of Ts 20 crore to study and analyse issues related to policing and security. Setting up of this University would enhance the capabilities and effectiveness of Rajasthan Police," Gehlot said.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/16/2012

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Accenture Survey Finds There Is Broad Support for Digital Public Services in India

Nearly 50 percent of citizens in India believe that interacting with their government is easy and the same percentage feel it's just as easy to interact with the government as it is with private-sector companies, according to a new survey from Accenture. That response is higher than the results from six other countries participating in a global "pulse survey" conducted with more than 1,400 citizens in Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom. About one-third of respondents in those countries believe it's easier to interact with the government than with private-sector companies. These same "digital citizens," however, want increased access to public services and are more inclined to use digital channels, including online and mobile resources, to conduct routine government business. In fact, more than 70 percent of the survey respondents already use the Internet for submitting and tracking government forms and payments and more than half (53 percent) say they want to use more online channels in the future.

While the overwhelming majority (70 percent) of those surveyed said they were likely to use digital services, such as websites or portals, a fair number (30 percent or more) said they were unlikely or unsure about using a range of digital channels for public services. And, one-third said they are not aware of the ways to interact with the government digitally, which provides an opportunity for governments to better communicate the benefits of digital channels to citizens. "Digital citizens are empowered in ways that previous generations could only imagine," said Krishna Giri, who leads Accenture's Health & Public Service business in India. "They can initiate and dictate the dynamics of citizen-to-government relationships with a tweet, blog post or Facebook message sent to hundreds of people from their smart phone. And high performing governments are working now to reshape the way they deliver public services to meet the new demands of their citizens." Giri said that governments around the world face a new reality of citizen expectations and need to shift the ways they deliver public services. This "digital citizen" survey is one in a series of research studies Accenture is developing to analyze key issues and trends that affect delivering "Public Services in the Future." Key findings among Indian citizens surveyed: Citizens in India are more likely than those from all other countries to use digital services beyond websites and portals. Nearly two-thirds of respondents would use mobile websites and apps and 77 percent would be willing to receive electronic emergency broadcasts or alerts through digital channels. A much smaller percentage, 28 percent, would use social media to contact a government official to request a service or resolve a problem. Nearly one in five citizens said there were no barriers to preventing digital interactions with the government. Of those who did report barriers, about 30 percent were concerned with the government having access to personal information. The majority, 71 percent, said they would support a digital post. Almost 70 percent (67 percent) would like the government to be more integrated and have the ability to share information across agencies, making it even easier to conduct government business.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/04/2012

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Online Rail Ticket Booking Facility for Disabled

Indian railways is set to come up with a system to allow differently abled people to book rail tickets online at concessional fares that they are entitled to. At present, differently abled people have to go to railway reservation counters to book tickets if they want to avail the fare concession given by railways. The plan entails issuing of identity cards with specific numbers to each differently abled person which will be built into the computerized passenger reservation system (PRS) across the country Specific offices will be set up in zones and divisions where differently abled people can get their fare concession card made after producing a medical certificate Physically challenged people get fare concessions, have special reservation counters at railway stations and even special coaches on trains but cannot avail fare concessions while booking an e-ticket. They can book full fare tickets through the internet The move came after railway board received several complaints from differently abled passengers and social activists. The issue was also raised with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation ( IRCTC), the PSU handling online ticketing operations.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/08/2012

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Airtel Digital TV Launches iEnglish for Customers

Airtel digital TV, the DTH service by Bharti Airtel has launched its new interactive service, iEnglish to help customer hone their English speaking skills within the comfort of their homes. These English language tutorials are based on an audio-visual format, animated characters and quizzes for easy comprehension. Priced at Rs. 30/month (inclusive of taxes) Airtel digital TV subscribers can now avail the benefits of this offering by simply pressing the iTV button on their remote control. Commenting on the launch, Mr. Shashi Arora, CEO- DTH/ Media, Bharti Airtel, said "Today, interactive services on digital TV platforms are not merely value added services but 'infotainment plus'. Our new interactive service, iEnglish will enable customers become skilled at day-to-day spoken English by enhancing their learning through entertaining, yet educational activities. We believe it will truly enrich the lives of the customer who are unable to leave their homes due to lack of time or confidence". Powered by Hungama and Aptech, iEnglish will help consumers understand specific scenarios and commonly used English expressions for daily communication. Apart from teaching correct pronunciations of words, it would also help customers learn new words and phrases, proper grammar usage and an opportunity to gauge their competencies. Speaking on their first launch of the mEducation offering, Mr. Ninad Karpe, MD & CEO, Aptech Ltd said, "With India poised to emerge as one of the successful player in the field of mEducation, we are excited to launch our first mEducation offerings on Airtel digital TV". Neeraj Roy, MD & CEO, Hungama added "The DTH platform is emerging as a new tool for more interactive forms of entertainment and learning. We will continue to innovate and create products with ease of access for our consumers." Besides iEnglish, Airtel digital TV currently offers several interactive services such as iExam, iKidsworld, iDarshan, iRadio and iFasal. iEnglish is available for all Airtel digital TV customers @ INR 30/ month inclusive of taxes. To activate an iTV service of choice, customers need to call 12150.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/20/2012

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Bhopal Citizens Can Soon Pay Property Tax, Water Cess Online

The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) is developing a Geographical Information System (GIS) that will facilitate management of property and property tax online. This GIS enabled e-Governance project will enable citizens to pay water bills and property tax through one bill. According to sources, the GIS is an online system which will enroll roads, properties, water connections, water sources and important landmarks of the city into a digital base map, which can be viewed by the residents as well. The project will also allow residents to view their properties online. The GIS will also enable the residents to view their properties online and help the corporation collect property taxes from them. As of now the method of manual surveys was only allowing collection of about 80 percent property taxes from residents. However, this system will enable BMC to differentiate between the registered and unregistered properties and collect taxes accordingly. About 70 wards under the corporation have been surveyed and the list of registered and unregistered properties has been created. It will take another six months to launch this. This e-Governance project will be then merged with the Municipal Administrative System (MAS) for better administration.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/22/2012

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New SIM Card Technology to Help Parents Safeguard Kids from Bullying

The Bemilo system, to be run on the Vodafone network, offers a service for parents to prevent their children from going online, texting or calling during certain hours. Unlike an app, a child will not be able to switch the service off. According to UK's Family and Parenting Institute said the SIM would help protect children from mobile phone bullying. To enjoy the service, parents would need to buy a safety pack with a SIM card inside, install it into the child's phone and use it on a pay-as-you-go basis, from £2.95 per month. With the help of this technology, if parents wanted to switch off the phone during school hours, they could do so remotely from a website on their computer. But even if nearly all the functions on the child's phone are disabled, parents can always manage the handset in such a way that they are able to reach their children, and the child is able to contact them. Parents would also be get access to child's texts. The service could help prevent mobile phone bullying and "sexting" - when a child is subjected to unwanted phone calls or texts.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/22/2012

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Unite Community Information Centres and Panchayats, Says Omar

Stressing upon the need for rejuvenating Community Information Centres (CICs), Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah suggested merging their functioning with the established Panchayati Raj System in the state. The primary motive behind establishing CIC was to bring in e-governance at block levels and keep generated information available to the people for various purposes in the process of development. According to the minister, such centres will act as a data bank and digital route for filing reports and receiving information. The Chief Minister asked the Information Technology and Rural Development Departments to jointly work out a viable model to use the CICs as block centres for dissemination of vital information to the people in rural areas particularly agriculturists. He said information regarding weather, cropping pattern, market trends and other aspects can be obtained and provided to the people through these centres besides other such information. Minister for Rural Development Ali Mohammad Sagar, addressing the meeting, said upgradation of the functioning of CICs to benefit the Panchayati Raj System established in the state need to be worked out in a time-bound manner. He said a strategy has to be worked out to bring these centres at par to the growing needs of people in rural areas so as to strengthen e-governance.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/22/2012

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E-Ticket Cancellations Bring the Railway Department Whooping 750 Crore Revenue

Reports reveal that e ticket cancellation is major source revenue for the Railway department, fetching them an annual sum of Rs. 750 crore, in between the period of 2005-2011. In addition this, the government earned Rs 30,094 crore from e-tickets from 2005 to April 2012. In 2011, between March and December, the railways earned Rs 198 crore from cancellation charges of e-tickets. Ever since it began in 2005, e-ticketing has ballooned to make up about 40% of all rail ticket sales. Railway officials say that the convenience that booking and cancelling an e-ticket offers has seen more passengers making advance bookings that very often result in cancellations. In fact, one out of every three e-tickets sold is cancelled. If a confirmed ticket is cancelled more than 24 hours before the scheduled departure of the train, the penalty is Rs 70 for an AC first-class ticket, Rs 60 for AC Tier-2, AC Tier-3 and AC chair car, Rs 40 for sleeper class and Rs 20 for a second-class ticket. In fact, even if a wait-listed ticket is not confirmed, the Railways go on to deduct Rs 20 before refunding the remaining sum. Popular trains have long waiting lists of 700 or 800. Almost 95% of the wait-listed tickets do not get confirmed and therefore are automatically cancelled. What ordinarily happens is that most passengers book themselves on more than one train, others with flexible travel dates book tickets on different days if they are on the waiting list.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/24/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Launching Real Estate E-registration

The State Property Committee in Azerbaijan begins to provide e-services to the population, the committee said on Tuesday. In the first quarter, the committee completed work on the introduction of software and hardware systems. The committee's official website has an e-services section, which in the next few days will be fully functional. In order to develop a real estate registration system and introduce best practices in this area, in the first quarter, the committee carried out work on the introduction of information systems, the centralization of information bases, the construction of enterprise systems, the improvement of territorial registration offices and logistics, converted archives into e-form, and purchased modern types of surveying equipment.


From http://en.trend.az/ 04/17/2012

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E-Services in Azerbaijan Enter Active Phase

E-services of the Azerbaijani State Property Committee have been integrated into the 'Electronic government' portal, Azerbaijani deputy minister of communications and IT Elmir Valizade said at a public presentation on 'E-services in the management and registration of property: Ensuring transparency and efficiency,' today. He said that e-services rendered by the committee are currently available on the portal. "We think that the number of e-services presented on the portal will be increased in the future," he said. "The mechanism of their implementation will be further improved." The work with the state bodies in this direction is being conducted upon a presidential decree dated May 23, 2011 on certain measures for rendering electronic services. He said that the formation of electronic services in Azerbaijan enters into the active phase of its development today. The new relations between officials and citizens are being formed qualitatively, he said. The information register in each public agency significantly reduces the number of the documents required from the citizens when applying to a particular state department. "In this regard, it is very important to have the registry, because it is the foundation for e-services," he said. A digital signature will be required to use the new services. Today all the necessary work has been conducted to create centres issuing digital signatures. There are three such, one of which is the main one; the other two are designed for issuing signatures to the public sector and the third one to the population and business organisations. The number of e-services presented on the portal will increase and the mechanism for rendering services will be improved, he added.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/03/2012

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How Azerbaijan Demonizes the Internet to Keep Citizens Offline

On May 22, the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan will play host to the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual competition between singers from countries in Europe and parts of the former Soviet Union. Though little known in the United States, Eurovision is the most popular non-sporting event in the world and will be watched by hundreds of millions - many of whom will be seeing Azerbaijan, a small Muslim petrostate bordering Iran and Russia, for the first time. Azerbaijan's government has spent more than $700 million on promotion and infrastructure in order to put its best image forward. But as the world discovers Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani government is doing its best to keep its citizens from connecting with the world. Over the past few years, the Azerbaijani government has waged an aggressive media campaign against the Internet. Social media has become synonymous with deviance, criminality, and treason. Television programs show "family tragedies" and "criminal incidents" after young people join Facebook and Twitter. In March 2011, the country's chief psychiatrist proclaimed that social media users suffer mental disorders and cannot maintain relationships. In April 2012, the Interior Ministry linked Facebook use with trafficking of woman and sexual abuse of children. Since May 2011, the Azerbaijani parliament has been debating laws to curtail social media, citing the deleterious effect on society. Social media has become a vital political issue despite the fact that 78 percent of Azerbaijanis have never used the Internet, only 7 percent go online daily, and just 7 percent - almost all male, highly educated, and wealthy - use Facebook.

Azerbaijan has a long history of media censorship. During the Soviet era, media were state-controlled, and dissidents faced harsh penalties for publishing political works. Little changed when Azerbaijan became independent in 1991. Almost all media outlets are owned or controlled by the state. The few opposition journalists face harassment, physical violence, imprisonment, and even death. Most authoritarian states treat the Internet the same way they do print media: They censor it. Azerbaijan has taken a more insidious route. They do not heavily filter or block the Internet but instead leave it open, allowing the government to better monitor and punish rebellious activities. In 2010, two online activists were arrested for posting a video satirizing government waste on YouTube. Their case was never mentioned in Azerbaijan's print media - but was relentlessly showcased online, where it frightened the bloggers' peers. As a result, Azerbaijan's frequent Internet users became less supportive of activism, and online dissent has quieted. This strategy worked quite well with elites. But after the events in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011, the Azerbaijani government decided to adopt a more aggressive strategy to shield regular citizens from discussions of dissent or collective action. Azerbaijan has moved from intimidating users who are already online to keeping the rest of the nation offline by making social media use seem like a form of bad citizenship.

To see how successful Azerbaijan's anti-social media campaign has been, one need only to compare Azerbaijan to its poorer, yet more democratic, neighboring post-Soviet states Georgia and Armenia. Azerbaijan trails far behind in Internet use despite the fact that the cost of an Internet connection and a computer is roughly the same in all three countries. In Armenia and Georgia, 20 percent use the Internet daily, but in Azerbaijan, it is only 7 percent. In Armenia and Georgia, 40 percent and 33 percent of households have computers, but in Azerbaijan, only 15 percent have them. In Armenia and Georgia, 35 percent and 29 percent of households have Internet at home, while only 11 percent of Azerbaijani households do. The framing of the Internet as a dangerous place has made men hesitant to allow their wives and daughters access. As a result, only 14 percent of Azerbaijani women have ever used the Internet. More than 70 percent of Internet users, as well as Facebook users, are men. The women who are online are often constrained: It is not uncommon for young brides to give their Facebook passwords to their husbands for monitoring. Women worry about maintaining their and their families' honor online and offline and tend to prefer to not engage in discussion forums.

Azerbaijanis are proud that their country is hosting Eurovision. The competition symbolizes that Azerbaijan is not a second class country but a player on the world stage. But as the world spotlight shines on Azerbaijan, citizens find themselves increasingly in the dark - and not only in terms of the internet. On May 1 of this year, the government banned foreign television broadcasting, as "foreign television series often contradict our mentality" and may expose Azerbaijanis to new ideas. Decades of exposure to foreign television and film is now ending. The potential of the Internet as a place to learn, explore, create, and communicate is unfulfilled - instead, it is yet another thing citizens are told to fear.


From http://www.slate.com/ 05/11/2012

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Azerbaijani State Committee for Land and Cartography Expands E-services

The Azerbaijani State Committee for Land and Cartography has adopted administrative regulations for nine types of e-services, the committee said on Friday. Among them are getting information about the State Committee for form number, on a plot of land on the number of the inventory, preparation of maps of municipalities, work on geodesy, gravimetry, photogrammetry, fortography, engineering, surveying, and authorization to data from the land registry. The services have been added to the registry of electronic services. In total, 13 e-services have been integrated into the e-government portal. The committee has also implemented work to build an Internet infrastructure network.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/18/2012

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Azerbaijani Processing Center Expands Online Payments Services

Azerbaijani processing center Millikart expanded current services for cardholders of banks served by it, Millikart processing center said on Monday. From now on, besides getting information on the balance, statements of accounts, transactions Card-to-Card - transfer of funds from one card to another using the page of iBanking, as well as payments of fees of mobile operators, users can take advantage of more advanced services of online payments by cards. There has been added possibility to pay for public services -Azerigaz, Azersu, BES; Internet - Adanet,Azeronline, Azstarnet, Eurosel; cable television -Aile TV, B&B TV, Connect, KATV1 along with the already existing list of mobile operators - Azercell, Bakcell, Nar Mobile. The service is completely free of charge. Payment for services through a "personal account" on page of iBanking is very easy and convenient. The main advantages are: saving and repetition of payments through payment templates; automatic payments through direct debit; tracking the history of payments.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/21/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: To Increase Fee for Landline Phone Service by 20 Percent

Kazakhstan will increase fee for landline phone service by 20 percent from May 1, 2012, Kazakhtelecom company reported. Thus, physical entities in urban areas will pay 748.80 tenge (excluding VAT) for one landline phone not transferred to time payment compared to previous 624.00 tenge ($1=147,64 tenge). Physical entities in rural areas will pay 497.16 tenge (excluding VAT) compared to the previous 414.30 tenge. Meanwhile for one landline phone transferred to time payment physical entities will pay 371.28 tenge (excluding VAT) compared to 309.40 tenge earlier. The landline phone service tariffs for such landline phone subscribers as notaries dealing with private practice, lawyers and entrepreneurs will also increase by 20 percent. Thus, the monthly fee for one landline phone, not transferred to time payment will increase from 746.61 tenge to 895.93 tenge (excluding VAT) for them. Meanwhile, the monthly fee for one landline phone transferred to time payment will increase from 597.29 tenge to 716.75 tenge (excluding VAT). Landline phone service will remain at the current level for legal entities and for phones connected to the coupled scheme in urban and rural areas. Moreover, tariffs for landline phone transferred to time payment will remain at the current level for inter-city communications and intra-city communications.


From http://en.trend.az/ 04/19/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Creates "Living Laboratory" for Digital Apps

Australia's peak ICT research body, National ICT Australia (NICTA), has launched a "Digital Productivity Showcase" facility that displays new applications for digital communications. This purpose-built "futuristic space" or facility is located at NICTA's Sydney head office. This space demonstrates how digital tools can be used to improve productivity, access information and streamline digital services. This digital space will be a "living laboratory" to help build Australia's digital future, says Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy. As governments escalate online services, organisations need to make "technology more useable for humans," Senator Conroy says. Government digital services include healthcare for rural communities, on-line education, and community care. Among the displays, one shows how a non-English speaking patient in a remote area can file a Medicare claim form using the National Broadband Network (NBN) and video interpreting services.

A claim form and doctor's receipts can be scanned using a high-definition document reader - with remote verification capabilities. Other displays show how end-users can understand and get value from massive data stores, back-up and recovery systems using a public cloud, as well as social TV apps, and mobile communications. This digital space offers a low-risk environment to create and test new technologies, notes NICTA's CEO, Hugh Durrant-Whyte. NICTA leads in the development of award-winning technologies, among these, face-recognition technology that is being used at major airports and seaports. Face-recognition technology tracks the movement of crowds with pinpoint accuracy, including behaviour patterns. NICTA has also finalised a three-year agreement with a US-based surveying company. This partnership taps into automatic video analysis technology that was developed by NICTA.

This technology helps create inventories of road signs and power poles throughout a region. These inventories can help tackle maintenance, safety, and regulatory issues, while reducing the number of fatalities at night. Australia has successfully used this automatic video analysis technology for three years, and is now sharing its expertise in international markets.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 02/24/2012

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Joint ANZ Standard on E-Waste Proposed

Standards Australia has released for public comment a draft joint Australia-New Zealand standard for processing electrical and electronic waste. Once finalised, the standard will provide voluntary guidelines for processing e-waste. Environment Minister Nick Smith says it makes sense to have a joint standard because of Australia and New Zealand's shared markets for the ICT, television and e-waste recycling sectors.

"The main issue facing a small country like New Zealand is economies of scale," he says. "E-waste recycling is one example where large volumes are required to make it economically viable." He says the draft standard references Ministry for the Environment guidance for dealing with e-waste that was released last year.


From http://www.e-pic.info/ 03/14/2012

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Australia Uses "Big Data" Analytics for Geothermal Energy

Australia's race to locate alternative energy sources picks momentum - with peak government and education bodies using big data analytics on geothermal projects. The latest big data analytics project brings together National ICT Australia (NICTA) and the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy, among other partners. These partners are sharing their data analytics' expertise to find geothermal energy sources deep beneath the earth's surface. This geothermal project is the first endeavour to be funded under the Australian Government's US$131 million (AUD$126 million) Emerging Renewables Program. "Australia has a wealth of geothermal energy resources, but they are difficult to locate and access," says NICTA's CEO Hugh Durrant-Whyte. "We will apply NICTA's considerable expertise in machine-learning and big data analytics to create software to address these challenges."

Locating suitable hot rocks is a manual and expensive exercise. Existing drilling technology limits the economic development of geothermal resources. Data analytics offer an alternative to traditional drilling and other search methods. This information management tool helps track energy sources deeper into the earth's surface layers, while tackling the high cost of exploration. NICTA is leading a team of university experts from four states to find better, automated ways to define geothermal targets. NICTA partners include the School of Information Technologies (University of Sydney), School of Earth Science (Australian National University), University of Melbourne, and the University of Adelaide. Government participants include GeoScience Australia and the South Australian Department of Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy. These agencies are sharing geothermal sensor data sets and expertise to locate and characterise geothermal targets.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/15/2012

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Australia Launches "Virtual Meeting" Services for Higher Education

Higher education institutions will gain access to high-definition virtual meeting services through a gateway that connects up to 90 participants at a single meeting. This service is supported by Australia's peak Academic and Research Network (AARNet), a non-profit provider of internet services for higher education and the research community. AARNet's Telepresence Exchange will connect Swinburne University, Monash University and its Traralgon Hospital, Victoria University, the Australian Centre for Health Innovation and Melbourne University's Institute for Broadband Enabled Society, among other institutions. This exchange also connects to the National Lambda Rail (NLR) in the U.S. The NLR provides the test-bed for advanced research at over 280 universities and private and U.S. government laboratories. The NLR network provides connectivity to 13 countries, including China, Canada and Australia. The AARNet exchange will offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps, providing high-resolution bandwidth for meetings of up to 96 participants.

Among recent apps, Swinburne University researchers and students are collaborating with colleagues at CSIRO Parkes Observatory via the exchange. Colleagues across the five Swinburne campuses are holding "virtual meetings" to discuss policy and collaborate on submissions to government. Victoria University will deliver specialist and remote courses, academic skills training, career advice and tutorials through this exchange. A dozen telepresence systems are being deployed across the campus under a "Learning Spaces of the Future" initiative. Melbourne University's Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society facility is using the exchange to collaborate with industry, government and researchers on broadband applications and services for health, education and the community. There is a growing demand for telepresence services as organisations seek solutions for collaborative education and research, according to AARNet's CEO, Chris Hancock. The exchange offers a forum for end-users to access telepresence services without investing in their own exchange hardware.

"It will be exciting to witness how this new service will drive new collaborations and experiences across the higher education and research sector." This exchange removes geographic boundaries, while increasing collaboration between local and international research communities, notes Matthew Bailes, Pro Vice Chancellor of Research at Swinburne University. "Swinburne University can utilise seamless telepresence experiences to enable distance education programs. We can now offer video-based lectures to students based in remote locations." The AARNet community brings together 37 Australian universities and the CSIRO. More than one million end-users access this educational service through member institutions and connected campuses.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/22/2012

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Australia Incentivises General Practitioners to Join National E-Health Programme

The Australian Government is racing to enlist General Practitioners (GPs) into its US$484 million (AUD $476 million) national e-Health programme - with new rebate incentives for healthcare professionals. Doctors participating in the e-Health program will receive Medicare rebates for their patients - attracting larger numbers of GPs into the e-Health network across States and Territories. The e-Health initiative, to go live in July 2012, is part of the government's Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) initiative. Australia's Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is being amended, enabling GPs to join the PCEHR programme, while benefiting from rebates for consultation. An amended MBS rebate scheme offers multiple levels of benefits to GPs, based on the time and detail of consultation, and complexity of a patient's history. The PCEHR package will improve the collection of patient data and offer a consolidated picture of patients' history, as people move between GPs, hospitals, or other medical facilities. Clinicians are central to the smooth and effective running of Australia's national e-Health records system, according to the Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek.

"I am pleased to confirm MBS consultation items will be available to GPs as part of providing continuity of care to a patient, and if they are creating or adding to a shared health summary on an e-Health record which involves taking a patient's medical history as part of a consultation." Over time, as patients and doctors register, more detailed and sophisticated features will be available as part of an e-Health record. "Eventually things like immunisation records, Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits information, organ donation details, and hospital discharge papers will be able to be added." Australia's e-Health initiative is being rolled out in phases, while tackling concerns about privacy, and the number of people with access to personal medical records. The latest incentive for GPs offers additional building blocks to rolling out Australia's e-Health reforms. Healthcare professionals will be able to integrate patient e-Health records with software being used at their practices. Australia's GP rebate scheme is supported by peak industry bodies, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

RACGP president, Claire Jackson, says some of the detail needs finalising. "I am delighted that MBS consultation items will be available to GPs if they are adding a shared health summary to the patient's PCEHR which involves taking a patient's medical history as part of a consultation." The Federal Government's PCEHR program is being rolled out in stages over two years. This effort supports the creation of personally-controlled electronic health records, including summaries of patients' healthcare information and secure access to e-Health records for patients and their healthcare providers. The government has undertaken to streamline governance and privacy provisions under its healthcare reforms.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/29/2012

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NSW Integrates Education Systems Under US$113 Million Initiative

New South Wales' Department of Education and Communities is rolling out an integrated finance, HR, payroll and student administration system under an ambitious US$113 million (AUD$ 109 million) initiative. The Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) project will streamline business processes, while improving education and training services for educational institutions throughout the state. The project delivers an integrated finance, procurement and human resources system, supporting the department's 90,000-strong staff network. New and improved student administration systems for schools as well as Technical and Further Education Institutes (TAFE) are also supported under the program. This initiative transforms the department's operations by standardising and streamlining agency-wide processes, says a department spokesperson, Mark Henderson. "It was decided that instead of having separate rollouts, one for the new finance system, one for the new HR system and one for the new student administration and learning management system, they would be delivered as an integrated solution." Up to 2,200 government schools will directly benefit from the project when fully operational.

The department coordinates the delivery of education and training for 753,596 primary and secondary students in New South Wales. Following an audit of the project last year, the department has incorporated a new governance model into its planning blueprint, with an increased focus on information transparency and business-user engagement. A shared service centre will streamline the allocation of roles, responsibilities and resources. The focus is on additional staff training and testing. To minimise disruption to staff in schools and TAFE colleges, the department has contracted a solutions provider that specialises in end-to-end integrated project management. The LMBR contract is awarded to Accenture as a consortium partner, project-managing an eight-year SAP roll-out. Other consortium members include Avanade Australia, Presence of IT and Tribal Group.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/30/2012

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Benefits of Agile Development of Health IT

With a staff of approximately 6000, Barwon Health is one of the largest and most comprehensive regional health services in the Australian State of Victoria. Having successfully reduced the elective surgery waiting list, improved Emergency Department wait times and finished last year with a budget surplus, last November Barwon Health was named 'regional health service of the year'. According to CIO Ann Larkins, Barwon Health's ehealth journey began around 2005, the success of which she ascribes to their strategy of agile development, "our approach has been about incremental developments rather than a big bang". Having started with a basic system that provided pathology results online, this has been gradually developed in stages to now provide everything offered by the larger ehealth software providers including digital medical records, medications management, electronic messaging to GPs via Health Level Seven. "It has become a complete one stop shop clinical system" says Larkins, "not too dissimilar to some of your bigger companies ... the product that we are using has evolved from a much smaller base but with much more of our input into it along the way".

The benefit of this development methodology is that, "it is a much more agile way to respond to the requests of clinicians whereas some of the less responsive big companies find that difficult and challenging. We've achieved a lot in a small time with small agile developments." This has allowed for department specific systems be either integrated with or developed within the main clinical system. "We respect the needs of different departments to have their own system where there is need for them, but where there's functionality already existing we pull them into the core." According to Larkins, the benefits of agile development outweigh those of procuring health IT systems from some of the larger, well known healthcare IT vendors. Whilst the desires for safety and risk aversion are two of the main attractions for procuring large systems from major vendors, there is a sometimes overlooked side effect. Larkins warns that reduced clinical interaction with the development of a system can make it difficult for clinicians to work with, thus creating a competing risk, "a lot of them don't consider this when they [procure] an enormous product."


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/05/2012

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SA Health's Journey to E-Health

Implementing e-health services for an entire state is a daunting task, but, as South Australian Health manager for e-health services, Bill Le Blanc, has revealed, even the preparation steps are complicated tasks. Speaking at the e-health track of CeBIT's 2012 conference, Le Blanc outlined the process through which SA Health went to transform its state-wide IT systems. SA Health was forced to reconsider its IT systems and reporting lines because of legislative changes put in place to prepare for e-health records. Reforming the health department was a legislative requirement, relegating return on investment and other commercial considerations to be of lesser importance, according to Le Blanc. He said that the department consequently had to jump into reform headfirst.

Structural reform
Prior to the reform, South Australia's 70 state-owned hospitals all had their own IT departments, and were funded individually by health services. A significant problem was that each IT department had devised its own method of meeting the hospital's business requirements, but, invariably, departments from each hospital used different systems that were not necessarily compatible. As part of legislative changes, SA Health moved the reporting lines from each of the individual IT departments to the SA Health chief information officer, who then had complete oversight of all 400 IT staff. "For the very first time, our chief executive actually had direct control over every single employee in the health system," Le Blanc said. The change of reporting lines also provided the SA Heath CIO with control over the budgets for each of the health services, which, until that point, had only seen SA Health as a source of funding, and not as a directing body.

"You've got all the different health systems spending their own budgets and making independent investment decisions. You need to be able to pull that in, and make sure that things that are being processed actually align with the strategic direction of the organisation." He said that it also allowed SA Health to choose particular investments, and to back them with the necessary financial support. This would have been impossible, if an individual health service had tried to do it with an independent budget. The SA Health board overseeing these investment decisions consists of health services executives, the CIO and senior finance staff from the Treasury, in order to keep it focused on the needs of the business. Le Blanc said that at the end of the day, it was important to consider who was going to be the most affected by consolidating and reforming the state's IT services. "If you haven't got your clinical workforce on-board, you may as well not spend any money. You can have the shiniest, most expensive, best technology in place, [but if] the clinician is not on-board, they either won't use it, or they won't use it for its full benefit."

Le Blanc said this meant that it was important for the board to not only see it as just an IT project, but to ensure that all clinicians also had a buy-in. "The systems that we're putting in place are business led. It's chosen by the clinicians, for the clinicians. The underpinning technology wasn't even a factor in our decision-making process when we went out to market."

Workforce restructure
Between the state's healthcare facilities, there were 15 IT departments of varying sizes, which operated independently of each other and tried to do what they could for the facilities they were supporting. "Each of them were trying to provide the full suite of services that you would expect from an ICT department, which means that almost by definition ... there was no opportunity for people to specialise," he said. "The entire system was very fragmented and being serviced by hard-working people, but they were mostly jacks of all trades." Le Blanc said that with the state preparing to roll out electronic heath records, that sort of workforce, as dedicated as it was, was not appropriate for the task. "You can't run an enterprise-class electronic health records system on health-grade infrastructure with 400 generalists. By and large, the staff were dedicated and well skilled, but they were all doing things differently from each other, and there was no formal IT service-management disciplines in place." The other half of the problem was that the existing IT workforce had bought into a self-defeating culture, where support staff would be seen as doing a good job when "putting out fires", even though the average response time for support was around the 30-minute mark.

"We had a culture that rewarded heroes and fire fighters. That kind of culture resists the implementation of structured processes that are designed to stop fires from breaking out. They thought that what we were doing was actually going to degrade service, because they liked putting the phone down and racing to the side of the clinician and fixing their problem, but they weren't taking a system-wide view."

Infrastructure
The problems that support staff had to solve were also exacerbated by the ageing infrastructure across many health services. Le Blanc said that the various health services had a total of 1608 PCs, which were only being replaced with the cheapest hardware available, due to limited budgets. "We found that there were dozens of 10-year-old, Cold War-era PC-ATs around the place running DOS, because people couldn't afford to replace them," Le Blanc said. Using the governance policy, SA Health forced these health services to rent PCs through the IT department for a maximum of four years. "One of the benefits of that is that we now have a fleet of about 25,000 devices that are centrally managed ... and we know that [there's] no device out there that is over four years old." SA Health also consolidated server rooms into two centralised datacentres. This simplified matters, but also brought about an increase in risk. Le Blanc said that under the old system, if a hospital's computer room failed, a single hospital would be affected. But if SA Health's datacentre is impacted, the state would lose all health services. To combat this, SA Health put into place dual fibre links between every hospital and the two datacentres, and triple redundancy links between the datacentre facilities themselves. Network connectivity was also designed so that in the event that the link between the two datacentres is severed, a route could still be made by using one or more of the hospitals' links.

Even the dual links between the hospitals and datacentres were created using separate paths and carriers to ensure minimal impact from outages. "They're not in the same cable trenches, and they're through different carriers, so if Optus has an outage, we still have a Telstra carrier through a different cable in a different trench," he said, adding that this redundancy guards against outages from when "one of those pesky backhoe operators comes in to fix up a cable".


From http://www.zdnet.com.au/ 05/23/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Cross-Net Mobile Traffic Continues to Increase

­New Zealand's Commerce Commission has issued its third mobile monitoring report that shows a continuation of the narrowing between the costs of on and off-net calls and texts indicated in early reports. This has resulted in an increase in calling and texting between mobile networks. "Encouraging progress continues to be made in increasing cross net traffic and decreasing on and off net price differentials," said Dr Ross Patterson, Telecommunications Commissioner. "The Commission expects the positive trends to continue and will prepare a more comprehensive report in July, when we have 12 months data." Dr Patterson said. Between November 2011 and January 2012, cross-network traffic increased by 2.0% for mobile calls and by 2.9% for text messages. At the same time, the price difference between on and off-net services decreased by 3.4% for mobile calls and by 3.0% for text messages. Since October 2009, cross-network texts have increased from 8.6% to 29.2%, while cross-network calls have increased from 11.4% to 20.4%.

Background
In May 2011, the Commission released its decision regulating mobile termination rates, significantly reducing wholesale termination rates for mobile calls and text messages. Termination rates for calls were cut from approximately 15-17 cents to about 7.5 cents on 6 May 2011, and will be gradually cut to less than 4 cents by 1 April 2012, with further reductions until 2014. Termination rates for text messages dropped to 0.06 cents from 6 May 2011. The changes to the termination rates were intended to address competition problems in the wholesale mobile market.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/05/2012

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New Zealand Networks Consider Shared Stolen Handset Database

­New Zealand's mobile networks are reported to be working together on plans for a joint database of stolen mobile phones - which would render them inoperable in the country. Such shared databases have already been deployed in other countries, and the USA's major networks recently announced plans for a similar scheme. Vodafone told the New Zealand Herald newspaper that it had the technology today to consider a national shared database and is working with the Telecommunications Carriers Forum on pushing forward the proposals. Both Vodafone and Telecom NZ block stolen phones from their own networks, but thieves can simply swap SIM cards. The issue wasn't a serious one as both networks used to run on different technologies, by Telecom migrated to the same WCDMA platform as Vodafone a couple of years ago. The country would also need to pass a law to make it illegal to change the IMEI in handsets, to avoid the problem of thieves simply reprogramming the serial number to bypass the ban.


From http://www.cellular-news.com/ 04/18/2012

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Education Ministry Focused on School Connections

Nearly 800 schools around the country will be connected to government fibre by July this year, but retail services over fibre will take longer to deliver, according to Sector Engagement Manager, Howard Baldwin. "Building the infrastructure for ultra-fast broadband is the essential first step to enable schools to take advantage of new technologies for teaching and learning," says Howard. "This is why we are currently very focused on connecting kura and schools to fibre, upgrading schools' internal networks, and progressing the development of an online Network for Learning." Once schools are connected to fibre, they need to sign up with a retail service provider that will deliver services, such as internet access, over the fibre. "New fibre service products are being developed and offered in various regions around the country," Howard says. "Orcon, for example, has retail services that might be suitable for urban schools, but the retail services market for fibre is only now starting to emerge."

This issue will be resolved once The Network for Learning is implemented. Available progressively from mid-2013, the Network will deliver ultra-fast, more reliable and safer internet access to online resources and content than is available now. "The Network for Learning will create learning opportunities for young people to gain educational benefits from ultra-fast broadband," Howard says. "The Ministry's priority is to raise achievement for all learners. One way of doing this is to use the potential of new technologies to extend and deepen the learning experience for all students, while valuing their identity, language and culture. The Network will provide teachers with more opportunities for learners to innovate, create and share their work with their peers, with teachers and wh芋nau, and to receive feedback and guidance," Howard says.


From http://elearning.tki.org.nz/ 04/24/2012

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United Nations Collaborate with the University of the South Pacific to Strengthen ICT Capacity for Youth in Pacific Island Countries

The Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT/ESCAP) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) today commenced a two-day workshop in Suva, Fiji, designed to help educators across the Pacific region deliver ICT for development content to youth across the Pacific region. According to UNESCO, the challenges of small size, economic resources, geographic remoteness, population migrations, and environmental issues that test the education systems of small island developing countries may be overcome by strengthening capacities in ICT for development (ICTD). Close to 50 participants from USP's 14 campuses of 12 Pacific Island Countries, professors and lecturers from USP's Suva Laucala campus, trainers from Fiji's Continuing Education Programme, officers from the Public Service of Fiji, and officials from the Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration, are participating in the "Primer Series on ICTD for Youth" (Primer Series) workshop organized by APCICT and USP.

"APCICT is very pleased to be partnering with the University of the South Pacific in its efforts to develop the ICT for development capacities of the Pacific's next generation of leaders", said Dr. Hyeun-Suk Rhee, Director of APCICT. The Primer Series, part of APCICT's flagship 'Turning Today's Youth into Tomorrow's Leaders Programme', aims to expand coverage of ICT for development content in university curricula and provides a tool to help educators deliver ICTD capacity building education in institutions of higher learning. APCICT and USP will collaborate to implement the content in campuses throughout the Pacific. "Providing youth in the Pacific region with the ICT knowledge and skills necessary to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future is a top priority for USP", said Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice Chancellor and President of USP. "The Primer Series is a valuable resource that will help out educators fulfill this important objective". Through the new partnership initiated today, APCICT and USP plan to lay a new foundation towards enabling Pacific Island Countries to achieve their national development goals through ICTs and reap the full benefits of the information age.


From http://www.unapcict.org/ 03/12/2012

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Malware, Hacking Remain Preferred Methods of Cyber-Criminals

In the past 12 months, the majority of cyber-attackers relied primarily on two attack methods - hacking and malware - to compromise networks and steal data in 2011, according to a report by the Verizon RISK team. Different types of malware are capable of stealing information, opening backdoors, and executing commands. While social engineering is becoming popular, straight-up hacking, where attackers are bypassing controls or exploiting flaws, still remains the predominant form of cyber-crime. In 2011, just about 99 percent of all compromised data records were stolen during an incident that involved either hacking or malware, according to the preliminary Verizon 2012 "Data Breach Investigations Report." These two attack techniques remain popular since they allow the adversary to launch the operation remotely and they make for an easy gateway. Criminals also used malware and hacking in tandem, such as installing malware that opens a backdoor on the infected machine, which is then used by the attacker to remotely execute code. Or perhaps the user is infected with a keylogger, which steals log-in credentials that criminals then use. The Verizon team pulled together the 10 most common examples of malware and hacking attacks in 2011 and urged businesses and other organizations to determine if their networks may have been compromised in the same way.


From http://www.eweek.com/ 03/07/2012

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Hacktivism Linked to 100 Million Compromised Records in 2011

"The online world [in 2011] was rife with the clashing of ideals, taking the form of activism, protests, retaliation, and pranks." So reads the executive summary of a new data breach report from Verizon, drawing a strong parallel between worldwide social and political unrest in 2011 and the prevalence of online threats. The report offers analysis of 855 data breaches that occurred across the globe in 2011. Among its findings are the fact that hacktivism - cyberhacking committed with political and social objectives in mind - is on the rise. While only 3 percent of attacks were traced to hacktivist groups, they tend to compromise much higher volumes of data than traditional cybercriminal activity, according to the Verizon 2012 Data Brach Investigations Report. In fact, the work of hacktivists is traced to more than 100,000 million compromised records last year, of the 174,000 million total records compromised. The report includes data contributed by the U.S. Secret Service and law enforcement agencies in Australia, Ireland, England and the Netherlands. Not surprisingly, most breaches are still caused by criminals seeking financial gain, who generally target smaller organizations for specific types of potentially lucrative information. Cyberthieves commonly access insufficiently protected information using weak, default or stolen log-in information. The report calls traditional cyberattacks less sophisticated than those waged by politically motivated groups, who commonly hijack domain name systems and flood the bandwidth of Web servers using distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Data breaches were traced to 36 different countries, up from 22 countries in 2010. Less than a quarter of all breaches came from North America, with almost 70 percent coming from Eastern Europe.

No Proof of Cloud Security Vulnerabilities
Another interesting finding seems to bolster the argument of cloud proponents, that the long-questioned security of hosting data in the cloud may be unfounded. "We're seeing very little evidence of data breaches in the cloud," said Brian Sartin, vice president of Verizon's Research Investigations Solutions Knowledge team in a recent CFOworld article. "There's a compelling lack of statistics for that."


From http://www.govtech.com/ 03/22/2012

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Global Internet Filtering in 2012 at a Glance

The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has been documenting Internet filtering globally since 2003. Since that time, the number of countries found to be engaging in the censorship of online content has increased dramatically. While early reports of Internet filtering only identified a small handful of authoritarian countries engaged in the practice, the number has since grown to the extent that the practice can now be considered a pervasive global norm. When we last reported on the prevalence of Internet filtering globally in early 2010, we estimated there were over 500 million Internet users residing in countries that engage in the systematic filtering of online content. In 2012, after close to a decade of documenting Internet censorship worldwide, ONI estimates that number has increased to over 620 million.1

Since 2003, ONI has conducted testing of Internet filtering in 74 countries. (See here for ONI's testing methodology and here for raw summarized results of ONI testing results.) Of these 74 countries, 42 have been found to engage in some form of filtering of content that ONI tests for, while 21 have been found to be engaging in "substantial"2 or "pervasive" filtering based on the breadth and/or depth of content filtered.3 (Note: These results are based on testing conducted over different time periods and thus represent a snapshot of accessibility in time for each country. See ONI's summarized results for further information about testing periods.) Within those countries found to be engaging in "substantial" or "pervasive" blocking, ONI has estimated that the number of Internet users is approximately 620 million, which makes up 31% of all Internet users worldwide.4 When this is widened to include countries that engage in "selective" blocking, the number of affected users grows to over 960 million, or 47% of all Internet users.

While this number is only a rough estimate based on our testing sample and available data, it does reflect the steady increase of Internet blocking seen worldwide, a trend that shows no signs of abating. While there have been several notable examples of countries reducing the depth and/or scope of filtered content (see Burma and Tunisia post-Arab Spring), there have also been others that have begun or given signs they will begin filtering (see Egypt and Indonesia). It is also important to note that the growing number of users in countries that practice filtering also reflects the rapid increase in the number of Internet users in the global South and East, regions in which stricter information controls are often the norm.

The ONI has also observed information controls beyond Internet filtering. For example, in the past year we have observed a growing number of incidents where states have disrupted or tampered with communication networks for political purposes, including around elections and public demonstrations. The ONI calls this practice just-in-time-blocking - a phenomenon in which access to information is denied during important political moments when the content may have the greatest potential impact, such as elections, protests, or anniversaries of social unrest. In 2011 both Egypt and Libya severed all Internet access for brief periods of time during the "Arab Spring." Similar tactics have been employed in Nepal (2005), Burma (2007), and China (2009). Just-in-time blocking in response to protest and social unrest has also been called for, and in some cases implemented, in democratic states. In response to the 2011 UK riots the government has put forth proposals to restrict citizens from using social media "when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality." In the summer of 2011 the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) shut down cell phone service to four stations in San Francisco in an effort to disrupt the organization of planned protests. Continuing increases in Internet censorship and the widening adoption of other information control have troubling implications for the future of free expression and information sharing online.


From http://opennet.net/ 04/03/2012

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EUROPE: First Information Risk Maturity Index Developed

PwC and Iron Mountain have joined together to develop a risk maturity index for European SMEs; and finds them generally lacking. The Risk Maturity Index is the result of a survey of 600 mid-sized companies (250 to 2500 employees) in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Hungary, and is published in a new report, Beyond cyber threats, Europe's first information risk maturity index. The index is based on a weighted risk maturity excellence model comprising four separate elements: strategy, people, communications and security. Scores in each of these areas are applied to individual companies, with a score of 100 being excellent. "A score of anything less than 50," says the report, "is bad news for companies, their customers and their collective peace of mind." The average score across European companies is just 40.6. These findings "are particularly worrying," says Christian Toon, head of information risk at Iron Mountain, "when companies of all sizes and in all sectors across Europe are producing and processing electronic and paper documents at ever-increasing speed in an evermore stringent regulatory environment"

"Business needs to act, and it needs to act now," adds PwC One security director William Beer. Iron Mountain has related the current scores of the majority of European SMEs and developed a three-step process designed to get companies nearer to the 'excellent' benchmark. These are first, make information risk a boardroom issue: identify an individual to take accountability and responsibility. This mirrors EU calls for companies and organizations to have a security champion, and is supported by Symantec/Ponemon figures that suggest merely having such a champion can reduce the cost per lost record from a security breach by £18. Second, says Iron Mountain, change the workplace culture. Screen applicants, develop security awareness programs, reward good behavior, and put effective two-way communications in place. In short, says the report, "embed information risk into the daily routines of employees." The final step is to put the right policies and processes in place. This is where security technology can be used, but it should support policy, not replace it. One of the key findings of the report is a widely held belief that technology will protect data. "However," it notes, "this ignores a growing body of evidence which shows that one of the biggest threats to data security centres around corporate culture and employee behaviour." "Historically," says Richard Sykes, PwC governance and risk compliance leader, "business leaders have tended to regard information security as a technology issue - as reflected by the traditional reporting channels - but this is a complete misconception and needs to change." This report shows that changes in culture and behavior are likely to have the greatest effect in improving what is currently an unacceptable level of risk maturity in European SMEs.


From http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/ 03/23/2010

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NORTH AMERICA: U.S. - FBI Director Urges Cooperation on Fight Against Cyber Crime

Law enforcement agency says today's hackers work together like traditional crime families. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller warned a gathering of Internet security specialists Thursday that the threat of cyber attacks rivals terrorism as a national security concern. The only way to combat cyber assaults is for police, intelligence agencies and private companies to join forces, Mueller said during a presentation at an annual RSA Conference in San Francisco. "Technology is moving so rapidly that, from a security perspective, it is difficult to keep up," Mueller said." In the future, we anticipate that the cyber threat will pose the number one threat to our country." It's essential that private corporations and government agencies across the globe coordinate on cyber crime, Mueller said, in part because nefarious hackers are already forming alliances. "We must work together to safeguard our property, to safeguard our ideas and safeguard our innovation," Mueller said. "We must use our connectivity to stop those who seek to do us harm." Gone are the "good old days" of teenage boys hacking into websites for fun, Muller said. Today's hackers are savvy and often work in groups, like traditional crime families. Private-sector computer security researchers have attributed waves of cyber assaults to nations out to steal government or business secrets.

"Once isolated hackers have joined forces to form criminal syndicates," Mueller said. Those "syndicates" often operate across borders, posing a particular problem for government agencies that are constrained by conflicting justice systems and a lack of coordination with foreign agencies, he said. "Borders and boundaries pose no obstacles to hackers, but they continue to pose obstacles for global law enforcement," he said. In a presentation that a subsequent speaker said "really scared the bejeezus out of us," Mueller emphasized an overlap between the violent terrorism the FBI has focused on since Sept. 11 and today's world of cyber crime. Terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab in Somalia are "increasingly cyber savvy," he said. Mueller referenced Al-Qaeda's English-language online magazine and Al-Shabaab's Twitter account, which he says the group uses to recruit and encourage terrorism. "They are using the Internet to grow their business and to connect with like-minded individuals," he said. Mueller warned that no company is immune from cyber attack. He argued that it's in the best interest of private companies to share information about online assaults with government agencies fighting the hackers. Mueller promised the FBI would "minimize disruption" and protect the privacy of corporations as it investigated cyber threats. Companies are often reluctant to report network security breaches out of fear that the publicity could tarnish their images in the eyes of customers or erode shareholder confidence. "Maintaining a code of silence will not serve us in the long run," Mueller said. "For it is no longer a question of 'if' but when and how often." "We are losing money, we are losing data, we are losing ideas," he added. "Together we must find a way to stop the bleeding." - AFP


From http://www.totaltele.com/ 03/02/2012

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U.S.: Federal Agency CIOs Worried About Cyberattacks, Budget Cuts, Survey Shows

Federal chief information officers listed cybersecurity as their top concern this year, even as they also struggle with looming budget cuts and a long list of policy mandates from the White House, according to a new survey released by TechAmerica industry group. TechAmerica interviewed 40 federal agency CIOs and top IT officials for its 22nd annual survey, released on May 3. Grant Thornton LLP assisted in preparing the survey. Cybersecurity was listed as the top concern by 20 percent of the respondents; followed by controlling costs, listed by 15 percent; human capital, 12 percent; central agency policy, 10 percent and mobility, 7 percent. The number of cybersecurity incidents on federal systems has risen nine-fold in the last six years, from about 5,000 in fiscal 2006 to 41,000 in fiscal 2011. "I was pleased that cybersecurity was listed first, and not budget," Teri Takai, CIO for the Defense Department, said in a panel discussion at the event. "At DOD, cybersecurity is the number one priority." DOD is transitioning away from a view of protecting systems at the perimeter, and moving toward re-architecting systems, moving systems to the cloud and managing data differently, Takai said. Budgets and cost-cutting were listed in second place as a top concern among the CIOs, as the IT executives face the possibility of additional budget cuts, following two years of flat-lining budgets. Federal IT spending actually declined from fiscal 2010, for both defense and civilian agencies, TechAmerica said.

Many of the changes being planned at DOD will address both security and cost-cutting, Takai added. "The end game will help us with both." At the Homeland Security Department, IT managers have been asked to carry out a 10 percent across-the-board cut in the IT infrastructure budget for fiscal 2013 as an austerity measure, Richard Spires, CIO, said during the panel discussion. Planning is beginning on the fiscal 2014 budget, and there is not much more room for reductions, he said. "I am in the squeeze. There are not a lot of discretionary dollars," Spires said. "In the tight budget environment, IT tends to get really hammered." DHS is reviewing all its IT acquisitions to leverage its buying power and cut costs, and also moving to cloud services and virtualization so that it is less reliant on purchasing desktops, he said. "I am a huge believer in shared services and cloud-first," Spires said. "They are just starting to show significant cost savings." The survey revealed some mixed feelings among the CIOs about ongoing guidance and mandates from the Office of Management and Budget, including the 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT that was released in 2010. Considering the plan as a whole, the survey respondents rated it a 3.1 out of 5 on value to their organization. The highest rated features of the plan were reforming and strengthening Investment Review Boards, rated 3.9; adoption of IT acquisition best practices, rated 3.9; and developing a cadre of IT acquisition professionals, rated 3.9.

The features rated lowest in value to their organizations were "TechStat" rollouts at the bureau level, rated 2.8; becoming buyers or sellers of data center services to other agencies, rated 3.1; and developing shared service strategies, rated 3.3. A number of respondents said that 25 goals was simply too much and reflected too many unfunded requirements for the agency CIOs, the survey stated. "Some OMB directives are unfunded mandates that drain money from core work, so funds should be provided to implement them," the survey summarized.


From http://fcw.com/ 05/03/2012

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Internet's Economic Impact in Latin America: A Comparison of 2 Countries - Argentina, Mexico

Internet contributes 2.2% to GDP in Argentina compared with 1% in Mexico, according to a report by Google, citing statistics from McKinsey. By 2016, those figures are expected to increase to 3.3% and 4.2% of GDP, respectively. In Argentina, the internet's contribution to GDP is equivalent to that of the hotel and restaurant industries, and half that of the construction sector; while in Mexico, the internet contributed twice as much to GDP as the electricity, gas and water sectors, the report said. The development of Mexico's telecommunications sector has been relatively slow, mainly due to a lack of quality infrastructure and the high cost of access. However, the industry has a positive outlook, driven by increasing competition and broadband access. In Argentina, the cost of internet access is around 25% below the Latin American average, according to the report.

BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
Both countries suffer from a lack of access to capital necessary for the development of new businesses and for IT adoption among SMEs. In Argentina, such funding is limited by uncertainty at a macroeconomic level, the report said. However, Argentina has sufficient human capital to drive online enterprises, with the number of university graduates and investigators in sciences above the regional average and government programs to distribute internet devices and improve broadband penetration. Mexico is in a potentially advantageous position in terms of the economic impact of the internet, but must overcome restrictions funding access and the availability of human capital, according to the report. Companies that use internet technologies reap the benefits in both countries. SMEs in Argentina report a 7% revenue increase, 3% cost reduction and 11% increase in productivity as a result of using the internet. Their Mexican counterparts report even higher gains, with 9% revenue increases, 5% cost reductions and 16% productivity increases.

E-COMMERCE
E-commerce has seen sustained growth in Argentina and is now bringing in revenues of around US$1bn annually; however, a lack of online payments continues to hamper development. Even so, online purchases amounted to 1.4% of all retail commerce in Argentina in 2010, which is projected to grow to 2.9% in 2016, the report said. Furthermore, the internet influenced 5.9% of consumers via the research online, purchase offline (ROPO) channel. In Mexico, B2C e-commerce grew by 46% between 2005 and 2010, according to the report, which said that country has taken the initial steps to construct a robust internet ecosystem, and must work to maintain the positive demand trends among consumers. For the full report, in Spanish, go to this link: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_jw0VAN3qOWN21aSTNmNUFKVVE/edit


From http://www.bnamericas.com/ 05/07/2012

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U.S.: Pentagon Makes Cyber Intelligence Sharing Program Permanent

The Pentagon is making permanent the Defense Industrial Base (DBI) Cyber Pilot program that involves sharing cyber intelligence with the US defense industry. The pilot program was launched by the Department of Defense (DoD), in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in June of last year to share classified information about cyber threats with defense contractors and their network providers. Under the program, the network providers scan email traffic entering the defense contractors' networks for malware based on malicious code signatures supplied by the Pentagon. In August, the Pentagon announced that it would expand the pilot program from the initial 20 companies. The announcement on May 11 converts the initiative from a pilot into a permanent program - the DIB Cyber Security/Information Assurance (CS/IA) Program - and expands the scope of cooperation to include additional classified threat and technical information. "The expansion of voluntary information sharing between the department and the defense industrial base represents an important step forward in our ability to catch up with widespread cyber threats", commented Ashton Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense. "Increased dependence on internet solutions have exposed sensitive but unclassified information stored on corporate systems to malicious probes, theft, and attacks. This expanded partnership between DoD and the defense industrial base will help reduce the risk of intrusions on our systems."


From http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/ 05/11/2012

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Top 10 States for Internet Crime

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has released its latest Report on Internet Crime, reporting more than 314,000 complaints in 2011. With a reported financial loss of $485.3 million, 2011 complaints were up 3.4 percent over the previous year. Statistics for 2011 reveal that the most commonly reported crimes were scams invoking the FBI, identity theft, advance fee fraud, nondelivery of auction items and overpayment fraud.
Top 10 States by Number of Complaints:
1. California
2. Florida
3. Texas
4. New York
5. Ohio
6. New Jersey
7. Pennsylvania
8. Illinois
9. Virginia
10. Washington

While this list is not surprising, given that its members are among the most populous states in the U.S. (Washington, with a population of 6.8 million, is the least populous state on the top 10, and ranks as the 13th most populous state), IC3 also ranked complainants per capita.
Top 10 State Complainant Rates per 100,000 Population:
1. Alaska
2. District of Columbia
3. New Jersey
4. Nevada
5. Colorado
6. Ohio
7. Maryland
8. Florida
9. Virginia
10. Washington

In a statement, Acting Assistant Director of the FBI's Cyber Division Michael Welch called the IC3 "an efficient mechanism for the public" to report Internet crime. "These reports help law enforcement make connections between cases and identify criminals." The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which launched in 2000, is a partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. IC3 is a central reporting clearinghouse for cybercrime, which provides referrals to law enforcement agencies at all levels of government.


From http://www.govtech.com/ 05/14/2012

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CHINA: All Provincial Governments to Use Authorized Software

All provincial-level governments across China will use authorized software by the end of June, a senior official said Tuesday. Computers of prefecture- and county-level governments will all be installed with copyrighted software by the end of 2013, Wang Zhicheng, deputy director of copyright department of the General Administration of Press and Publication, said at a national conference on intellectual property rights. Copyrighted software had already been installed in central government departments and agencies by the end of May 2011, Wang said. In recent years, the country has intensified its efforts to crack down on intellectual property rights infringements and fake products, requiring all government bodies to buy only computers with pre-installed genuine operating system software and to allocate funds to buy authorized software. So far, governments at all levels have spent a total of 1.06 billion yuan (168.25 million U.S. dollars) on genuine software, according to Wang. Meanwhile, authorities will step up efforts to promote the use of copyrighted software in companies. Statistics show that genuine software had been installed in 15,256 companies by the end of December. Greater efforts will be made to establish a long-term mechanism to ensure the use of genuine software among government organs and enterprises, Wang said.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/10/2012

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China Voices Support for Online Rumor Clean-up

Chinese citizens and Internet users have expressed their support for the government measures to clean up online rumors. Film director Cui Yali called for improved law and regulations. "Some online rumors may cause public panic, and some others may bring about severe trauma, with serious consequences for people's feelings, reputation and family life," she said. A rumor, after repeatedly being retweeted, may easily stir up serious public concern, said Nanjing resident Zhang Haibo, who is also a frequent Internet user. "Not only is self-discipline needed, but the authorities should also make efforts to contain and crack down on rumors in accordance with law." Shen Yi, a faculty member of Fudan University called on college teachers and students to do their own share in stopping rumors from spreading. "Online speech is anonymous and free, but it should also be delivered in a responsible manner," Shen said. Zhou Wei, a law professor at Sichuan University said a real-name registration system for microblogging sites is necessary, as it will remind microbloggers to communicate information in a more prudent manner. Chengdu citizen Zhang Fan agreed. "Real-name registration is a positive measure for building a healthy and orderly Internet environment." In October last year, Kai-Fu Lee, founder of the Beijing-based technology incubator Innovation Works, and Hu Yanping, director of Data Center of China Internet, an independent Internet market monitoring agency, initiated a campaign at the popular microblogging site weibo.com, calling on microbloggers to refrain from circulating disinformation and unfounded messages. To date, over 2.5 million microbloggers have joined the campaign.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/12/2012

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Chinese Experts Warn of Information Security Risks

BEIJING (Xinhua) - Chinese experts on Thursday warned of increasing loopholes in online safety as new technologies and applications pose fresh challenges to information security. The adoption of technologies such as cloud computing, social networking and mobile computing devices has increased the level of risk that telecommunications operators face, said Xiong Sihao, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. A total of 6,249 mobile malicious software, or malware, were identified in 2011, more than double previous year's figure, according to a report by the National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team/Coordination Center of China. Shen Changxiang, an academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, called for the establishment of a comprehensive Internet security system for better information protection. By the end of 2011, China's Internet population had exceeded 500 million. By 2015, the nation will add nearly 200 million Internet users, bringing the Internet population to more than 700 million - almost double the combined number of Internet users in Japan and the United States, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/12/2012

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China: Gov't Departments Urged to Disclose More Information

The State Council, or China's cabinet, has ordered ministries and local governments to disclose more information on public spending, government-subsidized housing construction, food safety and other issues to curb corruption and promote socialist democracy. Government departments should keep making government affairs public as their fundamental norm in governance and publicize detailed information on more issues, according to a statement released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday. The State Council ordered government departments across the government to make available more data on government spending on overseas trips, vehicles and receptions, government-subsidized housing, food safety, environmental protection, the bidding system of government projects, work safety, land seizures, as well as pricing and charges decided by the government. These issues are commonly believed by the public to be sources of corruption and waste in China.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/18/2012

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China: Internet a "Big Killer" of Copyright Security

More than 60 percent of intellectual property cases heard in Beijing's courts last year were copyright-related and relevant infringements mainly happened through the Internet, said a judge from a municipal intermediate people's court. The city's courts heard 9,653 intellectual property cases last year, 6,105 of which were related to copyright infringements, Jiang Ying, judge of the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court, told China Daily. Intellectual property rights are composed of copyright, patent and trademark, "but disputes about the latter two have not been very common in China up to now, since they are too professional and need a more developed commercial environment", she said. In the past five years, 40,866 intellectual property disputes were tried in the city and 20,653 touched upon copyright infringements, according to the Beijing High People's Court. Meanwhile, about 80 percent of those copyright cases were related to the Internet, Jiang said. In 2009, Microsoft Corp sued Beijing-based Sichuang Weilai Technology, claiming the latter infringed the copyright of Microsoft's Windows XP and Office 2003 software. Jiang was responsible for the case. She found that the technology company installed the software into buyers' computers without Microsoft's permission. "If the technology company's violation continued and more installed computers entered the market, the big software tycoon would suffer more economic losses," she said.

Considering the potential risks, Jiang decided to stop the infringement through confiscating computers sold by Sichuang Weilai Technology. In this way, Microsoft's software received the best copyright protection, which also improved the reputation of China's intellectual property legal industry. "Copyright violations happen everywhere. A book, a song, a film or even a piece of a message can become the target. But no matter what the infringement is, the copyright is equally important," she added. The Internet has become the biggest "killer" to copyright protection, said Bei Zhicheng, an executive of the Writers' Rights Protection Union, an organization established in July to safeguard Chinese writers' copyrights online. In September, nine Chinese writers, including Han Han and Li Chengpeng, sued Apple in a Beijing intermediate court for violating their copyrights and demanded 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) in compensation. The court accepted the case at the beginning of the year and it is still under way. "The infringement cost online is smaller than traditional ways. The download speed of illegal e-books is fast and the amounts are big, which has damaged writers' interests," Bei said. What's worse, the expense of keeping the copyright is much higher than the settlements that victims receive, according to current regulations. "While the case also costs residents more time and energy," he said. Yu Guofu, a lawyer specializing in copyright cases from Shengfeng Law Firm, said more awareness of copyright laws is important for the general public, in addition to innovators and relevant companies. "Now, everyone can be a media outlet. Their blogs, micro blogs and online words can become works through the Internet," he said. "In these circumstances, people should be aware of their behaviors online, because their copyrights may be infringed by other netizens and they can also be violators at any time," he added.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/18/2012

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China Investigates 185 Websites for Piracy, Illegal Activities

China's Ministry of Culture announced Thursday that it has opened investigations into 185 websites over suspicions of piracy and other illegal operations. The websites include 72 music websites, 67 animation sites and 46 gaming sites, according to a statement from the ministry. Some websites are suspected of providing music and animation downloading services without legal certificates, while others are suspected of illegally promoting online games, the statement said. A majority of them have allegedly offered music, animated materials and computer games without permission from the contents' copyright holders, the statement said. The country launched a nationwide campaign against online piracy in February, and has so far investigated more than 2,800 cases involving 7.74 million yuan (1.23 million US dollars), according to the ministry. Authorities have also withdrawn certificates from 36 websites and companies, the statement said.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/26/2012

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Public Demanding Law on Cyber Security

BEIJING (Xinhua) - The public in China are crying out for improved legislation on Internet security, as 70 percent of them have had their personal information leaked online, new research results have indicated. Thirty percent of the 3,046 people surveyed even claimed to have been victims of information leaks more than once, according to the research conducted by "Banyuetan," or "China Comment," which is published by Xinhua News Agency and is China's biggest political magazine by circulation. The figures expose a grave situation regarding Chinese people's privacy, despite the nation's battles to secure online security. As of the end of April, Chinese police had apprehended 1,936 suspects in an ongoing crackdown on the illegal trading of individuals' private information. According to the survey, 1,530 respondents, or 51 percent of those surveyed believe their personal information is most likely stolen by commercial institutes including banks and insurance companies. Websites are considered chief suspects in leaking information by 34 percent of the respondents, as personal details are often required when signing up for sites or participating in online activities. However, in the view of online security expert Zhan Qian from the Communication University of China, the root of the problem is the public's lack of consciousness on the issue.

Netizens often don't realize the risks involved when showcasing their pictures on the net or dwelling on their daily life on microblogs or other social network sites, said Zhan. Another key driver of the crisis is the fact that many offenders can steal private details via various technical means and sell the information for commercial benefits, the academic noted. In December 2011, more than 6 million user accounts and passwords on China Software Developer Network, the country's largest programmers' website, were made public after hacker attacks. The situation escalated within days, as several popular social networking and gaming websites also fell victim to a cyber attack, resulting in the leak of personal details belonging to millions of subscribers. There is strong demand for authorities to specify policies on protecting personal information, the survey has demonstrated. Nearly 70 percent of the respondents want an immediate immediate retrieval of their information plus compensation where they are affected by online security breaches. Many respondents also demanded harsher legal punishments for offenders, and the endowment of right allowing them to refuse to provide information when it is not essential. "Business institutions and websites should shoulder more responsibility after taking in people's personal data," said Zhan, adding that it's the obligation of such institutions to prevent users' data being stolen by adopting effective anti-hacking technologies. National standards for personal information protection will be meted out in the first half of 2012, but the formation of a law on personal information protection, put into consideration since 2003, still seems remote.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/21/2012

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Software Piracy Declined in 2011

Less than 40 percent of software installed on computers in China was pirated in 2011, a decline of 3 percentage points from the previous year, according to Chinalabs.com, a consulting and research company. The software piracy rate dropped from 41 percent in 2010 to 38 percent last year, the seventh year that the figure declined, according to data released by the company, entrusted by the State Intellectual Property Office, on Thursday. As for categories, information security software piracy declined the most - from 45 percent in 2010 to 39 percent last year - followed by office and operating system piracy, according to the annual report on China's software piracy, conducted by the company. "China's software piracy rate has been continuously decreasing over the past seven years, which can be seen as a big victory of authorized software across the country," Wang Junxiu, founder of the company, told China Daily after the news conference of the report. The company has cooperated with the office for nearly 10 years by helping the government agency analyze the development of the Internet and crack down on pirated software, Wang said. "It can be said that our company and the office has built up a long-term mechanism to regulate the software market," he said. "Our provided statistics have become important references and given clearer direction as the administration launched crackdowns." The rate of licensed software reached 20 percent last year, according to the report. As of the end of January, authorized software was being used on all computers of governmental departments in eight provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu, said Zhai Lifeng, an official of National Copyright Administration. Licensed software has been popular in large and medium State-owned enterprises in sectors such as tourism, insurance and banking, Zhai said. In the meantime, 1,148 cases involving online pirated software were investigated during a campaign launched by the administration, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2011.

"We've given administrative punishment to 466 individuals and companies, while 66 cases were transferred to the judicial department for criminal investigations," she added. As the piracy rate declines, the price of some licensed common software is rising rapidly, which may tempt some people to return to piracy, said Wang Weihua, an officer of the consulting company. He used Office, a famous program designed by Microsoft Corp, as an example. The price of Office 2010, common software issued by the corporation last year, went up to 3,349 yuan ($529) from the 2007 version's 2,352 yuan. However, Lei Ting, a senior officer of Microsoft, said the software deserves a higher price. "The software is designed through our employees' wisdom and endeavors. The product deserves that price, and I don't think the price is the major hurdle to the campaign of promoting licensed software," she said. The most important issue is how to establish consumers' awareness of protecting the rights of authorized software, she added. In addition, because many netizens and software users are from villages and small cities, they have poor awareness of intellectual property rights. Therefore, "it is urgent for the government to educate and guide", said Gao Hongbin, CEO of Chinalabs.com, who is also a pioneer specializing in software research in China.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/25/2012

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JAPAN: New Facility to Test, Certify Cybersecurity/System Will Aim to Protect Infrastructure

The economy ministry will establish the nation's first facility to check the cybersecurity of control systems used to manage such things as important infrastructure or production lines at chemical factories. Scheduled to open by March next year at the earliest, the facility will be located in Miyagi Prefecture and operated by a private sector-led association. It will be modeled on a cyber-attack test bed set up by the U.S. Homeland Security Department and will conduct cyber-attack simulations for control systems, using computer viruses created by itself to test resistance against such attacks. The economy ministry also intends to kick off a system in 2014 to certify the security of control systems. The control system security center will be operated by a to-be created technology and research association operated by the private sector. It will comprise eight parties, including The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, an incorporated administrative agency based in both Tokyo and Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture; Toshiba Corp.; Hitachi, Ltd.; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.; and Mori Building Co.

With 2 billion yen of funds provided by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, the association will be set up in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, which was badly hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Recent cyber-attacks include one in Japan in which a semiconductor factory was forced to suspend operations after its control systems were infected with a virus, and one at a nuclear-related facility abroad that was forced to suspend operations. To find out how to protect control systems from cyber-attacks, the security center will develop original computer viruses, launch simulated cyber-attacks against control systems with the viruses, and observe what happens to the systems. The security center will also scrutinize security for next-generation power supply control technology called smart grids, and develop experts to strengthen security of control systems. Beginning in 2014, the security center will accept requests from companies such as manufacturers to check the security of their products against cyber-attacks. The economy ministry intends to start an original system to certify the security of control systems by setting up another organization to review the results of tests conducted by the security center and to issue certification. Domestic manufacturers are being increasingly required to provide such certification when exporting their products to the United States and European countries. It costs more than 10 million yen to obtain such certification. An official of the economy ministry said, "It's indispensable for Japan to set up a certification system to improve the country's international competitiveness."


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 03/19/2012

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Japan, EU to Set Up Cybersecurity Forum

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Tatsuo Kawabata and European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes have agreed to set up an Internet security forum between Japan and the European Union to promote joint efforts in combatting cyber-attacks. The forum will bring together representatives from Japanese and European government organizations to share information on cyber-attacks. Japan already has a similar framework in place with the United States.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 05/05/2012

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Kompu Gacha' Online Games May Be Illegal

The Consumer Affairs Agency has concluded that a system used by some online game operators on social networking service (SNS) websites constitutes a violation of a law that bans certain types of sales methods, according to sources close to the agency. In such online games, known as "kompu gacha" (complete gacha), players can win a grand prize, a rare virtual item, after purchasing a certain number of required items. The agency began investigating the game services after receiving complaints about extremely high charges imposed on players of such games on SNS websites such as Gree and Mobage.

The agency will soon release its views on the issue, the sources said. The agency also plans to ask companies that offer such games to stop using the questionable sales method. If companies fail to comply with the request, the agency will issue a correction order with punitive measures in line with the law against unjustifiable premiums and misleading representation. The market for online mobile-phone games is worth about 250 billion yen, with kompu gacha games having become the main revenue source for SNS operators of such services. However, the kompu gacha games have often been criticized for taking advantage of users' gambling spirit. Some parents complained their children had become addicted and were billed for exorbitant charges.

The original gacha games were inspired by automatic vending machines that sell capsules containing toys. However, instead of buying real items, online gacha players purchase virtual items for hundreds of yen, which they then use for various purposes. The players do not know in advance which item they will get, giving the game the feel of a lottery. In kompu gacha, an advanced form of gacha, players can obtain rare items once they collect a certain combination of items available in gacha games. This system was introduced in online games by SNS website operators around last year.

Popular kompu gacha games include Mobage's "The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls," and Gree's "Tanken Dori Rando. "According to the agency and other sources, there were only five complaints or inquiries concerning the high charges for gacha games in fiscal 2010. However, the number surged to 58 in fiscal 2011.In one case, a middle school boy was charged more than 400,000 yen in just one month, while a primary school boy racked up 120,000 yen in charges over three days playing the games. The law on unjustifiable premiums prohibits a sales method called "cards combination" for systems that offer prizes by lottery. Under this method, a business sells cards whose content is unknown at the time of purchase. After the consumer collects designated cards, they can trade them in for a prize. The agency concluded that kompu gacha games employ this business method. The agency plans to ask Social Game Platform Renraku Kyogikai, a liaison council of six social game makers, including Gree and DeNA Co., which operates the Mobage site, to stop offering kompu gacha games.

"We'll give an appropriate response after receiving an official request," a Gree spokesperson said. A DeNA spokesperson declined to comment. Social games are provided to members of SNS websites, on which people interact with their friends and others via the Internet. In many of these types of games, players can choose to cooperate with or compete against each other. Though the games are free, in principle, aside from Internet access fees, users have the option to purchase such items as virtual weapons and clothing if they want to have an advantage in the game.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 05/06/2012

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Govt Studying 'Gacha' Legality / Online Game Operators Describe Methods Used to Snare Players

The Consumer Affairs Agency has begun studying the legality of online games known as "gacha" in the wake of the government's conclusion that a system used by some online game operators on social networking services (SNS) websites constitutes a violation of the law. Online game operators recently decided to stop offering "kompu gacha" (complete gacha) games following the government's decision. Gacha games, in which players can win a rare virtual item after purchasing a certain number of required items, were first seen as a strong revenue source supporting the rapid expansion of the market. But there were some people, even among game developers, who questioned the use of sales methods that capitalized on users' gambling spirit. Believing there are other similar online games that violate the law against unjustifiable premiums and misleading representation - which prohibits a sales method called "cards combination" for systems that offer random prizes - the agency is studying the extent of possible illegality. It is also hearing about the issue from game operators and others in the industry.

'It's all about figures'
A 30-year-old male programmer who administers an online adventure game at an SNS game development company in Minato Ward, Tokyo, was seen the other day adjusting the winning percentage of a kompu gacha game in front of a computer terminal. He was making it easier for players to win the last in a series of cards they need to collect, as he had read on a message board that many people were complaining about failing to win the last card.Though such online games are free, in principle, aside from Internet access fees, players can purchase items to gain an advantage. "Whether it's a good game depends on how much you can make a player buy virtual items," the man said. "The key is making 'haijin kakinsha' players use the game." Haijin and kakinsha mean wreck and someone who spends money, respectively, and haijin kakinsha is a derogatory term for an obsessed game player who spends thousands of yen or more a month. "It's our goal to make more than 10 percent of all gamers spend money," the man said. "It's important to keep their spending within certain bounds, since they may not come back to the game if we squeeze too much out of them." Players' spending status is constantly monitored by an in-house computer, and relevant data is sent to developers through e-mail, sometimes as often as once an hour. When the amount of money spent for a particular item or the number of players is too small, developers change the program immediately. They have sometimes reduced the price of a virtual item to 100 yen from 300 yen in a campaign. "It's all about figures," the man said.

How far does illegality go?
So far kompu gacha games are the only type determined by the agency to be illegal for using the "cards combination" sales method. But there also are similar online games like "tema gacha" (theme gacha), in which players win further rare virtual items if they succeed in collecting a line of items based on a certain theme. There are also "bingo gacha" games, in which players win rare virtual items if they succeed in having all the numbers displayed in a certain line like a bingo game. Attention is now focused on what the agency will decide regarding the legality of such games. It is now developing guidelines through consultation with the industry. A male online game developer said he wants the situation to be clarified with guidelines. He always thought the matter would become a problem someday, as many games were run under questionable methods, including kompu gacha.

Hooked consumers
A Tokyo female employee, 27, said once people start spending money to collect rare virtual items, they become unable to quit since owning a rare item carries a kind of status. "In the end I was playing out of pride," she said. At the invitation of a friend, the woman started playing a mobile phone game in April 2010 in which a player collects virtual treasure items in collaboration with other players. She was initially able to collect items free of charge, but needed to spend money to win a rare item. Lured by advertising pitches like, "You can play a game 11 times for 3,000 yen if you pay a lump sum, although it usually costs 300 yen per game," or "This is the only time you can win this rare item," she got absorbed into the game. She said it took only about a minute to play 3,000 yen worth of the game. Flooded with new sales messages, she ultimately spent nearly 500,000 yen. According to a survey conducted by research company Neo Marketing Inc. earlier this month, 43 percent of 500 SNS game users bought such virtual game items, and 2.4 percent spent more than 10,000 yen. One player spent more than 200,000 yen in a month.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 05/15/2012

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Govt Claims Cyberdefense Right / Says International Laws Should Be Applied to Computer Infiltration

The Foreign Ministry believes Japan has the right of self-defense against cyber-attacks through existing international laws including the U.N. Charter, it has been learned. Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said international laws should be applied to cyberspace, an interpretation that paves the way for taking defensive action under the right of self-defense. The U.N. Charter approves the use of force by a U.N. member state invoking the country's right to self-defense if attacked until the U.N. Security Council can take the necessary measures to maintain international peace and security. The ministry presented its interpretation at a meeting of the National Information Security Center held at the Prime Minister's Office on April 26, according to a summary of the meeting released Monday.

Attendees included Gemba, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura, National Public Safety Commission Chairman Jin Matsubara, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Tatsuo Kawabata and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano. At the closed-door meeting, Gemba established for the first time the status of cyberspace under international laws, saying, "After examining all aspects of the issue, we concluded it is appropriate that existing international laws be applied to cyberspace." In typical cyber-attacks, computer viruses are used to hack into information and telecommunication networks to alter or steal the information stored on them. Attackers also sometimes send large amounts of data to a computer or network to impede its function. Due to a growing number of government websites being targeted by cyber-attacks, countries have been beefing up security.

According to government sources, by applying the U.N. Charter and other international laws, the government can exercise its right of self-defense against other nations responsible for cyber-attacks, and request that they compensate for or repair any damaged property. The Defense Ministry has already started developing cyberweapons, such as viruses that can deactivate cyber-attacks from other countries, based on such an interpretation of the international laws. However, as it is not clear whether the nation's current legal framework to deal with state emergencies recognizes cyber-attacks as "armed attacks," the government will make an official interpretation relevant to domestic laws.

Aimed at beefing up deterrents
The Foreign Ministry hopes to deter cyber-attackers by making it clear that the government will apply international laws to take decisive measures against the attacks. As existing international laws do not discuss cyber-attacks, cyberspace has become an orderless state, a government official said. In response to this situation, the U.S. Defense Department announced in 2011 that it would treat cyber-attacks as "acts of war" and may consider a real-life military response. Following this move, the Japanese government recognized cyberspace as an "area where there are national safety concerns, just like land, sea, air and even outer space." The government hopes to promote the peaceful use of cyberspace by establishing international rules in cooperation with the United States and European countries.

The matter will be discussed at a U.N. meeting of government experts in August. While Japan, the United States and European countries say it is important to use cyberspace effectively from the viewpoint of securing free speech and developing new industries, China and Russia want tougher restrictions. Therefore, countries must coordinate to form a global consensus.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 05/17/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Watchdog Issues Fines for Price Rigging

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has reportedly handed a combined KRW45.3 billion (USD40.1 billion) fine to a number of local mobile phone manufacturers and telecoms operators in response to allegations of price rigging and consumer fraud. According to Yonhap News Agency, the watchdog issued the penalty following a ruling that the companies involved had colluded to inflate the prices of handsets before then advertising them at supposed discount prices. Manufacturers Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Pantech have all been fined, along with South Korea's three mobile network operators SK Telecom (SKT), KT Corp and LG Uplus. SKT, the country's largest cellco by subscribers, was handed the largest fine - KRW20.2 billion - followed by Samsung Electronics and KT with KRW14.2 billion and KRW5.1 billion respectively. According to the FTC's findings, it claimed that some 209 handsets had seen their prices marked up prior to being passed to operators, prompting the watchdog to say: 'Companies took advantage of the complicated price setting practice in the mobile telecommunications sector to trick consumers.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 03/16/2012

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South Korea Introduces Fingerprint Technology to Prevent Corruption

PPS launched Korea On-line E-Procurement System (KONEPS) in September 2002. KONEPS became a world-class e-procurement system used by 44,000 public organisations and 220,000 suppliers. However, due to the nature of bidding conducted on-line, there were cases reported that bid brokers borrowed the registrants' certificate and participated in the bid illegally to gain profit when the contract was awarded. Such illegal practices continuously occurred and raised concerns about the reliability of e-bidding, as well as a waste of national budget. PPS has introduced various measures such as the Bidders Identification System, Informant Reward Policy and Corrupt Activity Analysis System to eradicate potential fraudulent practices. However, it took too much time and effort to investigate and impose administrative measures on fraudulent bidding practices.

Hence PPS designed the Fingerprint Recognition e-Bidding System to invite only qualified and registered bidders. The system allows users to submit bids only when users' fingerprint matches with pre-registered fingerprint in the Biometric Security Token. Unlike other authentication certificates, it can't be utilized by others except the user as it is based on their biometric information. After the implementation of FRBS those who wanted to register a proxy bidder had to submit a certificate of employees' insurance to confirm their affiliation. As a result, compared to 1,777 cases (worth about $30 million) of illegal lending of certificates prior to the implementation, there was no single case reported afterwards. The measures to protect bidders' information have been strengthened and diversified. The system has also reduced signs of illegal e-bidding attempts and secured transparency and fairness. In addition, it created more opportunities for the bidders and supported suppliers with around $200 million. Not having to monitor illegal bidding activities, organisations saved about $5.5 million . It has also led to the establishment of a new market valued at $7 million, where it is actively used. According to PPS officials, if the fingerprint recognition technology is applied to Internet banking, it can also develop a new market worth about $200 million.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/11/2012

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Software Piracy Damages Peaked in 2011

Software piracy incurred record losses from hi-tech companies last year. According to a report on worldwide software piracy that surveyed 116 countries for 2011 by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), Korea's financial damages total 890 billion won ($815 million), the highest ever since the organization conducted its survey. The figure was up 42 billion won from the previous year. The BSA attributes the increased losses to an increase in the amount of high-priced software copied following Korean economic growth. Korea's software piracy rate has been dropping steeply since the year 2000, when it was 56 percent, according to the report. It was 40 percent in 2010.These rates are much higher than the 26 percent average in the 34 nations of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD's average has dropped by 1 percent from 2010, raising concerns that illegally copying software is still rampant in Korea. However, this is lower than the global average of 42 percent, and 60 percent in the Asia and Pacific region. Worldwide monetary losses stand at $63.4 billion, with $20.9 billion in Asia accounting for nearly one third. Software piracy is most rampant in China, which has an illegal copying rate of 77 percent with a financial hit of $8.9 billion.

In Mexico, Indonesia, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, countries also going through rapid economic development, losses are rising due to the increase in illegal piracy disproportionate to legal sales of computers and expensive software. The United States and Japan, the two top nations with the lowest rate of software piracy, register 19 and 21 percent respectively. However, the U.S tops the charts in financial damage with $97 billion losses. "There is urgent need for action because of the rapidly increasing damage caused by illegal software piracy," said BSA Korea Chair Park Sun-young. "What we need most is for corporations to manage their software assets in order to increase productivity and competiveness." The BSA conducted another survey via Ipsos, Public Affairs on consumer awareness about software piracy. Out of around 15,000 people from 33 different countries, 57 percent answered that they were copying software programs illegally. 31 percent said they were constantly doing so, and 26 percent casually so, backing Kim's assertion for the need for widespread education on the prevention of software piracy.


From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 05/16/2012

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Judicial Officers Urged to Take Caution in SNS Use

The ethics of public servants committee of the Supreme Court said judicial officers should take care to not create unexpected results from the use of social networking services and abide by the judicial moral code. The 11-member committee said it had decided to release a joint letter of advice on SNS use by judicial officers after holding a meeting on May 17.According to the letter, judicial officers should be in thorough understanding of social networking services and their use, taking care to prevent unexpected results and take heed in disclosing personal information, setting viewing options and third party comments directed at them. Also, when making comments on social and political issues, judicial officers should exercise self-restraint and balanced consideration so as to not become the center of social criticism or affect the outcome of trials.


From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 05/20/2012

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SINGAPORE: Considering Laws to Curb Cyber Bullying

Singapore currently has no laws against cyber harassment, bullying and other antisocial acts on the Internet, unlike Britain, Australia, India and the US. Singapore is considering introducing laws to combat cyber bullying and other forms of Internet harassment. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is studying the need for such laws, with the Law Ministry and Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean. The ministries, while looking into the subject, will consider enhancing the ways a victim of a non-criminal wrongdoing, such as online defamation, can seek redress. For instance, even while he is suing for defamation, he should be able to protect himself by obtaining an injunction to order the removal of the defamatory statements on the Internet, said Mr Teo, who is also the Home Affairs Minister.


From http://www.straitstimes.com/ 03/02/2012

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SINGAPORE: Experts Say Hackers Turning to Social Networking Sites for Preys

Criminals are developing new tactics to trap their prey online. Experts said hackers are now using victim's various Internet accounts to commit fraud. In the past year alone, they've seen new scams pop up every one or two months. Chinese national "Xiao Fen" who's working in Singapore, has been communicating with her parents through popular Chinese website QQ.com. But a hacker accessed her account after she clicked on a link sent by a friend. The hacker pretended to be her and cheated her parents of S$4,000. With the rapid development of social networks, hackers have turned their attention to popular networking sites. They're also beginning to lure online users by posting popular pictures or content online. An example would be free food vouchers given to those who fill up an online survey. And some fast food owners have declared on their Facebook page that they do not have such promotions. Another tactic is one where hackers steal information via online marketing scams using well-known brands. Tong Hui Leong, IT Security Consultant, said: "A few years ago, they've relied on emails to prey on victims. Recently, these fraudsters have made use of international news. "For example, the death of Steve Jobs. They will send messages asking people to go to the Facebook page to leave comments in memory of Steve Jobs. "After they do so, they will be brought to another webpage that indicates they can win an iPad if they fill up a form. "As far as we know, about 15,000 have fallen for this."


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 03/25/2012

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SINGAPORE: To Reinforce IT Security Guidelines

The country's Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts said it would work with Infocomm Development Authority to develop a detailed standard operating procedure to clearly define roles and responsibilities of entities involved in managing access rights. Following lapses in security and access control in a number of public sector agencies in Singapore, the Government has decided to reinforce its IT security guidelines from its financial year 2012. The country's Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) said the government would require agencies to include system access control reviews for 'systems with high business impact' in annual security review exercise. Currently all system owners or managers within the public sector are required to re-certify access requirements regularly, and the frequency of such exercise depends on the risk profile of the systems. The country's Auditor-General has reported lapses in Vital, a department of the Ministry of Finance which runs shared payment and payroll systems for many agencies, and Singapore Police Force, pertaining to its systems for storing revenue collection and related traffic offence records. MICA also said that it would work with Infocomm Development Authority to develop a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP) to clearly define roles and responsibilities of entities involved in managing access rights. The SOP is expected to be disseminated to all agencies by June this year.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/16/2012

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Cyber-Wellness Programmes Could Begin as Early as Pre-School

SINGAPORE: Cyber-wellness programmes could begin as early as pre-school, Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts revealed in Parliament on Monday. He was replying to MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC Low Yen Ling's question on the effectiveness of the ministry's cyber-wellness programmes Ms Low also asked whether the ministry plans to put cyber-wellness programmes in place to prevent preschoolers from getting addicted to video games. Mr Chan said the Media Development Authority's cyber wellness website has been well-received, with close to 220,000 page views. The information is also available in a parental guidebook which has been distributed at all schools and public events. Mr Chan added that MDA may print the book in vernacular languages, or include more in-depth information, in future editions. He said MDA is also working with schools and community self-help groups to conduct public workshops and talks for parents. "We recognise that younger children are becoming increasingly exposed to activities and games on the Internet as parents use connected devices like smartphones and tablets as babysitting tools," Mr Chan said. "MDA will continue to study changes in demographics and media consumption habits and work with various partners to extend and strengthen its outreach efforts as we work together with parents, teachers and the rest of the community to safeguard our children as they explore our changing media environment."


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 05/14/2012

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THAILAND: Blocks 5,000 'Royal Insult' Web Pages

Thai authorities have blocked thousands of web pages deemed insulting to the monarchy in the past three months, police said on Wednesday, amid growing debate about the kingdom's lese majeste law. More than 5,000 pages with content deemed to be critical of the royal family were taken down between December and March, Thailand's national police spokesman Piya Utayo told reporters. "We found that the number of inappropriate or insulting posts was less and less," he said, without explaining the cause of the reduction. Lese majeste, or article 112 of the Thai criminal code, is designed to protect senior royals from insult, but academics say it has been politicised in recent years. The royal family is an extremely sensitive subject in Thailand, with 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej revered as a demi-god by many. Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are providing a platform for both critics of the law and ultra-monarchists, who have encouraged Internet users to report posts that are regarded as insulting the royals. On Monday, media rights group Reporters Without Borders said in a report that the current Thai government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had presided over a worsening of Internet censorship.

"If Thailand continues down the slope of content filtering and jailing netizens on lese majeste charges, it could soon join the club of the world's most repressive countries as regards the Internet," the report said. Under Thailand's strict lese majeste rules, insulting the monarchy or a member of the royal family can result in jail terms of up to 15 years. Anyone can file a lese majeste complaint, and police are duty-bound to investigate it. And under Thailand's computer crime law, introduced in 2007, acts of defamation and posting false rumours online are punishable by five years in jail. Recent cases have sparked fierce debates, including over a 61-year-old man who was jailed in November for 20 years for sending text messages deemed insulting to the monarchy. A Thai political activist was sentenced in February to seven and a half years in prison for insulting the monarchy.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 03/15/2012

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Thailand to Set Up National Cyber Security System

Thailand's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, The Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) and Thailand Computer Emergency Response Team (ThaiCert), in cooperation with Symantec will establish a national cyber security system. A memorandum of cooperation (MoC) was signed last week in an attempt to tackle Internet-borne malicious threats and provide a safer online environment for Thai citizens Permanent Secretary of ICT Ministry Jeerawan Boonperm said the MoC was signed to create a system that does not only protect online users but also analyze threats and identify their whereabouts. "The new technology would significantly assure safety for online banking for people and businesses," she said. The popularity of online transactions, she said, is expected to increase in terms of both value and services once the security system is up and running.

According to her, the move will also boost Thailand's ability to build a safe environment on the internet and deal with any types of cyber crime. Any threats detected will be useful for Thailand to become better prepared to combat them in the future. A digital threat monitoring system will be established and operated to monitor and analyze threats within the network. The MoC will enable ETDA to leverage Symantec's Attack Quarantine System (AQS) Program, an automated honeypot network designed to gather intelligence on Internet threat data. ETDA will receive weekly reports by Symantec indicating the amount of malwares detected; their threat profiles and recommend solutions to remove those threats. "We are confident this collaboration will help us gain better control over the cyber threat landscape and better address the risks of rising cyber threats and cybercrime to create a safer online environment for all," said Surangkana Wayuparb, Executive Director of ETDA.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/30/2012

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Securing Your Virtual Environment: A Lowdown

Recently, virtualization giant VMware scrambled to release security patches for an ESX server hypervisor source code leak that was published in April and allegedly perpetrated by a hacker from the global collective Anonymous. The recent patch repaired critical vulnerabilities that could have enabled an attacker to execute malicious code remotely on the host and leave an end-user's virtualized environment susceptible to a compromising cyber attack. Among other things, the incident called into question the security of virtualized data and for some, how the eventual migration to virtualized network infrastructure would ultimately impact an organization's security standing. No doubt, the transportable nature of a virtual environment generally adds another layer of complexity in the overall security of the network that can often leave security holes if organizations aren't aware of the location of their data or what it takes to secure it. But whether virtual data is more or less secure largely depends on the caliber of organization's security posture, experts say. And opinions on how to secure a virtual environment are as numerous and diverse as organizations that house it.

"There's no single one answer. You need to assess what that environment is, what they're trying to do and put the proper pieces in place," Jason Bandouveres, Fortinet senior product specialist. And no doubt, the security of the virtual system will largely depend on the nature of the organization as well as the type of virtual data and infrastructure needing to be secured. But regardless of how complex or unique the organization's infrastructure needs, there are some basic security requirements that are necessary throughout all virtual environments, Bandouveres says. First, Bandouveres contends that despite the fact that organizations will progressively virtualize more and more of their infrastructure, they will still need to adopt some kind of hybrid environment and create some kind of a balance with both physical and virtual security mechanisms to adequately secure their data. The reason? Ultimately, whether secured via a physical or virtual system, data stored via the virtual environment needs to be protected.

Talking to the Gartner's of the world, we're seeing a definite need for both physical and virtual assets to secure both of these," Bandouveres says. "You have to secure that environment in and of itself. Physical security is at the core of the network. You need to secure the perimeter of that virtual environment, whether private or public cloud, you still need to protect those physical assets and physical links." Physical security systems are usually necessary due to the fact that the virtual environment is running on physical devices, Bandouveres says. "Your virtual environment is running on some type of hardware, there are physical servers, there's physical storage, network, etc... Security devices are definitely necessary to protect the perimeter of these environments." Also, in a multi-tenant or multi-client environment, the providers need to configure segregated security zones just as they would in physical environments. At this point, they will be required to invest in security virtual appliances to secure these zones from each other so that traffic won't be required to route out of the virtual environment through physical security appliances and routed back into the virtual environment to employ a proper security zone, he added.

For example, Company A could be hosting Web servers and application servers on the same physical assets as Company B within a publicly available cloud. "The beauty of these virtual machines is that they could be running anywhere in that cloud, but the cloud provider needs to segregate one tenant from another tenant to make sure there's no leak over," Bandouveres says, adding, for example, as there could be with Web servers that house and protect certain kinds of credit card information from the various clients. That segregated traffic then needs to be rerouted right back into the virtual environment, he adds. "There are certain compliance regulations that need to be met, so there're no potential security issues. You need to make sure to have a rock solid security policy and segregate those aspects in a virtual environment, as well," Bandouveres says. "You could have assets that shouldn't be talking to or sitting near other data on the physical servers. You need to secure inter VM traffic and different workloads on the same physical host. You don't generally have that issue in a physical environment."

In addition, it's essential to have a central management system that can monitor both their physical and virtual security environments via a single pane of glass in order to avoid efficiency bottlenecks and productivity gaffes created by complicated multi-management servers, Bandouveres says. Finally, as with physical data, virtual data is often most vulnerable when it's lost or unaccounted for. However, unlike physical systems, the mobile nature of virtual systems enables workloads to be transported easily from one host or server to another. As such, organizations increasingly are required to have security policies that reflect that development, Bandouveres says. "It's not something you see in the physical world. That server is never going to move," he says. "In a virtualized environment, they've got full load balancing set up. You could see that workload move, and you need to be able to secure that."


From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 05/23/2012

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INDIA: 'National Cyber Coordination Centre' Will Scan Twitter

A scanning agency called 'National Cyber Coordination Centre' is being set-up by the government to monitor all web traffic passing through Internet service providers in the country. The scanning agency will issue 'actionable alerts' to government departments in cases of perceived security threats. The move to set up a new agency comes in view of the fact that the government has been unable to prevent many terror attacks, as it does not have a credible internet scanning system. The minutes of a meeting held on February 3, 2012, at the National Security Council Secretariat under the Prime Minister's Office, show that the National Cyber Coordination Centre will 'also scan cyber traffic flowing at the point of entry and exit at India's international internet gateways.' The web scanning centre will provide 'actionable alerts for proactive actions' to be taken by government departments. Now all the government departments are supposed to talk to the Internet Service Providers such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communication, BSNL, MTNL and Tata Communications through NCCC for real time information and data on threats. According to sources, government is planning to invest about Rs 800 crore in the set-up. All tweets, messages, emails, status updates and even email drafts will now pass through the new scanning centre. The centre may probe further into any email or social media account if it finds a perceived threat.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 02/29/2012

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India: Hackers Hit 112 Gov Sites in Three Months

There was embarrassing news for the Indian government this week as one of its ministers was forced to admit that over 100 of its web sites had been hacked in just three months at the beginning of the year, including that of a state-owned telecoms company. Minister for communications and IT, Sachin Pilot, revealed in a written reply in parliament that a total of 112 sites had been compromised from December 2011 to February 2012, Indian news service IANS reported. Many of the sites hacked appeared to be those of government agencies in various regions of the sprawling country including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Kerala, the report continued. Also singled out was state-run telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which was hacked and defaced in December allegedly by hackers belonging to the 'H4tr!ck' group. BSNL in particular came under attack from Pakistani hackers several times last year, most notably from a group calling themselves the Pakistan Cyber Army, and many of the hacks of government sites mentioned by Pilot could be blamed on mischief makers from India's fierce rival across the border. According to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, there were 834 defacements of .in web sites in India during January this year, with the figure rising to 1,425 for all sites.

The authorities certainly don't seem to be getting any better at deflecting such attacks given that around the same number of government sites - 117 - were attacked in the entire first half of 2011, according to an official release. This would seem to indicate that basic security measures are still not been taken at the back end to bolster defences against common attack methods including cross-site scripting and SQL injection. It's not just the public sector that has been found wanting though, with Microsoft India's online store still offline after being targeted by alleged Chinese hackers. Despite reassuring customers that their data was safe, Microsoft was later forced to admit that actually the hackers may well have nabbed credit card details from what is thought to have been an unencrypted database.


From http://www.theregister.co.uk/ 03/16/2012

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New Delhi Demands 'Data Secure Nation' Status for India

India is among the few countries that are not considered data secure by the EU. Now New Delhi has asked European Union to lift restrictions on flow of sophisticated outsourcing business to India by designating it as a data secure country. The lack of 'Data Secure Nation' status form EU prevents flow of sensitive data, such as patient information for telemedicine, to the country. The existing data protection laws in the EU allow such information to only flow into a country that has been designated as being data secure. The issue has been taken up by New Delhi in the bilateral free trade agreement, which includes an extensive chapter on free flow of services. The EU Data Protection Directive requires member countries to ban transfer of personal data to a non-EU country unless the nation ensures adequate privacy protection. There is an exception to the directive that allows outsourcing to non-data secure countries by adhering to standard contractual clauses that place strict obligations on both parties to ensure privacy of data, but these are onerous and considered as disincentive for business. Globally, about 42 percent of IT spending comes from Europe, Middle East and Asia. Lifting of data flow restrictions can boost trade manifold for India's $100-billion IT-BPO industry, 30 percent of whose exports are to the European market. As of now much of the business process outsourcing (BPO) work coming to India from EU is low-end, data processing work. However, the level of work being outsourced from the US is high end, which includes clinical trials, legal documents and drug discovery, and credit and equity analytics.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/16/2012

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India Is Creating a Comprehensive Security Policy to Deal with Cyber Threats

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon has said that in order to deal with myriad cyber threats, India is creating a "coherent and comprehensive" security policy. "(The) government is in the process of putting in place the capabilities and the systems in India that will enable us deal with this anarchic new world of constant and undeclared cyber threat, attack, counter-attack and defence," he said at the release of a report on "India's Cyber Security Challenge" by the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). This will be a step toward the "coherent and comprehensive cyber security policy" that the report calls for, Shivshankar Menon added. Menon noted in this context that while the National Technical Research Organisation is tasked to deal with protecting India's critical security cyber infrastructure, institutions like CERT-IN (Computer Emergency Response Team-India) "have proved their worth during events like the 2010 Commonwealth Games when a staggering 8,000 cyber attacks were warded off."We are making a beginning in putting in place a system of certification and responsibility for telecommunication equipment and are working on procedures and protocols which will rationalize communication interception and monitoring," he said. Simultaneously, "we need to harden our critical networks. And, we will develop metrices to certify and assure that our critical cyber networks, equipment and infrastructure are secure", he added. He pointed out the need to "create a climate and environment within which security is built into our cyber and communications working methods". Menon also expressed the opinion that the effort to enhance cyber security must involve the entire scientific and technological strength of the country, whether in laboratories, universities or in our private sector firms. Menon also called for a sea change in the method of dealing with cyber war as "conflict or attacks in the cyber world do not follow the rules or logic of war as understood so far in other domains."


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 05/17/2012

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PAKISTAN: Building Web Wall Out in the Open

In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the "development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system." Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan. Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube.

Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China. While China and other governments that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Web site of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry's Research and Development Fund and even took out newspaper advertisements to publicize the project.

"The system would have a central database of undesirable URL's that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis," the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses for specific Web pages, and points of presence, or access points. "The database would be regularly updated through subscription to an international reputed company maintaining and updating such databases," according to the request, which was published last month. The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology "should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL's (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds." Following the Arab Spring, which demonstrated the power of the Internet to help spread political and social change, Pakistan's move to clamp down has set off a storm of protest among free-speech groups in the country and beyond. Opponents of censorship say they are doubly appalled because they associated this kind of heavy-handed approach more with the previous regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf than with the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

"The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet," said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. "They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy." "What makes this kind of censorship so insidious is that they always use national security, pornography or blasphemy as an explanation for blocking other kinds of speech," Ms. Saleem said, adding that her site had been blocked for several months in 2010 when it made reference to a ban on Facebook. Access to the social networking service had been restricted because of a page featuring a competition to draw the prophet Mohammed - something that is considered blasphemous by Muslims. The Technology Ministry's Research and Development Fund says in its tender that the Internet filtering and blocking system will be "indigenously developed," but campaigners like Ms. Saleem say they think it is likely the agency will try to adapt Western technology for the purpose.

To try to prevent this from happening, Ms. Saleem wrote to the chief executives of eight international companies that make Net filtering technology, asking them to make a public commitment not to apply for the Pakistani grant. On Friday, one of them, Websense, which is based in San Diego, responded, declaring in a statement on its Web site that it would not seek the contract. "Broad government censorship of citizen access to the Internet is morally wrong," Websense said. "We further believe that any company whose products are currently being used for government-imposed censorship should remove their technology so that it is not used in this way by oppressive governments." Websense had previously withdrawn the use of its technology from Yemen after facing accusations from the OpenNet Initiative, a U.S.-Canadian academic group, and other organizations that it had been used by the government of that country to stifle political expression on the Internet.

Governments around the world buy filtering and blocking technology to root out illegal content like child pornography. Some private companies employ it to restrict access to social networks and other distractions on company computers. But the use of Western technology to rein in political speech in countries with repressive regimes has come under increasing scrutiny since the Arab Spring. The OpenNet Initiative said in a report last year that at least nine governments in the Middle East or North Africa had used such products, with the Western companies maintaining lists of sites to be blocked, including sites featuring skeptical views of Islam and even dating services. Even before implementing its new system, Pakistan has been an active censor. The country was 151st, out of 179, on a ranking of media freedom by the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders in 2011.

"Reporters Without Borders urges you to abandon this project, which would reinforce the arsenal of measures for communications surveillance and Internet censorship that have already been put in place by your government," the group wrote in a letter Friday to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. To free-speech advocates in Pakistan, the government's seeming insouciance about censorship is a particular cause for alarm. "This is a case study," said Ms. Saleem of Bolo Bhi, which is based in Karachi and whose name means "speak up." "No government has ever done this so publicly."


From http://www.nytimes.com/ 03/02/2012

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PAKISTAN: To Block Up to 50 Million Web Addresses

In a step to censor internet, Pakistan is advertising for companies to install an Internet filtering system that could block up to 50 million Web addresses. Free speech activists fear current censorship could become much more widespread. Pakistan wants to install an Internet filtering system capable of blocking 50 million Web pages - and doesn't mind advertising the fact. Free speech activists fear current censorship could become much more widespread. Few nations have so publicly revealed their plans to censor the Web as Pakistan is doing, however. Last month, the government took out newspaper and Web advertisements asking for companies or institutions to develop the national filtering and blocking system. "They are already blocking a lot of Internet content, and now they are going for a massive system that can only limit and control political discourse," said Shahzad Ahmad, the director of Bytes for All Pakistan, which campaigns for Internet freedom. "The government has nothing to do with what I choose to look at."

The government doesn't currently list the sites it has blocked, or their number, or say who sits on the committee that decides what pages to shut down. Pakistan's Telecommunication Authority instructs the country's 50 Internet Service Providers to block sites. The ISPs, which receive their license from the PTA, are obliged to obey. In November, the PTA ordered cell phone companies to block text messages containing a list of more than 1,500 English words it said were offensive. But the plan was dropped after public ridicule and complaints from cell phone companies about practicality. The plan to censor the Internet comes amid unease over a set of proposals by a media regulatory body aimed at bringing the country's freewheeling television media under closer government control. With general elections later this year or earlier next, some critics have speculated the government might be trying to cut down on criticism. The media proposals call for television stations not to broadcast programs "against the national interest" or those that "undermine its integrity or solidarity as an independent and sovereign country" or "contain aspersions against or ridicule the organs of the State." Pakistan's Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan denied Wednesday that the government was seeking to curb the media.

"We want to see the media growing. We want to strengthen it," Awan said, emphasizing that the proposals were just that, and the government wouldn't implement them without the media's consent. The government advertisements state it wants a system capable of shutting down up to 50 million Web addresses in multiple languages with a processing delay of not less than one millisecond. The head of Pakistan's ISP association, Wahajus Siraj, said he supported the proposed system, saying his ISP and others in the association didn't have the time or money to take down the sites. He also said rights activists had nothing to worry about. "They don't fully understanding the concept of it," said Siraj. "This is not new censorship. It's making the manual system more efficient. I respect their point of view, but decent freedom of speech should not be blocked."

Siraj, who sits on the board of the government-run technology fund seeking proposals for the blocking system, said there had been many expressions of interest to create the system, including from two Western firms. He declined to name them. Websense Inc., a San Diego-based Internet security firm, has already said it is not bidding for the Pakistan project. "We call on other technology providers to also do the right thing for the citizens of Pakistan and refuse to submit a proposal for this contract," it said in a statement. "Broad government censorship of citizen access to the Internet is morally wrong." US technology companies have been criticised for helping foreign governments censor the Internet to their citizens. Cisco Systems Inc., which makes networking equipment that could be used in official efforts to monitor and control Internet use, is often cited; the company insists it does not provide any government with any special capabilities and cannot control what its customers do with the products. Like in many Asian countries where pornographic materials are banned, Pakistan currently tries to block adult websites. It also seeks to censor what it sees as "blasphemous" content toward Islam, as other Muslim nations do.

In 2008, the government blocked YouTube because of anti-Islamic movies on the site; in 2010, it blocked Facebook for two weeks amid anger over a page that encouraged users to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Other sites that have, or continue to be blocked, are those containing news and views from Baluchistan, a southwestern province where a separatist insurgency has simmered for years in the face of army crackdowns. There have been other cases where sites have been blocked apparently after they triggered the anger of members of the military and political elite. Rollingstone.com has been offline since July last year, reportedly because it ran a short story critical of the amount of budgetary funds allocated to the army. Rollingstone.com didn't return e-mails seeking comment.

Asked for comment, the telecommunication authority sent a statement that explained the blocking system was being installed because the Pakistani people wanted a "ban on blasphemous and objectionable contents that were being used to harass, deface and blackmail the innocent citizens of Pakistan." Blocking pornographic websites and those seen insulting to Islam is not unpopular in Pakistan; many would say it is obligatory under Islam. Many of the most high-profile blocks have been a result of court orders acting on petitions from members of the public. "I'm with the government on this one. They have right the intention," said Ahmjad Alvi, founder of Brainnet, one of the country's first ISPs. "Think of the kids."


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 03/09/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Less Illegal Software Used

The software piracy level in Azerbaijan in 2011 was 87 percent, or one point less than in 2010, Business Software Alliance (BSA) reported today. "The stabile improvement of the situation has been recently observed in Azerbaijan," the report said. The piracy rate in the country was 94 percent in 2006, in 2007 - 92 percent, in 2008 - 90 percent, in 2009 and 2010 - 88 percent. According to BSA, the market volume of illegal software used in Azerbaijan in 2011 was 67 million or $10 million more than in 2010. In general, the commercial value of unlicensed software in the world increased from $58.8 billion in 2010 to $63.4 billion in 2011. This new record was set due to the increased supply of personal computers to the countries with developing economies. The piracy rate in Moldova is 90 percent, Armenia - 88 percent, Belarus - 87 percent, Kazakhstan - 76 percent, Russia - 63 percent among the CIS countries. The highest level of pirated products was in neighboring Georgia at 91 percent. The survey results covered 15,000 PC users.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/15/2012

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Azerbaijani Nar Mobile Eliminates Problems in Its Network

The staff of Nar Mobile, Azerbaijani mobile operator, had been working at the accident zone all night, in order to remove the consequences of the technical accident, which had taken place on 18 May 2012 during the upgrade works. As a result, by 11 pm. on 18 May 2012 the results of accident had been totally removed and the sustainable mobile connection had been restored. Nar Mobile apologises to its subscribers for the inconveniences caused by the technical accident and thanks them for the shown understanding and patience.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/19/2012

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TAJIKISTAN: Unblocking Facebook, News Sites

Summary: The Tajikistan government has ordered the country's ISPs to unblock facebook.com, zvezda.ru, tjknews.com, maxala.org, and other websites after ordering them to be blocked last week. This past weekend, the Tajikistan government ordered Internet service providers (ISPs) to unblock Facebook, along with several independent news websites. The ban lasted about one week. The first site went down one week ago Friday and the rest were blocked on Saturday. The order to lift the ban came this past Friday, Facebook came back on Saturday, and the news websites soon followed, according to the Tajik news agency Asia Plus. Throughout the week, users were able to access the blocked sites by using proxy servers. At least one ISP reportedly never followed the state-run communications service order. The shutdown was ordered because the websites were critical to the president Emomali Rakhmon. The ISPs had different lists of blacklisted, but all of them included facebook.com, zvezda.ru, tjknews.com, and maxala.org. Users who tried to access these and other websites were automatically redirected to their ISPs home page. Political website Zvezda was reportedly the first to go down, soon after publishing an article titled "Tajikistan on the eve of a revolution" that analyzed Rakhmon's growing autocratic moves, which the author argued would bring country to the mass unrest. Local news site TJKNews republished the article.

Facebook was likely blocked because of how protesters in Arab countries and in Russia have used it to coordinate public rallies (see links below). Twitter, which has also been used for such purposes, was not banned. Facebook's usage is growing in Tajikistan, but its userbase is still quite minute: 29,000 as of February 2012. The social network's penetration in Tajikistan is 0.39 percent compared to the country's population and 4.15 percent in relation to the country's Internet users, according to Socialbakers. Several Facebook groups openly discuss politics and some users have been critical of the authorities. Tajikistan, which has a population of 7.5 million people, is a former Soviet republic in Central Asia that borders Afghanistan and China. The poorest of the former Soviet nations, the mainly Muslim country has been ruled by Rakhmon since 1992. Although media operate with fewer restrictions than in neighbouring Uzbekistan, journalists have been detained in recent months. Furthermore, authorities have imprisoned more than 150 people from religious groups in the last two years on charges of extremism and attempting to subvert the constitution. Rakhmon must stand again for election by November 2013, and if he wins, he will get seven more years as president.


From http://www.zdnet.com/ 03/12/2012

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Tajik Web Users Rail Against Online Censorship

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Internet users and providers in Tajikistan are voicing concerns about online censorship after the government lifted a six-day ban on Facebook and several news websites last week. "I assume the reasons for blocking Facebook is that its Tajik segment has become very active recently," said Parvina Ibodova, president of the Association of Internet Providers in Tajikistan. "There are many groups and pages that discuss current issues in Tajikistan, including politics. Moreover, prominent opposition figures actively use Facebook in their daily work." On March 2, Bek Zuhurov, deputy minister of transport and communications, ordered Tajikistan's Internet service providers to deny access to several websites, including Facebook, for "technical and maintenance works." Facebook has about 30,000 users in Tajikistan, said Ms. Ibodova, who believes the websites were blocked because they contained content critical of the government. Tajikistan's government previously has blocked certain websites, but this month's action marked the first time the country's 1.9 million Internet users were denied access to a major social media site. Dunja Mijatovic, who specializes in media freedom for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, wrote to Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi on March 5 expressing concerns about free speech on the Web.

"The Internet should remain an open public forum for discussion and free expression of opinions, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Ms. Mijatovic said. "In this letter I also expressed hope that access to Facebook and the four news websites would be restored without delay." News sites blocked by the goverment included zvezda.ru, tjknews.com and maxala.org. In an interview with local online news service Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Mr. Zuhurov said the decision to block the websites had been made "to create order in the Internet." "Lately the internet is becoming like a black market," Mr. Zuhurov said, adding that his department was concerned that journalists are being paid to criticize the government by parties aiming to "create chaos among the people." Khurshed, who asked that his real name not be used to protect his safety, is one of more than 2,200 members of the Facebook group "Platforma," who regularly exchange views on Tajik politics online. He believes the Tajik government may be increasingly wary of online dissent following recent events in the Arab world. "Everyone knows that social networks played a significant role in so-called Arab Spring," said Khurshed, adding that the government, under President Emomali Rahmon's control since 1994, "had negative perceptions of the revolutions in Arab nations."

A recent poll commissioned by the government showed that 55 percent of Tajik citizens are concerned about corruption. What's more, the Central Asian country ranked 152 out of 182 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index last year, and Freedom House deems the Tajik press "not free." Dissatisfaction with Mr. Rahmon's government has not led to any clear signs of unrest. Analysts say that, since a five-year civil war ended in 1997, Tajik citizens have little appetite for conflict and often perceive Mr. Rahmon as a peacemaker. Still, blocking social media sites hasn't gone down well among locals. While Facebook was blocked, calls for public protest were posted on the Platforma page. "Almost all users of Facebook [in Tajikistan] are advanced Internet users," said Khayrullo Mirsaidov, a Facebook user in the capital city of Dushanbe. "Therefore, they use censorship-bypassing tools like anonymizers and proxy websites. "Moreover, due to this blocking, Facebook users in Tajikistan became even more active and now the social network is full of criticism of authorities."


From http://www.washingtontimes.com/ 03/16/2012

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AUSTRALIA: National Cybersecurity Competition Launched

The Gillard Government, in partnership with Telstra and Australian universities, has announced Australia's first national cyber security competition, the 2012 Cyber Defence University Challenge. The Challenge will test the cyber problem-solving skills of teams of Australian undergraduates in a virtual computer network scenario, challenging them to identify, exploit, mitigate, prevent (virtual) network vulnerabilities. Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy said, "The Challenge will raise awareness of the importance of cyber security, particularly in the university and business sectors, while also showcasing the diverse career opportunities for ICT graduates." The Challenge will run for 24 hours on 3 - 4 April 2012 with the chance to win a trip to the Black Hat 2012 Conference in Las Vegas, USA, in July this year. The conference brings together international cybersecurity experts for series' of infosec presentations and hands on training.

Australian university undergraduates studying computer science and related degrees are encouraged to register a team via their university. "The need for greater awareness of cyber security issues and for more high-skilled ICT graduates were two of the key themes to emerge from the public engagement process associated with the Government's Cyber White Paper, due for release later this year." Senator Conroy said. "The Government is committed to working with industry to develop a safe and secure digital economy for Australians. We are also committed to increasing the skills and expertise necessary to protect online environments from cyber crime such as data theft." Cybersecurity competitions are becoming increasingly popular with national competitions already being run in several countries including the UK, USA and by universities and private companies around the world.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 03/22/2012

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Australia Boosts Cyber-Security Capabilities with R&D Centre

The Government of the Australian State of Victoria is boosting its cyber-security capabilities by supporting a new R&D centre that helps researchers develop new hardware and software to protect information assets and critical infrastructure. This centre, being run under the auspices of the US research and development (R&D) company Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), will fast-track R&D into cyber-security. Researchers will investigate challenges specific to national security, energy, the environment and health. Other work includes research into data mining and analysis systems. This initiative supports Victoria's thriving defence industry. More than 300 companies are based in the state. Victoria is a major hub driving Australia's defence industry. In 2009-2010, Victoria's defence industry had an annual turnover of US$2.1 billion (AUD$2 billion). The state directly employs more than 8,000 Victorians to manufacture equipment and provide services supporting national and international defence activities. Victoria also hosts a US$85 million (AUD$32 million) Defence Materials Technology Centre, and an Australian node of Lockheed Martin's Innovation Centre.

The cyber-security R&D centre taps into the global expertise of SAIC. This company has an impressive US client base, including the US Military, Department of Defence, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It also has contracts with Australia's Defence Materiel Organisation. Victorian Minister for Manufacturing, Exports and Trade Richard Dalla-Riva said the R&D centre offers a "collaborative space" for researchers. "Attracting a global company like SAIC to Victoria is a vote of confidence in our state's ability to compete on a global scale." This centre will create additional jobs over the next three years, focusing on defence simulation, cyber-security technologies and other defence areas. Cyber-attacks remain a potential threat as agencies move to cloud computing, and high-speed, fast-access broadband networks, according to the Victorian Minister for Technology, Gordon Rich-Phillips. "The growing shift towards cloud computing, use of high-speed broadband networks and increased threats of cyber-attacks is leading to a new need for cyber security development." Centre researchers will explore cyber-security developments nationally and regionally - while tapping into a world-class talent pool, and team with technology and security specialists on information exchange and collaboration.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/19/2012

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Cybersecurity Insurance for Asia Pacific

In response to growing cyber threats in Asia Pacific, Chartis insurance providers have announced the launch of the first comprehensive cyber insurance solution in Singapore. The insurance, named CyberEdge, provides coverage for cyber liabilities that most commercial insurance policies do not cover. "Recently, the financial sector was impacted by a cyber threat in Singapore. Cyber attacks, often in the form of data breaches and network intrusions, can impact operations, frequently result in lost productivity, legal expenses, third party liabilities, exposed intellectual property, and damage to a firm's reputation. The insurance can provide financial protection against cyber risks," said Chartis Singapore country manager Mike Raines. Research supporting the decision to launch in Asia Pacific shows that seventy-five percent of organisations have experienced some form of cyber incident and that the average share price drop in response to notifying the market of a network security breach is five per cent. At the product launch today, Eric Lam, Sales Director for Enterprise, Risk & Compliance, from Symantec explained, "What we are seeing is that attacks are being done on large companies and small companies, the threats are similar but you usually get more attention when a large company gets attacked. There's the misconception that only government agencies get hacked but 75 percent of attacks hit all other sectors of the economy, it cuts across all sectors." The insurance policy is initially available for commercial customers with operations in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong with an annual turnover of at least US$100,000.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/08/2012

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Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World Ranks Technology Proficiencies of 142 Economies

On April 4th, at a press conference in New York City, INSEAD, the leading international business school, and the World Economic Forum are set to release the 11th annual Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living a Hyperconnected World. The Report examines the networked readiness of 142 developed and developing countries worldwide - accounting for over 98 percent of the world's GDP. The index measures the correlation between how these economies leverage advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) to drive economic productivity and social development. Living a Hyperconnected World explores the causes and consequences of living in an environment where the Internet is accessible and immediate; people and businesses can communicate instantly; and machines are interconnected, creating opportunities and at the same time new challenges. With a record coverage of 142 economies worldwide, the report remains the most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on development, growth, competitiveness and the well-being of nations. Soumitra Dutta, Roland Berger Professor of Business and Technology, INSEAD, and Benat Bilbao-Orsorio, Associate Director and Economist, Centre for Global Competitiveness and Performance, World Economic Forum are Editors of the 2012 Global Information Technology Report.


From http://betanews.com/ 04/03/2012

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Report: Global Digital Divide Getting Worse

Unsurprisingly, the development of ICT in a country helps determine its economic competitiveness internationally. Despite extensive work by developed countries to help boost information and communications technologies (ICT) infrastructure in developing economies, a serious digital divide still exists, according to research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Insead. The UK sits at 10th in the rankings of The Global Information Technology Report 2012: Living in a Hyperconnected World. Sweden and Singapore lead the list, followed by the other Nordic countries, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the US and Canada.

The report attempts to measure the transformational impacts of ICT on the economy and society. It covers 142 economies worldwide and assesses the impact of ICT on competitiveness and the well-being of nations. "Hyperconnectivity is redefining relationships between individuals, consumers and enterprises, citizens and state, and we are beginning to see fundamental transformations in all areas of the economy and society," said Robert Greenhill, Chief Business Officer at WEF. "Traditional organizations and industry infrastructures are facing challenges as industries converge. This will inevitably have consequences for policy and regulation as regulators will have to mediate the blurring lines between sectors and industries and will be obligated to oversee more facets in a pervasive way."

The report shows that ICT deficiencies tend to mirror the trends in economic performance in general. ICT readiness in most of Africa is still low, with most of these countries lacking sufficient ICT infrastructure, due to the costs involved and severe skill shortages. The report also claims that, even in countries where ICT infrastructure has been improved, the impacts on competitiveness and well-being trail behind, resulting in a new digital divide. The story is similar for the BRIC countries and Mexico - none of which are in the top 50. China is the highest of group at 51st. As the reports authors note, 'an insufficient skills base and institutional weaknesses, especially in the business environment, present a number of shortcomings that stifle entrepreneurship and innovation.'

"We believe that in an emerging era of hyperconnectivity, ICT will enable a bold new chapter that is entwined with the sustained growth of the global economy," said Sun Yafang, Chairwoman at Huawei Technologies. "The importance of ICT goes beyond its role as a driver of future economic growth as smart devices and cloud services continue to become a greater part of our daily lives. By strategically integrating ICT as part of overall economic growth plans, countries are in a better position to capitalize on the hyperconnected global economy and increase competitiveness on a global scale."


From http://www.cbronline.com/ 04/05/2012

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World Telecommunication and Information Society Award Focuses on "Women and Girls in Information and Communication Technology (ICT)"

Geneva - ITU marks the 147th anniversary of its establishment on 17 May this year by recognizing three eminent personalities who have contributed to the ongoing digital revolution in information and communication technologies (ICT). President of Argentina Ms Cristina Fern芍ndez de Kirchner, Chairman of Huawei Ms Sun Yafang, and Hollywood celebrity and advocate Geena Davis will be awarded the 2012 ITU World Telecommunication and Information Society Award in recognition of their leadership and dedication towards promoting ICTs as a means of empowering women and girls. Making the announcement, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour谷 lauded the work of the laureates in promoting both the involvement of women in the ICT field, and in leveraging the catalytic role ICTs can play in creating far-reaching opportunities for women and girls.

"This year's theme, 'Women and Girls in ICT' aims to ensure that there is equal opportunity for all and that women and girls can play a greater role within the ICT sector," Dr Tour谷 said. "We are determined to work with partners across all sectors of society to promote the full potential of ICTs for the benefit of women and girls. The ability of technology to empower women and girls in communities around the world is still largely untapped. Technology can play a much greater role as a catalyst and contributor to reach the Millennium Development Goals, eliminate gender disparities and enable greater access for girls and women to knowledge and career opportunities." ITU advocates the opening of fresh avenues of advancement to women at the highest echelons of decision making, and encourages young women to seek opportunities within the ICT sector. The World Telecommunication and Information Society Award will be presented in Geneva on 16 May 2012. The ceremony will be followed by a high-level panel discussion with the laureates and other distinguished speakers.

World Telecommunication and Information Society Awards
President Cristina Fern芍ndez has sought to empower women and girls through ICTs. Under her leadership, telecommunication development has made great strides in Argentina. The National Telecommunication Plan, pushed by Executive Power, has taken far-reaching steps to connect the people of Argentina to ICTs. President Cristina Fern芍ndez has been a staunch supporter of the Movimiento Justicialista and is committed to the defence of Human Rights and gender equality. She was elected President of Argentina in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. Ms Sun Yafang is Chairman of Huawei, a position she has held since 1999. Ms Sun's leadership has taken Huawei from a small local enterprise to a global giant providing innovative technologies and tailored solutions and services to leading telecoms operators worldwide. Ms Sun is also actively involved in a variety of corporate responsibility programmes as well as philanthropic activities and is an active member of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.

Ms Geena Davis is an Academy Award winning Hollywood actor and is recognized for her advocacy of women and girls. She is the founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, a research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under. Geena Davis is ITU's special envoy for women and girls in the field of information and communication technology.


From http://www.itu.int/ 05/09/2012

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ITU Award Presentation to President Cristina Fern芍ndez of Argentina, Sun Yafang and Geena Davis

Geneva - ITU will celebrate World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which marks the Union's 147th anniversary this year, by awarding the prestigious World Telecommunication and Information Society Award to three eminent laureates in recognition of their leadership and dedication towards promoting ICTs as a means of connecting people around the world. The theme for 2012 is 'Women and Girls in ICT'.

The 2012 laureates are:
H.E. Cristina Fern芍ndez de Kirchner, President of Argentina
Ms Sun Yafang, Chairman of Huawei
Ms Geena Davis, Hollywood actor; founder of non-profit Institute on Gender in Media


From http://www.itu.int/ 05/10/2012

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ARAB STATES: New Region Technology Report Reveals Accelerating Demand, Need for Faster Roll-Out of High-Speed Internet

Geneva, 5 March 2012 - New figures released today at ITU's Connect Arab Summit in Doha, Qatar show that information and communication technology (ICT) uptake continues to accelerate across the Arab region, but underline the need for more effort to be put into rolling out broadband infrastructure to meet burgeoning demand from a young, tech-savvy population. Data from ITU's ICT Adoption and Prospects in the Arab Region 2012 report reveal that, over the past five years, the number of mobile cellular subscriptions in the region has almost tripled, from 126 million in 2006, to nearly 350 million by end 2011. At the beginning of this year, regional mobile cellular penetration reached 97 per cent - ten per cent higher than global penetration.

However, the report warns that such figures can obscure wide disparities between the region's 'hyper-connected' economies and its less connected nations. For example, for every 100 people in Saudi Arabia, there are around 188 mobile phone subscriptions; in Djibouti, there are fewer than 20. More than 80 per cent of the population in Qatar uses the Internet, but the figure is below five per cent in Mauritania, Iraq and Somalia. Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), with their higher incomes, have more than twice as many Internet users per 100 inhabitants as non-GCC countries. Region-wide, ITU estimates show that less than 30 per cent of the population was online at end 2011. Fixed broadband penetration stood at just above two per cent - well below most other regions, and under the world average of around nine per cent.

Broadband boost
While most countries in the region have launched 3G mobile broadband services, and more and more people are using mobile devices to access the Internet, the region's active mobile broadband penetration - estimated at around 13 per cent - lies below the world average of 17 per cent. "With the 'mobile miracle' we have brought the benefits of ICTs within reach of virtually all the world's people. It is now time to make the next step, and to ensure that everyone - wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances - has access to the benefits of broadband," said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour谷. "In the 21st century broadband networks must be considered basic infrastructure, just like roads, railways, water and power networks. Broadband is a powerful social and economic enabler, and will help accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, now just three years away." Encouragingly, the report highlights significant growth in the volume of Arabic language digital content in the form of online portals and applications, and notes that regulators are making good progress in establishing Arabic domain names.

ICT development rankings
In general, the level of access to ICTs within the Arab States region closely correlates to a country's economic status. This is revealed by ITU's ICT Development Index (IDI), which combines 11 indicators covering 152 economies worldwide to monitor and compare ICT uptake.The latest IDI findings contained in the new Arab region report show that of the 16 Arab States included in the index, five lost ground between 2008 and 2010 and dropped in the global ranking. Four countries maintained their positions and seven (Algeria, Comoros, Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia) improved their IDI rankings. Top of the regional list was the UAE, which was in 32nd place out of 152 in the global IDI rankings. Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia filled places 44, 45 and 46, respectively. Between 2008 and 2010, Saudi Arabia saw a massive rise in mobile broadband, from two million subscriptions to almost 16 million. Morocco also substantially increased its number of Internet users and mobile broadband subscriptions, and stands out as the star performer overall, rising ten places in the IDI rankings. Along with Saudi Arabia, Morocco is well placed to meet the goal of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in having half its population online by 2015. Qatar has already reached this target, as have Bahrain, Oman and the UAE.

Policy recommendations
To ensure all citizens throughout the region fully benefit from the potential of ICTs, the report recommends a number of steps governments could take. These include ensuring a transparent and predictable regulatory environment that fosters investment, stimulates competition and helps reduce prices for ICT services. "ITU encourages all countries to promote digital inclusion by developing a national ICT plan that includes concrete targets to evaluate policies, track progress, and identify market opportunities," said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau. "ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau is committed and ready to put its expertise and experience at the service of each and every Member, accompanying national authorities in the development of tailored policy frameworks and review processes aligned to their unique ICT environment and vision."


From http://www.itu.int/ 03/05/2012

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Egypt and Uganda Sign ICT Agreement

Dr. Mohamed Salem, the Egyptian minister of communications and information technology (MCIT) and his Ugandan counterpart Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, have signed a framework agreement on ICT sharing between Egypt and Uganda. This agreement is part of the framework implement the international cooperation section of the Egyptian MCIT strategy that is looking to target African markets and seeking enhanced cooperation with African governments. Biztech Africa reported that the MCIT had released a statement saying that the agreement between the two countries reflects the eagerness to build on mutual partnerships and business ventures. It also encourages research and development in infrastructure, technology capacity building, heritage documentation and other fields in the ICT industry. The five-year agreement is subject to renewal, and both parties have also agreed to exchange best practices to develop an e-portal representing the Uganda heritage. This e-portal will be multi-lingual and support Arabic, English and any other universal language that is agreed upon. Furthermore, the minister's have agreed to collaborate on Uganda's emergency cyber response unit and other skill building initiatives.


From http://www.itp.net/ 04/09/2012

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Egyptian Wins US$100,000 African Innovation Prize

An Egyptian engineer who has designed a base-station antenna that can facilitate upgrades to more advanced mobile networks in developing countries has become the first winner of the Innovation Prize for Africa, which was created last year. The antenna makes it easier for telecommunication service providers to upgrade their networks without needing to change base stations. The winner of the US$100,000 prize, Mohammed Sanad, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University, Egypt, said his antenna "suits developing countries, which don't have a telecommunication infrastructure". "Conventional cellular base stations cannot be assembled and disassembled on site. They are heavy and need complicated mounting towers," Sanad told SciDev.Net. He said the new antenna suits all generations of wireless applications without any need to change or upgrade. Sanad said he has received many offers to roll out the new antenna in Africa, in the wake of the prize ceremony in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (26 March). The runner up, Zeinou Abdelyamine, an industrial chemist from Algeria, received US$50,000 for his research and development of environmentally friendly, natural insecticides and rodenticides. His products contain natural elements which attract insects and rodents, but are fatal when consumed. "Our work proves that Africa can develop new technology and can solve her problems by herself," Zeinou told D'Jazair News. The Prize, which aims to stimulate innovative solutions with strong commercialisation potential, was established bythe UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Innovation Foundation in 2011. The inaugural winners were selected from 458 submissions from 38 countries, with most applications coming from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia. Other shortlisted projects included the iCow application to aid small-scale farmers, and solar powered lanterns aimed at poor rural communities.


From http://www.scidev.net/ 05/11/2012

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Saudi Arabia: KSA Leads the World in Mobile Usage

A study done by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), states that Saudi Arabia leads as the number one country in the world with the highest proportion of mobile phone users. The Kingdom has a ratio of 188%, followed by Vietnam and Oman in the second and third places. This percentage is by far the highest when compared to the other GCC countries, with Oman being ranked second with a rate of 165%, followed by Kuwait at 160% and the UAE at 145%. The study found an escalating trend in mobile phone usage by teenagers and nine year old children. It stated that the sheer numbers of mobile adoption was mainly for use with the Internet. This demand is only expected to rise within the coming years in with 3G and LTE smartphone devices becoming available. Commenting on the report, the Mobile Channels Company's (MCC) GM, Salem Alenzi, said: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has scored a high growth percentage in the number of mobile phone users between the years 2005 and 2010. This proportion duplicated three times over this five year period, while it did not exceed a ratio 59 percent in 2005." Alenzi concluded by saying: "It is remarkable that the Arab Gulf states occupied the world's first 10 positions in the list. This can be attributed to the positive economic situation which these countries are witnessing and the increasing number of consumers with high purchasing power, besides the growing presence of foreign workers who constantly communicate with their employers and countries of origin."


From http://www.itp.net/ 04/19/2012

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EUROPE: Leading Way in Digital 'Revolution'

European countries are global leaders in making the best use of information and communication technology to boost business innovation, entrepreneurship and social well-being, according to a significant new survey. Meanwhile emerging nations such as Brazil, India and China continue to lag behind both Europe and hi-tech Asian economies including Singapore and South Korea. The World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report 2012, published yesterday, ranked 142 nations in a 'networked readiness index' - taking into account indicators such as broadband and mobile phone use, internet access in schools, the number of applications for ICT related patents, e-government, and the take-up of social networks. The study described the Nordic region of Europe as "leading the ICT revolution". Sweden topped the list, with Finland in third place and Denmark in fourth. Norway placed seventh. Three more European countries made the top 10: Switzerland in fifth, the Netherlands in sixth and the United Kingdom in 10th. The so-called 'Asian tiger' economies also performed well, with Singapore taking second place and Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong making the top 20 along with Japan. The United States was eighth and Canada ninth.

Soumitra Dutta, professor of business and technology at INSEAD business school, and a co-editor of the report, said: "Considering how ICT has become omnipresent, the focus has moved from access to making the best use of ICT in order to improve business innovation, governance, citizens' political participation and social cohesion." All of the 27 European Union member states were ranked in the top half of the table. In general, wealthier EU countries performed better, with Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium and France all ranked between 16th and 23rd place. The worst placed EU countries were Romania and Bulgaria, the poorest in the bloc, in 67th and 70th placed respectively. But the EU's fourth biggest economy, Italy, also fared relatively badly, coming in 48th place overall and 22nd out of the 27. Of the EU member states, only Poland, Greece and Slovakia, as well as Romania and Bulgaria, were positioned lower than Italy. The report noted that the so-called BRICS nations continued to "lag behind" advanced economies "despite recent improvements". Brazil placed 65th, Russia 56th, India 69th, China 51st and South Africa 72nd. According to the study, "an insufficient skills base and institutional weakness, especially in the business environment, present a number of shortcomings that stifle entrepreneurship and innovations" in those countries.

In addition, the report warned of a "digital divide" in the way countries use ICT to boost competitiveness, with parts of Africa falling far behind. The report said: "ICT readiness in Sub-Saharan Africa is still low, with most countries showing significant lags in connectivity due to insufficient development of ICT infrastructure, which remains too costly, and displaying poor skills levels that do not allow for an efficient use of the available." Robert Greenhill, chief business officer at the WEF, said: "Hyperconnectivity is redefining relationships between individuals, consumers and enterprises, citizens and state, and we are beginning to see fundamental transformations in all areas of the economy and society. Traditional organisations and industry infrastructures are facing challenges as industries converge. This will inevitably have consequences for policy and regulation." Karim Sabbagh, a senior partner and global head of communication, media and technology practice at Booz & Company, a consultancy firm, added: "Digital applications offer unprecedented potential for economic social and political development. Policy-makers need to be aware of both growth and transformational opportunities and how they can craft policies that promote ubiquitous digitisation in a timely manner."


From http://www.publicserviceeurope.com/ 04/05/2012

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Ultra-Fast Broadband - Policy & Practice

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda will hold a keynote speech at this conference, organised by the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA). Some of the topics that will be discussed include: Do we need industrial policy to achieve Digital Agenda targets? Will the market deliver the Commission's broadband targets on its own or should policy-makers be more pro-active? Should we favour fibre-to-the-home or be technology neutral? Should pricing be used to incentivise investment in NGA? Should policy-makers favour "infrastructure competition" or a "one-network" approach? Delft University of Technology will present new research and other high-level stakeholders from industry and regulators debate the pros and cons of different approaches. Access pricing and non-discrimination: How could proposed new rules from the European Commission on access pricing and non-discrimination affect ultra-fast broadband deployment. Could entrants win the fibre race? Infrastructure competition and technologies: where are the limits? Enabling fibre roll-out: financing and demand - exchange of views with equity and bond investors and infrastructure funds on factors influencing investment decisions. Ownership, separation and equivalence: an assessment of outcomes achieved through different models ranging from functional separation in the UK, to "independent" utility fibre investors, to Government as the network owner to co-investment by multiple telcos.


From http://ec.europa.eu/ 05/21/2012

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The Dutch Government Has the World's Second Best Online Service

According to the UN Global E-Government Survey, the Dutch government rose three places in the rankings to 2nd place this year. Only South Korea had a more advanced online system for access to government services. The Netherlands was praised for the secure connection of its communication, and the streamlined process in which information is sent. Information sent to one government source is shared with other departments, to avoid duplication when using different services. Dutch people also benefited from good broadband connections, and excellent co-ordination between the central and local governments on online services. Elsewhere in the world, the U.K rose by one position to become the third most advanced e-government in the world, with Denmark, the United States, France and Sweden following closely behind. Israel, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, which have invested considerable resources in e-government in the last few years, made the top 20 for the first time. There is no one-size-fits-all model, with online government services developing alongside a country's needs and capabilities. Overall however, governments are moving from a decentralised and fragmented model of e-government, to a unified point of access for all government services. The survey recommends that governments invest more in online government services for greater integration, efficiency and quality. For now however, the Netherlands appears to be leading the way in developing governance for the future.


From http://www.unpan.org/ 04/05/2012

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LARTIN AMERICA: Caribbean Region - 27 Million Citizens Will Benefit from Improved Communications Infrastructure

WASHINGTON D.C., May, 22, 2012 - Today, the World Bank Board of Directors approved a US$25 million financial package to support the first phase of the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program. The program will provide 27 million people with access to better and affordable broadband services. The Infrastructure Program is the first phase of a 10-year Information and Communications Technology (ICT) program. The first phase will focus on Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, with other Caribbean countries joining at a later stage. By improving the communications infrastructure, the program aims at fostering regional economic development and growth. The package includes a US$3 million grant to the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to coordinate the regional program; a US$10 million credit to Grenada; a US$6 million credit to Saint Lucia; and a US$6 million credit to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. "A sound regional connectivity and ICT-led innovation system is vital for the Caribbean region's growth", said Françoise Clottes, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. "This program is a unique opportunity to put in place critical infrastructure and skills to capitalize on the transformative power of Information and Communication Technologies to promote growth and open new job opportunities to Caribbean citizens. It is my hope that other countries in the region will take advantage of this opportunity to join the program", she added. The Caribbean region is serviced by an extensive, complex, and robust submarine network, but significant gaps remain and connectivity disruptions are hindering economic growth. There is little investment in broadband networks venturing beyond the main urban centers. Many rural areas remain largely unserved. Furthermore, the lack of emergency communications networks leaves the countries exposed to major disruptions in communications services in the face of emergencies.

The first phase of this new initiative will include technical assistance and funding to:
 - Improve the regional connectivity infrastructure by expanding broadband connectivity.
 - Promote ICT-led innovation and related activities that will leverage the regional broadband infrastructure to foster employment, as well as growth of a robust regional Information Technology (IT) and IT-enabled services industry.
 - Build capacity of the governments to implement, coordinate and monitor the program at the national level.

These credits from the International Development Association (IDA) have a final maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years for Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 05/22/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Supports Innovative Data Transmission Technologies

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) highlighted the importance of partnerships between the Government of Canada, industry and academia to discuss the future of free space optical (FSO) communications technologies in Canada. "Greater collaboration between governments, academia, and industry is key to unlocking the potential of tomorrow's technological advances," said Minister Goodyear. "Thanks to this investment, people interested in the commercial application of free space optical technology will be able to come together to further develop wireless broadband communication." Free space optics is a communication technology using light moving between points in free space, rather than a cable, to enable data, voice, and video transmission. This technology can be used to complement existing infrastructure, including fibre optic networks, or for direct communication, such as between satellites in space.

Thanks to contribution of up to $100,000 through FedDev Ontario's Prosperity Initiative, the University of Toronto's Professor Shahrokh Valaee and Canada's Light Fantastic Technologies (LFT) development group hosted a three-day workshop and exhibition during the IEEE's (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers) annual symposium on Personal, Indoor and Mobile Radio Communications. Participants were invited to explore collaborations that could lead to new opportunities in high-tech manufacturing, research, and training in southern Ontario and across Canada. The University of Toronto's ultimate goal is to assemble a research and development cluster bringing Ontario universities and colleges together with local and international partners to develop innovative transportation technologies, communications systems, adaptive intelligent control systems, and robotics. This cluster will have strong ties to other centers in Canada and National Science Foundation Centers in the United States. "The next essential focus is short-term, buildable applications of FSO that can reach prototype in two to four years," said Dr. Valaee. "That will allow us to demonstrate the practical usefulness of prior work, and create a public appetite for more. Remember, Canadians already have a rich tradition of pioneering accomplishments in communications - and their business applications." The investment supports the Government of Canada's science, technology, and innovation agenda, which is focused on increasing the country's productivity, creating jobs, and growing the economy. FedDev Ontario's Prosperity Initiative encourages businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and post-secondary institutions in southern Ontario to undertake projects resulting in a more productive, diversified, and competitive economy. Applications for funding are accepted and assessed on an ongoing basis. For more information, refer to Program Guidelines on the FedDev Ontario website at www.feddevontario.gc.ca. For more information about the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto, visit: www.ece.utoronto.ca.


From http://news.gc.ca/ 03/02/2012

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CHINA: More Chinese to Enjoy Better Internet Surfing Experience

BEIJING (Xinhua) - More people in China will have broadband Internet access and enjoy an improved Internet surfing experience thanks to a government campaign to increase broadband coverage and width. Deputy Minister of Industry and Information Technology Shang Bing said in an online press conference that the ministry will prioritize the project in order to raise broadband coverage and width this year. China will offer another 35 million families optical-fiber broadband access by the end of this year, Shang said. "In 2011, the country's broadband users with a width higher than 4 megabits (M) accounted for 40 percent of all users, and we plan to raise it by 10 percentage points this year," Shang said.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 04/24/2012

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China to Become Asia-Pacific's Biggest IT Consumer

BEIJING (Xinhua) - China will soon surpass Japan to be the biggest consumer of IT products and services in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a new report. China's expenditure on IT is gradually approaching Japan's, and it will hit 173 billion U.S. dollars in 2013, about 4 percent higher than Japan, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). In the report, published on May 17, the IDC attributes China's growth in IT consumption to increasing consumer need and government support for the sector. Wu Lianfeng, assistant vice president of IDC China, said, driven by the popularity of intelligent terminals such as the latest mobile phones and tablet computers, China's personal consumption of IT products in 2012 will increase by 29.8 percent year on year. The growing need for terminals will inspire enterprises to develop more advanced IT, according to Wu. IDC China General Manager Huo Jinjie added that the central government will promote informatization levels during the following five years, which will bring more opportunities for the development of the IT market.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 05/19/2012

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JAPAN: DoCoMo Hits Subscriber Milestone

Japan's largest mobile operator by subscribers, NTT DoCoMo, has announced that its customer base passed the 60 million milestone on 11 March. The figure includes customers on 2G, 3G and 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. After launching its first cellular services towards the end of 1979, it took DoCoMo until February 1993 to sign its first one million customers. Four years later it had reached ten million subscribers, and by April 2000 it had signed up 30 million users. It then reached 50 million in November 2005, but as the market has become more saturated growth has slowed, and it has taken over six years to reach the latest milestone. According to TeleGeography's GlobalComms Database, DoCoMo commands a 47.5% share of the Japanese mobile market, with KDDI, Softbank and eAccess also competing for users.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 03/14/2012

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Computer Built Using Swarms of Soldier Crabs

Computer scientists at Kobe University in Japan have built a computer that draws inspiration from the swarming behavior of soldier crabs. The computer is based on theories from the early 1980s that studies how it could be possible to build a computer out of billiard balls. Proposed by Edward Fredkin and Tommaso Toffoli, the mechanical computer was based on Newtonian dynamics and relied on the motion of billiard balls in an idealized, friction-free environment instead of electronic signals like a conventional computer. The model was developed to investigate the relation between computation and reversible processes in physics. A channel in this computational system would carry information encoded in the form of the presence or absence of billiard balls. The information is processed through a series of gates which the balls either bump into and emerge in a predictable direction based on the ballistics of the collision or which they don't bump into and emerge with the same velocity. Wired U.K.

Picking up where Fredkin and Toffoli left off, Yukio-Pegio Gunji and colleagues at Kobe University have essentially built a billiard ball computer using soldier crabs. In their report (.pdf), they demonstrate that "swarms of soldier crabs can crabs can implement logical gates when placed in a geometrically constrained environment." Soldier crabs or Mictyris guinotae live in flat lagoons and form huge colonies of hundreds of thousands of individuals. When they emerge during low tides and form enormous swarms, the crabs exhibit two different behaviors. Individuals on the edge of the swarm show aggressive leadership, keeping a solid edge to the group as they move forwards (or, more likely, sideways) in unison. Those in the middle of the swarm just follow their neighbors and so move in a more dynamic way. The crabs on the edge of the swam tend to continually fold back into the body of the swarm, only to be replaced by another.

When a swarm of crabs is placed into a corridor with walls on each side, the crabs will closely follow the wall like a rolling billiard ball. This sort of behavior can be easily controlled, for example, by casting a shadow from above on the swarm to mimic the presence of crab-eating birds. The soldier crabs will move away from any shadowed areas for fear of being munched on. When two swarms of crabs - or "crab balls" - collide, they appear to merge and continue in a direction that is the sum of their respective velocities. Based on these observations of crab behavior, the team built a pattern of channels that act like logic gates. They first simulated the soldier crab swarming behavior in special patterns of channels. They then created a real system of channels in their lab and unleashed groups of 40 real crabs, which were guided using the fake bird shadow. They found that they could build a decent OR gate using the crabs - this was the place where one or two crab swarms are merged into a single one. However, the more complicated AND-gate required the combined swarm heading down one of three paths. This was found to be less reliable. However, the team believe that they could improve the results by creating a more crab-friendly environment. The findings open up the possibility of creating an unconventional computing model where the zeros and 1s are represented by the absence or presence of a swarm of crabs.


From http://newsonjapan.com/ 04/15/2012

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Info-Communication Promotion Month to Be Held in FY2012 Safe, Secure and Smart Life Using ICT

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and The Council for Info-Communications Promotion Month will implement "Info-Communications Promotion Month" from May 15 (Tue) to June 15 (Fri), 2012. Comprising ICT-related events in each region of Japan, with the aiming of further diffusing and promoting information communication. These events are designed to help citizens of Japan to understand the vital role played by information and communications in building a society in which people can live rich and secure.

1. Theme of this fiscal year "Safe, secure and smart life using ICT"
People can realize safe, secure and smart communications by taking advantage of ICT even at the time of unexpected disaster. This theme transmits an image of efforts for effectively utilizing ICT in our life in the time when the importance and diversity of "information" is increasing.

2. Outline of events
During this promotion month, about 270 events are held nationwide. The following are some examples of participating events. You are able to view the list of participating events of on the official website. However, the content of event, etc. is subject to change. URL:http://jtgkn.com

3. Examples of vents
Name of event: ICT Seminar by Collaboration between Hokkaido and Tohoku
Date: June 20 (Wed), 2012
Place: Auditorium, 1st Sapporo Government Building 2F (Sapporo City, Hokkaido)
Content: This seminar is held for local public bodies and citizens with the view to share knowledge concerning information and communications, know-how of recovery, issues, etc. obtained from the Great East Japan Earthquake in Hokkaido and use them to prevent and alleviate disasters (entrance free)

Name of event: ICT Promotion Fair 2012 in Tohoku
Date: June 27 (Wed), 2012
Place: Sendai Mediatheque (Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture)
Content: A seminar for local reconstruction and revitalization and related exhibitions are held under the theme of solution of local issues and disaster-resilient town development through use and utilization of ICT (entrance free)

Name of event: Seminar for Promotion of Use and Utilization of ICT
Date: June 20 (Wed), 2012
Place: Conference room, Kudan 3rd Government Building 11F (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo)
Content: A keynote address to promote use and utilization of ICT is given and cases of use and utilization of ICT are introduced and exhibited (entrance free)

Name of event: Seminar for Use and Utilization of Broadband
Date: June 14 (Thu), 2012
Place: Chisun Hotel Niigata (Chuo-ku, Niigata City, Niigata Prefecture)
Content: This seminar is for local residents, local public bodies and companies to promote the spread of development of Broadband and its use and utilization (entrance free)

Name of event: "Hokuriku ICT Channel" Series (1) to create the future from Hokuriku
Date: May 15 (Tue) to June 15 (Fri), 2012
Place: Internet distribution
Content: Hokuriku ICT Channel is a program distributed through the Internet which introduces and explains policies and efforts of the Hokuriku Regional Bureau of Telecommunications and a variety of examples and projects in Tohoku in an easily-understandable manner. During the period of Telecom Fair when a program is distributed for the first time, "Minamisoma Channel" which links disaster victims and their home is featured to transmit the determination to realize "East Japan Reconstruction Channel" and solicit support and cooperation mainly by introducing messages sent from parties concerned.

Name of event: Information and Communications Seminar 2012
Date: June 4 (Mon), 2012
Place: Hotel Nagoya Garden Palace (Naka-ku, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture)
Content: This seminar is held to predict the future of cloud computing service and look for a possibility of new ICT industries and businesses which link and integrate cloud and smart phones (entrance free)

Name of event: Lectures on communications of disaster-prevention information "Measures for Damages of Tsunami Caused by Great Earthquake Expected to Occur in Nankai Trough"
Date: May 15 (Tue), 2012
Place: KKR Hotel Osaka (Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture)
Content: Lectures on how we should prepare for damages of tsunami will be given in response to the estimated results that there are areas hit by a tsunami of more than 20 meters in a wide range from the islands of Tokyo to Shikoku (entrance free, prior application is required)

Name of event: Seminar for Safe and Secure Internet: Countermeasures against Child Pornography and Efforts for Protection of Personal Information
Date: May 23 (Wed), 2012
Content: Mielparque Hiroshima (Naka-ku, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture)
Content: Proper handling of personal information, measures for safety management, response and management method, countermeasures against child pornography on the Internet are explained (entrance free)

Name of event: Ehime IT Fair 2012
Date: June 29 (Fri) ~ June 30 (Sat), 2012
Place: Item Ehime (Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture)
Content: Different types of equipment related to information and communications is displayed and demonstrated and visitors can closely experience the state of ICT and examples of its use and utilization by participating in the test ride of electric vehicle and experiencing the operation of robots (entrance free)

Name of event: Japan-Korea Senior Internet Forum in Saga
Date: May 24 (Thu), 2012
Place: Forester Fuji (Fuji Town, Saga City, Saga Prefecture)
Content: Japan-Korea Senior Internet Forum to consider travel of seniors which is changed by ICT, an introductory seminar for iPad and smart phones and lectures by specialists of electric administration will be given (entrance free)

Name of event: Ubiquitous Lecture
Date: June 26 (Tue), 2012
Place: Harborview Hotel (Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture)
Content: A seminar on testing which supports advanced information and communications in the age of android and current state of frequency policy such as white space (provisional) (entrance free)


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 05/15/2012

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"Tokai Regional Panel Discussion for Commission on Town Development Utilizing ICT and Global Expansion" to Be Held

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has held "Commission on Town Development utilizing ICT and Global Expansion" from December 2011. The fifth meeting of the regional panel discussion will be held in Tokai where opinions are exchanged with parties concerned of regional town development in order to reflect their comments in deliberations at the Commission.

1. Background
The MIC has held "Commission on Town Development utilizing ICT and Global Expansion convened by the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications from December 2011 in order to deliberate on the state of new town development utilizing ICT, measures for promotion toward its realization and for global expansion of new town development models utilizing ICT with a view to develop new cities utilizing ICT. It is planned that the regional panel discussion will be held in about five places nationwide to reflect comments of parties concerned of town development such as local residents, local business communities and municipality, etc. that play an important role in regional town development in deliberations at the Commission through opinions exchanges with them. The MIC has decided to hold the fifth meeting of the regional panel discussion in Tokai and it is officially announced herein.

2. Outline of Regional Panel Discussion
(1) Time and date
May 30 (Wed), 2012: 13:30~15:30
(2) Place
Large hall, Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology 1F (4-1-35 Noritake Shinmachi, Nishi-ku, Nagoya City)
(3) Attendees (Honorifics omitted)
Toshihiko Ohta: Mayor of Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture
Yoshinobu Kawano: General Director of Industry Promotion Department, Chubu Economic Federation
Naoki Tokitsu: CEO of IIC Corporation
Yoshitsugu Hayashi: Director of International Research Center for Sustainable Transport and Cities, Professor of Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University
Takayuki Morikawa: Professor of Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University
Hiroyuki Watanabe: Chief Engineer of TOYOTA Motor Corporation
(4) Minute (plan)
1. Basic ideas on new town development utilizing ICT
2. Current state and issues of efforts concerning town development utilizing ICT in Tokai
3. Free discussion

3. Others
If you wish to sit in on the Tokai regional panel discussion, please check press release issued by the Tokai Regional Bureau of Telecommunications (http://www.soumu.go.jp/soutsu/tokai/topics/event/0517-1.htm) (you need to make a prior application)


From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 05/17/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Entering a New Smartphone Age

According to a January 2012 report from telecom analyst firm ROA Consulting, at the end of 2011, South Korea had 53.1 million mobile subscriptions, more than one subscription per person in the country. More telling, however, is the amount of smartphone subscriptions added during the year. The report estimated that South Korea added approximately 16.3 million smartphone subscriptions from December 2010 to December 2011. The rapid increase in smartphones led mobile data traffic to nearly double from 4,339 terabytes in December 2010 to 7,458 terabytes in March 2011. And the smartphone market shows no signs of slowing down - the firm estimates smartphones will account for more than 90% of mobile subscriptions at the end of 2013. Will the US, with smartphones accounting for 38% of mobile phones in 2011, follow the same trend? Not quite. eMarketer forecasts strong growth in US smartphone users, but penetration will only reach 48.5% of mobile users in 2013.


From http://www.emarketer.com/ 03/01/2012

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Samsung Tops Mobile Chart

Samsung has become the world's best-selling mobile handset maker, overtaking Nokia for the number one spot during the first quarter of 2012.New figures from Strategy Analytics, a market research firm, show that 368m phones were shipped globally during the first three months of 2012, up 3.3% from the 356m recorded during the same period the previous year. Samsung became the market leader, raising its share from 19.3% to 25.4% over the year. By contrast, Nokia suffered a sharp decline in sales, with its share dropping from 30.4% to 22.5%.This is the first quarter on record in which the Korean handset maker has topped the rankings. Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics executive director, said that Nokia was being "squeezed" by slowing sales at both ends of its product range.

"Low-end feature phone shipments in emerging markets stalled and high-end Microsoft Lumia smartphones were unable to offset the rapid decline of Nokia's legacy Symbian business," he added. The high-end smartphone segment is also building sales, according to the report. Apple, maker of the iPhone, was found to have almost doubled its overall market share, from 5.2% to 9.5%.Commenting on these results, Tom Kang, director at Strategy Analytics, said: "Apple [has] achieved its highest ever marketshare in the overall handset category. "Demand for the new iPhone 4S model remained strong in the United States and Japan, while the recent launch of the 4S in China was a timely contributor to Apple's rapid growth."


From http://www.warc.com/ 04/30/2012

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SK Telecom Showcases LTE Technology at Expo

SK Telecom, the country's largest mobile carrier, is looking to use the Yeosu Expo to showcase its advancements in fourth-generation Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks and technology. The company's `'We _ Cloud" exhibition, which highlights the ubiquity of the Internet moving toward mobile devices, is already one of the most popular draws at the international exposition. SK Telecom will provide LTE services to visitors for the three-month event, which is expected to draw more than 10 million guests. `'The SK Telecom team has been preparing for the Yeosu Expo for two years," said Baik Jung-gi who oversees on-site coverage. `'The wireless network is like a war zone at Yeosu, and having created an LTE network that considers the geography of exhibition halls and Yeosu, we are ready to provide faster and better services than our competitors."

SK Telecom's LTE coverage stretches from the parking lot at the entrance to the seashore facilities at the edge of the venues. In those 25 square kilometers, SK Telecom has installed 179 base stations and 82 remote radio units. For the city of Yeosu as a whole, a district that includes 350 smallish islands, the carrier built 288 access points in areas with high expected use of cellular and data traffic. The network can maintain connectivity for up to 150,000 people simultaneously, about 50 percent larger than the expected average visitors per day of 100,000.`'We haven't had that many people gathered in one place together since the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. But our network proved to be seamless, near perfect," said Baik, who worked with the employees of SK Telecom's western regional network office to build a network the firm is calling "a special LTE area."

The day-to-day network status will be checked from the on-site control center, with information relayed to SK Telecom's offices in Gwangju and Seoul. Thirty experts are rotating 24 hours a day to monitor the network and repair it if connectivity fails. SK Telecom is the only telecommunications company in Yeosu to provide five mobile bases, which will move when ordered by the on-site control center to a designated location where data traffic is concentrated. Three are currently operational. A special `'MIMO" (multi input, multi output) base station is also near the exhibition and doubles memory capacity compared to rival firms, according to SK Telecom.

The company has also provided 6.1 billion won worth of LTE smartphones, tablet computers and other related mobile devices to nearly 1,000 employees. "We _ Cloud," in the shape of a cloud symbolizing the communion of people in the Internet age, is with six other company exhibition halls to the west of the site, and is receiving rave reviews. "I liked the (SK Telecom) music video footage at the end, it was very emotional and moving," said one visitor. "I've been to all the exhibitions hosted by corporations, but I liked SK Telecom's best." He was talking about "Beautiful Scape," created by movie director Lee Joon-ik, which took a year to complete and recorded a thousand random people singing "Beautiful Mountains," a famous Korean rock song by Shin Joong-hyun.

Other features such as "Time Alive" where visitors can leave voice messages to anyone they wish, which will be sent after a year and "Human Alive," an art gallery with pieces made from digital technology are being received well by the public. Expo organizers are expecting the number of visitors to soar in the coming summer months and it seems SK Telecom is ready to embrace them all with its well established network and various entertainment at its exhibition.


From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 05/20/2012

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MONGOLIA: "ICT Expo" Exhibition Will Take Place

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia /MONTSAME/ The "ICT Expo" exhibition-fair will be dedicated this time to the space technologies in Mongolia, has decided the Information Communication Technology and Post authority. Together with Japan's organizations, it will run it within a "Mongolia-Japan space technology forum-exhibition" on May 29-30 in Ulaanbaatar. Anticipating this action, this authority and the Union of young programmers have announced a drawings contest among school children themed "National satellite - Our future" until May 25 with an aim to show through the pictures the kids' perceptions of the space technologies and of the future.


From http://www.montsame.mn/ 05/18/2012

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CAMBODIA: Internet Penetration More Than Doubles

Cambodia's Internet penetration more than doubled to 3.1 per cent of the population in 2011, up from 1.3 per cent a year earlier, according to the Internet World Stats website. The country had 449,160 Internet users at the end of last year and 491,480 Facebook users at the end of March. "The trend means that Cambodian people, especially the young generation, are finding a new way of communicating and getting information," said Pen Samitthy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists. This is "ending the monopoly over information by media companies". Among Asean countries, Brunei has the highest Internet penetration of 79.4 per cent (318,000 users) followed by Singapore with 77.2 per cent (3.6 million). Penetration is 61 per cent in Malaysia (17.7 million users), 34 per cent in Vietnam (30.8 million), 33 per cent in the Philippines (33.6 million), 27 per cent in Thailand (18.3 million), 22 per cent in Indonesia (55 million), 8 per cent in Laos (527,000) and only 0.2 per cent in Myanmar (numbers not available). In terms of Facebook use in Asean countries, Indonesia has the most users (43.5 million) followed by the Philippines (27.7 million), Thailand (14.2 million), Malaysia (12.3 million) Vietnam (3.1 million), Cambodia (491,480) and Laos (156,000). Figures for Brunei and Myanmar weren't available.


From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 05/07/2012

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MALAYSIA: To Increase New ID Card Production Capacity

Citizens of Malaysia now need to wait up to three months if they want to apply for a new national identity (ID) card or "MyKad" as the applications have exceeded the authorities' production capacity due to its popularity. The National Registration Department (NRD) revealed the popularity of MyKad, an enhanced version of ID card after it had received an average of 21,000 applications daily since the introduction of the new MyKad in January. Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mahmood Adam said that the department had received up to 1,516,126 applications as of March 31 for the new card, while the department's capacity to issue was only about 8,000 cards a day.

It previously took only one day for the applicants to receive the card. Now, nearly half a million people have to wait up to three months to get it. The NRD was acquiring extra printers and appointing more staff to produce the cards. "We hope to settle the backlog of 419,078 cards by July," he said. Mahmood said it was not compulsory to change to the new MyKad as the existing ones were still valid and could be used to deal with government and private agencies. "There is no deadline to get the cards," he said. The enhanced MyKad is an upgrade of the existing one in terms of design and security features as it uses the latest technology to ensure a better adhesion between the printed layer and the overlay of the card. It is made from durable polycarbonates and uses incision laser technology on the surface of the card with a new Sirim-approved chip that had been tested in semiconductor labs. It also has a "ghost" image of the cardholder to curb forgery.

It is free of charge for those who have lodged reports that they have lost their MyKad for the first time or that theirs was faulty. Those who insist on the new enhanced MyKad will have to pay RM10. Malaysia became the first country in the world to use an identification card that incorporates both photo identification and fingerprint biometric data on an in-built computer chip embedded in a piece of plastic. Apart from its main purpose of a proof of citizenship, MyKad also serves as a valid driver's license, an ATM card, an electronic purse, and a public key among other applications, as part of the Malaysian Government Multipurpose Card (GMPC) initiative.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/12/2012

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PHILIPPINES: Everest Report Shows PH Now a Mature Location for Software Services

Manila, Philippines - The Philippines is now considered as one of the five "mature locations" for software services in the world. This was revealed by Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) president Nora Terrado during the PSIA's first general membership meeting for 2012 held in Makati City recently. Terrado cited a report by Everest Group that the Philippines is currently ranked with China, Brazil, India, and Poland as mature locations for having more than 50 software services operators. The Everest Group is an advisor to business leaders on the next generation of global services with a worldwide reputation for helping Global 1000 firms dramatically improve their performance by optimizing their front-, mid-, and back-office business services. A combination of large scale campaigns to foreign markets as well as growing demand for outsourced work on software services have drummed up support for the Philippines' software services sector. Couple this with the fact that new digital platforms, notably mobile phones and other handheld devices, are becoming more widely used by consumers, causing an influx of research and development into these areas, she added.

The Philippine software industry is growing at a sustained double-digit pace. In 2011, it grew 37 percent over the previous year and generated total revenue of US$993 million. It is also among the fastest growing outsourcing sectors in the country, reporting a manpower growth of nearly 50,000 full-time employees last year. Citing another report by research firm Gartner, Terrado said the Philippines can still compete against other countries that are offering software services, such as Vietnam, Ukraine, Argentina, and Chile largely because these countries are overcome by several challenges. Among these are low wage rates, high employee attrition rates, visa issues, and increased financial and governance vendor scrutiny, among others. "The countries that will overcome these hurdles will be the ones who will emerge to be more successful. The Philippines continues to surpass these concerns and we could emerge as among the most viable locations for outsourced software services," Terrado said. The IT executive added that there are certain trends in the information technology outsourcing (ITO) landscape that the software industry sector in the Philippines can take advantage of. For one, offshore clients are becoming smarter and are demanding more value-added services from their providers.

This leads to bundling of services that provides customers with a broad range of selections that will allow them to choose one vendor for most, if not all, of their outsourcing needs. In particular, cloud computing and mobile data are among the new platforms where software development and service provisioning are occurring at a rapid pace. This entails some new learning for software developers and applications providers to be assured of a place in the global software services industry. "We see platforms being used as a base for IT-based service offerings are not just labor-intensive but IT-intensive. And technology is shifting as the trend now is moving towards more mature cloud computing and mobility." But Terrado said that, while the Philippines is enjoying unbridled positive perception from the global market, it does not mean industry players should stay complacent. Software companies, according to her, must still focus on competitiveness, enhancing market share and positioning, develop better talent, and build a cooperative network among relevant stakeholders.

Emphasizing the need to innovate and improve its services delivery models, she said, "software companies also need to provide greater, if not the best offerings that will compel companies to choose them over providers from other countries. Value-added services that enable customers to become better providers create brand loyalty, as well as draw attention from other would-be customers." "The Philippines is already in a leading position in the global sourcing market. To retain its position, the country's software companies must anticipate, envision, maintain flexibility, think strategically, and make changes to create or sustain a viable future for the industry and the country," she added. Terrado said that PSIA targets to provide software services to other source geographies identified by the Everest report, which includes Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Italy, and Germany.


From http://mb.com.ph/ 05/02/2012

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Online Investor Accounts Surge 48%

Online investor accounts grew by a remarkable 48.4 percent in 2011, the highest percentage growth since the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) initiated its survey in 2007. The surge to 52,750 online accounts last year from 35,559 in 2010 was spurred by the double-digit annual growth in the online accounts of nearly all brokerages with online capabilities. Of the total online accounts, 99.8 percent or 52,269 were retail online accounts while the remainder represented institutional online accounts. Local accounts comprised 97.4 percent of total online accounts at the PSE while the remaining were foreign online accounts." This rapid growth of online trading in the Philippines is reflective of the growing awareness about stock market investing among Filipinos," PSE president Hans B. Sicat said. He noted that, "as the market continues to set new record levels in 2012, I think it is safe to say that the 17,000 new online investors were indeed wise to have opened accounts last year." As of May 4 year-to-date, the PSE index has expanded by 21.2 percent. It has also breached new closing highs by a total of 19 times during the same period.

Online trades in 2011 cornered 20.7 percent or 1.71 million of total trades, higher than the 16.3 percent share of online trades to total trades in 2010. The number of online trades at 1.71 million also represented an increase of 96.7 percent compared with 868,327 in 2010. In terms of value turnover, the share of online trading was 6.9 percent or R164.75 billion of total value turnover in the stock market, net of block sales. Total online transaction value in 2011 at P164.75 billion represented a 90.1 percent increase from P86.67 billion in 2010, which represented only 4.5 percent of total value turnover in 2010. "We are very much encouraged by these figures particularly in light of our plans to encourage more trading participants to provide online trading services," Sicat added. A majority of online investors continue to be active traders with 51,358 online accounts traded at least once during the year, representing 97.4 percent of total online accounts. Data was also gathered pertaining to the demographics of online investors based on a sample size from four to six online brokers. About half or 49.3 percent of their retail online investors belonged to the 30 to 44 years old bracket while 28.9 percent are 18 to 29 years old. Nine trading participants provided data on online accounts of investors in 2011. They are: Citiseconline.com, Inc.; BPI Securities Corporation; First Metro Securities Brokerage Corporation; Accord Capital Equities Corporation; F.Yap Securities, Inc.; RCBC Securities, Inc.; AB Capital Securities, Inc.; Wealth Securities, Inc.; and Angping & Associates Securities, Inc.


From http://mb.com.ph/ 05/06/2012

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SINGAPORE: Awards G-Cloud Tender

The country's Infocomm Development Authority has awarded the Government Cloud tender to Singtel for five years, with an option to extend for another five years. Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has awarded the Government Cloud (G-Cloud) tender to SingTel for five years, with an option to extend for another five years. The announcement was made by Ronnie Tay, CEO of IDA. SingTel will deploy and maintain the infrastructure within the contract period. A whole-of-government Private Cloud, G-Cloud is expected to deliver cloud services to government agencies with prescribed security assurance. The G-Cloud services are expected to be rolled out by the end of this year. SingTel also won a cloud services bulk tender to offer public cloud services to the government. The contract is valid for two years, with the option of extending the contract for another year.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/16/2012

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Singapore Launches Emergency Rescue App

Singapore Red Cross launched a location-based iPhone app to enable users facing medical emergencies to seek assistance from nearby first-aiders. The Red Cross app allows users to broadcast "SOS" message to first-aiders in the vicinity. Using the app, 'Rapid Rescue', registered users in need will be able to send out an SOS to trained first-aid volunteers within a 2KM radius. The volunteers available will respond via mobile phone and the app will map out the shortest route to reach the victim. Currently there are over 12,000 certified first aiders trained by Singapore Red Cross. These will be the early adopters leveraging the app to save lives. Versions for other smartphone platforms are currently under development.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 05/22/2012

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THAILAND: More Thais Become Net Savvy

Thailand's Internet users increased 26.77 per cent to rose to 25.09 million last year, though traffic on Thai websites showed a less than 1 per cent increase from the previous year. According to the Thailand Internet Snapshot 2011 report from Truehits.net Statistics, Thailand had 25.09 million Internet users last year, up 26.77 per cent from 19.79 million the previous year. Not only did the number of users increase, but daily Internet usage also rose. However, the growth rate of visitors to Thai websites was quite small, creeping up less than 1 per cent from 125 million to 127 million page visits. Most of the traffic was seen in entertainment websites or blogs, games, and personal as well as news websites. Google still dominates the search-engine market in Thailand with a 99.18-per-cent share, and is also making a mark with its Google Chrome Internet browser. Up to 30.77 per cent of Internet users opt for Google Chrome, though Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) remains the market leader with 44.36 per cent. The other top browsers are Firefox with 14.19 per cent and Safari with 8.92 per cent.

"In Thailand, up to 54 per cent of Internet users are men and 45 per cent are women. Also, up to 40 per cent of them below the age of 17. Though the number of Internet users has risen by more than 20 per cent, traffic to Thai-language websites has not increased that much," Piya Tanthanwichian, chief technology officer of Internet Innovation Research Centre, said. He is also the founder and operator of Truehits.net. The social-networking website Facebook is also dominating the Thai online market in terms of link referrals. Piya explained that few Thai Internet users access websites directly, preferring instead to click on links referred to by their Facebook friends or by search engines. Studies also show that surfing the Net via search engines is likely to drop as link-referrals increase. The top websites for referral are Facebook, Google Adwords and Twitter, which have grown by 351 per cent, 263 per cent and 501 per cent respectively. "Facebook link referrals earn an average of a million clicks daily among Thai Internet users, while search engines average at about 19.2 million times per month," Piya said.

He said studies showed that Thai users generally accessed websites via three methods: 48 per cent (2.78 per cent less) accessed sites directly; 38 per cent (0.22 per cent less) opted for search engines; and 14 per cent (2.56 per cent more) chose to click on referral links. Another interesting fact is that more people are accessing the Net via mobile devices. Last April, about 400,000 people accessed the Net via their mobile phones, which rose to more than a million a day this April. The iOS mobile platform dominates the market with 77 per cent usage thanks to the iPad and iPhone. The other top mobile operating systems are Android, Symbian and Blackberry.As per Truehits.net Web Award 2011, the top ten Thai websites are Sanook, mThai, Kapook, Dek-D, Manager, Exteen, Teenee, Truelife, Thairath and Siamsport.


From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 05/15/2012

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INDIA: Railway Budget - Focus on Safety, ICT Spend Likely to Go Up

Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi has unveiled the Rail Budget 2012-13 in the parliament today. He started his speech by thanking the PM, UPA Chairman Sonia Gandhi, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and the leader of opposition. "I am thankful the 14-lakh strong rail parivar," Trivedi said. The entire emphasis would be on safety. "Death on rail tracks is not acceptable... our target should be zero death... I would like to eliminate all manned crossing in the next five years," he said. In his speech, the minister pointed out that he took over as the Railway Minister on a day when there was a train accident. He said that he would work towards making the Railway one of the safest mode of transport in the country. Announcing the setting up of a Railway Safety Committee, which will be headed by Anil Kakodkar, he said that Indian Railways need to learn from Europe where there have been no major accidents for the past several decades even though trains run at a very speed there.

As a host of safety and modernisation initiatives set to be implemented, the ICT spend in Indian Railways is likely to go up, this fiscal. In his interviews Dinesh Trivedi has already indicated that he is enthusiastic to initiate e-auction and e-tendering. According to Rail Bhawan sources Indian Railways have recently entered into a deal with SNCF- a French state-owned railways company. The latter will facilitate technology-oriented roadmap for the Indian Railways. SNCF's expertise will come in handy for safety and modernisation of the Indian Railways. The ministry also plans to develop commercial Website for yield management. The focus will also be to introduce more digitalized unreserved ticketing system (UTS) counters in B and C cities. The railway minister also revealed that the Prime Minister's advisor Sam Pitroda would head the railway modernisation committee. The minister for railways announced several modernisation programmers for the railways in his speech and said investment of Rs.5.60 lakh crore would be required for the purpose. He said other important aspects of this Railway Budget would be on decongestion, consolidation, capacity augmentation and operation of railways.


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 03/14/2012

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India's Global ICT Ranking Goes Down

In the latest of a series of Networked Readiness Index reports brought out annually by the World Economic Forum and the business school, INSEAD, India has been ranked 69th among 142 nations in inherent capacity to leverage information and communication technologies (ICT) for progress. The country is ranked 48th in 2011, against 43rd the previous year. China, ranked 51st this year, occupied the 36th place in 2011. The report rates India's performance as "very mixed, with encouraging results in a few areas and a lot of room for improvement elsewhere, notably in the political and regulatory environment and the business and innovation environment." "Extensive red tape stands in the way of businesses, and corporate tax is among the highest of all analysed countries. For instance, it typically takes four years and 46 procedures to enforce a contract," the report said, referring to the longer time and more paperwork required to start a business in India than in most other countries. However, India fared better in the availability of new technologies and venture capital, the intensity of local competition and the quality of management schools.

Already ICT was "having a small transformational impact" on the economy, the report stated. The low penetration of ICT was one of India's weakest aspects, with the country ranked 117th in individual usage. Mobile penetration had to be improved further, as also the percentage of the population that used the Internet. The report suggested skills and infrastructure upgrade. "Fierce competition and innovations" had made India the leader in ICT affordability. "Although penetration is still limited among the population at large, businesses are early and assiduous adopters of new technologies. And the government is placing a great deal of emphasis on ICT as a way of addressing some of the most pressing issues. Whether this vision will translate into a transformation of the economy and society remains to be seen."


From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 04/10/2012

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ARMENIA: Internet Subscriber Base Topped 1.8m Last Year

According to Vahe Danielyan, an adviser to Armenia's minister of the economy, the total number of fixed and mobile internet subscribers in the country reached 1.8 million at the end of December 2011, equivalent to a population penetration of 56%. In a news conference delivered yesterday, Danielyan said that the number of fixed and mobile broadband subscriptions stood at 380,000 at the same date, of which 320,000 are residential users. The official went on to note that some 1.4 million Armenians access the internet via a mobile device and that the total for other wireless internet users is currently being tallied.


From http://www.telegeography.com/ 04/12/2012

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Armenia Mobile Operator Forecast, 2012 - 2015: Armenia to Have 4.6 Million Mobile Subscriber Connections in 2015

Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/) has announced the addition of IE Market Research Corp.'s new report "4Q11 Armenia Mobile Operator Forecast, 2012 - 2015: Armenia to have 4.6 million mobile subscriber connections in 2015" to their offering. Mobile Operator Forecast on Armenia provides key operational and financial metrics for Armenia's wireless market and is one of the best forecasts in the industry. It provides forecasts at the operator level going out to 2015. It also provides quarterly historical and forecast data starting in 1Q2003 and ending in 4Q2013.

Mobile network operators covered include:
- K-Telecom CJSC (VivaCell-MTS)
- ArmenTel (BeeLine)
- Orange Armenia (France T?l?com S.A.).
Key Topics Covered:
Annual Results & Forecasts for each of the above operators is covered in this report for: CY 2001-CY 2015.
Quarterly Results & Forecasts are covered for: March 2003 - December 2013
Prepaid And Postpaid Subscribers
Subscriber Growth (Yoy)
Subscribers By Operator
Subscriber Growth By Operator (Yoy)
Net Subscriber Adds By Operator
Net Subscriber Adds Growth By Operator
Monthly Churn By Operator -
Post-Paid Subscribers By Operator
Post-Paid Subscriber Growth By Operator (Yoy)
Prepaid/Wholesale Subscribers By Operator
Prepaid/Wholesale Subscriber Growth By Operator
Post-Paid % Of Total Subscribers By Operator
Prepaid/Wholesale % Of Total Subscribers By Operator
Post-Paid Net Adds By Operator
Post-Paid Adds Growth By Operator (Yoy)
Prepaid/Wholesale Net Adds By Operator
Prepaid/Wholesale Adds Growth By Operator
Monthly Arpu By Operator
Monthly Arpu Growth By Operator (Yoy %)
Mou Per Subscriber By Operator (Minutes/Month)
Mou/Subscriber Growth By Operator (Yoy %)
Share Of Total Subscribers By Operator
Hhi Index By Subscriber Share
Share Of Net Adds By Operator
Share Of Post-Paid Net Adds By Operator
Share Of Prepaid/Wholesale Net Adds By Operator
Share Of Service Revenue By Operator
Hhi Index By Service Revenue Share
Yoy Change In Revenue Share By Operator
Reported Revenue By Operator (Reporting Currency)
Service Revenue By Operator (Reporting Currency)
Ebitda By Operator (Reporting Currency)
Capex By Operator (Reporting Currency)
Service Revenue Growth By Operator (Yoy)
Ebitda Growth By Operator (Yoy)
Ebitda/Reported Revenue By Operator
Ebitda/Service Revenue By Operator
Ebitda/Incremental Service Revenue By Operator
Capex/Reported Revenue By Operator
Capex/Service Revenue By Operator
(Ebitda-Capex)/Reported Revenue By Operator
Ebitda Margin Expansion/Contraction By Operator
Reported Revenue By Operator (Usd)
Arpu By Operator (Usd)
Service Revenue By Operator (Usd)
Ebitda By Operator (Usd)
Capex By Operator (Usd)

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/lpl7ks/4q11_armenia_mobil


From http://finance.yahoo.com/ 05/03/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: State Investment in ICT Sector to Hit $3.5 Bln in Next 10 Years

The Azerbaijani Government of Azerbaijan plans to invest in the coming decade in projects in the field of information and communication technologies $3.5 billion, Minister of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan Ali Abbasov said in a speech at a meeting of Connect Arab Summit 2012, held in Doha (Qatar) on March 5-7. "Even more investment is expected from the private sector, for expansion of whose role advanced material, financial and investment environment is currently being established in the ICT," the minister said. The minister noted that changes continue in the Arab world, in particular there has been some progress in socio-economic development, affecting the Gulf countries. In the countries of North Africa and the countries outside the Gulf there are important unresolved social and economic problems. Azerbaijan largely faces similar problems. Today, between the two developed continents there is a digital gap, which falls, mainly to Asia and the Pacific, where there are large voids not only in ICT but also in education, science, economy and social spheres. This problem has frequently been a matter of debate and research of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Regional Commonwealth of Communications, Governments, as well as experts. "To solve this problem all the suggestions and recommendations come to the high prices and poor integration, poor digital services, including e-education, e-health, e-commerce, the absence of appropriate conditions for investment and effective competition of environment, poor quality of education due to lack of specialized personnel," said the Minister. He said in Azerbaijan and in many countries intensive work to eliminate the latter problem is underway. Azerbaijan has implemented state program on development of broadband Internet services, building of "electronic government", the creation of digital television infrastructure, the development of space technology, etc.


From http://en.trend.az/regions/ 03/14/2012

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Internet Penetration Rate in Azerbaijan Double World Average

The Azerbaijan Marketing Association has presented on Friday the results of research into IT in Azerbaijan. The results were presented on Friday by Rahim Huseynov, the chairman of the association. The association conducted a study of reforms implemented in recent years. Studies have shown that in 2011, 56 percent of Azerbaijan's population has at least one personal computer. On average, there are 22 computers for every 100 people. The rate of Internet penetration, according to the association, was 68 percent, or double the world average. As noted at the presentation, according to the World Economic Forum, Azerbaijan's rating has improved by nine points and the country ranked 61 among 142 countries. The event also provided an overview of the ICT market of the CIS countries over the past five years. Some 5,868 respondents participated in the social survey on the rate of use of ICT in Azerbaijan, conducted by the Association of Marketing. "During the survey, we were primarily interested in the use and attitudes to ICT," Huseynov said. The association believes the results will help the business sector take appropriate steps and build their investment policy.


From http://en.trend.az/ 04/06/2012

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Number of Facebook Users Tops 786,000 in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan ranks 86th in the world in terms of Facebook users. Thus the country has 785,900 users of this social network. Of them, 65% are men and 35% are women, SIA reported, referring to the ICT Ministry. Facebook users in 18-24 age category make up 48%, in 25-34 age category 23%.


From http://www.en.sia.az/ 05/19/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts - 2012

With a GDP per capita almost equal to Russia, Kazakhstan has a booming telecom market. Although growth slowed significantly in 2009, Kazakhstan has continued to experience a booming telecom market that included a mobile penetration of 130% by early 2011. This has come about on the back of a growing economy and a program of positive regulatory reform in the telecom sector. Legislation adopted in 2004 largely laid the foundation for liberalisation and development of the telecom sector and put an end to the monopoly enjoyed by Kazakhtelecom, the state-controlled telecom operator.

The key drivers in the telecom sector included:
•The deployment of Kazakhtelecom's fully-digital national telecom network based on local and long-distance switches and fibre optic lines linking all major cities in the country;
•Efforts to improve international connectivity and increase both mobile and fixed-line subscribers; the continuing digitalisation of exchanges;
•The further reform of telecommunications legislation;
•Of special note has been the recent healthy growth in internet activity in Kazakhstan, with the move to broadband access in particular taking place at a rapid rate. Fixed broadband subscribers as a proportion of the population had reached a healthy 6% by 2011, with the market likely to continue its current rapid expansion.
Major highlights:
•After a decade of strong growth in Kazakhstan's mobile market, there was a slowing in the market;
•With mobile penetration around 130% in early 2012, the market was continuing to grow but was expected to start saturating in the next year or so;
•Broadband internet was quickly expanding on top of a general upturn in demand for internet services;
•There had been a significant shift to broadband access in 2009 as the proportion of internet subscribers using broadband shifted from 43% to 76% in that twelve-month period;
•Kazakhstan, despite the considerable presence of incumbent Kazakhtelecom across the market, was continuing to benefit from a diversified market that offered an energetic and competitive environment, especially in the mobile market;
•On the economic front, after an eight-year period in which GDP had been growing at an annual rate in excess of 8%, 2008 saw a major slowdown in the Kazakhstan economy with GDP growth falling to 3%; 2009 saw growth fall even further (to around 1%) as the full impact of the global financial crisis hit.
•At least a modest recovery in the local economy was evident in the short term with possible even more achievable; GDP growth of around 7% was estimated/expected by the IMF for 2010 and 2011.

Key Topics Covered:
1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Telecommunications market
4. Regulatory environment
5. Fixed-network operators in Kazakhstan
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
7. Internet market
8. Mobile communications
9. Notes on forecasting

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/14a8de12/kazakhstan_telec


From http://finance.yahoo.com/ 03/23/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Internet Users Increase by 21 Percent

The number of Internet users in Uzbekistan has increased by 21.3 percent in January-March 2012 compared to the same period last year to 9.1 million, the Uzbek Agency for Communication and Information (UzACI) said on Monday. According to the agency, the number of users connecting to the network via the communication line has increased by 14.6 percent and amounted to 3.85 million by April, 2012, the number of mobile Internet users increased by 24.2 percent - to 5.2 million. The number of businesses that provide data transmission services, including Internet connection, reached 936 (903 - the same date in 2011) at the end of the first quarter, the total number of points of collective use - 1050 (968). The overall speed (bandwidth) of access to international data networks reached 5, 145 thousand Mbit / s at the end of March compared to 4.850 thousand Mbit / s at the beginning of the year (an increase of 6.1 per cent). The level of digitalization of exchanges reached 97.1 percent compared to 93.7 percent in January-March last year. There were more than 14,000 domain names in the national domain zone UZ at the beginning of April. The number of keys and certificates of keys of digital signature issued exceed 230.2 thousand compared to 163.5 thousand the previous year (an increase of 40.8 per cent). According to UzACI, there were more than 8.827 million Internet users at the end of 2011, the number of mobile subscribers was more than 25.4 million.


From http://en.trend.az/ 05/01/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Rural Coverage Improved

More rural homes in New Zealand can say goodbye to dial-up internet following today's launch of the first of 154 new broadband wireless towers, says Minister for Communications and Information Technology Amy Adams. Ms Adams was on site at Eureka, near Hamilton, to see the tower launched as part of the Government's Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI). "The new tower in Eureka represents the first of many that will give rural New Zealand homes and businesses better access to fast broadband - a necessity in today's world," says Ms Adams. The tower was built by Vodafone as part of its contract with the Government to allow more rural communities nationwide to have faster wireless broadband. It represents the first step in a major government initiative to get rural communities connected. "The RBI is being implemented to address the specific broadband infrastructure needs of rural New Zealand. Over the next five years, it will bring significantly expanded fibre and mobile infrastructure to schools, businesses and homes. "As part of its RBI contract, Vodafone is required to build broadband wireless towers that are able to be used by other cellular and wireless broadband operators. This ensures there is true competition in the rural wireless telecommunications market." To deliver the objectives of the RBI, the Government has contracted Vodafone to deliver fixed wireless broadband to 83 percent of rural New Zealand households and businesses by 2016. This will bring the total of all New Zealand households with peak speeds of at least 5Mbps to 98.1 percent.


From http://www.cellular-news.com/ 02/21/2012

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$48 Computer Starts New Digital Revolution

It's a computer that costs $48, which makers hope will get every child programming - and the initial run of 10,000 has been snapped up by eager customers. While it may not look as attractive as its more expensive cousins, the credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi was launched last week in the UK to much fanfare, and will be coming to New Zealand on the next run. Equipped with two USB ports and an ethernet port to access the internet, it is capable of running word processing, internet, games, and high-definition video - the same capabilities as PCs costing 10 times its price. The charity that developed the PC hopes it will make basic computers available to anyone, particularly in schools, and generate interest in computer programming among children. Technology experts predict that charitable organisations are likely to bulk import them into New Zealand for community programmes and schools. UK demand for the computer was so overwhelming that its developers said it sold out in minutes and crashed one of the supplier's websites.

Technology commentator Peter Griffin stressed that the computer would have basic functionality - "It's no iPad" - but its size and cost created the possibility of a computer for every child. "There will be no excuse for a kid not to have a computer. "They can put it in their pocket, carry it to school. It's equivalent to what you'd get in an Android smartphone but it costs a fraction of the price. "Not only does it give kids tools to learn all their subjects, but to also start thinking like software developers themselves so they can pump their ideas out to the world. In the next few years we'll see kids writing their own Android and Apple apps." Mr Griffin said the product's value was in its bare-bones system, which allowed it to be shipped cheaply and plugged into old, existing technology. The Raspberry Pi's scale and cheapness were made possible by huge leaps in memory storage in a small space and also a microchip - similar to those in smartphones - which has significant processing power. A new batch of the Raspberry Pi is expected in four to six weeks, and an even lighter version is expected to be on the market soon. With only one USB port and no ethernet port, it will sell for $30. Some similarly sized, stripped-down computers are already on the market, but the Pi undercuts them on price.

The computer is available here through the nz.element14.com website. Computer Clubhouse NZ chief executive Mike Usmar, whose company encourages learning by technology, said the product was attractive because it was designed collaboratively - by the industry, teachers, academics and the public. "That's quite critical because technology shouldn't just be a demarcation between the industry and users. It is not dropping computers out of a helicopter into developing nations - it is about engaging with people and working collaboratively."


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 05/05/2012

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TONGA: Enjoy Fast and Cheap Internet Access

Tonga will have speedier and cheap internet access this time next year when a fibre optic cable connects the Kingdom to Fiji. Tonga Cable yesterday signed an agreement which will kick-start the project. The agreement was signed between Robert Bolouri from Tonga Cable and Michel Bouvard from a French cable company. Bolouri says an underwater fibre-optic cable will link Tonga and Fiji which means that by June next year Tongans will have better and faster internet access. "The total is approximately 60 to 70 megabits per second, but the initial capacity available on the cable would be 20 Gigabits per second, per month available. It would be huge, huge capacity for cable, because 20 Gigabites per second is huge," Bolouri says. Quicker broadband speeds will also improve Tonga's connectivity with the rest of the world, which will help the economy. "It will provide cheap, fast, efficient and reliable access to internet, which means, everyone who's using computers at home can sit there and immediately on internet and connect to anywhere they wished to.

It could create jobs, for example, Tonga can become a call center, Tonga could become a data storage center." The cable will be more than 8 hundred kilometres, and link Tonga to Southern Cross Cable, which is the main trans-Pacific link to Australia and the United States. Work is due to start any day. Under the cable project, it's funded by The World Bank and Asian Development Bank and costs more than 60-million Pa'anga (US$35 million).


From http://www.e-pic.info/ 05/11/2012

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Asia Continues to Perform Strongly in WEF ICT Rankings

Sweden is placed first in the world in the "Networked Readiness Index" ranking, according to the 11th edition of "The Global Information Technology Report", entitled "Living in a HyperconnectedWorld". Singapore follows closely by taking the second place. Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and New Zealand are placed 11th to 14th in the overall rankings in the report which was released in Singapore on 5th of April. One of the key pillars of the Index is 'government usage', where Asian countries have performed especially strongly. Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Bahrain and US took the first five places, and Malaysia was ranked the 6th. The government usage index uses three variables: 'the importance that governments place to carry out ICT policies for competitiveness and wellbeing", "the effort they carry out to implement their visions for ICT development" and "the quality of governments' delivery of online services." World Economic Forum has been collaborating with INSEAD, an international business school, on the study. The data analysed for the report came from both publicly available sources and an "Executive Opinion Survey" of over 15,000 executives. This year, the research covered 142 economies across the world.

Bruno Lanvin, Director of INSEAD eLabs, tells FutureGov that while the methodology has been revised to introduce a new set of impact-oriented metrics, the rankings did not change significantly. Both economic and social impacts have been measured in the study. "Considering how ICT has become omnipresent, the focus has moved from access to making the best use of ICT in order to improve business innovation, governance, citizens' political participation and social cohesion," says Soumitra Dutta, the Roland Berger Chaired Professor of Business and Technology, INSEAD and co-editor of the report. Lanvin specifically commended Singapore for being 'the only country that remained in the top five since the creation of the Index in 2000'. In addition, for none of the categories in the report Singapore fared worse than 8th place in the world. Lanvin attributes government usage, leadership of ICT as well as quality of maths and science education to be the key factors for this stable performance He says the areas that Singapore could improve further include economic impact of its ICT sector and fostering of intellectual property creation. James Kang, Assistant Chief Executive of Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) tells FutureGov that Singapore Government takes rankings very seriously. "They helps us reaffirm the areas in which we have been doing well, and while continuing to improve in these areas, we will be very happy to share with our counterparts in other countries," he elaborates. "On the other hand, the rankings allow us to identify areas where others are doing a better job, and we will learn from them."

For instance, Singapore is keen to learn from Sweden about their internet penetration and development of some very sophisticated applications. A delegation from IDA visited Sweden last year to exchange ideas and experiences. Singapore has been attaching great importance to ICT development. In addition to aligning ICT masterplan closely with the masterplan for national development, the Singapore Government invests more than S$1 billion (US$793 million) every year on ICT. Kang reveals that the ICT industry has achieved S$70 billion (US$55 billion) revenue in 2010 - a 12 per cent growth from the previous year. More than 2000 electronic government services are available, and 94 per cent of the homes with school-going children have computers. "In Singapore it is easy to get things done," adds Kang. "So it has become a test bed for innovative technologies and their applications." Government cloud and a whole-of-government resilience framework are examples of initiatives that Kang says reflect Singapore's willingness and ability to be innovative and pioneering. Kang also explains that the government is recognising the importance of outcomes by shifting all its KPIs from output-based to outcome-based. "Improvements of economy and customer satisfaction are really important to us," he notes. "We make sure all our projects are aligned to these objectives."

Kang points out that a key to success is 'collaboration', with the industry, academia, other countries and more importantly citizens. "If we do not collaborate, we will end up creating a lot of white elephants," he says. "Co-creation will be a key strategy moving forward." While top ten countries are shaping the world, it has become increasingly difficult for those which fall behind to catch up. Lanvin says a cause for concern uncovered in the study is that despite significant ICT developments across the world, the digital divide between regions and within regions is actually widening. "There are a number of very advanced countries, and many of their less developed counterparts in the region are falling further behind," he notes. "We had hoped the divide would decrease between 2000 and 2011, but it is still there." Despite improvements in overall competitiveness rankings, big emerging economies including China and India still lag behind. Lanvin attributes this to 'an insufficient skill base' and 'institutional weakness'. China is ranked 51st and India 69th. Lanvin also says a key inhibitor for greater ICT development and impact in countries including Thailand, the Philippines Indonesia and Vietnam has remained education and capacity development.


From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 04/09/2012

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