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UK: Commonwealth Launches Networking Website
Source: guardian.co.uk
Source Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Focus: ICT for MDGs, Institution and HR Management
Country: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela
Created: Oct 31, 2011

Commonwealth Connects combines public information with social media for specialised groups

The Commonwealth Secretariat has set up an information and social networking web portal in an effort to promote collaboration between groups from its member states.

Named Commonwealth Connects, it has now gone live and will be formally launched on 28 October at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Perth, Australia.

It has been built over 15 months with enterprise content management company OpenText, which will provide the technology platform for three years, with the secretariat having the option to extend the deal for another three.

Richard Simpson, the project executive from the governance and international development division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, told GGC: "The main idea was to create a platform for the Commonwealth community to build more specialised communities, and to engage with people on a personal level."

It includes a public website that provides links to more than 150 other sites run by about 90 organisations within the Commonwealth. "There's a huge amount of information, and it provides the public and those with an interest in global issues with ready access to that information," Simpson said. "It's very much a gateway to maximise the use of web resources, and we've tried to assemble it in a way that makes it obvious what the Commonwealth is about."

The social networking function is confined to members of recognised Commonwealth groups, the managers of which control access by providing log-in details.

"It's aimed more towards professional networking and collaboration," Simpson said. "Any Commonwealth group can form a network, and this provides a platform for them to work collaboratively." This could be applied to relatively small groups such as steering committees, or large ones such as all of the delegates of a conference.

He said that a handful of groups have begun to use the site, and over the next few months the secretariat will concentrate on ensuring that 15 it has identified will develop their networks. It will then begin to encourage wider use.

Kamalesh Sharma, the Commonwealth secretary general, said: "There are a whole range of important applications for Commonwealth Connects, including helping youth groups or government officials from across the Commonwealth collaborate; playing a role in election monitoring; or helping to fuel economic growth through digital business enablement."

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