Winter 2012 Issue 40
Special Focus |  Policy and Legislation |  e-Government |  e-Commerce |  e-Society |  e-Security |  ICT Development

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  Corporate Responsibility and Global Internet Governance
World e-Parliament Report 2012
UAE Among Emerging e-Government Leaders
AUSTRALIA: Government Sets Out Five Year Public Service IT Strategy
CHINA: To Tighten Internet Management
FINLAND: Presentation of the First Strategy Proposal on the Use of ICT in Public Administration
INDIA: Effective e-Governance for Good Governance
S. Korea Tops ICT Development Index Rankings
SINGAPORE: Passing First Personal Data Protection Bill
U.S.: What Makes the Best Government Website?
 
  Declaration of Internet Freedom
ITU: Draft of the Future International Telecommunications Regulations
AFRICA: South Sudan Hopeful on Pan-African E-government Project
Tunisia Deletes Internet Censorship Policies
ARAB STATES: Oman eGovernment Plan Launched
Saudi Arabia Launches Next e-Government Action Plan
ASIA: Mobility, Cloud and Analytics Rank High in ASEAN Govt Priorities
EUROPE: New Strategy on the Use of Cloud Computing in Public and Business Sectors
EU Initiative Will Map Cyber Repression Around the World
Belgium: New Telecom Law
Government of Finland: First Common Strategy to Address Challenges in Public Sector ICT Utilisation
Presentation of the First Strategy Proposal on the Use of ICT in Public Administration
Russia Sets Broadband Target
Russia Passes Far Reaching Internet Censorship Law Targeting Bloggers and Journalists
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Copyright Modernization Act Set to Come into Force
U.S.: FCC Announces “Measuring Mobile America” Program to Test Mobile Broadband Performance
Lawmakers Offer Internet Radio Legislation
Industry Responds Cautiously to IT Reform Act
Smart Cities Strategies to Help Local Government
Committee Releases Stage 3 Rules for Electronic Health Records
 
  CHINA: To Tighten Internet Management
Shanghai to Boost Outsourcing Efforts
JAPAN: Public Appeal for Proposals on FY2012 “Project to Promote ICT Town Development”
Approval of Business Restructuring Plans Based on the Act on Special Measures for Industrial Revitalization and Innovation of Industrial Activities
“Strategic International Collaborative R&D Promotion Project”
SOUTH KOREA: To Launch Free Public WiFi Nationwide
Gov't Announces Plan to Evaluate Online, Mobile Games
Fair Trade Commission Enforces Online Notification Policy
 
  LAOS: To Introduce 4G Next Month
MALAYSIA: Launching Blueprint for Education System ICT Reform
Malaysian State to Implement e-Procurement
SINGAPORE: Passing First Personal Data Protection Bill
Singapore Pushes for Greater GIS Collaboration
THAILAND: Piloting a Smart CTV Project
Thailand to Spend US$30 Mil on More Free Wi-Fi Spots
Thailand to Hold E-auctions for 1.69 Mil Tablets Deal
VIETNAM: To Build National Database for Biodiversity
 
  BANGLADESH: Planning New Investments in National E-Governance Framework
INDIA: e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project Formulated Under NeGP
KSITM e-Governance Projects
Pan-India e-District Project Roll Out by 2016
Rajasthan to Link 10 Key E-Gov Schemes to Aadhaar
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Mobile Operator Develops Strategy for LTE Network Introduction
Azerbaijani State Operator Prepares Project to Develop Broadband Internet
UZBEKISTAN: Government Tightens Internet Censorship
 
  Internet Growth Driven by Flexible Governance, Not Restrictive Regulation
AUSTRALIA: State Delivers Electronic Medication Management Programme
Gov Revamps Laws to Fight Cyber-Crime
Aus Futuregov Summit Showcases ICT Reforms
Government Sets Out Five Year Public Service IT Strategy
Queensland Gov Cleans Up ICT “Mess”
Aust Gov Drives High-Tech Transport Reforms
NEW ZEALAND: Develop Broadband Product Disclosure Code
 
  Corporate Responsibility and Global Internet Governance
World e-Parliament Report 2012
AFRICA: Ghana’s e-Government Project Yielding Benefits Already
Alcatel Pushes e-Government in Ghana’s Rural Regions
Rwanda: How e-Government Is Transforming Delivery of Services
Uganda: Government to Implement e-Government Master Plan
ARAB STATES: UAE Among Emerging e-Government Leaders
Dubai eGovernment Unveils Mobile ePayment Applications During GITEX to Facilitate Easy Access to Government Services
UAE Paves Way for eTransformation
Saudi Arabia to Enter the Age of e-Government
EUROPE: How Estonia Became a World Leader in Digital Governance
Greece: Key Policy Measures in the Field of eGovernment
e-Voting in Lithuania
Lithuania: Launch of an Updated Version of the eGovernment Gateway Epaslaugos.It
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Stronger Local Government IT Needed for Big Data
U.S.: Can the Cloud Really Keep a (Government) Secret?
U.S.: E-Government for Undertakers
Cities and Counties Try Facebook for Government
What Makes the Best Government Website?
Smart Government IT Can Be a Catalyst for Change
Virginia Launches Online Public Assistance System
 
  CHINA: Gov't Micro Blogs Accounts Up to 50,000
China to Improve Soft Power with Cultural Sector Reform
JAPAN: Official Announcement of “2011 Assessment of State of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field”
Launch of Information Security Portal Site “Introduction to Security”
Appeal for Opinions on Draft Report from the Mobile Communications System Subcommittee
 
  INDONESIA: To Spend US$11.5 Mil on Transport IT System
CAMBODIA: Launching Telecoms Regulatory Body
PHILIPPINES: To Improve Poverty Database
Philippine Region to Use GIS to Monitor Social Devt Projects
The Philippines Opens Govt Call Centre
The Philippines, ITU Launches ICT Statistics Portal
Govt Renews Wi-Tribe Telecoms’ Franchise
The Philippines to Introduce New IT System for Customs
SINGAPORE: E-govt Services at No. 1
THAILAND: To Reform Justice System with IT
Thailand to Enhance Interoperability of E-Govt System
Administrative Court to Launch Online Service
Vietnam and Korea Sign MoU on E-Govt
VIETNAM: To Develop E-gov in Da Nang
 
  BANGLADESH: Two Cyber Tribunals Soon Shafique
INDIA: e-Governance Initiatives in KESCO
Open Government Data & Its Potential in India
E-Governance Let Fear Be Replaced by Belief
Cisco Bets on e-Governance
eGovernance Can Check Corruption
Government to Computerize Public Distribution System
e-Governance Is Key to Bring Transparency
Consultative Meet on E-gov Concludes
Effective e-Governance for Good Governance
e-Governance Means Government at Your Service
Building e-Governance Infrastructure
e-Governance Decisions Soon
Andhra to Dedicate Mee Seva E-Gov Solution to the Nation
Study to Explore Feasibility of Free and Open Source Software in E-Gov
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Communication and IT Ministry Accelerates Operations to Form e-Government
Deputy PM: ICT Sector Is Priority Area in Azerbaijan
Minister: Structural Reforms Needed in Azerbaijan for Privatisation of Communication Companies
Top Official: Azerbaijan's Principled Position Is to Create Conditions to Fully Ensure Internet Freedom
Top Official: Improving Relationship of State Agencies and Mass Media in Azerbaijan a Priority
Azerbaijani Communications Ministry Makes Efforts to Reduce Roaming Costs
KAZAKHSTAN: E-Government Will Favour Development of Networks of New Generation
 
  ICT Revolutionizes the Pacific Ways of Doing Business
AUSTRALIA: Gov Seeks EOI for “Smart Transport” System
Aust Dept of Immigration Faces FOI Scrutiny
Vic Government Seeks Industry, Public Feedback on ICT Strategy
AUSTRALIA: Feds and NSW Go Slow on Cloud
Queensland Delivers Open Data Reforms
Australia Govt Enables Location-Based Emergency SMS Alerts
NEW ZEALAND: To Move 70 Percent of Govt Transactions Online by 2017
NZ Gov Paves Way for G-Cloud 
NZ Gov Consolidates Web Services
 
  Online Paid-content Market Poses Threat to Traditional Advertising
ARAB STATES: Enormous ICT Investment Opportunities in Mideast
Asia-Pacific Increases Spend on Digital Mobile Consumers
EUROPE: Report on “European Online Marketplace – Consumer Complaints 2010-2011”
Estonia Telecom Company: Internet Bandwidth Usage Growing 35% Annually
SE: Launch of an Ecommerce Web-based Guide
Slovakia: Tesco Opens Online Retailing
Ukrainian Consumers Move Online
NORTH AMERICA: Canada's Mobile App Sector Generates $775M in Revenues, Employs 51,000
How Alberta Revamped Its IT Services
U.S.: American Industry Groups Dissect EU Cloud Computing - Report
U.S.: North Carolina Embracing Enterprisewide IT Changes
States Save Money with Online Services
 
  CHINA: Cloud Computing Gives Baidu Mobile Edge
Lenovo Eyes 'Public Cloud' for Consumers
China Unicom Wrests 3G Market Share
Microsoft to Boost Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing Cuts Costs of Storage
China Mobile Plans 3G Market Cooperation
Apple Begins Production of Smaller iPad
Smartphone Market on Lenovo's Horizon
China Sees Need to Create Chinese Intel
Baidu Records 60% Rise in Income
China e-Commerce Expands 60% in Q3
China Focus: Online Shopping Bonanza Breaks Records
China to Become Largest Robot Consumer in 2014
JAPAN: Status of Revenues and Expenses of Private Broadcasters in FY2011
Official Announcement of Quarterly Data on the Number of Telecommunications Service Subscriptions and Market Share (FY2012 Q1    (End of June 2012))
Survey on Differences of Charges for Telecommunications Services Between Domestic and Overseas Markets
K Computer Drops to No. 3 in World Rankings
SOUTH KOREA: Samsung LTE Phone Sales Top US Market
S. Korea's IT Exports Surge to 2-Year High in Oct.
IPTV Subscribers Top Record 6 Mln in S. Korea
IT Spending in Asia-Pacific to Top US$743 Bln Next Year
SK C&C Boosts Biz in Southeast Asia
 
  MALAYSIA: TIME dotCom Launches 100Mbps Consumer Fibre Service
PHILIPPINES: SEC Gives Companies Five Years to Comply with Foreign Ownership Rules
Philippine City, USAID to Launch Mobile Payment Scheme
Top Philippine Telcos Ordered to Refund Subscribers
SINGAPORE: Firms Begin Commercial Pilot Tests of ‘New Wireless Connectivity’
Electricity Market to Be Made More Responsive to Demand
THAILAND: DSI Cracks Down on Online Traders
VIET NAM: Banks Develop More Services for Mobile Market
 
  INDIA: Electronic Payment of Customs Duty Is Now Mandatory
GACL Launches Online Order Booking
Tamil Nadu SETC Earns Rs 1 Crore-a-day Via Online Booking
Wipro Most Eco-friendly IT Company Greenpeace
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Teliasonera Intends Cooperating with Azerbaijan in Broadband Services Development
Ultra Company to Be Engaged in Systems Formation of Global Level in Azerbaijan
KAZAKHSTAN: The Mobile Applications Market
Kazakhstan’s Digital Economy Develops Rapidly
 
  AUSTRALIA: Government Releases Free Business Planning Apps
Nearly Two-Thirds of Australians Block Telemarketing Calls
Complaints About Australian Mobile Phones Increase - But Industry Trend Downwards
NEW ZEALAND: SMEs Slow to Upgrade Their E-commerce Solutions 
New Zealand to Port Millionth Mobile Number by Year-End
Patrick Kershaw: Charging Per Gb to Use Internet Is Ridiculous
Commerce Commission Outlines Approach to Telco Levy
NZ Business 'Off the Pace' with Technology
Taming the IT System Crucial for SMEs
NZ Businesses Retreat from Social Media
NZ Online Ad Spend Rises Despite Challenges
 
  ICT in an Ageing Society
ITU and WHO Launch M-health Initiative to Combat Non-communicable Diseases
AFRICA: Kenya Mobile Phone Internet Usage Jumps 19 Pct Yr/Yr
Nigeria: Lagos to Concession e-Learning Centre in December, Urges Better Use of ICT
EUROPE: Study - Estonia, US Have Most Internet Freedom
Russia to Restrict Access to Public Free WiFi
U.K.: 28% of Nine and Ten-year-olds Use Social Networking Websites - Study
NORTH AMERICA: Canadians Asked to Help Develop National Code for Wireless Services
Canadians Increasingly Open to Digital Wallets: Survey
U.S.: Nextdoor - An Emerging Social Network for Government to Connect with Residents
Governments Expand Mobile Payments to Everything from Parking to Property Taxes
U.S.: Big Data's Big Potential in Health Care
Big Data to Create 1.9M IT Jobs in U.S. by 2015, Says Gartner
 
  CHINA: Shanghai Revs Up Broadband Speed to 16Mbps
1.3 Million Rural Vendors Own Online Stores
185 for 3G Users
Online Players Hit New High
Social Media Can Boost Output by US$1.3b
Technology Can Make Life More Convenient
JAPAN: Official Announcement of “Internet Literacy Indicator of Youths”
Aggregation and Preliminary Calculation of Internet Traffic in Japan
Appeal for Opinions on Revision of Notice, etc. Related to Expansion of Use of Radio Stations Using 5GHz-band Wireless Access Systems
State of Use of Communications in Japan in Terms of Traffic
SOUTH KOREA: Seoul to Provide Homeless Residents with Smartphones and WiFi
Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities Opens in Incheon
 
  PHILIPPINES: Goes Hi-Tech for Disaster Response Plan
Smart Extends LTE Network to More Cities in Metro Manila
Philippine City Launches Windows App to Boost Digital Presence
SINGAPORE: Rolling Out 120,000 Devices to Schools
Singapore Launches ‘Super Wi-fi’ Internet Trials
New Smartphone Applications to Help Encourage Active Aging
THAILAND: Deploying Tablets in National Survey
Thai Hospitals Adopted Online Birth Registration System
Public TV Broadcasters First to Get Digital Network Licences
Thailand to Pilot Digital Labs in State Hospitals
VIETNAM: To Build Online Visa Issuance System
 
  BANGLADESH: Govt to Introduce E-ticketing Soon in All BRTC Bus Services PM
INDIA: “Innovative e-Solutions for Transportation”
Tamilnadu Government Plans e-Umbrella for All Services
“Electronic Systems Enable Us to Serve Larger Numbers of People”
Centre Approves Roll Out of e-District in Entire UP
Delhi High Court Embraces E-Court Fee System
SRI LANKA: mLearning
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Transfering Information Base on Real Estate in e-Format
Distance Education Used in Azerbaijan for First Time
Azerbaijan Presents Seismological Stations
Azerbaijan Researches German Electronic Patent Court Experience
High-Tech Park to Be Established in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan Starts Production of Mini-Computers with Voice Control
Azerbaijani Pilgrims to Have e-Code During Hajj
 
  AUSTRALIA: Govt Agency Wins Mobile Health Apps Award
Focus and Future of E-Health in New South Wales
Aust Develops E-Health Supply Catalogue
Aust Post Spends US$2 Bil to Modernise Comms Infrastructure
Aust Gov Targets Social Media Bullies
Govt Database to Track 30,000 At-Risk Kids
Students Win $20,000 for Broadband Plans
 
  AFRICA: Nigeria - The Alarming Rise in Cyber Crime
EUROPE: Bulgarian Anonymous Hack GOV Website - Report
NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Ottawa to Spend $155 Million More on Cyber Security
Report: Canada’s Cyber-security Falling Short
Security the Top Internet Concern for Canadians: CIRA Study
Canada Becoming 'Host' Country for Cyber-attacks, Ottawa Fears
U.S.: Report - Cybercrime Costs Consumers $110 Billion Annually
Cloud, Mobile Security Top of Mind for the Feds
The Promise of Big Data in Public Safety and Justice
Cybersecurity Awareness Descends on Washington
Nation-state Sponsors Learn Lesson of Too-sophisticated Cyber Weapons
 
  Chinese Lost US$46 Billion to Cybercrime Last Year: Norton Report
Tencent Fund to Help Data Security
Android Security Flaw Puts Phones at Risk
Huawei Suggests Security Center
JAPAN: Results of Fifth Japan-ASEAN Information Security Policy Meeting
SDF Officer to Study U.S. Cyberdefense
Investigators Travel to U.S. Over Online Threats
SDF Seeks White-hat Hackers / Cyberdefense Skills Hard to Cultivate, Especially at SDF Wages
SOUTH KOREA: Gov’t to Toughen Up Crackdown on Online Porn
 
  PHILIPPINES: Cyberlaw Now in Effect
Philippines Passes New Cybercrime Prevention Act
SINGAPORE: Secure Storage Now Accessible Via IOS App
THAILAND: Police Fight Crime Using Social Network
Thailand to Introduce Smarter Police Manikins for Traffic Control
VIETNAM: Ministry to Track Mobile Users
 
  BANGLADESH: Malware Threat to Increase Next Year Experts
INDIA: Pvt Sector to Be Involved in India’s Cyber Security
Government to Invest $200 Mn in 4 Yrs on Cyber Security Infrastructure
India for Concerted Effort to Secure Cyber Space
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Economic Situation Draws Cyber Attacks
Azerbaijan Becomes Member of International Partnership Against Cyber ​​Threats
Azerbaijan Ranks Fifth in Terms of Risk of Infection Through Internet
Azerbaijani Minister: Information Security Problems to Be Reviewed to Coordinate Combat Efforts
ITU Welcomes Azerbaijan’s Involvement in Addressing Cybersecurity Issues
Internet Addresses of Countries in Region to Be Redirected to ICANN Root Server in Azerbaijan
KYRGYZSTAN: Net Freedom Under Fire
 
  AUSTRALIA: Gov Tightens Internet Security
NEW ZEALAND: Gov Plugs Security Gaps
 
  ICT Useful in Creating Sustainable Cities – Worldwatch Institute
UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development Releases First Global Broadband Report
ICT Uptake Continues to Grow Globally: Report
ITU Telecom World 2012 Highlights Wealth of Opportunities in Transformed ICT Market
ITU Academy Launched to Strengthen Capacity Development in ICT
Asia Pacific to Lead Global Cloud Traffic
EUROPE: Finland Ranked 3rd in Competitiveness, 5th in Net Effectiveness
Latin America and the Caribbean Netizen Report: First Edition
NORTH AMERICA: What Will the Web Look Like in 2020?
U.S.: Big Ideas About Big Data Could Win Prizes
How Feds Drive Cloud Innovation
 
  CHINA: Huawei Leads Chinese Firms in 4G Tech
Commentary: Telecom Sector Not in Trouble
Global IT Outsourcing Meet Boosts Industry
China Adds 74 Million 3G Subscribers in First Three Quarters
China Sees Gain in 3G Subscribers Base
Microsoft Picks City for Cloud Computing
Fair to Highlight Robotic Tech
High-Tech Zone to Be Built in Nanhui
JAPAN: ICT Innovation Forum 2012 to Be Held
Technical Requirements, etc. for IP Mobile Phone Terminals
Implementation of Survey on Use of 1.7GHz-band Mobile Radio Communication System
SOUTH KOREA: Spending on ICT R&D Ranks 2nd Among OECD Nations
Korea Tops ICT Development Index Rankings
South Korea Third in OECD in IT Industry R&D Investment
IT Plays Key Role in Industry Integration
KT Wins Global Wi-Fi Award
S. Korea Holds Int'l IT Conference in US
Approval of Management Resources Reuse Plan based on the Act on Special Measures concerning Industrial Revitalization and Innovation of Industrial Activities of IJ Holdings Corporation
 
  ASEAN Urged to Bridge Digital Divide
INDONESIA: Jakarta to Provide ‘Smart Cards’ to Poor Students
PHILIPPINES: Launching Mobile App for Disaster Preparedness
THAILAND: Combating Natural Disaster with Gulf Radar
VIETNAM: City to Launch Free Wi-Fi
VN Jumps Five Spots in Global IT Index
 
  BANGLADESH: New Era in Communication Science
New Water Route to Be Opened Linking Pangaon ICT in March-End CPA
INDIA: Impact of ICT on Human Resource Development
Bringing ICT to Agriculture Sector
e-Gov Capacity Building Workshop in J&K
Technology Revolutionises and Enables Change
Transparency & Efficiency from ICT
SRI LANKA: Tele Conference
Pakistan: Ideal ICT Excellence Awards - Khuhro Seeks Private Sector's Help in IT Field
 
  AZERBAIJAN: ICT Development Fund to Start Backing Projects in 2013
International Internet Governance Forum Opens in Azerbaijan
Minister: Azerbaijan Pays Special Attention to Development of Internet
Azerbaijan to Be One of World's Most Electronized Countries in Coming Years
U.S. Ready to Expand Cooperation with Azerbaijan in Field of ICT
Penetration Level to Reach 85 Per Cent After Broadband Internet Development in Azerbaijan
 
  The Cyber Spectre: New Tech, Development and Dangers
United Nations Hub on ICT for Development Gathers Stakeholders to Enhance Human Capacity in the Region and Beyond
AUSTRALIA: Nation Lacks Female Tech Talent
FIJI: Build First Women Resource Centre
NEW ZEALAND: More Than Half Now Accessing the Internet Via a Mobile Phone

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Corporate Responsibility and Global Internet Governance

This December in Dubai, world governments will gather to renegotiate a key treaty under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency that specializes in global telecommunications. The meeting, known as the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), has been billed as a mortal threat to Internet freedom, a rare opportunity to fix inequitable flaws in the existing global economic framework for communications infrastructure, and all or none of the above. Although there is a real risk that authoritarian states will use this process to seek greater government control over the Internet, it would be a mistake to turn the WCIT into a referendum on UN involvement in Internet governance. The UN already plays a key role through the international human rights system, and by supporting discussion venues like the Internet Governance Forum. The problem is that the opaque ITU process, which is largely closed to civil society participation, presents opportunities for governments to pursue politically motivated policies at the expense of users and innovators alike.  Although companies and governments have legitimate reasons to cooperate on Internet policy, when this happens behind closed doors without adequate safeguards the human rights of users can be put at risk. The Global Network Initiative (GNI) was formed to develop standards and an accountability framework for information and communications technology (ICT) companies faced with government requests impacting free expression and privacy rights, and to strengthen efforts to work with governments to advance these rights globally.

 

Based on this experience, we offer the following recommendations for governments and other stakeholders to consider:

1.Embrace international human rights standards. They provide an objective baseline that is universally acknowledged, even if governments do not always live up to them.

2.Ensure multi-stakeholder collaboration. Pool the collective expertise of informed stakeholders and allow civil society to check company and government action that may infringe on rights.

3.Enhance transparency. Committing to a system of transparency with the public provides credibility and accountability.

Internet governance and policy is a complex subject that is unsuited to top-down, government-dominated structures. Taken together, human rights standards, multi-stakeholder collaboration, and transparency are necessary safeguards against increased government control of the Internet, and also offer practical opportunities to improve the existing system.


From http://globalnetworkinitiative.org/ 10/02/2012

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World e-Parliament Report 2012

The United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union have released the World e-Parliament Report 2012, which documents the efforts of legislatures to use information and communication technologies to support their functions. The Report is based on the Global Survey of ICT in Parliaments 2012 conducted by the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament Global Centre for ICT in Parliament between February and May 2012, to which 156 parliaments replied. The World e-Parliament Report 2012, prepared by the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, is the third in a series that began in 2008. The first edition established a baseline of how parliaments were using ICT to help them fulfil their responsibilities and to connect to their constituencies. The second edition, in 2010, built on that work to evaluate the progress accomplished by parliaments during the intervening two years in their efforts to use modern technologies to strengthen their institutional role. The present 2012 edition documents the efforts of legislatures to use information and communication technologies suggesting that, while many of the challenges to the effective use of ICT noted in the previous Reports are still present, there has been limited but nevertheless important progress in the state of e-parliament in the past two years. The Report covers the following topics: Developments in ICT and parliaments since 2010; Communication and engagement with citizens; Achieving openness, transparency, and accountability through websites; Technology services for members; Management of parliamentary documentation; Libraries and research services; Human resources and technical infrastructure; ICT strategic planning and implementation for e-parliament; The state of e-parliament in 2012; Advances in international cooperation. In addition, the Report further provides a methodology that can serve as a tool for parliaments to improve their performance in key areas of e-Parliament. The World e-Parliament Report 2012 is available for download in English on the Global Centre website at http://www.ictparliament.org/WePReport2012. It will be available in French at the end of October.

From http://www.ictparliament.org/ 10/07/2012

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UAE Among Emerging e-Government Leaders

In the United Nations’ 2012 e-Government Survey, the UAE is ranked among the emerging leaders group in e-Government development, ranking at 0.73 EGDI (e-Government Development Index), close behind the world’s top 20 leaders, topped by Republic of Korea with a 0.92 score. The UAE is thus joining the group of 25 emerging leaders for the first time, after developing at astonishing rates its electronic government services. “We had the biggest jump, from position 49 in 2010 to position 28 this year, according to the UN evaluation,” said Salem Al Shair, Deputy Director-General of e-Government and Information sector, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

From http://www.khaleejtimes.com/ 09/12/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Government Sets Out Five Year Public Service IT Strategy

The Federal Department of Finance and Deregulation has released a five year ICT strategy for the Australian Public Service promising that it will position the Australian Government to use ICT in creative and innovative ways to deliver better, easier to use services to the public. A key intent of the strategy is to break down the departmental silos that presently hold government information and services used by the public and present these in ways that match how the public uses them. "The strategy is built on a vision that our interactions with people, businesses and the community will occur seamlessly as part of everyday life," it says. "People will easily access and automatically receive a range of services streamlined from across government and tailored to their individual needs and preferences." The strategy outlines a future "where interaction with government will occur seamlessly as part of people's everyday lives, where people and communities are connected and engaged to provide input to government policies and services, and where efficient government operations deliver faster and more targeted services."

It argues that, to date, government use of ICT has been largely agency-focused and says that, while the recent ICT Reform Program and coordinated ICT procurement arrangements have improved integration, cooperation and transparency, "Now it is time to take the next step towards greater productivity and more streamlined interaction within the APS and between government, people and business." The strategy identifies three 'priority action areas': delivering better services, improving the efficiency of government operations and engaging openly with all stakeholders. However the strategy is lacking information on any specific actions or measurable outcomes. Each priority action area has an associated " How we know we have succeeded" section but these indicators are, with one or two exceptions, spelt out only in general terms.

For example, the section devoted to open engagement list as the success measures:
- Government services and policies reflect the needs of local communities;
Government services span agencies, jurisdictions, and the community and private sector;
- Industry and research organisations actively contribute to the development of new services and policies;
- New services and policies are better informed;
- Published government data generates greater economic value.

 

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

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CHINA: To Tighten Internet Management

China's regulatory authority on Tuesday vowed to strengthen management of the Internet as online application and consumption has become a new source of economic growth in the country. Speaking at the 2012 China Internet Conference, Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, said a comprehensive management system will be introduced to include government management, industrial self-regulation and supervision by society over the Internet industry. "While safeguarding a good Internet market order, the improved management aims to stop the spread of harmful information online and clean cyber space," Miao said. An increasing number of Chinese are taking to the Internet to seek business opportunities or express their views on public issues. More than 270 million Chinese had opened Twitter-like microblogging accounts on the Internet by the end of June, as the country's Internet users climbed to 538 million, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). MIIT figures also showed China's online business transactions exceeded 3.3 trillion yuan (520.58 billion U.S. dollars) in the first half of this year, up 14 percent from 2011.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/11/2012

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FINLAND: Presentation of the First Strategy Proposal on the Use of ICT in Public Administration

On 17 October 2012, a proposed new ICT strategy for the public administration was presented to Henna Virkkunen, Minister of Public Administration and Local Government. The strategy called ‘A strategy proposal for the use of ICT in the Public Administration 2012-2020’ is the first of its kind. The vision of the strategy goes up to 2020, while the policy approaches and measures will run until the end of 2015. Its objective is for the central and local governments to better use technology and bring services and information closer to individual users, enterprises and the public administration. By the time the strategy finishes in 2020, services and data will be safely and easily accessible and available in various ways. ‘It is nice to see that now, for the first time, we have a comprehensive compilation of the use of ICT in both central and local governments. In the public sector, annual expenditure for ICT reaches about 2 billion, so from the public’s point of view, it is well worth putting it to best use,’ Virkkunen commented. The strategy highlights why the smooth functioning of ICT is crucial for the operation and development of the public administration.’Finland is a leading country in public sector ICT but there is still much to be done, especially in terms of interoperability and customer orientation. By making even better use of ICT, we can improve both service quality and productivity considerably. It is especially important to develop services in closer collaboration with the end users,’ the Minister observed. The strategy proposes the setting up of a platform that will enable the conducting of experiments in service provision, thereby establishing a centre of excellence and launching ICT training programmes for the public sector staff. Work related to IT management structures in public administration will also be examined. 

Through its ten action plan proposals, the strategy aims - among other things - to reduce the risks related to large-scale ICT projects, to accelerate projects involving information systems and service development and to promote the adoption of innovative solutions or solutions coming from outside the central and local governments. Bringing ICT infrastructure together under one umbrella is intended to achieve cost savings. The proposed strategy draws on the objectives of the Government Programme for using ICT, supporting the Government’s structural policy measures, such as the reform of local government structures as well as the effectiveness and productivity programme. In January 2012, the Ministry of Finance set up a project to develop a strategy for the use of common ICT throughout the public administration. The preparation of the strategy was chaired by the Ministry of Finance as an open process, with hundreds of people from public administration, enterprises and NGOs taking part. The preparatory project included a steering group consisting of representatives from ministries, the Social Insurance Institution and municipalities. The steering group was chaired by Mr Timo Valli, Director General of Public Sector ICT, Ministry of Finance. A round of consultation will be organised for October and November 2012. Based on this proposal and the consultation feedback, the Government will endorse a public sector ICT strategy by early 2013.

From http://www.epractice.eu/ 11/06/2012

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INDIA: Effective e-Governance for Good Governance

Good governance, as we know, is the backbone of any society. If we seek to raise our economic standards to globally advanced levels, our basic infrastructure for governance also needs to improve in tandem. It is our firm belief that Mee Seva is going to be the beginning of the change that all of us want to see in governance in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Mee Seva, the flagship e-Governance initiative of the State Government, is by itself a proof of how Information and Communication Technology can be used to create efficient, hassle free and  transparent interface for the citizens.The State of Andhra Pradesh has always been on the forefront when it comes to leveraging IT for development. The State initiated the eSeva project in 2001 to provide bill payment services for various Government Departments and private organisations. One of the first such projects in the country, the eSeva project served as a single-window solution for the citizens in urban parts of the State.  

Common Service Centres (CSCs) were established to extend similar benefits to the rural citizens of the State as part of National e-Governance Project (NeGP).Though eSeva succeeded in reducing the drudgery of bill-payments at multiple counters, it was still serving as a ‘post-office’, accepting applications, sending by post to the concerned office, receiving back and then handing over to the citizens. In many ways the power of ICT was seen to being under-utilised in various government records like land records, Registration etc. Citizens had to make many rounds of the  government departments in order to get hold of the much needed documents.Mee Seva, which is Telugu for “At Your Service,” was evolved as the need was felt for a faster, easier and transparent mechanism for delivering various G2C services. The concept is unique and first-of-its kind in the country. It is the first time that the entire solution right from the collection of applications till the issue of final certificates has been turned electronic. It is also possible to track request through its life cycle at various stages and render it amenable for monitoring at Tehsil, Division or District level. 

There is no requirement of physical interaction whatsoever between the user and the issuing authority thereby limiting the chances of corruption and other malpractices. There is no doubt that over the longer term, initiatives like Mee Seva will incentivise the economy of the state. We intend to leverage the support of public and private organisations to keep developing even better e-Governance systems. An event like the eINDIA 2012 is important, because it is a platform to highlight the power of ICT to usher seminal efficiencies in governance, health, education, agriculture and every other field.The eINDIA 2012, which is being convened from 15-16 November, 2012, at Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC), Andhra Pradesh, will bring together leading thinkers, policymakers and industrialists from around the world to discuss ideas and strategies for the future. This event will also be a place to showcase potential and opportunities in various sectors in Andhra Pradesh. Our aim, at this juncture, is to showcase Andhra Pradesh’s inherent strengths, and the opportunities that exist here for industry and enterprise.With open arms, we welcome the finest thinkers, policy makers and entrepreneurs, who are arriving for eINDIA 2012.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/09/2012

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S. Korea Tops ICT Development Index Rankings

The ITU report, entitled ‘Measuring the Information Society 2012’, was released in Geneva on 11 October. For the second year in a row, Korea was ranked as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.IDI is a composite index that combines 11 indicators, classified under the three sub-indices of access, use, and skills, into one measure that helps monitor and compare developments in ICT across countries. The latest index ranks 155 countries regarding their ICT infrastructure and uptake.The access sub-index measures ICT readiness and includes infrastructure and access indicators such as mobile subscriptions and percentage of households with Internet access. The use sub-index captures ICT intensity, including three indicators – percentage of Internet users, fixed-broadband subscriptions, and active mobile broadband subscriptions. The last sub-index of skills determines if countries are effectively leveraging the full potential of ICTs for socio-economic development. The sub-index includes three proxy indicators – adult literacy, gross secondary enrolment and gross tertiary enrolment.

Korea ranked first in the use and skills sub-index. The mobile-broadband and wired-broadband penetration rates were found to be very high, and 84 per cent of the population is online. The country has the highest percentage of households with Internet access worldwide - 97 per cent of households are connected to the Internet.The report goes on to say that “the country has made ICT development a policy priority and integrated its use in many aspects of society. The Korea Communications Commission continuously works towards transforming the country into a “smart powerhouse” by effectively regulating a highly dynamic and competitive telecommunication market and pushing forward innovations and improvements.”Eight out of the top 10 ranked countries in the IDI were European, with Korea and Japan representing Asia (Japan was ranked eighth).Korea is globally seen as a world-leader in the field of ICT. In addition to topping ITU rankings, the country was ranked first for the second time in the United Nations’ E-Government Survey 2012, released in March, and received e-government awards for first place in three categories as part of the United Nations Public Service Day celebrations in June.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/19/2012

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SINGAPORE: Passing First Personal Data Protection Bill

The Singapore Parliament passed the island’s first bill to protect consumer data on 15 October. The bill aims to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal data by private organisations, and will be implemented as law in January 2013. The bill provides for the creation of a Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), and a national Do-Not-Call Registry. The commission will be the country’s main data protection authority, and will be responsible for administering and enforcing the bill and promoting awareness of data protection in Singapore. Individuals can register their Singapore phone numbers on the Do-Not-Call registry to prohibit private organisations from contacting them for commercial reasons. If they still receive marketing calls or messages, they can lodge complaints with the PDPC, which is responsible for keeping and maintaining the registry.  

Further, organisations must seek the consent of customers before collecting and storing their data, and inform the customer about the purpose of the data collection. They also have to ensure a comparable standard of protection for personal data if they’re transferring it outside Singapore, through measures such as contractual agreements. Companies found in violation of the rules can be fined up to S$1 million (US$820,000) for every data protection offense, and up to S$10,000 (US$8200) per customer complaint. Businesses will be given 18 months from implementation in January to comply with the rules. The Do-Not-Call Registry is expected to be set up in mid-2014. Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, introduced the bill in Parliament. “A data protection regime to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal data is necessary to address individuals’ growing concerns over the use of their personal data and to maintain individuals’ trust in organisations that manage data,” he said.

“A data protection law will also enhance Singapore’s competitiveness and strengthen our position as a trusted business hub. It will put Singapore on par with the growing list of countries that have enacted data protection laws and facilitate cross-border transfers of data.” The bill went through three rounds of public consultation conducted by the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. Some public feedback was incorporated into the rules. For example, unsolicited business-to-business commercial calls have been exempted from the rules after feedback from businesses.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/17/2012

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U.S.: What Makes the Best Government Website?

Last month, Government Technology released its 16th annual “Best of the Web” survey of state and local government websites. A panel of analysts and current and former CIOs judged nearly 100 entrants on innovation, functionality and their impact on government efficiency. For the record, the top sites came from the state of Alabama; Orange County, Fla.; and the Louisville, Ky., Metro Government. But beyond the annual beauty contest, the survey offers a snapshot of the state of the art for public websites. So what can you learn from some of the best public-sector websites in the nation? Based on what’s offered by the winners and other highly ranked sites, here are some must-have features:

• Mobile friendliness: More and more website visitors are arriving via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices -- and states will need to accommodate them. In California, for instance, more than 10 percent of all visitors to state government websites in August were mobile users. The percentage rises to nearly half of all users for some individual agency sites. To meet the demand, California and others are using a technique called responsive design, which automatically scales and reformats website content to fit smaller screen sizes. The state also launched an app store on its site, providing citizens a one-stop shop for all mobile apps created by state agencies. 

• Location awareness: The best websites know your location and show you nearby offices or attractions. Mississippi’s homepage asks users to choose their location from a menu of metro areas within the state, and then allows them to map the location of nearby DMV offices, hospitals, state parks and post offices. California’s site uses location data from smartphones and tablets to automatically give mobile users information tailored to their location. Within a few clicks, the site showed state parks near my location. I could find fishing spots by county and even access a fish-stocking schedule to increase my odds of success.

• Live help: As states work to entice more citizens into receiving services online -- and as online services take on more complex tasks -- more website users will need a hand. States like Nebraska and Mississippi let users open a chat window and get help from a live representative. And the mobile version of the Alabama state portal helpfully offers users the option of texting state staff for assistance.

• Notification services: A growing number of state and local sites let residents subscribe to email or text-based reminders and alerts. Orange County, Fla., offers a free service that texts subscribers’ mobile devices with alerts for life-threatening weather, severe traffic disruptions, evacuations and other emergency events. The Louisville website combines location information with notification services to give users targeted reminders for activities or information they’re interested in. Residents plug in their address, and access information such as garbage pickup days and crime data. Integrated with the mapping features are sign-up options for alerts on roughly 400 city topics. The city boasts 90,000 digital subscribers to its notification service.

Although most of these ideas have been around for a few years, the top government websites are combining and presenting them in ways that rival some of the best commercial sites. You still have to cover the basics -- the top-rated sites also offered hundreds of online transactions, paid careful attention to site navigation and usability, and included rich links to social media -- but adding some of these other features might earn you bragging rights, and more important, the gratitude of your citizens.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 10/01/2012

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Declaration of Internet Freedom

“The Internet,” says the GOP platform, “has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. Its independence is its power.” The Democratic platform states: “President [Barack] Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice and free speech, unfettered by censorship or undue violations or privacy.” These party platform documents are not without their differences. Open, inclusive and robust debate is a good thing. But when it comes to Internet freedom, there is far more that unites us than separates us. That is the reason we have both signed the Declaration of Internet Freedom — a landmark document drafted by Internet advocates of all political persuasions who have come together in support of five principles that transcend partisan politics. The declaration reads: We stand for a free and open Internet.

We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:

• Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.

• Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.

• Openness: Keep the Internet an open network in which everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.

• Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.

• Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.

More than 50,000 people and some 2,000 organizations — representing millions of people around the world — have already signed this declaration. It has been translated into more than 70 languages, so that as many people as possible can read the text and participate in the debate. The Internet may well prove to be our most fundamental technological achievement. Because of it, people around the world have instant access to vital information, can hold their governments accountable and create better lives for themselves and their families. Democrats and Republicans, despite continuing political debate and differences, can join together to protect an open Internet that strengthens our economy and our democracy.

From http://www.politico.com/ 09/17/2012

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ITU: Draft of the Future International Telecommunications Regulations

In December 2012, the World Conference on International Communications (WCIT 2012) will be taking place in Dubai with a view to reconsider the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) for the first time since 1988 under the aegis of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). One of the key questions that will be examined at WCIT is whether or not ‘ICTs’ or the Internet should fall within the scope of the ITRs. As the ITU has traditionally operated under a very closed-up, top-down decision-making process, civil society groups are concerned that the ITR review process might be used to fundamentally change the multi-stakeholder model that has been the hallmark of Internet governance up until now. There is also a concern that this process will have a detrimental impact on the open Internet, freedom of expression and access to information. Our legal analysis concludes that whilst the ITU might not be overtaking the Internet just yet, some of the proposals that have been made give no ground for complacency on the part of civil society, governments and businesses who want to preserve our Internet freedoms. In this analysis, ARTICLE 19 reviews key areas of concerns over the ITRs. We examine the question of definitions and scope of the ITRs as well as proposals that would give greater control to the ITU over content-related aspects of Internet policy. We also review the proposal of the European Telecoms Network Operators (ETNO) on new IP interconnection pricing scheme and its impact on net neutrality. Finally, we highlight a number of factors mitigating fears that the ITU might be overtaking the Internet.

Recommendations

1.Every effort should be made to oppose the inclusion of the terms ‘ICTs’, ‘Internet’ or ‘IP Protocol’ in the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs”);

2.References to 'spam', 'cyber-crime', 'cyber-security', 'data preservation, retention, protection', 'protection of personal information, privacy and data', 'information and network security', 'fraud' and other similar wording should be rejected;

3.The proposal of European Telecoms Network Operators should be resisted as seriously undermining the net neutrality principle;

4.As a matter of international law, States should make a reservation to those clauses that fail to comply with international standards on freedom of expression and the right to privacy on the Internet;

5.Should the revised ITRs fall well below the international standards on freedom of expression and privacy, States should not sign the revised ITRs;

6.The ITU should open-up its decision-making processes and make its reports and other documentation available free-of-charge.

From http://www.article19.org/ 10/26/2012

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AFRICA: South Sudan Hopeful on Pan-African E-government Project

South Sudan is hopeful that the world’s newest country can benefit from a new e-government pan-African project that aims to boost tele-education and tele-medicine. The new Pan-Africa e-Network Project is being funded by the Indian government and aims to develop numerous projects using technology and e-government as the basis for infrastructure development across the African continent. Vimal Wakhlu, MD for Telecommunication Consultants India (TCIL), said in a press statement over the weekend that “equipment for the project has already been dispatched to South Sudan for installation.” Wakhlu added that South Sudan will “soon benefit from the project since it is the world’s newest country.” He added that the basic objectives of the Pan-Africa e-Network Project were “to help build the capacity of the African countries by imparting quality education to students from some of the Indian universities.” According to the project’s details, the Indian government is spending more than $115 million on the enterprise, which it said will also cover “Continuing Medical Education (CME) to practicing doctors and nursing staff with a view to update their knowledge and skills.” All will be based on boosting the ICT and technological base in Africa, the Indian government has said. Africa Union member states inked the agreement with Telecommunication Consultants India Limited (TCIL) with its hub station at Dakar, Senegal. It has been working since 2008, but is now moving eastward into South Sudan.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 10/10/2012

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Tunisia Deletes Internet Censorship Policies

Government representatives in Tunisia have confirmed that the country has officially brought its stringent Internet censorship policies - known as ‘Ammar 404′ – to an end. According to Information and Communication Minister Mongi Marzoug this has been brought on by the recent revolution in Tunisia and the interim government will now try to promote access to information and freedom of expression. The launching of the country’s National Forum of Internet governance will be “the end of Ammar 404″ he said. “The Minister said that Tunisia will announce its membership to joint action for freedom of expression on the Internet Freedom online, which holds its second session, on September 6-7, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya,” wrote Tunis Afrique Presse. Tunisia will also try to prove to the world that they have truly ended censorship as he presented the main objectives of the upcoming ICT4All conference to be held in Tunisia. “This event aims to give a new image of Tunisia as a country leader in the field of ICTs and freedom of expression and boost the country’s role in this sector on the Maghrebi, Arab and African levels,” wrote Tunis Afrique Presse.

From http://www.itnewsafrica.com/ 09/08/2012

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ARAB STATES: Oman eGovernment Plan Launched

The eGovernment Transformation Plan, which aims to boost government e-services and encourage their use by people and businesses, was launched at a symposium organised by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) on Sunday. The event was held under the patronage of HE Sheikh Al Fadhl Bin Mohammed Al Harthy, Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers and Dr Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA, in the presence of ministers, their excellencies and other government officials from IT departments. “The plan aims to increase effectiveness of government services and automation for citizens, businesses and government agencies,” said Salim Al Ruzaiqi. The plan will be implemented in six phases, according to Khalid Sulaiman Al Siyabi, consultant in the infrastructure and eServices division at ITA. Phase one is ePresence, where government agency websites will publish simple and limited information of the agency’s mission, office hours, contact details and official documents. It will be in Arabic and English. The completion date of this stage is June 2013. The second phase involves offering simple interaction between government agencies and the public, with email systems, basic search engines and official forms for download. Government agencies will have a call centre to receive phone calls and SMS and will interact among themselves through email, SMS and digital data exchange. The date set for completion of the stage is December 2013. The third phase will enable the public to conduct online transactions such as licence applications, course registrations and personal information updates, besides ePayment facilities, using Internet and telephony technologies. The completion date for this phase is December 2014. 

Fourth is the transformation phase, which provides value-added and public-oriented eServices, focusing on vital services from the public’s perspective and convenience. The eServices will involve vertical — government agencies in the same line of business such as health and education — and horizontal integration — government agencies in different lines of business, but who carry out similar functions like HR. The completion date for this stage is December 2015. The fifth phase, eParticipation, involves a long-term goal for eGovernment development. By offering tools such as online voting, polling and surveys, government agencies can improve performance through social participation. The eBorder or eRegional phase has the long-term goal of offering collaborative services with neighbouring countries and other countries in the region. It requires sharing and exchanging dynamic data among the countries. Each organisation will have to formulate a strategy and implement the plan with support of leaders of government institution committees, task forces, and in coordination with the ITA. John P. Roberts, research vice-president and analyst with Gartner’s CIO and Executive Leadership research team, highlighted successful examples and e-governance implementation challenges in the UK, Singapore and Canada. He said clear strategy, overall architecture, good governance and senior government leadership are key management tools to drive focus and discipline. “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the people,” he said. Maged Boulos, in-charge of ITA strategic and planning division, highlighted the importance of utilising eGovernment transformation measurement tools to assess readiness of government agencies for the transition. Syed Faruk, consultant in the governance and advisory division at ITA, spoke about guidelines for implementation. He defined an eService as the appropriate use of ICT to transform and improve performance of a manual government service into an electronic service. Details of the plan are on http://www.ita.gov.om/egoven

From http://www.omantribune.com/ 10/28/2012

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Saudi Arabia Launches Next e-Government Action Plan

The Saudi Arabian government unveiled the second National Action Plan (2012-2016) for e-government, which aims to improve e-government services for citizens and increase public-private collaboration to enhance resource availability and boost economic growth. The Second National Action Plan has four main strategic themes: building a sustainable e-government workforce, improving the public experience of government interaction, developing a culture of collaboration, and improving government efficiency. The fulfilment of these themes is expected to lead to efficient and effective delivery of services to citizens of Saudi Arabia. The plan includes 22 objectives based on the four main themes, and 46 initiatives for achieving these objectives. 30 of these initiatives are to be executed in the first two years of implementation. This plan is the second part of the current e-government programme called Yesser, which was established in 2005 by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT), with the support of Ministry of Finance, and the Communication and Information Technology Commission. One of the initiatives planned to build a sustainable workforce for e-government is the training of officials in collaboration with international universities. This initiative was unveiled by Eng Suhail Al Almaee, Director of Strategic Planning and Support Initiatives at Yesser. “We are working with Boston University to train CIOs within the government,” he announced. “62 individuals have already gone to the university and are undergoing training.

To improve and build a culture of collaboration, the government will increase public-private partnership (PPP) in the sector of e-government. PPP was identified as an effective implementation strategy through the examination of successful case studies such as that of Singapore. Increased PPP is expected to reduce project workload on the government agencies and create jobs to increase economic growth. Abdulaziz Al-Mulhem, Assistant Minister and CIO of Planning at the Ministry of Culture and Information, Saudi Arabia, asserted that the influx of private sector wealth through PPP could solve the problem of constraint of resources and be an effective tool for facilitating opportunities, through options such as jointly owning technology or services. The particulars of this plan were discussed during a workshop held by Yesser earlier this year, which was attended by 360 officials representing 210 government agencies. Yesser has been in the news for ICT development earlier this month too. An agreement was signed by the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Eng. Mohamed Jamil Bin Ahmed Mulla, and the President of the Saudi General Authority for Survey, Marie bin Hassan Al-Shahrani. Based on the agreement, Yesser will work with the Survey Authority to develop a geospatial database, and help the Authority establish infrastructure for geospatial data, develop its e-services, plan for the transfer and exchange of geospatial data, and create documentation for the process of service delivery

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/02/2012

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ASIA: Mobility, Cloud and Analytics Rank High in ASEAN Govt Priorities

A survey of 130 senior officials from across the region has identified that mobility, cloud and analytics rank high in their priorities for 2013. The research was part of pre-event activities for the 9th annual FutureGov Summit. “My three areas of focus for 2012 are enhancing the existing analytic system for better profiling of taxpayers’ behaviour and taxpayers’ debt, to introduce mobile versions of the current online services and to explore options to manage a private cloud,” says Mariam Mohammad, CIO, Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia. “I am particularly interested to learn about the latest developments in data warehouses, business analytics and single sign on for multiple platform applications.” Mohammad is not the only Malaysian with these priorities. Dato’ Rosni Abdul Malek, Director, Implementation Coordination Unit, Prime Minister’s Department of Malaysia comments that she is interested in “discussing systems integration, data warehousing and business intelligence and mobile applications” in order to support and value-add to the decision making processes for her organisation. Over in Indonesia, the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology is looking for solutions to efficiently and securely engage citizens using mobile technology. “Mobile technology is one option for government to reach citizens, however, the integration of information system and collaboration between government and private sectors to achieve better public services have not been fully realised. Security assurance is also an issue we need to discuss,” says Head of Planning Division, Bambang Dwi Anggono. According to Pornvadee Tapsanan, Director of Business Solution Delivery Office II, Information Technology Department, Bank of Thailand, his focus for 2013 are “to use Big Data Analytics to increase productivity and enhance Risk Management & Compliance (both in the areas of Statistics Data Management and IT Infrastructure), to launch mobility services for bank collaboration, and to explore how we can improve the bank’s security and risk management.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/24/2012

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EUROPE: New Strategy on the Use of Cloud Computing in Public and Business Sectors

On 27 September 2012, the European Commission published a new strategy entitled ‘Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe’, whose aim is to speed up and increase the use of cloud computing across the economy. 'Cloud computing' refers to the storage of data (such as text files, pictures and videos) and software on remote computers, on which users access over the Internet from a device of their choice. This is faster, cheaper, more flexible and potentially more secure than on-site IT solutions. Many popular services, social media and web-based emails use cloud computing technologies. However, the real economic benefits come through widespread use of cloud solutions by businesses and the public sector. The strategy outlines actions that will deliver a net gain of 2.5 million new jobs in Europe, and an annual boost of 160 billion to EU gross domestic product (GDP), which is expected to be around 1 % by 2020. 

Key actions of the strategy include:

•Cutting through the jungle of technical standards so that cloud users get interoperability, data portability and reversibility; necessary standards should be identified by 2013;

•Support for EU-wide certification schemes for trustworthy cloud providers;

•Development of model 'safe and fair' contract terms for cloud computing contracts, including Service Level Agreements;

•A European Cloud Partnership with Member States and industry to harness the public sector's buying power (20 % of all IT spending) to shape the European cloud market, boost the chances for European cloud providers to grow to achieve a competitive scale, and deliver cheaper and better eGovernment services. 

The European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda for Europe, Neelie Kroes said in this regard: "Cloud computing is a game-changer for our economy. Without EU action, we will stay stuck in national fortresses and miss out on billions in economic gains. We must achieve critical mass and a single set of rules across Europe. We must tackle the perceived risks of cloud computing head-on." The Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding noted: "Europe needs to think big. The cloud strategy will enhance trust in innovative computing solutions and boost a competitive digital single market where Europeans feel safe. That means a swift adoption of the new data protection framework which the Commission proposed earlier this year and the development of safe and fair contract terms and conditions."

From http://www.epractice.eu/ 10/10/2012

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EU Initiative Will Map Cyber Repression Around the World

The EU is about to launch "a global monitoring system that will help chart digital repression by mapping the Internet’s "cyber geography" in near real time," reports Slate. The idea builds on last year's EU initiative No Disconnect, which offers tools and training to activists using the Internet in repressive / authoritarian regimes like Syria. The new initiative will map cyber repression across the world. ECSA will attempt to pull together, aggregate, and visualize up-to-date intelligence about the state of the Internet across the world. It will show content filtering, blocking, or other disruptions to the Web, among other things. ECSA could prove to be a vital resource, particularly if it is opened up for free public use. By centralizing and mapping data about surveillance and censorship in near real time, it would help inform not only EU politicians but journalists, lawmakers, human rights activists, and citizens internationally. Andrea Glorioso, the European Commission officer responsible for ECSA, told me the aim was to make the platform “as open as possible, both for contributing and for accessing it.” However, he added, “choices might have to be made depending on the sensitivity of the information being handled.”

From http://techpresident.com/ 11/09/2012

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Belgium: New Telecom Law

New telecoms legislation has come into force in Belgium bringing it in line with its European counterparts. Under the new law, introduced on October 1, subscribers to cable and IPTV services, mobile operators, ISPs and other telecom providers can cancel their subscription within two months, even when a long-term contract has been signed. The two-month cancellation period is applicable to everyone who has served the first six months of a new contract. The cancellation message may be sent by the customer via regular mail, email or text message to a specially designed number of the operator. Operators are also obliged to inform customers if their monthly bill reaches a certain – yet to be determined – amount, in order to prevent ‘bill shock’. All major Belgian operators, including Telenet and Belgacom, have already adopted the new rules.

From http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/ 10/02/2012

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Government of Finland: First Common Strategy to Address Challenges in Public Sector ICT Utilisation

The proposed new ICT strategy for public administration was presented to Henna Virkkunen, Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, on 17 October 2012. The strategy is the first of its kind. The vision in the strategy reaches to 2020, and policy approaches and measure to the end of 2015. 'It is excellent to see that we now have a comprehensive compilation of the usage of ICT in both central and local government for the first time. In the public sector, annual expenditure for ICT totals close to EUR 2 billion, so from the viewpoint of society it is well worth putting it to best use', Virkkunen commented. The strategy highlights why smoothly functioning ICT is crucial for the operation and development of public administration. 'Finland is a leading country in public sector ICT but there is still much to be done, especially in terms of interoperability and customer-orientation. By making even better use of ICT, we can improve both service quality and productivity considerably. It is especially important to develop services in closer collaboration with end users', the Minister observed.  The objective in the proposed ICT strategy is for central and local government to better utilise technology and bring services and information close to individual users, business enterprises and administration. By the time the objective will have been reached in 2020, services and data will be safely and easily accessible and available in various ways.

The strategy proposes the setting up of a platform to enable experimentation in service development, establishing a cluster of excellence and launching public sector ICT training programmes involving open information. Work related to IT management structures in public administration will also be examined. With its ten action plan proposals, the strategy aims for instance to reduce risks related to large ICT projects, accelerate projects involving information systems and service development and to promote the adoption of innovative solutions or solutions arrived at elsewhere both in central and local government. The aim in bringing ICT infrastructure together under one umbrella is to achieve cost savings. The proposed strategy draws on the objectives in the Government Programme for utilising information and communications technology, supporting the Government's structural policy measures, such as the reform in local government structures and the effectiveness and productivity programme. In January 2012 the Ministry of Finance set up a project to devise a strategy for the utilisation of common ICT throughout public administration. The formulation of the strategy was chaired by the Ministry of Finance as an open process, with hundreds of people from public administration, from business enterprises and from NGOs taking part. The preparatory project included a steering group consisting of representatives from the ministries, the Social Insurance Institution and the municipalities. The steering group was chaired by Mr Timo Valli, Director General of Public Sector ICT, Ministry of Finance. A consultation round will be organised in October and November. Based on this proposal and the consultation feedback, the Government will endorse a public sector ICT strategy in early 2013. 

From http://www.4-traders.com/ 10/21/2012

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Presentation of the First Strategy Proposal on the Use of ICT in Public Administration

On 17 October 2012, a proposed new ICT strategy for the public administration was presented to Henna Virkkunen, Minister of Public Administration and Local Government. The strategy called ‘A strategy proposal for the use of ICT in the Public Administration 2012-2020’ is the first of its kind. The vision of the strategy goes up to 2020, while the policy approaches and measures will run until the end of 2015. Its objective is for the central and local governments to better use technology and bring services and information closer to individual users, enterprises and the public administration. By the time the strategy finishes in 2020, services and data will be safely and easily accessible and available in various ways. ‘It is nice to see that now, for the first time, we have a comprehensive compilation of the use of ICT in both central and local governments. In the public sector, annual expenditure for ICT reaches about 2 billion, so from the public’s point of view, it is well worth putting it to best use,’ Virkkunen commented. The strategy highlights why the smooth functioning of ICT is crucial for the operation and development of the public administration.’Finland is a leading country in public sector ICT but there is still much to be done, especially in terms of interoperability and customer orientation. By making even better use of ICT, we can improve both service quality and productivity considerably. It is especially important to develop services in closer collaboration with the end users,’ the Minister observed. The strategy proposes the setting up of a platform that will enable the conducting of experiments in service provision, thereby establishing a centre of excellence and launching ICT training programmes for the public sector staff. Work related to IT management structures in public administration will also be examined.

Through its ten action plan proposals, the strategy aims - among other things - to reduce the risks related to large-scale ICT projects, to accelerate projects involving information systems and service development and to promote the adoption of innovative solutions or solutions coming from outside the central and local governments. Bringing ICT infrastructure together under one umbrella is intended to achieve cost savings. The proposed strategy draws on the objectives of the Government Programme for using ICT, supporting the Government’s structural policy measures, such as the reform of local government structures as well as the effectiveness and productivity programme. In January 2012, the Ministry of Finance set up a project to develop a strategy for the use of common ICT throughout the public administration. The preparation of the strategy was chaired by the Ministry of Finance as an open process, with hundreds of people from public administration, enterprises and NGOs taking part. The preparatory project included a steering group consisting of representatives from ministries, the Social Insurance Institution and municipalities. The steering group was chaired by Mr Timo Valli, Director General of Public Sector ICT, Ministry of Finance. A round of consultation will be organised for October and November 2012. Based on this proposal and the consultation feedback, the Government will endorse a public sector ICT strategy by early 2013.

From http://www.epractice.eu/ 11/06/2012

 

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Russia Sets Broadband Target

Russia would like to see broadband services accessible to 95% of its population by 2015. Quoted by Vedomosti, Federation Council deputy PM Arkady Dvorkovich said much of the work to achieve this would be done by the national telco Rostelecom, which already has all the necessary resources and no need of additional funds. As of the end of last year Rostelecom already accounted for 37.9% of Russian internet users, or 8.2 million people. This should rise to 50% by 2015. Although Rostelecom invested around R30 billion (Euro212.4 million) in broadband last year and the total cost of constructing a national broadband network has been put at R162 billion, Dvorkovich failed to specify how much additional money the telco would have to spend.

From http://www.broadbandtvnews.com/ 09/29/2012

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Russia Passes Far Reaching Internet Censorship Law Targeting Bloggers and Journalists

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a new law for blacklisting websites that the government determines has illegal content which includes sites on drugs, suicide and child porn. The institution responsible for site monitoring will be the Federal Supervision Agency. The controversial new law came into effect on November 1 under which authorities can now close sites with a wide range of topics that a court has ruled “are extremist.” “This law can be seen as one of the elements that can, if the need arises, curb freedom of speech,” says information rights expert Ilya Rassolov. The law is the latest in a raft of restrictive bills pushed through parliament in recent months, including legislation that dramatically hikes fines on protesters, made libel a criminal offense, and forced foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations to register as “foreign agents.” Reporters Without Borders has been critical of the Russian government’s motives in a statement for failing to “resolve the law’s contradictions and to eliminate those that pose threats to freedom.” A 2011 statement by Reporters Without Borders went further calling out the current State of Russian Internet censorship saying “The Russian state is characterized by a lack of political pluralism and widespread corruption. In a country where respect for human rights is far from given, state control of the broadcast media, arbitrary use of an anti-extremism law and, above all, impunity for acts of violence against journalists, especially in the North Caucasus, are the main media freedom violations. The Internet, a space where independent voices still find expression, is now being targeted by the authorities, who are trying to develop online filtering and surveillance. Bloggers are the victims of lawsuits and prosecutions, often under the “anti-extremism” law, which was amended in July 2007.” “Censorship of the Internet, like censorship of the media, is nowadays largely decentralized. But although strong leadership from the top in all areas of society is now a guiding principle for the authorities, admonishments about cyber-censorship have been strangely slow in coming.”

From http://www.forbes.com/ 11/02/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Copyright Modernization Act Set to Come into Force

Not all of the new law's provisions will take effect immediately, including protection for ISPs from the copyright violations made by their customers. The federal government's Copyright Modernization Act is about to be put into force in early November, according to an order from the Canada Privy Council dated Oct. 25. Bill C-11 was tabled by the Conservative government back in September 2011 and was finally passed into law, updating Canada's copyright law for the first time since 2000. Previous to this bill, there had been several attempts by both the Conservative government and previous Liberal government to pass through Copyright Modernization, but those attempts were killed when parliament was dissolved as a result of a minority government losing a confidence vote or a Prime Minister deciding to prorogue the parliament.

From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 10/31/2012

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U.S.: FCC Announces “Measuring Mobile America” Program to Test Mobile Broadband Performance

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission today announced the launch of Measuring Mobile America, the first nationwide mobile broadband performance measurement program. As mobile broadband has become part of our everyday communications infrastructure, it remains difficult for consumers to get detailed information about their mobile broadband performance. The program will expand the FCC’s broadband measurement program to test mobile performance data. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “We know from experience: transparency on broadband speeds drives improvement in broadband speeds.  Our ongoing Measuring Broadband America program has helped improve performance in wired broadband.  Our new mobile broadband measurement initiative extends the program to smartphones and other wireless devices.  It will empower consumers and encourage improvements in mobile networks and programs, benefitting millions of Americans.” Building on the model for the FCC’s ongoing Measuring Broadband America program, the first broad-scale study of actual home broadband performance throughout the United States, the FCC will work with wireless carriers, the public interest and research community, and other stakeholders to deliver consumers detailed information about mobile broadband performance. The Measuring Broadband America program has been proof-of-concept that a public-private partnership designed to promote transparency could yield tangible benefits for millions of American consumers. In the one year between the first and second Measuring Broadband America reports, the FCC saw significant improvements in broadband performance and offerings. On September 21, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission will hold an open meeting to discuss the new program.  The FCC has received commitments to cooperate in this program from major wireless carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, and CTIA—the Wireless Association?.  With the launch of this open meeting, the FCC looks forward to the participation of other critical stakeholders, including the public research community.  The FCC’s Measuring Mobile America program will continue the agency’s efforts to respond to the recommendations in our National Broadband Plan to improve the availability of information for consumers about their broadband service. 

From http://www.fcc.gov/ 09/05/2012

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Lawmakers Offer Internet Radio Legislation

Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate offered legislation Friday that supporters say would level the playing field for Internet radio stations by allowing them to use the same standard for determining the rates they must pay performers for playing their music as other digital music providers. The legislation offered in the House by Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Jared Polis, D-Colo., and in the Senate by Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would require that the Copyright Royalty Board use the same standard for setting rates for paying performers as it does for satellite and radio, which pay a much lower rate. The bill also would require that Copyright Royalty Board judges have a minimum level of experience and be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. "Congress enacted the royalty rate standard for Internet radio 14 years ago, when Internet radio was barely a concept," Chaffetz said in a statement. "This bipartisan legislation levels the playing field for Internet radio services by putting them under the same market-based standard used to establish rates for other digital services, including cable and satellite radio. It's well past time to stop discriminating against Internet radio." Wyden echoed Chaffetz's comments, adding that the legislation "puts Internet Radio on an even plane with its competitors, and allows the music marketplace to evolve and to expand--which will ultimately benefit artists and the internet economy." Internet radio provider Pandora has been pushing lawmakers for a legislative fix. The Consumer Electronics Association, which Pandora is a member of, endorsed the legislation.

"The changes proposed by the Internet Radio Fairness Act are simple and long overdue. They will drive innovation, investment and jobs, not just in Internet radio but also in the hardware used to access Internet services," CEA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Michael Petricone said in a statement. The National Association of Broadcasters backed the move as well. In a statement, the group said they "strongly supports legislative efforts to establish fair webcast streaming rates." Debate on the issue, however, will likely spill over into the next Congress given that lawmakers are expected to recess this week and not return until after the election. Music industry officials have voiced concern with the legislation, saying it would result in less revenue for musical performers. At the same time, they argue that any bill that deals with rates paid by online radio should also address the issue of terrestrial radio stations, which are currently not required to pay musicians for playing their music on the air. "Going from a fair market, 'willing buyer, willing seller' rate to a government mandated subsidy will break the backs of artists, while Pandora executives pad their pockets," Ted Kalo, executive director of the music industry coalition musicFIRST, said in a statement. "We support rate parity that addresses the greatest inequity of all, the lack of a performance right for terrestrial radio, and is fair to music creators."  

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the ranking member on the House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee, has been working on a draft bill that also aims to level the playing field between digital music providers and takes modest steps in addressing the issue of terrestrial radio. Nadler's draft bill would require radio broadcasters to pay a higher rate for streaming music online to account for the fact that they don't pay performers when their music is played on traditional radio stations. In the last Congress, lawmakers tried and failed to move legislation that would require terrestrial radio stations to pay performance fees. However, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who is vying to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in the next Congress, has said he would like to take a broader look at the issue and examine the concerns of both the music industry and Internet radio providers. Pandora founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren told National Journal last month that his company and others hurt by the current online music rate structure shouldn't be "held hostage" to the fight over whether traditional radio stations should have to start paying performers.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 09/24/2012

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Industry Responds Cautiously to IT Reform Act

Acquisition experts worry the measures proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa could produce more bureaucracy. Acquisition experts responded cautiously Thursday to a legislative proposal to overhaul federal information technology purchases, noting the reforms could make IT buying more efficient but could also lead to more paperwork without more payoff. The proposed Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act would grant agency chief information officers greater budget authority and make it easier for technology buyers in one agency to rely on other agencies’ expertise through centers of excellence. The legislation could save taxpayers as much as $20 billion through smarter contracting and less overhead, Richard Beutel, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s senior counsel for acquisition policy told an audience at the George Washington University Law School. Government officials told Oversight investigators about half of their current budget goes to support legacy technology that’s obsolete but can’t be easily replaced through the current acquisition process, Beutel said. Industry officials put the figure closer to 75 or 80 percent, he said. “One thing is just crystal clear,” Beutel said. “The current acquisition cycle does not map against this industry in any way shape or form.” However, the legislation, proposed by Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., could create more bureaucracy surrounding the acquisition process rather than less, experts at the panel discussion said. The reform act’s value is also diminished because it does not address complicated Pentagon acquisition guidelines, they said.

Oversight officials chose to steer clear of major changes to defense acquisitions requirements because they thought there was little chance of passing such extensive legislation, Beutel said. The defense IT budget accounts for about half of the government’s $80 billion in annual IT spending. The military could voluntarily consult with experts at agency-based Assisted Acquisition Centers of Excellence described in the act, Beutel said. But without mandates on military purchases, the act’s budget effect will be significantly limited other panelists said. Organizers billed Thursday’s event as an opportunity for industry and others to weigh in on the proposal while lawmakers work out the final details. Issa has been floating a draft version of the act for several months. He plans to hold at least two hearings on the legislation in January -- one at the IT subcommittee level and one with the full Oversight Committee -- and to formally introduce it soon afterward, Beutel said. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., ranking member on the IT subcommittee, has thrown his support behind the main goals of the proposed legislation, which would also codify several Office of Management and Budget mandates focused on consolidating federal data centers and making government information more easily available online. The changes might make purchasing easier on the government side but the proposed law fails to address the complexity and difficulty commercial software producers face in selling to the government, said Angela Styles, the former administrator for federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget.

“I guarantee you there are a lot of commercial software companies that want nothing to do with the federal government because the federal government isn’t very good at understanding licensing,” she said. “It isn’t very good at understanding intellectual property and it scares off some of the best companies that have some of the best solutions.” Styles leads the government contracts group at the law firm Crowell and Moring. Dave Drabkin, former deputy chief acquisition officer at the General Services Administration, focused on a governmentwide Commodity IT Acquisition Center, proposed in the act, which would be charged with consulting on most acquisitions over $500 million and establishing acquisitions guidelines and best practices. The act describes the acquisitions center as being based inside an agency with significant acquisitions experience and notes that the center could be moved at five year intervals if the hosting agency is underperforming. As written, the center must either be based in GSA or would be duplicating much of GSA’s mission, said Dravkin, now director of acquisition policy at Northrop Grumman. “Why would you create another centralized agency whose sole focus is to buy goods and services for other federal agencies?” he asked.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 10/18/2012

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Smart Cities Strategies to Help Local Government

Cities looking for guidance and analysis have a new service to turn to. IDC Government Insights announced the launch of Smart Cities Strategies, a research advisory service for cities and local governments looking for ways to use technology to improve city operations and provide better service to citizens. “Successful cities will need to differentiate themselves to attract investment and productive residents. This, coupled with constrained financial resources, fast-growing populations, and aging infrastructures, is driving investment in Smart City solutions,” said Research Director Ruthbea Yesner Clarke. “The Smart Cities Strategies research analyzes the role of ICT in improving citizen services in public safety, transportation, and public works; in fostering innovation and civic engagement; and in building successful models for the evolution of a Smart City.” In the coming year, IDC will research smart cities, next-generation public safety services such as real-time crime centers, predictive disaster management, next generation 911, public works and transportation, 511 systems, advanced parking management, infrastructure and asset management, mobile app strategies, citizen engagement and tools for IT innovation.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 10/31/2012

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Committee Releases Stage 3 Rules for Electronic Health Records

A federal health information technology committee this week released its proposed rules for Stage 3 meaningful use of electronic health records -- the first step in a long public process of reviewing how the government assesses whether EHRs qualify for incentive payments under Medicare and Medicaid. Health care providers must demonstrate “meaningful use” of EHRs to qualify for incentives. Meaningful use stages are being phased in over several years, with each stage raising levels of functionality, usability and data exchange required of EHR systems. The committee’s “vision” for Stage 3 “includes a collaborative model of care with shared responsibility and accountability, building upon the previous [meaningful use] objectives,” according to the document released Wednesday by the Health Information Technology Policy Committee. “While the committee appreciates and recognizes today’s challenges in setting up data exchanges, it is the committee’s recommendation that Stage 3 is the time to begin to transition from a setting-specific focus to a collaborative, patient- and family- centric approach,” the committee wrote.

With that in mind, the committee said Stage 3 objectives should:

■Support new models of care;

■Address national health priorities;

■Have broad applicability to different medical specialties, patient health needs and regions of the country;

■Promote advancement of EHR capabilities; and,

■Be achievable and feasible.

The recommendations are broken down into charts comparing them with the final Stage 2 rules and briefly outlining what might be next for future stages. The 44-page document also includes several issues on which the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT requests comment. A 45-day comment period is under way, to be followed by the committee’s review in the first three months of 2013. Stage 2 guidance is final, but the deadline for compliance isn’t until 2014. The tentative date for Stage 3 compliance is in 2016.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 11/09/2012

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CHINA: To Tighten Internet Management

China's regulatory authority on Tuesday vowed to strengthen management of the Internet as online application and consumption has become a new source of economic growth in the country. Speaking at the 2012 China Internet Conference, Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, said a comprehensive management system will be introduced to include government management, industrial self-regulation and supervision by society over the Internet industry. "While safeguarding a good Internet market order, the improved management aims to stop the spread of harmful information online and clean cyber space," Miao said. An increasing number of Chinese are taking to the Internet to seek business opportunities or express their views on public issues. More than 270 million Chinese had opened Twitter-like microblogging accounts on the Internet by the end of June, as the country's Internet users climbed to 538 million, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). MIIT figures also showed China's online business transactions exceeded 3.3 trillion yuan (520.58 billion U.S. dollars) in the first half of this year, up 14 percent from 2011.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/11/2012

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Shanghai to Boost Outsourcing Efforts

SHANGHAI will continue to develop its outsourcing industry to help the city restructure its economy and bolster the service sector, government officials said yesterday. The city's software and information technology service sector may expand 20 percent annually, with market value expected at 600 billion yuan (US$95.2 billion) by 2015, said Fu Xinhua, vice chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization. The software service industry will contribute about 40 percent of the overall information technology industry in the city, Fu told the Global IT Outsourcing Forum 2012 in Shanghai yesterday. He Jifeng, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and president of the Software Engineering Institute of East China Normal University, said "Shanghai should foster more high-end outsourcing contractors especially in the finance sector." The contract value of software outsourcing in Shanghai surged 40.5 percent annually in the first three quarters to US$1.4 billion, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce said.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/26/2012

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JAPAN: Public Appeal for Proposals on FY2012 “Project to Promote ICT Town Development”

From September 6 to October 9, 2012, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) will hold a public appeal for proposals on the “Project to Promote ICT Town Development” to realize an “ICT Smart Town” advance model shown in a report from the “Commission on ICT Town Development and Global Expansion.”

1.Outline of project

  (1) Subjects of public appeal

  Private corporations (corporations or non-profit organizations established based on acts), local public bodies, incorporated administrative agencies, universities, colleges of technology, etc, or consortiums made thereof

  (2) Outline of project

  This project is to carry out an experimental project for verifying new town development utilizing ICT on an entrustment basis with a view to realizing an “ICT smart town” advance model shown in the report from the “Commission on ICT Town Development and Global Expansion.”  

2.Submission method of proposals

  (1) Deadline for submission

  October 9 (Tue), 2012, PM5:00 (must arrive by this time) (Submissions by mail must also arrive by this date)

  (2) Method of submission of proposals

  Please create a written proposal in accordance with the guidelines for public appeal and the guidelines for creation of written proposals, and bring it to the counter of the following division by hand or send it by mail.

3.Selection of candidate trustees

  The MIC will select candidate trustees based on the results of assessments made by external experts, etc.

4.Future schedule

  The rough schedule is as follows. However, it may subject to change due to such as the state of affairs in selection of candidate trustees.

  Late October, 2012: Implementation of external assessments and selection of candidate trustees

  November 2012: Consultations on terms and conditions of contract and conclusion of contract of entrustment

  From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 09/06/2012

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Approval of Business Restructuring Plans Based on the Act on Special Measures for Industrial Revitalization and Innovation of Industrial Activities

On September 12, 2012, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) approved the “business restructuring plans” applied by Nippon Television Network Corporation (Representative Director, President: Yoshio Okubo), BS Nippon Corporation (Representative Director, President: Koichi Akaza), and CS Nippon Corporation (Representative Director, President: Akihiko Mutai), based on the provision of Article 5 of the Act on Special Measures for Industrial Revitalization and Innovation of Industrial Activities (Act No. 131 of 1999).

1.Outline of “business reconstruction plans”

  Nippon Television Network Corporation, BS Nippon Corporation and CS Nippon Corporation (hereinafter, “the applicants”) have decided to reorganize their business group and set Nippon Television Holdings, Inc as a certified broadcasting holding company as of October 1, 2012 with a view to improving their business efficiency.

  The applicants hope to have their tax rates for registration (registration and license tax) reduced as provided for in Article 80, Paragraph 1, Item (iii) of the Act on Special Measures Concerning Taxation (Act No. 26 of 1957), when the capital of Nippon Television Network Corporation is increased, after obtaining an approval according to the Act on Special Measures for Industrial Revitalization and Innovation of Industrial Activities.

2.Period for implementation of business restructuring

  Commencement: October 2012

  Completion: September 2015

From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 09/12/2012

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“Strategic International Collaborative R&D Promotion Project”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) will hold a public appeal for theses of R&D on information security, optical communications and radio communications that will be newly commenced from FY2013 under the “Strategic International Collaborative R&D Promotion Project” in cooperation with the European Commission as follows, and it is officially announced herein.

1.Outline

  The Strategic International Collaborative R&D Promotion Project is a project under which the MIC entrusts Japanese research institutions jointly implementing R&D with overseas research institutions, for the purpose of accelerating international standardization and practical use of achievements of R&D and contributing to further creation of innovation, strengthening of international competitiveness of Japan, improvement of safety and reliability of the people’s daily lives, society and economy, etc.

  This time, the MIC together with the European Commission, will hold a public appeal for proposals on theses of R&D on “information security,” “optical communications” and “radio communications” implemented jointly with European research institutions.

  The period and costs of R&D are as follows:

  - Period for R&D: Up to three fiscal years from FY2013

  - R&D costs: Up to 100 million yen per thesis in one fiscal year (including indirect costs)

2.Period of public appeal for proposals

  From October 2 (Tue) to November 29 (Thu), 2012, 5:00PM

3.Application method

  Before making an application, please confirm the guidelines for proposals of R&D theses and the guidelines for preparing written proposals.

  Please make an electric application by entering application information using the Cross-ministerial R&D Management System (e-Rad) (please complete all operations for application on e-Rad by November 29 (Thu), 2012, 5:00PM).

  At the same time as you make an electric application through e-Rad, you need to “submit a written proposal” to MIC. Please send a set of application items including a written proposal, a copy thereof and an electronic media (CD) in which the written proposal is stored, and a set of other necessary documents for proposal (for more detail, see the guidelines for preparing written proposals) to the Strategic International Collaborative R&D Promotion Project Secretariat, R&D Office, Technology Policy Division, Global ICT Strategy Bureau, MIC by hand or mail within the period for public appeal (they must arrive no later than November 29 (Thu), 2012, PM5:00).

  In the case where several institutions plan to jointly submit a written proposal, a representative research institution shall compile a written proposal and submit it to the MIC.

  From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 10/02/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: To Launch Free Public WiFi Nationwide

Free WiFi is now available in public service centres such as bus terminals, train stations, and airports, as well as regional cultural centres, libraries, athletics facilities, national public hospitals, welfare centres, and select tourist spots.Signboards bearing the Free Public Wifi logo will be strategically located in the said areas so as to inform citizens and tourists alike of the service.According to an official statement, the Wi-Fi networks were developed to prevent the overlap of wireless networks and allow convenient Internet access regardless of telecommunications service provider.A full directory of the locations of public Wi-Fi spots can be found at the websites of the KCC and the National Information Society Agency.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/2012

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Gov't Announces Plan to Evaluate Online, Mobile Games

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family says it will evaluate online and mobile games in line with the so-called "shutdown law” in an attempt to foster sound gaming habits among Korean youth.The ministry will base its assessment on seven questions to determine if a game can trigger addiction. A list of 21 questions will also be used to identify problematic teen behavior resulting from online game playing.All online and mobile games that can be played on cell phones, tablet computers and other devices will be evaluated. If the shutdown rule is deemed necessary for a game, it will be made unavailable to minors under age 16 from midnight on May 20th next year.Some of the evaluation questions focus on a game's reward system, the division of roles among players, and the addictive nature of its rules.The Korea Association of Game Industry is protesting the ministry's measure, saying the government is automatically assuming that online games are harmful. It added the shutdown is unrealistic as industry factors are not being taken into consideration.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/31/2012

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Fair Trade Commission Enforces Online Notification Policy

Online shopping websites in South Korea are now required to disclose the source and manufacturing date of some products from November 18th.The Fair Trade Commission said on Sunday that a policy that requires all online sellers to notify their customers of where and when their products were manufactured or sourced will be enforced from Sunday for 34 of the most sold items on the internet.With the enforcement of the policy, sellers of food products are required to place notifications of the manufacturing date, expiration date and nutritional information whereas sellers of clothing items must inform their customers where the products were manufactured and by whom.Distributors of electronics products must show whether the products were certified for safety and other precautions.Also, regardless of the item being sold, all internet sellers must inform customers of how the product will be shipped, how it can be returned as well as other sales policies.The Fair Trade Commission includes a requirement of all sellers to have this information on their websites in a clear manner so that all customers are aware of the policies.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/18/2012

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LAOS: To Introduce 4G Next Month

Laos will launch 4G LTE mobile service next month, said Thongsay Sanexaya, Director General of Lao Telecommunications Company (LTC). Sanexaya announced that the introduction to the 4G LTE is set to be launched during the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit to be held in Vientiane between Nov 5 and 6, 2012.  The 4G LTE network will facilitate delegates from 50 countries who will join the Summit. The 4G network will also be available citizen in Vientiane after the Summit and the LTC will expand the 4G coverage to other provinces scheduled to be finished by end of the year or latest early next year, he added.  After its launch, Laos will become the second country among the ten ASEAN member countries following Singapore to use 4G. The 4G network can provide five times faster download speeds of up to 100Mbps compared to 3G. The LTC uses 4G solution provided by Huawei.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/30/2012

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MALAYSIA: Launching Blueprint for Education System ICT Reform

Under the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 launched last week, Malaysia will equip 10,000 national schools nationwide with 4G Internet access and a virtual learning platform. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak unveiled the plan to embed ICT in teaching and learning for teachers, students, and parents through the expansion of 1BestariNet (Wi-Fi) programme to all schools. Also, the government will increase the number of ICT devices until the ratio of student-to-device reaches 10:1. He added that the ratio can continue to be lowered further subjected to the availability of funds and impact assessment. Between 1999 and 2010, Malaysian government has invested up to RM6 billion (US$ 1.97 billion) on the initiative ICT for education projects. Most of the funds went for additional computer labs especially to support the PPSMI scheme—the government’s education policy aimed at improving the proficiency in English among pupils at primary and secondary schools.

In the blueprint, the effective use of ICT is required to foster students to learn how to leverage ICT efficiently to scale up quality learning across the country. It will also further strengthen the foundation of ICT-enabled schools as well as introducing proven ICT solutions into the education system. The government will also pilot a distance-learning and self-paced learning before scaling up nationwide. Under shift 9 in the same blueprint, a system called School Examination Analysis System (SAPS)—an online system to monitor students’ progress, will be set up at some 500 trust schools as part of encouraging the partnership among parents, community and private sector to monitor learning performance of the students.

The government will also invest in ICT solutions for groups with specific needs such as rural schools, under-enrolled schools, and gifted students to enable cost-efficient access to high-quality teaching and learning resources. To evaluate significant potential investments in ICT schemes, the government will rely on evidence-based assessment by improving its Smart School Qualification Standards (SSQS)—the existing set of measurement tools. A ICT-driven solutions will be innovated after the government ensuring a strong foundation in ICT, and receiving clear evidence of the positive impact of its delivery.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/17/2012

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Malaysian State to Implement e-Procurement

The Government will be expanding the reach of eProcurement (ePorelehan) to the state of Sabah which will enable suppliers and vendors in the state to participate in online business transactions with the government. The ePorelehan (eP) system is an e-government application supervised by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and introduced in year 2000, to make it easier to undertake procurement matters electronically. It aims to provide a more efficient and effective procurement process as well as savings in the business of procurement such as through the eBidding module and bidding online. According to eP Unit Project Director, Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, the future plans would be to increase the number of eP and eP@Desa centres in Sabah to facilitate the suppliers to get services on the eP system wholly. He added that a total of 6,812 suppliers in Sabah are registered with the MOF including 3,502 Bumiputera-status companies, but only 51 per cent are eP-enabled, out of the total suppliers of 110,327 in Malaysia as of 30 September this year. He urged suppliers in Sabah to trade actively through the eP, as out of the 4,603 suppliers that are eP-enabled, only 1,119 suppliers or 26 per cent, have uploaded their catalogues into the eP system. “Through the use of the integrated eP system, government procurement can be done faster, correctly and with integrity,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/09/2012

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SINGAPORE: Passing First Personal Data Protection Bill

The Singapore Parliament passed the island’s first bill to protect consumer data on 15 October. The bill aims to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal data by private organisations, and will be implemented as law in January 2013. The bill provides for the creation of a Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), and a national Do-Not-Call Registry. The commission will be the country’s main data protection authority, and will be responsible for administering and enforcing the bill and promoting awareness of data protection in Singapore. Individuals can register their Singapore phone numbers on the Do-Not-Call registry to prohibit private organisations from contacting them for commercial reasons. If they still receive marketing calls or messages, they can lodge complaints with the PDPC, which is responsible for keeping and maintaining the registry.

Further, organisations must seek the consent of customers before collecting and storing their data, and inform the customer about the purpose of the data collection. They also have to ensure a comparable standard of protection for personal data if they’re transferring it outside Singapore, through measures such as contractual agreements. Companies found in violation of the rules can be fined up to S$1 million (US$820,000) for every data protection offense, and up to S$10,000 (US$8200) per customer complaint. Businesses will be given 18 months from implementation in January to comply with the rules. The Do-Not-Call Registry is expected to be set up in mid-2014. Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, introduced the bill in Parliament. “A data protection regime to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal data is necessary to address individuals’ growing concerns over the use of their personal data and to maintain individuals’ trust in organisations that manage data,” he said.

“A data protection law will also enhance Singapore’s competitiveness and strengthen our position as a trusted business hub. It will put Singapore on par with the growing list of countries that have enacted data protection laws and facilitate cross-border transfers of data.” The bill went through three rounds of public consultation conducted by the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. Some public feedback was incorporated into the rules. For example, unsolicited business-to-business commercial calls have been exempted from the rules after feedback from businesses.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/17/2012

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Singapore Pushes for Greater GIS Collaboration

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) signed an agreement yesterday that will push for greater collaboration on geospatial education, training and research and development.The partnership will enable both organisations to tap into each other’s expertise and resources in promoting the use of GIS in Singapore. As part of the agreement, SLA will also be awarding a SLA Geospatial Scholarship annually starting next year up to 2015 to deserving final year students in the Geospatial and Mobile Innovation specialization track under the Diploma in Information Technology Programme in NYP’s School of Information Technology (SIT). Furthermore, recipients of the scholarship will also have priority placement to complete their polytechnic industrial placement with the Geospatial Division in SLA. According to Mr Lai Poh Hing, Director of NYP’s SIT, the partnership with SLA will create interest and raise awareness for GIS among students. “The scholarship programme, in particular, will provide the recipients with opportunities to develop their full potential to venture into the geospatial industry,” he said. Meanwhile Mr Ng Siau Yong, Director of GeoSpatial Division, SLA, said that the partnership is crucial for Singapore to truly realise a spatially-enabled society. “We hope to groom geospatial professionals through this scholarship to support the geospatial industry growth in Singapore. This will allow Singapore to become an increasingly connected first world city supported by a vibrant geospatial ecosystem,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/08/2012

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THAILAND: Piloting a Smart CTV Project

Thailand’s ICT Ministry on August 29 launched a pilot project to install intellectual circuit TV (ICTV) to improve public safety in Bangkok’s most densely populated district. “Wi-Fi connected ICTV will keep a close eye on activity in the community while residents with internet access will play an important role to ensure safety of their neighbourhoods,” said ICT Minister Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap. Residents of Klong Toey district will be under an online security service provided by the ICT Ministry and CAT Telecom (CAT) under the Safe Community Project, one of the projects under the Smart Thailand Campaign to leverage the use of ICT to modernise the country. The ICTV to be installed in Klong Toey, will be equipped with high-definition digital cameras giving higher resolution than normal CCTV cameras, according to Kittisak Sriprasert, President of CAT. With its connection to the internet, the service can be used as a surveillance centre linked to a Geographic Information System (GIS) to improve future performance, Sriprasert added. CAT will also provide free Wi-Fi at the two largest public gathering locations in the district with a connection speed of at least 12/2Mbps, as part of the government’s free Wi-Fi programme. Klong Toey district is located at the heart of Bangkok, and well known for being the capital’s most populated low-income district. The ICTV project is expected to safeguard residents’ lives and property as well as helping to tackle crime and drug trafficking.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/31/2012

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Thailand to Spend US$30 Mil on More Free Wi-Fi Spots

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), Thailand is overseeing to grant THB 950 million (US$ 31 million) to support the ICT Ministry’s free Wi-Fi project. Takorn Tantasit, NBTC’s secretary-general said that the NBTC would consider allocating the funding to the MICT to roll out up to 150,000 new free Wi-Fi spots across the country for three years. Of the total budget, the funding will be divided into two parts. The first THB 50 million will be given to the MICT this year, and the remaining will be provided next year. After three years, the MICT will hand over the service to state owned telcos—TOT and CAT Telecom to manage. This move is a part of the MICT’s Smart Thailand plan to promote its existing free Wi-Fi service campaign to bridge digital divide and ensure equal telecom access across the country. The MICT already introduced up to 30,000 spots nationwide this year, and will continue to install another 250,000 spots in the future. The original plan is to increase the access to broadband network up to 80 per cent of the population by 2013.

Apart from receiving support from public organisations, the MICT also partnered with private telecom operator—Advance Info Service (AIS), and TRUE to launch free Wi-Fi service early this week. The existing 50,000 hot spots of AIS and its partner 3BB will be under the MICT’s free Wi-Fi service. People can register at www.ais.co.th/ictfreewifi. The number of “ICT Free Wi-Fi for Public by AIS’ hot spots will be increased to 60,000 by end of the year. Users can use free service provided by AIS and 3BB up to ten hours per month, with the download speed of 10 – 1000 Mbps. ‘ICT Free Wi-Fi by TRUE’ will also be available at 50,000 locations nationwide to start with. The MICT aims to expand the free hot spots by TRUE to over 300,000 locations across seventy seven provinces. Users can select ‘ICT Free Wi-Fi by True’ network and register to obtain username and password. They can use free service up to 30 minutes per day with the download speed of 2 Mbps. Users will need to re-register every three months.

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

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Thailand to Hold E-auctions for 1.69 Mil Tablets Deal

Thai government will purchase 1.69 million computer tablets for education via four lots of e-auction and open for both local and foreign companies to take part. Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana revealed last week that the government had decided to organise four e-auctions on the same day because the purchase involve a large number of devices. The government also encouraged both Thai and foreign companies to participate in the auctions. The purchase is for the nationwide roll out of the world’s largest education IT to give away tablets to every first grade students and seventh grade students under the government campaign promise of ‘One Tablet Per Child’ policy following this year’s distribution of nearly 900,000 units given to first graders nationwide. “Dividing the auction into four lots will encourage more companies to bid, making the auction more competitive and enabling the government to get the lowest price,” Thepkanjana said.

Using this year’s purchase of the tablets at THB 2,460 (US$ 82) as a reference price, the Education Minister expected to purchase at a lower price this time. Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) was tasked to draft a time frame for the procurement and ensure that the students would receive the device before the commencing of 2013 academic year. The OBEC Secretary General Chinnapatr Phummirat said that the tablets would be supplied to students from schools under the jurisdiction of the Education Ministry (MOE) and Interior Ministry (MOI) which involve schools under Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Pattaya City and etc. Of the 1.69 million units, the OBEC will buy up to 1.2 million units for schools under the MOE. “Of which 574,826 are for first graders, and 656,884 are for the seventh graders,” he said. The OBEC has been allocated THB 4.4 billion (US$ 143.35 million) to be used for the purchase as well as for operational expenses related to this project.

Of the total budget for 1.69 million devices, THB 933 million (US$ 30.4 million) is allocated from the MOI, THB 5.4 billion (US$ 175.9 million ) from the MOE, and THB 72 million (US$ 2.34 million )from other government agencies involving in this project. The OBEC also revealed the specification for the devices for both grades with an average price of THB 2,800 (US$ 91), which is higher than the previous purchase due to more requirement on the specification. The OBEC wants the tablets to come with both back and front camera to allow students to scan barcodes from educational materials. Also, it wants to increase RAM from 512MB to 1GB and the speed from 1.2GHz to 1.5GHz. The size of the screen shall remain the same (7 inches). The specification will still need to pass the public hearing procedures before launching it officially.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/21/2012

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VIETNAM: To Build National Database for Biodiversity

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is working together with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to build a national biodiversity database to improve the management of biodiversity and strengthen the implementation of the Biodiversity Law in Vietnam. The project will help Vietnam deal with the lack of a consistent system for collecting, storing and sharing information related to the conservation and sustainable development of the country’s biodiversity. Based from the project’s feasibility study, decision makers are unable to maximise the use of biodiversity related information as it is currently being shared in various government agencies in its raw and unreadable format. Thuy Nguyen Xuan, Director of the IT Centre at the Vietnam Administration Office, told FutureGov that the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014 with the budget of USD 3 million contributed by the Government of Japan. “The project will also look into proposing mechanisms on how relevant government agencies can cooperate on important management issues to facilitate a conducive environment for sharing data.” Thuy added that Nam Dinh province, which has prominent high-biodiversity areas, such as Xuan Thuy National Park and the surrounding wetlands will be the “demonstration province” to test the local system of the national biodiversity database.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/28/2012

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BANGLADESH: Planning New Investments in National E-Governance Framework

The Bangladesh government has approved a project involving Tk 2.81 billion to bring all the departments, agencies and associated organisations run by the ministries under the e-governance system to introduce a state-of-the-art service delivery system. The implementation of the project titled “Development of National ICT Infra-Network for Bangladesh Government (BanglaGovNet) will start within a month to connect all government entities under a single network. The approval came at a meeting of the cabinet committee on public purchase with Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury in the chair. After the green signal from the cabinet committee on public purchase, South Korea-based SK C&C Company Ltd will be appointed as the consultant firm to start implementing the e-governance project. The meeting also approved another four procurement proposals of different ministries and divisions involving another Tk 10.97 billion, Nurul Karim, additional secretary of the Cabinet Division, told reporters after the meeting. The proposals include import of 200,000 tonnes urea fertiliser from China at a cost of Tk 7.43 billion, appointment of a consultant to build the new railway line between Ishardi and Pabna at a cost of Tk 1.55 billion, construction of the 20-storey DZP Tower in Dhaka Zilla Prashid premises at a cost of Tk 1.6 billion and appointment of a consultant for rehabilitation of water distribution network under Dhaka Water Supply Sector Development Project at a cost of Tk 197 million. The government earlier initiated a five-year project (April 2010-June 2014) titled ‘Development of National ICT Infra-Network for Bangladesh Government (BanglaGovNet)’ to connect all the government entities under a single network. Under the project, a central data centre (CDC) will be set up and be connected to offices of deputy commi-ssioners (DCs), Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) in all 64 districts.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/21/2012

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INDIA: e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project Formulated Under NeGP

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has formulated a project namely e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP), under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), for e-enablement of all the Panchayats which will make their functioning more efficient and transparent. Under the e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP), 11 Core Common Software applications are envisaged. These applications collectively constitute the Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES). Four of these applications namely PRIASoft, PlanPlus, National Panchayat Portal and Local Governance Directory have been rolled out and are in public domain. These can be accessed at http://Accountingonline.gov.in,http://planningonline.gov.in,http://panchayat.gov.in and http://panchayatdirectory.gov.in respectively. Six more applications namely Area Profiler, ServicePlus, Asset Directory, ActionSoft, Social Audit and Trainings Management were launched on 24th April, 2012 on the occasion of National Panchayat Day and are in the process of adoption by the States.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/01/2012

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KSITM e-Governance Projects

The Government of Kerala acknowledges the critical importance of Information Technology as an instrument for the state’s overall development and remains deeply committed to its dissemination, both as a crucial engine of economic growth and as a tool for increasing productivity, speed and transparency in governance. Kerala State Information Technology Mission (KSITM) is a Society registered under the Travancore Cochin Literary Scientific & Charitable Societies Registration Act (Act 12 of 1955). It is an autonomous nodal IT implementation agency for the Department of Information Technology, Government of Kerala, which provides managerial support to various initiatives of the department.

The state information infrastructure

The Kerala State IT mission has tried to cover all aspects of IT Infrastructure required for a seamless rollout of e-Governance initiatives viz. connectivity, data centres and citizen service centres. To host various e-Gov applications of the government safely and securely two State Data Centres have been established. As on date, more than 300 websites of various departments have been co-hosted and more than 350 servers, SAN, etc. of various Departments has been co-located at the State Data Centres. The Kerala State Wide Area Network (KSWAN) is one of the top SWANs in the country reaching out to the remotest field offices. This government network acts as the backbone for the states e-Governance applications. KSWAN was set up to serve as the backbone of the State Information Infrastructure (SII), connecting the NoCs at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode and extending to 14 districts and 152 blocks of the state. The network connects more than 2,500 offices of government departments through Wireless and an even larger number through Leased Lines.

Citizen service delivery frameworks

Once the infrastructure is in place the next critical factor for successful rollout of e-Governance is the service delivery frameworks. The state has successfully rolled out the e-district project in two of its districts and is all set for a state- wide rollout shortly. This will be a window for all G2C services for the citizens. The project focuses on the district level services. The State Services Delivery Gateway and Services Portal (SSDG) are being rolled out and this will create a middle layer between a unified citizen services portal and the departmental applications. One of the earliest attempts in citizen service delivery is the project called FRIENDS (Fast Reliable Instant Effective Network for  isbursement of Services).This is a single-window facility where citizens can deposit their bills and taxes without any hassle. This was later followed up with an entrepreneur-driven model called AKSHAYA, which is one of its kinds, and is considered a model worth emulating nationally and internationally.

Common applications for government

There are various initiatives like the e-procurement, SPARK (a government HRMS and payroll), IDEAS (file tracking system), Secretariat Workflow automation System, etc. which are common applications created for usage by all departments under government. The Government of Kerala has implemented the e-Government Procurement System to enhance transparency and efficiency in public procurement activities and monitor the same on a real-time basis. KSITM is the implementing agency for e-Procurement System across the state. NIC is the service provider. SPARK-Service and Payroll Administrative Repository for Kerala is an Integrated Personnel, Payroll and Accounts information system. This web based application has been implemented for all the employees in Kerala. The system has been developed with a view of catering to the administration, payroll and other accounts activities of government establishments. Every employee is allotted with a unique Permanent Employee Number (PEN) through the system.

Mobile governance

The state has pioneered the m-Gov initiatives in the country and today text-based and voice-based messages are supplementing the various e-Governance initiatives in departments. An encapsulated and comprehensive integrated Service Delivery Platform was created and integrated with the e-Governance infrastructure, for enabling m-Services of various departments in a “Plug and Play” fashion. The m-Governance Service Delivery Platform (SDP) includes the uniquely branded, easy-to-remember Short Code 537252 (KERALA). The citizen has to remember the spelling of Kerala and type it in non-QWERTY mobile keypad. This is the single touch point for availing many m-services from 90 state government departments. The three channels of mobile communication (voice, signalling and data) and a wide range of technologies (voice applications, applications using signalling channel and data service based applications) are being used for this purpose.Currently over 40 ‘PULL’ and also over 100 ‘PUSH’ based m-services are provided to the citizens.

Aadhaar enabled services

Kerala is targeting a 100 percent Aadhaar enrolment by the end of this financial year. The primary objective is to deliver government services through Aadhaar enabled systems.  In the first phase, the integration and service delivery is proposed to be rolled out in Welfare Boards. KSITM, as the nodal agency, has initiated necessary steps for digitalising the Welfare Board database, integrate this database with AADHAAR, remove duplicate, fake and ghost IDs in the Welfare Boards, and ensure that pensions and other welfare schemes reach the targeted beneficiaries through their bank accounts. Hon’ble Chief Minister has announced that this project will be rolled out by March 2013. Government is planning to utilise this service in the Rajiv Avas Yojana (RAY) schemes, PDS, NREGS, LPG subsidy, etc. For implementing AADHAAR based services in all these departments, the database of these departments are required for seeding the UIDAI number.

State resident data hub

The state is piloting a project for creating a citizen database linked to central UIDAI database. This would then act as a hub for citizen data  or all departmental applications.

Spatial data infrastructure

The Kerala government is trying to bring the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) to state level, by setting up a State Spatial Data Infrastructure, on the model of NSDI. This SDI shall act as a state level repository of spatial data, collected or acquired by various agencies.

Citizen’s Call Centre

The Citizen’s Call Centre (CCC) is a single window, IT enabled, facility of the government that enables citizens and government to interact effectively. Envisaged as a Government to Citizen (G2C) interface, the call centre enables the quick delivery of critical information, which is otherwise either inaccessible or difficult for the citizens to trace. The relevance of a government/public call centre is more important in the context of increased focus on e-Governance.

Departmental initiatives

Almost all the departments in Kerala are geared up for service delivery through the electronic system. There are pioneering efforts being made in terms of treasury computerisation, local self-government computerisation, education department related (exams and results) computerisation, motor vehicles departmental initiatives and commercial taxes automation, etc. All such initiatives have won accolades at various prestigious forums.

Motor vehicles enforcement automation project

To enhance road safety by ensuring that the rules and regulations mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, are strictly being adhered to by the drivers and vehicles on road this project was launched. If a citizen is found offending any rule like driving without license/ permit or breaking traffic rules, applicable penalty is enforced on the driver of the vehicle. The Enforcement Automation project enables the enforcement of road rules by means of automatic capture of traffic offences like red light violation, over speeding and wrong direction driving in addition to the 24X7 surveillance using “virtual loop” – Video Analytics solution with Automatic Number Plate Recognition and utilising mobile-wireless technologies, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies. Capacity building and inclusive development Kerala is at the forefront in providing relevant education to meet the needs and challenges of today. IIITM-K (Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala) launched a post-graduate Diploma in e-Governance (PGDeG) to fulfil its mission of producing leaders in the areas of science, technology, and management information. The state government is also looking at setting up IT in the Kottayam district under N-PPP Model.

SPEED-IT

In the context of promoting Kerala as an IT destination, availability of skilled manpower is very vital. The recent recessionary tendencies and associated job cuts and lay-offs have only accentuated the skill factor. At a time when the job market is facing a situation of supply exceeding demand (in terms of quantity), finding a job is all the more challenging in this situation of heightened competition. To address this, the Government of Kerala has introduced a new scheme called, Special Postgraduate Education Expansion Drive in IT (SPEED-IT) for post graduates and PhD holders. Implemented by the Kerala State IT Mission, the main objective of the SPEED-IT programme is to expand the existing base of post graduates in IT and IT related disciplines. Capacity building among government departments is the most important requirement for successful implementation of e-Gov programmes. Based on the recommendation of the Administrative Reforms Commission on promoting e-Gov, the state has proposed Capacity Building in the individual level by starting a Diploma/ Degree programme on e-Governance. In this regard, Institute of Management in Government (IMG) and Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management – Kerala (IIITM-K) decided to jointly conduct a Post Graduate Diploma in e-Governance. The objective of the course is to help the participants to understand how to manage e-Governance projects implemented in the state.The course is spread over two semester with a total duration of one year. The scheme shall be open to all government employees

Chief Minister’s Sutharya Keralam

Sutharya Keralam, the innovative initiative of the Government of Kerala, helps to bring the complaints and grievances of citizens directly to the notice of the Chief Minister, thereby ensuring transparency and efficiency in the functions of the Government. This is achieved through the automation of Chief Minister’s Grievance Redressal Cell and convergence of all the available forms of communication to redress the grievances of the citizens. Insight is a joint initiative of KSITM (Kerala State Information Technology Mission) and SPACE (Society for Promotion of Alternative Computing and Employment). Insight focusses on developing/making available accessible technology for the differently abled and strives to make it available to them at very low/zero costs. The screen reader software called ORCA is a perfect example of this, it is freely available as against its high proceed counterparts. The primary focus of Insight is to give training to the visually challenged in the accessible technologies available today. Any visually challenged person is free to walk in to the Insight Centre and get trained. Apart from trainings, he is also eligible to use the resources at the centre, which include, web browsing, listening to music, burning  Ds, etc. An audio magazine called Swaram is being released bimonthly for the benefit of the visually challenged. Swaram, the first of its kind in Kerala includes educational and informative content.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/10/2012

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Pan-India e-District Project Roll Out by 2016

New Delhi: All the 640 districts in the country would be covered under e-District Mission Mode Project by 2016, official sources said here.The project, estimated to cost Rs 1663.08 crore, proposes to deliver around 50 services on-line at the district level and its subordinate offices.e-District as a concept proposes integrated, seamless, and online delivery of citizen services at the district level through automation of workflow, backend digitization, integration and process redesign. The services have been shortlisted keeping the citizens needs as primary service objective.The major service categories include G2C services like issue of Certificates, Filing of RTI & Public Grievance, Request for new ration card etc. This project will also provide G2E/G services like revenue cases, Government dues and recovery etc.

Meanwhile, the Kerala State Information Technology Mission (KSITM), which launched the pilot projects in Pallakad and Kannur district, is working towards the state- wide roll out of e-District Kerala.Through KSITM, citizens can submit applications anytime for availing the required services. All certificates are issued through the e-District portal and it also includes the digital signature of the issuing officer.According to an official press release issued by the KSITM, “As many as 23 revenue certificates have been already made available online in the first phase. Nine other departments are preparing to roll out 43 citizen-centric services through the e-District portal.”The National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed the e-District application and in order to enable service delivery through e-District, the government has notified the Kerala Information Technology (Electronic Delivery of Services) Rules, 2010, under the Central IT Act, 2000.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/16/2012

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Rajasthan to Link 10 Key E-Gov Schemes to Aadhaar

The Rajasthan government has decided to link 10 key schemes to the Aadhaar unique identification programme as part of its larger thrust on e-Governance to ensure fast delivery of services with transparency and accountability. The 10-key schemes include old-age, widow and differently-abled pension schemes, rural job cards, ration cards, driving license, property registration, water and electricity connections, Indira Awas Yojna and student scholarships.“The use of information technology will bring transparency in work and stop corruption. Accordingly, Aadhaar enabled service delivery system would be implemented in a phased manner across the state,” Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said in a statement. Besides, the government has also decided to launch pilot projects to link the delivery of public distribution with Aadhaar cards in Dudu, Chomu and Shahpura tehsils of the state.To help implement these ambitious schemes, the Chief MInister has asked all state departments to spend three percent of their allotted budget on e-Governance, apart from establishing 750 posts to strengthen the Information Technology Department.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/19/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Mobile Operator Develops Strategy for LTE Network Introduction

Azerbaijani mobile operator Azerfon has developed a strategy for the introduction of the LTE network, Azerfon CEO Jurgen Peetz told reporters on Monday. Peetz said that unlike other players in the country's mobile market, Azerfon's main goal is the simultaneous launch of the network throughout the country. "Over the past few years we have done enormous work to upgrade our network. We have significantly increased the number of base stations and invested heavily in the development of the network. And I can say with certainty that all the base stations that support 3G network, will also support the LTE network," Peetz said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/28/2012

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Azerbaijani State Operator Prepares Project to Develop Broadband Internet

Aztelekom Production Association of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan has prepared the next phase of the development of broadband Internet for 2013-15 year, the PA said on Thursday. Optic lines with length of 514 kilometers were laid in 17 telecommunications nodes (TKN) of the PA through the efforts of seven private providers involved in the project in the frame of the first phase. Connecting lines in 12 of 17 telecommunications nodes of state operator are transferred to the optical line. Total of 1,700 kilometers of optic lines were laid since the realization of the project. Today, the number of broadband connections in the network of Aztelekom production association exceeds 102,000 units, more than double the figure at the beginning of the year. The volume of broadband internet services increased by 75 percent as of September. Revenues from broadband services amounted to 18.5 percent in the total income structure of the PA from the beginning of the year, which is 9.8 percent more compared to last year.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/18/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Government Tightens Internet Censorship

The Uzbek Cabinet of Ministers' information and analysis department has been granted new powers to tighten government control over information networks. A new wording of a statute on the information and analysis department for information systems and telecommunications, a special government unit, has extended its power to control information, including on the Internet, according to an anonymous source at the Uzbek Agency for Communications and Information (UzACI). The department, set up in September 2007, was tasked to help develop information and telecom technologies and provide information security to government agencies and major state-run enterprises. Five years later a government resolution granted new powers to this body to tighten control over the content on the Internet and mobile operators. The new wording of the statute acquired a new paragraph which point to the department's new role. 

"[It will conduct] systematic monitoring of the national information space and activities of the media, including modern information and telecom technologies, a satellite system, the Internet, other electronic means of delivering and spreading information, as well as print products." The revised document granted the department a function to "preserve the integrity of the national information space". This envisages powers to block websites and to ban foreign print media "threatening the integrity of the national information space", the source said. Local websites will be subject to stricter censorship as a separate paragraph of the statute provides for the department's involvement in "setting common requirements for information resources on the Internet". "The .uz zone will become even duller and more uniform as many controlling government agencies' efforts will inevitably lead to this. We can ironically suggest that the appearance of websites will also be regulated soon," the source said. He also drew attention to a new function "to increase the level of coordination between operators and providers and relevant government bodies".

"This was a justification for the UzACI's requirements set for mobile operators and Internet providers to switch off networks at the first demand of authorities," the source said. The Cabinet of Ministers' information and analysis department's new powers practically duplicate the powers of the UzACI's centre for monitoring the mass communication sphere and the presidential administration's information and analysis department. "These three structures practically duplicate one another. The only sense in such duplication, I think, is to make the information sieve as fine as possible and impassable for 'destructive' information," the source at UzACI said. However, he said, there is a fundamental difference between these three departments. "Government and presidential analysts act 'in the shadow' and a wider public will never hear about them, while our centre is a public and openly punitive organisation and prosecution experts testify against journalists on behalf of us," the source at UzACI said.

From http://www.uznews.net/ 09/18/2012

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Internet Growth Driven by Flexible Governance, Not Restrictive Regulation

Evidence shows that the current free model effectively promotes Internet growth and access in developing countries. A new report argues that any fundamental regulatory overhaul could halt such growth and find users cut off. Telecoms and media analyst group Analysys Mason has released a report that says recent proposals to regulate the global Internet will harm growth and innovation worldwide. The report assesses the current state of the Internet in under-served and developing regions worldwide, and provides recommendations for governments on developing an Internet ecosystem that imposes minimal restrictions on users. The report is called “Internet Global Growth: Lessons for the Future” and was written by Michael Kende, co-head of Regulation at Analysys Mason. It examines the impact of proposals that seek to apply the “antiquated settlement system for terminating international voice calls over the legacy telecommunications network to Internet traffic.” 

Kende says the proposals addressed in the paper are to the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), which are being readied for the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to be held in Dubai this December by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU). “The report highlights the Internet as a driver for growth and opportunity, noting its increasingly central role to consumers, businesses and governments alike,” says Kende. “The Internet has successfully evolved based on commercial considerations as opposed to regulatory dictates. “Content has transformed from largely text-based to multimedia delivery, global demand and usage has exploded, and access has moved toward wireless over wired. Significant investments must continue to occur in response to these patterns, as current projections show that the number of Internet users worldwide will increase from 2.2 billion today to 3.5 billion in 2020”. The report confirms the continuing increase in Internet deployment using mobile broadband throughout the entire world, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and that such investments are best achieved without internationally sanctioned regulatory intervention. 

Multimedia content requires high bandwidth and can be expensive to deliver, but up to 98 percent of Internet traffic now consists of content that can be stored on servers, such as streaming video or web pages. These servers can be located in multiple locations around the world, and then delivered to users faster and at lower cost. The result is a shift in usage patterns and global Internet traffic flows. For example, 70 percent of international Internet bandwidth originating in Africa went to the USA in 1999, but by 2011 this figure had dropped to less than 5 percent, as bandwidth shifted to Europe. Now, content is increasingly being stored on servers in Africa, where it can be accessed domestically or regionally. The report offers recommendations for governments in developing countries on cultivating a robust Internet ecosystem without imposing any form of accounting rates on the Internet. Specific suggestions include removing roadblocks to investment while stimulating demand, as well as full liberalisation of the sector while removing barriers to foreign investment and ownership.

From http://www.itwire.com 09/12/2012

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AUSTRALIA: State Delivers Electronic Medication Management Programme

Managing medication electronically is under the spotlight in the Australian State of New South Wales – with the government allocating US$170 million (AUD$170 million) on an ambitious medications management programme. This Electronic Medications Management System is part of a raft of e-health reforms being spearheaded by the State Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner and policy architects across the public healthcare network. During an interview with FutureGov Magazine, Minister Skinner said there is often a lack of clarity about the way medication is prescribed. There have been episodes – both public and unreported – where inadvertent accidents have occurred due to inappropriate medication, or lack of access to the right information. Minister Skinner said an integrated sharing of information remained crucial, especially as patients moved between personal physicians, clinicians, nurses and other healthcare providers within the system. “Medication error remains the single most common type of medical incident reported at hospitals,” she noted. “There are also cases of omissions or overdose that may or may not be reported.” 

The impact of “adverse drug events and medication errors” is being felt throughout the State’s public healthcare system. An independent study shows these oversights are costing public hospitals US$380 million (AUD$380 million) each year. These oversights stem from inadvertent errors and sometimes poorly-coordinated information between healthcare providers. The State’s Electronic Medications Management System seeks to significantly reduce errors, while improving patient safety and supporting a quality use of medicines. This initiative also supports informed decision-making, especially at the grassroots, Minister Skinner said. “It’s all about improving the quality and safety of activities involving the acquisition and use of medicines across NSW health services.” The problem is compounded because there are different settings within a state-run healthcare environment. Medication may be prescribed differently, or delivered at various times, and places to a patient. This medication may come in different permutations, and often from different sources, or prescribers. Additionally, consumers often source over-the-counter drugs that may not be reported to a treating clinician.

The healthcare sector needs a more integrated knowledge base about what is being prescribed, its effects, and overall monitoring regimes, Minister Skinner observed. A detailed review, rethink, planning and delivery of electronically-supported programmes will help plug existing information gaps. “We’re investing millions of dollars in healthcare,” Minister Skinner noted. “The patient’s interest is crucial. Electronic medication management offers an important step with building a complete picture of patients’ history.” New South Wales’ Electronic Medications Management System has featured several pilots and trials. Funding for this initiative was first announced in June 2011 – with a broader roll-out scheduled through to 2018. This initiative factors in medication safety policies and guidelines involving hospitals, clinicians, personal GPs, specialists and allied health professionals.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/22/2012

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Gov Revamps Laws to Fight Cyber-Crime

The Australian government is moving to track down cyber-criminals under proposed amendments to its key cyber-crime and telecommunications legislation. These amendments have passed the Australian Senate. When fully operational, changes will strengthen Australia’s cyber-crime and telco legislation, while improving cyber-crime fighting capabilities. Australia wants to tighten its cyber-security and related laws to complement international best-practice. Future changes will enable domestic agencies to access and share information to facilitate international investigations. The passage of cyber-crime legislation through the Australian Senate enables Australia to “accede” to the Council of Europe Convention on Cyber-crime, according to the Australian Government Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. This convention is the first international treaty on crimes committed via the Internet and other computer networks. It deals especially with computer-related fraud, child pornography and violations of network security.

Australia joins 34 other nations that are party to this convention. These signatories include the United States and Germany. Over 100 nations are using this convention to strengthen their legislation to combat the threat of cyber-crime. Among the global guidelines, this convention promotes a coordinated approach to cyber-crime – while requiring countries to criminalise computer-related offences. “Cyber-crime is a growing threat that touches all aspects of modern life,” Minister Roxon said. “It poses complex policy and law enforcement challenges, partly due to the transnational nature of the internet.” The change to current legislation is good news for fighting crime and will help make it easier for police to track down cyber-criminals around the world, Minister Roxon said. “In particular, this will help combat criminal offences relating to forgery, fraud, child pornography, and infringement of copyright and intellectual property.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/24/2012

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Aus Futuregov Summit Showcases ICT Reforms

The Australian industry’s flagship FutureGov Summit is off to a flying start – with top-tier government agencies and industry partners converging at this summit this month in the nation’s capital, Canberra. Senior government officials from Australia, Austria, New Zealand, the UK, USA, Denmark, and Bahrain are meeting at this summit – with a focus on 21st century ICT reforms at all levels of government. Over two information-packed days, senior executives, ICT solutions providers, and industry stakeholders will discuss, debate and deliver an action plan to make the most cost-effective use of technology in government. Among the highlights, Ann Steward, Government Chief Information Officer, Australian Government Information Management (AGIMO) will deliver a welcome address. A ministerial panel discussion, featuring Senator Kate Lundy, explores strategies to align governments’ ICT vision with operational work and structures. On the international front, the CIO for the Austrian Federal Government, Reinhard Posch, takes a futuristic look at the use of technology to streamline citizen services – while drawing on the experiences of the Austrian government.

Making “connected government” a reality comes up for discussion during an interactive discussion table led by the Denmark Ministry of Finance’s Head of International Cooperation, Yih-Jeou Wang. This discussion opens up debate about making the concept of “open government” a reality. This session looks beyond the technology to business outcomes that can be leveraged to create an open government environment. Simon Haston, Programme Manager for Shared Services, Improvement Service (UK), is offering insights about delivering anywhere, anytime services during an interactive discussion that focuses on mobile government. The emphasis on mobility in government – and the next new technology challenges – is also being discussed by Mike Nelson, a Digital Director with The Scottish Government, UK. Emerging trends for bring-your-own device (BYOD) and apps in a government environment are being highlighted by the Chief Information Security Officer for Napa County, Gary Coverdale (USA). This discussion weighs the pros and cons of BYOD technology for government users. Influential speakers, panel members and interactive discussion table leaders are drawn from across all levels of government. These officials are sharing the latest insights about emerging technologies, and the ROI these platforms deliver — while supporting governments of the future.

This dedicated summit is supported by the industry’s leading Australian and international solutions providers. These industry partners are sharing insights about the cost-effective use of technologies, more specific to government end-users. Platforms under the spotlight include cloud computing, information and cyber-security, mobile communications, unified communications, analytics, and digital information management.

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

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Government Sets Out Five Year Public Service IT Strategy

The Federal Department of Finance and Deregulation has released a five year ICT strategy for the Australian Public Service promising that it will position the Australian Government to use ICT in creative and innovative ways to deliver better, easier to use services to the public. A key intent of the strategy is to break down the departmental silos that presently hold government information and services used by the public and present these in ways that match how the public uses them. "The strategy is built on a vision that our interactions with people, businesses and the community will occur seamlessly as part of everyday life," it says. "People will easily access and automatically receive a range of services streamlined from across government and tailored to their individual needs and preferences." The strategy outlines a future "where interaction with government will occur seamlessly as part of people's everyday lives, where people and communities are connected and engaged to provide input to government policies and services, and where efficient government operations deliver faster and more targeted services."

It argues that, to date, government use of ICT has been largely agency-focused and says that, while the recent ICT Reform Program and coordinated ICT procurement arrangements have improved integration, cooperation and transparency, "Now it is time to take the next step towards greater productivity and more streamlined interaction within the APS and between government, people and business." The strategy identifies three 'priority action areas': delivering better services, improving the efficiency of government operations and engaging openly with all stakeholders. However the strategy is lacking information on any specific actions or measurable outcomes. Each priority action area has an associated " How we know we have succeeded" section but these indicators are, with one or two exceptions, spelt out only in general terms.

For example, the section devoted to open engagement list as the success measures:
- Government services and policies reflect the needs of local communities;
Government services span agencies, jurisdictions, and the community and private sector;
- Industry and research organisations actively contribute to the development of new services and policies;
- New services and policies are better informed;
- Published government data generates greater economic value.

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

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Queensland Gov Cleans Up ICT “Mess”

Red flags are being raised about the return-on-investment (ROI) for technology procurement in Queensland – with the Minister for Technology, Ros Bates, warning it may cost between $US3.7 billion (AUD$3.7 billion) to US$6 billion (AUD$6 billion) to clean up a “current mess.” Minister Bates has told a recent Queensland Government Estimates Committee Hearing that an interim ICT audit of ICT systems has “uncovered a mess of mismatched, miscellaneous and duplicated systems that in many cases have been patched beyond proper repair.” Minister Bates, a keynote speaker at the industry’s flagship FutureGov Forum, Queensland (Tuesday, 4th December 2012, Brisbane), said an interim audit showed that 17 per cent of technologies within the Queensland government are either on “extended support or are currently unsupported.” This audit uncovered, for example, that there were 128 case management systems, 190 financial management systems and 109 document and record management systems. The estimated cost of operating these systems alone is estimated at more than US$80 million (AUD$80 million) annually.

Concerns remain that about 10 per cent of the state government network is in poor technical condition. This has required urgent replacement at a cost of approximately US$196 million (AUD$196 million), Minister Bates said. Queensland’s latest ICT audit lays the groundwork for technology and communications procurement reforms in 2012-2013. Officials are seeking to cut back on duplication, and cost over-runs, while bridging the divide between procurement and government service delivery. During recent initiatives, incoming Premier, Campbell Newman (National Liberal Party), appointed Ray Stevens, as an Assistant Minister advising his administration on digital and open government reforms. The Premier weighed in behind “Open Data” initiatives – under moves to make data more readily accessible to citizens and the industry. He said the aim is to build up “Open Government,” at the same time, offering access to information collected across regions, in all kinds of formats, and for all kinds of reasons.

In the past, governments gave away land to stimulate economic development. “Now information is the new currency,” Premier Newman observed. During 2012-2013, the Queensland government has earmarked funding for wide-ranging projects. Among these, funding is being allocated for eHealth clinical systems and ICT infrastructure upgrades. Other projects include modernising agencies’ enterprise information management systems, rolling out a digital integrated traffic camera system, and offering top-up funds for a computer-aided dispatch system. ICT procurement comes under the spotlight at the FutureGov Forum Queensland, Tuesday 4th December 2012, Brisbane. Exclusive presentations feature Minister Ros Bates, Queensland GCIO, Professor Peter Grant, and Assistant Minister Ray Stevens.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 11/05/2012

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Aust Gov Drives High-Tech Transport Reforms

Facing a high rate of road fatality, the National Transport Commission (NTC) is driving the adoption of intelligent transport management systems – while supporting regulatory reforms to cut the national toll. The NTC is weighing in behind introducing nationwide Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) – noting this technology will cut Australia’s road toll by 25 per cent. Nick Dimopoulos, Chief Executive for the NTC, says C-ITS have the potential to revolutionise road safety. Research indicates a widespread introduction may save hundreds of lives. Road trauma in Australia accounts for almost 1,300 deaths each year. These fatalities annually cost the nation an estimated US$27 billion (AUD$27 billion). “With road trauma in Australia currently accounting for 1,300 deaths each year, this technology has the potential to provide a leap forward in road safety,” says Dimopoulos.

C-ITS are an emerging technology that enable vehicles and surrounding infrastructure to exchange information about the location, speed and direction of other road users and infrastructure also using C-ITS. Notifications are also relayed about changed traffic conditions such as a train approaching a railway crossing. Among its features, C-ITS technology enables different elements of a transport network, including vehicles and infrastructure, to exchange information using dedicated short range communication. This technology is supported by warning systems that are activated, alerting road users about potential collisions. In Australia, C-ITS is expected to be incorporated into new vehicles by manufacturers over the next three to five years, starting in the high-end car market. La Trobe University (Victoria) recently trialled C-ITS technology for rail level crossings, to warn cars of oncoming trains, at two locations in metropolitan and rural Victoria.

The trial was conducted in partnership with Public Transport Victoria and the Australian Automotive Co-operative Research Centre. Other Australian trials are in planning stages and will potentially incorporate heavy vehicles and ports. Active trials are also under-way in Europe and the US – with a large-scale trial being conducted on public roads in the State of Michigan. This trial involves nearly 3000 vehicles. In Australia, work on C-ITS technology is being driven by various State and Territory roads agencies. Australian-New Zealand association, Austroads, and the private sector are also involved, including several technology and automotive manufacturers. The NTC is an inter-governmental agency that is charged with improving the productivity, safety and environmental performance of Australia’s road, rail and inter-modal transport system.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 11/12/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Develop Broadband Product Disclosure Code

New Zealand’s Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams has announced that work will start on developing an industry regulation to “improve the transparency of broadband product information for consumers.” Ms Adams has asked the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to begin work on a regulation framework to include enhanced disclosure requirements for matters such as the total cost of a service, broadband speed, data caps and contract lengths. “As the ultra-fast broadband network is rolled out around the country, consumers will need a clear foundation on which to consider and compare broadband offerings,” said Ms Adams. “It is important that consumers are provided with accurate information about competing product offerings and are able to make informed choices. While my initial focus is on residential broadband services, I would anticipate that transparency in other communications services could be included in this work programme in due course.” Ms Adams welcomed the recent move by the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum to develop its own code of practice. “But I think the Forum’s code of practice should be developed in parallel with the development of the Government’s proposed regulatory framework.”

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

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Corporate Responsibility and Global Internet Governance

This December in Dubai, world governments will gather to renegotiate a key treaty under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency that specializes in global telecommunications. The meeting, known as the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), has been billed as a mortal threat to Internet freedom, a rare opportunity to fix inequitable flaws in the existing global economic framework for communications infrastructure, and all or none of the above. Although there is a real risk that authoritarian states will use this process to seek greater government control over the Internet, it would be a mistake to turn the WCIT into a referendum on UN involvement in Internet governance. The UN already plays a key role through the international human rights system, and by supporting discussion venues like the Internet Governance Forum. The problem is that the opaque ITU process, which is largely closed to civil society participation, presents opportunities for governments to pursue politically motivated policies at the expense of users and innovators alike.  Although companies and governments have legitimate reasons to cooperate on Internet policy, when this happens behind closed doors without adequate safeguards the human rights of users can be put at risk. The Global Network Initiative (GNI) was formed to develop standards and an accountability framework for information and communications technology (ICT) companies faced with government requests impacting free expression and privacy rights, and to strengthen efforts to work with governments to advance these rights globally.

Based on this experience, we offer the following recommendations for governments and other stakeholders to consider:
1.Embrace international human rights standards. They provide an objective baseline that is universally acknowledged, even if governments do not always live up to them.
2.Ensure multi-stakeholder collaboration. Pool the collective expertise of informed stakeholders and allow civil society to check company and government action that may infringe on rights.
3.Enhance transparency. Committing to a system of transparency with the public provides credibility and accountability.
Internet governance and policy is a complex subject that is unsuited to top-down, government-dominated structures. Taken together, human rights standards, multi-stakeholder collaboration, and transparency are necessary safeguards against increased government control of the Internet, and also offer practical opportunities to improve the existing system.

From http://globalnetworkinitiative.org/ 10/02/2012

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World e-Parliament Report 2012

The United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union have released the World e-Parliament Report 2012, which documents the efforts of legislatures to use information and communication technologies to support their functions. The Report is based on the Global Survey of ICT in Parliaments 2012 conducted by the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament Global Centre for ICT in Parliament between February and May 2012, to which 156 parliaments replied. The World e-Parliament Report 2012, prepared by the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, is the third in a series that began in 2008. The first edition established a baseline of how parliaments were using ICT to help them fulfil their responsibilities and to connect to their constituencies. The second edition, in 2010, built on that work to evaluate the progress accomplished by parliaments during the intervening two years in their efforts to use modern technologies to strengthen their institutional role. The present 2012 edition documents the efforts of legislatures to use information and communication technologies suggesting that, while many of the challenges to the effective use of ICT noted in the previous Reports are still present, there has been limited but nevertheless important progress in the state of e-parliament in the past two years. The Report covers the following topics: Developments in ICT and parliaments since 2010; Communication and engagement with citizens; Achieving openness, transparency, and accountability through websites; Technology services for members; Management of parliamentary documentation; Libraries and research services; Human resources and technical infrastructure; ICT strategic planning and implementation for e-parliament; The state of e-parliament in 2012; Advances in international cooperation. In addition, the Report further provides a methodology that can serve as a tool for parliaments to improve their performance in key areas of e-Parliament. The World e-Parliament Report 2012 is available for download in English on the Global Centre website at http://www.ictparliament.org/WePReport2012. It will be available in French at the end of October.

From http://www.ictparliament.org/ 10/07/2012

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AFRICA: Ghana’s e-Government Project Yielding Benefits Already

Director-General of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), William Tevie has said Ghana’s e-government project has started yielding some benefits already by helping to decentralize government's salary budget accounting and revenue collection administration. He said just the first out of three phases of the e-government project is completed, but already, the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) of the Controller and Accountant General’s Department runs on it and it helps them to decentralize government budget and accounting administration by giving regional the budget offices access to the central data network back in Accra for real time reporting purposes. “What the regional budget offices receive and spend are all done online in real time, so the head office also knows what is happening in the regions in real time,” he said. Mr. Tevie said “Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) also uses the e-governance network to transport information online from districts to the regions and from regions to the national office. All this is done in real time, managed at the NITA data centre, where challenges found are also dealt with in real time.” He was speaking in an exclusive interview with Adom News Editor Nii Narku Dowuona on how far the various aspects of the e-government project have come, and when citizens can expect to start benefitting directly from the project. The NITA DG believes the e-government project has become even more relevant because lots of Ghanaians now have access to smart devices on the go and it has become even more incumbent on government to rise up to the occasion and meet citizens where they are.

 >Mr. Tevie said there is a lot going on to ensure that the major benefits of the project come on stream within the next two to three years, when government business is expected to change significantly because the wide-range of applicable aspects of the project such as e-Parliament, e-Justice, e-Executive, e-Immigration, e-Health, e-Education and others, would have been completed. “Government business will become more paperless, transparent and efficient, and government agencies, organizations and corporations will be able to provide information in real time and offer services to the public and to businesses through their online portals managed and coordinated at the national central data centre,” he said. Under the e-government project, all the three arms of government, and the institutions under them, are to be computerized and linked electronically at the national, regional and district levels. Other very important state agencies, organizations and corporations are also to be computerized to enable them interact with and serve individual citizens and private businesses electronically through their online portals. The mention of e-Parliament, e-Justice, and e-Executive only reflects the vision to computerize the Legislature (Parliament and Parliamentary Service), the Judiciary (courts and the Judicial Service) and the Executive (the Presidency, ministries, departments and agencies – MDAs –, as well as metropolitan/municipal, and district assemblies – MMDAs –). NITA was established by an Act of Parliament (NITA Act, Act 771, 2008) as the ICT Project Implementation arm of government, and it has since its inception built the foundational ICT architecture, working with some $40 million World Bank loan, $150 million Chinese EXIM Bank loan, including a $30 million concessionary bit, and recently another 37 million concessionary loan from the Danish Government.

NITA fed on government’s 30% shares in Vodafone and used part of the National Fibre Optic Backbone in the possession of Vodafone to build a Multiple Layer Switch and WIMAX networks to connect all MDAs at the national and regional levels in the first phase of the e-government project. The network is designed to reach districts and remote communities via several different means, including direct last mile fibre optic connectivity, high capacity microwave links, VSAT access over the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) VSAT network and leased terrestrial circuits from local telecoms and ISPs (internet service providers). This, according to the NITA DG, would enable the network to connect not just the district/municipal assemblies, but Hospitals, Schools, Police Stations, Post Offices, Agric Extension Service Offices, and any other public office or institution in all the towns that are within the coverage areas of the network. “We have earmarked 7,000 to 9,000 online portals for each of the 170 districts to ensure that in each district all the institutions like schools, police stations, post offices, and others would have their own online portals by which they can interact with other institutions, and through which citizens can also interact with those institutions,” he said. He said all the district capitals have already been provided with their online portals, and all the necessary equipment for the additional 7,000 to 9,000 portals have also been ordered, and sub-contractors have already been hired so the project will start from this month, September 2012. Mr. Tevie stated that the foundational infrastructure is largely completed and what is left now is to build on it and put on the applications that would make all of the huge investment fully beneficial to Ghanaians.

He said so far NITA has built 29 Base Stations across country - all connected; and 10 gigabit/sec ring in Accra connecting all MDAs, and three 4-gigabit/sec sub-rings connecting all of them (MDA’s) to all 10 regional offices in one network mesh. The NITA Boss said a new data centre has also been established at the President’s Office Annex, from where NITA monitors and coordinates activities on the system and does troubleshooting, adding that three more data centres are in the pipeline as government is building a seven-floor National Data Centre, out of which NITA alone would have three floors. “We have also established 10 online portals for selected government agencies on a pilot basis – the institutions include the AMA, FDB, DVLA, Ghana Tourist Board, Passport Office, Births and Deaths Registry and others, and we are in the process of establish an additional 100 online portals for other agencies to make them able to provide services online and have access to their data online in real time,” he said. He said under phase two, which started last month (August), all 170 districts assemblies would be linked via wireless connection with fibre going to all the districts. Mr. Tevie said NITA is also in the process of layering relevant applications on top of the infrastructures to allow easy interoperability. “We would also upgrade the WIMAX to LTE this year – which is faster and more efficient,” he said.

How Far On Applicable Aspects of E-Goverment Project 
Mr. Tevie also touched on what is being done to bring e-Parliament, e-services, e-justice, e-health, e-immigration and others on stream.
E-Justice/Court Computerization
He said consultants from US called Leading Associates have so far spent the last seven months looking at all the courts in Ghana and have come out with a request for proposals (RFP) so companies could bid for the establishment of pilot e-Justice courts. The e-Justice project is estimated at $22million.
E-Services
Mr. Tevie said so far the services offered by some 10 government agencies, including the Passport Office, Food and Drugs Board (FDB), Ghana Tourist Board, DVLA, AMA, Birth and Deaths Registry and others have been computerized, and they have each been given online portals where citizens could go and interact with those agencies, fill forms online and get things done for them. He said: “one hundred (100) new portals are to be completed this year for 100 more government institutions to make it easy for the public to access government information and get service from government agencies online.”
E-Parliament
Mr. Tevie said under phase one of the e-Parliament project, 270 laptops have already been given to Parliament for all MPs and 40 workers in the Parliamentary Service. He said under phase two of same, a Danish company (Danish Management Services) has developed the RFP for the e-Parliament project, so within the next one month, companies are expected to bid for the contract to computerize Parliament and develop applications that would make it possible for documents in Parliament to be online so MPs and other authorized persons could have access to those documents online. “And in real time, all the information from the floor of Parliament would be online,” he said, adding that the projects is expected to cost some $2 million.
E-Immigration
The NITA Director-General said the RFP for the $12 million e-Immigration project has also been completed, and 14 companies have submitted bids for the project, but they are yet to be shortlisted. He said the project would computerize immigration services at the entry points such as the airport, seaports and inland borders, and provide e-gates where frequent travelers could register with immigration online at the airport without having to go through an immigration officer. “It would also be the channel through which a database of who is going out and or coming into the country at any point in time is kept, such that at the Immigration Headquarters in Accra, it would be possible to see this in real time,” he said.
E-Health
On e-Health, Mr. Tevie said three hospitals, including Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital would be computerized ‘from head to toe’ at the cost of $5million – to ensure that all patients records in those hospitals would be computerized and be put online. He said that would then become the blueprint for e-Health applications to be provided for government hospitals across the country.
E-Policing
Mr. Tevie said e-Policing is also in the pipeline but in the long-term. He explained that with the GSM networks and NITAs Data Centres in place, it is now possible to have an effective e-Policing system, except that Ghana is yet to develop relevant applications for the police, and to install street cameras that can view all streets and capture lawlessness in real time. “We need 2,000 to 3,000 cameras in Accra alone to view all the streets in Accra – we also need to get hand-held data communication devices for the police to be able to transport information in real time to the central data centre - we need to develop applications for the police to make all that work – so that when arrests are made, the police can check the records of arrested persons in real time based on their bio-data.” Mr. Tevie said “we have not gotten to that point of the project yet but I am sure when we finish setting up all the other sectors that will also come into the picture.” Meanwhile, going forward, 120 new wireless stations would be provided under the $150 million Huawei Technologies contract.

From http://business.myjoyonline.com/ 09/06/2012

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Alcatel Pushes e-Government in Ghana’s Rural Regions

LAGOS: Ghana’s push for e-government in the country’s rural areas is getting a boost after Alcatel-Lucent and NITA with the Ghana ministry of communications agreed to expand links between government offices in the country. The goal is to develop local IT services and boost transparency as well as efficiency of government operations outside the capital, Accra. According to a press statement from Alcatel, the company is to develop and place a 600 kilometer fiber optic network to deliver high speed data connections between the central government and rural areas. It is the first of its kind in Ghana and the government hopes it can increase speed and connectivity to the rural villages in the country to spur investment and infrastructure development. Under the agreement with National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Alcatel-Lucent will also manage network operations of Ghana s entire e-government program for three years begin in November. Financing for the program is being assisted by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). “This advanced fiber-optic technology will enhance business efficiencies between central and regional government offices and maintain quality and reliability across a telephone service, email and other Internet-based e-services,” the statement continued. Director General of NITA William Tevie said that “By delivering a new network and data center, Alcatel-Lucent will enable us to streamline government processes between central and rural divisions and provide a consistent external view. This is an important step toward realizing the vision of giving our people access to a range of critical services how and when they need them.”

From http://www.bikyamasr.com/ 10/07/2012

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Rwanda: How e-Government Is Transforming Delivery of Services

In today's world, citizens are increasingly demanding for more convenient, responsive and accessible government services. Besides, they are also expecting more democratic and accountable government. E-government means different things to different people. Some observers have defined E-government in terms of specific actions: using a government office to receive information, applying for benefits through a web-site, or creating shared data bases for multiple agencies. Other observers have defined E-government in general terms. For instance they see E-government as 'automating the delivery of government services'. While perceptions of E-government vary widely, there is no doubt that E-government involves using information technology and especially the internet, to deliver government information, and in some cases, services to citizens, businesses and government agencies. E-government could in fact enable citizens to interact and receive services from government 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It should however be clear that E-government is itself a process, or a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. For Rwanda, e-government is still at a fairly infancy stage of its development and can only promise to evolve in due course. In Rwanda, Government is determined to ensure that its IT policy is implemented. To put the said IT to effectiveness however, there will be need for 'e-readiness' in terms of infrastructure, accessibility to the population at large and the effect of the legal and regulatory framework on ICT use.

 This is what Rwanda is attempting to do and it is by no means a simple challenge. To realize the fullest potential of e-Government requires transformation, a new paradigm for government service delivery centered on the application of technology. As Deloitte Touche Research, New York has revealed, 'e-Government is not just another way of doing things; it is a transformation on a scale that will fundamentally alter the way public services are delivered and managed. It does not have a fixed developmental time line; it is evolutionary'. Like most governments, the Rwanda government's path to e-Government has been evolutionary. Rwanda government's support for the e-Government programme is part of the ICT-led Socio-Economic Development Policy and Plan for Rwanda ( NICI-Plan ) toward achieving a knowledge-based economy as envisioned in the country's Vision 2020. E-Government strategy focuses on the evolution of existing systems and implementation of new ones in order to promote a variety of issues including portability, scalability and security. Other components include: Capacity development, electronic transaction legislation, security issues and access plus networking in the public sector and addressing minimum technology standards on systems, hardware and software. An Electronic Documentation Centre is in place at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) which was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The said centre is playing an role as part of the country's strategic plan for safe keeping and fast retrieval of vital documents and materials generated through the development of Rwanda.

 It is important to note that if many of the e-Government solutions often involve some conversions of paper documents into electronic ( digital format such as .doc or .pdf ) and their storage in information systems, many challenges will have to be addressed. For instance, how will access to the said documents be controlled? Who will be authorized to make changes to the said documents? What will be the mechanisms to ensure that data integrity of the documents is maintained during transmission? For new documents created in electronic format, what mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that they retain their authenticity and proof of origin? The list of questions may be long. Infrastructure has been put in place including laying down of fiber network across the city of Kigali, which started from Kacyiru, an outskirt of Kigali that is headquarters to a number of Government Ministries and Departments. The idea was to ensure that all ministries and Government Departments are connected by fiber. For the last six years Rwanda has had what it takes to deliver e-government services. While fiber is said to be expensive in the short run, it is critical infrastructure that will in the long run be an advantage to Rwanda's telecommunications industry. For instance having fiber optic is in favour of Rwanda as international calls are routed through Kigali on account of reliable infrastructure. Better and reliable services are already being offered including normal data service. Despite this impressive shift to IT, we will need to undergo a paradigm shift-a kind of process re-engineering. We will need to have products and services that match our vision. We will need to educate our people on the value of information. Information will have to be quantified and also ensure that there is security and safety of information. The user of the information must not feel worried about issues of safety and security. At the end of the day e-Government cannot be successfully implemented if the service providers are not able to use it. Given the way things are taking shape, there is little doubt that e-government in Rwanda will be a reality in the very near future.

From http://allafrica.com/ 10/02/2012

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Uganda: Government to Implement e-Government Master Plan

The National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) has completed the e-government master plan which it handed to the government through the ministry of ICT on Oct. 25. The report has details about how government plans to use ICT tools like computers and the internet among others to improve service delivery to the people. The report suggests that there will be solutions that will provide for central places where one can access all the information they need from government departments. “The common man will not need to move to different offices to look for the information they need. They will find it in a central place,” James Saaka, the executive director NITA-U said. Saaka added the government will provide the funds to support the whole e-government system which will have 25 projects including an Integrated Data Centre and the National Data Bank where government information can be kept and accessed. The ICT minister Ruhakana Rugunda, said they will carry out feasibility studies in November before actual implementation of the master plan. The master plan has been designed by officials from the South Korean government and NITA-U.

From http://www.independent.co.ug/ 10/30/2012

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ARAB STATES: UAE Among Emerging e-Government Leaders

In the United Nations’ 2012 e-Government Survey, the UAE is ranked among the emerging leaders group in e-Government development, ranking at 0.73 EGDI (e-Government Development Index), close behind the world’s top 20 leaders, topped by Republic of Korea with a 0.92 score. The UAE is thus joining the group of 25 emerging leaders for the first time, after developing at astonishing rates its electronic government services. “We had the biggest jump, from position 49 in 2010 to position 28 this year, according to the UN evaluation,” said Salem Al Shair, Deputy Director-General of e-Government and Information sector, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

From http://www.khaleejtimes.com/ 09/12/2012

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Dubai eGovernment Unveils Mobile ePayment Applications During GITEX to Facilitate Easy Access to Government Services

In line with its ‘Customers First’ strategy and its commitment to adopt the latest technologies in support of Dubai’s eTransformation, Dubai eGovernment has recently announced the launch of two new mobile applications to facilitate real-time ePayment services and allow easy access to all services provided by the Government of Dubai. This launch comes in conjunction with the 32nd GITEX Technology Week, being held from October 14 to 18, 2012, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC). The first application is designed to offer immediate ePayment services via mobile phones to facilitate access to information and online payment transactions of three main government services: Dubai Police fines, DEWA bills and RTA Salik account recharge. The second application covers Dubai Government services such as information, location and contact details of government authorities and departments, and also the filing of complaints or making suggestions online. In addition, the public will be able to stay up-to-date with the latest news on Dubai and government authorities, as well as the various events taking place in the emirate, while also being able to access a database of information on more than 1,600 exciting landmarks in and around Dubai. These applications make available a mixture of the latest events, news, radio programmes and TV shows, providing users with comprehensive information on the wide range of e-services offered by local government authorities via the Dubai Government Portal (dubai.uae). H.E. Ahmed Bin Humaidan, Director General of Dubai eGovernment, said: “These new applications are of immense importance as they represent an effective, highly-advanced mobile channel enabling users-on-the-go to access our electronic services anytime, anywhere.Dubai eGovernment has ensured that these applications are in sync with the Dubai Government Portal, as well as with Dubai government eServices.”

Bin Humaidan further added that the Department has designed these services to bring in highly efficient, reliable and user-friendly mobile ePayment services, and increase public awareness about Dubai eGovernment’s eServices and channels aiming to ease the lives of citizens, residents, businesses and visitors by offering easy and simple payment methods and information. “These two applications will contribute to the increasing popularity of government eServices, thus complementing the imminent digital transformation in Dubai. We are confident that the new ePayment application will help extend our online customer base. Moreover, Dubai eGovernment is looking forward to leverage these advanced mobile applications during this year’s edition of GITEX Technology Week, introducing the latest, most sophisticated technologies to the public, such as iPhone applications which are widely used in Dubai and the UAE. The two new applications contain a simple, touch-screen-friendly interface in both Arabic and English languages. We are also planning to launch more innovative applications for mobile users in the near future,” concluded Bin Humaidan.

From http://www.albawaba.com/ 10/16/2012

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UAE Paves Way for eTransformation

Dubai: The UAE is investing heavily in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as part of an eTransformation initiative which authorities aim to implement at the federal level by 2014, Salem Khamis Al Shair Al Suwaidi, deputy director general of the Emirates eGovernment said. “The government has succeeded in paving the way for the eTransformation by setting up an advanced electronic infrastructure and providing appropriate legal basis across the emirates depending on a strategic framework consisting of three dimensions — eServices, eReadiness and ICT environment,” said Al Suwaidi as the UAE prepares to celebrate its 41st National Day on December 2. According to the approved Federal Strategy 2014, the number of Emirates eGovernment services on offer will increase from 500 to 1,000 by the first half of 2013. “This is a major milestone in the process of eTransformation of the federal government and to enhance the eServices across the UAE,” Al Suwaidi said. He added that the ultimate objective of the Emirates eGovernment initiative is to provide the government services through innovative channels in a time- and cost- effective manner. This will raise the UAE’s profile globally in terms of innovation at the government level while improving lives of its people by delivering the best eServices, he said. While the UAE’s eGovernment achievements have been quite remarkable since its inception in 2011 under the umbrella of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, Al Suwaidi remarked: “When we talk about the UAE’s eTransformation journey, we have to mention that the federal eGovernment project in the UAE started in the year 2001 when the Ministry of Finance launched eDirham — the first eService that facilitated the electronic payment for accessing the federal government services.”

Since then, many entities at the federal and local levels have launched several eServices that are proving to be time- and cost- efficient for the end users as well as the government, he said. The official portals of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah have been streamlined to bring the services and information of the respective government entities under one umbrella with the aim of providing quick and easy access to users. The portals offer many interactive and transactional services such as bill payments, licence renewals and so on. In addition, the Abu Dhabi and Dubai government portals offer information and advice to residents, businesses and visitors on a range of issues. Al Suwaidi said that the latest United Nation Survey 2012 about eGovernment initiatives proved the unprecedented success the UAE had achieved in terms of eTransforamtion. Based on human capital, telecommunication infrastructure and eParticipation, the UAE ranked seven on the online service index, from 99th position in 2010. It had also improved its ranking to 28 on the eGvernment development index from 49 in 2010. In eParticipation, the UAE has leaped to 6 from 86 in the 2010 report. “We are developing and customising our services according to 90 criteria to meet the international standard and to make the life of our customers easier,” Al Suwaidi said. “The country has managed to develop a good ICT-related infrastructure and a favourable framework for business and innovation that result in fairly good innovation in the form of new products, services and new organisational models.” A new initiative is also in the pipeline to act as a single window to access different federal and local government eServices, Al Suwaidi said. He added that the Emirates eGovernment portal represents a channel to facilitate communication between customers and government representatives through an eParticipation approach that involved forums, blogs, surveys, polls and links to UAE eGovernment social media accounts. Moreover, The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) recently launched a weekly TV programme to introduce the UAE government’s online services to the public. The programme titled ‘I Am Connected’ features eService options offered across the federal entities and explains how people can access and benefit from them. The programme will officially air in January on 15 television channels across the GCC.

From http://gulfnews.com/ 11/04/2012

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Saudi Arabia to Enter the Age of e-Government

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s current e-Government programme, Yesser, includes 30 initiatives to be executed in the first two years of the Second National Action Plan. With their own plan and budget, each initiative has a special implication for the Saudi Arabian ICT authorities. The specifics of the initiatives will be explored during the 3rd Annual Kingdom e-Government Summit to be held on Sept. 25-26 in Riyadh. The event will feature a variety of strategic keynote addresses, workshops and panel discussions, including those of Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Mulhem, Assistant Deputy Minister for Planning and CIO of Ministry of Culture and Information, Bla? Golob, Founding Director for the Centre for e-Governance Development for South East Europe, and Yousef Alohali, Associate Professor and former Dean of e-Transactions and Communications, King Saud University. Suhail Al Almaee, Director of the Strategic Planning and Support Initiatives of Yesser, will deliver the keynote speech. “Yesser’s participation means the summit is a perfect platform for the implementation of the Second National e-Government Action Plan. It is bringing together decisions makers from government agencies and international solution providers to implement Yesser‘s e-Government vision and strategic action plan for government agencies and its sectors,” said Fabien Faure, Managing Director of naseba, summit organizer.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 09/23/2012

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EUROPE: How Estonia Became a World Leader in Digital Governance

The Republic of Estonia recently took the e-government spotlight when it was ranked first in the world for Internet freedom. Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net study compared 47 countries based on barriers to Internet access, limits to content, and violations of citizen’s online rights. The United States was ranked second, while Iran followed Cuba and the People’s Republic of China at the bottom of the list. So how did Estonia, a former Soviet state with 1.3 million citizens, become a world leader in digital openness and e-services? Speaking at the recent launch of Amy Garmer’s new report on advancing the freedom to communicate in the Americas, Alec Ross, Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, explained the critical moment when Estonia gained its independence: In 1991, the per capita GDP in Belarus and Estonia were the roughly same. There were breadlines in Estonia and there were breadlines in Belarus. [Belarus] took a closed model and [Estonia] took a more open model in terms of its political development and the development of its communications there. Today, Estonia is flourishing, it's wealthy, and it's helping to lead Europe. And Belarus is Belarus. Estonia today is a fully wired country with a host of online services including e-health, e-education, and e-voting, as well as a profound commitment to government openness, that stands in stark contrast to its Soviet past. At this year’s Forum on Communications and Society, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves discussed how his country developed one of the most advanced e-governments in the world and fostered a true digital society. Estonia produces more tech start-ups per capita than any other European country. Ilves, born to Estonian refugees and raised and educated in the United States, says that a number of factors came into play. One factor was Estonia’s opportunity to toss out “legacy technology” following its independence and simply “do nothing the way it was done before”. Also important, Ilves says, was a legislative consensus and commitment to building an open and electronic society essentially from scratch. According to Ilves, societies need to “think of legislation as part of the software package.” In order for e-services to function, Estonia first needed to pass digital signature laws, determine privacy protections, and roll out national ID cards for citizens. Many of these prerequisites, Ilves said, are a major challenge in other nations where citizens and lawmakers have strong privacy concerns and cultural traditions resistant to implementing e-health. Here are some highlights from President Ilves’ introductory remarks, explaining how his country overcame these hurdles and developed a digital society committed to privacy and an open and transparent government.

From http://www.aspeninstitute.org/ 10/30/2012

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Greece: Key Policy Measures in the Field of eGovernment

On 16 October 2012, during the 14th annual conference ‘Greek ICT Forum’, the Deputy Minister of the Public Administrative Reform and eGovernment, Manousos Voloudakis, presented some of the Ministry’s key policy steps in the field of eGovernment. More specifically, the Ministry is currently in the process of implementing its policy based on both:
•the maximum use of Government’s existing resources (i.e. the available software, the equipment and the institutional framework), and
•the review - in more realistic terms - of the operational programme ‘Administrative Reform’ and the possibility it creates to finance new eGovernment projects.

The Minister pointed out three examples in which this approach has been implemented in practice:
•The exclusive internal electronic dissemination of documents within the Ministry of Administrative Reform and eGovernance. This policy was implemented in September 2012, without additional expenses. The aim is to gradually implement this policy in all ministries by the end of June 2013.
•The simplification of the current structures by setting up a three-member Coordination Committee for Electronic Governance, which, in cooperation with all ministries, will coordinate the specific actions at national level.
•The review of the operational programme ‘Administrative Reform’ has as its main objective to maintain all of its major projects and/or national resources.

Concluding, Mr Voloudakis described the practical steps of the upcoming actions regarding the project design for supporting the expansion of the electronic distribution of documents across the public administration. He also talked about enabling citizens to use digital signatures (optional), starting from those who use electronic public services systematically, such as lawyers, engineers and accountants/tax specialists, in collaboration with the Bar Associations of the country, the Technical Chamber and the Economic Chamber of Greece.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 11/14/2012

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e-Voting in Lithuania

Today’s Internet and information technologies cannot give a 100 percent guarantee that online votes would be protected from any kind of attack, said Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius on Sept. 27, reports ELTA. On the other hand, Kubilius said e-voting development could have been started from Lithuanian citizens residing abroad. The PM suggests continuing discussions on the issue. On Sept. 25 Lithuania’s parliament decided to reject amendments to the laws on elections to the European Parliament, president, referendum and parliamentary elections which spoke about applying a new form of voting - voting online - granting the right of online voting to Lithuanian citizens abroad. A poll conducted by market research company Baltijos Tyrimai revealed that as many as three quarters of Lithuania’s residents are in favor of allowing online voting in Lithuania.

From http://www.baltictimes.com/ 10/07/2012

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Lithuania: Launch of an Updated Version of the eGovernment Gateway Epaslaugos.It

On 27 September 2012, the updated eGovernment gateway www.epaslaugos.lt was launched. The updated version of the portal has - among other things - a new look and structure, improved forms of online requests, improved service provision, and a service that monitors the implementation process. Users can take advantage of the service classification system, which can be found on the homepage of the portal. The classification of Internet users into groups - citizens, businesses, service providers - is expected to facilitate users’ searches, as the information they are interested in is gathered in one place. Users also enjoy the improved electronic services of the eGovernment portal, such as: the online declaration of residence, a change of residence, information about coming to live in Lithuania or leaving the country for more than six months. Additionally, users can find the necessary links to the services they need more easily and faster, thanks to the updated search engine. Furthermore, a new service has been added that gives users the opportunity to contact the service provider directly. After running in parallel with the old version for two weeks, the new version of the portal can now be accessed at: https://www.epaslaugos.lt/portal/.

From http://www.epractice.eu/ 10/31/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada - Stronger Local Government IT Needed for Big Data

Massaging big data could save cities a lot of money, say experts. But a report points out they don't have the infrastructure to do it. Gill Press argues in this piece contributed to Forbes that while local governments have had some success stories fighting crime with big data analysis, they have other priorities that take precedence. There are legacy systems to upgrade. There are storage systems to be enlarged. In all, the IT infrastructure for most governments isn't up to the challenge. I know, I know. The answer is: The Cloud. That's certainly not the answer in isolation. Perhaps a dedicated platform-as-a-service regime, where there's no chance of contamination by colocated customers, data residency rules can be observed and security is within the hands of public sector professionals, may be part of the answer. In short, don't expect too many government big data initiatives until a lot of other issues are dealt with.

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U.S.: Can the Cloud Really Keep a (Government) Secret?

The federal government has adopted a policy of moving as many agencies' IT activities as practical into the cloud, a policy that the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee -- at the risk of stating the obvious -- calls a paradigm shift. "As with any technology paradigm shift, issues such as how the new technologies are used, security, policy, and oversight must be considered when weighing the benefits of adopting the new paradigm," NSTAC wrote in its recent Report to the President on Cloud Computing. The central question addressed in the report, released in May, is can critical national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) processes be migrated safely to the cloud? The answer is yes, but with caveats. "Conceivably any NS/EP process, including the most sensitive matters, could be moved to ‘some kind of' cloud, given proper attention to architectural and security decisions," the committee concluded. That does not mean that every process should be moved to the cloud, of course. Agencies must decide what to move and what security controls they will need to have in place. The Federal Cloud Computing Strategy released in 2011 estimated that one quarter of federal IT spending, about $20 billion, could be migrated to the cloud. The NSTAC report helps identify likely candidates for cloud migration by ranking and prioritizing various mission-critical functions based on the relative benefits of the migration. Ultimately, each agency will have to decide its own comfort level in this migration, said Douglas Greise, a principal at the Veris Group, which has been accredited to assess the security of cloud service providers.

Whatever is being moved to the cloud, it will require additional effort and attention from the agency. "The goal is to reduce complexity and expense and to shut down where possible," Ken Ammon, chief strategy officer for Xceedium, said of the cloud initiative. But any major shift in operations will require testing and time for transitioning before legacy systems can be retired. So in the short run while things are in transition, the shift could mean increased complexity. That leaves the question of what constitutes adequate security controls? At one level, the answer is simple. Both NSTAC and service providers agree that the cloud requires the same safeguards as agencies are providing on their own systems. "The expectations of your cloud vendor shouldn't be any different from what you were hosting in your basement," said Francis Trentley, senior service line director for Akamai Public Sector and former CIO for White House Communications. At a practical level, determining appropriate security becomes much more complex. At the core of cloud security requirements for government are the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). FedRAMP is an effort to help both agencies and vendors by establishing a blanket certification and accreditation program that will ensure that cloud service providers meet the basic requirements of FISMA. With the potentially large number of operations that could be moved to the cloud, the certification and accreditation process could quickly become bogged down in unmanageable expense and complexity if done on an agency-by-agency, vendor-by-vendor basis.

NSTAC has published a separate 240-page appendix of security controls that agencies should consider when making cloud decisions. Few service providers can now meet the entire laundry list of requirements, but NSTAC is confident that they are achievable. "While not in place today, the needed ‘comparable' NS/EP-support regime of policy, legal, security and other considerations can be both defined and implemented," the authors wrote. Even though FedRAMP requirements provide only a baseline of security controls for cloud service providers, passing muster is not necessarily an easy task. It will demand significant time and resources for companies seeking authorization to provide government services. "The biggest hurdle is that it's a new program and expectations are not real clear," said Dave Svec, a principal at Veris Group. "There will have to be a lot of learning up front." Veris is among the first generation of companies accredited by the General Services Administration as a third-party assessment organization, or 3PAO, that will be certifying service providers for FedRAMP. It will interview company officials, examine documentation of security programs and controls, and perform onsite and remote testing of those controls. "It's an assessment of the current security status at one point in time," Veris Group's Greise said. As of this writing no providers have been certified. The FedRAMP program has achieved initial operating capability and still is in the process of ramping up.

The degree of difficulty in becoming certified will depend in part on how familiar companies are with the FISMA requirements underlying FedRAMP. If a company has experience in the government market, it is more likely to have a mature security model. "If they have been a strictly commercial business, they might not have a good understanding of FISMA requirements," Greise said and added that FedRAMP certification might be more difficult. Several service providers have begun the certification process, and although Veris warns that it could be a daunting challenge for small and even for mid- and large-size companies, it is expected that the first class of two to four providers will be certified by the end of the year. "We are going to be one of the first ones through the FedRAMP certification," Akamai's Trentley predicted. Akamai is a content delivery company that moves customers' public content to a global network of servers, bringing content closer to end users and removing much of the customer enterprise from the delivery process. It is in the certification process now and is taking advantage of the fact that it already is doing business with government. "They all use us," Trentley said referring to cabinet-level agencies. The company is leveraging the certifications and accreditations it already has received from individual agencies to pass FedRAMP. "We're going through it one more time for everybody," he said. From Akamai's point of view, the logical first candidates to be moved to the cloud are public content and services. As online delivery of services grows, these functions are important to agency missions. At the same time the information they contain, although it might sometimes be sensitive, is rarely classified and not critical to operations.

"Moving public targets to a public cloud makes sense," Trentley said. "Public-facing apps can live easily in the cloud with proper controls and management." Relying on a content delivery service can provide improved reliability and resiliency by putting content in a distributed system that can handle spikes in demand; also, it's more difficult to target with a denial of service attack and can help improve security for the rest of the enterprise by separating public from internal operations, Trentley said. "I can get the public off your infrastructure," he said. "That's a huge space you've made on your plate," freeing up resources for other security issues. FedRAMP authorization represents only a snapshot of the security status of a cloud environment, and agencies will have to maintain a process for monitoring conditions and activities within the cloud to ensure that security is maintained at the required level. This will require technology to monitor and log activities and transparency on the part of the provider to enable the agency to use this data. Ensuring ongoing security puts a premium on identity and access management to make it clear who is doing what on the system, and controlling what resources each person can access. For agencies, this should mean that systems support the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) card for civilian agencies and the Common Access Card (CAC) for Defense Department employees and contractors. "Passwords aren't going anywhere any time soon," said Xceedium's Ammon, the PIV and CAC cards should provide the required second authentication factor. Privileged control tools, such as those offered by Xceedium and other vendors, can help enable transparent access to a virtual environment for administrators and other managers while controlling access and logging activity. "That is a challenge for the cloud environment," Ammon said, referring to the need to continuously discover and monitor resources in a large number of virtual machines. Managing and tying credentials at the front end to a constantly changing virtual environment offers one more new element of complexity in the cloud.

From http://gcn.com/ 09/10/2012

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U.S.: E-Government for Undertakers

Oklahoma is taking the idea of cradle-to-grave government services to a new level. The state's Funeral Board recently released a new application allowing funeral directors and embalmers to renew their licenses online at www.okfuneral.com beginning Nov. 1. Much like online driver’s license renewal, the system will streamline and Web-enable processes for funeral directors and embalmers. The project is a collaboratiion between the Oklahoma Office of State Finance and Oklahoma Interactive, an arm of e-government firm NIC. “Implementing this system should provide a way to expedite the process for funeral directors and embalmers to renew their licenses with the state,” said Oklahoma Funeral Board Past President Jim Parks in a statement. “The new online license renewal process greatly reduces the amount of time required to administer the license renewal process.” During the next license renewal cycle, the Oklahoma Funeral Board expects most funeral board and embalmer licensees to renew online, which will save time when compared with the previously paper-intensive process. According to the press release, a typical online renewal takes about five minutes to complete, and licensees can print verification of the licensure renewal at the end of the process. In conjunction with their license renewal, a licensee will be able to enter and track continuing education credits, as well as update contact information. After the online renewal is complete and approved, the Oklahoma Funeral Board will update the applicant’s license record and issue a wallet card.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 09/13/2012

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Cities and Counties Try Facebook for Government

Steve Craig, the 311 director of Somerville, Mass., believes that social media is a handy delivery tool for city service — but it’s technically one that jurisdictions can do without. Somerville isn’t one of those jurisdictions, though. “I don’t think you absolutely need it to make a system work, but it just makes sense,” Craig said. “It’s something that there’s a high demand for, so I don’t see the reason someone would go down the path of 311 and not factor this into their overall plan.” Residents submit work orders through Somerville’s 311 Facebook page, a popular addition to other work order gateways like the city’s Web page, Twitter feed and call center. Evidence suggests that the investment has paid off. As of early September, the Facebook page had 5,248 likes, which Denise Taylor, Somerville’s new media manager, believes has contributed to a 15 percent reduction in calls to the 311 center. Used by 26 city departments, Facebook is the most popular social media platform with the Somerville government, and according to a 2010 NASCIO survey of 43 states, it is the most popular social media platform among state governments, too. The primary reason for going social? Citizen engagement. Countless governments nationwide use Facebook primarily for disseminating general information on public walls — it’s department-specific service delivery that’s unique. For Arkansas CIO Claire Bailey, who co-chaired NASCIO’s surveying group, it’s a general communication tool that lacks uniform adoption. “Everyone is embracing it, but maybe not in a standard way, whether you’re city, county or state,” she said. “In our own state, it’s more of a communication tool right now.” Despite this, however, Bailey said she feels Facebook’s best application for direct service delivery is in the 311 environment, just as Somerville is doing. “I think that’s where people are trying to use these tools to say, ‘I took a picture of this pothole. Can you fix it?’” she said.

A Service Delivery Network
On Somerville’s 311 Facebook page, citizens submit work orders, comments and suggestions in two ways. Option one is an in-line Web app that’s a simple contact form with fields for a person to type his or her name, email address, phone number and a detailed message about a municipal concern. The person clicks a button to send the message to the city and automatically receives an email confirmation. After that, it’s up to Somerville employees to investigate and resolve the issue. The second option is a download link to the iTunes page for Somerville’s free mobile 311 app. The app allows users to input the same information they do on the Facebook contact form, with a few key enhancements: They can attach a picture, select preloaded location information, and there are additional fields to type more specific information about the issue. Citizens also tweet concerns to the city through Twitter, but the exact method of 311 communication isn’t a huge factor for Somerville. “It doesn’t really make a difference to us either way. We’re happy to take it,” Craig said. “We do find that a lot of constituents find it easier because they’re busy. If they’re at work or on the bus or whatever they’re doing, it’s easier for them to pull up their Facebook page or Twitter account.” In San Francisco, the situation is similar. The city-county jurisdiction has a 311 Twitter account and a Facebook app for the public to submit service requests. It used open application programming interface technology to develop the Facebook app within the Open311 specification standard, and receives work orders through other Web apps that are integrated with Open311, including SeeClickFix and CitySourced.

But unlike Somerville, the Facebook app isn’t a hit with San Francisco citizens, according to Andy Maimoni, the city’s deputy 311 director. “We haven’t gotten a lot of requests from there because I don’t know that people go to Facebook to do that kind of stuff,” he said. Recent figures support his observations. In June, San Francisco only handled 182 cases through its Open311 channel out of more than 18,000 cases total. The government’s central 311 Facebook page had a mere 337 likes as of late August, compared to Somerville’s 5,246. Somerville’s in-line Facebook app alone has more than 44,000 likes, which is a substantial number for a city that had a population of 76,519 in 2010. The disparity between San Francisco and Somerville suggests that Facebook’s usefulness for 311 service delivery may not be uniform. Regardless, San Francisco government encourages departments to use the platform for individual purposes, and many oblige by posting general information on their walls. “We’ve distributed out the Facebook presence so people can specialize on what they are really interested in,” Maimoni said, noting that residents “friend” specific pages to receive information that’s tailored to them. “They’re getting the feed from the sites they’ve linked up to.” Still, some public employees don’t see Facebook as a mechanism for dynamic service delivery in many cases. “Most folks tell you that people don’t go to Facebook for apps,” Maimoni said, “they go for games.”

Reaching the People
Facebook comes with a bevy of features and functionality, but in Taylor’s opinion, government’s ultimate goal is simply better civic engagement, a realization she hopes jurisdictions remember when they go social. “‘Social’ is half of ‘social media,’ and I think sometimes it gets forgotten,” she said. “You can think of social media as sort of an online billboard, but just remember that you have this incredible potential for it to be a forum, a place for civic engagement as a community space.” Somerville government and its taxpayers certainly capitalized on Facebook’s two-way communication capability, and it proved a great help when Annie the dog went missing the night of July 12 in Winter Hill. The 3-year-old gray-and-white terrier’s pictures adorned Somerville 311’s Facebook page, with links to similar posts on the “Annie is Missing” page. City employees planned for the digital images to enhance the neighborhood search, where physical signs had been posted around the area. Stacy Landau, Annie’s owner, undoubtedly felt comforted by the support expressed on Somerville 311’s wall. People shared the original post 49 times on their own walls, and one commenter wrote, “Wishing you the best of luck, will keep my eyes peeled for this sweet looking pooch.” An unnamed resident found Annie weeks later, and 248 people liked an Aug. 1 post of a photo of Landau holding the dog. “Great news!” and other celebratory comments abounded. Taylor, who trains Somerville departments on social media deployment, said he feels that social media’s basic benefits can also be the most rewarding from a public service perspective: Residents post opinions on city projects and become more invested in community activities and meetings. “We have seen attendance at meetings increase significantly because of it,” she said. “We’re receiving volunteers [and] including commission members we weren’t reaching before.” Though social media is great for connecting with citizens, Arkansas’ Bailey said it may need to mature as a service delivery tool. However, she said 311 applications exemplify a type of government-to-citizen communication that could grow more sophisticated in time and spread to other types of services, independent of the platform. “I think that’s the evolutionary point for us.”

From http://www.govtech.com/ 09/26/2012

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What Makes the Best Government Website? 

Last month, Government Technology released its 16th annual “Best of the Web” survey of state and local government websites. A panel of analysts and current and former CIOs judged nearly 100 entrants on innovation, functionality and their impact on government efficiency. For the record, the top sites came from the state of Alabama; Orange County, Fla.; and the Louisville, Ky., Metro Government. But beyond the annual beauty contest, the survey offers a snapshot of the state of the art for public websites. So what can you learn from some of the best public-sector websites in the nation? Based on what’s offered by the winners and other highly ranked sites, here are some must-have features:

• Mobile friendliness: More and more website visitors are arriving via smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices -- and states will need to accommodate them. In California, for instance, more than 10 percent of all visitors to state government websites in August were mobile users. The percentage rises to nearly half of all users for some individual agency sites. To meet the demand, California and others are using a technique called responsive design, which automatically scales and reformats website content to fit smaller screen sizes. The state also launched an app store on its site, providing citizens a one-stop shop for all mobile apps created by state agencies.

• Location awareness: The best websites know your location and show you nearby offices or attractions. Mississippi’s homepage asks users to choose their location from a menu of metro areas within the state, and then allows them to map the location of nearby DMV offices, hospitals, state parks and post offices. California’s site uses location data from smartphones and tablets to automatically give mobile users information tailored to their location. Within a few clicks, the site showed state parks near my location. I could find fishing spots by county and even access a fish-stocking schedule to increase my odds of success.

• Live help: As states work to entice more citizens into receiving services online -- and as online services take on more complex tasks -- more website users will need a hand. States like Nebraska and Mississippi let users open a chat window and get help from a live representative. And the mobile version of the Alabama state portal helpfully offers users the option of texting state staff for assistance.

• Notification services: A growing number of state and local sites let residents subscribe to email or text-based reminders and alerts. Orange County, Fla., offers a free service that texts subscribers’ mobile devices with alerts for life-threatening weather, severe traffic disruptions, evacuations and other emergency events. The Louisville website combines location information with notification services to give users targeted reminders for activities or information they’re interested in. Residents plug in their address, and access information such as garbage pickup days and crime data. Integrated with the mapping features are sign-up options for alerts on roughly 400 city topics. The city boasts 90,000 digital subscribers to its notification service.

Although most of these ideas have been around for a few years, the top government websites are combining and presenting them in ways that rival some of the best commercial sites. You still have to cover the basics -- the top-rated sites also offered hundreds of online transactions, paid careful attention to site navigation and usability, and included rich links to social media -- but adding some of these other features might earn you bragging rights, and more important, the gratitude of your citizens.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 10/01/2012

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Smart Government IT Can Be a Catalyst for Change

If there is anything that helps define the work of federal CIOs, it might be the reality of cost efficiency. Today’s budget constraints can make the work all the more challenging because many agency IT infrastructures are sorely in need of updating. Consequently, CIOs must find creative ways to achieve greater economy and effectiveness and to integrate themselves into their agency’s mission objectives. IT might once have been just a back-office operation, but today it can be a vital tool for improving government operations overall — a view championed by Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel and the CIO Council. The cloud-first policy and the Digital Government Strategy both look to a future where IT can assist in goal-oriented decision-making by government executives and the citizens they serve. In this era of fiscal austerity, there are three important steps that could help federal CIOs and executives realize the power of IT to be a catalyst for agency change. Give CIOs more budget authority. CIOs need the authority to manage their own technology budgets and spearhead IT initiatives across the entire agency. This might require a broader definition of the CIO’s role — from a technology adviser and broker of IT services to a mission-enabling partner for operational managers. Today, a few CIOs have been propelled into this position as the result of a crisis, such as a mission failure due to an IT error or interruption in service. But CIOs are engaged to avoid critical system failures. Therefore, agencies hoping to secure their systems, integrate functions and achieve cost savings might need to use the services of their CIOs differently. Integrate IT more closely with mission functions. CIOs who see technology as an integral part of their agency’s mission functions can achieve greater budgetary and integration success.

During my tenure at the Justice Department, I understood that day-to-day IT functions and providing services to our 40 components constituted only one part of my job. Another part involved working directly with agency officials to understand the mission and provide insight into how IT could help them achieve that mission more efficiently and effectively, which gave me the opportunity to help shape key departmental budget priorities. Create an IT strategic plan. To date, Office of Management and Budget initiatives, such as the 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management, have created good policy building blocks for IT management. For smart government IT to become a reality, however, agency CIOs must champion the development of integrated, enterprisewide IT strategic plans that are tied to mission accomplishment. The reality is that yearly budget cycles are not always based on ground-up strategic planning. Today, a new or refreshed IT strategic plan might be completed every five years, but rarely does it represent a big-picture look at the new reality. Instead, such plans should be integrated with the department’s overall business strategy and incorporate specific details, including a cost/benefit analysis and projected budgeting. Changing the way we view IT can be the first step toward seizing the opportunity to build a smarter, more efficient and more cost-effective government. IT can be the springboard to smarter government, and CIOs can help by stimulating discussions on how best to accomplish agency missions while looking at multiple alternatives, including the effective use of technology.

From govtech.com 10/12/2012

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Virginia Launches Online Public Assistance System 

Virginians in need of public assistance can now file for benefits online from the comfort and privacy of home. The state launched CommonHelp, a self-service website that allows residents to apply for benefits, check on the status of applications or renew for assistance electronically. The system saves them the hassle of having to travel to a social services branch office to do paperwork and speeds the process of eligibility determination. Developed in tandem by Deloitte and Virginia technology and social services staff, the site went live earlier this month. CommonHelp took approximately 18 months to build and can be used by citizens to apply for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, child-care services, energy assistance, food assistance and some medical assistance. “Virginians can now apply for our services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from their homes, libraries, schools or anywhere the Internet is available to them,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Martin D. Brown in a statement. “For some of our most vulnerable citizens, including the disabled and seniors, online services will make it easier to screen and apply for assistance.” In an interview with Government Technology, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel said the change was necessary due to aging back-end processing systems and a huge uptick in the number of people applying for benefits the past few years.  Hazel explained that three years ago, approximately 600,000 people were enrolled in Medicaid. But with the difficulties brought on by the recession, that number is now roughly 960,000. In addition, eligibility determinations have skyrocketed, with more than 1.2 million being done last year for Medicaid and another 1.1 million for the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

But as the applications have increased, the budget for staffing, benefit eligibility determinations and other related tasks has not. Hazel said the situation has increased the amount of time customers have to wait for their eligibility to be verified and a backlog of work on staff that turns into error rates on applications. In 2009, the percentage of errors on a Medicaid eligibility application was 16 percent — pieces of information were missing, applications were incomplete, etc. That drove the decision to create CommonHelp. “We were faced with the thought that we had to have a more permanent solution to provide better access to citizens and reduce the eligibility application [error] rates,” Hazel said. “This ultimately is not simply about eligibility determinations,” he added. “It's about better case management and providing a higher quality service and being able to measure the results of the services we provide.” Deloitte's involvement in the project began years ago. The company was originally brought on by the Virginia Department of Social Services to build a website so that residents could apply online for child-care benefits. But as the Department of Health and Human Resources decided to integrate its siloed systems and transition to service-oriented architecture — a collection of Web services and technology components that can help connect disparate systems — the initial child-care project was expanded. Deloitte used the original technology it developed for a similar project in Michigan and adapted it to fit Virginia's needs.

Virginia staff was also a big part of the portal’s development. The language used on the website was vetted through test audiences to ensure words were understandable, and social service workers were consulted so that the system was intuitive even to users not familiar with computers. Early feedback has been promising. According to Hazel, Fairfax County went from a 21-day wait for determining eligibility of SNAP benefits to now in some cases a phone interview for that determination is made in the minutes following an application being submitted through the system. According to Melissa Perdue, assistant director of public affairs for the Virginia Department of Social Services, total development of CommonHelp has cost $10,779,739 as of Oct. 15. That amount includes the Deloitte contract, travel, staff time and training. The final amount for the project will be determined in early November, after outstanding closeout costs are tallied.

Future Plans
The CommonHelp website is just the public-facing portion of the project, however. The back-end eligibility enrollment system is also going to be replaced. Hazel said a vendor should be selected and ready to begin the work in November, with a target of having the system at least partially replaced and online by Oct. 1, 2013. Eligibility system replacements don't always go as planned, however. Texas recently completed its own project after an eight-year transition. In that case, Texas had to bring in Stanley Stewart — who oversaw and guided Michigan's eligibility system replacement — in order to get the Texas effort back on track. Hazel said Virginia is already looking at its business processes and roles and getting that transitioned to computer code in anticipation of the project. He added that by doing the public website development first, the state Department of Health and Human Resources “learned an awful lot about managing a technology project” and had started the necessary preparatory work. In addition, Hazel revealed that long-term plans for the system include finding a way to make CommonHelp available to corrections facilities so that prisoners getting released have an easier time transitioning back into society. The state also hopes to connect CommonHelp to its Homeless Information Monitoring System and the Virginia Department of Veterans Services to help servicemen and their families.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 10/17/2012

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CHINA: Gov't Micro Blogs Accounts Up to 50,000

The first report on the operation of micro blogs run by ministry-level departments was released by Sina.com, a leading Chinese website. The government now has 50,000 micro blog accounts, according to the report released on Aug 23. Seventeen ministries and ministerial level organizations have accounts with Sina Weibo, China’s largest micro blog platform, operating 44 official micro blogs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has 11 micro blogs, the Ministry of Public Security seven and the Ministry of Health five. The Foreign Ministry’s Waijiao Xiaolingtong — Foreign Affairs Information — micro blog has attracted more than 2.8 million followers since it was registered in April last year. As of Monday, it had made more than 5,000 posts. Seeing itself as ‘the bridge between public and foreign affairs’, Waijiao Xiaolingtong aims for a relaxed, lively tone. “New media enriches the style of diplomatic language, enhances innovation in discourse and displays a close-to-the-people diplomatic manner. It is a manifestation of people-oriented diplomacy”, the micro blog’s operations director, Gong Yufeng, said at the Media Salon conference organized by Renmin.com last month. In addition to the online and offline interactive mode adopted by the Foreign Ministry, the report looked at other operational styles of ministry-level micro blogs. Among these were the micro-news releases of the Ministry of Commerce, and the up-to-date emergency information posts of the China Earthquake Administration. The report said that ministry-level micro blogs should focus on four aspects of planning and management. They should highlight the function of assisting politics and publishing professional and authoritative information to guide local government micro blogs. They should employ authoritative experts and reinforce the official position. They should take the nature of their followers into account and target specified professionals to reflect universal values. Finally, they should guide public opinion and use proper linguistic forms. Sina Weibo has become an important tool for the government, providing more effective communication and an interactive platform for the government and the public, the report said.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/28/2012

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China to Improve Soft Power with Cultural Sector Reform

BEIJING, Nov. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Developing and reforming the cultural industry, is a key focus of delegates at the Party Congress and the public. Representatives from various cultural agencies have held a joint press conference on the issue. They laid out specific targets and actions for cultural reforms and the strengthening of soft power. Culture and the arts are an important part of China’s soft power. The country began refining its cultural industry 10 years ago. In 2002 at the 16th Party Congress, non-profit cultural undertakings were separated from the commercial cultural industry. So how effective has this been? Zhao Shaohua, Chinese Vice Minister of Culture, said, "We have basically put in place a new performing arts system with companies as main players, supported by public institutions. Over 99.5 percent of more than 2000 the state-owned cultural institutions have completed their reform tasks. We have to increases the vitality of enterprises and continue to reform." So far, 580 printing houses, 3000 bookstores, and 850 film studios have made the switch to for-profit. And so have 99.5 percent of China’s arts troupes. By 2020, the cultural industry is expected to be a pillar industry of the national economy; another goal is increased international competitiveness. A senior party official says cultural entities need to stand on their own feet to develop.

Sun Zhijun, Deputy Director, CPC Central Committee Publicity Dept., said, "As for profit-oriented cultural entities, once they’ve been transformed into enterprises, they are no longer public institutions. They are independent market players that independently run their own companies and are responsible for their own profits and losses." Sun also says the basic role of cultural programs is to meet the cultural needs of the public. The free admission policy adopted in 2008 gives more people access to museums and galleries. This promotes a better sense of identity among Chinese. And encouraging creativity strengthens the country’s soft power. After more than 30 years of economic prosperity and social stability, China is playing more attention to its culture, heritage and arts. Generally speaking, the country faces a conflict between resources and development. So developing the cultural industry, which uses few sources but can generate greater profit, is a natural focus for economic transition.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 11/12/2012

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JAPAN: Official Announcement of “2011 Assessment of State of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) held an appeal for opinions on the“2011 Draft Assessment of State of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field” from July 18 to August 16, 2012, and made a decision on it based on the opinions submitted.

1.Background
The MIC has implemented the FY2011 Competition Assessment based on the “Basic Guidelines for Assessment of State of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field” and the “Operational Items in 2011 concerning Assessment of State of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field” and created the “2011 Draft Assessment of State of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field” based on advice from the members of the “Competition Assessment Advisory Board” held in July 11, 2012. An appeal for opinions was held from July 18 to August 16, 2012, in responses to which nine opinions were submitted. “The 2011 Assessment of State of Competition in the Telecommunications Business Field” has now been decided based on these opinions.

 2.Guidelines for public appeal for opinions
Appendix 1, Appendix 2 and Annex will be distributed for reading at the Telecommunications Policy Division, Telecommunications Business Department, Telecommunications Bureau, the MIC (Central Government Building No. 2, 10F) from September 7, 2012, and posted in the column of “press release” on the MIC website (http://www.soumu.go.jp) and the column of “public comments” on the e-government portal (e-Gov) (http://www.e-gov.go.jp).

  From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 09/07/2012

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Launch of Information Security Portal Site “Introduction to Security”

The National Police Agency (NPA), the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) have held the “Committee Meeting Collecting Government and Private Sector Opinions on Measures Preventing Unauthorized Access” (Public-Private Board) since June 2011. The Public-Private Board has now launched a portal site consolidating information on information security with a view to enhancing the Internet-user-friendliness.

1.Outline
The NPA, the MIC and the METI have held the “Committee Meeting Collecting Government and Private Sector Opinions on Preventive Measures against Unauthorized Access” (Public-Private Board) in collaboration with private business operators, etc. since June 2011. The Public-Private Board has compiled the “Action Plan for Preventive Measures against Unauthorized Access” in December 2011 and made efforts based on it. As a part of those efforts, the Public-Private Board now launches a portal site consolidating information on information security named “Introduction to Security” (http://www.ipa.go.jp/security/kokokara/) to enhance the Internet-user-friendliness.

 2.Characteristics of portal site
 1. Contents are posted by theme such as “When you underwent damage from unauthorized access,” “How to take preventive measures” and “Education and learning” so that users can easily access necessary information.
 2. Consideration is given to users who are not familiarized with information security by the use of movie contents and illustrations.
 3. On the top page, contents focusing mainly on new information are posted for each threat to information security such as “virus (malware),”“unauthorized access,” “targeted attack”, etc
 4. Countermeasures are posted for each case when users suffer damage from any cybercrime.
 5. Educational and learning contents are posted for each target such as “for junior high school and high school students,” “for small-and-medium-sized businesses,” etc.
 6. The latest statistical data, etc. publicized by related ministries and agencies, organizations and business operators related to information security is posted.

3.Content providers
National Police Agency, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, National Information Security Center, Information-technology Promotion Agency (IPA), National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center, Telecommunications Carriers Association, Japan Online Game Association, NPO Japan Network Security Association, Council of Anti-Phishing Japan, Content Evaluation and Monitoring Association, JCB Co., Ltd., Symantec Corporation, Trend Micro Incorporated., IBM Japan, Microsoft Corporation and McAfee Inc.

4.Future plans
Contents will be further enhanced by continuously posting the latest information.

  From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 09/19/2012

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Appeal for Opinions on Draft Report from the Mobile Communications System Subcommittee

The Mobile Communications System Subcommittee, Department on Information and Communications Technology, Information and Communications Council (Chief Investigator: Makoto Ando, Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology Graduate School of Science and Engineering) has compiled a draft report from the Subcommittee concerning the “technical requirements for introduction of next-generation high-speed wireless LAN.” From October 10 (Wed) to November 12 (Mon), 2012, an appeal for opinions will be held in accordance with the following guidelines.

1.Subject of appeal for opinions
Draft report from the Mobile Communications System Subcommittee, Department on Information and Communications Technology, Information and Communications Council

2.Outline
The Mobile Communications System Subcommittee, Department on Information and Communications Technology, Information and Communications Council has deliberated the “technical requirements for introduction of next-generation high-speed wireless LAN” since April 25 (Wed), 2012, and compiled the deliberation results so far.

“The draft report from the Mobile Communications System Subcommittee, Department on Information and Communications Technology, Information and Communications Council” will be posted in the column of “press release” on the MIC website (http://www.soumu.go.jp) and the column of “public comments” on the e-government portal (e-Gov) (http://www.e-gov.go.jp) and also distributed for reading at the counter of contact (Mobile Communications System Subcommittee Secretariat).

3.Deadlin
November 12 (Mon), 2012, 5:00PM

4.Points to remember in submitting opinions
With regard to written opinions submitted, opinions, names of persons who submitted opinions (in the case of corporations, their names), and information on other attributes may be announced officially later. Please be reminded that we are not able to provide any answer to each opinion.

From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 10/09/2012

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INDONESIA: To Spend US$11.5 Mil on Transport IT System

Indonesia’s Ministry of Transportation yesterday allocated IDR 110 billion (US$11.5 million) to the further development of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) programme, said Deputy Trasnportation Minister Bambang Susantono. “The ITS programme has been deployed in 22 cities in stage across Indonesia since four years ago,” he added. According to him, the new budget allocation is expected to help road commuters save thirty per cent of their transportation cost. The road users will be able to avoid being trapped in the middle of traffic congestion by accessing to real-time traffic information provided by ITS system and make an appropriate judgement or an efficient alternative road for their journey, he said. The ITS is the combination of transportation system integrated with Advanced Navigation System, Advanced Traffic Management System, Incident Management System, Electronic Toll Collection, and Advanced for Safe Driving. The system aims at improving the accessibility, efficiency and safety for land transportation including trains.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/2012

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CAMBODIA: Launching Telecoms Regulatory Body

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia officially launched the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) on Thursday in a bid to supervise the country's fast-growing telecoms sector, officials said. Speaking at the launching ceremony, So Khun, Minister of Posts and Telecoms, said the TRC will govern rules and regulations in the sector with authority over spectrum and fair price setting for telecoms operators. "This is a new achievement for the country in reforming telecoms sector," he said. "The regulatory body will help to build more confidence among investors." The TRC is authorized to inspect and supervise on techniques and administration on the construction, operation, distribution and use of networks and telecommunications as well as information technologies. At the event, Mao Chakrya, TRC's newly-appointed director general, vowed to strengthen existing laws and regulations, to formulate new rules and regulations to keep up with the development of sophisticated technologies and to ensure a fair and transparent atmosphere for telecommunications operators. Telecommunications witness a significant progress in recent years. According to the ministry's report, by June this year, the country's eight mobile phone operators have sold out 19.64 million SIM cards, exceeding the country's population of about 14.5 million. In terms of internet use, the kingdom has about 30 internet service providers serving 1.86 million customers.

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PHILIPPINES: To Improve Poverty Database

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is undertaking an ICT Systems enhancement project to better support the activities of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction. The National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are. It is a first of its kind in the Philippines, and makes available to National Government Agencies, Local Government Units, Non-Government Organizations and other stakeholders a socioeconomic database of poor households that can guide them in identifying beneficiaries of their social protection programs. Since the NHTS-PR is reliant on technology, the ICT enhancement project is set to equip the National Household Targeting Office with the necessary tools for data processing and management that will decrease the data processing time whilst maintaining data integrity.

Furthermore, the project will also address issues with regards to sharing of information as it will set to create a conducive environment that will facilitate easy sharing of information through data dashboards, maps, mobile processing and system to system integration with other government agencies. Vincent Leyson, Director of the National Household Targeting Office told FutureGov that the Php 315 million (USD 7 million) ICT enhancement project will include the installation of new hardware and software for the targeting system; capacity building for IT Officers; Use of Unified Multi-Purpose ID Card registration for the poor households and the digitisation of the household assessment forms. The Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID), in particular, is an initiative of the Philippine Government to standardise the identification process of individuals nationwide.

Leyson explained that the UMID is based on a smart card technology with embedded basic information, fingerprint, picture, and agency specific data of the individual identified in the card. “Giving UMID cards to the poor will ease the identification and verification process of the government so that they can focus on the delivery of social protection programs. The card can also be used as a mutually verifying ID for scholarships, subsidies and cash transfers as it has a Magnetic Stripe that can be used for ATM transactions.”  “Moreover, in our effort to espouse data integrity, we have on going, as well as lined up, validation activities for the year. We are also continuing the advocacy on the use of the NHTS-PR data among all concerned stakeholders. In addition, we are also strengthening the generation of feedback from our data users to get inputs for the planning of the next implementation of household assessment come 2013,” he concluded.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/29/2012

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Philippine Region to Use GIS to Monitor Social Devt Projects

After finding out irregularities in social development projects allotted to several provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), local officials together with its partner NGOs are taking their project monitoring and evaluation a notch further by leveraging quantum GIS. Quantum GIS is a free and open source desktop GIS application that provides users with data viewing, editing, and analysis capabilities. According to Darwin Rasul, Assistant Secretary at the ARMM’s Office of Special Concerns (OSC), local officials discovered awarded contracts for the construction of school buildings worth millions of pesos but was recently found out to be non-existent. “When you look at the project report, you can see the projects that have already been awarded and bid out, the mobilisation funds already released. But when you check on the ground there is nothing,” he said. By using Quantum GIS, local authorities will be able to improve their project monitoring efforts by geotagging projects to inform decision makers on what projects have been implemented, their exact location and how they are progressing. Rasul said that 11 OSC coordinators in the provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Lanao Del Sur and Maguindanao had undergone a five-day intensive training on how to fully maximise the software and to use cameras with GPS to geotag projects. He explained that with the system place, it will now make it easier to check whether the photos which the coordinators took on the ground matched data in the group’s database. “Once we discover something anomalous, then we report it to the governor for proper action,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/21/2012

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The Philippines Opens Govt Call Centre

Six government agencies collaborated to launch a government call centre dubbed as “Contact Center ng Bayan” (The Nation’s Call Centre), which aims to serve as a place where citizens can gain access to information and voice their queries, complaints, concerns and recommendations on various public services. The participating agencies are the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Civil Service Commission, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, National Computer Centre and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.  According to Civil Service Commission chairman Francisco Duque III, the contact centre is not only a tool to address the citizenry’s concerns but also a mechanism where the public can contribute to achieving quality public service. A contact centre can transform a citizen’s experience of interacting with the government by offering a simple and clear point of access for information. In addition, it eliminates the need for citizens to travel to the government agency for clarifications they may need on certain services. The contact centre can be reached by dialing 1-6565 using PLDT and Digital landlines within the Philippines, and is only available from Monday to Friday at 8 am to 5pm. Other contact channels such as email and SMS will be developed and implemented within the next three months.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/28/2012

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The Philippines, ITU Launches ICT Statistics Portal

The ICT Office of the Department of Science and Technology together with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) launched the Philippine ICT Statistics Portal (PHICTS ) which aims to supply needed ICT statistics on demand for policy makers, researchers and the general public. According to Louis Casambre, Executive Director of the ICT Office, the portal aims to provide linkages with statistics-gathering agencies in the country as well as international research bodies. Apart from providing numbers, graphs and matrices, the portal will serve as a platform to publish analytical reports to describe ICT development in the country. At present, data available on the PHICTS include residential broadband statistics, market statistics for voice, mobile and data and other ICT related data from sectors like e-Health, education, gender, telecommunications, cyberservices, e-commerce, Business Process Outsourcing, e-government and cybersecurity. The ICT Office is also collaborating with other government agencies such as the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the National Statistics Coordinating Board, National Telecommunications Commission, National Statistics Office and the University of the Philippines Information Technology Development Centre to build up the wealth and quality of data available in the portal. Based from a report by the Philippine Information Agency, the PHICTS portal will be maintained and updated as often as possible to give reliable and consistent data for its intended users.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/2012

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Govt Renews Wi-Tribe Telecoms’ Franchise

Filipino president Benigno S Aquino III has signed into law a new edict renewing wireless broadband provider Wi-Tribe Telecoms’ operating concession in the country for a further 25 years. Online news journal Tempo notes that in the same ceremony the president granted franchises to five other firms, namely: Reliance Broadcasting Unlimited Inc, Telecommunication Technology Solutions Inc, TV Maria Foundation Philippines Inc, Cultural Foundation of Davao del Sur Inc, and Nueva Vizcaya State University. Wi-Tribe Telecoms, a joint venture of San Miguel Corp (SMC) and Qatar Telecom, had its franchise amended on 21 September 2011 by Republic Act No.10183. Its operating franchise was set to expire in June 2014. Wi-Tribe Telecoms, formerly Liberty Broadcasting Network, is allowed to operate mobile and wireless telecoms systems and secure necessary permits from the National Telecommunications Commission.

From http://www.telegeography.com/ 10/02/2012

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The Philippines to Introduce New IT System for Customs

The Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Philippines will install a new Integrated Philippine Computer System (IPCS) to increase the agency’s efficiency and improve its workflow. The new system is designed to revamp the agency’s existing information technology system and address the recurring problem of computer network slowdown and downtime. The BOC’s Management Information System and Technology Group (MISTG) officer Jaime Taborda, who is in charge for system management, said that the IPCS will not only practically overhaul the agency’s Electronic to Mobile system (E2M), but once fully operated, it will feature additional features to accelerate transaction and provide a tighter controls. The MISTG is in the process of finalising Terms of Reference for the IPCS, and the preparation for the bidding of the same which is conducted by the procurement service office of the government.

Port of Batangas Deputy Collector for Assessment Celso Tugday said that the IPCS would help the BOC’s frontline officials in revenue collection and shipment monitoring and allow them to have a real time management over all cargo movement. “Providing us with advance information of cargoes will enable us to enforce more efficiently our revenue collection and anti-smuggling initiatives,” Tugday said. He also added that the new system will allow the port officials to prepare the necessary steps to meet the requirements of all incoming and outgoing shipments. The Port of Batangas with its high-tech facilities is used mainly by the country’s major auto dealers, and now it generates about PHP 1.53 billion (US$ 37.1 million) in revenues for the government each week.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/19/2012

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SINGAPORE: E-govt Services at No. 1

SINGAPORE: A landmark survey measuring the Web's use, utility and impact on people and nations saw Singapore placed overall just outside the top 10 - among 61 countries - despite the Republic ranking highly in terms of communications infrastructure, including boasting the fastest broadband speeds in the world. Singapore was also second, behind Sweden, when it comes to the Internet's political impact - which measured, among other things, how a government used the Web to inform and engage with citizens, and whether main political parties had websites and campaigned online. In economic and social terms, however, the survey findings suggest the Republic could go some way still in getting the most value out of the Web - Singapore placed 13th and 22nd, respectively. This, particularly as the Republic boasts the fastest broadband speeds and also ranks second in terms of communications infrastructure (how wide and affordable public access to communications is). The Web Index, which was released on Wednesday, was the brainchild of the World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee, and was funded in full by a US$1-million (S$1.24-million) grant from United States tech giant Google. It was computed using data from both institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank and World Economic Forum, as well as a questionnaire scored by professionals or experts in various fields in each country. 

The survey, which was released by Mr Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation, described Singapore's high ranking in terms of the Web's political impact as "perhaps most" surprising.. Singapore is also one of three countries with high per-capita income levels but are not among the Top 10 in making the Web work for its citizens - the others are Qatar (21) and Germany (16). The Index comprised three main segments, of which "impact" was the most heavily-weighted (60 per cent). The remaining 40 per cent was split between how far a country has expanded its communications infrastructure, and Web usage and content. To measure the Web's impact on a country politically, the foundation measured the extent of e-government services and whether these improved efficiency. It also looked at the extent that a government used the Web to provide information and engage with citizens, as well as whether main political parties had websites and campaigned for support online.  

Singapore scored highest among all the countries for the efficiency of its e-government services. The Web's importance as a political battleground was most apparent in Singapore, the United States and Sweden. For social impact, the survey looked at how much information and communication technologies (ICT) aided access to basic services, such as health, education and financial services. In this aspect, the Republic was pipped only by Sweden and Qatar. The survey also measured the usage of social networking sites - Iceland had the most wired population; Singapore placed ninth overall. What probably dragged the Republic to 13th place overall in terms of the Web's social impact was probably a question on how much distance-learning is used for the training of teachers. When it came to the Web's economic impact, Singapore also has lots of catching up to do.

Whether in terms of the number of Web-based businesses or the extent companies used the Internet for business, Singapore fell short of countries like Sweden and Switzerland. The Republic's impressive ICT infrastructure has also not translated to as many new organisational models, such as remote working and telecommuting, as Sweden and the United Kingdom. National University of Singapore communications and new media lecturer Alfred Siew put this down to a "human resource problem". "Many of the companies here are really plugged in and employees can actually work from home but managers still prefer to see their workers in the office," he said. The prominent technology blogger also agreed that Singapore companies were "not as advanced" as those in other countries in terms of having a web presence. "Many mom and pop shops or SMEs think 'I do not need a website' because they don't think it brings them business. We could probably do more but it requires a mindset change," said Mr Siew.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/08/2012

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THAILAND: To Reform Justice System with IT

Justice Ministry’s Department of Legal Execution (LED), Thailand on October 27, announced the projects to transform its operation and services to citizen with new technology. In collaboration with Electronic Government Agency (EGA), the LED will deploy G-Cloud, Government Information Network (GIN), and Government e-Portal to enhance its existing system and operation. “G-Cloud will help improve our network’s security as the EGA will monitor our log file 24/7 for any suspicious access,” said LED Director General Prof Wisit Wisitsora-at. He added that using GIN will help the LED to reduce server and network cost while improving its efficiency in connecting with other stakeholders within the government through this network. At the same time, other organisations who would like to connect and make use of the LED’s network can easily maximise this facility with no additional cost. The LED will also introduce its Bankruptcy Monitoring System on government e-Portal. Citizens and relevant organisations can access and receive the information of bankruptcy status more conveniently and easily. In the near future, the LED is preparing to introduce more e-services on e-Portal. One of which is its main operation system called Civil Enforcement System that will authorise only people who are relevant to particular law cases to access the information.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/29/2012

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Thailand to Enhance Interoperability of E-Govt System

Thailand’s Electronic Government Agency next year will focus on enhancing interoperability of e-government system, and ease the smooth transition of public sector to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), according to EGA’s President & CEO Dr Sak Segkhoonthod. "Next year, the EGA aims at providing executive CIO trainings both to IT department and executive level officers in order to facilitate the interoperability of the government IT system," said Dr Segkhoonthod. According to him, the special focus of the EGA will be supporting the smooth transition of the public sector’s website to IPv6 standard. "We will provide training to about 100 officers, for them to be able to migrate their system into the new IPV6 standard," he added explaining that the Thai government has ordered all e-government services to support IPv6 by 2015. Dr Segkhoonthod also added that the EGA will prepare to train public sector’s officers in the area of Domain Name System (DNS) Security, as he expressed the concern over the shortage of skilled officers in this area. "There are a number of hackers trying to intrude into the government system these days, but many agencies still lack of skilled technical officers to solve and prevent this problem," he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/11/2012

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Administrative Court to Launch Online Service

The Administrative Court is to launch an online service allowing people to follow up on the progress of court cases. The service, which starts with legal disputes, comes online on October 29. Direkrit Jenkrongtham, secretary general of the Administrative Court office, said litigants will find it more convenient to check on the development of legal cases through the Internet. He said the judges' working procedure will be transparent since public scrutiny is allowed, adding that passwords can be obtained from the court office. Direkrit said that there is currently a backlog of about 24,000 cases due to an insufficient number of specialised judges. When the Administrative Court was launched in 2001, 4,000 cases were filed with the court. The number of cases increased to 9,000 this year while the number of judges increased from 190 in the first year to 214 this year. To cope with delays, judges in the court of first instance must take 65 cases a year. The caseload has increased to 125 cases a year for the supreme administrative court.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/19/2012

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Vietnam and Korea Sign MoU on E-Govt

Da Nang’s Department of Information and Communications, Vietnam and Republic of Korea’s National Information Society Agency (NIA) joined forces to develop an e-government for Da Nang City. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on November 13 by both parties after several discussions over the past one year on a bilateral cooperation programme aiming to guide Vietnam to develop and manage their e-government system nationwide. Representatives from both sides will form a joint committee who would be in charge of the facilitation and assessment of cooperation activities under the MoU. The NIA and local authorities also agreed in principle to transfer technology and the usage of the e-government framework developed by NIA. The NIA will provide technical experts to advise on the e-government framework of Da Nang, as well as on training programmes and seminars to transfer the necessary knowledge and experience. 

“As an expertise from a leading country in IT applications, especially in the field of e-government, the NIA will certainly share with us their valuable experience and practical solutions, particularly through advisory activities and intensive trainings to strengthen the development of Da Nang’s e-government”, said General Director Pham Kim Son from Da Nang’s Department of Information and Communications. Proposed by the NIA and Korea’s Ministry of Security Administration, the framework of e-government has been applied through 290 government IT projects after the first release in June 2009. Based on open source and the support of new technologies, it is also widely used in different areas in many countries, such as education at Sophia University, Bulgaria; tax in Ecuador, Nepal, and Tanzania; shopping services in Tunisia; politics in Mongolia; and environment management in Vietnam.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/15/2012

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VIETNAM: To Develop E-gov in Da Nang

Da Nang’s Department of Information and Communications, Vietnam and Republic of Korea’s National Information Society Agency (NIA) joined forces to develop an e-government for Da Nang City. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on November 13 by both parties after several discussions over the past one year on a bilateral cooperation programme aiming to guide Vietnam to develop and manage their e-government system nationwide. Representatives from both sides will form a joint committee who would be in charge of the facilitation and assessment of cooperation activities under the MoU. The NIA and local authorities also agreed in principle to transfer technology and the usage of the e-government framework developed by NIA. The NIA will provide technical experts to advise on the e-government framework of Da Nang, as well as on training programmes and seminars to transfer the necessary knowledge and experience. “As an expertise from a leading country in IT applications, especially in the field of e-government, the NIA will certainly share with us their valuable experience and practical solutions, particularly through advisory activities and intensive trainings to strengthen the development of Da Nang’s e-government”, said General Director Pham Kim Son from Da Nang’s Department of Information and Communications. Proposed by the NIA and Korea’s Ministry of Security Administration, the framework of e-government has been applied through 290 government IT projects after the first release in June 2009. Based on open source and the support of new technologies, it is also widely used in different areas in many countries, such as education at Sophia University, Bulgaria; tax in Ecuador, Nepal, and Tanzania; shopping services in Tunisia; politics in Mongolia; and environment management in Vietnam.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/15/2012

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BANGLADESH: Two Cyber Tribunals Soon Shafique

The law minister, Shafique Ahmed, on Monday told parliament that two tribunals would be set up soon in Dhaka and Chittagong to deal with cyber crimes.He made the disclosure in response to a question from ruling Awami League lawmaker Ashrafunnesa Mosharraf.The two cyber tribunals would be the first ones in the country, although the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 was enacted on October 8, 2006 making provisions for the establishment of such tribunals.The minister also said that the process was going on to set up 30 more tribunals in 30 districts to deal with repression on women and children, one tribunal in Dhaka for land survey appeal, seven tribunals in seven divisional headquarters for resolving disputes over restoration of vested properties, five environment tribunals in five divisional headquarters, three sessions judges courts in Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet and two metropolitan magistrate’s court in Barisal and Sylhet. 

Increasing courts at district level was a continuous process and courts are being increased comparing the ratio of cases pending with the court in the respective districts, Shafique said.He said the present government had appointed 330 assistant judges through the Judicial Service Commission during its tenure.Responding to a question from Manirul Islam, the minister said the National Human Rights Commission had resolved 72 disputes out of total 76 in 2009, 166 of 206 disputes in 2010, 406 of 453 disputes in 2011 and 388 of 556 till November 2012.

From http://www.newagebd.com/ 11/20/2012

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INDIA: e-Governance Initiatives in KESCO

KESCO (Kanpur Electricity Supply Company Ltd.) caters to power supply needs of around 5 lakh consumers of Kanpur city (Uttar Pradesh). The organisation has implemented a number of tools from ICT to drive consumer satisfaction and bring about reduction in aggregate technical and commercial losses (ATC).To ensure consumer satisfaction an innovative initiative called Urja Mitra has been launched in KESCO. Kanpur has been notorious for power related problems i.e. frequent power cuts and consequent public unrest. Urja Mitra is country’s firstIVR based initiative. It provides free information about specific power rostering /cuts /breakdown / shutdown to consumers on their landline /mobile phones through voice calls/SMS. The consumers also have the option to accessing real time information through the website. 

With the intention of enhancing revenue realisation, a unique initiative called M-drishti has been initiated in KESCO. The biggest challenge of the power sector as far as revenue realisation is concerned is the high Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses. The AT&C losses are presently in the range of 18 percent to 62 percent in various states in India.The major portion of losses are due to theft and pilferage that is estimated at about `20,000 crore annually, for entire nation. The problem is compounded by the fact that no standard real time procedure exists for end to end tracking of anti-theft raids. Apart from rampant theft, the distribution sector is beset with poor billing (only 55 percent) and collection (only 41 percent) efficiency in almost in all States. 

Reduction of ATC losses
The reduction of ATC losses is generally done through a system of anti-theft raids and their scientific end to end tracking. There has to be flawless electronic metering at consumer premises. There has to be improvement in collection efficiency through a system of effective disconnection of non-paying consumers. M-drishti has been developed as a mobile phone based, real time tracking system that ensures end to end tracking of in- field revenue oriented activities of:
• Raids conducted against electricity theft,
• Replacement of defective meters at consumer premises,
• Disconnection of power supply of nonpaying consumers
• And subsequently FIRs under section 138 (lodged in case above consumers reconnect
supply without paying dues. 

The KESCO website, at www.kesco.co.in, has been upgraded to a highly interactive platform, which uses a number of IT and mobile technologies to provide following services:
• Online electricity bill payment (both for bulk and small consumers)
• Dissemination of specific, live power shut-down/rostering/breakdown information in entire area through “Urja Mitra”
• Latest Real time status of consumer services like new electricity connection, load enhancement, permanent disconnection, and consumer complaints registered on call centre
• Payment of bills through mobile phones/IVR number, registration of online complaints, downloading of forms, registration of phone numbers etc 

Outcome of initiatives
There has been a tremendous positive response to the initiatives. Citizens are enrolling themselves to get the information via Urja Mitra and the general complaints about behaviour of division/substation officials at the time of power interruptions have reduced along with the connected law and order issues. There has been rapid rise in the number of raids for illegal usage of electricity. The number of FIRs filed has risen by 280 percent. The rise in meter replacement advice per month is 151percent. Services like Urja Mitra have been a path-breaker in terms of improving the consumer linkages in KESCO. 

The numbers of substation complaints have gone down by 16 percent ever since the online and mobile based complaint filing initiatives were launched. The organisation is also using the database of consumer mobile numbers to send billing related information by SMS. This is a free service.There has been a visible improvement in the accountability of the officers. Since all revenue related information is updated on a real time basis and tracked till the full amount is realised (MDrishti), accountability of all officers is ensured. The web based monitoring portal (www.veldev.com/kesco_system) gives a snapshot of achievers and underperformers and this has helped in much better revenue realisation. Similarly web portal of Urja Mitr a also gives a snapshot of power situation to administrators and enables them to ensure rectification in time.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/03/2012

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Open Government Data & Its Potential in India

Open data is ‘non-personally identifiable data’ collected, compiled or produced in the process of organisation’s routine functioning and later on released under an unrestricted license. Open data is freely available for everyone to use, reuse and distribute, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other means of control. Open Data is catching a lot of attention with organisations all over the world. The objective of the open data movement is similar to those of other “Open” movements such as open source, open content, and open access. Though the concept of Open data is not new, it is gaining prominence with the proliferation of the Internet, World Wide Web and most importantly availability of huge amount of data in digital form.

Governments also collect, compile and generate a vast amount of data – right from geographical data, statistical data, scientific data, financial data to social sector data, development and demographic data. It is felt that this data has lot of untapped potential for reuse to develop new products and services around government  functioning to serve the citizens better. Therefore interest in reusing government data has been increasing in recent years. Civil society groups, businesses, individual citizens, academia and of course media are showing keen interest for access to government data in open formats. Many believe that public data should be open by default, as it is pertaining to the public domain and has been collected using public finances. 

Open Government Data
Governments across the world are increasingly making their data available online in open formats and under licenses that permit free reuse. Open government data has lot of social and economic Value. It is seen as a means of promoting transparency and accountability in the functioning of government. Understanding government data through  isualisation and interpretation promotes citizen engagement and community collaboration with the government. There is also significant economic potential in the open government data, which can be used by businesses to create value added services. European Union has estimated that overall economic gains from opening up data could amount to Euro $40 billion a year in European Union. Thus by opening up data, government facilitates creation of service models that deliver social and economic value. 

Open Government Data (OGD) is today considered to be an important initiative by governments across the world. A number of national and international data portals have been deployed to release datasets online. Concept was initiated by United States government, by launch of their data portal. After that UK government launched similar portal. Today  over 20 countries have already launched their data portals, including countries from developed and developing world. The list of countries to have opted for OGD includes the likes of Kenya, Moldova and Chile. Large numbers of state and city level administration or municipal corporations have also published their datasets in open format. 

It is estimated that as of now we have over one million datasets available from governments in open domain. These datasets span over a wide range of data significant to civic issues like, location of toxic waste dumps, regional healthcare costs and local government spending to crime statistics, transport data, school statistics etc. World Bank data portal provides download access to over 8000 development indicators from World Bank datasets. It also provides access to data relating to its Finances, Project & Operations in each country. 

Making data usable
Releasing datasets in open format is one dimension, but making this data usable, consumable by citizens is altogether different. Different countries have devised different techniques to achieve this. They conduct hackathons with a group of developers, owners as well as prospective consumers of data to brainstorm and develop apps to put data to work. “Code-a-Thons” are being conducted in some academic institutions bringing together developers, designers, innovators and entrepreneurs at one place for couple of days to build exciting new applications and tools for different development sectors. Boot camps are being organised to exchange experiences, deliberate on opportunities and challenges that result from open government data. In some countries community of developers have joined together to code for country. 

Data evangelists, data journalists and data scientists have come across various government and non-government establishments to demonstrate innovative uses of data for variety of purposes. Different schemes of competitions, awards, recognition have been announced by different countries to get good apps developed around datasets released by the government. In some countries government departments have themselves got apps developed around their datasets to increase its usage. Apps are developed for various devices right from desktops, laptops to mobile devices, which increase their utility as well as reach across larger group of citizens. 

Data usage through apps
Apps pose as an interesting way of putting data to work. Lot of innovative apps have been developed around the datasets  released. Apps are usually created through mash-ups from a number of different datasets. Combining datasets with maps is one of the common applications of mash-ups. While putting data to work in apps developers face a lot of challenges. Since these datasets are released from different sources and published on different platforms, they often do not comply with any particular standard leading to issues of interoperability, scalability and usability. Another challenge is that datasets are typically published on an as is basis, i.e., in heterogeneous structures and formats, requiring substantial human effort to clean them up for machine processing and to make them comprehensible. 

Over the last three years, variety of Apps have been developed in the domain of civic issues, crime control, traffic management, health, education, government budget, spending, polity etc. The biggest benefit of OGD is in the aspect of improving transparency in governmental functioning. Citizen Engagement is another important dimension of open government data. Citizens are now able to access the raw government data behind the pre-packaged reports from various e-governance applications. Rather than being merely “read-only” users, citizens can now participate in collaborative access to government data, including “mashing up” distributed government data from different  departments and organisations, discovering interesting patterns, customising applications, and providing feedback to enhance the quality of published government data. For governments, the cost of providing information is reduced when the data is released through these OGD portals as opposed to rendered into reports or applications. 

Situation in India
In India, National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) has been recently notified by the Government through a gazette notification. According to this policy, all government departments  shall soon release their datasets in open  formats. To make these datasets easily accessible by citizens, policy has also mandated NIC to set up a data portal for India to provide a platform to  government departments and organisations to publish their datasets online in open formats. Beta Version of Data Portal India can be accessed at http://data.gov.in 

Expanding the reach of data
With the release of NDSAP in India, it is expected that government departments shall contribute datasets in open format. But this alone shall not be sufficient to derive above benefits. Datasets are generally huge and complex. It is not possible for stakeholders such as citizens, civil societies to directly consume these datasets. Developers community is going to play a key role in putting datasets released by government to use. We in India are blessed to have a rich community of young developers who once motivated can develop a whole lot of innovative apps. 

One can develop apps to create variety of visualisations across government datasets for better understanding by various stakeholders such as citizens, civil societies, interest groups etc. Datasets can be integrated with geo spatial data to create mash-ups to help government departments in better planning and decision making. Mash-ups can be further combined with live pictures for better understanding of development schemes, social audit of welfare schemes. Lot of innovative apps can be developed around these mash-ups to facilitate effective planning and implementation of  government programme. These apps can be made available for simple mobile phones for wider reach across all strata of citizens. This will also help citizen engagement and community collaboration in the process of governance. 

One can also combine the datasets released from different government departments to develop innovative set of services for citizens. There is huge component of innovation here. Existing services can be customised or localised to local context to enhance user experience. This shall also give rise to entrepreneurship. Different groups can provide customised services in different regions. There is an economic angle as well. Entrepreneurs, development agencies can build an economic model around customisation of government services, provisioning through different channels such as mobile devices, voice phone, short text etc. This is a win-win situation for both government and citizens, since government’s investment on inclusive provisioning of government services shall significantly decrease while citizens shall have much better experience availing government services leading to better relationship between citizens and government.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/03/2012

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E-Governance Let Fear Be Replaced by Belief

From a macro perspective of State, increasing revenues and decreasing spending on non-development works can generate surplus budget which can lead to better infrastructure, and all consequential benefits. Rajesh Aggarwal, Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of Maharashtra. Before we start “computerising” any activity, the first question we must ask ourselves is – should the Government be doing this activity at all. If  we can rise above our narrow department view, and take a macro view, or think from taxpayer’s point of view the answers in many cases would  be no. Experiments with eOffice have often failed- because government can never be truly paperless. Where the workflow is simple and repetitive, like grant of passport or driving license, in those cases digital and paperless processes are feasible. But where files/papers move to multiple departments or desks and in random ways, eOffice concept usually comes a cropper. HR or employee related matters like recruitments, salary payments, increments, transfers and postings, and loan advances,  biometric attendance system and so on are quite easily to implement, and usually increase internal efficiencies, increase transparency, and boost morale of sincere employees. Training of employees now called capacity building is very important for success of any IT initiative.

‘Money Comes, Money Goes’ IT Projects
On the ‘money comes’ or revenue side, the approach should be to focus on 20 percent revenue generating departments contributing 80 percent of the revenues. These typically include sales tax, property registrations, transport and excise, Court Fees etc. In Maharashtra entire Sales Tax (VAT) collection of more than Rupees 40000 crore annually comes from e-Filing and net banking. Use of business intelligence tools and electronic cross verification with other databases especially for octroi, toll nakas, electricity bills, customs and cargo, income tax etc can result in more revenue increase rather than a series of raids by inspectors.In excise, 80 percent leakage happens from distilleries to wholesalers, and if we focus on that one aspect, the approach can result in quick IT project yielding substantial returns. 

Similarly, many states are dabbling in RFIDs and barcodes on cartons/bottles with varying degrees of success. In property registration, computerisation has already helped in quicker, cleaner documents in many states. Experiments like registration from anywhere in district as being done in Karnataka, rather than being tied to one registration office can lead to bribes coming down, as people will go to a place of their choice where things are cheaper, faster, courteous. In court fees, Maharashtra has amended its Act to allow online payment. Karnataka is trying to link court system to land records system, to have clear titling system. In other revenue generating departments, citizens should be offered more payment options at more locations. Do not insist on treasury bank challans, which is one of the most inefficient ways. Most utility bills such as electricity, water, landline and mobile phone bills etc can now be paid at Citizen Service centres, or even online. Karnataka has allowed people to pay traffic challan fee at such centres, rather than going to police station. 

On the ‘money goes’ or expenditure side, biggest expenditure for the government is salaries. Hence, biometric Attendance or UID can bring down bogus salary payments by 10-20 percent at least. Same goes for pensioners’ salaries,and schemes like old age pension scheme, and schemes like scholarship or tuition fees reimbursements to students primarily by social justice, tribal and minorities departments etc. eScholarship schemes in Andhra and Maharashtra are saving hundreds of crores of rupees every year, and the kids are happy because they do not have to run around college clerks, and get money directly into their bank accounts. A key factor in these projects is replacing cash/cheque receipts or payments by online payments via net banking, debit/credit cards etc or direct bank transfer rather than cash/cheque/ money order. The mode of direct bank transfer is much more important than any other IT initiative, and is absolutely transformative as it can eliminate all middlemen in one stroke! Direct Bank Transfers are useful when all the poor people have bank accounts, and can withdraw money easily. Even though bank branches do not exist in every village, ATMs are now increasingly used. 

De-Duping Databases
De-Duping databases can result in dramatic results. In Maharashtra, social justice department has taken the initiative and asked kids to open bank accounts in nationalised banks having core banking facility, preferably with SMS alert. This resulted in savings of hundreds of crore of rupees per annum, because bogus students could not open bank accounts. UID can further trim down numbers. Recently in Maharashtra, a special drive was conducted across the state simultaneously, to find actual number of kids going to schools. Results are dramatic, and savings will translate to bogus teachers being weeded out, fee reimbursement coming down, mid-day meal, school uniform and books bill coming down, and so on. In old age pension scheme, or other individual beneficiary schemes, use of Banking channels and computerised lists makes selection and approval process transparent, makes money flow faster and plugs leakages, and saves tremendous money to the tune of nearly 20-30 percent by weeding out bogus and duplicate names. Use of UID numbers will go a long way in de-duping all databases such as voter lists, ration cards, driving licenses, old age pensioners, bogus employees, and bogus students and so on. Even physical assets like buildings and roads need de-duping! We usually see same road or building being shown as constructed or repaired from multiple sources of funding. Putting Latitude-Longitude GPS coordinates also known as geo-stamping and a time-stamped photograph in common data depository can show all such mal-practices. Many Municipal Corporations are putting such systems in place. 

Security Related Projects
With petty crime, social crime, cybercrime, riots and terrorist acts on the increase, use of IT for security related projects falls in a separate but important category. Judicial system i.e. courts, jails, home departments at centre and states, police, anti-terrorism squads etc are becoming IT savvy, sharing lots of databases amongst themselves. As such projects increase, we will also see rise in concern amongst citizens about invasion of privacy etc. 

Reflect on the need to computerise
In government departments, before we start ‘computerising’ any activity, the first question we must ask ourselves is – should the Government be doing this activity at all. The effective way to utilise IT in government is when we can rise above our narrow department view, and  take a macro view, or think from taxpayer’s point of view. Do some dispassionate analysis, explore if similar project exist in developed countries. Be aware of vendor driven projects as some estimate that more than two third IT projects are vendor driven, and do not really benefit the citizens. A large number of such projects go nowhere after initial hardware purchases. According to National Institute of Smart Governance (NISG) 35 percent eGov projects fail, 50 percent succeed partially, and only 15 percent succeed fully. So, realize and commit that you will keep the citizen at the focus, and then conceptualise the IT Project.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/04/2012

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Cisco Bets on e-Governance

“Cisco’s objective is to create better governance infrastructure, which enables citizens to access information – any place, any device and any time,” says Puneet Gupta, Senior Vice President, Public Sector Business, Cisco India and SAARC These days most government departments in India are implementing e-Governance to improve their efficiency and to facilitate better interactions with the public. What kinds of solutions is Cisco bringing to public administration in India? Cisco has been involved with e-Governance initiatives in public sector for more than 10 years. The public sector vertical of Cisco’s IBSG  (Internet Business solutions Group) comprises of experts from healthcare, transportation, education, energy management,  internal  security, etc. The specialists not only understand the unique challenges of government, they also bring years of skill and  experience to help solve these challenges. Cisco has been actively involved in all the three pillars of NeGP  programme - SWAN, SDC and  SC projects.We are working with more than 25 states for rolling out SWAN projects successfully; we are also involved in  the setup of data Centres in several states. We have also been able to leverage the IP infrastructure rolled out in the states for delivery  of Data, voice  and Video services  on the same platform. The underlying IP protocol has enabled this entire infrastructure to be future ready and  support any new service deployments. Cisco is leading in the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, which has now been mandated by the Department of Telecommunications. We have a team of specialist who are capable of facilitating the migration of existing network infrastructure to IPv6. 

When it comes to e-Governance, what are the key areas of focus for Cisco? Tell us about the initiatives that Cisco is taking in defence, healthcare and education. Cisco’s objective is to create better governance infrastructure, which can enable citizens to access information - any place, any device  and any time. We are committed to enabling citizens in rural India to enjoy benefits that are already available to citizens in towns and  cities. Our solutions for remote healthcare and remote education are being well received by various state  schools departments and  health authorities. National security is another key area of focus for Cisco – we support the government in protecting internal security  s  ell  as border security. We have been working with various governments to provide solutions for safe cities and better monitoring of   critical infrastructure. Cisco is working with armed forces for deployment of IP enabled solutions. 

In your opinion what can be done to promote e-Governance in India? Tell us about the solutions that Cisco has developed to meet the specific needs of a country like India.India is a land with many languages and dialects, so the solutions that we are developing are in local languages to ensure effective delivery and acceptance. Our Bengaluru development centre is the second largest outside the USA. One of the products, ASR 901 Router, completely designed and developed in India, has won the NASSCOM innovative product of the year award and The Economic Times Telecom Award this year. We also focus on developing solutions for inclusive growth as majority of our population still doesn’t have access to basic ICT services. Our Inclusive Growth team in India is working on several innovative solutions to address this segment.Tell us about Cisco’s concept of smart connected cities and workforce for driving better efficiency in government sector. Also tell us about your solutions for achieving such high degree of interactivity. 

To effectively support the growth of the cities and the new emerging cities and to provide services to them, the city departments have to automate and serve the communities in newer ways, as the traditional models will not support such growth. To address these needs, Cisco has developed the concept of Smart Connected Cities, which provide safety and services anywhere, any time and on any device. Smart & Connected Communities (S+CC) bring services delivered to people across the whole city using the network as the platform. Bringing together a broad portfolio of products, services, partners, and solutions, the initiative creates sustainable solutions for public safety and security, transportation, buildings, utilities, healthcare and education. The total concept allows high level of collaboration between various departments supporting the city infrastructure for delivery of all citizen services.

Cisco solutions in public sector
• Government agencies and organisations can help secure and protect citizen payment card data and comply with regulations using the Cisco Payment Card Industry (PCI) for Government solution
• From improving workforce efficiency to enhancing citizen service delivery, Cisco Unified Communications solutions transform organisations. Cisco also offers mobile unified communication solution that can help government departments extend benefits of UC by combining the convenience and flexibility of mobile communications
• Cisco Telework solutions allow government agencies and their employees to provide continuity of operations, as employees can work remotely during bad weather, disasters, or pandemics and achieve environmental stability, by reducing government environmental impact
• Cisco defence and intelligence solutions can helps to unite legacy systems, improve agility, build your virtual presence, and meet other military requirements to achieve your global mission
• Cisco security solutions for government start with securing the network as the platform. This foundation supports uniquely powerful capabilities for surveillance and securing national borders
• Internet Routing In Space (IRIS) enables the convergence of satellite communications and existing information technology infrastructure. The Cisco 18000 Space Router is a new class of networking product designed to operate on a satellite in orbit. It eliminates the need to send data to and from an extra ground station, which can be expensive and time-consuming
• Cisco provides converged network and physical security to help government agencies respond to emergencies and protect their citizens 

Tell us about the solutions that Cisco is developing to make healthcare more efficient, cost effective and sustainable? Healthcare is one of Cisco’s key priority areas. Cisco has developed  a unique tele-health solution to provide remote healthcare services. It integrates with Cisco’s collaboration solution and enables a shift from point-to-point solution to point-to multipoint solution  with any available doctor attending to a patient remotely, anytime, anywhere. This centrally hosted solution working on low bandwidth and working with multiple medical devices has allowed Cisco to provide cost effective solutions. The solution implemented in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh is being well accepted by the people. 

To enable better quality of life in urban areas we need integrated citizen services and safety, security, green energy, better buildings, timely transportation, and socio-economic solutions. Give us your views on how India can bring about improvements in its urban areas.With the growth of cities, the need for effective management of resources becomes the top most priority for city planners and Cisco’s solution of Smart Cities effectively leverages the underlying IP infrastructure to enable better collaboration and real time sharing of data to monitor and control the citizen services. The underlying premises on which Smart Cities are building are real time sharing of data and decision making to allocate resources appropriately. Both need a secure, robust and scalable Network infrastructure. On this network highway several applications can run including smart surveillance, traffic management, etc. 

Tell us about your solutions for facilitating digital education. What are the key trends that you are witnessing in digital education? Cisco has been involved at different levels of education like primary, secondary and higher education. We engage with the education departments to provide customised services for effective and efficient delivery. Cisco is working with various state governments to bring in quality education to the rural areas through its collaboration solution platform, providing remote teachers and remote guidance to students in these areas. This has been implemented in a few locations and has been very well accepted by students, teachers, parents and the department also. Cisco also works closely with higher education institutions to respond to the demand for new learning approaches that help prepare the next workforce, and promote social equity. What are the issues that a global giant like Cisco faces in executing major e-Governance projects? What can the government, at centre and state levels, do to mitigate these problems? Tell us about your expectations from the government. 

It is a huge challenge to provide services in a vast and culturally diverse country like India. We believe that the government of India has made great progress in providing citizen services not just in the cities but across the country. One of the big challenges in executing major e-Governance projects is related to change management and adoption of the new business processes. The Government can support the e-Governance framework by skilling and training different stakeholders on the need for developing fresh perspectives on technology. The government should look at developing a robust policy framework, for speeding up the projects and rollout of new technologies and solutions like Cloud computing for efficient delivery of citizen services. 

What are the top trends in e-Gov sector according to you? Now we are having very fast developments on the NOFN (National Optical Fibre Network). This project envisages providing wireless broadband connection to every village panchayat. Permeating connectivity to the grass root level through NFON would be one important focus. Collaboration is already happening in the private sector, it will catch more traction in the public sector as well. The thing is that the e-Governance vertical has already experienced Phase 1 over the last 7-8 years; it is now looking at the next phase based on the learning from existing project implementations. Focus on Citizen centric services is increasing rapidly as there is greater confidence in technology supporting service delivery to citizens. Cisco has raised the bar in the public sector domain in all these 7-8 years

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

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eGovernance Can Check Corruption

BJP president Nitin Gadkari said e-governance can check corruption and “red-tapism” to a considerable extent while addressing BJP’s national convention on ‘e-governance for good governance’ in Mumbai. Gadkari said information technology (IT) should be used to bring in transparency, rule of law and speed in working process and dynamism. ”Corruption can come down by 70-80 per cent because of e-governance. It can benefit a person and life can become easier with it,” he said. The BJP leader also directed the IT cell of the state unit to prepare a module of e-governance in corporations and zila parishads for good functioning. ”Application of technology in social life and rural development can prove beneficial to the people,” Gadkari said.

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

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Government to Computerize Public Distribution System

Government of India will soon implement end-to-end computerization of Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) to make its reach more effective and beneficiary-friendly.The plan consists of digitization of ration card beneficiaries and other databases, computerization of supply-chain management, setting up of a transparency portal and grievance redressal mechanisms. Digitization of beneficiary databases and computerization of supply-chain management are expected to be implemented by March, 2013 and October, 2013 respectively.Digitization of beneficiary databases will help in weeding out bogus ration cards and help in better targeting of subsidies. With the computerization of supply-chain management, the movement of foodgrains upto Fair Price Shop (FPS) level can be tracked and the problem of leakage and diversion can be addressed. 

Of SMSes, e-mails, toll free numbers will be used to inform the beneficiary about the availability of TPDS supplies in Fair Price Shops, which will ensure timely and transparent distribution of foodgrains to beneficiaries as per their entitlement. Transparency portal and social audit will further strengthen the functioning of FPSs and ensure accountability at various levels. Beneficiaries will also be able to register their grievances through toll free numbers and seek its resolution.The central government and state governments will share the cost of the computerization process. The costs for the Centre are estimated to be at Rs. 489.37 crore, and for the state governments at Rs. 394.70 crore respectively. The pattern of cost sharing between Centre and states will be on 90:10 for the North-eastern States, whereas for other States/UTs, the cost will be shared equally.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/25/2012

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e-Governance Is Key to Bring Transparency

Terming e-governance as a key tool in bringing transparency in the mechanism, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that IT-based initiatives will help ensuring speedy delivery of services. “This will also give considerable fillip to ensure prompt delivery of public services,” Omar said while speaking about importance of information technology in strengthening e-governance.He was addressing a function near Shrinagar after jointly launching the National Common Service Centres (CSCs) Outreach Programme with Union Minister Sachin Pilot. Omar said initiatives like e-tendering and e-procurement in various departments have upgraded the quality of service and brought more transparency in functioning. He said CSCs, known as Khidmat centres in the state, will get strengthened by this programme and help providing services like ration card, state subject, death and birth certificates, driving licenses and revenue papers in a hassle-free manner. The Chief Minister asserted that the IT initiatives will also help in effective execution of the Public Service Guarantee Act which aims at providing services in a time-bound manner.Pilot said Rs 40 crore has been sanctioned for Common Service Centre (CSC) project in Jammu and Kashmir to support the state government in its e-Governance initiative. “We are committed to fully support e-Governance initiatives of Jammu and Kashmir government and Rs 40 crore has been sanctioned for CSC project in the state,” Pilot said after the launch of CSCs outreach programme from Ganderbal, near Shrinagar.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/27/2012

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Consultative Meet on E-gov Concludes

Port Blair : The 21st Consultative meet on e-Governance, aimed at spreading the message of the National E-governance Plan (NeGP), concluded here on Saturday. The consultative meet is part of the 50 workshops being organized in all states and Union Territories to amplify the mission and message of National E Governance plan — Public Services Closer Home, an official said. The project is a key component of the Central government’s ‘inclusive growth’ strategy, which was approved by the Central cabinet 2006, he said. It aims to deliver public services to the common man in his locality to make them both accessible and affordable. 

With many states in various stages of rolling out public services on the e-Governance platform, the NeGP Apex Committee decided to create awareness about NeGP initiatives among stakeholders, discuss challenges in delivery of services, identify state-specific issues and understand emerging technologies through workshops and consultative meets. The string of workshops will cover all state capitals, UTs and some important cities, he said. Key stakeholders of the NeGP, drawn from Central and State Governments, e-Governance consultants, technology partners and implementing agencies participated in the day-long meet. 

During the day-long workshop, the Andaman and Nicobar Government showcased e-Governance solutions implemented under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). The workshop was organized by Department of Electronics and Information Technology and A&N Administration in partnership with NASSCOM.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/04/2012

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Effective e-Governance for Good Governance

Good governance, as we know, is the backbone of any society. If we seek to raise our economic standards to globally advanced levels, our basic infrastructure for governance also needs to improve in tandem. It is our firm belief that Mee Seva is going to be the beginning of the change that all of us want to see in governance in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Mee Seva, the flagship e-Governance initiative of the State Government, is by itself a proof of how Information and Communication Technology can be used to create efficient, hassle free and  transparent interface for the citizens.The State of Andhra Pradesh has always been on the forefront when it comes to leveraging IT for development. The State initiated the eSeva project in 2001 to provide bill payment services for various Government Departments and private organisations. One of the first such projects in the country, the eSeva project served as a single-window solution for the citizens in urban parts of the State. 

Common Service Centres (CSCs) were established to extend similar benefits to the rural citizens of the State as part of National e-Governance Project (NeGP).Though eSeva succeeded in reducing the drudgery of bill-payments at multiple counters, it was still serving as a ‘post-office’, accepting applications, sending by post to the concerned office, receiving back and then handing over to the citizens. In many ways the power of ICT was seen to being under-utilised in various government records like land records, Registration etc. Citizens had to make many rounds of the  government departments in order to get hold of the much needed documents.Mee Seva, which is Telugu for “At Your Service,” was evolved as the need was felt for a faster, easier and transparent mechanism for delivering various G2C services. The concept is unique and first-of-its kind in the country. It is the first time that the entire solution right from the collection of applications till the issue of final certificates has been turned electronic. It is also possible to track request through its life cycle at various stages and render it amenable for monitoring at Tehsil, Division or District level. 

There is no requirement of physical interaction whatsoever between the user and the issuing authority thereby limiting the chances of corruption and other malpractices. There is no doubt that over the longer term, initiatives like Mee Seva will incentivise the economy of the state. We intend to leverage the support of public and private organisations to keep developing even better e-Governance systems. An event like the eINDIA 2012 is important, because it is a platform to highlight the power of ICT to usher seminal efficiencies in governance, health, education, agriculture and every other field.The eINDIA 2012, which is being convened from 15-16 November, 2012, at Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC), Andhra Pradesh, will bring together leading thinkers, policymakers and industrialists from around the world to discuss ideas and strategies for the future. This event will also be a place to showcase potential and opportunities in various sectors in Andhra Pradesh. Our aim, at this juncture, is to showcase Andhra Pradesh’s inherent strengths, and the opportunities that exist here for industry and enterprise.With open arms, we welcome the finest thinkers, policy makers and entrepreneurs, who are arriving for eINDIA 2012.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/09/2012

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e-Governance Means Government at Your Service

Ponnala Lakshmaiaha is a veteran politician hailing from Telangana with strong technical and academic background. He is currently a cabinet rank minister in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.He has held key portfolios in the Andhra Pradesh cabinet including Information Technology & Communications, Endowments, Major & Medium Irrigation, Aqua Culture and Fisheries. He has been in politics since the late 70’s and has contributed his share as a cabinet member to the growth of AP state. He has helped pave way for irrigating hundreds of thousands of acres of under-cultivated lands into today’s bountiful crop-yielding arable lands as Minister for Major Irrigation. He has contributed in the areas of policy formulation for hardware,  animal husbandry, dairy development, poultry, and allied industries in the state of Andhra Pradesh. 

Ponnala Lakshmaiah’s political career that spans over three decades is focused on service to the socially and economically challenged sections in the state of Andhra PradeshThere is no doubt that a great progress has been made in the e-Governance space in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Please share with us your vision for further improving the governance structure through ICT in Andhra Pradesh? As far as government is concerned, we are committed to good governance. This good governance has two components, one is human element and the second is the infrastructure or the technological element. To reach out to maximum number of people we need the help of technology, but this technology must be handled by sensitive and competent people, only then it will lead to best possible results. The e-Governance systems are a result of both, the human element and the technology. It always results in better systems of governance. We are going all out to create more efficient e-Governance systems, as we are motivated by the desire of serving people in better ways. That is our vision; whatever we do should bring maximum possible advantage to the people. The research and the technological implementation that is happening in name of e-Governance should benefit the common man and raise his standards of living. 

The IT industry in the state has been growing at a healthy rate. What kind of contributions, in terms of enacting new policies, has the government in the state made for the development of the IT industry?The ICT industry has always been the main driver behind the jobs creation and fostering of regional development in the country. The Government of Andhra Pradesh is committed to the development of a more competitive industrial environment. There are large numbers of initiatives that we have taken to develop the IT industry. In order to promote sustained growth of ICT sector, not only to enhance the balanced regional socio-economic development but also to spread the usage of IT to the last mile of the State, for the benefit of common man,  Government has announced the ICT Policy 2010-2015. If I may say so, the IT Policy in the state is far more effective as compared to that in any other state in the country. As a matter of fact, it is well known that in the world one out of every three IT professionals is from India, and one out of every three Indian IT professionals is from Andhra Pradesh. This by itself is a proof of the fact that the state is blessed with abundant talent in the field of IT. There are more than 700 institutions in the state that are engaged in churning out highly competent IT professionals. These talented professionals coming out of our institutions serve the manpower needs of not just the Andhra based IT industry, but the entire world. It is a result of work done by the government on the policy and infrastructure front that we have so many institutes capable of providing world class training in IT related subjects. 

A decision to set up Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) around the city of Hyderabad has also been taken. Will this also lead to improvement in the size and scope of IT industry?I was about to come to ITIR. The Centre has finally gave “in principle” approval to the Andhra Pradesh government’s proposal for setting up an Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) around the city. This will give a muchneeded boost to the state’s efforts to attract fresh investments into the industry. The ITIR will be developed in an area of 202 sq km (50,000 acres)  in two phases over a period of 25 years. The ITIR is aimed at attracting an investment of Rs 2.19 lakh crore in the ITITES sectors and create direct employment for 15 lakh youths. ITIR is a combination of production units, public utilities, logistic, environment protection mechanism, residential areas and administrative services.  ITIRs will include Special Economic Zones, Industrial Parks, Free Trade Zones, Warehousing zones, Export-Oriented Units, growth centres, existing settlements and estates. 

The most important e-Governance programme in Andhra Pradesh is the Mee Seva. Tell us about Mee Seva. What are the ways by which Mee Seva is benefitting the people in the state?Government of Andhra Pradesh has always been at the forefront of leveraging IT for development and governance. The Mee Seva means “At Your Service.” It is an all-inclusive programme, and has vastly benefitted all sections of the society, and especially the poor section, who rely heavily on welfare schemes for their well-being. Mee Seva leveraged creation of Centralised Land Records database, its purification, digital signing and a web-based application that allows functionaries to take up necessary updation etc. The unique feature of this application and database is that it is in Telugu. Through this system lakhs of citizens in the state are able to access crucial documents and certificates through common kiosks. Crucial documents get issued to the citizens across the counter. 

When we talk about G2C services in the e-Governance space, we are basically talking about putting governance in the online pace. But this kind of process also leads to a lot of crucial information pertaining to the citizen being put in online mediums. So what kind of security measures are we taking to protect the  privacy of the individual?The intention behind our e-Governance initiatives is very clear; we want to reach out to the people. The manual systems do not reach to the people in the ways in which we would want to. So we are using technology to improve the system of interaction between the government and the people. As far as the security systems are concerned, they are in place. There is latest technology being used to provide most convenient and secure gateways for conducting transactions. We also have laws to give strict punishments to people who target government websites. 

It is an accepted belief that IT industry is concentrated mainly in the urban areas, so what steps you are taking to develop IT industry in smaller towns?The government is taking many new initiatives to ensure that IT industry can also move into our tier 2 towns. Many new institutions have been allowed to come up in the towns. In fact 5 years ago, hardly any IT industry was located in the town of Vizag, but now the same place generates revenues of more than `1,000 crore. Similarly things are going to pick up at other towns also.You have been associated with many rural development projects. In your opinion what kind of impact ICT can have on rural industries and on agriculture? 

Modern technology has a role to play in every sector, including agriculture. For instance, in agriculture you need to know the nature of the soil, you need to know what kind of fertilizers will be most suitable. You will need information on transplantation of the produce post harvesting. The thing is that such information can be more easily accessed through the use of technology Nowadays we have computer systems that can be accessed in Telgu language. This has brought computing and Internet close to many farmers. In fact, I would like to tell you that we are one of the first Unicode members along with IBM, Honeywell and Microsoft. Only 9 entities are the permanent members, Andhra Pradesh is 10th member. We are taking active measures to ensure that Telgu becomes one of the premier languages for conducting business on the web. 

Mee Seva initiative has become  very popular among the people and many other states in the country are planning to launch their own versions of Mee Seva.At a ground level, what kind of impact is the Mee Seva initiative having on the people?In the past, for issue of Caste, Residence, Income certificates of students, the applications were physically submitted at Tahsildar Office. This was followed by field verification by concerned VRA/VRO and after receiving the report, Tahsildar used to issue physically ink signed certificates. During the high demand months of June-August / admission closing dates, Tahsildar office used to receive more than 1,000 applications in a day, which resulted in inordinate delays or issue of certificates without verification. Mee Seva has really made service delivery very convenient for the citizen. Prior to the launch of Mee Seva project, applicants used to visit the respective departments to avail services, many a times applicants were forced to visit these offices to get their certificates. Under the revised process, Mee Seva is able to issue certificates across the counter within 15 minutes in 90 percent of the cases. 

Given the fact that the technology keeps evolving at a very rapid pace, where do you see the governance in the next 10 years?I see paperless, cashless, transparent, hassle free, instantaneous governance becoming a reality. One thing I believe certainly, with the talent we have in Andhra Pradesh, a major revolution in governance is bound to happen. The state has been on the forefront when it comes to the implementation of Aadhaar. In times to come the Aadhaar system will start playing a central role in the management of government benefits and subsidies.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/09/2012

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Building e-Governance Infrastructure

“The long term focus of KSITM will be on creating an integrated e-Gov platform wherein the services provided by various government departments and agencies will get integrated into an unified system,” says Dr Jayasankar Prasad, Director, Kerala State IT Mission. Please give us an overview of the ways by which KSITM is facilitating the development of e-Governance in the state of Kerala. What is the vision under which KSITM has been created by the state government? Kerala State Information Technology Mission (KSITM) was formed as a nodal agency for implementation of the various initiatives under the IT department. KSITM has been piloting various IT related and IT enabled services /projects in the state since its inception in 1999. The mission has successfully undertaken the e-Governance initiatives in the state and has kept the state at par with other states in India.In your opinion what are the most landmark projects undertaken by KSITM? What kind of response are your e-Governance projects seeing from the common citizens?  

The most prominent of the project undertaken by KSITM over the years are the State Data Centre, Kerala State Wide Area Network (KSWAN), e-Krishi, e-Procurement, State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG), Mobile Service Delivery Platform, Sutharya Keralam, Digital Workflow System, Entegramam – My Village, Fast Reliable Instant Effective Network for Disbursement of Services (FRIENDS), Service and Payroll Administrative Repository for Kerala (SPARK), etc. Though the efforts made in e-Enabling the government departments have resulted in the creation of standalone back-ends, digital work flows and service delivery channels, the expectations of the citizens, connected with e-Government, a “one government view” has not been metfully. KSITM today focusses on consolidating and integrating the various applications and systems across the government to ensure a seamless delivery of services to the citizen. The long-term focus of KSITM will be on creating an integrated e-Gov platform wherein the services provided by various government departments and agencies will get integrated into an unified system. The intention is to make all government interactions, information and transaction services, available electronically through a single access point, for all the users (citizens, CSC operators, government employees, resident and non resident Keralites, visitors and business). The integration and standardisation and consolidation of all government systems, infrastructure and processes is a vital step in that direction. This in turn will lead to increased availability, accessibility, productivity and effectiveness of electronic delivery of public services, increases the efficiency of the government and also trustworthiness, transparency, traceability, security and privacy of data. 

The state of Kerala has implemented Akshaya for bridging the digital divide. How effective is this initiative being at the ground level? What is the situation of digital divide in the state? Akshaya is acting as an agency to bridge the digital divide and for delivery of services to the door step of the citizen as a friendly face of the government. Akshaya network with more than 2000+ Akshaya Centres is available all across the state at the rate of two per panchayat. It is ubiquitous,networked, competent and scalable to deliver all sorts of citizen services. Kerala with its high literacy and ICT penetration has bridged the divide to a great extent and the well spread out Akshaya centres which is a unique network of local entrepreneurs is playing its part in the scheme of things. 

Majority of India still speaks in local languages. What steps are you taking to ensure that there is support for Malayalam language in e-Governance systems? The flavour of the mother tongue and the need to provide requisite information and services using the official language led to the project called Malayalam computing. This is an initiative for creating capacity and content in the local language, Malayalam. The broad objectives of the project are to strengthen local language, Malayalam, using the possibilities provided by Information and Communication Technologies and to address the linguistic barrier which prevents the people of Kerala from tapping the new technologies. Government departments are encouraged to use the Malayalam fonts/language for communication even through the digital media, interfaces for the same are available in the digital file flow systems and applications. Further developments in the area of mobile based Malayalam computing, etc. are in the pipeline. 

Security is an area of concern for every online system, with incidences of hacking being on the rise. What steps is KSITM taking to ensure that the e-Governance systems, where lots of private information on the citizens are stored, are being kept up to date?Government of Kerala felt the need for setting up of Computer Emergency Response Team-Kerala (CERT-K) to actively coordinate with CERT-India (CERT-IN) to ensure cyber security in the state and the team works as a special project of the KSITM. The team looks into awareness creation, security audits and proactive and reactive measures with respect to cyber threats on the government websites and applications

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/10/2012

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e-Governance Decisions Soon

The central and state governments are likely to decide on their e-governance projects by the end of this year, said a top official of EMC Data Storage Systems India.“We expect the central and state governments to decide on their e-governance projects by the end of this year. When that happens then the investment tide by the government sector would turn in the opposite direction,” Rajesh Janey, president, EMC India and SAARC, told a news agency.As per the news agency, the network storage solutions company gets around 20 percent of its Indian revenues from the government and public sector segments, Janey said, while declining to share finer details. 

According to him, the company has provided solutions for government departments like Unique Identification Authority of India, Passport Seva, National Remote Sensing Agency, National Insurance Company Ltd and others.EMC organised its third edition of EMC Forum in Mumbai Nov 8-9 to discuss how cloud computing and big data, which is huge data difficult to process with existing tools, is transforming information technology (IT) and business.According to Janey, with big data gathered from various sources plotting patterns, government can forecast likely events.He said the government can take appropriate preventive action against the likely outbreak of a disease in a particular area based on the past experience data collected from various sources.EMC also launched its cloud computing, data science and data analytics courses and expects to train around 30,000 people by 2013.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/10/2012

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Andhra to Dedicate Mee Seva E-Gov Solution to the Nation

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government has agreed to share its e-Governance initiative Mee Seva with other states.Under Mee Seva (meaning at your service) launched a year ago, the state government is offering 45 various services and plans to increase the same to 100 services in two to three months.Under this unique initiative of the Andhra government, various utility documents like birth, caste and income certificates are issued to citizens in 15 to 20 minutes, which earlier used to take 10 to 15 days.Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on Thursday agreed to a suggestion made by Department of Electronics and Information Technology, government of India secretary J Satyanarayana at the eIndia event here. 

Satyanarayana suggested to the Chief Minister to dedicate Mee Seva to the nation so that other state can take benefit of this ready-made platform with minor customizations and use of cloud technology.He pointed out that under various e-Governance projects across the country citizen services were being offered to 8.2 crore people. “We plan to increase this number to 15 crore by March 2013 and 30 crore by March 2014,” he said.The chief minister claimed that the Mee Seva initiative has immensely benefited the common man. According to one estimate, this has saved annually Rs.4,000 crore to Rs.6,000 crore which the citizens used to pay as bribe to government officers at various levels for the services. 

Reddy said he now planned to use the information and communication technology in health services aimed at pregnant women. He explained how the use of this technology in student scholarships helped the government save Rs.300 crore every year, which was being misappropriated.He said as the state was giving Rs.26,000 crore subsidies to various sections of people every year, the use of ICT would ensure that the subsidies reach the targeted group.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/16/2012

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Study to Explore Feasibility of Free and Open Source Software in E-Gov

New Delhi: Trivandrum–based International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) and the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore will jointly conduct a study on the use of free and open source software in e-Governance.The study, to be completed in 18 months, will cover the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Lead Researcher of the joint study Rahul De said.The study would bring out the extent to which free and open source software is used in government projects, and assess the economics of its use, an ICFOSS statement said. 

“There is still wide variation between different states in the deployment of free and open source software.,” De, Hewlett-Packard Chair professor in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Sustainable Economic Development, IIM – Bangalore, said.Besides a cost advantage, free and open source software comes with other advantages too — user licenses are liberal, and users are free to customise software.“With the 2012 Government of India Software Policy providing explicit support for free and open source software, it becomes imperative for e-Government applications to consider it,” Rahul De said.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/20/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Communication and IT Ministry Accelerates Operations to Form e-Government

The Communications and IT Ministry accelerates the "e-government" formation in Azerbaijan, the ministry said today. According to the ministry, the issue was discussed within the board meeting held at the Ministry with the participation of departments. Azerbaijani Communication and IT Minister Ali Abbasov instructed to accelerate the work within simplifying the access to the "e-government" portal, the process of getting the electronic digital signature by citizens and removing the problems with telecommunication, postal and TV and radio infrastructure to render quality services to the population. According to the ministry, around 28 organisations received 2078 e-digital signatures since the commissioning of the issue centre. Currently, around 152 of the existing 395 electronic services belonging to the Azerbaijani state agencies were integrated into the electronic government portal which acts as a gateway to ensure information exchange between state agencies. The functions of the portal are not limited to a specific number of services. The number of e-services presented on the portal can reach several thousand units. Currently, some state agency electronic services are rendered via the 'single window' principle. The e-government portal is a key tool supporting the work with the public and enterprises in the public and private sectors. The portal is intended to reduce the number of the citizens' documents because different agencies can now communicate with each other electronically. The e-digital signature is required for using e-services.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/09/2012

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Deputy PM: ICT Sector Is Priority Area in Azerbaijan

Holding the Global Internet Governance Forum in Baku is recognition of the fruitful results of the policy for society's information development in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov said at the opening ceremony today. He said that the ICT sector in Azerbaijan is a priority area and that the president pays attention to it. "Thanks to the president's decisions this field is developing rapidly. This is particularly so in the field of ICT in the public administration system and rendering electronic services to the population," he said. The problem with Internet governance for sustainable economic and social development as discussed at the forum demonstrates the role of the Internet in our globalising world and emphasises the importance of the forum and stipulates the broad interest in the Internet Governance." He added this is testified by the presence of many participants representing state agencies, businesses and public organisations, at the forum. "Azerbaijan has been actively developing recently," he said. "The ICT and Internet opportunities are widely used in the country. Internet services became available, the technology of their use expanded and the number of users increased." He said that close mutual cooperation at international level can bring about results in resolving many issues related to the challenges of developing the global world, including Internet regulation. "Moreover, one must not turn the Internet into a tool of terrorism, religious, racial, inter-cultural xenophobia, separatism and other manifestations that are contrary to international standards," he said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/06/2012

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Minister: Structural Reforms Needed in Azerbaijan for Privatisation of Communication Companies

Implementation of structural reforms is required for the privatisation of state communication entities in Azerbaijan, the Minister of Communication and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov told journalists. "This will create conditions for competition in the telecommunications market, as well as strengthen the fight against the monopoly," the minister said. Responding to a question on the laying of a submarine cable which is the main part of the construction project of the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM), the minister said that a preliminary agreement for the implementation of construction work has already been reached with Kazakhstan. "Harmonisation of the issues with Turkmenistan is nearing completion. We believe that this project supported by the UN, is at the centre of a special UN team's focus" Abbasov said. The TASIM project includes such countries as Russia (Rostelecom operator), Kazakhstan (KazTransCom operator), Turkey (TurkTelecom operator), China (ChinaTelecom operator), as well as Azerbaijani Azertelekom. The network of operators involved in the project has been sufficiently developed. At present work is planned to be conducted on the areas where a cable has to be laid. The Caspian segment is one such. Launching the construction operations for an underwater fibre-optic cable is scheduled for mid-2013. Azerbaijan's resolution to create a Trans-Eurasia Information Superhighway TASIM was adopted during the 66th plenary meeting of the United Nations. The UN expressed support for the project which aims to reduce poverty and accelerate economic growth. It will play a role as an engine for the development of the region. The TASIM project aims to connect a total of 20 countries. Its implementation will eliminate the 'information gap' between the countries of Western Europe and the Pacific Rim.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/09/2012

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Top Official: Azerbaijan's Principled Position Is to Create Conditions to Fully Ensure Internet Freedom

Azerbaijan's principled and consistent position is to create all conditions to fully ensure freedom of the Internet, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Political Analysis and Information Provision Department Head Elnur Aslanov said. He was commenting on European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes's statement on control over the internet and electronic media in Azerbaijan and restrictions on their dissemination. "The Internet Governance Forum, organized jointly by the UN and the Azerbaijani government, is a reaffirmation of importance that the Azerbaijani state attaches to the Internet and its free use," Aslanov said, noting that it is due to the fact that the Internet has become an integral part of human activity, and an essential source of human development and innovation. "Independent activity of the Internet is its main value, and any society, both official authorities and institutions of civil society, should fully benefit that," he said. According to Aslanov, Kroes's statement contradicts Azerbaijan's intentions and activities and causes fair questions about the purpose of that statement. "Azerbaijan holds a higher rank for Internet access compared to many countries -- 65 percent," he noted. The figure will inevitably increase in the near future due to steady growth in living standards of the population and development of the human factor. 

"Information access opportunities are expanding day by day. However, the information that the European institution's official refers to, proceeds from a biased position. It is necessary to communicate in the field of electronic media not only with people holding oppositional views, but also with various media representatives, regardless of their political positions for correct evaluation of the objective reality. Unfortunately, some European officials forget about this principle," Aslanov said. He underlined that unlike some Western countries, Azerbaijan spends available financial resources for projects aimed at socio-economic development of the country, instead of tracking and getting information online through espionage. "This is a guarantee for the future prosperity of Azerbaijan and citizen's possession of computer technologies having wider opportunities. Azerbaijan has no "Echelon" system, but there are development programs targeting the future," Aslanov said. According to Aslanov, free access to Internet sites and free expression of thoughts by citizens on social networks has a significant impact on the relations between the state and citizens. 

He believes that imposing bans and censorship towards the Internet in different countries eventually led to weakening of public confidence in the state structures and has proved to be ineffective. Applying new technologies provides an opportunity to get necessary information overcoming such obstacles. "We have always been against restrictions in the Internet and today we adhere to this position," Aslanov underscored. "One of the important functions of the Internet is to ensure communication between state structures and citizens through electronic technology. Due to the fact that freedom of citizens is the essence of liberal democracy, free access to the Internet resources conditions emergence of a new concept -- "online citizenship." Azerbaijan, being committed to democratic principles and integrating into the European institutions benefiting the new capabilities of the Internet, is preparing a new period of its economic, political and social development. Future development concepts, on which Azerbaijani experts work, define development of the human factor as the main criterion. Our future is directly associated with mastering of contemporary technological progress by our citizens," Aslanov said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/09/2012

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Top Official: Improving Relationship of State Agencies and Mass Media in Azerbaijan a Priority

Formation of relations between state agencies and mass media in Azerbaijan in accordance with the democratic development, freedom of expression and the principles of the information society is a priority. This was stated on Monday by sector chief of the Socio-Political Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Vugar Aliyev at the opening of a two day seminar attended by press service leaders of the state agencies and mass media representatives, co-organised by the OSCE office in Baku and the Press Council. "Ensuring transparency in Azerbaijani society, freedom of mass media and expression of opinions in informing society is one of the state policy priorities. We were able to form a civilised legal basis for this, taking practical steps to ensure transparency in society. Appropriate structures and internet resources are now functioning in all state agencies," Aliyev said. According to him, this process has been improved and more information is being placed on the websites of state agencies. Some 75 per cent of information allowed by law has been placed on the websites of some state agencies. Serious measures are taken on the formation of an e-government and the types of e-services have been defined. According to the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, the number of electronic services is increased to 450. About 300 such services, 150 of which are interactive, are carried out in the state agencies, Aliyev said. "This process will further be improved and the number of services will be increased. Work on the development of civil society in Azerbaijan is currently being carried out. These are the requirements of modern times. One of the major factors that boost this process in the period of the information society is an even greater acceleration of the global network and the Internet. State agencies have to be operational in these issues. They must adjust their work to modern requirements while at the same time need to think about the information security of the society. The implementation of appropriate measures by the state agencies is a requirement of time "Aliyev said. He said the state will fully meet its goals. This is a continuous process which is improving every year. Press service representatives of the 16 state agencies and more than 10 media outlets are taking part in the seminar.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/12/2012

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Azerbaijani Communications Ministry Makes Efforts to Reduce Roaming Costs

Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies is taking the necessary steps to reduce the cost of roaming services, the ministry told Trend on Monday. According to the ministry, at present in some cases, Azerbaijani citizens are facing problems whilst using roaming services abroad. The problems include both the costs and the quality of the GSM-service operators which are yet to be improved. The main task in solving these problems is to achieve a consensus on the interconnection costs while staying connected to the guest network. According to the ministry, the quality of network to deliver voice traffic is also an important issue which should be clearly negotiated during the signing of a contract between operators. "Today we have opportunities both to improve the quality and to further reduce costs for this type of service. The settlement of the roaming issue is currently being negotiated between the ministry and mobile operators," the ministry said. Service providers are often put under pressure by the ministry to resolve these issues. Because of this, a phased reduction of tariffs has been reached over the last year. Reduction of roaming costs is being monitored for countries accounting for the bulk of traffic which are mainly Russia, Turkey and Iran. According to the ministry, tariff reductions can only take place through the cooperation of operators. Today Azerbaijani mobile operators have a roaming agreement with hundreds of foreign operators. Tariffs of foreign operators and their expenses provided to Azerbaijani operators are being considered in the formation of tariffs. Ultimately the final price is determined for example at 1 or 1.5 man at per minute which does not allow operators to reduce tariffs below a set level. Azerbaijani mobile operators are not able to reduce roaming tariffs unilaterally. Therefore, it is very important to continue the negotiations in this direction. Mutual agreements have already been reached with operators from Russia, CIS countries, Turkey and the UK, resulting in a 20 to 30 per cent reduction becoming possible in some directions. This process is to be continued.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/21/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: E-Government Will Favour Development of Networks of New Generation

The global trend has now arrived in Kazakhstan. Such service as interconnection appeals to Kazakhstan residents. Over the past 4 years the number of mobile Internet users has grown from 1 million to 10 million subscribers. In the interview to the Kazakh TV channel representatives of Kazakhstan cellular companies have announced that the e-government will boost the development of next-generation networks. In the recent five years the e-government has undergone serious development. Some types of certificates are given only in electronic form. Aida DOSSAYEVA, DIRECTOR, CORPORATE COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT OF CELLULAR COMPANY: Today Kazakhstan is actively developing the e-government services and in this area mobile internet appeals to people. Kazakhstan has a vast territory and the density of subscribers is very low. Using the World Wide Web, Kazakhstan residents can apply for marriage, pay a fine for violation of traffic rules, register the birth of a child, and order a new passport. Aida DOSSAYEVA, DIRECTOR, CORPORATE COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT OF CELLULAR COMPANY: For example, using these services, you can find out information about the condition of your driver’s license. Tomorrow we will be able to expand the list and do it not only with the help of a digital signature. We can learn about the amount of pension, credit an account or get medical help. Everything is not far off. Due to the wide spread of the World Wide Web, in 2012 the share of voice services in one package of communication services has decreased by 2%. Market participants say that with the introduction of 4G, the popularity of the Internet will grow in leaps and bounds. According to the plans of the Ministry of Transport and Communications in 2015 4G network will cover all villages with a population of 50 thousand people. Aida Dossayeva, Director, Corporate Communication Department of Cellular Company The number of active users is increasing. The service of video calls is also very popular. However it is not the most popular service. Our subscribers are interested in the mobile Internet in terms of information. Tariffs contribute to the spread of the World Wide Web in Kazakhstan. So, according to official sources from January this year the cost of Internet access has been reduced by 27%.

From http://caspionet.kz/ 09/17/2012

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ICT Revolutionizes the Pacific Ways of Doing Business 

An agreement bringing together the Pacific Island NGOs was signed in Nuku’alofa, Tonga on 16th August 2012 in the presence of Ms Richmond Birtha Togahai from Niue, Ms Pelenise Alofa from Kiribati, Mr Tapulolou Tuailemafua from Samoa and Siosaia Fonua from Tonga. The Memorandum of Understanding sets forth their intentions for cooperative ventures to develop and build niche market and “smart”. Information Centre™ by taking advantage in the revolution of ICT. The MOU lays down Tonga Information Centre™ role to lead in the development and establishment of the Niue Information Centre™, Kiribati Information Centre™ and Samoa Information Centre™. Ms Richmond Birtha Togahai, Ms Pelenise Alofa, Mr Tapulolou Tuailemafua and Siosaia Fonua are proud to drive the initiative and its challenges to inspire the entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow. The people, telephone and mobile based initiative revolutionizes the Pacific Ways of doing business, shares and mobilizes resources, creates new heights and dimensions for businesses and opportunities, empowers and stimulates the community by allowing equal access to information and opportunities.

The initiative offers ICT-related services that aim to allow all people to take advantage of the educational, social and economic opportunities created by ICT. The initiative is the first Made in the Pacific. Information Centre™ is expected to reach the 16 Forum Island Countries, New Zealand, Australia, USA and Europe in the era of no national boundaries in terms of social and economic activities. It allows the Pacific Islands access into world markets and opportunities. It creates access to international resources, business opportunities, cooperative ventures and global connectivity. It is expected that through access to real and meaningful information from national and international resources, it will be possible to have direct and positive impact on the social and economic activities of the islanders. “Today is a historic day for Niue, Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga. This agreement is a perfect example of the cooperation we want to build between the Pacific Islands.  On the 4th June 2011, Tonga Information Centre commenced operation, served the entire country, delivered results and expected to generate millions in revenue. Remote islands and rural areas access to virtual internet, virtual services, health, education, employment, help desk, weather, businesses, economic main stream, international sales and marketing, products and services is only a telephone call away.

As these prospects indicate, Tonga Information Centre™ plays a major role as Management of Resources. Thus, the production of real, valuable and meaningful information, its efficient transmission and effective utilization, is needed more than ever before. The information centre bridges gaps and landscaping an environment for socio-economic cooperative ventures, outreaching, and market research and therefore, partnership is needed to achieve our common goals.” says Mr Siosaia Fonua, Managing Director, Tonga Information Centre™.

From http://www.e-pic.info 08/24/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Gov Seeks EOI for “Smart Transport” System

Under a major new infrastructure upgrade, industry expressions of interest (EOI) are being sought to design and deliver an electronic freeway management system for the M4 in New South Wales — also one of the state’s most congested freeways. The M4 connects the capital, Sydney, with suburban and outlying areas, and feeds traffic into other connecting states. It is one of the most heavily-used transport networks — with thousands of motorists using the freeway each day. A $US17 million (AUD$17 million) electronic freeway management system will help ease traffic flow, share updates about accidents, and other alerts in real-time with motorists. This system is being jointly funded by the State and Federal governments. It is being rolled out over two years – with planning underway from August 2012. State Transport Minister Duncan Gay says an electronic traffic management system will enable authorities to respond quickly to accidents, manage flows and share information about changing traffic patterns. 

When fully operational, this system will equip authorities with the technology to more efficiently manage traffic congestion across the M4. It will also ease serious gridlock. Authorities will be able to respond more quickly to accidents, while sharing information with motorists to plan their journeys and avoid frustrating delays. The M4 electronic freeway management system is being supported by an expanded use of CCTVs, and digital messaging systems that deliver live feeds about traffic conditions and delays. More detailed updates will be provided about the severity of accidents, volume of traffic, and information about alternative routes. The Federal government estimates that a national electronic traffic management system will substantially reduce congestion around the country. This system may save motorists more than US$500 million (AUD$500 million) a year in fuel and related costs.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/28/2012

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Aust Dept of Immigration Faces FOI Scrutiny

A just-released report by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has warned that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has not fully complied with Freedom of Information (FOI) guidelines and requests for information. This OAIC report highlights delays within DIAC in responding to long-standing information requests, especially those of a complex nature that come under Australian Freedom-of-Information (FOI) guidelines. These delays run counter to Australia’s FOI laws and corporate governance arrangements, according to the Australian Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan. “Timely release of information will promote the democratic objective of promoting public scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of government activity,” noted Professor McMillan. He added that the department continued to receive a higher volume of FOI requests compared to any other Australian government agency. “Substantial change is required in how DIAC handles complex and sensitive FOI requests.” 

In response to this latest report, Martin Bowles Acting Secretary for DIAC, said the department “has been making changes over time.” He noted that the department will help, where needed, to improve compliance with Australia’s FOI laws and guidelines. A department-wide review will focus on a greater profile for FOI, while highlighting a “whole-of-department responsibility” in responding to information requests. Plans are underway to minimise future delays, while increasing staff awareness about their obligations, especially for complex FOI requests, compared with those involving access to personal information. The OAIC report was initiated following concerns the department had failed “to comply with statutory time-frames” involving response-times. Red flags were raised about an “inefficient management of complex and sensitive FOI requests.” Other issues involved inadequate communication with applicants, including delays in processing their requests. In 2010–11, DIAC received 8057 document requests under Australia’s Freedom of Information Act. This represented the largest number of such requests received by any Australian government agency.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 10/02/2012

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Vic Government Seeks Industry, Public Feedback on ICT Strategy

The Victorian Coalition Government is seeking industry and public feedback on a proposed ICT strategy on how it can design and use information and technology to deliver better services in the state. According to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Technology, Gordon Rich Phillips, with the draft strategy proposed by the Victorian Information and Communications Advisory Committee (VICTAC), ICT enabled projects will be structured to deliver benefits more quickly through co-ordinated smaller, staged projects, and should “improve delivery timelines and reduce the risk of delivery issues.” The Minister said the proposed strategy was a work in progress which would be further refined after public consultation and supported by more detailed implementation work. The proposed strategy can be found at www.vic.gov.au/ictstrategy, and consultation will close on 17 October 2012, after which VICTAC and the government will review the feedback and consider it in the final strategy design. 

According to the Minister, the government is in a strong position to make the most of a changing ICT landscape, and wants to use information and technology to benefit Victoria. “Online services and new technologies continue to transform the way we shop, bank and live. Government must take advantage of these capabilities to remain in touch with the industry, to connect with our communities and to drive down the cost of government services. The committee has provided a practical, forward-looking approach to the acquisition and use of ICT by government and we are seeking the public’s input on the draft strategy.” The chair of VICTAC, Grantly Mailes, said governments were starting to harness wider market capabilities and competition for the development of new technologies. “Shifts in technology, culture and economies are leading governments across the world to reassess their role, and how they deliver services. Victoria has the added advantage of a strong local ICT industry ready to contribute to this process.” 

Mr Rich-Phillips said the government would make better use of the expertise in the “vibrant ICT industry that we have in Victoria and in our major suppliers. “We will work with them to define and deliver business outcomes, rather than just narrowly defining technology requirements, that is why it is also important for us to seek their input on this strategy.”

From http://www.itwire.com 10/02/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Feds and NSW Go Slow on Cloud

A leading industry analyst has cautioned that adoption of cloud computing by governments could be slower than the technology industry anticipates just days after both Canberra and Macquarie Street released new versions of their technology strategies. Research director of ITNewCom, Scott Stewart, believes that a heavily tangled “hairball” of interdependent systems built up over decades is presenting difficulties to larger public sector organisations who are fearful of botching migrations following disasters like the Queensland health payroll. In general terms, cloud computing is where hardware and software are bought as a utility style, on-demand service where clients pay for what they use – instead of buying rapidly depreciating infrastructure and shelling out annual ‘maintenance’ fees for software they already supposedly own rather than rent. Many large technology companies had hoped that the release of the New South Wales and federal governments’ technology strategies this week would set new mandates to spur systems migrations to the cloud – only to be largely underwhelmed by documents heavy on generalities rather than specifics. 

During a lengthy industry briefing this week, NSW Commerce minister Greg Pearce finally revealed that the O’Farrell government expects to have an idea of what may move to the cloud next year. Meanwhile the Department of Finance’s long awaited technology strategy for the federal government suggested that improving the productivity of the public service by using technology should be a priority. A particular criticism of Australian jurisdictions from some analysts has been the lack of a ‘cloud first’ mandate such as those operating in Britain and the United States were governments are attempting to realise savings as high a 20 per cent on their IT running costs. A particular target has been the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) which has been playing catch-up on cloud computing after the much-vaunted Gershon review initially missed technology megatrend. But an analysis by Mr Stewart suggests that lofty expectations about what AGIMO need to be put into context. “While some are very critical of the Australian Governments apparent cloud-neutral stance we need to consider things in perspective,” Mr Stewart said. “AGIMO’s role is to point out the risks and the things that need to be managed, the rest is up to the Agencies.” 

He said that there was “no-point” in AGIMO attempting to put out a “cloud first” policy because ultimately agencies would make their own decisions. Instead, Mr Stewart suggested that a “cloud ready” strategy was more immediately appropriate. “For now at least the current stance of AGIMO is probably about right: and that is ‘being first at moving second’”. The sobering outlook for cloud uptake state and federal governments is likely to force suppliers with steep sales targets to look to local governments for new business because of the comparative autonomy of how purchasing decisions are made.

From http://www.governmentnews.com.au 10/11/2012

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Queensland Delivers Open Data Reforms

A raft of reforms unveiled by Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, is set to create an open data revolution in Queensland – with plans to make government data more accessible for citizens and the industry. Under the government’s just-released ICT reforms agenda, an e-government initiative is being rolled, out, including a new web site offering a portal into announcements and policy updates. Ray Stevens, Queensland’s Member for Mermaid, takes up the role of Assistant Minister to Premier Newman, managing a newly-created e-government portfolio. This latest appointment opens up avenues for informed discussion and debate between government, industry and community stakeholders. Premier Newman said his administration is “determined to change the culture of the Queensland Government.” The aim is to build up open government, at the same time, offering access to information collected across regions, in all kinds of formats, and for all kinds of reasons. 

In the past, governments gave away land to stimulate economic development. “Now information is the new currency,” Premier Newman said. “Open access to information held by the State Government will help stimulate the development of new, innovative applications by all sorts of private individuals, companies and non-government organisations,” he noted. He added that examples of the types of information that can be released include location information for ‘trackable’ government vehicles such as buses, trains and ferries, road usage data, crime and accident statistics, speed camera locations and hospital statistics. Under future arrangement, incoming Assistant Minister, Ray Stevens, will work alongside the Queensland Premier and Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, Ms Ros Bates. This partnership will help deliver Queensland’s “information revolution.” Among other reforms, an Open Data Reform Group is being formed. This group galvanises the Director-Generals of all Queensland Government departments – with a mandate to lead culture change across the administration. 

The Open Data Reform Group will seek feedback from the public and the ICT sector on what kinds of data, and what formats they need to develop solutions. “Once we make more data accessible, the Queensland Government will be encouraging application and solution development through new competitions and incentives,” Premier Newman said. “This is all part of meeting our commitment to restoring accountability in government.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia 10/11/2012

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Australia Govt Enables Location-Based Emergency SMS Alerts

The Australian government is implementing a location-based emergency SMS alert system in preparation for the bushfire season. The system will enable emergency services to send alerts and warnings via SMS to mobile phones based on the where the phone is, in addition to its registered address. This world-first technology is an enhancement to the existing Emergency Alert system instituted in 2009, which sends alerts to mobile phones or landlines based only on the registered address of the phone. The upgrade allowing location-based alerts was led by the state of Victoria, where trials have already been carried out in 13 locations and are scheduled for four more locations this month. “Getting emergency warnings out effectively during a disaster is absolutely critical,” said Nicola Roxon, Minister for Emergency Management and the Attorney-General of Australia. “After all, mobile phones are mobile. This update will help emergency services to get warnings to the right people at the right time in the right place.” The government has spent over AU$60 million (US$62 million) to establish and upgrade Emergency Alert. Customers of the service provider Telstra will have access to the system in December, while Vodafone and Optus customers will be incorporated next year.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 11/16/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: To Move 70 Percent of Govt Transactions Online by 2017

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain unveiled today plans to leverage today’s cutting edge technologies to improve service delivery to the public as part of the Government’s “Better Public Services Initiative”. The initiative would entail the establishment of a one-stop online shop for businesses (Result 9 Action Plan) and a plan to shift an average of 70 per cent of common government transactions online by 2017 (Result 10 Action Plan). While New Zealand is doing well in international “Ease of Doing Business” Rankings, the Government realised that there’s considerable scope for improvement and innovation. With that, the Government is now leveraging today’s cutting edge technologies to reduce costs and increase productivity to make it even more convenient for businesses and citizens alike to transact with the government. 

“The one stop shop online shop, which will be led by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, will make life easier for businesses by reducing the number of times they need to enter their details when dealing with the different parts of Government. It will also allow a greater degree of information sharing between agencies,” Minister Joyce said in an official statement. “The point of the one-stop shop is to make the interaction with Government quick, seamless and user-friendly. The New Zealand public and businesses increasingly expect to be able to access Government services online without the need for dealing with multiple agencies. The Minister added that the Government is aiming to see a 25 per cent reduction in business costs from dealing with the government by 2017. Meanwhile, Minister Tremain says the Result 10 Action Plan is about delivering smarter, faster and more convenient online public services that can be easily accessed anytime from devices such as smartphones and iPads. 

“The Department of Internal Affairs is working closely with Government agencies to deliver a wide range of digital services such as paying for vehicle licenses and applying for overseas visas. It is expected that later this year renewing an adult passport can be done online,” Minister Tremain said. “Our goal is to ensure all New Zealanders have access to high quality public services no matter whether they are at home, work or on the go.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/30/2012

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NZ Gov Paves Way for G-Cloud

The New Zealand government is laying the foundations for its G-cloud roll-out — with industry Requests for Proposals (RFPs) currently being sought to provide onshore-hosted cloud-based services. Together with these RFPs, a policy framework is being developed by the Department of Internal Affairs in tandem with core agencies. This department is expected to report back to relevant ministers by the end of 2012 about broad-based cloud adoption plans. Cloud computing will enable agencies to pay per-use for ICT products and services delivered through networks, rather than maintain their own ICT infrastructure, according to NZ’s Minister for Internal Affairs, Chris Tremain. He says cloud computing is an “exciting, emerging technology” that will contribute directly to better public services, promote innovation, and substantially reduce costs. “There are many opportunities for implementing cloud-based services across public sector agencies. The first will be cloud-based office productivity services like email, spread-sheets and word processing, which will improve consistency and enable much better collaboration between agencies.” 

Cloud technology also offers immediate access to the latest software versions, updates, and patches. This access will deliver economies of scale to foster innovation — while taking advantage of new technologies as these become available. “This allows services to be developed much more quickly by using cloud-based technologies on demand, rather than going through a long development and implementation time frame,” notes Minister Tremain. “Using ICT as a service allows immediate access, customisation and quick implementation.” A government position paper says cloud computing will enable agencies to use ICT resources on a pay-per-use basis, using data and services stored externally. This avoids having to invest in agencies’ own ICT infrastructure and capability. A good comparison is the provision of electricity services. Moving forward, all agencies are expected to take a ‘cloud first’ approach when making procurement decisions. This approach will drive the standardisation of technology solutions and services, however does not require selecting “only one solution for all agencies.” 

Among the options, agencies have the flexibility to directly engage with service providers. But these relationships are expected to act within all-of-government frameworks. New Zealand’s moves into cloud computing mirror trends in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the US. These countries are also fast-tracking all-of-government frameworks to roll out cloud services. The security of and access to information stored in the cloud remains paramount; the NZ government notes that it is taking a conservative, cautious approach. For now, cloud-based office productivity services will be hosted onshore — enabling agencies to better tackle privacy and security concerns. The Department of Internal Affairs says it is developing “robust frameworks” to ensure that internationally-recognised security, access and audit practices are put into place. This department is reporting back to relevant ministers about developing security frameworks by year’s end, among other activities.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 08/31/2012

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NZ Gov Consolidates Web Services

The New Zealand government is spearheading a new procurement initiative to save agencies time and money when sourcing web services from an approved panel of service providers. This Common Web Services (CWS) initiative is being managed by the Department of Internal Affairs – the government’s lead agency driving ICT procurement and policy reforms. This CWS initiative, unveiled earlier by New Zealand’s Minister for Internal Affairs, Chris Tremain, streamlines the administration’s procurement and tendering process for web services. These services encompass government informational web sites that do not require complex integration with other databases or transactional systems, including payments. Minister Tremain said the CWS initiative enables agencies to more readily engage online expertise from an approved list of 42 service providers. He added that agencies requiring web-related resources will be able to select from a panel of service providers. This service enables agencies to “complete minimal paperwork, and get on with the job of providing government information and services online.” 

The panel of web service providers is comprehensive. It is supported by a diversity of company types, and includes New Zealand owned and operated small-to medium sized enterprises with specific expertise, as well as larger companies that offer a wider range of services. Tina Sutton, General Manager, Government Information Services, Department of Internal Affairs, told FutureGov Magazine there are two parts to the CWS initiative. These two parts comprise a Web Professional Services Panel and a Common Web Services Platform. The Web Professional Services Panel procurement was completed in September 2012. Seven panels were established for the Web Professional Services component: information architects, usability advisers, website testers, front-end developers, graphical/visual designers, website technical writers, and accessibility consultants. Six agencies have signed up for the Web Professional Services Panel. Several others are in the process of doing so. There are 42 service providers across the Web Professional Services Panel; some service providers are on multiple panels. 

The Common Web Services Platform project will announce successful respondents within the next month (1st week of December 2012). This update includes details of the underlying technology platform. Conservatively, the New Zealand government invests over NZ $40 million a year on online channels, according to Sutton. For example, agencies across the New Zealand government use approximately 50 different types of distinct content management systems. “This has resulted in duplicate investment in web projects and platforms across agencies,” Sutton noted. “The CWS project will reduce the costs to government of the procurement design, development, and maintenance of informational websites.” Using a common platform also means that many aspects of quality and compliance with government policies and standards will be taken care of. These include compliance with the New Zealand government’s web and security standards and the Public Records Act. A cross-agency working group earlier developed the vision for the CWS initiative. This working group included representatives from the Department of Internal Affairs, Treasury, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Social Development, Crown Law, Treasury, Inland Revenue, Ministry for Primary Industries, Maritime NZ, PHARMAC, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Transport, and NZ Transport Agency. 

In other developments, the New Zealand government is evaluating the viability of offering a “Government On-line Engagement Service.” This initiative will enable agencies to tap into a common service and on-line capability with which to engage with communities on policy development and other matters. Other projects include redeveloping the newzealand.govt.nz web site, and moves to publish the NZ Gazette Online, and in real-time. It is expected that the rebuild of newzealand.govt.nz and Gazette Online will use the Common Web Services platform.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 11/07/2012

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Online Paid-content Market Poses Threat to Traditional Advertising

The rise of tablets and smartphones will help grow the online paid-content market 65% to £8bn a year by 2017, with consumer spending on digital news rocketing 77% to almost £250m, according to a report. Research firm Forrester also warns that the rise of paid-for services on mobile devices and tablets could limit advertising revenue opportunities. The Forrester report found that over the next five years, the amount spent on online music, games, film, TV and news content by consumers in western Europe will surge by 65% from 6.2bn to 10.2bn. News content spend will grow by 77% from 158m this year to 279m in 2017, including digital subscriptions to newspapers such as the Financial Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal Europe, the Times and Sunday Times. The number of people choosing to buy news content online will jump 68% from 4.8 million to 8.1 million, with 20% of tablet users choosing to do so by 2017, according to Forrester. Darika Ahrens, a Forrester analyst, said that its report debunks the traditional view that consumers will not pay for online content. Ahrens added that there appears to be a seismic change in technological advances, as well as the type of services provided in the past few years, which is changing consumer habits. Changes since then include a boost in the number of smartphones, tablets and internet-connected games consoles available; crackdowns on piracy, especially in online music; and the popularity of paid-for content services offered by companies such as Spotify and Netflix. The report argues that subscription services will be the most successful paid-for model.

From http://www.ejc.net/ 11/04/2012

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ARAB STATES: Enormous ICT Investment Opportunities in Mideast

The Middle East offers great investment opportunities in the information and communications technology sector as the region will be investing $300 billion in ICT projects during the next five years, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Toure said. He said Gulf states are taking the lead in developing the ICT services in the region, as various projects are underway that will boost the telecom, broadband and communication facilities. Referring to the Middle East region’s fast progress on the telecom and IT fronts, he said the UAE is the first country in the world that achieved a 200 per cent penetration in mobile phones. “Dubai is one of the most well-connected cities in the world. The emirate is an extremely attractive destination to visit and to do business,” Dr Toure said during a panel discussion at ITU Telecom World 2012 on Monday. He said other Gulf states have also recorded significant development in the ICT sector. “Oman has evolved national policy on broadband, Bahrain has identified the key areas for development and Qatar is also doing well.” He said a recent successful initial public offering by the Saudi Telecommunications Company to raise a record $10 billion is indicating the investment potential in the region. However, there is need to frame better policies to attract the private sector and regulate the sector in a better way. “There is no room for a telecom company that can only offer telecom services, it should be able to able to deliver triple-play every where,” he said.

He said broadband is the future and the private sector should come forward to invest in the ICT sector. “ITU is a good platform to debate and frame the policies. We have provided an opportunity for brainstorming sessions to lay down a foundation for a better place.” Referring to a recent study, he said about 19 per cent of new property buyers opt to get Internet before a gas connection. “Today, this is the world where we are living.” “By developing the ICT sector, we can save the lives of 700,000 children who are dying because of malaria. These lives can be saved if we diagnose the virus within the first 24 hours by using ICT facilities.” Earlier, Nigerian Vice-President Alhaji Namadi Sambo said the ICT sector has made significant progress in the past 10 years. He invited public and private sector investors to come and explore the investment opportunities in the country. President of Comoros Ikililou Dhoinine also shed light on the importance of ICT development and said its government has allocated $20 million to build up infrastructure and fibre-optic network in the country. He also announced to allow a second telecom operator and second marine cable connection to improve connectivity. “We hope to attract huge investment in public or private sector projects.” Reza Jafari, chairman of the ITU Telecom Board, discussed the four-point strategy involving ecosystem, innovation and leadership to boost ICT facilities in the coming days. He said the ICT sector has completely ignored the role of women for a long time and the policy-makers should involve them in the development of the sector.

From http://www.khaleejtimes.com/ 10/16/2012

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Asia-Pacific Increases Spend on Digital Mobile Consumers

Companies in Asia-pacific have increased spend on digital mobile consumers, according to a research commissioned by Tata Consultancy Services. Organizations in this region will spend far more on responding to digital mobile consumers than companies in North America, Europe and Latin America this year. The study "The New Digital Mobile Consumer: How Large Companies are Responding," indicates that in 2012, companies will spend US $2.41 million per US $1 billion revenue in Asia-Pacific. Levels of investment will grow by 2015 with spending per US $1 billion revenue to increase to US $2.85 in Asia-Pacific versus US $2.41 million in 2012. "The digital consumer is an exciting and complex customer segment that global corporations have to understand and engage with," said N. Chandrasekaran, CEO and managing director for Tata Consultancy Services. "These consumers are diverse in their need, their interactions are flexible and often conducted 'in motion'. Keeping their attention means being able to serve their dynamic needs by leveraging the power of digital and mobile technologies to engage with them." 

Changes required to win loyalty of consumers
TCS' study focuses on consumer industries, both manufacturing and service companies, in four regions of the world: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. This study emphasizes the need to introduce business changes to win the loyalty of consumers. "Businesses addressing this smart consumer segment must collect high quality data to understand them in real time; engage them in new and innovative ways; and reinforce their relationships through flawless technology interactions," added Chandrasekaran. 82% of "leader" firms recognize the importance of the digital mobile consumer and have thus made the digital mobile consumer a unique market segment. 85% of those surveyed have created a new product and service offering for digital mobile consumer. 28% of "laggards" have made the digital mobile consumer a unique market segment and 30% of such firms have created new product or service offerings for this audience.

From http://www.computerworld.com.sg/ 10/04/2012

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EUROPE: Report on “European Online Marketplace – Consumer Complaints 2010-2011”

The “European Online Marketplace – Consumer Complaints 2010-2011” is a report drafted by the European Consumer Centre in Netherlands in close collaboration with the Centers in Lithuania, Ireland and Sweden. The report examines the cross border internet purchases. According to the report payment security, non delivery, lack of dispute resolution mechanisms and fraud prevent consumers and businesses from engaging more in e-commerce. The European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) informs us that consumers’ complaints, in 2010-2011, reached an average 31,000. Of these, 56% concerned online shopping. Delivery problems, defective products and no conformity with contract provoke also further complaints (42% on average in 2010-2011). Moreover, many complaints were received for lack of transparency in personalized services such as dating sites and online gambling. In 2010-2011 Germany, France, the UK, Luxemburg and the Netherlands were the top-ranking e-commerce markets. More specifically, ECC-Net Mystery Shopping Report, in October 2011, addresses that cross-border online shopping and buying from a domestic trader has the same difficulties. According to the report the delivery rate is high (94% of orders) and all items delivered without any problem. However, consumers are still hesitant to engage in cross border transactions. The ECC-Net report supports consumers’ rights and guide them to pay safe, to avoide scams, to know who they are dealing with and understand their commitments. Despite the problems and the complaints, there are many European policies that can boost consumers’ confidence in online shopping. The European Small Claims procedure for cross-border disputes, the Alternative Dispute Resolution and Online Dispute Resolution Regulation (ADR/ODR) are some of them.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 11/18/2012

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Estonia Telecom Company: Internet Bandwidth Usage Growing 35% Annually

Analysis by telecom service provider Starman has found that their customers are upping their internet bandwith use by 35 percent per year, with each new and active consumer lowering the overall network quality. The company's technical director, Hanno Liiva, told Postimees that the growth trend is likely to apply to all internet service providers in Estonia. The network peak arrives around 20.00-22.00 and people tend to veer from the “typical internet user” profile that telecommunication companies had envisioned in their business plans. Statistics Estonia said that, in 2008, close to 200,000 people were watching and listening to online TV and radio, downloading software and using video chat. Close to 300,000 people were playing online games. Liiva said the number of people who use internet for these purposes in 2012 has grown 2-3 times since then, meaning nearly all of the 600,000 households in the country have increased their online activities. The technical director said people often feel their internet connection is getting slower over time. While malicious software is sometimes the cause, more often it is a result of new customers using up the virtual resource.

From http://news.err.ee/ 10/28/2012

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SE: Launch of an Ecommerce Web-based Guide

On 3 September 2012, the Swedish Trade Council (STC) launched a web-based eCommerce guide; its purpose is to ease the work of companies which export their products and perform eCommerce activities. eRetailers say that they encounter many obstacles and face uncertainty when dealing with cross-border eCommerce. Moreover, there is a great need for accessible information about what applies when selling over the Internet a product to a customer from a different country from the retailer’s place of operation. Therefore, the STC developed a free-of-charge web-based eCommerce guide that can be viewed online upon registration and by filling in a form for access request to this specific service. “It is very welcome that the STC developed this eCommerce guide containing information about what eRetailers should consider before turning to new markets. For the Government's growth initiatives, eCommerce is an important component with great potential for growth and employment in the long term,” stated the Trade Minister, Ewa Björling in the World Trade Centre in Stockholm. The Government's ambition is for Sweden to become the most attractive environment for eCommerce in 2015. Over 93 % of the population has access to the Internet at home and more than 70 % have bought or ordered goods over the Internet; however, at the same time, only 16 % of the population has shopped online from other EU countries. Therefore, an eCommerce guide will hopefully lead more companies to embark on export sales - while more consumers will begin to go online for cross-border shopping. “Sweden is also Europe's most innovative country in which goods and services that have not yet seen the light of day may be tomorrow's export success,” said the Trade Minister. The guide covers, among other countries, the Nordic and Baltic states, Germany, Poland and Russia.

From http://www.epractice.eu/ 09/14/2012

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Slovakia: Tesco Opens Online Retailing

Tesco has launched online shopping in Slovakia, enabling customers in Bratislava and surrounding towns to order online for home delivery. Shoppers can choose from almost 20,000 lines of fresh and frozen food, other groceries and non-food items such as toys, newspapers and magazines. "This is a new innovative offer for the Slovak market and we believe that the service will help Slovak customers in today’s hectic world, not just by making shopping easier, but also saving them time." said Martin Dlouhý, chief executive, Tesco Slovakia. The move is part of Tesco’s strategy to become an international multichannel retailer, and adds to existing operations in South Korea, Poland and the Czech Republic as well as in the UK and Ireland. "We’ve used our learning and experience from our existing online operations in the UK, Ireland, South Korea, and more recently in the Czech Republic and Poland, to create an innovative IT platform that is industry leading and scalable," said Ken Towle, online food and internet retailing director. Tesco has operated in Slovakia since 1996 when it bought seven K-Mart department stores. Today it has more than 126 stores and more than 9,500 staff.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 10/14/2012

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Ukrainian Consumers Move Online

From sweaters to blenders, Ukrainians are fast joining the global trend of online shopping. Some two million Ukrainians bought something online in the first quarter of 2012 – more than twice the number in 2010, according to GfK Ukraine, a market research company. The number of people buying online increased by 44 percent in the last two years, according to a survey conducted in February by Nielsen, the world’s major analytical company operating in more than 100 countries. Ukraine is no outlier to this trend. “This type of market is one of the fastest-growing in the world,” says Oleksandr Feoktystov, head of marketing service of Yandex Market online shopping service. “In Ukraine and Russia the process (of growth of Internet retail) has started in the past two years.” Household appliances and electronic goods are among the most popular items purchased through the Internet in Ukraine, according to the Nielsen survey. It also showed that 49 percent of Ukrainian Internet users prefer buying this type of goods online. Forbes recently reported that Ukraine’s online retailers made more than $4 billion in sales last year. The biggest share ($130 million) came from Rozetka, one of the most popular electronics stores. About 9 percent of Ukrainian Internet users bought something through Rozetka in 2011, according to GfK Ukraine. “Better prices is one of the major reasons for shopping online, with any kind of goods,” says Tetyana Yablonovska, senior researcher at GfK Ukraine.  

The share of Internet users buying clothes and accessories online is also high, about 39 percent, according to Nielsen. Modna Kasta, an online fashion club that offers brand clothes at discounted prices, is one of the most popular among Ukrainian Internet users, according to Alexa.com, a web monitoring page that ranks sites by popularity. Launched in 2010, it has grown rapidly, with turnover expected to reach Hr 100 million ($12 million) in 2012 according to Andriy Logvin, Modna Kasta’s CEO. “It (becomes) a daily living need when you don’t have time to go shopping,” says Yulia Larina, marketing executive at Hudson, an international recruitment agency. She regularly buys clothes and household appliances online. “It’s cheaper and (on the web) you can find goods, usually brand clothes, that are not available in shops,” she says. About 150,000 Internet users search for clothes on Yandex, a Russian online search giant, every day, according to Consumer Barometer online service, which provides data on how consumers interact with the Internet as a source of information. users with a selection of more 60,000 goods from major Ukrainian and Russian retailers and allows to chose and compare clothes from all the shops. “Clothes and shoes are taking the center stage, judging by the number of purchases,” Feoktystov says. “And it will keep growing,” he says. 

From http://www.kyivpost.com/ 11/11/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: Canada's Mobile App Sector Generates $775M in Revenues, Employs 51,000

Nearly Half the Jobs in the industry are based in Ontario, new figures show. Revenue generated annually by Canada's mobile app industry will more than double by 2016 to reach $2.2 billion per year, a new report forecasts. The sector now generates about $775 million in revenue each year, according to an Information and Communications Technology Council study reported on Thursday in the Globe and Mail. The industry also employs more than 51,000 people in Canada, with the bulk of those jobs (47 per cent) based in Ontario. Many of those jobs pay relatively well compared to non-tech professions, with the mobile sector paying an average annual salary of about $68,000 to technical workers such as programmers, the study says.

From http://www.itbusiness.ca/ 10/18/2012

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How Alberta Revamped Its IT Services

OTTAWA – The province of Alberta went through an IT revamp reminiscent of what the year-old Shared Services Canada organization is attempting, and came through it with key measures of user satisfaction running in the 90 per cent range. 

How did Alberta do it?
Consultation and careful service management were important, Ron Boehm of Service Alberta said at the annual GTEC government technology conference here. Boehm, the agency’s executive director of service delivery and support, said the province had three mainframes, 16 service desks and 13 ways of supporting desktop computers and worksites when it began working on the IT reorganization in 2005. Service Alberta broke IT operations into four bundles: service desk, mainframe, desktop and worksite, and managed security. It contracted these out to different suppliers – keeping things competitive rather than “putting all the services in one basket and saying okay you take it all,” Boehm said. The first example of consultation came when Service Alberta released drafts of its requests for proposal through its purchasing system, asking potential suppliers for feedback. The idea was to see if the province’s goals and cost assumptions were realistic. "We got a lot of feedback from the marketplace and I feel that that really helped us balance the service costs with the service levels and the service scope that we wanted,” said Boehm. Service Alberta also took time to consult with the various ministries it serves as it developed the RFPs, he said. This consultation took time but paid off by making the process run more smoothly from that point on. "You can pay me now or pay me later,” he observed.

Another key decision was keeping Service Alberta’s own IT service management tool and insisting that all contractors work with it. One contractor uses its own service management system internally and migrates data into Service Alberta’s, Boehm said, but the province gets all the data in one place and under its own control. The province set many service levels to be measured – in hindsight, possibly more than necessary, Boehm said. It also built a service catalogue describing 33 primary services with details such as cost, how to obtain the service, hours of operation and how to obtain support for it. A service module allows authorized personnel to request services online. Requests must come from authorized people because they may involve expenditures that have to be authorized or security implications. Service Alberta is using Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) frameworks to help it manage and measure the effectiveness of its processes. “The application of COBIT and ITIL was quite important to this,” Boehm said. The agency measures satisfaction by surveying every third person who submits a service or support ticket, and has found measures such as problems being resolved to their satisfaction and staff being knowledgeable and polite running between 85 and 95 per cent.

From http://www.itworldcanada.com/ 11/07/2012

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U.S.: American Industry Groups Dissect EU Cloud Computing - Report

American industry groups are welcoming a new European Union strategy for streamlining cloud computing networks, but not everyone likes the specifics. The EU document, "Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe," is designed to help harmonize policies for cloud computing networks, which store information on remote servers accessed over the Internet, and which routinely cross international borders. The strategy outlines ways to streamline the regulations that govern ownership of data, security, and privacy. The Business Software Alliance welcomed the report, but warned that it is not enough to harmonize rules within Europe. "In implementing the new strategy, policymakers need to align privacy and security rules so that data can flow across international borders," BSA's Thomas Boué said in a statement. "Creating barriers to the free flow of data beyond Europe would impose inefficiencies and could cut off European companies from the fastest-growing cloud markets in Asia and elsewhere around the world." The Software & Information Industry Association also praised the focus on cloud computing, but Mark MacCarthy, SIIA's vice president of public policy, said that governments should not make separate rules for cloud computing. "In places, the communication treats cloud computing as a discrete entity that is potentially subject to specific government regulation," MacCarthy wrote in a blog post. "In reality, cloud computing is a variety of evolving business and technical developments that share only a rough similarity."

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 09/28/2012

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U.S.: North Carolina Embracing Enterprisewide IT Changes

North Carolina’s new website by itself may not seem like a radical overhaul to the state’s IT program. But the project is the first step in a long line of changes people can expect to see under state CIO Jonathan Womer’s tenure. On the job since February, Womer made it a priority to identify what state IT improvements can be done without significant financial investment. North Carolina’s website was the first project tackled, as staff gave it a facelift to improve usability and make online services and information more accessible. The site launched earlier this month. But changes to procurement and IT consolidation also are on the horizon for the state. Although Womer wasn’t ready to announce the specific details, he told Government Technology that a new position is being created to revitalize the state’s IT purchasing efforts. Womer said the idea is to align IT procurement in a way similar to how it’s done on the federal level. The new person will have a national-level background, with the goal of reducing the amount of time necessary to get a good project off the ground, and to get the best procurement system in place for the state. For now, however, smaller projects like the redesigned state website are on the agenda. Womer said what he has noticed in eight months as CIO is that time allocation is almost more fundamental then funding in order to have a successful project.

For example, North Carolina’s website redesign didn’t take a lot of money. Womer explained it was more about getting a staff member dedicated to coordinating all the different pieces and bringing agencies together for feedback. Design work and coding the new site didn’t take long — just a couple of months. The challenge, however, was bringing the various stakeholders together and getting them on the same page. That took six to eight months to organize. “The difficult and long-term part is getting all those content-focused people in the agencies,” Womer said. “Finding out who they are, bringing them to the table, showing them how an enterprise-level website can enhance their own state level [goals], and getting their feedback and buy-in.” The website’s upgrades included optimization for mobile devices, putting all social media accounts used by state agencies on one page, and condensing the various methods of receiving electronic updates from state agencies into one section. Womer’s team also created an “Open Government” page so citizens can keep tabs on state government activities. NC.gov also features an array of revolving photographs depicting scenic areas of the state as the background to the website content. The style differs from the trend other state and local governments are following of using a rotating image marquee for spotlighted news and updates. Womer said the page-wide photos were important because, despite the utility of the website, it also serves as a brochure and promotional tool for North Carolina. “You want this to really represent the state in a positive light, especially given the economic world that we’re in and the competition for business,” Womer explained. “You want it to accurately reflect the detail of the state, the real intuitive nature of our economy and how we’re geared for the future.” 

Looking Ahead
Womer’s predecessor Jerry Fralick left in February. Fralick’s administration issued a report in April 2011 that estimated that North Carolina could save up to $57 million by consolidating and outsourcing the state’s technology infrastructure. Womer said some of the items noted in the report were eliminated by agency operators just being more efficient with resources, but a few remain in play. One in particular concerns consolidating North Carolina’s major call centers. The state’s Information Technology Services agency operates the back-end software and hardware infrastructure for the centers. According to Womer, many other states outsource that work, so the agency may look into consolidating those in the future. In addition, a statewide IT plan has to be delivered to the North Carolina Legislature in February 2013. Womer said that’s where he’s going to lay out some of the technology challenges the state has and the potential solutions. What work gets done may ultimately depend on who is elected as North Carolina’s governor. With Gov. Bev Purdue not seeking re-election, a new administration will take office in January and plans could change depending on the priorities set by the new governor. The three candidates vying for office are Democrat Water Dalton, Libertarian Barbara Howe and Republican Pat McCrory. Although candidates usually don’t spend a lot of time talking about technology, they do share their opinions on business priorities and fundamental things that they may identify as being wrong. Womer believes that information can be helpful from a strategic planning perspective. “That comes in handy when thinking about how you can facilitate changing business directions through a technology platform,” Womer said.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 10/12/2012

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States Save Money with Online Services

A University of Utah study suggests state governments can achieve significant budget cuts by shifting many of their in-person services to the Web. Utah has saved more than $61 million during the past five years by moving state transactions online and contracting some Web services out to third-party vendors, the report said. The state offers online options for more than 1,000 services such as renewing car registrations, ordering birth certificates and filing income taxes. That reflects a growing trend among state governments, which have found shifting services online can save time for both citizens and employees. Federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration also are  offering more services online. The Utah study looked at 13 of the state’s 25 highest demand online services that also were offered offline -- either in person or by phone. The study found an average per transaction savings of more than $13 for the online version, from $17.11 to $3.91. Nine of the transactions were cheaper online and four were more expensive, the study said. Utah also outsources some of its online services to Utah Interactive, the state branch of NIC, a company that runs fee-for-service e-government operations in more than 20 states. These outsourced services accounted for $15 million of the state’s $61 million in savings in five years, the study found.

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 11/01/2012

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CHINA: Cloud Computing Gives Baidu Mobile Edge

BAIDU, China's largest search engine operator, is boosting its cloud computing service in an effort to maintain its dominance of the mobile Internet sector. At its annual technology innovation conference in Beijing last week, Baidu said it will start to offer data storage and processing on the web instead of on actual servers to web-based application developers free of charge. The company will allow outsiders to include its own module, including applications like map software, on their products to help them build based on Baidu's existing service. Market watchers said the offer could benefit smaller developers who have limited resources. The search engine remains the most popular feature for Internet users in China. However, an increasing number of smartphone users are accessing the Internet through mobile phone applications to read news and exchange information with friends. Baidu Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said queries from smartphone applications at the search site surged 10-fold in the past year. However, mobile-based services comprise so little of Baidu's income at present that they aren't broken out in the company's quarterly earnings. 

The value of China's mobile Internet market is expected to reach 73.8 billion yuan (US$11.6 billion) by the end of this year, with advertising income of 5.7 billion yuan, nearly double a year ago, according to a research report by Data Center of China Internet. An increasing number of players are entering the market, but most mobile Internet applications have yet to turn a profit. Consumers are bombarded with loads of applications, making it hard for any particular software to stay on top for more than several months. Smaller applications aimed at particular target groups barely get a notice. Making use of Baidu's computing capacity means smaller and medium-size developers won't have to pay for servers and other hardware facilities. Baidu has launched mobile phone software based on its search products, including maps, music streaming and photo editing. Earlier this year, it also collaborated with domestic handset makers to pre-install its Android-based smartphone operating system to boost traffic on mobile devices. But these initiatives apparently weren't enough to address a wider array of consumer needs, not to mention the various smartphone models with different operating systems. 

Baidu will allow developers access to its cloud computing facility, such as remote online data storage and virtual application testing facilities, to make sure software can run smoothly on different types of operating systems. Baidu Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Li said the company will invest 10 billion yuan to build cloud-computing facilities. That includes a 4.7 billion yuan facility under construction in north China's Shanxi Province that will be put into use in four years. "We've been working hard to study individual web users' habits and search demands, and now we'll work more closely with developers," said Li Mingyuan, general manager of Baidu's Mobile and Cloud Computing division. Baidu's plan is to appeal to more users by joining hands with a group of applications makers instead of coming up with its own software on the mobile Internet. By doing so, it hopes that netizens who have been using its site to search for news and online interest groups will stay on the site to look for mobile phone applications. More application programming interface will be opened for developers early next year, including payment modules that will allow smartphone users to pay for applications they have downloaded or for value-added services within applications, such as games. Baidu surely won't be doing all this for free. Vice President Wang Jin said the building of cloud computing infrastructure is just the first step.

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Lenovo Eyes 'Public Cloud' for Consumers

LENOVO Group Ltd, the world's second-largest maker of personal computers, has agreed to buy Stoneware Inc of the US to gain cloud-computing products in its first acquisition of a software vendor. Stoneware produces software used mainly by governments and schools to synchronize data across multiple mobile devices, said Mark Cohen, a Lenovo vice president. The closely held, Indianapolis-based company has 60 employees, he said yesterday, without disclosing terms. The purchase is Lenovo's second in less than three weeks as CEO Yang Yuanqing expands the company to take on rivals including Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co in smartphones, tablets and Internet-ready televisions. Lenovo will use Stoneware to build a "public cloud" for consumers, Cohen said. The service would compete with Apple's iCloud, which lets users store music, movies and applications and access them by the Internet and wirelessly. The acquisition "helps us access and interface with users in a way that we haven't been able to do," Cohen said. "We are not trying to remake ourselves into a software company. What we're trying to do is selectively enter the software market where we can make a difference for our customers, and to support our overall strategy."  

Lenovo, whose headquarters are in Beijing and Morrisville, North Carolina, has focused previous acquisitions on hardware. It bought the PC division of International Business Machines Corp in 2005. Last year, the company acquired control of Medion AG, a Germany-based computer maker, and the PC unit of Tokyo-based NEC Corp. On September 5, Lenovo unveiled plans to buy the Sao Paulo-based consumer electronics group known as CCE for about US$147 million. Cloud computing refers to data and software stored in "clouds" of servers that can be accessed anywhere by devices with web access, including smartphones and tablet computers. Lenovo has been in a partnership to re-sell Stoneware's software for the past two years, during which time the company's revenue doubled, Stoneware CEO Rick German said in an interview, without supplying more specific details. "We hope to do far better than that as we come together," German said. The software maker is profitable and was founded in 2000, he said. The transaction is expected to close by the end of this year, Cohen said.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/19/2012

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China Unicom Wrests 3G Market Share

China Unicom Ltd., the country's second-largest mobile operator, added 3.07 million 3G subscribers in August, according to a statement filed on Thursday to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The company's total number of 3G subscribers reached 63.69 million by the end of August, the statement said. China Unicom has adopted a series of measures to win more 3G customers from market leader China Mobile Ltd., including selling cheaper smartphones and offering lower-cost 3G services. The operator aims to raise its 3G subscriber base to 90 million by the end of 2012. Meanwhile, China Unicom's 2G subscribers climbed to 162 million by the end of August, up 336,000 month on month, according to the statement. It added that the operator's Internet users with broadband access increased by 647,000 to reach 61.98 million by the end of last month, while its fixed-line telephone users fell by 167,000 to 92.41 million. Shares in China Unicom rose 0.55 percent to open at 3.63 yuan on Thursday.

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Microsoft to Boost Cloud Computing

MICROSOFT Corp aims to increase investment in cloud computing and data centers on China's mainland, the world's biggest Internet and mobile phone market. The US software giant will spend US$500 million in the current fiscal year on the mainland in research and development, mainly on data centers, network servers and cloud computing, said Zhang Yaqin, Microsoft China's chairman, during the firm's STB (Sever and Tools Business) division's press conference held in Shanghai yesterday. With an annual revenue of US$19 billion, the STB division is now Microsoft's second-biggest revenue contributor. Microsoft is seeking local partners and preparing to build data centers on the mainland for cloud computing services that will support Windows 8 and Office 365 scheduled to be released by the end of this year, industry insiders said. Cloud computing allows users to save, edit, share and process data and files through various devices, including laptops, computers and mobile phones, based on the online "cloud" platform. Other information technology giants, including Apple Inc, Amazon Inc and Google Inc, have also invested heavily to penetrate the sector.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/20/2012

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Cloud Computing Cuts Costs of Storage

NASDAQ OMX yesterday launched a cloud computing platform built by Amazon Web Services which it said would allow its trading clients to cut the cost of storing financial data. The system, FinQloud, is a response to regulators' growing demands that companies provide more granular data on their trading activities. Policymakers in the US and Europe want banks and brokers to provide them with more detailed information on their day-to-day operations to help authorities spot illicit or risky trading patterns. The world's largest banks and brokers have historically used specialist in-house systems for data storage, citing security concerns about external platforms.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/26/2012

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China Mobile Plans 3G Market Cooperation

China Mobile Ltd, the world's biggest mobile carrier by subscriber, plans to step up cooperation with mobile phone manufacturers and marketing partners, in the hope of improving performance in the domestic third generation (3G) telecommunications market. The carrier also said on Thursday it will begin procuring more than 200,000 TD-LTE 4G terminals, including data cards and mobile phones, in the fourth quarter this year. On Sept 19, China Mobile had firstly invited public bidding for 34,700 TD-LTE terminals, as it said those devices would be put into network service tests. China Mobile leads its domestic rivals in terms of total number of mobile subscribers. By August, the operator had 693 million mobile users, almost twice the combined client number of China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd, the other two telecom operators in China. However, when it comes to the 3G telecom service market, the competition is more of an evenly-matched three-horse race. China Mobile had 72.1 million 3G users as of August, while China Unicom and China Telecom had 63.7 million and 56.4 million clients, respectively, in the same period. Analysts blamed the lackluster 3G market performance of China Mobile on the inferior 3G technology it had adopted. Chinese authorities granted a homegrown TD-SCDMA 3G license to China Mobile in 2009, while the other two carriers received approval to deploy more popular WCDMA and CDMA 3G networks. 

Li Yue, general manager of China Mobile, said the company would like to develop in-depth cooperation with mobile phone manufacturers and partners on the distribution side, a move that may help the operator to keep up with 3G market competition. "We hope mobile phone makers will launch more TD handsets with high quality and innovative technologies. China Mobile will also expand products and services distribution channels, to allow customers to buy TD devices from both our outlets and partners' sales networks," Li said. He made the remarks at China Mobile Terminal Industry Chain Summit in Beijing on Thursday. Li said China Mobile has almost realized its goal to launch TD version devices "at the same time, at the same quality and at the same price" as rivals. He predicted the company will sell more than 100 million TD version terminals next year, of which more than 80 percent will be smart terminals. China Mobile is set to sell 60 million TD devices this year, up from 9.4 million in 2010, he added. Tang Jianfeng, assistant general manager of China Mobile Device Co Ltd, said it will increase terminal subsidies and invest further in distribution channels in order to boost sales. China Mobile on Thursday signed strategic cooperation agreements with several national consumer electronics chain stores, including Suning Appliance Co Ltd and Gome. Jin Ming, president of Suning, said he expected to sell TD handsets in 1,800 Suning stores across the country by the first half of next year. "We hope to help sell 5 million TD terminals in the following 12 months," Jin said. By having a closer relationship with mobile phone vendors and third party marketing partners, China Mobile may be able to maintain its current position in the domestic 3G market. "However, given the obvious disadvantages in terms of 3G network speed and quality, China Mobile will not gain a real upper hand until it receives a 4G license," said Wang Ying, analyst at Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/28/2012

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Apple Begins Production of Smaller iPad

MASS production of a smaller and cheaper version of Apple's iPad tablet computer has started, US media reported yesterday. LG Display and AU Optronics, two leading LCD panel manufacturers based in Asia, already began manufacturing the LCD screens for Apple's new device in September, The Wall Street Journal said in a report, citing executives at Apple's Asian suppliers. Apple has kept the screen size of its iPad unchanged at 9.7 inches since the product debuted in January 2010. In comparison, a smaller Apple tablet will feature a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display with a lower resolution than the latest iPad, according to The Wall Street Journal. The launch of a smaller iPad is seen as Apple's move to stay competitive against rivals such as Google and Amazon, which have introduced 7-inch tablets at prices no more than 200 US dollars. The cheapest iPad starts from nearly 400 dollars. The Fortune magazine on Monday reported that Apple is rumored to be sending out press invitation on October 10 to a special event, which might be held on October 17 to unveil the smaller iPad. Apple has not yet commented on the reports.

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

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Smartphone Market on Lenovo's Horizon

LENOVO Group Ltd said slowing demand in the personal-computer market, where it overtook Hewlett-Packard Co as the global leader last quarter, is good reason for the company to expand into smartphones. Lenovo is already the second-largest smartphone maker in China and plans to seize the top spot from Samsung Electronics Co, Milko Van Duijl, president for the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions, said in Hong Kong yesterday. "Our goal is definitely to get to number one and not only to take smartphones into the China market but also into emerging markets." The company, founded in China in 1984 with the equivalent of US$25,000, has expanded its market value to US$8.4 billion, helped by takeovers including International Business Machines Corp's PC unit in 2005. Van Duijl said Lenovo just began selling handsets in Indonesia and India will follow, as CEO Yang Yuanqing moves closer to his goal of extending its PC dominance to smartphones and tablet computers. "Despite the challenges in the global PC market, Lenovo continues to expand in both emerging markets and mature markets at the expense of its competitors," Miles Xie, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Bocom International Holdings Co, wrote in a report yesterday. Lenovo's efforts are allowing it to "rapidly expand its market share in the China smartphone market," Xie wrote. "There is definitely a slowdown in the market in all parts of the world, however, we are so strong in China that was a good reason for us to expand into smartphones," Van Duijl said of the PC market. In China, Lenovo has a smartphone market share of 11.5 percent, surpassing that for the iPhone, Van Duijl said, without giving a figure for the Apple Inc device. As Lenovo expands in mobile devices, the company will build its own cloud-computing services and online store to create an ecosystem for the products, he said. Lenovo won't make its own mobile operating system and will stick with Google Inc's Android and Microsoft Corp's Windows 8, Van Duijl said. Global PC shipments fell 8.3 percent annually to 87.5 million in the third quarter, according to Gartner Inc.

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China Sees Need to Create Chinese Intel

THE Chinese semiconductor industry needs industrial restructuring and consolidation to create internationally competitive firms, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday. The next-generation chip design and manufacturing requires huge investment and talent. Because of a lack of capital and talent, Chinese firms are lagging behind global giants like Samsung and Qualcomm. The technology gap between the domestic semiconductor industry and its overseas peers has been widening, said Ding Wenwu, director general of the ministry's electronics information division. "China doesn't have a leading firm in the semiconductor industry, like Intel, Samsung or Qualcomm," Ding said during the IC China 2012 conference held in Shanghai yesterday. He said the government is drafting plans to encourage industry consolidation but he didn't elaborate. The revenue of the chip design sector surged 20 percent in the first six months, triple the integrated circuit industry's growth rate. In the first half, China's IC revenue totaled 85.2 billion yuan (US$13.5 billion), up 7.5 percent annually. It accounted about 10 percent of the global IC market, the China Semiconductor Industry Association said. Meanwhile at the IC China 2012, Applied Materials Inc, a US-based semiconductor equipment provider, signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance the Shanghai Integrated Circuit R&D Center's research and development capabilities in 12-inch wafer manufacturing.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/24/2012

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Baidu Records 60% Rise in Income

SEARCH engine operator Baidu said profit in the third quarter jumped nearly 60 percent as online advertising spending increased. Profit surged 60 percent to 3 billion yuan (US$479 million) and revenue jumped 49.7 percent to 6.25 billion yuan in the three months ended September 30, according to a stock exchange filing yesterday. Baidu has stepped up efforts to provide search products for handsets as web users shift their focus from desktop computers to smartphones and tablet computers. "Baidu will continue to invest in key areas at a time of transition from PC to mobile," chief financial officer Jennifer Li said in a statement. Earlier this year, Baidu said it will deepen collaboration with online application developers to woo web users to services that it doesn't offer. "Mobile search traffic has been growing in triple digits in recent years but market education could take a couple of years before advertisers allocate more budget to mobile paid search," chairman and chief executive officer Robin Li said yesterday. The company had 390,000 online advertisers by the end of September 30, up 28.3 percent from the same period a year ago. It expects revenue in the fourth quarter to be between US$979.3 million and US$1 billion, representing a 37.6 to 41.8 percent annual rise.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/31/2012

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China e-Commerce Expands 60% in Q3

CHINA'S online retail transaction value grew 60 percent in the third quarter to 331.6 billion yuan (US$52.6 billion) as e-commerce companies and traditional home appliance retailers boosted their online sales. Alibaba, whose Taobao C2C online shopping site and Tmall B2C retail platform, took up 75.5 percent of the market share, research firm Analysys International said in a report today. 360Buy held a 6.8 percent share while Tencent's online shopping unit grabbed a 4.4 percent share.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/08/2012

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China Focus: Online Shopping Bonanza Breaks Records

HANGZHOU, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- More than two billion yuan was spent in the first 70 minutes of a 24-hour shopping bonanza at China's largest business-to-customer online purchase website on Sunday. More than 10 million people swarmed to Taobao.com, for its 24-hour 50-percent-off carnival because of "Single's Day." November 11 (11/11)represents four single people. The sale has been initiated by the e-commerce company Alibaba Group with Taobao.com and Tmall.com, based in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang Province. As of 11:18 a.m. Sunday, trade volume reached 7.9 billion yuan (1.265 billion U.S. dollars), exceeding the 5.2 billion yuan in the 24 hours on Nov. 11 last year. Volume reached 10 billion yuan as of 1:38 p.m., which was the target for the 24 hours. It was realized 10 hours in advance, according to the company's statistics. The sales carnival is also testing the banking system and express delivery systems. Wu Liying, a bank employee in Hangzhou worked overnight to avoid any collapse of the banking system. "It's been too hustle and bustle," Wu told Xinhua. "The scale has exceeded the daily volume, which has brought great challenges to our system." Payment channels at some banks appeared to falter, just as they did last year on the same day. Although the Alipay.com, payment platform of Alibaba Group connecting the website to banks, has had a project team in place since August, the online system of China Construction Bank broke down for a while due. 

Systems of the Bank of China and Industrial Bank were alerted as being too busy. According to the China Construction Bank, transaction flow exceeded six times than usual during night hours. The system failed from 1:15 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. in branches in Sichuan Province and Beijing. The event has also triggered a busy day for logistics industries. "I can only slept two hours at night. Some online shops needed to start deliveries at 3 a.m.," said Wang Yunda, a courier of Shentong Express in Hangzhou. Last year, 20 million packages were delivered with some customers having to wait three months for their goods. Other e-commerce companies, including 360buy.com, suning.com and dangdang.com have joined in marketing on the same day to form a real tide sweeping the whole Internet purchase, said Lu Zhenwang, observer of e-commerce. Consumer habits have been changing in the country and new online space emerged in the world's largest market with the largest population, Lu said. The number of netizens reached 538 million in June while the popularity rate is only 39.3 percent in China, according to the latest statistics of China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). "The rate is 70 percent in western countries, which indicates China's large potential for online purchasing," said Jing Linbo, researcher of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 

Although exports continued to improve in October it was only described as a "slight improvement" by Chen Deming, minister of commerce. "China's economy cannot only count on exports, which is still hard to predict, while investment is influenced by policies and macroeconomic environment. Thus, domestic demand carries more expectation to stimulate China's economy," Jing said. "Online purchases shows the potential of China," he said. The report of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) raised a new goal to double people's income by 2020 from 2010. This requires the Party to not only stimulate domestic demand but also balance supply and demand, said Huang Hao, associate professor of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The online purchase platform shows great consuming capacity, which offers a channel to balance supply and demand as some commodities were transferred from traditional sellers," Huang said. Some companies transferred their storage from downtown department stores to e-commerce depots right before Single's Day, which created a new way to decrease the storage of traditional retailers, he said. "The large social collaboration triggered by e-commerce marketing pushes the limits of each one in the chain. More peaks will come to be both tests and chances," said Zhang Yong, president of Tmall.com. Ma Yun, board chairman of Alibaba Group, which runs Taobao.com, said that e-commerce is complementary to advanced traditional retailer in the U.S. "However, China's infrastructures and traditional retail industry is not perfect enough, which gives e-commerce a chance to become mainstream to stimulate domestic demand, while logistics and other supporting facilities can improve and match up," Ma told Xinhua.

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China to Become Largest Robot Consumer in 2014

Demand for industrial robots is predicted to hit 32,000 units by 2014 making China the world's largest robotics consumer. According to the International Federation of Robotics, the sector's technology and production have gained momentum amid higher labor costs and China's efforts to restructure its economic growth pattern and improve energy efficiency. At the China International Industry Fair, which closed yesterday, China's robot manufacturers exhibited their models in direct competition with their foreign counterparts. The fair attracted more than 1,800 participants over the five-day exhibition. At the event, SIASUN Robot & Automation Co. demonstrated their new models, which are integrated with numerical control machines that can accomplish multi-procedure processes. The company's self-designed products have been exported to overseas markets including the US, Canada, Russia and India. Despite the growing sector, the industry warned that a lack of core technology will stall the development of robot manufacturing in the country. Gu Chunyuan, vice president at manufacturer ABB (China) Limited, said, "despite the substantive demand, Chinese manufacturers still have to rely on some overseas suppliers for many key components, which may hinder the independent growth of China's robot sector." Gu also highlighted the importance in supporting downstream industries and nurturing professional talent to improve development of the sector.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/11/2012

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JAPAN: Status of Revenues and Expenses of Private Broadcasters in FY2011

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has compiled the state of revenues and expenses of private broadcasters in FY2011, and it is officially announced herein.
An outline of the state of revenues and expenses in FY2011 is as follows.
- Terrestrial core broadcasters
 
In comparison with the preceding fiscal year, terrestrial core broadcasters marked a decrease in “sales,” “cost of sales” and “selling and general administrative costs,” while recorded an increase in “operating profit or loss,” “ordinary profit or loss” and “profit or loss for this term.”

- Satellite broadcasters
In comparison with the preceding fiscal year, the whole satellite broadcasting business marked an increase in both “operating revenues” and “operating expenses” and as a result, recorded an increase in “operating profit or loss.”

- Cable television broadcasters
In comparison with the preceding fiscal year, the whole cable television business marked a decrease in both “operating revenues” and “operating expenses” and as a result, showed a decrease in “operating profit or loss.”

From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 09/12/2012

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Official Announcement of Quarterly Data on the Number of Telecommunications Service Subscriptions and Market Share (FY2012 Q1 (End of June 2012))

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MI C) has compiled the number of subscribers of telecommunications service and the market share in the first quarter of FY2012 (as of the end of June 2012) based on reports, etc. from telecommunications carriers pursuant to the provisions of the Rules for Reporting on Telecommunications Business (Ministerial Ordinance of MPT No. 46 of 1988), and they are officially announced herein (*1). 

1.Fixed communications
(1) There is little change in the number of subscribers of fixed telephones (subscription telephones of NTT East and West, landline phones, 0ABJ-IP phones and CATV telephones), now standing at 56.94 million (an increase of 0.1% over the previous quarter).  The fixed telephone market share of NTT East and West has been on a downward trend, now standing at 78.5% (a decrease of 0.7% over the previous quarter).(2) The number of IP phone numbers continues to increase, now standing at 29.22 million (an increase of 2.6% over the previous quarter). Among these, the number of 0ABJ-IP phone numbers continues to increase and now stands at 21.77 million (an increase of 3.9% over the previous quarter). The market share of the number of 0ABJ-IP phone numbers of NTT East and West continues to decrease and stands at 64.6% (a decrease of 0.9 % over the previous quarter), while that of KDDI continues to increase up to 20.3% (an increase of 1.2 % over the previous quarter).  Also, the number of 050-IP phone numbers continues to decrease to 7.45 million (a decrease of 1.1% over the previous quarter). There is little change in the market share of the number of 050-IP phone numbers of NTT Communications, and it stands at 39.4% (unchanged over the previous quarter), while that of Softbank BB continues to decrease to 39.0% (a decrease of 0.6 % over the previous quarter). 

2.Mobile communications
The number of subscribers of mobile communications (including MVNO) continues to increase to 134.61 million (an increase of 1.4% over the previous quarter). The number of mobile phone subscribers also continues to increase to 129.91 million (an increase of 1.3% over the previous quarter). Also, the number of PHS subscriptions continues to increase and has now reached 4.70 million (an increase of 3.1% over the previous quarter). The subscription share of mobile phones and PHS of NTT DoCoMo continues to decrease, standing at 44.9% (a decrease of 0.4% over the previous quarter), while the market share of KDDI is nearly unchanged, standing at 26.5% (an increase of 0.1% over the previous quarter). In addition, the market share of Softbank Mobile increased to 22.1% (an increase of 0.3% over the previous quarter). The number of MVNO subscriptions increased to 5.22 million (an increase of 7.9% over the previous quarter). 

3.Internet connections
(1) The number of broadband service (*2) subscriptions continues to increase, now standing at 41.815 million (an increase of 5.8% over the previous quarter).
(2) The number of 3.9G mobile phone packet communication service subscriptions has been dramatically increasing up to 3.617 million (an increase of 57.5% over the previous quarter).
(3) The number of BWA subscriptions has been dramatically increasing to 3.047 million (an increase of 32.2% over the previous quarter). (4) The number of FTTH subscriptions continues to increase, now standing at 22.839 million (an increase of 2.4% over the previous quarter). While the FTTH market share of NTT East and West decreased to 73.9% (a decrease of 0.3% over the previous quarter), that of power line communications carriers and KDDI increased to 10.0% (an increase of 1.0% over the previous quarter) and 10.0% (an increase of 0.5% over the previous quarter), respectively.
(5) The number of DSL subscriptions continues to decrease to 6.344 million (a decrease of 5.4% over the previous quarter). As for the market share, Softbank BB stayed at 38.9% (an increase of 0.1% over the previous quarter) while NTT East and West showed 34.8% (an increase of 0.2% over the previous quarter).
(6) The number of FTTH subscriptions across all prefectures has been increasing, while in all prefectures the number of DSL subscriptions has been decreasing. 

*1 The MIC has evaluated competition in the telecommunications business field since FY2003 and officially announced quarterly data on the status of competition based on information gathered from carriers as part of the evaluation.
*2 Broadband services        FTTH access services, DSL access services, CATV access services, FWA access services,BWA access services, and 3.9G mobile phone packetcommunication access services
FTTH access services Access services connecting to networks viaoptical fiber lines (including VDSL, etc. using telephone lines in some apartments of collective housing, etc.)
DSL access services   Access services (ADSL, etc.) connecting to networks viatelephone lines (metal lines)
CATV access services Access services connecting to networks viacable television lines.
FWA access services   Access services for wireless network connections of fixed user terminals.
BWA access services   Access services connecting to networks viabroadband wireless access systems using 2.5GHz band (WiMAX, etc.).

3.9G
mobile telephone packetcommunication access services      Access services connecting to networks via 3.9G mobile communications systems (LTE) using mobile telephones, etc.

From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 09/27/2012

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Survey on Differences of Charges for Telecommunications Services Between Domestic and Overseas Markets

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) conducts the survey on differences of charges for telecommunications services between domestic and overseas markets every fiscal year for the purpose of appropriately grasping the state of charges for telecommunications services.  The FY2011 survey results have now been compiled and they are officially announced herein.
1.Subjects of survey
 
The survey on each service for such as broadband, landline phone, mobile phone, etc. in seven cities (Tokyo, New York, London, Paris, Dusseldorf, Stockholm and Seoul) was conducted (comparisons were made using exchange rates and purchasing power parity as of the end of December 2011).
2.Time of survey
   In principle, comparisons were made on charges as of the end of December 2011. However, in the case where the latest information on revision of rate after that has been obtained, the latest charges are reflected.
3.Results of survey
  
With regard to charges for telecommunications services, each country has various systems for rate-making such as that for differentiating reduced rate from regular rate. In addition, it is necessary to bear in mind that required charges may be different depending on mode of use, there may be a regional divide in the same country, and the rate-making is significantly affected by exchange rate fluctuations. Therefore, it is appropriate to consider these survey results as one index of rate-making.

From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 10/28/2012

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K Computer Drops to No. 3 in World Rankings

The K computer fell from second to third on the list of the world's fastest supercomputers, according to the latest semiannual global ranking.Titan, built by Cray Inc. of the United States, won first place on the TOP500 List, knocking IBM Corp.'s Sequoia out of the top spot.Titan achieved 17.59 petaflops, or quadrillions of calculations per second.The maximal performance of the K computer, installed at the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, was 10.51 petaflops, unchanged from June. It topped the list in June and November last year.The K computer began full operations in September this year and has been used to carry out 31 research projects in five fields, including medical care, disaster prevention and manufacturing.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/14/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Samsung LTE Phone Sales Top US Market

Samsung Electronics' long-term evolution (LTE) phones grabbed the largest share of the U.S. market in the third quarter, beating out Apple and Motorola.U.S. market researcher Strategy Analytics shows that Samsung's LTE phones sold four million units in the U.S. between July and September for a 37-point-six percent market share, up nearly threefold in sales from the first quarter and three-point-threefold from the second.Four million is also more than double the one-point-eight million LTE phones Samsung sold for the whole of last year.Motorola fell to third place in the third quarter selling one-point-five million of its LTE model, despite holding the number one sales spot in the first quarter. Apple sold two-point-six million of its LTE-backed iPhone5 to rank second behind Samsung.Samsung's advance is attributed to the media and public spotlight focused on the patent war between Apple and Samsung. It's believed Samsung has gained more from the effects of multiple lawsuits. LTE, or long-term evolution, is a fourth generation wireless broadband technology.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/02/2012

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S. Korea's IT Exports Surge to 2-Year High in Oct.

South Korea's exports of information technology (IT) products rose to a 24-month high last month on a spike in shipments of mobile phones and semiconductors, the government said Wednesday.Exports of IT products in October grew 6.1 percent from the same period last year to US$14.55 billion, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/ 11/07/2012

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IPTV Subscribers Top Record 6 Mln in S. Korea

The number of subscribers for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) services in South Korea has broken a record 6 million milestone as more people are opting to pay for the digital media service, data showed Thursday.The data comes roughly four years after IPTV services were first commercialized in January 2009, according to the data compiled by the Korea Digital Media Industry Association. Currently, South Korea's three top mobile carriers - SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp.- provide the service.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/ 11/08/2012

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IT Spending in Asia-Pacific to Top US$743 Bln Next Year

IT spending in the Asia-Pacific region is forecast to total US$743 billion next year, due mostly to a growth in the IT device segment, data showed Wednesday.Regional IT spending is expected to grow 7.9 percent on-year in 2013, accelerating from an estimated 7.6 percent growth this year, according to the data compiled by research firm Gartner Inc.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/ 11/14/2012

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SK C&C Boosts Biz in Southeast Asia

SK C&C, the information and technology arm of SK Group, aims to increase the portion of its overseas revenue to 20 percent by 2015 from the current 7 percent.``We’ve lost some business chances in the Middle East and North Africa region due to the eurozone crisis and a slow economic recovery in the United States. But SK C&C doesn’t worry too much as we have made profits in countries that we previously invested in heavily,’’ said Park Tae-jin, who leads the company’s overseas business, in a meeting with local reporters, Wednesday.SK C&C’s current key markets are Bangladesh, Turkey, China and Turkmenistan. It provides technology infrastructure, mobile commerce platforms and system solutions to governments.``SK C&C plans to establish various joint ventures with companies in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East in an attempt to increase its chances of winning government funded big projects. From next year, we will be much more aggressive for our overseas businesses,’’ said Park. 

The executive also confirmed that the firm plans to increase the number of its overseas subsidiaries to 16 from the current 8. The United Kingdom, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Russia, Indonesia and Vietnam are the countries that will see the firm’s new affiliates.In Southeast Asia, SK plans to advance projects by forming consortiums. In the Middle East and South America, it will partner with SK Group to find business opportunities related to the information and communication technology (ITC) sector.In the system integration business, it identified e-learning, security, SOC and plant ITC as its targets and Park said the company will increase its investments in those businesses, as well.``We will invest more in businesses in China and the United States,’’ he stressed. In 2005, SK C&C had 600 million won in revenue from overseas, but raised this to 92 billion won in 2011. 

The executive said the company is expected to post at least $50 million in revenue in its mobile commerce business by 2017.``By 2015, we plan to increase the number of our clients using our mobile commerce system to 30 in 15 countries from the current seven in five countries,’’ he said.Forrester Research estimates that mobile payments globally will hit $31 billion by 2016, up from $6 billion last year. As a result of this anticipated growth, merchants are becoming increasingly serious about such commerce and continue to scrutinize the various offerings from banks, carriers, technology giants and their fellow merchants.U.K.-based top-tier carrier Vodafone recently said it will launch what could be the world’s largest mobile wallet in 2013 by partnering with provider CorFire, the mobile commerce unit of SK C&C USA, which will provide its CorPay mobile wallet.In a call with Mobile Payments Today, Pascal Caillon, vice president for business development and strategy for Corfire, said the Vodafone mobile wallet will be the first to be deployed across Europe as well as the first through such a large mobile network operator.``We successfully provided solutions for Google Wallet and we are positive about winning more deals,’’ Park said.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 11/15/2012

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MALAYSIA: TIME dotCom Launches 100Mbps Consumer Fibre Service

Malaysian alternative broadband operator TIME dotCom (TdC) has inaugurated what it claims is the country’s fastest residential broadband service, offering downlink speeds of up to 100Mbps via fibre. Local news source The Star Online cites TdC’s CEO Afzal Abdul Rahim as saying that his company has invested approximately MYR100 million (USD32 million) in rolling out the service. At launch it is understood that the 100,000 homes across the Klang Valley and in Penang which are in TdC’s fibre footprint will be able to sign up for the service. The service, which offers a monthly data usage cap of 100GB, will cost MYR179, and customers must take a 24-month contract. In terms of expected take-up, the company has reportedly not yet set a target, but has said that it may do so in three to six months, after conducting a number of educational road shows to demonstrate the service to the public. Commenting on the introduction of the new product, Afzal noted: ‘We are raising the bar for Malaysia’s internet speed and service through this new product, putting us at least on par with many other developed countries around the world.’

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PHILIPPINES: SEC Gives Companies Five Years to Comply with Foreign Ownership Rules

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the Philippines has decided to give domestic companies that breach the country’s 40% limit on foreign ownership, up to five years to redress the situation – based on new draft rules for Philippine corporations released on Monday. The SEC’s proposed new rules effectively implement the 9 October Supreme Court ruling on the foreign ownership of dominant carrier Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) — a decision which has potential implications for Filipino firms as the country’s High Court has set down specific definitions on how the 60:40 ownership rule (which favours Filipinos) should be calculated. Industry watchers have welcomed the SEC’s move however, saying that the release of the draft rules should provide a measure of confidence to investors.

From http://www.telegeography.com/ 11/06/2012

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Philippine City, USAID to Launch Mobile Payment Scheme

The city of Valenzuela and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are collaborating to launch a new partnership that will promote the use of mobile payments for select government services. The project will implement the adoption of mobile technology in the city’s financial transactions to help cut administrative costs, increase transparency, reduce potential leakage of government funds, and make doing business with the government easier for citizens. According to USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment, Eric Postel, the project is part of the ‘Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money Project’ which will target three key areas: payment of government services, payroll distribution, and payment of private services such as utilities. He added that it will initially cover real property tax payments and later include payment of community tax certificates, business permits, market fees and other local government fees. “It also supports USAID Forward, an initiative which focuses on innovation and the application of technology to achieve high-impact development,” Postel said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/09/2012

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Top Philippine Telcos Ordered to Refund Subscribers

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered the Philippines' top telecommunications firms to refund millions of subscribers after finding that the telcos have been overcharging customers for text messages. The order, one of the three directives issued by the NTC yesterday, is effective immediately. “These orders are immediately executory upon receipt, but the telcos have the right to appeal,” Dennis Babaran, NTC legal director, said at a press briefing yesterday. Estimates by the Philippine Daily Inquirer showed that Smart Communications, affiliate Sun Cellular and Globe Telecom may have to return at least 1.42 billion pesos (US$34 million) to their subscribers. The telcos have been collecting 20 centavos more (1 peso instead of 80 centavos) for each off-net text message, or those sent from one network to another, since December last year, the NTC said in a ruling. Text messages between subscribers of the same network and those under unlimited or “bucket-priced” offers are not covered by the order. About 20 million off-net messages are sent every day, based on 2010 records, which are the latest the NTC has. This is just 1 per cent of the 2 billion text messages that were sent daily on average that year in the Philippines, for years considered the world’s texting capital.

Assuming that daily text message volumes have not changed since 2010, the telcos stand to pay at least 1.42 billion pesos to refund 20 centavos for every regularly-priced off-net text message. Globe, Smart and Sun Cellular had a combined subscriber base of 100.65 million at the end of September 2012. This translates to about one active SIM for every Filipino, although a growing number of users now carry at least two accounts at the same time. Smart and Sun refused to comment on the matter, but said the companies would explore possible legal remedies. Globe said the NTC move could spell the end of unlimited services, which in the company’s opinion had made text messages affordable more than any government-mandated reduction in rates could. “Since the very beginning of the case, we have clearly stated that SMS is a deregulated service and telcos have the right to set the retail price of this service,” said Froilan Castelo, head of Globe corporate and legal affairs. “In fact, this has worked for the benefit of the consumer because the prices have gone down drastically with the advent of customisation, bucket and combo promos, and unlimited services,” Castelo said.

Extra prepaid credits
Refunds for prepaid subscribers could be given in the form of extra prepaid credits that could be used for calls, text messages, and data services, the NTC said. For postpaid users, the telcos could offer rebates to cover the refund. In three separate orders, the NTC directed the telcos to reduce the maximum price of text messages from 1 peso to 80 centavos each, stemming from the reduction of interconnection charges to 15 centavos from the previous 35 centavos. The reduction of interconnection charges was ordered by the NTC in December last year. The telcos agreed to reduce interconnection charges but refused to pass on savings to consumers, the NTC said. This meant that text message prices remained at 1 peso each, instead of the NTC’s intent of reducing it to 80 centavos. Apart from the refund, the telcos were also ordered to pay a fine of 200 pesos per day from Dec 1, 2011, until the companies lower their text message charges by 20 pesos per off-net text message.

Circular order defied
The NTC said the telcos had defied Memorandum Circular No. 02-10-2011, which took effect on December 1 last year. The circular was aimed at making text messaging more affordable to the public, pursuant to directives from the Office of the President. While text messaging was considered a value-added service (VAS), which the telcos technically are not required to deliver, nothing in the law prohibited the NTC from regulating text message rates, the industry regulator said. A ruling to order refunds, this time covering off-net voice calls, may also be released within the year, said Edgardo Cabarios, head of the NTC’s Common Carrier’s Authorisation Division. Rexmond Fang, a sales executive at a multinational dairy company operating in the country, said the NTC decision was a welcome relief for subscribers who have been paying 1 peso per text message for over a decade. Despite the popularity of alternative modes of communications such as social networking sites, profits from text message services make up the bulk of telecom company earnings in the Philippines. “It’s really about time that the government flexes its muscles against telecom firms,” Fang said.

But Fang, 44, said he was worried about the financial strain that the NTC order might have on telcos. “There’s been a lot of talk in the news about bad service by companies. But can telcos still push through with their upgrades if they have to pay these refunds?” he said. Anthony Ian Cruz, president of consumer group TXTPower, shared Fang’s sentiments, saying it was refreshing to see the NTC finally enforcing its own rules. “Those interconnection charges are the biggest stumbling block for lower text message rates. They have been charging us 1 peso for more than a decade,” Cruz said in an interview. “The next logical step is for inter-network messages to be cheaper,” he said. “This should be the last straw to number portability,” he added, referring to one of the group’s previous initiatives for companies to allow subscribers to switch from one network to another without changing numbers. Japan Airlines passenger service agent Janina Amonte, a frequent subscriber of unlimited promos offered by telcos, said the NTC’s order would have little impact on her. “It’s not a big deal for me because I’m used to unli promos. But I wish they did this before because I used to text my friends a lot and there weren’t any unli promos then,” she said in an interview. The 25-year-old said she was spending much less every month on cell phone bills, but was still able to stay in touch with friends and relatives.

Providing cellular phone service is a profitable business.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT), the parent firm of Smart and Sun, posted a net income of 28.7 billion pesos in the January to September period. Globe’s net income for the period was at 8.7 billion pesos. In 2011, PLDT’s wireless revenue amounted to 102.1 billion pesos, of which 99 billion pesos was accounted for by Smart. Globe’s revenue reached an all-time high of 67.8 billion pesos last year and its net income rose to 9.8 billion pesos.
*US$1= 41 pesos

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 11/21/2012

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SINGAPORE: Firms Begin Commercial Pilot Tests of ‘New Wireless Connectivity’

In a joint press release, Microsoft Singapore, local operator StarHub and the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) – the founding members of the Singapore White Spaces Pilot Group (SWSPG) – have announced the first series of commercial pilot deployments of TV White Spaces (TVWS) smart radio technology that they claim could introduce ‘a new class of wireless connectivity to Singapore, putting the Lion City at the forefront of a new wave of wireless services innovation and Smart City applications’. With the global explosion of mobile data traffic putting increased strain on mobile and Wi-Fi network infrastructure capacity across the globe, companies are looking for ways to more efficiently manage scarce radio spectrum. The joint press release notes that given the finite availability of spectrum resources, better policy and technology innovations that enable more efficient use are needed in order to meet higher demands in future. The SWSPG says that TVWS radio is one such innovation. The technology turns unused TV broadcast frequency bands (‘TV White Spaces’) into premium wireless broadband delivery channels with a set of ‘highly desirable attributes’, including the ability to travel over longer distances and penetrate more obstacles than technologies using higher frequencies, such as Wi-Fi. Sometimes referred to as Super Wi-Fi, this can translate to better coverage, lower power consumption, and reduced network costs.

From http://www.telegeography.com/ 09/11/2012

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Electricity Market to Be Made More Responsive to Demand

SINGAPORE: The Singapore government is enabling the electricity market in the country to be more price responsive to industry demand. The Energy Market Authority is launching a consultation process incorporating demand response -- where industries are encouraged to curtail their demand, thereby reducing peak demand for energy. Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, made the announcement on Monday at the opening of the Singapore International Energy Week. He said the move is expected to benefit major consumers of energy, including the electronics, petrochemical and chemicals sectors. As a small country almost wholly reliant on imported energy, Singapore has to adapt to the evolving global environment to shape its energy landscape.

One strategy is to empower consumers so they can make informed decisions on energy consumption. This is something which the industry consultation on demand response hopes to achieve. Mr Iswaran said: "This is specifically in the context of consumers being able to respond to price signals and then curtail demand when there are spikes in the price.  "What that does is two things -- one, at the individual consumer level, whether you are a company or an organisation, is that you are able to lower your costs of energy... At the system level, it then lessens the system level pressure when there are peak demands."  Industries will be consulted on how they can put in place control systems to shed energy loads when prices spike -- for example, by cutting down lights and air conditioning. "What we want to do through this consultation process is put out the Energy Market Authority's, the government's, thinking on these matters with some specific ideas and then get a response from the industry itself -- because there's quite a range of industry players who would be interested in these sorts of initiatives," said Mr Iswaran.

"And we want to make sure we have heard the different perspectives before we go ahead to look at how we can structure these arrangements," he added. The public consultation will also cover the possibility of an electricity futures market in Singapore, to bring about greater competition in the energy market, which will in turn benefit the end-user. Mr Iswaran explained: "Futures markets are already well-established for other commodities such as oil and gas. They have also been introduced for electricity in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. "By enabling trade in forward electricity products, a futures market will complement Singapore's wholesale market and yield several benefits.  "Firstly, independent retailers will be able to participate in the market by purchasing futures contracts and in turn offering competitive packages to consumers. This will increase retail competition and benefit end consumers.  "Consumers will also be able to hedge their risks by locking in longer-term prices, while generation companies stand to gain by using the futures contracts to hedge against their fuel price and operational risks during plant outages."

Besides the various initiatives to boost Singapore's energy sector, there are also several research projects in areas of renewable energy and electric cars. Mr Iswaran emphasised that in Singapore's growing energy market, it is important to ensure that the required manpower is trained to meet the needs of the industry. Mr Iswaran also spoke about Singapore's strategy to diversify sources to enhance its energy security.  He said Singapore's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal is on track to start operations in the second quarter of 2013. With the development of the terminal, Singapore will be well-placed to diversify its gas supply and tap on the global LNG market.  Mr Iswaran said the demand for LNG is already stronger than initially expected. He stressed that individuals and businesses have played, and will continue to play, a key role in developing a strong energy industry for the people and businesses. To acknowledge those who have made outstanding contributions to Singapore's energy sector, the government has introduced the Singapore Energy Award.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/22/2012

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THAILAND: DSI Cracks Down on Online Traders

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) seized fake branded products sold online in two separate raids. DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said yesterday that the first raid, on a house in Bangkok's Thung Khru district, led to the arrest of one male suspect and the seizure of 540 fake wristwatches worth Bt2.5 million that were sold via the www.pimwin.com and www.nongpimshop.com websites. A second search, of two houses on Ram-Indra Road, yielded 366 branded goods worth Bt1 million that were sold via www.n2kshop.com and www.facebook.com/shopN2K. DSI investigators found that the websites, operated since 2008, had 3 million viewers and earned up to Bt1 million every month. Tarit said Thailand was trying really hard to crack down on intellectual property infringement after being on the US' Priority Watch List for five years now.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/18/2012

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VIET NAM: Banks Develop More Services for Mobile Market

HCM CITY (VNS)— Banks in Viet Nam are vying with each other to diversify their internet banking services in order to take advantage of people's increasing reliance on mobile electronic devices. According to data collected in a survey on internet usage in Viet Nam made in 2011 by Cimigo Viet Nam, which specialises in marketing and brand research, 60 per cent of the 5,800 people polled used mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablet PCs to connect to the Internet. The survey says the number of people using PCs for accessing the internet dropped from 84 per cent in 2010 to 81 per cent in 2011 while the percentage of people using mobile electronic devices more than doubled from 27 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent in 2011. The rapid increase in the number of people using mobile electronic devices has created big opportunities for services related to advertising, marketing and especially e-banking to develop strongly in the domestic market. 

Cimigo Viet Nam's study also points out that mobile transactions are far more convenient than the alternative, as it takes only one or two minutes for a mobile phone user to complete a bank transaction. So many commercial banks are seeking to develop new e-banking services in order to take advantage of customer demand for mobile transactions. The Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) seems to have joined this movement at the right time. Since late May, the bank has offered several new e-banking services under the "ACB Online-Mobile Service" name. These utilities will help customers make transactions any time, anywhere on their portable devices. ACB Online is compatible with most of the mobile phones and tablet PCs currently on the market. The new service offers customers the ability to check their balance as well as obtain other information such as interest rates, fees, and securities. Customers can also transfer money both inside and outside ACB Bank by credit card, ID card or passport, recharge prepaid mobile phones and pay post-paid mobile phone bills. Many other commercial banks have also launched internet banking services similar to the ABC Online-Mobile Service to help customers easily make transactions via mobile electronic devices. 

The Military Joint Stock Commercial Bank offers the eMB service, Orient Joint Stock Commercial Bank has the OCB Online service, and Ocean Joint Stock Commercial Bank features the Easy Online Banking service. Meanwhile, Nam A Joint Stock Commercial Bank facilitates customers' transactions with the Dai A Bank Online service, and the Dong A Joint Stock Commercial Bank has launched its own Mobile Banking Service. The HCM City Development Joint Stock Commercial Bank (HDBank) has also enriched its internet banking service with utilities for corporate customers. Customers will find it easy to make periodical/lot transfers into or out of the HDBank system as well as settle expenditures and buy airplane tickets. Furthermore, customers can settle electric bills (HCM City) or buy airplane tickets from agents. All transactions are guaranteed under the automatic multi-level submission mode. Accordingly, such transactions will undergo multiple checks before going through, ensuring maximum safety for clients. These services are now free or discounted, as are many other incentives offered by the banks. — VNS

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 09/22/2012

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INDIA: Electronic Payment of Customs Duty Is Now Mandatory

“The government is taking several measures to increase the generation of solar power” Electronic payment of customs duty has now been made mandatory by CBEC. This step has been taken for bringing about further reduction in the transaction cost of the importers. As a trade facilitation measure for importers, it has been decided to make e-payment mandatory for importers registered under Accredited Clients Programme and importers paying customs duty of Rs 1 lakh or more per Bill of Entry with effect from September 17, Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) said in a statement. The CBEC has issued instructions advising all the Chief Commissioners of Customs to give wide publicity to enable trade to be ready in case any change in their software or any internal procedure for effecting e-payment is required, it said. 

As a large number of taxpayers would be required to pay the taxes electronically, it is requested that importers, trade and industry may be provided all assistance so as to help them in adopting the new procedure, it added. Electronic payment (e-payment) is advantageous to both tax payers and the government. To the taxpayers, it affords the facility of making payments from their own offices on a 24X7 basis. It also facilitates quicker release of cargo, it said. For government, it ensures immediate collection of taxes and error free data relating to tax payments.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/09/2012

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GACL Launches Online Order Booking

Gujarat Alkalies & Chemicals Ltd (GACL) is the first Gujarat-based public sector player to  introduce online order booking for the dealers of its caustic and other chemical products with an objective to bring transparency in pricing and efficiency in booking mechanism. A dedicated portal has been launched wherein dealers would get uniform price across the country for different products of the company. To begin with, only five products are up for online booking. Dealers can book any quantity through the portal based on the average of the orders placed in the past four months. Going forward, GACL are also looking to extend this facility for direct consumers as well. “This is for the first time any state PSU has gone online for order booking. Traders and dealers have welcomed the initiative and we expect more and more dealers to join in a couple of months time,” said M S Dagur, managing director, GACL.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/21/2012

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Tamil Nadu SETC Earns Rs 1 Crore-a-day Via Online Booking

Ahead of Diwali, the state transport department on Saturday collected Rs 1.07 crore through online registration of tickets for long distance buses, ahead of the festive season. This is the biggest online collection in a single day. “This is the first time the state could manage to touch the Rs1 crore-a-day mark since chief minister J Jayalalithaa launched the e-booking and mobile booking system in October last year,” said transport minister V Senthil Balaji. On Friday, e-booking fetched 52 lakh. With passengers logging on to the system from the comfort of their homes and offices, and stabilisation of the system over the months, the corporation is reaping the benefits. Nowadays, about 30% of tickets in state-run buses are booked online. Commuters who have used the website say the process of booking a ticket is smooth.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/21/2012

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Wipro Most Eco-friendly IT Company Greenpeace

Indian technology giant Wipro topped the ranking in its first appearance in the Guide to Greener Electronics released by Greenpeace International. The guide, in its 18th version, ranked 16 electronic companies across the world based on their commitment and progress in three environment criteria: Energy and Climate, Greener Products and Sustainable Operations. While most of the ICT companies have made progress in removing toxic chemicals from the mobile phones, computers and tablets they produce, barring few, their manufacturing and supply chains are still too heavily dependent on dirty energy sources that are contributing to climate change while at the same time lagging behind in effectively managing e-waste they produce, particularly in India. Wipro scored the most points due to its efforts to embrace renewable energy and advocacy for greener energy policies in India. Wipro also scored well for post-consumer e-waste collection for recycling and for phasing out hazardous substances from its products. HP dropped from No. 1 in last year’s edition of the guide to No. 2. Nokia moved up from No. 4 to No. 3. Taiwanese computer maker Acer was the most improved company in the guide, moving up nine spots to No. 4 for engaging with its suppliers on greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous substances, conflict minerals and fibre sourcing. Dell dropped from No. 3 to No. 5. Apple dropped slightly from No. 5 in last year’s edition to No. 6. Blackberry maker RIM did not improve from its 16th ranking, the bottom of the group.

 From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/21/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Teliasonera Intends Cooperating with Azerbaijan in Broadband Services Development

Prospects of building a rational, efficient telecommunications infrastructure in Azerbaijan, including cooperation with the operators in this field and other issues were discussed during the meeting between the president and CEO of TeliaSonera Lars Nyberg and Azerbaijani Minister of Communication and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov. Nyberg mentioned this at a press conference in Baku on Wednesday, noting that one of the key issues upon which discussions were held with the Azerbaijani side is cooperation in the development of broadband services. In this context the use of both optical and wireless networks are being considered. He said about 90 per cent of the TeliaSonera network traffic accounts for data services. This area has a significant growth and the trend is typical for all markets including Azerbaijan. "Of course Azerbaijan, as well as other telecommunications markets, has developed fixed networks. I hope that as in other markets, the mobile network in Azerbaijan will prevail, which will also contribute to a significant increase in this segment," Nyberg said. He said the presence of a stable and formed telecommunications infrastructure is an important component of the developed economy.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/30/2012

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Ultra Company to Be Engaged in Systems Formation of Global Level in Azerbaijan

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies gave the license ULTRA COMPUTERS Company on forming the personal data information resources and the information systems, including services to them, the company said on Thursday. License will be valid for 5 years. The activities of the license will be realized based on "The Requirements for the protection of the personal information" that were approved by the Cabinet of the Ministry of the Azerbaijan Republic in the September 6, 2010 year. It should be noted that "The Requirements for the protection of the personal information" had been prepared on the basis of the decree number 275, on date 4 June, 2010 "on the application of the law about the personal information," of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic. The requirements adjust the occurring relations connection with the protection of personal data and the appropriate information systems within the collection, use, distribution and submission of them by the owner of the personal information or the operator.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/06/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: The Mobile Applications Market

The Kazakhstan market of mobile applications is still very narrow and involves only about 10-15 companies. Experts believe that the supply and demand of local content applications equals to 50-100 copies. Today it is obvious that owners of smartphones are not just owners of sophisticated mobile devices. Additionally, they can enjoy internet services and different applications. However, it is not all these gadgets are capable of. Thanks to the rapid development of information technologies, everyone can, for example, download various financial applications for their mobile phones. This service is currently gaining momentum in Kazakhstan. Despite the fact that the Kazakhstan market is quite young, the country has already opened its first financial supermarket. Usually, financial supermarkets operate as integrated organizations. All over the world, such online organizations offer their clients banking services, insurance and investment products. Using this application, you can close an agreement with a brokerage company, open a bank account of purchase an insurance policy. At present, almost all banks in Kazakhstan offer online payments either through the system of its financial conglomerate or through the system of its partner bank but at a higher price. The financial supermarket provides services at flat prices. According to statistics, one and a half million client sessions are carried out monthly through online banking. The main suppliers of Android smart phones are planning to sell 400 thousand units in Kazakhstan’s market this year, while almost the same amount of Apple handsets are to be purchased as well. Due to experts, the penetration of Internet banking in Kazakhstan is about 7-10% for individuals. According to forecasts from market participants, electronic money transfers through Kazakh banks are expected to reach 1 billion US dollars next year. Partially, it happens because mobile applications are fashionable. Players in this market haven’t calculated the amount of mobile applications yet. The Kazakhstan market of mobile applications is still very narrow and involves about 10-15 companies. Experts believe that the supply and demand for local content applications equals to 50-100 copies on average. However, taking into account the purchasing capacity, the volumes of the market are higher. Unfortunately, it is necessary to share this market with global players. 

Vitaly Krassilnikov, Acting Head, KaR-Tel VAS and Product Development
-Our developers do not have a large selection of applications in such global stores as iStore and Google play as well as local mobile service providers for the time being. Leadership, of course, belongs to foreign content producers. However, applications developed in Kazakhstan increasingly go global. Statistics shows that users download different applications mostly designed to facilitate internet surfing. The list of such applications involves internet browsers, download managers, clients of popular social networks and applications, which allow people to remotely administrate websites. Apart from that, it is necessary to keep in mind such services as skype, mail.ru agent and ICQ all designed for instant messaging and video calls. ICQ and mail.ru agent are the most popular applications among Kazakhstan residents, since these applications allow them to save money on text messages. 

Vitaly Krassilnikov
- About 30% of downloaded apps pertain to the entertainment content such as games. Another 30% are mobile themes and pictures for mobile phones and only 20% of applications accounts for the utility software of global online stores. Kazakh developers are considered strong when it comes to applications providing interaction with banks to obtain the latest information. Multimedia services are popular as well. They include application software for playing back audio and video files, reading a variety of formats, and applications that make it easy to publish any information on the Internet. This set of applications allows one to make all the work related to the Internet more convenient. Innovations emerging in any market first of all become popular in the large cities of Kazakhstan. One of the most widespread and demanded mobile application in Kazakhstan is a complex of information services providing access to personal accounts, where a user can check his balance of payments, see the list of transactions and make online payments. Apart from such common services as opening a deposit or tracking accounts, financial organizations are ready to provide additional services for smartphone users. Developers of Kazakhstan’s mobile applications are now developing them for free.

Konstantin Pak, Idea-monger, Crystal Spring Project
-Taking into account the growing popularity of smartphone, users can now buy useful applications. We are not going to sell mobile application but services for them. For example, using our application you are looking for an insurance company and we offer you to purchase an insurance policy. This market is quite attractive. Suchapplications as antiviral software, anti-spam and anti-spyware and firewalls, providing protection of mobile devises, are less popular. E-mail clients, services of popular internet shops, and web-money are more popular among users. Nevertheless, both the financial market and the whole of civilization are striving for mobilization. The number of smartphones is increasing and these devises are becoming an essential part of everyday life. At present, different organizations choose for themselves whether it is necessary to develop mobile banking or use funds for other purposes. The Destimo Company has carried out a survey in the mobile applications market. Seven existing markets offer about 1 million applications for downloading. App Store is referred to as the leader in the market. This market earns four times as much of the Android Market only by selling applications for iPhone. The total income of App Store received from selling iPad applications is twice as much of the Android Market. Over the past year, all markets saw a 50% increase. The new Microsoft shop has already increased its sales by 400%. As of today, it offers almost 35 thousand applications. Analysts of Destimo also noted that both the US and Chinese markets of mobile applications are regarded as top priority. China generates 18% of the total amount of downloads. For instance, China has developed about 30% of applications for iPhone and almost 50% of applications for iPad.

From http://www.caspionet.kz/ 11/13/2012

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Kazakhstan’s Digital Economy Develops Rapidly

Kazakhstan’s digital economy has started to develop especially rapidly in recent years thanks to the advent of the government in the sphere of e-commerce. So initially, the sector was stimulated by the adoption of a number of laws regulating public procurement. Today, however, big business is almost at the same level as the state in terms of the volume of purchases made on electronic trading platforms. Electronic procurement market is rapidly developing in Kazakhstan. Last year, the head of the e-commerce centre said there was a peak in the public sector, whereas this year representatives of private companies have reported an increase in trading. Large financial institutions, educational establishments, and the industrial sector are known to be customers in this area. Procurement in IT and printing is the main driver of growth in the e-commerce market, both in the private and public sectors. Construction and fieldwork dominate among the services while project design works are considered less popular. The third place belongs to the purchase of office supplies and furniture. The desire of senior management of major companies to make the procurement system transparent was the main impetus for the development of private electronic platforms. 

Yevgeny Shutilin, Commercial Director, MP.KZ Electronic Trading Platform «The volume increases threefold annually. This happened after the adoption of public procurement law and as the Internet became more popular. Our suppliers make price offers based on auction, so the price falls on average by 15%. This is a good indicator. » These figures are driven by several factors. Firstly, it is the number of competing suppliers. Money is also saved by reduced costs of transferring documents into electronic form, simplified order and delivery of goods, reduced overhead costs, reduced cost of attracting suppliers per unit of product and optimized selection of suppliers. Savings earned by the customer are obvious as the competitive environment leads to a decline in the total cost of their order. In general, the formal system of e-procurement in Kazakhstan can be divided into three major types. Yevgeny Shutilin, Commercial Director, MP.KZ Electronic Trading Platform «The first segment is the state procurement, followed by the segment of the Samruk Kazyna and subsoil users. They’re subject to their own rules. These are followed by our commercial segment.» By the most conservative estimate, turnover of e-procurement market in the commercial sector of Kazakhstan makes 1 billion US dollars a year. And it’s only the beginning as foreign investors share Kazakh businessmen’s optimism. The more so that the Customs Union will simplify access to Kazakhstan’s market of electronic trading platforms for the CU participating countries. Yevgeny Shutilin, Commercial Director, MP.KZ Electronic Trading Platform «Russian trading floors are trying to enter our market. However, they do not offer the same range of services that we offer.» Electronic trading platforms will be developing very actively in the next 5-7 years, three or four companies will become leaders and share the market, experts predicted.

From http://www.caspionet.kz/ 11/21/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Government Releases Free Business Planning Apps

The federal government has released a suite of free iPad apps to help companies and organisations undertake their business, marketing and emergency planning. The apps - MyBizPlan and MarketMyBiz - were released at the FutureGov Summit today in Canberra by the Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy. Senator Lundy said the two new iPad apps would provide interactive templates to guide businesses through the process of developing business and marketing plans, while the existing app, MyBizShield - launched last year - had been updated in response to customer feedback to improve its usability and enable cloud storage. “The planning process for companies can be daunting, but sound planning is required to start, run and grow a successful business. By making planning templates available in a tablet app format, it will now be easier for businesses to create plans and update, share and store them online.” 

Ms Lundy said the smart apps had been developed by the Gillard Government, with the help of business experts, using engaging and interactive technology to help business owners improve their productivity. “A look around any business office shows that owners and managers are embracing new technologies like tablets and smart phones. As a Government we recognise how important it is to keep pace with rapid technological change and provide information and tools in a way that helps business owners increase productivity.” 

The Executive Director of the Council of Small Business of Australia (COSBOA), Peter Strong, welcomed the new tools. “This technology is the way forward and the busness.gov.au planning apps are a great way of helping small business owners take advantage of new technology to improve the way they operate. Having your plan right there on your tablet device, means you can refer to your planning information really quickly anywhere. It’s not sitting in a filing cabinet somewhere collecting dust. The apps are based on the popular business.gov.au business planning tools which earlier this year recorded over a million downloads. Android versions of the business planning tools apps are currently being developed.

From http://www.itwire.com 09/24/2012

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Australians Block Telemarketing Calls

Nearly two thirds of Australian households have registered eight million Australian phone and fax numbers on the Australian Communications and Media Authority's Do Not Call Register. "The register has grown impressively since it began in 2007 and this milestone shows just how much Australians have embraced the register to avoid telemarketers" unsolicited phone, mobile and fax calls," said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman. "Our research tells us that nearly 90 per cent of those registered notice a significant reduction in these unwanted calls and faxes. The ACMA is steadfastly committed to ensuring businesses comply with Australia's telemarketing laws through our investigation and education activities," Mr Chapman said. "For example, a new ACMA telemarketing blog is now available and provides best practice guidance for marketers." 

As at 30 June 2012, 6,725 telemarketers and 193 fax marketers established accounts to check numbers since the register began. So far, more than 5.4 billion numbers have been checked against the register. The Do Not Call Register is a free service listing private numbers (mobiles, fixed lines and faxes) and business fax numbers to opt out of receiving most unsolicited telemarketing calls, or marketing faxes. Some public interest organisations -- including government bodies, charities, religious organisations, opinion pollsters and political parties -- are exempt under the Do Not Call Register Act and are therefore allowed to call numbers on the register at certain times. Numbers can remain on the register for six years, although registrants may re-register or opt out at any stage

From http://www.cellular-news.com 10/16/2012

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Complaints About Australian Mobile Phones Increase - But Industry Trend Downwards

-Australian's made 193,702 new telco complaints in 2011-12, a decrease of two percent on the previous year, according to the 2012 Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) annual report. Complaints about mobile phones increased by nine percent to 122,834 from 112,376 in 2010-11. Ombudsman Simon Cohen reported positive signs about improvement in the telco industry late in the 2011-12 financial year. "There has been a clear trend, since April 2012, of reduced complaints, with the last quarter of 2011-12 being our quietest for almost two years," Mr Cohen said. "This is a positive sign that reflects the focus by a number of telcos on improving their customer service." Mr Cohen said two out of three complaints made to the TIO were about mobile phones, reflecting the rising use of smart phones. Poor coverage, billing disputes and the quality of information given to consumers at the point of sale were common issues in these complaints. 

The TIO Annual Report highlighted ongoing billing and credit issues related to mobile services as a particular concern. Complaints about bill accuracy and usage charges, and disputes about financial overcommitment, all increased substantially during 2011-12. "Complaints about unexpectedly high bills and unnecessary financial overcommitment point to the urgent need for strong spend management rules, including those that are included in the new Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code," Mr Cohen said. "While these rules do not apply until 2013, or in certain cases 2014, it is a positive sign that some service providers have already taken steps to introduce better consumer notifications about high usage." The annual report also shows a rise in complaints about credit default listings. Complaints about consumers being credit default listed while their debt was in dispute increased 18 percent from 3,700 to 4,370. There was also a 16 percent increase in complaints about consumers being credit default listed without proper notification, up from 3,220 to 3,730. "I am very concerned about the increase in the number of complaints where credit default listings are disputed," Mr Cohen said "Credit listings can have very significant impacts on people - affecting applications for credit, including for housing and personal loans. Any credit default listing should only occur after the correct procedures have been followed."

From http://www.cellular-news.com 10/29/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: SMEs Slow to Upgrade Their E-commerce Solutions

What are online customers expecting companies to handle with online payment?
What businesses need to recognise today is that thanks to the growth and consumer uptake of smart mobile technology, more and more customers are always online. The traditional view of a customer sitting on their couch at home and making a purchase via a website using their credit card or PayPal is obviously still at the heart of e-commerce. However, consumer expectations are rapidly rising in regard to what they will be able to do on their tablet or smartphone. Some businesses are already responding by creating dedicated apps or mobile-friendly websites through which customers can process payments. Others take the further smart step of having their own devices handy to allow for online purchasing and payment processing. If you're a tradesman visiting a home, for example, customers should expect to have flexibility around payment processing on the spot, without writing a cheque or having to deal with an internet banking transaction. Obviously, as a business you will benefit from being able to receive payments immediately, as it means stronger cashflow and reduced administration effort.

Why do SMEs have trouble offering the most up-to-date methods?
Costs associated with payment processing, such as establishing merchant accounts or direct debit authorities, can be perceived issues that prevent SMEs from moving away from their traditional methods of receiving customer payments. However, SMEs, perhaps more than others, need to recognise that customers have easier access to their competition than ever before via the web, so priming your business for e-commerce is crucial. If you create barriers at any point in the purchase process - and a lack of flexibility around payment options is definitely a barrier - your customer will be able to find an alternative with very little effort and you have just lost that sale.

What is the latest technology being used and what kinds of businesses are using it?
There's a lot of hype in the mobile payments space with near field communication (NFC) technology and virtual wallets on the horizon. Putting the hype to one side, there are plenty of examples of businesses dealing in ad hoc retail and service transactions that are successfully using eftpos/mobile terminals for mobile payment applications. More businesses are also blending their web-facing services with their in-store experience or their face-to-face sales experience. If I can buy online with a click or a swipe, why should it be harder when I have a salesperson standing in front of me, why should I have to fill out membership forms or wait in a queue to pay by eftpos? Debitsuccess does a lot of work with a wide range of membership, subscription and service-based businesses, and has innovated direct debit payment technologies such as the Online Management Gateway (OMG) to assist them. From processing thousands of memberships for the NZ Warriors, to small startups like Meatmail.co.nz, OMG is scaleable technology that helps businesses quickly and easily sign up new regularly paying customers. 

What is the feedback from customers?
Ironically, the measure of success for any payment process is that the less feedback from customers you get the better, because it means your payment processes are frictionless. Whether it's completion of a real-time payment or establishing a recurring payment arrangement, the customer shouldn't have to think about stepping out of the sale process into a payment process.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 09/17/2012

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New Zealand to Port Millionth Mobile Number by Year-End

There will soon be one million ported numbers in New Zealand; with the milestone due to be reached in late November or early December if recent activity levels continue, according to the NZ Telecommuncations Forum. Number Portability recently celebrated its fifth birthday in April, and the Forum notes that to hit one million numbers in such a short space of time is quite an achievement. It is likely that this milestone will cap off a very busy year for Number Portability. For the past six months there have been new networks and service providers added to the system constantly, with at least two pieces of work on at any one time. In addition, the IPMS recently successfully tested the transition to its Disaster Recovery site, when the main hardware was taken down and relocated to a new data centre. The shift required the efforts of almost 30 companies, including software support and hardware hosts to accomplish and resulted in a successful transition with a minimal after-hours outage. The Forum now expects that users can be sure that in the event of a real disaster, portability will continue to operate even if the main IPMS hardware is completely destroyed.

From http://www.cellular-news.com 10/08/2012

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Patrick Kershaw: Charging Per Gb to Use Internet Is Ridiculous

New Zealand is in the thick of probably the biggest change to its tele-communications landscape in the past 50 years, yet a hangover of the old Telecom empire lingers - the internet supply industry's insistence on continuing to charge on a GB usage basis. So much about this is fundamentally wrong. Indeed, it is anachronistic to a country moving toward prevalence of the UFB and ultra fast connectivity everywhere. Why? First, charging for GB usage is understood and accepted on a network where your typical speeds don't exceed 10mbps of speed either up or down, and are typically slower, especially on home or business ADSL connections which have implied limits. The potential therefore for costly blow-outs is limited by the top-end speed these pipes can go. However, if you significantly increase the speed, as is happening with the UFB, research shows that data usage increases exponentially. It isn't linear, it is literally hockey sticks. The reason for this is the increased access to all levels of service and interactivity available through the internet that we have previously been unable to delve into. So, increase the speed, and you exponentially increase the data usage.

Second to this, understand that shifting traffic around New Zealand is essentially free. It carries very little cost, yet Telecom wants to charge smaller players in the market to hand over traffic, essentially packages changing between different couriers. Thankfully, this was stopped from occurring some time ago. Admittedly, Telecom would have the most traffic handed over of any ISP but no ISP guarantees to receive bandwidth from any other, so I don't understand why this would ever be an issue. It may become so, possibly in 50 years when connectivity reaches obscene scaling proportions, but we are several technological leaps from there. Hence, when ISPs say we don't get charged to view New Zealand sites or we get "unlimited access" to the likes of Sky TV, we should all recognise this as the misnomer it is. However, national transit isn't the issue. The issue is internationally shifting traffic. Typical New Zealand businesses have 85 per cent-plus of all internet traffic usage as international usage and residential usage is even higher. Consider every time you go to Google as an example of international transit.

There is only one way out of New Zealand for international transit - via the Southern Cross cable network - and bear in mind this is still very much controlled and largely owned by Telecom. Now, that poses some problems when you consider the ramifications of competitive pricing in the marketplace. However, probably the most interesting thing is that we, as ISPs, do not buy international traffic in GB usage amounts. We buy it in speed. How much data you try to put down the pipe at one time is completely up to you and is known as your "contention ratio". Hence why charging for GB usage is just a commercial construct for maximising profit. So, what's the alternative? Some suppliers allow you to buy "dedicated" unlimited international bandwidth, but again this is largely unaffordable and a dumb idea in my mind. Why have a 50mbps national pipe but have a 2mbps international breakout - especially when most of your transit is going internationally as is typical? The right option is to have a guaranteed commitment on the amount of inter-national transit you receive and then the ability to "burst" into the maximum speed of your pipe through a shared pool system with rankings based on the base amount of international transit you buy.

So, in the aforementioned example if you buy 2mb international guarantee, you get that no matter what, but then you can also access a shared pool to burst into the headroom remaining on your 50mbps pipe. What dictates how fast you go will be determined only by the contention ratio on that shared pool and who in the rankings is trying to access traffic at the same time as you are. Now, that is truly a high-speed, unlimited, fair internet model and I hope New Zealand ISPs follow suit and get on board. That way, we all benefit from the investment we are making in building a high-speed national network. Without it, we are heading for big bills and bugger all effective change in speed.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 10/15/2012

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Commerce Commission Outlines Approach to Telco Levy

New Zealand's Commerce Commission today released a further paper on how it plans to set the Telecommunications Development Levy that will be paid by telecommunications companies to the government. The government will use the NZ$50 million a year levy to fund things like the relay service for the hearing impaired, the Rural Broadband Initiative and upgrades to the 111 emergency calling system. The discussion paper outlines what telecommunications company revenues are likely to attract the levy. Revenue earned from services such as voice and content delivery will be captured but not revenue from the content itself. The aim is for a wide group of public telecommunications network operators to contribute to the levy, while avoiding levying the same services at both the wholesale and retail level. "Levying just the public telecommunications network operators' delivery revenues is complex because delivery is increasingly bundled with hardware, like handsets, and content. So we are keen to hear the views of interested parties before we finalise the levy mechanism," said Dr Stephen Gale, Telecommunications Commissioner. Interested parties are invited to make submissions on the discussion paper by Friday 2 November 2012.

From http://www.cellular-news.com 10/19/2012

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NZ Business 'Off the Pace' with Technology

New Zealand small and medium-sized businesses are slow adopters of new technology, with just 35 per cent even having their own website, according to new research. MYOB today released a report showing New Zealand businesses, and in turn the national economy, were missing out as a result of the slow take-up of technology. A survey of just over 1000 SMEs owners found only 18 per cent considered themselves to be early adopters of new technology. Just 14 per cent were using cloud-based services and only 35 per cent have so far developed a dedicated company website, according to The State of the New Zealand Digital Economy report. That is despite the fact that 86 per cent of kiwis are now online and 80 per cent use the internet to make purchases, as stated in the report. New Zealand's economy is ultimately weaker from kiwi businesses' failure to adopt new technology, said New Zealand Institute of Economic Research principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub. "Part of the reason why we have poor productivity is because we have low technology take-up." 

With so many people shopping online, businesses are simply missing out from not having a website, Eaqub said at an event to launch MYOB's findings in Auckland this morning. "You're not even in the market if you're not adopting technology and don't have a website." Eaqub said the internet has the same potential to connect New Zealand with the world and transform the economy as refrigerated shipping did in the 1880s. "We are small, we are far away, but technology can bridge that gap for us." New Zealand has hundreds of small businesses but very little scale on a global level, he said. "How we use technology to overcome the tyranny of distance and our small scale, could define New Zealand and our place in the world in the 21st Century. "By helping to connect us to the rest of the world and opening up new markets and opportunities, the internet can transform the New Zealand economy." MYOB general manager Julian Smith said New Zealand consumers were some of the world leaders in the way they used the internet to buy, sell and share online.

As a nation, we are ninth in the world for internet usage, in front of the UK (15th), Australia (21st), and USA (23rd). But as business owners we are "some way off the pace", Smith said. Just over 60 per cent of businesses surveyed said they did not see the value in having a website. Three-quarters said the main barrier to setting up a site was simply having too much other work on. When asked about cloud computing, 31 per cent of the 1000 businesses surveyed said the key thing holding them back was a lack of knowledge. "They have concerns about how and where their data will be stored and managed and they quite simply have too many other priorities at present." MYOB's findings suggested something was going wrong in the way online products were being promoted to businesses, Smith said. "This really highlights the need to adopt a mass-market approach to promoting the benefits of the internet. It's not enough just to build the technology and talk about the technical details. We must make it easy for time-poor business owners to understand the benefits and adapt new internet-based tools and services."

A key way to encourage better technology adoption was to focus on the "pain points", Smith said. Providers need to emphasise how a piece of technology can reduce major challenges businesses face. "Introducing new technologies represents a cost, both in terms of money, effort and time, and business owners need to be presented with a clear understanding of the rewards they will receive for this investment." The MYOB survey was carried out by Colmar Brunton in May this year.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 10/24/2012

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Taming the IT System Crucial for SMEs

Taming the IT beast is a common headache for SMEs. The business owner may not be IT-savvy and doesn't know where to turn, or the business outgrows its IT system or its advisers. Many small businesses use a local one-man band computer bod to set up and maintain their IT equipment. This works fine until the business grows and the IT system gets the speed wobbles. At that point they may graduate to one of the intermediate-size IT service companies such as CodeBlue or Pulse IT. As businesses grow they face a number of IT barriers. One is a lack of expertise, says Aaron Clouston, general manager at hardware service company Service Plus. This particularly affects smaller businesses without the cashflow to have a specialist on staff or to afford consultants. Another barrier is the business that has outgrown its system, says Steve Mills, general manager of corporate clients at Gen-i.

A typical example, says Mills, would be a growing SME that had made an initial investment in its IT infrastructure and then tacked on bits as it grew. The system becomes unwieldy and the business has a problem. An IT solutions company such as Gen-I would review the system starting with the business plan and processes, says Mills. It would also identify where the "pain points" are. Mills cites the case of one growing law firm that had outgrown its existing IT infrastructure when it sought help. The firm's partners thought the business needed new servers because that solved the problem last time.

A review identified that new servers weren't the answer. Instead Gen-i recommended a number of changes within the existing budget, says Mills. They included:
* Upgrading broadband
* Moving its Sharepoint web application onto the cloud
* Virtualising the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which reduced hardware needs
* Replacing an on-premise security system with new security tools
* Outsourcing WAN management to Gen-I allowing the law firm to decommission its virtual private network
* Replacing the exchange server with cloud-based email and setting up the Microsoft Lync unified communications platform

A strategic review of IT systems will also help SMEs deal with issues such as:
* Inflexible IT policies, which are holding the business back
* Getting the best out of smartphones and tablets
* How to handle the trend of staff bringing their own devices to work

More and more SMEs are moving some of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. This simplifies support requirements and saves time and angst, says Arron Judson, ICT sector innovation manager at the University of Auckland. CodeBlue, which specialises in IT solutions for SMEs, has seen its fair share of businesses suffering growing pains. Executive director Ken Davis cites the example of yoghurt maker EasiYo, which had an antiquated IT system and was plagued with network outages. Branch offices in Australia and the UK struggled to connect to head office. "It was becoming a major impediment to growth," says Davis. "All sorts of things were wrong with the infrastructure." EasiYo wanted a system that would grow along with the company without soaking up management time. Davis says CodeBlue audited the company's IT systems and developed a road map to ensure it had a system that would grow with the company. The audit determined critical work that needed to be done immediately. "Often with (SMEs) that have grown quite quickly, this is around security. It could also be around backups," says Davis.

The road map looks at the way forward. "It may be purchasing new servers or it may be moving to the cloud, which is what we did with EasiYo," says Davis. CodeBlue installed a virtual private network (VPN) in at EasiYo's Auckland base to link the branch offices and new Cisco routers at each site. Another rapidly growing SME that needed to take stock of its IT systems was MoleMap, which provides skin cancer detection clinics and services across Australasia. Each clinic had its own systems, whereas it needed robust and stable business-wide IT infrastructure to enable it to capture, store, and share image files and data. Davis says CodeBlue began by implementing a standardised common operating environment across all MoleMap's PCs and laptops in both countries. That allowed them to manage, monitor and update the entire system from one central point. The other big change was to move all the staff members onto one email system Microsoft Office 365. This enabled staff to collaborate more effectively.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 11/09/2012

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NZ Businesses Retreat from Social Media

Social media use among New Zealand business owners has fallen over the past year, with only 20 per cent maintaining some form of profile, according to a new study. The latest MYOB Business Monitor, a regular survey of over 1000 small to medium enterprises, asked owners which social media activities they were engaged with for business purposes. Only 16 per cent had a profile on Facebook or Google+, while 17pc were on Linkedin and just 4 per cent on Twitter. The study also found only 10 per cent of businesses had a company blog. Overall, the number of businesses using any form of social media was 20 per cent, 4 per cent fewer than in August 2011. MYOB general manager Julian Smith said this follows a similar pattern seen in Australia. "After a steady take-up of social media, usage from business has fallen off significantly," he said. "For a business owner who might be preoccupied with the day to day challenges of running a business in a sluggish economic recovery, maintaining an active social media presence is clearly not easy." While many businesses are interested in social media, finding the time or resources to manage a variety of online marketing tools was tough, Smith said. 

Search engine marketing has also fallen from 33 per cent last year to 28 per cent now. Again, this was probably because business owners found search engine marketing too resource-intensive and time-consuming, Smith said. "It requires specialist knowledge and expertise that is probably not available to many small businesses. We know, however, that the majority of consumers will search online first before choosing a product or service, so this is an area where businesses are missing out if they do not have the time or resources available." The study found more businesses (45 per cent) were now using the internet to pay suppliers, up 5 per cent compared to August 2011. Forty-four per cent were buying products or services online, the same as last year. Smith said "time-poor" business were more likely to be using tools that made it easier to run a business. "Online tools that require large amounts of time and energy are simply not going to pass that test." 

Another area seeing increased use was email marketing and electronic direct mail, with 28 per cent of businesses using electronic direct mail. That is 3 per cent more than last year. A reason for this could be that business owners were simply more comfortable using familiar methods of communication, Smith said. "We're seeing more businesses than ever choose to do their marketing via email, be it through regular newsletters or one off product promotions." Younger Business Owners More Social. Not surprisingly, social media uptake generally differed according to the age of business owners, the study showed. Of Gen Y business owners, 42 per cent were using social media in their business, compared to 21 per cent of Gen X business owners, 20 per cent of Baby Boomers, and 12 per cent of business owners over 60-years old. The MYOB Business Monitor is conducted by Colmar Brunton.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 11/14/2012

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NZ Online Ad Spend Rises Despite Challenges

A surge in mobile and online video advertising has helped grow New Zealand's total online ad spend in the face of tough market conditions, latest figures show. The Interactive Advertising Bureau New Zealand's (IABNZ) quarterly figures show the amount spent on advertising in the third quarter of 2012 was $94.02m. That was 3 per cent more than the second quarter and 4.76 per cent up on the same time last year. While spending on display advertising has dropped from $29.43 million to $27.63 million quarter-on-quarter, and email expenditure by 19 per cent in the past year, other platforms are keeping things afloat. Online video ad spending dropped slightly from the second-quarter but has grown 23 per cent over the year, said John-Paul Randall, IABNZ vice-chair and TVNZ digital media sales manager. The increase follows a global trend, with similar results being seen in the US, UK, and Australia, Randall said.

"With growing audiences and the increased consumption of online video content, this trend is expected to continue as advertisers follow consumers. Additionally, advertisers are taking the opportunity to elicit audience interaction with more video advertising creativity being tailored for the online viewing experience." Compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the figures show mobile advertising remains the big grower, up 157 per cent year-on-year. The increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets is providing advertisers' with greater opportunities to reach out to consumers, said PwC partner Chris Perree. "The use of social media and mobile platforms to communicate and engage with consumers is a key driver of growth in the online advertising market," he said. Mobile ad spending has grown from $0.28 million in the first quarter to $0.69 million. New Zealand's total online advertising spend so far this year is $265 million, which represents 81 per cent of the overall spend last year. It surpasses the total amount spent in 2010 of $257 million.

Classified advertising continues to grow, having seen increases for the last five consecutive quarters. Perree said the drop in display advertising could be attributed to factors such as the holding back of spending in the Christmas season lead-up. IABNZ is a not-for-profit trade association representing online and mobile advertising.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 11/14/2012

 

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ICT in an Ageing Society

"There is no reason for older people in Europe to miss out on the benefits of new technologies”, said once the Vice-president of the European Commission Viviane Reding, talking about one of the main objectives of the European Union and also of several ICT companies: to introduce this sector of the society into the 'tech world'. On 11 September a group of experts on technology and ageing, presented at the European Economic and Social Committee some ideas and projects that will help both older people and organisations specialized in technology to find their place in the world we are leaving. By 2020, 25% of the EU's population will be over 65 and people aged from 65 to 80 will rise nearly 40% until 2030. To respond to this growing demographic challenge, the Council of Ministers approved on 2008 a 600 million Commission plan to develop digital technologies designed to help older people to continue living independently at home and to be more involved in new platforms, such as social networks. Likewise, the Digital Agenda for Europe is pushing the ICT in the Member States and is offering better services to citizens, like high-speed internet connections, access to cultural content and job opportunities, explained Bruno Constantini, Secretary-General of FERPA (European Federation of Retired and Older Persons). According to him, to go forward and obtain good results, companies must have older people in mind because they “can be integrated as resources”, and to not hire them is “a drop in the productivity of companies and a drop in the creation of products.” 

We use to think that people over 65 are at the end of their lives and don't need to work any more, but we are wrong. They can share they experience and younger generations can teach them about new technologies, said Constantini. “Our society cannot longer live without technology”, he stated, and “we need everybody on board”, including older people. The percentage of people using ICTs in the workplace is increasing. According to a study made by Eurofound to 42,000 citizens in 34 different countries, 42% used them in 2010. Besides, 11,5% used ICT and machinery, 19,5% only the second option and a 27% could work without them. As well, is important to highlight that the number of people over 50 that work with technologies is growing up rapidly, 45,8% utilise them. However, “more use at work means new conditions”, explained Greet Vermeylen, research manager at Eurofound. For instance, these new kind of jobs need specific skills and older people must be updated to be efficient and productive. Besides, “it is difficult to see whether ICT is helpful or not” for them, because some works may be more intensives, with painful positions or can generate long-term effects, she said. Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) is a joint program that calls for proposals for research and development to enhance the quality of life of older people. It counts with a 700 million budget, which 50% comes from the Commission and other public partners, and will finish in 2013. 

In its five calls since 2008 the project worked always under the same idea: “improve quality of life of elderly people”, said Karina Marcus, Director of the programme. To offer the option of “ageing well at home, community and work”, they work in partnership with small and medium enterprises and universities, among others. Within its projects we can find “Rosetta”, which installs alarms and other devices at home; Cap Mouse, a computer mouse that can be used with the tongue for people with diseases like Parkinson; and Connected Vitality, a laptop with two screen to create a more real communication. Despite Europe is working very hard to introduce older people into technologies, the continent would grow faster if all countries take examples of others, such as Japan. The Asian country has a rapid ageing population, therefore it created different devices and services to give more facilities to its older citizens. Besides the electronic health record, they developed a tele-medicine program which gives medical solutions, a tele-work system to promote jobs, a robot that can find solutions for dangers in public areas and a green ICT project, explained Koji Ouchi, First Secretary of the Mission of Japan in the EU. There is no doubt that older people are an important part of our society, and companies, institutions and younger generations should value them. Nevertheless, first of all we have to “ensure that access to ICT is a SGI (service of general interest)”, said Pierre Bauby, EESC expert, and also “ensure that EU founds contribute.”

From http://www.neurope.eu/ 09/11/2012

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ITU and WHO Launch M-health Initiative to Combat Non-communicable Diseases

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 17 October 2012 – The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a new partnership called the ‘m-Health’ Initiative to use mobile technology, in particular text messaging and apps, to help combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases. Non-communicable diseases are some of the leading causes of death and disease in both developed countries and emerging economies alike. They dominate health care needs and expenditures in most developed as well as most low and middle-income countries. Of the 57 million deaths globally, NCDs contribute to an estimated 36 million deaths every year, including 14 million people dying between the ages of 30 to 70. Using mobile telephone technology, m-Health practices can help save lives, reduce illness and disability, and reduce healthcare costs significantly. Through the Initiative, ITU and WHO will provide evidence-based and operational guidance to encourage partners worldwide, especially governments, to implement m-Health interventions to address prevention and treatment of NCDs and their common risk factors – tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol. The Initiative is being discussed at the ITU Telecom World 2012, currently in session at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The conference is a rare opportunity for thought leaders and digital pioneers in the corporate, research and academic sectors from around the world to meet with high-ranking policy makers and regulators, collaborating to share ideas on the future of global telecommunications. 

M-Health: A unique opportunity to combat ill health and disease
“Technological innovations are changing the landscape of disease prevention and control. The widespread availability of mobile technology, including in many of the least developed countries, is an exceptional opportunity to expand the use of e-health. By joining forces, ITU and WHO will fight against debilitating non-communicable diseases that can be controlled through the intervention of m-Health solutions and services that are at once cost effective, scalable and sustainable,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “In doing so, we will help end a scourge that hinders economic growth and development around the world.” The ITU-WHO m-Health initiative will build on current projects, existing health systems and platforms, and will involve partnerships between governments, NGOs and the private sector. “WHO is already using mobile devices to carry out surveillance of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors. For example, the Global Adult Tobacco Surveillance system has used mobile phones to capture data on tobacco use in 17 countries – covering over half of the world’s population. This experience of running population-scale mobile projects will be vital to the initiative,” said Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health. 

WHO and ITU Member States are also testing mobile solutions for NCDs – ranging from providing assistance to help people quit tobacco, helping people increase their activity levels, eating more healthily and helping patients with non-communicable diseases better manage their conditions. All of these experiences will feed into the new initiative. The ITU-WHO m-Health Initiative, which will initially run for a four-year period and focus on prevention, treatment and enforcement to control non-communicable diseases, will work with partnerships at all levels. At the global level, partners will share knowledge and technical expertise to help develop the standard operating procedure for each m-Health intervention as well as build support for the Initiative. At the national level, governments work closely with the Initiative to accelerate the roll out of operational projects. The joint ITU-WHO work plan is a direct follow up to the high level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs convened by the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2011 where world leaders and the UN community agreed to pay greater attention to finding ways to deal with the growing global spread of NCD’s and UN agencies agreed to work together to prevent and control NCDs and their risk factors.

From http://www.itu.int/ 10/17/2012

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AFRICA: Kenya Mobile Phone Internet Usage Jumps 19 Pct Yr/Yr

Kenyans spent more time surfing the Internet on their cell phones in the second quarter of this year from a year ago in east Africa's biggest economy, the regulator said on Tuesday. The Internet or data market leapt by 19.2 percent in the second quarter from the same period a year ago to 7.7 million users, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) said. The regulator attributed the sharp rise to international connectivity bandwidth that expanded by 58 percent to 264,584 millions of bits per second (Mbps), a measure of bandwidth over a given time on a telecommunications medium. It said the number of Internet users rose by 19 percent to stand at 14 million users during the quarter from a year ago. Kenya's top telecoms operator Safaricom, which commands a 70 percent market share, plans to expand its fibre-optic cable and support a rising customer base. Kenya's 29.7 million mobile phone users spent less time talking on their cell phones during the quarter, with voice usage dropping 7 percent after operators stopped cutting prices to lure users, the regulator said. Overall, mobile phone users ticked up 1.7 percent to 29.7 million in the quarter compared to a year ago, the CCK said.

From http://www.ejc.net/ 10/11/2012

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Nigeria: Lagos to Concession e-Learning Centre in December, Urges Better Use of ICT

THE Lagos State government has informed that plans are at advanced stage to concession the newly commissioned e-learning centre by December. The concessioning, it was revealed, was part of efforts by the state to ensure proper use and functioning of the multi- million-naira edifice, which was commissioned by Governor Babatunde Fashola on July 24. This move was disclosed  at the weekend in Lagos by the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Adebiyi Mabadeje at a media briefing with technology reporters on various ICT initiatives the state has embarked on in the last few months. He also informed that the state was considering a knowledge park to meet the yearnings for ICT education. Mabadeje, who called for increase use of ICT across the state, said the concessioner would emerge by the end of the year, stressing that the centre will not be run by the state itself. Besides, Mabadeje said Lagos planned to have electronic libraries in about 15 schools and later spread the initiatives to others region within the state. According to him, there has been more development in the state’s technology space, stressing that the state’s Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) workers have been mandated to get acquainted to various ICT initiatives. “Plan is in top gear to get the newly commissioned e-Learning centre concessioned. We hope that by the end of the year we must have done this. This will make it more useful and functional.

“The state’s MDA workers have also been told to be ICT complaint and I believe that they are working towards that seriously”, he stated. The Commissioner, who revealed that there are over 150,000 civil servants in the state, disclosed that about 600 teachers have been trained on various ICT processes, stressing that certificates backed the trainings. On the need to bridge the unemployment gap in the state through various ICT initiatives, Mabadeje said the focus of the state government was to create an enabling environment that would ensure not only the youths in the state get employed but that other Lagosians should also benefit from the business friendly environment. The e-learning Centre which was upgraded from the then Lagos City Library is equipped with the modern ICT and digital facilities such as: electronic library, video conferencing facility, reprographic centre, exhibition centre, conference hall, testing centre to name a few. Mabadeje said the state government has an ICT vision to improve the quality of education in institutions of learning and improve access to information for various research activities, which are the foundation for development.

From http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/ 10/31/2012

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EUROPE: Study - Estonia, US Have Most Internet Freedom

Residents of Estonia have the most freedom to do what they want on the Internet, with the U.S. ranking second among 47 countries examined by a group that pushes for democratic freedoms worldwide. However, residents of several countries have experienced attacks on bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, government manipulation of Web content and regulations focused on online speech, said Freedom House, which issued a report on Internet freedoms Monday. Twenty of the 47 countries have less Internet freedom now than they did in January 2011, with Bahrain, Pakistan, and Ethiopia seeing the greatest declines, according to the report. "We are seeing an increasing number of governments trying to limit free speech online," Sanja Kelly, project director of the study, said during a forum in Washington, D.C. A number of governments in the Middle East have restricted Internet freedom since the Arab Spring movement that began in late 2010, she said. "They saw what kind of consequences can happen when people organize with social media," Kelly said. In 14 countries, the governments are hiring people to comment online and drown out unpopular posts. This is one of the more "worrying trends" the study found, Kelly said. The study found new laws or directives passed since January 2011 in 19 of the 47 countries to restrict online speech, violate user privacy, or punish people who post content deemed objectionable or undesirable. In 26 countries, at least one blogger or Internet user has been arrested for content posted online or sent by text messages. In 19 countries, a blogger or Internet user was tortured, beaten or has disappeared apparently in response to their online posts, the study said. In five countries, an activist or citizen journalist was killed in retribution for posting information that exposed human rights abuses. 

But the study reports what Kelly called a positive development in Internet freedom. In several countries, Internet activists and technology companies have fought against restrictive laws, she said. Advocacy campaigns, mass demonstrations, website blackouts and constitutional court decisions have resulted in censorship plans being shelved, harmful legislation being overturned and jailed activists being released, the study said. In 23 countries, at least one change happened because of activism, the study said. In the U.S., many activists and tech companies opposed the controversial copyright enforcement bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), and they were killed as a result, the study noted. The study called the Internet generally free in 14 countries, including the U.K., Brazil, Ukraine, Italy and Germany, although it found some problems in each of those countries. It rated the Internet in Nigeria, Jordan, Russia, Mexico and Egypt as partly free. The study found the Internet not free in 13 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Pakistan and Iran.

From http://news.idg.no/ 09/24/2012

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Russia to Restrict Access to Public Free WiFi

Russia's Federal Supervision Agency for Information Technologies and Communications, which is responsible for supervising the Internet for offensive material like child pornography, now wants to limit access to public, free WiFi by banning users under the age of 18. Russians are very attached to their consumption of online content. In fact, they are the biggest users of Internet in Europe. It's difficult to imagine the average tech savvy teen not knowing how to circumvent WiFi passwords. But when the law comes into effect, the proprietor of the free Internet access will be legally responsible if it is used by minors. Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

From http://techpresident.com/ 09/24/2012

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U.K.: 28% of Nine and Ten-year-olds Use Social Networking Websites - Study

About 28% of UK 9-10 year olds and 59% of 11-12 year olds operate a social networking profile, though social networking service (SNS) including Facebook have a minimum age of 13 years, according to a new study. The 'National Perspectives' report from the EU Kids Online project based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) reveals that about 91% of UK children go online at school when compared to European average of 63%.

From http://media.cbronline.com/ 10/18/2012

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NORTH AMERICA: Canadians Asked to Help Develop National Code for Wireless Services

Canadians are being asked for help to develop a national retail code for wireless services like cellphones and tablets. The CRTC said Thursday that it's asking for help because consumers have said their monthly contracts are confusing and the terms and conditions can vary greatly from one wireless company to another. "Our goal is to make sure that Canadians have the tools they need to make informed choices in a competitive marketplace," CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said in a news release. The federal telecom regulator said consumers are being asked for their opinions on the terms and conditions that should be addressed by such a code and how the rules should be enforced, for example. The CRTC said a national code will help Canadians better understand their rights as consumers as well as set out the responsibilities of wireless companies. Canadians can participate online or write to the CRTC to give their views. The CRTC will also hold a public hearing on the matter Jan. 28 in Gatineau, Que. Telus, which asked for a national code last spring, said a consistent set of national standards would benefit consumers. "They ensure that all Canadians enjoy the same safeguards, same terms of service," said Telus spokesman Shawn Hall. Hall said each province having its own standards and rules would be "inefficient and could be unfair for Canadians." "Rather than having 12 regional debates about this, it makes sense to come together to have one national conversation that ensures all Canadians are treated the same," Hall said from Vancouver. Canada's major telecom companies — Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T) — and consumer advocacy groups all support the idea of national standards that would apply to wireless devices. However they haven't all agreed on how those rules would work.

From http://www.theprovince.com/ 10/12/2012

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Canadians Increasingly Open to Digital Wallets: Survey

Canadians are increasingly embracing the idea of the smartphone as a wallet. Almost half of Canadians with smartphones would consider using their mobile devices to make credit-card-like payments if the technology were readily available, according to the results of a new poll. The survey, conducted for CIBC by Harris/Decima, indicates that 47 per cent of smartphone users would be interested in making mobile payments if they could. Receptivity to the idea is higher among younger users: 51 per cent of respondents in the 18-to-34 age group said they would consider mobile payments, compared with 48 per cent among respondents in the 45-to-54 group. Rewards would help boost interest, the survey found: 57 per cent of respondents said rewards for credit card purchases are important in deciding to use mobile payments. “Canadians are embracing smartphones as part of their everyday life, and increasingly they are using these devices to stay connected to their finances through service like mobile banking and emerging options such as mobile payments,” David Williamson, senior executive vice-president and group head of retail and business banking at CIBC, said in a news release Friday. The bank and partner Rogers Communications Inc. are launching a national mobile-payments system on Friday. The survey results also indicate that 36 per cent of respondents have used their smartphone for mobile banking, up from 25 per cent last year. 

And more Canadians own smartphones, according to the poll: 44 per cent of those surveyed said they own a smartphone, compared with 33 per cent in a similar Harris/Decima poll for CIBC from 2011. The results are based on a telephone survey, based on a sample of 899 smartphone users, conducted between July 12 and July 22. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Most new smartphones have so-called “near field communication” or NFC integrated within them, allowing them to communicate with an electronic sensor in order to make payments at the cash register. Shoppers make payments with a simple wave of their phone. The CIBC-Rogers digital wallet stores the consumer’s Visa or MasterCard credit card data on the smartphone’s SIM card, the chip inside wireless phones that give them their identity. CIBC has said it won’t impose new fees for the service.

From http://www.allvoices.com/ 11/02/2012

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U.S.: Nextdoor - An Emerging Social Network for Government to Connect with Residents

Davis, Calif., adopted a free, online tool to connect with its citizens and distribute information. The service, called Nextdoor, is a private social network that joins people together based on where they live. In one month of use, more than 740 households in 21 neighborhoods in Davis have used the service, the nonprofit organization California Forward reported. “We’ve had budget and staffing reductions, and we’re still trying to maintain the same level of efficiency and communication with our citizens,” Community Partnership Coordinator Stacey Winton said. “Citizens of Davis want technology and they have a higher expectation to access information.” After logging on to Nextdoor.com, users can type in their addresses and they are then either identified as already belonging to an existing online community, or if no one has signed up in that neighborhood yet, a new community can be created and the user can invite neighbors to participate. Users can share information about crime, events or anything else that might be useful to a resident. “I posted something the other day about the closure of a major county road that connects our city to the city north of us. It’s going to be closed for 20 days. Within minutes of posting, I got three responses from people thanking me for giving them that information,” Winton said. Nextdoor is available nationwide and currently is used by 45 cities to communicate with residents, according to the company.

From http://www.govtech.com/ 09/27/2012

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Governments Expand Mobile Payments to Everything from Parking to Property Taxes

Mobile technology has changed how we work and play. Adoption rates grow each year as smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices are used to fetch directions, view weather information, peruse the news, and perform a wide range of other tasks. More and more, those tasks include financial transactions. Studies show that consumers have grown increasingly comfortable using mobile technologies to transfer money, purchase goods and engage in other types of financial dealings. According to a study released in April by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, swiping mobile phones could replace cash and credit cards both online and in stores within the next decade. The study reports that more than one-third of smartphone owners have already used their devices for online banking services like paying bills, checking a balance or making a payment. In May, Gartner released a report predicting that worldwide mobile payment transaction values will surpass $171.5 billion in 2012, an increase of nearly 62 percent from 2011. The report also predicted that the number of mobile payment users will reach 212.2 million in 2012, up from 160.5 million in 2011. That’s great news for the private sector, but what about government? International governments have adopted mobile payment capabilities much faster than the U.S. But things may be about to change. In May, President Barack Obama issued a memo titled Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People. Among other things, the memo requires federal government agencies to make at least two public services available on mobile devices within 12 months. Some of those services may include mobile payments. Meanwhile, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau convened a panel in July to evaluate how government should regulate mobile payments, including transactions conducted via smartphones and other mobile devices. The panel agreed to reconsider how existing regulations apply to a mobile environment and develop rules to keep pace with the rising use of mobile payment systems. If new rules and regulations are adopted, government agencies may become more open to adopting mobile payment systems themselves.

Arkansas Takes the Lead
Arkansas
isn’t waiting around to see what happens. In 2010, it became the first state to offer secure mobile payment processing specifically for smartphone users of e-government services, according to CIO Claire Bailey. Today people can use their smartphones for three high-volume online government services: inmate trust account deposits; probation and parole supervision and restitution payments; and property tax payments. According to Bailey, the decision to offer mobile payments was based on the growing popularity of mobile phones in the state. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that Arkansas has the highest concentration of cellphone-only households, at 35 percent. Nationally that number is 27 percent. “Statistics show Arkansans are bigger users of cellphones and smartphones, and that they are increasingly using them for Internet access, conducting personal business and making payments,” Bailey said. “When we saw that data, we wanted to make sure we used it strategically, so we came up with a plan to aggressively introduce new mobile-friendly online services that would work on a range of smartphone operating platforms. It was important that we offer not just mobile information and apps, but payments as well. This is a consumer-driven game changer for services in our state.” Bailey said the state’s early adoption of mobile payments can be attributed, at least partly, to its approach to information technology. The Information Network of Arkansas is a board-led, public-private collaboration between the state and the Arkansas Information Consortium, a subsidiary of e-government firm NIC. Part of the Information Network of Arkansas’ mission is to help state government entities Web-enable information services. And because the state had already set up a secure back-end payment system for use with its new portal, enabling mobile payments was fairly smooth.

“The fact that we did so much work on our portal made it easier to move to mobile apps and payments,” Bailey said. “Then it was just a matter of which service to implement first.” Thus far, the most utilized mobile payment system is the inmate deposit service, which allows friends and family to make secure deposits to an inmate’s Department of Correction-managed trust or prepaid phone account in real time. Meanwhile, the Probation and Parole Supervision and Restitution Payments system makes payment of monthly supervision, drug court or restitution fees quick and easy for offenders supervised by the Department of Community Correction. Finally, the Pulaski County property tax payments system permits users in Arkansas’ largest county to pay personal property and real estate taxes via mobile devices. Statistics indicate that the number of mobile payments for e-government services made in the state has doubled each year since 2010. “We see this as a growing model in government,” Bailey said, “and we are encouraging agencies to move to the mobile device and payment environment as a way to increase efficiencies.” Bailey said there has been little resistance from agencies so far. Rare objections most often involve the fee structure. Because Arkansas uses a self-funded model to offer mobile payments, a small fee is passed to end users. “Some agencies don’t want to pass the fee on to their constituents,” she said. “But we work hard to ensure we are supplying the most cost-effective service, that we negotiate reasonable fees and high security, and that the fees we collect are put to good use.” Bailey said the state is already looking into other ways to use mobile apps and payments, including mobile restaurant, cosmetology and school bus inspections.

Parking Made Easy
Cities may have an easier time moving to mobile payment systems than states or the federal government. Several innovative companies have developed mobile services that let cities improve efficiencies, as well as offer convenience to residents and visitors, often with little or no IT implementation or cost to the city. In October 2011, Houston deployed a service from Parkmobile USA that allows the city’s residents, workers and visitors to pay for parking at all of its approximately 7,000 on-street metered spaces using cellphones. Drivers sign up for the service online, complete a free one-time registration, and use a mobile app, the Internet or a phone call to make their payment. “The system gives residents more options,” said Maria Irshad, deputy assistant director of Houston’s Parking Management Division. “Citizens don’t have to go near a meter if they don’t want to.” Irshad said the system has improved efficiency in the city by reducing the amount of cash city employees must handle and count each day. The bills and coins used to feed meters could previously add up to $40,000 or more per day. “There is less risk involved when you don’t have to handle and count such a large sum each day, and it saves us a great deal of time,” she said. “We are finding that once someone tries it, they tend to continue to use it. The parker doesn’t have to worry about finding coins to feed the meter. They also get a text when the meter is about to run out of time. They can then add more time using their phone and avoid getting a ticket without having to leave their meeting.” Houston took the concept even further by integrating it with a parking permit and enforcement management solution from T2 Systems Inc., which the city implemented in 2009. The Parkmobile system is therefore fully integrated into the handheld devices the city’s parking enforcement staff use. All transactions initiated by phone are communicated in real time to enforcement officers, enabling them to see that a parker has paid by phone. The integration also lets officers move more easily from the information provided in Parkmobile’s pay-by-phone application to citation issuance. All lookups populate directly into the T2 handheld application, reducing errors and improving the efficiency of the city’s enforcement officers, according to T2 Systems.

In addition to improving efficiency and lowering the operational maintenance costs, the system may help the city generate additional revenue. “Cities that use the system tend to see higher average payments, though we haven’t quite figured out why,” said Tim Maginn, chief operating officer of T2 Systems. “We are guessing that when a citizen gets a text that says they need to re-up, they do so. The traditional model might see the citizen’s meter just expire and enforcement not arrive in time to issue them a ticket.” T2 Systems and Parkmobile set up the system for Houston and required no upfront payment from the city. Parkmobile collects a 35-cent convenience fee from users to fund the system. “It was very easy for us — we just had to make sure Parkmobile had the right data on our meters,” said Irshad. “We love it when vendors work together to bring us a solution and we don’t have to spend time figuring out how to make it work.” The system also offers back-end reporting that can help a city evaluate parking patterns and usage. “They can see what the turnover rate is on spaces, what time of day an area gets the most traffic, etc.,” Maginn said. “It can also improve enforcement. If there is a violation, an enforcement officer can be pinged on their handheld and can go directly to the vehicle in violation rather than wandering down the street looking for violations. It improves compliance, allows officers to make better use of their time, and could potentially reduce the number of officers needed.”

Irshad said the adoption rate for the service has been growing each month, and the city is continuing to look at opportunities to employ additional mobile apps and payments in the future. “For many people, their phone has become their life and their mobile wallet,” she said. “Cities and governments overall need to be looking at mobile payments seriously to increase customer service and do things more efficiently and effectively.” Oakland, Calif., implemented a similar system from Parkmobile in May 2012. There, customers can not only pay for parking with their smartphones from anywhere in the city, but can also can pay with cellphones equipped with near field communication (NFC) by waving or tapping their phone on any of Parkmobile’s NFC-enabled stickers. The program is offered at all on-street parking meters in Oakland. “Motorists can now pay for parking at a meter by utilizing their cellphone and seamlessly buying time to park at a metered space,” said Noel Pinto, director of Oakland’s Parking Operations. “No more digging for coins, no more frustrations and no more stress. Parking in Oakland is no longer an adventure, but rather as easy as parking at a meter, making a phone call and walking away.”  

Hailing Convenience
Other cities are implementing mobile payment apps to manage taxi services. Hailo is a UK-based company that soon will offer U.S. residents the ability to download an app to request rides from taxi drivers and pay them automatically by credit card. Jay Bregman, founder and CEO of Hailo, said he launched the company a year and a half ago because he recognized that the transportation industry was “fundamentally inefficient.” “Taxi drivers commonly have 30 to 50 percent downtime,” Bregman said. “Every day in major cities around the world, people waste millions of hours hunting for taxis, and drivers leave tens of millions of dollars on the table due to inefficiency in the market. We created Hailo as both a toolkit and network for drivers to improve their efficiency and profitability, and as a consumer convenience application.” The toolkit portion of the application is designed to give taxi drivers a way to connect with one another and to help make shifts more profitable and efficient. Meanwhile, the consumer application uses GPS to allow users to see the real-time location of the closest cabbies, including how many minutes away they are. The user can then beckon the closest one, pay for the service using a preauthorized credit card, and be emailed a receipt. Hailo launched in London in August 2011. By the end of this year it will launch in several large U.S. cities, including Chicago and Boston. Like the Parkmobile system used in Houston and Oakland, Hailo requires little effort from the city in which it has launched, and it costs nothing. Instead, taxi drivers and consumers sign up for the service independently. “We do engage with city government and try to understand what their needs are,” Bregman said. “But other than that, it doesn’t require much city involvement because it’s a market-based solution.” So, at least for cities, mobile apps and payments may be just a matter of letting technology take its course. “Mobile technology is inevitable and can truly enhance urban life,” said Bregman. “But cities may want to let the marketplace decide what solution is best rather than try to invent these things themselves. Instead of going through a lengthy RFP process, a city can let capitalism do its work. I believe that’s the best way to maximize the value of new technology in their respective markets.”

From http://www.govtech.com/ 10/03/2012

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U.S.: Big Data's Big Potential in Health Care

Using “big data” to analyze information gathered by health IT is the key to improving medical outcomes, as well as making health care more efficient and cost-effective, say the authors of an article published online recently by the American Health Information Management Association. “Today’s episode-oriented discrete data does not allow us to be as prescriptive as we need to be in delivering better health care and empowering consumers,” says Lisa Khorey, vice president of enterprise systems and data management, information technology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, in the article. “Medicine can get closer to the action when it is prescriptive, predictive, and precise. Big Data allows organizations to focus on wellness and standardize care processes.” The article, “Big Data, Bigger Outcomes,” by Lorraine Fernandes, Michele O’Connor and Victoria Weaver, argues that integrating big data into their operations lets providers “apply analytics to better understand the clinical and operational states of their business based on historical and current trends, and predict what might occur in the future with a trusted level of reliability.”

To realize the potential of big data on health care, the authors outline a four-step process for implementation:
--Establish data governance and define data objectives.
--Identify data and information requirements.
--Normalize, integrate and organize big-data solutions
--Protect security and privacy of big data.
 
“Big data offers [health information management] professionals the chance to play a strategic role in crafting the next level of health-care information management, and act as key stakeholders in advancing the strategic use of big data across the health-care ecosystem,” the authors contend. “As the industry transforms,” they continue, “it becomes essential for HIM professionals to move beyond the principles of record maintenance and documentation and develop an understanding for data transport, mapping processes, and other big data characteristics.”

From http://www.nextgov.com/ 10/17/2012

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Big Data to Create 1.9M IT Jobs in U.S. by 2015, Says Gartner

There were a lot of reasons for Gartner researchers to give a gloomy economic outlook at its Symposium/ITxpo conference here, especially after the latest round of quarterly reports from Intel, IBM and others. But the picture painted by Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's head of research, was upbeat in a surprising way. Gartner isn't revising its global IT growth forecast significantly, which remains down from the initial expectations for this year. But Garter's relatively flat revenue forecast isn't being carried over to jobs, at least in one sector of IT: big data. Big data, which refers to data collected and analyzed from every imaginable source, is becoming an engine of job creation as businesses discover ways to turn data into revenue, says Gartner. By 2015, it is expected to create 4.4 million IT jobs globally, of which 1.9 million will be in the U.S. Applying an economic multiplier to those jobs, Gartner expects that each big data IT job added to the economy will create employment for three more people outside the tech industry in the U.S., adding six million jobs to the economy. That's the kind of estimate that presidential candidates, if they focused on IT's impact on the economy instead of fossil fuel fracking and pipelines, might jump on. But Sondergaard's estimate included a caveat -- namely, that there's a shortage of skilled workers. Only a third of the big data jobs will be filled. "There is not enough talent in the industry," said Sondergaard. "[Education] is failing us." Griff Law, the CTO of Northeast Georgia Health System, said it is difficult to fill data analytics jobs, and IT jobs in general.

"From a healthcare perspective, I can certainly see the demand," said Law, noting that his company has had 15 open positions for the last six months. About six of those jobs involve data analytics, whether as business analysts who can use BI and big data analytics tools or clinical analysts, who, in addition to IT skills, are helped by data skills. The company also has openings requiring other types of IT skills, including network engineers. This push by businesses to make money from their digitizing efforts will lead to new types of jobs in the next few years, specifically, chief digital officers. By 2015, Gartner predicts that 25% of organizations will have a chief digital officer. Overall, Gartner expects IT spending to rise to $3.7 trillion worldwide next year, a 3.8% increase overthis year. But that growth projection has been a moving target, especially with major vendors facing an uncertain economy. The clearest indication of how that uncertainty weighs on companies came not from the IT sector, but from McDonald's Corp. CEO, Don Thompson. "When the economic crisis began in 2008, few people thought the environment would still be as uncertain and fragile as it is today," said Thompson, according to a transcript of his remarks on Seeking Alpha. "It is clear however that this operating environment is the new normal," he said. If people aren't buying $1 fries, will their appetite for electronics suffer as well? IBM cited an overall slowdownin consumer spending in its most recent earnings report. In the third quarter, IBM generated $24.7 billion in revenue, down 5% from the same quarter in 2011. Meanwhile, Intel reported a $2.97 billion profit in its latest quarter, compared to $3.47 billion in the same quarter last year. Intel CEO Paul Otellini blamed the economy. AMD also noted economic concerns last week when it said it was laying off1,800 of its 11,813 employees. "The PC industry is going through a period of very significant change that is impacting both the ecosystem and AMD," CEO Rory Read said in a statement. Still, Gartner says consumer demand for tech devices continues to rise. In 1980, consumers spent less than 1% of their discretionary budget on technology; it's about 3.5%.

From http://www.computerworld.com/ 10/22/2012

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CHINA: Shanghai Revs Up Broadband Speed to 16Mbps

SHANGHAI'S average broadband bandwidth will increase to 16 megabytes per second (Mbps) by the end of this year from current 12 Mbps, making the city the fastest in broadband connections in China. China Telecom said today subscribers to its faster fiber-optic network will total 2.5 million, or 70 percent of the city's total broadband family users. At present, 2 million Shanghai homes have installed the fiber-optic network. Local broadband service providers have been criticized for their low speed connections and higher prices. Two years ago, a Beijing-based research firm said Shanghai was the city with the slowest broadband network in China, said Shanghai Telecom, the city's biggest fixed-line phone operator. "After huge investment and several network upgrades, Shanghai is expected to take a lead in broadband services," said Hua Ruiqiang, Shanghai Telecom's marketing director. China Telecom's average broadband bandwidth in Shanghai will top 50 Mbps by 2015 and catch up with South Korea and Japan, Hua said.

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1.3 Million Rural Vendors Own Online Stores

THE number of online stores run by rural business owners more than doubled in 2011 as 1.31 million rural producers now sell products online, according to a recent survey made by Alibaba Group and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce company that operates Taobao.com, says the number of Taobao-licensed stores in rural towns and villages reached 590,260 at the end of 2011. The survey also showed that online transaction volume in China's rural area reached 20.9 billion yuan, still a fraction of total sales by traditional means. Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian have more online vendors and bigger sales volumes than other provinces. About 24 percent of rural online business owners surveyed said poor transportation remains the biggest obstacle for their business expansion, especially in mountainous provinces like Yunnan and Shanxi.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/10/2012

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185 for 3G Users

CHINA Unicom will use new mobile numbers starting with 185 in Shanghai yesterday as it prepares for the debut of Apple's iPhone 5 in the Chinese mainland. When the iPhone 5 is launched on the mainland users who sign a contract when they buy the phone will get numbers starting with 185. Other 3G users are also able to subscribe to the 185 numbers starting from yesterday. "The new mobile numbers are designed for high-end 3G users, including iPhone 5 users in future," said Deng Xuan, vice general manager of China Unicom's Shanghai branch.

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Online Players Hit New High

THE number of Chinese online game players has surged to a new high after the upgrading of China's broadband speed and Internet service, the world's major game maker said yesterday. More younger players, especially students, are taking part in online games in China, Alex Tai, managing director of Blizzard China, said at the sideline of the world championship series of "StarCraft II" in Shanghai. "China has developed a good environment for online games as many foreign games are introduced and also due to the fast development of broadband service," Tai said. There are 120 million online game players in the country, up 4.6 percent from last year. The mainland has 538 million Internet users. The value of online games has hit 55.7 billion yuan (US$8.89 billion) on the mainland, up 20 percent annually, Analysys International said.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/15/2012

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Social Media Can Boost Output by US$1.3b

As much as US$1.3 trillion of annual value can be created in four industry sectors globally if social technologies are fully utilized, McKinsey & Company said in a report today. The four sectors -- consumer goods, retail financial services, professional services and advanced manufacturing -- are expected to benefit from social technologies in terms of product development and operations, marketing and sales-related activities, as well as improvements in business support activities. Globally, about 70 percent of the 4,200 companies interviewed by McKinsey Global Institute said they're using social technologies but the deeper value of social technologies are yet to be unveiled. McKinsey & Company defined social technologies as products and services enabling social interactions in the digital realm.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/06/2012

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Technology Can Make Life More Convenient

CUTTING-EDGE information technologies and products, including mobile Internet, cloud computing and GPS, are used in the transportation, education and medical sectors in Shanghai, Shanghai Daily learned at an exhibition yesterday. A BMW car that can be unlocked with an iPhone, a school bus which can keep parents informed of the location of their child and mobile applications telling people the exact time when the next bus will arrive were just some of the technologies in the spotlight as the 14th China International Industry Fair opened yesterday in Shanghai. China Unicom, the country's No. 2 mobile carrier, has invested 185 million yuan (US$29.4 million) in cloud computing in 15 cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Cloud services allows users to access, store and edit data and files online. In Shanghai, China Unicom provides 10 gigabytes of cloud storage for Word, Excel and picture files, which can be easily shared through short message and Weibo services. "It's just like a portable personal data center for every one," the official at the booth said, showing the "Smart Cloud" application on an iPhone. Besides cloud computing, a BMW was also shown during the fair. Car owners can control the car by phone through China Unicom's 3G network, including locking and unlocking doors and turning on the air conditioner. China Telecom also showed wireless technologies through its 3G and WiFi network. With a card-swipe device on school buses, parents can get short messages sent to their mobile phone when their children get on and off buses through China Telecom's network.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/07/2012

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JAPAN: Official Announcement of “Internet Literacy Indicator of Youths”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) implemented a survey on actual status of Internet literacy of youths and compiled the outline of its results as “Internet Literacy Assessment indicator for Students (ILAS).” It is officially announced herein (the entire report will be posted in the website of the Institute for Information and Communications Policy later). 

1.Background and purpose
 
Last fiscal year, the MIC developed a test, etc. to visualize Internet literacy of youths with a view to effectively implementing measures for improving Internet literacy in the future, considering importance of the measures. During this fiscal year, the MIC conducted a test to measure Internet literacy of youths developed during the last fiscal year, together with a questionnaire survey, targeting about 2,500 freshmen in high schools nationwide. The results were collected and analyzed to reveal the current status of Internet literacy of youths, and they are officially announced herein as “Internet Literacy Assessment indicator for Students*.”

2.Points of survey results
 
- The overall average score of all youths was about 67 out of 100 points.
 
- Cooperating schools were divided into three categories based on population of their location, and Internet literacy of youths who belonged to each category was compared and analyzed. Internet literacy of youths who belonged to the urban area (population of more than 500,000) was relatively high.
 
- Internet literacy of youths was compared and analyzed by gender, and there was no significant difference in ability.
 
- Comparison and analysis were made between youths having learning experience of dangers of the Internet and youths having no such an experience, and Internet literacy of youths having learning experience was relatively high.
 
- Internet literacy was compared and analyzed according to whether or not dangers of the Internet were discussed at home, and Internet literacy of youths having discussions at home was relatively high to some extent. 

  “*Internet Literacy Assessment indicator for Students”: In particular, as Internet literacy, abilities for responding to dangers and risks on the Internet and abilities necessary for appropriately judging information in consideration of moral are divided into three large classifications and seven middle classifications, and questions for the test corresponding to each classified ability were prepared. Through this scoring process, the abilities could be visualized. The subtitle of indicator is called as “Internet Literacy Assessment indicator for Students” and awareness on this indicator will be raised in Japan and other countries in places for such as OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).

  From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 09/10/2012

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Aggregation and Preliminary Calculation of Internet Traffic in Japan

In order to ascertain the actual state of Internet traffic (communications traffic) in Japan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) aggregated traffic and made preliminary calculations as of May 2012, with the cooperation of six Internet Service Providers (see note 1), five Internet Exchange (IX) organizations (see note 2) and researchers (see note 3).

Main points
- As of May 2012, overall download traffic from broadband service (see note 4) subscribers in Japan was estimated to be approximately 1.7Tbps (terabits per second) (see note 5). This is an increase of 1.1 times (8.1%) over the past six months (annualized rate is an approximate increase of 1.2 times (16.2%)) (see note 6), and traffic has continued to increase.
 
- On the other hand, overall upload traffic from broadband service subscribers was estimated to be approximately 658Gbps.

  Note 1: Six ISPs – Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ), NTT Communications, K-opticom, KDDI, Softbank BB, and Softbank Telecom
 
Note 2: Five Internet Exchange Organizations
Internet Multifeed, Equinix Japan, Japan Internet Exchange, BBIX and WIDE Project        Note 3: Hiroshi Ezaki (professor at The University of Tokyo), Akira Kato (professor at Keio University), Jiro Nagayoshi (IIJ researcher), Kensuke Fukuda (associate professor at the National Institute of Informatics), and Yuji Sekiya (associate professor at The University of Tokyo)
 
Note 4: FTTH, DSL, CATV and FWA
 
Note 5: 1T (tera) (10 to the power of 12) = 1000G (giga)
 
Note 6: Before November 2011, some mobile communication traffic between mobile telephone networks was included in traffic between some ISPs that cooperate in the aggregation and broadband service subscribers. However, as it has now become possible to distinguish said traffic, traffic is aggregated and preliminary calculations are made excluding said traffic since November 2011. The rate of increase for six months is calculated based on these numerical values.

Others
 
The aggregation values related to this press release will be posted in the Information & Communications Statistics Database.

  From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 09/28/2012

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Appeal for Opinions on Revision of Notice, etc. Related to Expansion of Use of Radio Stations Using 5GHz-band Wireless Access Systems

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has created a draft revision of notice, etc. related to the Radio Act for the expansion of use of 5GHz-band wireless access systems.  An appeal for opinions on the draft revision will be held from October 11 (Thu) to November 9 (Fri), 2012.

1.Outline
 
The operation of radio stations using 5GHz-band wireless access systems has been restricted in accordance with the notice of MIC No.91 of 2012 (Subject specifying areas of establishing radio stations using radio waves of frequencies between 4,900MHz and 5,000MHz or 5,030MHz and 5,091MHz) and the Examination Standards related to the Radio Act (Official Directive of MIC No.67 of January 6, 2001) in order to prevent interference with fixed radio stations for telecommunications services using the 5GHz band. However, as the use of fixed radio stations for telecommunications services using the 5GHz band will terminate on November 30, 2012, the revision such as the relaxing of operational restrictions on radio stations using 5GHz-band wireless access systems will be made in order to promote the expansion of use of radio stations using 5GHz-band wireless access systems.

2.Guidelines for appeal for opinions, etc.
 
(1) Subject of appeal for opinions
 
- Notice of MIC No.91 of 2012 (Subject specifying areas of establishing radio stations using radio waves of frequencies between 4,900MHz and 5,000MHz or 5,030MHz and 5,091MHz)
 
- Draft official directive for partial revision of the examination standards related to the Radio Act
 
(2) Deadline for submission of opinions
 
November 9 (Fri), 2012, 5:00PM (submissions by mail must also arrive by this date)

3.Future plans
 
The related notice, etc. will be revised swiftly based on opinions submitted.

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

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State of Use of Communications in Japan in Terms of Traffic

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has compiled a quick estimation of voice communications traffic data for FY2011 as reported from telecommunications carriers based on the provisions of the Rules for Reporting on Telecommunications Business (Ministerial Ordinance of MPT No.46 of 1988), and it is officially announced herein.

1.Background
 
The MIC requests telecommunications carriers to provide reports on the state of traffic, etc. related to their telecommunications services, based on the provisions of the Rules for Reporting on Telecommunications Business.
 
A quick estimation of voice communications traffic data for FY2011 was compiled and it is officially announced herein.
 
Please note that numerical values may change in the final report.

2.Purpose
 
This survey aims to grasp the trends of use of telecommunications services based on objective and reliable data in order to deliberate on the state of telecommunication services that are essential for people’s lives and social and economic activities as well as deepen users’ understanding of telecommunications services by officially announcing data thereof.

 3.Main points
 
(1) As for domestic communications, both the total number of communications and the total communication time decreased.
 
(2) Both the number of communications and the communication time from IP telephones have been on an upward trend.
 
(3) Although both the number of communications and the communication time from mobile phones turned to a downward trend, mobile phones still account for more than 50% of them by ratio of type of transmission.
 
(4) Both the number of communications and the communication time from PHS turned to an upward trend.

From http://www.soumu.go.jp/ 10/30/2012

 

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SOUTH KOREA: Seoul to Provide Homeless Residents with Smartphones and WiFi

The capital city of South Korea will be providing smartphones and free wireless internet service at homeless shelters as part of the city government’s Social Networking Service education program for 300 homeless people who are trying to reintegrate back into society.Under the program, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and its partners will be providing second hand smartphones donated by citizens to homeless residents which they can use during hosted workshops on how they can interact with society through the social networking services. In addition, workshop attendees are also taught how they can make better use of mobile applications available in their smart phones. After completing the workshops, each homeless resident will be given a new smartphone with a KRW 20,000 credit. From then on the users will be responsible for adding credit themselves. However, even if the credit runs out, the phone will still function wherever free Wi-Fi is availableAccording to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, by using smartphones, homeless people can now search for jobs and employment related information online anytime anywhere. Furthermore, they will be able to reconnect with their family and friends and interact with the rest of society through social networking services.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/31/2012

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Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities Opens in Incheon

A computer skills competition for youth with disabilities opened at Songdo in Incheon on Wednesday.The three-day event titled “Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities” is aimed at helping young people with disabilities make use of information technology and narrowing a technology gap with people without disabilities.Roughly 320 South Korean and foreign young people with disabilities are competing in three categories: word processing, information searching on the Internet, and online gaming.Foreign participants will also have opportunities to experience Korean culture.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/31/2012

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PHILIPPINES: Goes Hi-Tech for Disaster Response Plan

The Philippines is no stranger to disasters. Floods, earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons frequently ravage the archipelago, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. But now a new plan aptly dubbed Project NOAH – National Operational Assessment of Hazards – intends to give Filipinos a better chance of overcoming these calamities by providing real-time access to weather information and updating maps, some of which date back to the 1960s. Spearheaded by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology, the 2 billion pesos, or $48 million, project was launched in July 2012. Automated rain gauges first were installed in river basis around the country, allowing scientists and other experts to track rainfall and river water levels in real time. This month, the project will roll out LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, technology which allows for high-resolution 3D mapping of the country’s topography – something which scientists say will help the Philippines’ better prepare for potential disasters. The entire country is expected to be digitally mapped within two years, according to scientists running the project. “Using the best technology available is the only way to minimize casualties,” said Mahar Lagmay, executive director of Project Noah and a scientist at the University of the Philippines in Manila. “We need to develop a culture of preparedness and safety. He also added that the project will likely draw on newly-developed “super wifi” technology to get around some necessary infrastructural upgrades still lacking in the Philippines.

Just weeks after Project Noah was launched by the country’s president Benigno Aquino III, the system was quickly tested when monsoon winds and rain dumped unusually heavy rainfall on critical cities in the Philippines, including Manila. The torrential rains caused the most severe floods seen since Tropical Storm Ketsana in 2009 which left the capital submerged for days. Initial assessments of the August floods showed that better tracking and disaster response times helped to limit the death toll to just over 100 people, compared to over 700 during 2009’s floods. A report from the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, said local governments were “managing the situations well”, and that that follow-up relief operation was put into action quickly. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the population displaced by the floods reduced by 10% in a week – a far better record than during Typhoon Ketsana, whose impact lasted months though similar levels of rainfall were recorded, according to Project Noah’s tracking maps. Mr. Lagmay added that the improved maps could also serve another practical purpose – as a tool for urban planning and development, crucial for private sector investors that are starting to bet big on increased domestic spending in the country including in malls and on real estate.

The project has some private sector partners – including San Miguel Corp .’s Petron oil refinery, Philippine telcos Smart Communications Inc ., SUN Cellular and Globe Communications though none of them have pledged funding as yet. Smart Communications, for example, has been working to set up free call stations at disaster evacuation centers with charging facilities and internet provisions and opens SMS channels to receive donations during crisis situations. It is becoming increasingly important for Asian countries to adopt modern disaster relief strategies in the decades to come, experts say. According to a report from the Asian Development Bank, a projected 410 million urban Asians are at risk of coastal flooding in the next decade, with another 350 million at risk of inland flooding – similar to that experienced by Bangkok last year, and Manila this August. Observers note that social media is an important component in Project Noah’s success. Comscore ranks the country the world’s biggest market for Facebook , with more than 90% of its online population using the social networking tool, with an overall internet penetration rate of about 33% of its 100 million people. Representatives from Global Systems Mobile, the system on which many cellular phone networks function, are examining the Philippines to see how mobile phones can help bolster early warning networks elsewhere. Twitter provided some of the fastest alerts about a 7.6 magnitude earthquake off the eastern coast of the Philippines last month. And analysts say social media will become even more useful as radio stations and other broadcast media increasingly rely on the Internet for information.

From http://blogs.wsj.com/ 09/12/2012

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Smart Extends LTE Network to More Cities in Metro Manila

Smart Communications, a mobile subsidiary of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), has expanded the reach of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to additional cities across Metro Manila, the cellco said in a statement. Smart is looking to extend its lead over its rivals in the deployment of ultra-high speed mobile broadband services, and as part of the latest expansion has connected the areas of SM Southmall in Las Pinas, Greenhills Shopping Centre in San Juan, UP Diliman, Ateneo De Manila, Miriam College, Sikatuna Village and the Eastwood Mall in Quezon City. Commenting on the expansion, Smart’s head of broadband internet and data services, Lloyd Manaloto said: ‘Smart LTE lets you enjoy the fastest 4G connection all over the Metro Manila area … With ten cities now powered by our super-charged broadband service, we have more than doubled our coverage since the commercial launch less than two months ago’. The operator’s 4G network is also available in Makati City, Taguig, Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pasay, Muntinlupa and Manila. As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, last week Smart Communications launched a high-definition (HD) voice call service on select smartphones. Initially available in select areas in Makati City and Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, the cellco’s HD voice service can be enjoyed by Smart’s 3G subscribers who own smartphones capable of adaptive multi-rate wideband transmissions.

From http://www.telegeography.com/ 10/29/2012

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Philippine City Launches Windows App to Boost Digital Presence

Makati City, the Philippines’ central business district, launched the ‘MyMakati’ app for Windows 8, which aims to provide a clean and intuitive digital interface where citizens can access current updates on the city traffic, weather and breaking news about the city. According to Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, the app, which was developed by the city’s Urban Development Department, earned praises for the sophistication of its architecture which draws information from the city’s expansive traffic management infrastructure, CCTV cameras and weather stations so that updates are provided in 15-minute intervals. “The City Government of Makati has long believed that technology can and should be placed at the service of people. The My Makati app is but one step in our efforts to harness the power of the Web to give our citizens access to current information that affects their ordinary lives,” Mayor Binay said in an official statement. “This app is proof of all that is possible when good people and powerful technologies meet.” The MyMakati app can be downloaded free of charge from the Windows 8 store and can be installed in any PC, notebook or tablet computer running the Windows 8 operating system.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/31/2012

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SINGAPORE: Rolling Out 120,000 Devices to Schools

Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) on August 24 rolled out 120,000 devices to 351 schools under the Standard ICT Operating Environment (SSOE) project. During the SSOE Deployment Milestone Celebration, the MOE, in partnership with NCS, announced the completion of the transition phase that would empower over 500,000 students. The devices will be arranged for over 40,000 principals, teachers, and administrative staff who have been educated on the use of the new services and solutions under the programme.  ”The Schools Standard ICT Operating Environment (SSOE) programme has enhanced the ICT infrastructure of schools in Singapore, to provide an environment for greater use of ICT in teaching and learning in schools,” said SSOE Programme Director Lim Teck Soon. With SSOE, schools can now look forward to faster speed, enhanced security and full on-site support for their computing needs to enhance teaching and learning. A strong focus on users’ needs and the close partnership between MOE and NCS had enabled the entire programme to be implemented successfully. We are confident that SSOE will redefine the pedagogical approach in the education system in Singapore and equip future generations of students to harness the full potential of ICT, he added.

Launched in June 2010, the SSOE programme has arranged and managed desktops, network and ICT support for all MOE schools in Singapore, enabling both wired and wireless network to improve the school’s network performance and accessibility to education applications. Also, the programme has provided computing devices to all staff and school computing labs to facilitate effective and efficient use of the ICT infrastructure. For the next phase of the SSOE programme, NCS will manage the operations and provide maintenance support and technology refresh of the desktops and infrastructure, as part of the eight-year contract with the MOE. “As part of the curriculum, the teachers will bring students down to our eco-pond and herb garden to do their learning. With the use of the mobile carts, students can now access the information online. They will do their research, before collaborating and presenting to their classmates in the classroom,” said Jane Wong, Head of ICT Department, Guangyang Primary School. To ensure effective adoption of new technologies available to teachers and administrative staff, a comprehensive change management programme consisting of training workshops and regular communications were organised during the transition phase. The objective of this effort was to educate the schools’ staff on utilising the infrastructure and resources. Activities included conducting of surveys, focus group discussions, regular newsletters and setting up of a SSOE Service Portal as a point of engagement for school staff.

Under the SSOE Programme, desktop support through remote assistance technology is provided to teachers. With this, Service Desk engineers can take over the school staffs’ notebook and guide them along in the actions on the spot. Mobile carts are also available in schools for students to use computing devices anywhere, thus encouraging ICT-based learning. Managed print services will also be rolled out as an option for schools to subscribe to, which provides cost-effective print services on a pay-per-use basis without the need to buy and own the printers. The use of a single ID to login across applications, and replacing of the login token with SMS authentication has also provided convenience to users and enhanced user experience.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/30/2012

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Singapore Launches ‘Super Wi-fi’ Internet Trials

Like other underdeveloped regions, the boom in Southeast Asia’s digital economy has been fueled by explosive growth in mobile Internet usage rather than the development of vast broadband cable networks. Internet access, however, remains far from ubiquitous for the millions of people that live across the region’s tens of thousands of islands, where broadband or 3G penetration remains weak or nonexistent. In Singapore, a consortium formed by software giant Microsoft Corp., MSFT +0.89%local telco Starhub CC3.SG +0.81%and the government’s Institute for Infocomm Research is piloting the commercial deployment of a new wireless Internet technology that employs unused parts of the television spectrum, known as “white spaces,” to transmit data. So-called “super wi-fi”—technically not a wi-fi technology, according to the international trade body that has rights to the term—operates at a lower radio frequency than traditional wi-fi signals, which enables it to broadcast at a lower cost and over greater distances, through line-of-sight obstacles such as trees and buildings. “We figured out how to use this spectrum in a way that currently wasn’t being used and discovered that this spectrum actually may be better for wireless connectivity than the existing wireless spectrum we’ve been working with,” said Michael Thatcher, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for the public sector in Asia.

Singapore is the first country in Asia to commercially pilot the technology, though it has already been launched in Wilmington, N.C., and the U.K. government is looking to form a regulatory framework for it following tests earlier this year. Trials have also been conducted in Kenya, Brazil, Japan, Uruguay and South Korea as well as in other cities throughout North America and Europe. The Singapore White Spaces Pilot Group is engaged in what it calls “pre-competitive” pilot trials for local operators. The Singapore Island Country Club has employed the technology to improve wi-fi blind spots at its 18-hole golf course, and StarHub is using it to provide Internet access to ships anchored off Singapore, which have predominantly relied on expensive satellite communication for offshore Internet connectivity. The distance of transmission varies depending on the power of the antenna but the U.K. trials showed signals could travel up to 8 kilometers in some instances.

Singapore is already one of the most sophisticated markets in the world in terms of Internet access, but the mobile data network has in recent years faced increased strains that capacity has not been able to keep up with demand, prompting complaints from customers who say the system is not up to scratch. There are 11 unused channels in the city-state’s current television spectrum, each with an eight-megahertz bandwidth that could each transmit data at speed of 14 megabits per second, comparable to current optimum mobile data speeds in Singapore. More widely, super wi-fi could address some of the more pressing Internet needs in countries such as Indonesia, which has seen enormous growth in mobile technology, without some of the necessary infrastructure upgrades. “Looking at island countries is a great scenario for some of what white spaces can do—it’s not just Indonesia, there’s also been a lot of interest in the Philippines” Mr. Thatcher said. Super wi-fi remains in its infancy and is still a long way from being granted the necessary regulatory approval for spectrum use in Singapore: the Infocomm Development Agency has given the pilot group a limited license to test the technology commercially, and a more permanent arrangement will most likely depend on the pilot’s performance. Handset makers have yet to implement the technology and mobile phones will require a special chip set in order to transmit and receive data through the super wi-fi spectrum. Mr. Thatcher said the official publication of super wi-fi standards by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers—a New York-based industry body—expected early next year will give other private-sector players greater confidence in the technology.

From http://blogs.wsj.com/ 09/06/2012

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New Smartphone Applications to Help Encourage Active Aging

SINGAPORE: Two new Android phone applications for the elderly were launched on Sunday, with the aim of encouraging active aging and inter-generational bonding. The two games -- Snake and Ladders, and a memory game -- will be in English, Mandarin and Cantonese and will also feature stars familiar to these senior citizens. Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, who graced the event, said such technology can improve the lives of senior citizens. The mobile games were jointly developed by The Adventist Home for the Elders and Nanyang Polytechnic. Mr Chan said: "While it might seem like a simple game, leveraging on such technology to help the elders to improve their memory, refresh the memories when they were young, it's very helpful to keep the elders mentally healthy."

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/14/2012

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THAILAND: Deploying Tablets in National Survey

National Statistical Office (NSO) under Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) in Thailand has recently implemented tablet PC and e-questionnaire to conduct the national survey on women and children situations. “This is the first initiative to revamp the way we conduct the national survey from using papers and pencils to deploying a mobile technology like tablet PC,” said Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap, ICT Minister. The use of tablets is part of the MICT’s Smart Thailand campaign to modernise the government with ICT, according to him. The benefits of using tablets as a survey method are that the data can be immediately verified, the time consumed in the fieldwork can be reduced to one in three compared to the traditional method, and the NSO can follow up the survey progress easily, he said. The survey project is called Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS4)—to survey situation of women and children in Thailand for the year 2012, in partnership with Unicef. “The result from this survey can be used to further improve policies related to children and women such as education opportunities, quality of lives, and premature pregnancy prevention,” the Minister said. The survey has been conducting since August and will be finish in October this year with the total numbers of 27,000 households being questioned randomly. The NSO is deploying the total of 225 tablets in this project. With the new e-questionnaire application in the tablets, it takes only 45 minutes per person to complete the survey compared to the previous method that used 70 pages of physical questionnaire and consumed the time up to 1.45 hours/person. The e-questionnaire was developed with integrated spatial information to locate where the responders of the survey are residing. The total budget for the MICS4 project is THB 23.4 million (US$ 757,943). The NSO also planned to use tablets in its next survey project next year.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/18/2012

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Thai Hospitals Adopted Online Birth Registration System

Thai parents at remote areas can now register their newborns via an online birth registration system provided by hospitals. The system will link birth data of each child in a hospital to the civil registration system. Interior Ministry’s Department of Provincial Administration, Ministry of Public Health, and National Health Security Office, in partnership with Unicef, developed an online birth registration programme that is currently used by 44 hospitals across the country.  Using Unicef-supported computers, birth data will be instantly synchronised with the civil registration system where registrar officials will immediately know and can track families that have not come to make a record of their child’s birth or obtain a birth certificate. Apart from supporting computers to hospitals, Unicef is also advocating for one-stop birth registration service that would have registrar officials stationed at the hospitals to issue birth certificates for newborns. Birth registration is the official recording of the birth of a child by the government. A birth certificate is the first legal recognition of a child identity, and it states a child’s name, date of birth and place of birth, as well as the parents’ details, such as names and nationalities. A birth certificate is the most important document for proving a child’s nationality.

In Thailand, about five per cent of all children born each year, or about 40,000 children, are not registered at birth. This happens even though the law states that any child born in Thailand, including to non-Thai parents or parents who have no legal status, has the right to be registered and to obtain a birth certificate. Many of these children are poor children or children of ethnic minorities and migrants. Some of these children are born at home or in remote areas, or are born to parents who are unaware of the need to register their children’s birth with the government. Without a birth certificate, a child can be denied the right to subsidized healthcare and other social welfare services, and can face restrictions on travel that limit both future education and employment opportunities. Unregistered children are also more vulnerable to abuse, trafficking and exploitation as their legal status makes it more difficult for them to file complaints or access related service once they fall victims.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/31/2012

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Public TV Broadcasters First to Get Digital Network Licences

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has prioritised the granting of digital terrestrial network-provider licences to government bodies, state enterprises and public organisations that already have their own television-broadcast networks. Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the NBTC's broadcasting committee, said yesterday that those organisations were the Royal Thai Army, the Public Relations Department, MCOT and the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS), as they operated TV channels and held spectra before the implementation of the Radio and Television Broadcasting Business Act BE 2551 (2008). Natee spoke to the media during the NBTC's public hearing on two draft regulations, on licensing for network providers and spectrum holders for broadcast of digital terrestrial television. He explained that the draft rules could allow analog terrestrial TV network providers to utilise their facilities efficiently and reduce redundant investment on networks.

According to the draft, after obtaining a network licence, a provider must cover 50 per cent of total households within its first year of operation, then expand that to 80 per cent in the second year, 90 per cent in the third and 95 per cent in the fourth. In addition, transmissions in municipal areas must be available for portable indoor reception. After the public hearing, the broadcasting committee needed to revise both draft regulations before submission to the NBTC board for approval. Natee expects to grant the first network-provider licences in January, while those for spectrum holders for commercial digital terrestrial TV broadcasting will come later. The NBTC is now drafting the details of rule and licensing qualifications for spectrum holders. Public hearings on this draft will begin early next year and the spectrum auction for commercial digital terrestrial TV services will be held by April. The TV channels for commercial broadcasting services have been divided into four groups: five standard-definition channels providing programmes for children and families; five SD news and information TV channels; and 10 SD and four high-definition channels for general programmes.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 11/10/2012

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Thailand to Pilot Digital Labs in State Hospitals

Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) will introduce a pilot project to deploy digital x-ray system in the laboratories of the state hospitals next year as part of an effort to reduce cost while increasing the efficiency of manpower and public healthcare systems. Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong said that the new scheme will help the government save on the expenditure of x-ray films up to many hundred thousand per month. Also the MOPH will integrate national health data into single set of data and leverage the use of ICT in healthcare services. These plans were announced as part of the MOPH’s three-year spending plan between this year and 2014 to manage ‘THB-30 Universal Healthcare Scheme’—a popular medical scheme to provide universal public healthcare at the cost of a dollar per treatment. The government is planning to curb health spending at 3.8 per cent of GDP, he added.

As a result, the budget for the THB-30 universal healthcare scheme will be frozen at THB 2,755 a head each year. This amount will cover medical costs, wages for medical staff and the hospitals’ running costs. “The THB-30 scheme has grown rapidly from THB 70 billion (US$2.3 billion) ten years ago to THB 100 billion (US$ 3.35 billion) this year,” he said.  While keeping the cost under the government’s budget, the MOPH will not reduce the quality of its healthcare services. Instead, the Ministry will increase the efficiency of its investment through better management of manpower, system, resources and technology. Apart from deploying new digital equipment to the labs, the Ministry is also considering to encourage private hospitals to use equipment owned by government hospitals, which will bring additional income to the state hospitals.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/19/2012

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VIETNAM: To Build Online Visa Issuance System

Come July 2013, foreigners will be able to enjoy the convenience of applying for an entry visa in Vietnam thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ new online visa issuance system. The system, with an estimated cost of about USD 1 million, aims to manage visa issuances for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MOFA) Consular offices in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, as well as for all Vietnamese representative offices abroad. Nguyen Nhu Trung, Deputy Director General of the Information and Communication Centre at MOFA, told FutureGov that the new system will provide MOFA’s agencies with a layer of services and applications on a safe, stable and effective infrastructure. Trung explained that the system will computerise the application receipts and streamline the processing and delivery of information on issued visas to the competent authorities in the Ministries of Public Security and Defence. In addition, it will also allow visa applicants to not only register for visa application online but also track how their applications are progressing.

“By having a standardised system, it will facilitate better interaction among agencies of MOFA thereby accelerating the decision and policy making processes,” he said. Issuing Vietnamese visas for foreigners is the most in demand consulate service both inside and outside of Vietnam. In 2010, 90 representative offices of Vietnam have issued visa for more than four million foreigners wishing to enter Vietnam.  “The current ICT system used for issuing visas has no uniform format for all representative offices. As such, the processing time is not optimised, leading to mistakes in information processing and inefficiency. In addition, there is no connected network among representatives dealing with simultaneous issuances.” Trung said once the system is in place, it is expected to drastically improve the processing time and efficiency of visa applications. Furthermore, the streamlined data on foreigners already receiving visas to enter Vietnam will play a very crucial aspect in safeguarding national security.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/2012

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BANGLADESH: Govt to Introduce E-ticketing Soon in All BRTC Bus Services PM

Dhaka, Nov 21 (UNB) – The government will soon introduce electronic ticketing system in all BRTC services, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told Parliament on Wednesday. This kind of e-ticketing has already started in different routes of the Dhaka city, she said in reply to a question of ruling party lawmaker Bazlul Huq Haroon (Jhalkathi-1) during the PM’s question answer session. Hasina mentioned that currently state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has 1,306 buses and 162 trucks. She said that in 2012, the government procured 784 buses for BRTC. “As a result, the passenger service of the BRTC increased 20 percent.” The Prime Minister said that from the next month, 50 articulated buses and 100 inter-city buses will start to be included in the BRTC fleet.She said step has been taken to procure 500 trucks for the BRTC as the old trucks in its fleet haveturned obsolete. Considering the demand of different areas of the country including Dhaka, the government is actively thinking of procuring 300 double-decker buses and 100 AC city buses, she added.Regarding fake driving license, Hasina mentioned that the use of fake driving license has dropped drastically as the government introduced ‘electronic chip enabled smart card driving license’. The number of legal driving license aspirants increased significantly, she said.In this connection, she mentioned that in 2011, the number of driving license issued was 137,277 while the number so far in 2012 is over 260,000.

From http://www.unbconnect.com/ 11/21/2012

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INDIA: “Innovative e-Solutions for Transportation”

Tell us about the importance of embedded electronics in e-Governance and transport sector? Embedded electronics lie at the heart of IT applications. So far they have been somewhat neglected by the software industry, but now people are realising the importance of such systems. We are working at the forefront of the embedded electronics industry. With the much awaited policy on electronics industry having become a reality in India, the embedded technology and applications industry have a much brighter future. This industry is going to have a discernible influence on the e-Governance space as well.One of the focus areas of our products is transportation sector, which is in dire need of integrated and intelligent systems to streamline the transport management, especially in major cities of India. We have designed our devices to serve some of the most crucial needs like ticketing, payments and GPS systems. Our solutions can also be customised for other public information systems relating to transport sector.  

Tell us more about the intelligent hand-held devices designed for the transport sector? Our cities struggle with traffic management and our transport systems of railways, roadways and airways with load management. We need to have an intelligent and integrated system in our buses, so to enable us to map, allocate and manage our peak load with the fleet available. Our front end solution designed for transport sector is like a mobile computing device that has the capability to do online and offline ticketing, transactions, GPS positioning technology and pubic information systems. The future will see most of the transactions being connected to the banks directly, along with compliance with UID or Adhaar numbers. The advantage of all-in-one device is that all the information can be stored and managed by a single point device and this reduces the chances of manual errors.  

What is the importance of public information system for the transport industry? The role of public transport systems has come about considering the needs of sustainable development and energy conservation. The front-end application of the software is integrated with back end servers that can be hosted on the servers of the transport authorities and they can track daily operations, ticketing, tracking of passenger load on a particular route and many such features are embedded. These features and intelligent use of information encourage more people to start using public transport systems and so there will be less traffic due to personal vehicles on the road. Correct and reliable real-time information should be available to transport authorities. We usually work with system integrators and offer our multi-tasking front-devices as a user-interface component to their overall transport information systems.  

What kind of growth does Evolute see in Indian market in the coming years? These hand-held devices are poised to change the way NREGA disbursements are done, as they come with UIDAI authentication linked to a bank, and the payment feature of the hand held can disburse payments at construction site itself. Thus we are bullish on all financial inclusion schemes. The demand today is also coming from countries such as Africa and Bangladesh where we have many ongoing large-scale schemes for disbursement of aid. The needy can access banks through efficient payment gateways and withdraw their entitlements. With our application being compatible on any device, be it mobile, tablet or online platform, there is lot of demand. We are in a major expansion phase to fulfil the needs of the market.

 From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/03/2012

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Tamilnadu Government Plans e-Umbrella for All Services

Tamilnadu state government is soon expected to float tenders to invite consultant agencies specialising in e-commerce and e-governance services to put together a detailed working plan for the proposed common service centres where a range of services will be provided under one counter. At these centres, to come up in urban areas, people will be able to apply and receive birth and community certificates, pay taxes and utility bills and even book travel tickets at a single counter. The system is to be implemented by the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot). The system would first be implemented in Chennai as a pilot project and later extended to other urban areas. Kerala and Karnataka already have such a system in the form of citizen call centres and Bangalore One. A citizen call centre in Kerala allows people to call in to clear their doubts on various government schemes and documents, whether they are entitled to them, ways to access them and how they work. Bangalore One allows residents to pay mobile phone bills of state-run and private telecom operators, book tickets on KSRTC buses, pay insurance premiums and book train tickets on Southern Railways.

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

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“Electronic Systems Enable Us to Serve Larger Numbers of People”

Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi, spoke to Dr Ravi Gupta, Manjushree Reddy and Rozelle Laha, on the major initiatives taken by the Delhi Government to bring improvement in the quality of life in the national capital region. Born on March 31, 1938, in Kapurthala, Punjab, Sheila Dikshit is the eldest of three sisters. She started her historic third term as the Chief Minister of Delhi on December 17, 2008. She served her first term between 1998-2003 and the second term between 2003-2008. She represents New Delhi Constituency in the Legislative Assembly. Appointed President of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee in May 1998, she led her party to a sweeping victory in the Delhi Assembly elections for the first time in November that year. 

Few other states in India seem to be doing lot more in the field of IT as compared to Delhi. What are your plans for giving further impetus to the IT sector in the national capital? Also, tell us your plans for e-Governance. We might not be at the top of the IT space in the country, but there are enough e-Governance ideas being implemented in Delhi. Citizens of the capital enjoy access to systems like e-Registration, e-Certificates and online stamp duties. We are bringing e-Governance in different areas with a view of dealing with the problem of multiplicity of authorities. The online tax collection system in Delhi is now much better than elsewhere in the country. The thing is that Delhi has such a large population density that without having electronic systems in place we might not be able to serve the needs of everyone. IT is a necessity for the city. We have plans to make even larger section of the population digitally literate; this will go a long way in curbing the digital divide. 

Do you have a timeframe during which, let’s say 100 or 200, new e-Governance services will get launched? A substantial number of e-Governance systems are already in place. Many departments have been provided with deadlines in which they have to start providing electronic services to the citizens. If the deadline is not adhered to, the officers in the concerned department can be fined. In your opinion, how well is the move towards e-Governance working? I think we are making a good amount of progress. You can now get the registration of your cars done in four days. If there are delays you can file complaint against the officials. We have about 100 electronic services already in place for the citizens. You see, e-Governance is still a new idea and so the bureaucracy and also the general public will take some time to get used to the new electronic interface. 

Much of the IT industry in Delhi seems to have moved into the areas of NCR, Gurgaon, and Noida. This is primarily due to land issues. How are you going to deal with that? You need to keep in mind that both Gurgaon and Noida are part of NCR, so the movement of IT industry to these areas does not matter. We don’t have the land, the NCR areas have it, and that is a fact. Industries that are based in NCR also make extensive use of resources that are available only in Delhi. In fact, Delhi is the epicentre to which Noida and Gurgaon are inextricably linked. There seems to be a large mismatch between demand and supply when it comes to quality healthcare. 

What strategies is the government following to provide better healthcare to the citizens? We are constantly upgrading the health facilities in the national capital. It is not as if we are not doing enough. Many new public and private hospitals have come up. The facilities at older hospitals have been upgraded. But the thing is that we have tens of thousands of people migrating to Delhi from all parts of the country. So in a way Delhi is catering to the healthcare needs of the entire country. That is why our healthcare systems are feeling pressured. According to some estimates about 34-35 percent of patients in our government owned hospitals are from outside Delhi. It is not as if we don’t welcome patients from outside the capital, we do welcome them. But it is also a fact that our resources keep getting stretched due to the influx. We are taking the PPP route for creating healthcare facilities, so people will have access to better services in times to come. 

Dr Ravi Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, eGov magazine (L), in conversation with Sheila Dikshit (R) The Metro has become immensely popular with the citizens of Delhi. What further developments do you have in mind for the Delhi Metro? We are constantly looking for ways for improving the services of the Delhi Metro. When we started the Delhi Metro project, no one could have believed that it would one day cover about 192 odd kilometers of area. In the next phase of expansion, which will be executed in 3-4 years, we have plans to layout another 300 Kms. We are also planning a Monorail Project and some smart bus chains to serve various parts of the city. The public transportation needs of the city are constantly evolving and we are trying our best to keep pace. Delhi has wide roads, but we also have the largest number of vehicles, so the roads are crowded. Efficient public transportation is needed. 

Singapore is a very small country as compared to India, and yet they have been able to project themselves as a health hub. People from all over the world come to Singapore for treatment. Can we have a similar quality of healthcare in Delhi? The healthcare facilities in Delhi are quite good, and we are trying our best to make it even better. There is health tourism happening in Delhi also. Lot of foreigners come here for treatment. What would the indicators be like to make Delhi more investor friendly? Delhi is basically a service city, 97 percent of the services are available here. However, Delhi is not growing only due to its industry and services, the growth is also happening because the NCR areas have a lot of land, where large companies are setting up their manufacturing hubs. Housing is a big industry by itself, and there is a large boom in the construction space. 

How do you rate Delhi in terms of Human Development Index? The quality of life is much better today. The problem of power has been resolved more or less. Most citizens are now enjoying access to 24 hours electricity. We are also able to provide enough water to all areas of the city. Many new roads and flyovers have come up. The infrastructure is much better now. The Delhi Metro is serving millions of people. The Monorail study is currently on and we might soon be executing the project. We will create more BRTs in the city to enable a faster movement of buses in which bulk of the population travels. What is your view about providing better broadband connectivity to the citizens? Broadband connectivity is already there. Many people in Delhi, in fact, I would say a large number of people, today have smartphones, through which they can access the Internet. 3G is here. Government organisations are also using latest online systems to provide better services to the people. We are also enabling government schools with connectivity tools through which the teachers and students can access new learning material and exchange ideas.During the past few years many new initiatives have been taken by the government to bring about an improvement in the quality of education that is being offered in our institutions. Please tell us about the nature of the initiatives that have been taken by the Delhi government. 

We have taken several steps. The right to education has served as a big boost to the education. It is enabling many youngsters from financially weaker sections of society to access quality education. We have also made a study of why government schools are doing badly. The pass percentage of students is fairly low, even though we are spending reasonable sums of money on the education of every child. We have setup the Vidyalaya Kalyan Samiti (VKS), a School Welfare Committee, which caters to the needs of the children in the neighbourhood who are going to government run schools. The Committee ensures that the teachers are present in the classrooms and the students have access to quality reading material like textbooks, and that their uniforms are clean. The Committee also receives funds from the government to take care of minor renovations of the classroom infrastructure like repairing of windows, toilets, etc. We are also having schemes for providing children with free uniforms, free books. There is also a scheme for providing scholarships to students of SC/ST background.

Can you enumerate the reasons due to which the ICT infrastructure in government schools is not quite up to the mark? I agree that the infrastructure can be made much better. The Delhi government is funding the deployment of ICT in schools, but we are not able to achieve the best possible results as the teachers are not well trained. So we are now trying our best to educate the teachers in the usage of new technologies. We are working hard on this issue, and we are going to succeed in creating the best possible ICT infrastructure for our children. The Delhi government is also trying to rope in private companies through PPP models for the installation of ICT in our institutions.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/08/2012

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Centre Approves Roll Out of e-District in Entire UP

Following the success of a pilot e-district scheme being implemented in six districts of Uttar Pradesh, the Centre on Monday approved the roll out of the scheme in the remaining 69 districts of UP. Implemented under the National E-governance Plan, the Centre also approved an additional amount of Rs 173.39 crore for the project on the basis of the detailed project report furnished to it by UP government. The pilot e-district project started in UP during 2007-08 and was implemented in Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Sultanpur, Gorakhpur, Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad. Under the project 22 government services offered by nine departments were provided through an electronic service delivery system at Service Centres and Lokvani Kendras set up in the districts. 

Chief secretary Jawed Usmani met with top departmental heads for giving shape to the roll out plan in the remaining districts of UP. The apex committee also considered plans for customising some points of the request for proposal document to suit UP which the Centre has proposed as part of the open tendering procedure for appointing a system integrator. Following the meeting, the committee will now issue instructions for readying infrastructure and hardware facilities across districts and tehsils where the project will be implemented. As part of the implementation preparations, officials of the district and tehsil level will also be put through refresher courses and training under the change management programme to familiarise them with the e-governance programme.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/01/2012

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Delhi High Court Embraces E-Court Fee System

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday launched the e-Court fee system to make the justice delivery system paperless and hassle-free and to avoid delays in filing cases.The Computer Committee of the High Court headed by Justice BD Ahmed, had launched a project in 2008 in cooperation with the State Government to make the High Court an electronic court to reduce the use of paper.In the next few months, lawyers and litigants would not be required to visit the Court premises to make payment for court fees stamps at the counter. The facility would be made available online so that litigants or lawyers could purchase them from anywhere and at any time. 

Further, there are also plans to introduce the system in the Capital’s district courts. The Computer Committee was working on it along with the Government.Delhi High Court Chief Justice D Murugesan said the system was fully secure as it could not be tampered with or counterfeited.The system could make a payment for court fee, he would be immediately issued a receipt with a unique number and a bar code which could be verified at the registry at the time of filing of petitions. Once the verification is done, the number would get locked, eliminating even a remote possibility of its reuse.is flawlessly customer-friendly. Further, litigants or lawyers can make payment for court fees in cash or through cheque or pay order or draft. They could also use RTGS facility to make payment once the system goes online.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/21/2012

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SRI LANKA: mLearning

Sept 13, 2012 (LBO) - Mobitel, a unit of Sri Lanka Telecom said it was providing a Master of Business curriculim on its 'mLearning' in partnership with Sri Lanka's Kelaniya University. The 'MBus' modules could be accessed through Mobitel's mobile broadband links. Mobitel, chief executive Lalith De Silva said the facility would help as it will help them participate in lectures live or in recorded mode without being physically present at the university. Mobitel had launched its mLearning platform in 2009, with the University of Colombo and later extended to Open University of Sri Lanka, CIMA Sri Lanka, Edinburgh Napier University of Scotland, and the Medical College of Sri Lanka.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 09/12/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Transfering Information Base on Real Estate in e-Format

The Azerbaijani State Property Committee transfers the information base of real estate registration from paper to electronic format, the State Committee said today. It is planned to transfer over 700,000 documents into an electronic format within the projects implemented by the Committee in this sphere. This will greatly ensure efficiency, transparency, and flexibility of the state committee's work. There is an e-service section at the official web-site of the committee (emdk.gov.az). This allows registering property online. The number of online-applications on statements and certificates received by the Committee has reached 200 today. The Committee registered about 98,000 property rights in January-August, of which 28,000 are primary, the remaining 70,000 - repeated. Around 37.4 percent of the registered documents fall to Baku. Physical and legal entities received about 71,000 inquiries on restriction from the state register.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/15/2012

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Distance Education Used in Azerbaijan for First Time

The Ministry of Health Care of Azerbaijan gave instructions on the launch of distance education with the use of modern information communication technologies in a number of professions (internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, general surgery) for the first time. According to the schedule of the Azerbaijan State Institute of Advanced Medical Studies, postgraduate courses on 33 professions started in 2012/2013 academic year, the Ministry of Education reported to Trend. The lectures are held through internet and special programs in the classrooms of the Institute in Baku, so as not to distract the doctors in the regions from work. Distance education enables saving of travel costs and prevents long absence from work. Within the year postgraduate courses will be attended by 600 trainees.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/20/2012

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Azerbaijan Presents Seismological Stations

A network of stations that provide an opportunity to identify the period of initial preparation of earthquakes, that is the beginning of abnormal seismic processes and to monitor them will be presented in Dubai, Director of the Institute of Cybernetics of the National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) Telman Aliyev told on Monday. He noted that there are 5 stations in Azerbaijan, which allow to identify the period of the initial earthquake preparation, that is the beginning of abnormal seismic processes, and to monitor them. They are in Neftchala on Gum Adasi in Naftalan, Shirvan and Siyazan. Aliyev added that the presentation of a network of stations will be at the most prestigious event on ICT - at ITU Telecom World 2012 - XXIV World Forum of ICT. The event, which began on Monday, will continue for five days. Projects of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and other relevant government agencies, the leading IT-companies and ICT projects of the Institute of Information Technologies of the National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) will be presented during the event, held under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/15/2012

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Azerbaijan Researches German Electronic Patent Court Experience

The introduction of electronic patent courts in Azerbaijan may require changes to the Civil Code and other legislative acts. Such a statement was made by Federal Patent Court of Germany Judge Wolfgang Stoppel during a speech at the seminar on Legal and technical aspects of electronic patent court in Baku. The seminar discussed the possibility of introducing electronic patent courts in Azerbaijan, showcased the achievements of German experts in the field. The seminar was organized by the State Committee for Standardization, Metrology and Patents of Azerbaijan and the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ). According to Miryagub Seyidov, the director of the Examination of Industrial Property Center (AzPatent) Committee, the concept of electronic patent courts is new to Azerbaijan and it will be useful to study the best experience of Germany in this field. "The steps in this field will bring positive results for the formation of "e-government" in Azerbaijan and will be beneficial to all parties," Seyidov said. According to the IRZ coordinator in Azerbaijan Rashad Huseynli, the use of electronic documents in the judicial system and the use of technology will improve performance in this field.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/05/2012

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High-Tech Park to Be Established in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the establishment of the High Technology Park in the country. According to the decree, the "High-tech Park" is a territory which has the necessary infrastructure, material and technical basis, management structures for preparation of new and high technologies, research in the field of energy efficiency, space and telecommunications, information technology and communications. Joint organization of events by the Ministries of Communication and Information Technology, Economic Development, Education, and the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan should be ensured. LLC "High Tech Park" is being established under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology for the organization and management of the Park. Reorganization and (or) the abolition of the company is executed by the President of Azerbaijan. The Cabinet of Ministers is instructed to ensure the transfer of 30 ha territory of superphosphate plant, which is subordinated to Azerkimya of SOCAR, to the company, and inform the President about it. The Ministry of Taxes and the State Committee for Property Affairs is instructed to take measures for the state registration of the LLC High Tech Park. The Cabinet of Ministers is instructed to periodically inform the President of Azerbaijan on the work done in connection with the execution of the decree.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/05/2012

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Azerbaijan Starts Production of Mini-Computers with Voice Control

Plant for the computer equipment production KUR started producing mini-computers with voice control, head of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan Vidadi Zeynalov said. "Mini-computer is designed for the visually impaired people and controlled by voice commands, allowing to gain access to news resources, search and publicize the existence of the requested literature in electronic database library" Zeynalov said. Experimental version of the mini-computer was presented by Azerbaijani IT-company Neyroteh for the first time at the beginning of last year. Customers of the project are the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan and Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Design and software component of the devices are designed by Dilmanc and the company Neyroteh. The software component of the device is made in Azeri. Mini-PC can be useful as for the blind and visually impaired people and other persons to whom it may be necessary. The device allows you to manage e-mail, warn about the presence of e-mails in your inbox, reply to emails, phone calls, etc. Dilmanc developed a special browser that is installed on the computer. With browser-integrated speech recognition system the user with a full or partial lack of vision can work on the computer. The browser works with the portal e-eye.az, which contains news sections, an electronic library, radio, etc.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/14/2012

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Azerbaijani Pilgrims to Have e-Code During Hajj

An electronic code will be given to the pilgrims heading for the hajj in the future, head of the International Relations Department Mugaddas Payizov told Trend today. He added that the code will have the information about the pilgrims. If the pilgrim gets lost or in case of other circumstances, he will get information on the location of his group by appealing to the designated office. This innovation will be introduced during the next pilgrimage.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/15/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Govt Agency Wins Mobile Health Apps Award

Empowering consumers to take control of their health – anywhere, anytime – is under the spotlight at the Department of Health in the State of Victoria. This department has won a prestigious mobile apps award, acknowledging innovation in mobile healthcare service delivery. This award was handed out by the industry’s peak body, the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) under its medical category. The department’s latest mobile apps project builds on its popular Better Health Channel web site – while extending download services into the fast-growing mobile health space. Since the service’s launch a year ago, more than 83,000 people have downloaded information – enabling them to source more detailed snapshots about health conditions, and improve health literacy. The department’s Better Health Channel app now places reliable and vital information in the “palms of peoples’ hands,” according to the Digital Services and Strategy Manager Gerardine O’Sullivan. 

O’Sullivan, a project team leader, says a mobile setting engages more readily with individuals and families in meaningful and personalised ways. “As the most personal technology we own, mobile is increasingly becoming a key platform.” The Better Health Channel ranks as one of the most-visited web site for health and medical information. This service taps into a growing demand for online and mobile healthcare information. In Australia, sourcing health and medical information online, and increasingly through mobile devices, ranks in the top-ten of consumer activities. Among its features, the expanded Better Health Channel app delivers information to mobile devices – while connecting consumers to a range of relevant local health service providers. These include doctors, dentists, pharmacists and physiotherapists. The department plans to release an expanded version of the app shortly. This new version features personalised health alerts and notifications as well as access to a full range of Better Health Channel information. 

The Better Health Channel was launched in September 2011, and actively promoted through a wide range of “low-no cost” online and offline networks and channels. These channels tapped into readily-available government department websites, health service communication outlets, as well as radio, press and digital media. A recent Australian online study notes that nearly 75 per cent of people go online to find information specific to their circumstances. Increasingly smartphones and tablets are being used to access timely and quality health information and services.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 09/07/2012

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Focus and Future of E-Health in New South Wales

The government of New South Wales in Australia launched an ambitious AU$1.4 billion (US$1.5 billion) eHealth agenda in June this year in a bid to improve the current health system across the state. FutureGov met with Steven Boyages, Medical Director, eHealth NSW during the recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Singapore to discuss the progress of NSW’s future plans for eHealth. “In Australia, at the national level, there’s a big project around electronic health records which is rolling out infrastructure, operating standards and architecture,” said Boyages. “The next level is managing what we are going to plug in to that grid to have a functional purpose. The state governments are building many hospital based systems for electronic finance, patient administration, clinical reporting, and clinical documentation and information to assist in the day-to-day care. These two levels will start to integrate, and the hope is that the information that we collect at one point of care can then be shared at multiple points of care.” 

Currently, NSW’s eHealth team is moving towards the full use of business analytics and intelligence for benchmarking. “We are using business analytics and intelligence tools to capture information that gives us further understanding of how our hospitals and clinicians perform in real time,” said Boyages. “We are also planning how to measure some of the new types of parameters that are coming up.” Boyages has big plans for eHealth in NSW in the future. Mobile Health is one of the focuses. “I think Mobile health is here to stay,” he said. “It’s not about if we will use mobility, but about how we will match our requirements to the technology that’s available.” He added that social media is another focus that their team is keen on leveraging. “I think our initial approach like everybody in health was ‘just say no’,” said Boyages. “But these tools serve a very useful educational purpose. Our patients and their communities are using these tools, so we have to understand how to best work with them rather than saying I don’t want to know about them.” Additionally, the eHealth plans include leveraging big data. The team wants to explore how they can “use big data and big data analytics tools to predict different scenarios and clinical situations,” as Boyages said. “We want to see how we can use cloud infrastructure and cloud computing to improve access to information, security and distribution of functions across the different cities.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia 09/25/2012

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Aust Develops E-Health Supply Catalogue

Under a recent initiative, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is helping develop a National Product Catalogue (NPC) that fully integrates suppliers’ medical and product information electronically. In future, suppliers tendering for public health sector contracts will need to publish their product data in the NPC. At present, WA Health in Western Australia and NSW Health in New South Wales are using NEHTA’s eProcurement service – while drawing on NPC data to ensure the right products are ordered and delivered. Pilots are under-way in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. “The NPC is a single repository for product data about medicines, medical equipment and consumables,” according to NEHTA’s chief executive officer, Peter Fleming. Being able to store and share accurate and timely data on products traded between suppliers and healthcare organisations lays the foundations for the successful delivery of e-heath services. 

This latest NEHTA initiative is endorsed by all Australian state, territory and federal health departments. A full-scale implementation of the NPC will save the public healthcare sector nearly US$200 million ($AUD200 million) each year, according to government estimates. These savings stem from being able to provide accurate, valid and up-to-date product data in an electronic format, while improving communications and operations across the supply chain. The NPC currently holds data about 240,000 items, covering more than 380 suppliers. This catalogue enables suppliers to provide standardised and accurate product and price data electronically to Australian health departments and hospital providers. The number of electronic users has grown by more than 30 per cent during 2011-2012. Many more companies acknowledge the benefits of using a single, centralised and standardised platform to share product data between trading partners. Among its features, the NPC features unique identification numbers to improve the speed and accuracy of procuring medical products. 

It is similar to Australia’s Healthcare Identifier System, and complements the Personally-Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) programme. An electronic catalogue provides a single repository for product data about medicines, medical equipment and consumables. It meets a growing demand for access to accurate and timely information about healthcare products and services. Electronic information management reduces order errors and supply costs associated with invoice re-conciliations, credit claims, returns and refused deliveries. NEHTA is driving e-health reforms nationally. It was established by the Australian, state and territory governments to develop better ways of electronically collecting and securely exchanging health information.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 09/28/2012

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Aust Post Spends US$2 Bil to Modernise Comms Infrastructure

Australia Post is fast-tracking the delivery of digital services under moves to transform its national logistics network and modernise communications channels using cloud-based services. This modernisation effort is supported by a US$2 billion (AUD$2 billion) investment that streamlines Australia Post’s overall infrastructure, as well as products and services in a digital economy. This investment will create a world-class parcel delivery network that improves automation, and expands Australia Post’s footprint nationally, says Australia Post’s managing director, Ahmed Fahour. Among the new offerings, Australia Post is offering a personalised “Digital MailBox” service to all Australians. This mailbox will enable consumers to connect securely with service providers, including banks, utilities and government entities. Using a digital mailbox, an end user will be able to receive statements, bills and correspondence, set reminders, and make payments using any computer or mobile device, anywhere, any-time. This access is available using a single, designated password. 

Additionally, Australia Post is offering a personal digital vault that can be used to store important documents. This mailbox service has been designed as a closed and secure communications channel, and is hosted in an Australian cloud. Australia Post’s digital mailbox service comes equipped with bank level security, with all communications being encrypted. Unlike email, only certified providers can connect to the service. Customers will also be able to control who they receive communications from. As a start, the Department of Human Services and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) are taking part in a “proof-of-concept” trial of the digital mailbox. This trial explores how this platform can be used to streamline access to government services, and improve communication between service delivery providers and citizens. As a peak Australian government agency, the Department of Human Services administers the national Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support programmes. More than four million people currently use on-line services to access benefits. 

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury notes that the Australian Taxation Office has led the transition to on-line transactions with its Etax programme. This initiative was first introduced in 1999. “Australians are increasingly turning to on-line resources to interact with government agencies like the ATO,” he says. “Last year 2.6 million Australians lodged their tax returns using Etax and this number will continue to grow.” He adds that a digital mailbox is an “exciting new concept that could see greatly increased electronic interaction with the ATO.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia 10/31/2012

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Aust Gov Targets Social Media Bullies

An estimated 11 million Australian Facebook users stand to benefit from an anti-cyber bullying campaign supported by the Australian government to tackle a growth in harassment involving social media users. This campaign, being rolled out in partnership with Facebook, seeks pledges from social media subscribers – including students – to counteract bullying in an on-line world. A key feature of this campaign is a “Social Pledge App.” This app supports, broadcasts and helps store public statements from end-users, confirming that they do not condone bullying. Since Facebook launched this service internationally, more than 140,000 people have taken the pledge. In the US, over one million people say they ‘liked’ the “Social Pledge App” page. In Australia, this Facebook programme is supported by the Federal Minister for Education, Peter Garrett, as well as educators, parent-teacher groups, and mental health advocates. 

Minister Garrett says a quarter of Australian students between Year 4 and Year 9 report being bullied. The growth in mobile communications, personal devices, and social media is exacerbating cyber bullying. “In short, these types of media provide a new way, and potentially a more destructive way, for young people to exercise power over others,” warns Minister Garrett. Mark Butler, Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, says cyber bullying is a trigger for mental health issues. He adds that an on-line government gateway to mental health services is available for young people, enabling them to understand, respond to, and report bullying. “These innovative new initiatives recognise that four in five Australians turn to the web for information about their health,” Minister Butler observes. “It’s important to ensure accurate information is available where young people will look for it.” Mia Garlick, Facebook’s Australian Manager for Communications and Policy, says the goal of a “Be Bold, Stop Bullying” campaign is to ignite a nationwide conversation, while educating parents, teachers and youth. 

Garlick, formerly an Assistant Secretary with the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, adds that bullying can have a lasting and damaging impact on young lives. Facebook’s anti-bulling programme supports pledges using an especially-designed Facebook app for young people and adults. A “heat map” enables people to see how many others have taken the pledge in different parts of the country. A Bullying Prevention Resource Page has also been launched as part of the Facebook Safety Centre. This resource offers additional support and information for young people, parents, and teachers. An easy-to-use widget enables other groups to embed the pledge on their websites – as a result, expanding the number of social media users joining an anti-cyber bullying coalition – in Australia and globally.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 11/06/2012

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Govt Database to Track 30,000 At-Risk Kids

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett Bennett has rejected criticism that the newly released White Paper on Vulnerable Children falls short because it does not address child poverty, saying "poverty is not an excuse to abuse children.'' Speaking after launching the White Paper at the Jigsaw Conference in Wellington this morning, Ms Bennett said many people lived in financial hardship who did not abuse their children. "Poverty is not an excuse to abuse your children. This paper was always about the most complex and hardest to reach kids. They need us more than any other children in this country.'' Her comments were in response to comments by Labour's social development spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern and Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei that poverty was the most significant factor in child abuse. Ms Bennett said she was confident that the plans set out by the paper - including a Vulnerable Kids Database of up to 30,000 children considered to be most at risk of maltreatment - would work, and results would be seen almost immediately.

The Government had put aside $20 million initially to set up the database and fund the 'risk predictor' model that would identify the children who needed to go on it, as well as set up the first two Children Teams - teams of health and social professionals who would work with vulnerable children in each region. She said more funding would be needed, including for training professionals to identify child abuse. More funding would be provided in the Budget and resources would also be taken from areas where it was not having as much of an impact as it should. Regional children's directors would be responsible for deciding how resources should be used and where Government contracts should go. She said the database was the most critical because it would allow all information about a child to be stored in one place - from changes of addresses to concerns raised by a GP. She said she would guarantee it would be secure.

It was inevitable that some children would be put on the database who were ultimately not at risk, but the database would not be used to "stigmatise'' them. ''... it will only be when professionals are putting information in themselves, because they're face to face, that it would activate any response. So we're certainly not going to see children stigmatised or worked with unnecessarily.'' She said it had not been done before because it was complex and involved many government agencies working together. Ms Bennett said public opinion also had to be ready for it. "It is intrusive if you've got a group of people sitting around discussing a child. Quite frankly, parents are the best people to bring up their kids, certainly not the State and we should only be intervening when we really have to. I don't want to be intervening in good people's households that are getting on with it. There's always that line, and we have to be very careful we don't cross it.''

Save the Children's chief executive Liz Gibbs said the Government's White Paper for vulnerable children is a move in the right direction, but provision of support for children should be universal. "We would like to see the Government developing a clear, child-focused, cross-party reporting framework that is a long-term approach to improve outcomes for all children,'' she said. Ms Gibbs suggested the Government report to the UN Committee on the rights of the child every five years. UNICEF's national advocacy manager Barbara Lambourn said the Government should go further and address New Zealand's "severe and persistent poverty.'' She said the Government needed to address a lack of access to healthcare, children living in overcrowded conditions in poor housing, and children with poor nutrition. "Poverty is a factor in neglect, poor health and lack of opportunity. The White Paper does not offer solutions to plan better outcomes for these children,'' said Ms Lambourn. Manager of Every Child Counts, Deborah Morris-Travers, said the Government were making the right moves to improve systems and practices to respond to vulnerability, but believed changes needed to be well resourced.

"Care needs to be taken to ensure that universal services such as antenatal care and well child health are not eroded, and the agencies involved in the delivery of the Children's Action Plan have both the skills and resources needed,'' she said. The database of about 30,000 "at risk" children is to be created and accessed by health, school and social workers without parental knowledge as part of a huge overhaul of laws tackling child cruelty. Teachers, doctors, community organisations, Child, Youth and Family workers and others will have access to the database and be able to add to individual children's records. High-risk adults will also be added to the database so they can be tracked and an alert given if a child moves into their household. The database - a key part of the Government's white paper on vulnerable children to be published today - will assess the chances of a child being abused and act as an early alert system. Ms Bennett said parents would not necessarily be told if their child was on the database, although they could request records under the Privacy Act.

It is one of about 30 changes the Government is committed to after a lengthy review of the law and processes relating to vulnerable children. The proposals stop short of introducing mandatory reporting by health workers and teachers - but do impose legislative requirements for government agencies when dealing with suspected abuse. They also introduce measures such as protection orders to keep potential abusers away from children, and the ability to strip parents of guardianship rights. Ms Bennett said the database was one of the most critical plans. It would allow agencies involved in a child's life to see if serious issues had been raised by others - and could act as an early alert to prevent abuse. She accepted some people might consider it intrusive, but said it could have helped prevent deaths such as that of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie. Ms Bennett said in some cases, various agencies had different bits of information on a child. "But no one put the pieces together. [The database] is going to put the pieces together. So for the small risk of it being seen as being a bit intrusive, for those kids, yeah let's get intrusive." 

She said efforts were being made to ensure privacy - some people, such as teachers, would be able to access only limited information on a child. The database would be monitored to see who accessed it, for how long, and which children they looked up. Misuse would be penalised. The model was developed by the University of Auckland after assessing 52,000 children born between 2003 and 2006 whose parent or parents were on a benefit, and monitoring them for five years. In other changes, all agencies working with children will be required to set up processes to deal with reporting abuse. There will also be a public education campaign on recognising the signs of child abuse, and teachers and health workers will be given extra training. A specific Vulnerable Children's Bill will be introduced to Parliament, setting up a layer of professionals to work with those vulnerable children who fall short of requiring Child, Youth and Family intervention. A string of Children's Teams will be led by regional children's directors who will have significant powers to award contracts for services targeting children. Ms Bennett said it would also free up CYFS to work with the children most at risk. Regional directors would have to report on outcomes such as truancy and child-abuse rates. Other changes include a list of pre-approved iwi carers to take care of children of the same tribe who are removed from their own homes, and more money for family members such as grandparents who raise children.

Abuse forecaster
The Vulnerable Kids Information System will be developed from a "risk predictor" which can assess a child's chances of abuse before they are even born based on their home life and parental history. It was developed by a team of ethicists, social workers and economists at Auckland University. Associate Professor Rhema Vaithianathan said about 57,000 children were scored to see whether abuse before the age of 5 could be predicted. The results gave the researchers about 131 assessment variables, such as whether the parent was abused, the type of benefit, the partner's background, and prison history. 

The plan
Database of 30,000 "at-risk" children
Who sees it Teachers, social workers, doctors and health workers
Criteria 130 risk factors, including whether they live with a known abuser
Aim To act as an early alert system to prevent abuse

What the minister says
"If you look at those high-profile cases that have gone through the coroner ... our lovely Nia Glassie, a whole lot of people held a small piece of information. No one put the pieces together. [The database] is going to put the pieces together. So for the small risk of it being seen as being a bit intrusive, for those kids, yeah let's get intrusive." - Paula Bennett 

Nia Glassie
Was 3 years old when she died from head injuries in August 2007, after being kicked in the head. She had been subjected to months of abuse by her family, including being placed in a clothes dryer at top heat for up to 30 minutes and hung from a spinning clothes line. Her mother was jailed for manslaughter, her mother's partner and his brother were jailed for murder and two others were jailed for child cruelty.

Labour's social development spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern
Labour's social development spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern told Radio New Zealand the white paper was intervening at a mid-point. "Whilst I do agree with the Minister saying what we need to do first is making sure that our front line workers ... are appropriately trained to identify abuse when it's occurring, we also need to make sure we're properly resourced to respond." The paper omitted to acknowledge the scale of the child poverty issue. "It's a good plan when it comes to children who are at risk of being abused or are being abused currently, but every time we've raised the terrible issue of child poverty ... the Minister has always referred to her report on vulnerable children," she said. "We've been a world class place to bring up kids, and we can be again, but this is just not going to be enough if we are to return to that position.'' 

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the Government's Children's Action Plan and White Paper refused to deal with poverty, and neglected New Zealand's most vulnerable children. Ms Turei said the White Paper on vulnerable children and the Children's Action Plan, released this morning offered a narrow approach to preventing child abuse. "It beggars belief that the Government could write a plan to help vulnerable children without addressing the one thing that makes them more vulnerable than anything else. "The White Paper was an enormous opportunity to do something big and meaningful for our most vulnerable children, to prevent them from becoming at-risk in the first place. "But because it is allergic to helping poor parents, the Government has chosen to ignore the 270,000 children in poverty and park its ambulance at the bottom of the cliff instead." Ms Turei said nothing in the paper relieved the stresses on families that can't afford decent food or warm, dry homes for their children. She said children needed a Minister for Children, a Children's Act, and child impact assessments. "Children need their parents to earn a living wage, and if their parents can't work they need benefits adequate enough to afford healthy food."

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 10/11/2012

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Students Win $20,000 for Broadband Plans

A competition designed to get young people thinking about the benefits of ultra-fast broadband has netted ten students $2000 each. A $1.35 billion government initiative will see 75 per cent of New Zealanders connected to ultra-fast broadband (UFB) by 2020. In light of this, Telecom has just run its first 'Amazing Ideas Search', asking school students to suggest ways that UFB will improve their lives. Winning ideas included an online method for carrying out health assessments for patients living in rural areas, and virtual training for professional athletes. Bethany Watson, one of two winners from Christchurch, proposed starting a website for young people to post photos and thoughts on how everyday life, news, and disasters were affecting them. "I got inspired by Tumblr and Flickr and thought that this would be a great opportunity for young people to share their opinions through photos," she said. The judges said her idea had application for helping individuals and communities work through natural disasters. Three of the winners were from Katikati College, in the Bay of Plenty.

Lucy Douglas, 13, came up with an idea that enabled people to scan a 3D model of themselves into a computer and then seek medical care and advice online. "Doctors could talk to patients over a computer and there can be 3D examinations and patients can stay with their families while they recover," she said. "I was inspired by the endless possibilities UFB could bring. I wanted to create something to help health and science." New Zealand is now past its first year of a nine-year rollout of UFB, said Telecom head of retail Chris Quin. "Our judges were really impressed by the energy and creativity the entrants displayed. It's also really encouraging to see such incredible innovation from such young people." Carried out in term three, the competition called on primary, intermediate and secondary pupils for ideas which were required to have UFB at their core. Educational expert John Langley, one of the judges, said New Zealand young people were "operating under a different set of assumptions and paradigms than previous generations". "They're also adopting technology faster than previous generations." The government aims to bring faster broadband to 97.8 per cent of New Zealanders through two initiatives - the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative and the Rural Broadband Initiative.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 11/01/2012

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AFRICA: Nigeria - The Alarming Rise in Cyber Crime

While sitting in the comfort of your room, some internet hackers, popularly called Yahoo boys in Nigeria, are probably sitting in the comfort of a cyber cafe prying into your privacy and using your email to scam friends and associates. Cyber-crime is an evil act many Nigerians might not even be aware of. But with emerging ICT trend in Nigeria, cyber-crime is taking a scary dimension. It is indeed the emerging nightmare in the country. Michael Oche writes. From Nigeria's Defence Headquarters, to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), every Nigerian security agency is getting increasingly worried with the emerging threat of cyber-crimes in the country. Yet, the public is kept in the dark about how much risk is involved in these crimes. Many businesses are going online and Nigerians have been encouraged to embrace mobile and internet banking, while the government is also embracing e-payment system. But the question remains; how safe are the users of these services? Cyber-crimes are defined as offences that are committed using modern telecommunication networks, such as Internet and mobile phones. Such crimes may threaten a nation's security and financial health of a country. For instance, the cost of global cyber-crime is set at US$110 billion annually. In Nigeria, email addresses and phones belonging to highly-placed officials, including state governors, have been hacked, just to prove that the hackers are no respecter of status. 

It is common place for banks to send accounts information including account balance via short message service (SMS) to mobile phones or emails. While this practice may appear convenient, it brings to bear huge security risks, as sensitive account information can easily get in the wild and harvested by organised criminals to conduct intelligent and sophisticated fraud. Check shows that Cyber-crimes are in the increase and Nigeria is becoming prone to the emerging ugly trend. In the past, yahoo boys gave Nigeria a bad international reputation with their tricks of sending love messages to potential victims and later duping them of substantial amount. But cyber-crime is a more organised crime and involves billions of naira. IT experts even warned that Nigerian banks are susceptible to sophisticated attacks, where cyber criminals circulate email scams that deceive people into believing that they are being contacted by their banks to submit their account credentials, such as account number, PIN number, or password. The contents of these emails always contain a link to a bank's website, which has been rebadged (copied and modified) by these criminals, often a bank's website has embedded HTML or URL redirected to a rogue website where people's account credentials are used to siphon huge sums of money from their accounts and those of other accounts that have been compromised. These criminals have started to clone debit and credit cards, since most Nigerian banks now offer ATM cards, experts also warned.